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By Cara Jepsen

FRIDAY 12

Rents are up, vacancies are down, and it's a landlord's market. According to a recent report by the Women and Housing Task Force, women and children are hurt most during shortages like the one we're currently facing. This weekend the McAuley Institute's national Women and Housing Conference will visit the "Resurrection Project" in Pilsen, which has helped develop more than 50 single-family homes for families that make less than $20,000 a year and has plans to develop another 68. The conference features workshops and speakers, including housing developers, community leaders, and national policy experts. Site visits to the Resurrection Project, Deborah's Place, and Neighborhood Housing Services will take place today from 8:30 to 1; the workshops and speakers begin at 2 at the Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe. Tickets for the entire conference are $280, $100 for tomorrow only, which includes workshops, an awards dinner, and entertainment. Call 726-7500 for more.

Spanish director Carlos Saura's new feature, Flamenco, includes footage of more than 300 flamenco singers, dancers, and guitarists from around the world performing in a variety of styles that include fandango, tango, and rumba. It opens this year's Chicago Latino Film Festival, which runs through April 22 and features more than 100 films from 17 countries. The opening reception starts at 5:30 tonight at the Art Institute's Trading Room; the film is at 8 in the Rubloff Auditorium. Admission is $50 for both, $15 for the film only. Call 431-1330 for more.

The spring shopping season starts with the Saint Catherine-Saint Lucy Parish spring rummage sale preview. A quarter gets you in to sneak a peek at the antiques, jewelry, clothes, and furniture that will be on sale tonight from 7 to 9 and tomorrow from 10 to 2, at Maguire Hall, 34 N. Austin, in Oak Park. Call 708-386-8077 for more.

Nelson Peery, the subject of a recent Reader cover story, says a revolution is imminent. His book Black Fire: The Making of an American Revolutionary chronicles his formative years in Minnesota in the 1930s and 1940s as a black communist. He'll give a free talk tonight from 7:30 to 9:30 at the UIC Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted, room 509. Call 486-3552 for more.

SATURDAY 13

Acquaintances who grew up in a social class above mine recall being dragged to performances of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf as children. The Quintet of the Americas will play an all-woodwind version of the piece while Northwestern School of Music dean Bernard Dobroski narrates this morning at 10:30 at the university's Lutkin Hall, 700 University Place. It's $3, $2 for students and children. Call 847-467-4000 to order tickets.

Cheese grits, mud pie, mixed greens, sweet potato chips, and other soul foods can be made minus much of the usual fat and sodium. Wilbert Jones's New Soul Food Cookbook: Healthier Recipes for Traditional Favorites contains 99 enlightened recipes that tell exactly how it can be done. He'll demonstrate how to make stuffed mushrooms with turkey bacon, red beans and rice, and allspice applesauce cake at 2 today at the Hyde Park Co-op, 1526 E. 55th. It's free; call 667-1444 for more.

The somewhat obscure genre of filk music has a traditional Celtic sound and a science fiction/fantasy bent. Instead of focusing on love, work, and the Man, filk is about fairies, wizards, unicorns, and dragons. Local filk singer Steve MacDonald performs today at 3 at The Stars Our Destination Bookstore's eighth anniversary celebration. There will also be author signings from 2 to 7 and an art auction at 8. It's all free and happens at the bookstore, 1021 W. Belmont. Call 871-2722.

SUNDAY 14

There's nothing like an endorphin high to help you through tough times. Today's 1,040 K "Tax Time Trot" is actually a 10 K, or 6.2 miler, with a 40-foot chute at the end. It starts at 9 at the lakefront at Randolph Street. Afterward experts will answer participants' tax questions at the Athletic Club Illinois Center, 211 N. Stetson. It's $20 to enter. Call 248-7400 for more.

