Just in time for the convention, the School of the Art Institute's exhibit 1968 examines the era's political, social, and cultural aspects with 57 works by more than 40 artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, Christo, Jasper Johns, Nelson Stevens, and Nancy Spero. The exhibit is running in conjunction with a student, faculty, and alumni exhibition called 1968 Now?, which puts a contemporary spin on the artwork of the late 60s. The opening reception for "1968" is tonight from 5 to 7 at the Betty Rymer Gallery, 280 S. Columbus (call 443-3703), and the one for "1968 Now?" is from 6 to 8 at Gallery 2, 847 W. Jackson (call 563-5162). Both are free.
Is there any major museum in town that doesn't have an after-hours singles event? Well, at least the MCA's First Fridays program has a bit of bite to it. Performance artist Brigid Murphy of Milly's Orchid Show fame appears tonight as her wisecracking alter ego Milly May Smithy, who'll sing, dance, and lead tours of the museum's exhibits. There'll also be the requisite hors d'oeuvres and cash bar. It's from 6 to 9 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Tickets are $10. Call 280-2660.
Poet, activist, and Temple University professor Sonia Sanchez won the American Book Award in 1985 for Homegirls and Handgrenades. Her new book of poems, Wounded in the House of a Friend, addresses the impact of adultery, rape, violence, and drugs on women's lives--yet it focuses on redemption and self-fulfillment. She'll read tonight as part of the DuSable Museum of African American History's free Poetry in the Park event. Local poet and arts critic Rohan B. Preston will start things off at 6 on the front lawn of the museum, 740 E. 56th Place. Call 947-0600.
Like every other event that's been kicked out of Cricket Hill this year, the Peace & Music Festival has had to find a new location. It lands in Humboldt Park this weekend, where the usual bands, activists, weirdos, hippies, ravers, punks, and other peaceniks will reassemble around one of the city's two inland beaches. Highlights include the Rastafarian Nyambhingi Choir and the Afro-Caribbean percussion of Dhamba 8. The free festival runs today and Sunday from 10 to 10 at the boathouse in Humboldt Park, Division and California. Call 252-9150 for more.
The Taste of Devon promises to do neighborhood gastric events one better this weekend by offering a sampling of Indian, Middle Eastern, and Pakistani food--instead of the now run-of-the-mill gyros and pad thai--as well as ethnic exhibits and a walking tour. Entertainment includes the Indian Tina Aror & Megh Raj Dancers and the Russian Tum Balalaika Band. The fair runs from noon to 8 today and Sunday at Devon and Rockwell avenues, with the Indian independence-day parade today at 1 and the Pakistani independence-day parade Sunday at noon. Admission is free; call 743-6022.
When he wasn't alienating Chicago bands and big-time magazine publishers, former Sun-Times rock critic, onetime Rolling Stone senior editor, and sometimes Reader contributor Jim DeRogatis was working on a book about his favorite kind of music. In Kaleidoscope Eyes: Psychedelic Rock From the '60s to the '90s DeRogatis claims that psychedelia didn't start in 1967 Haight-Ashbury; his timeline begins with William Blake's Songs of Innocence in 1794 and winds up with Bill Graham opening the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1966. He also examines everything from 70s krautrock to the Butthole Surfers. (No, he doesn't leave out the Grateful Dead.) He'll sign copies today at 3 at Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark. It's free; call 477-5994.
The guitar solos won't be cut in till later, but when ESPN 2's Extreme Sports tour hits town this weekend, there'll be plenty of biking, skateboarding, and in-line skating stunts to satisfy even an MTV-weaned crowd. Participants are competing for $45,000 in prize money, and the channel is hoping to get 12 hours of decent footage. A lot of the air-catching will be done on the tour's portable half pipe, and there'll also be obstacle courses and a freestyle bike competition. The free event is today from 9 to 5 at Burnham Harbor, 12th Street and Lake Shore Drive. Call 747-1285.
"For every lounge lizard, raindog, barfly / I've met; for every vinyl booth I've been pushed / into by a boy with a bad haircut; / for every man I've fucked / according to the angle of his chin / or the color of his coat. / Tom Waits, I hate you." That's from Simone Muench's poem "Tom Waits, I Hate You--," included in the latest issue of the Evanston-based poetry magazine Hammers. Lisa Alvarado, T.R. Caplan, Emily Calvo, Suzanne Frank, and editor Nat David will be among the contributors reading from their work today at 7 at Barnes & Noble, 1701 Sherman, in Evanston. It's free; call 847-328-0883.
In her book The Politics of Motherhood: British Writing and Culture, 1680-1760, Toni Bowers uses novels, plays, sermons, portraits, engravings, and propaganda from the pre-Victorian period to examine popular conceptions of "virtuous" motherhood and how those ideals continue to set limits on women. Bowers, a University of Pennsylvania women's studies and English professor, will discuss her work today at 3 in the bookstore of the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. It's free; call 255-3520.
Shriners operating go-carts and antique police cars are slated to participate in tonight's National Night Out Against Crime. They'll lead a motorcade of citizens through several different neighborhoods as part of a nationwide demonstration that takes place each year on the first Tuesday in August. Residents are encouraged to participate by placing an American flag on their car or bike and joining the procession, which starts at 7 at Area 5 police headquarters, 5555 W. Grand. A brief rally follows. It's free; call 746-5090.
If you want to avoid the trip to the burbs for outdoor concerts, the Park District's summer music festival offers more than 100 free concerts at neighborhood parks throughout the city. The series includes everything from jazz to salsa to classical to reggae. Tonight's concert at 6 at Humboldt Park, 1400 N. Sacramento, features Mark Olen & the Brazilian Jazz Orchestra. And at 7 at Norwood Park, 5001 N. Natoma, the Eddie Barrett Orchestra will play selected Benny Goodman tunes. Call 742-7529.
Government incompetence and corruption have left Peru with such a high rate of inflation that most people find it impossible to pay their rent. Housewives, policemen, teachers, and even government administrators have turned to cab driving to make ends meet. In Lima all you have to do is buy a "taxi" sign from a street vendor for two dollars and your beater can become a cab. Heddy Honigmann's new documentary Metal and Melancholy provides a rare glimpse into Lima's cabbie culture and how it fits into the country's failing economy. It's showing tonight at 7 and 9 at Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton. Tickets are $7. Call 281-9075.
For the last 27 years the social-service agency ASPIRA has provided educational services and leadership-development programs to some 2,000 Latino youths each year. Tonight it will hold a benefit concert at Ravinia in conjunction with the Latin Jazz Society, with a program that includes Tito Puente, Yolanda Duke, and the Eddie Palmieri Octet. Tickets cost $10 for lawn, $30 for theater seating. It's at 7 at Ravinia, Green Bay and Lake Cook roads, Highland Park. Call 252-0970 for reservations.
The most valuable baby-sitting trick I ever learned: if you turn all the clocks in the house forward an hour or so, the kids will go to bed that much earlier. This leaves you free to raid the refrigerator, call your friends, and watch HBO in peace. The Red Cross's baby-sitting class will cover the other basics, like accident prevention, diapering, discipline, and first aid as well as job-hunting techniques. Participants who complete the two-day class will receive a certificate. It meets today and tomorrow from 10 to 2 at West Suburban Hospital Medical Center at Erie and Austin in Oak Park. It's $20; call 800-974-7362 to register.