After retiring from lumberjacking and farming in the early 1930s, Wisconsin resident Fred Smith began creating his giant concrete sculptures: animals, people, and scenes including the Budweiser Clydesdales pulling a beer wagon. He produced some 250 sculptures in 14 years before suffering a stroke in 1946. Photographer and painter Robert Amft came across Smith's concrete park while returning from a fishing trip in 1960. An exhibit of Amft's photos, "The Outsider Art of Fred Smith, Jack Ellsworth, and Tom Every," includes portraits of the park (now maintained by a nonprofit group). It opens today with a reception from 1 to 5 at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 1926 N. Halsted. It's free; call 929-7122 for more.

MONDAY 15

The Chicago Headline Club and Loyola University's communications department are sponsoring the discussion The 1968 Democratic Convention: Lessons Learned?, which brings together some of the people who participated in, quashed, and reported on the uprising. The media panel features Hugh Hill, Abe Peck, Joel Weisman, John Schultz, and Bob Crawford. The other panel, which represents the police, the courts, City Hall, and the public, includes former U.S. attorney Thomas Foran, Operation PUSH founder Jesse Jackson, former Illinois appellate court judge R. Eugene Pincham, former police superintendent James Rochford, Loyola University professor of political science Alan Gitelson, and former press secretary to Mayor Richard J. Daley, Frank Sullivan. The free program is from 1 to 5:30 at Loyola's Rubloff Auditorium, 25 E. Pearson. Call 915-6653 to reserve a seat.

Donald Miller's new book, City of the Century, chronicles Chicago's rise from an 1830s trading post to the scary metropolis it is today. He'll discuss and sign copies of his book tonight at 7 at Borders Books and Music, 830 N. Michigan. It's free; call 573-0564.

TUESDAY 16

For the price of a burger, fries, and Coke, women can spend their lunch hour today learning self defense strategies. It happens from noon to 1:15 at Women Employed, 22 W. Monroe, suite 1701. It's $5; call 782-3902 for more.

In 1987 on Earth Day a small group of punks and former hippies exchanged ideas about solar energy, tie-dyeing, and the evils of Com Ed. The highly publicized day in 1990 yielded thousands of garbage-producing young adults convening under sunny skies to hear live music in Grant Park. Things have tapered off in recent years. Former U.S. senator and Wisconsin governor Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day in 1970, will give a talk entitled "Earth Day--Where Do We Go From Here?" tonight at 7:30 at Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. Saint Louis. He'll also conduct a special class in environmental issues at 1:45. Both events are free; call 583-4040, ext. 3291.

WEDNESDAY 17

In addition to writing the 1993 book that inspired Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean is also a lecturer and community organizer. She'll sign copies of her book at noon today at Borders Books and Music, 830 N. Michigan. It's free; call 573-0564.

Quraysh Ali and Jean Howard host the National Poetry Video Slam tonight, which will include work from around the U.S. and Canada. Judges will rate the videos slam-style, and the audience will select the winner of the People's Choice Award via an applause-o-meter; it all starts with a showing of a TV pilot by Paul Devlin that includes a reading by Henry Fonda and a performance by Bob Holman, producer of the PBS documentary The United States of Poetry. It's part of the fifth national poetry video festival, "Through the Eyes of Poets," which runs through Friday; events later in the week focus on works by Native Americans, Latinos, and young people. The $6 video slam takes place at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, at 7:30. Call 278-2210.

THURSDAY 18

The local chapter of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation presents a free "Media 101" workshop tonight on how to identify and respond to defamation against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. It starts at 7 at Horizons Community Services, 961 W. Montana. Call 409-9282.

In 1986 Mark Matousek was working as an editor at Interview and hobnobbing with the world's best and brightest artists. When a friend of his contracted HIV, Matousek started rethinking his life and decided to chuck his job and search for meaning. Then he did what any good American would: he wrote a book about it. "I wrote Sex Death Enlightenment to show that if a cynical, left-brained, sex-crazed New York baby boomer like me could hit the wall, go out seeing, and discover a world I hardly knew existed, then it was possible for anyone," he says. Maybe he'll let us know if his old job is still open when he signs copies of his book tonight at 7:30 at Unabridged Bookstore, 3251 N. Broadway. It's free; call 883-9119.

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