By Cara Jepsen
The People of Two Spirits, a nonprofit group that formed this year to provide programs and activities to address homophobia and foster the spiritual and emotional well-being of gay and lesbian teens, is launching its mentoring program with a rites of passage ceremony for the more than 30 youths currently enrolled; there will also be food, performances, and a silent auction. It's from 5 to 8 at Ann Sather, 929 W. Belmont. The cost is $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Call 271-0334 for information.
Tonight's Reggae Under the Stars fund-raiser benefits Glad Tidings for All's adopt-a-family holiday fund and features the music of local reggae band Gizzae. The event is from 7 to midnight on Navy Pier's rooftop deck, 600 E. Grand. The $30 ticket includes all you can eat and drink and must be purchased in advance; guests are asked to bring a children's book to donate to this year's holiday effort. Call 714-5805.
Ozzy, Iggy, Alice, and Sid won't be there, but blood and rock meet again at today's Rock and Roll up Your Sleeve Blood Drive, where three bloodmobiles and two rock bands will take blood and entertain donors--respectively. Local rockers Yardsale play at 1 and the Twigs hit the stage at 5. It takes place from 8 to 8 in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Cafe, 63 W. Ontario. It's free; call 943-2252.
The first Bud Billiken Back to School Parade, a tribute to African-American families, took place in 1929; today it's the longest-running and largest parade in Chicago (and the second largest in the U.S.). It starts at 10 at 35th and King Drive and travels 20 blocks south to Washington Park, where there will be a picnic. It's free. Call 664-5900.
It gets more congested each year, but the Northalsted Market Days street fair still reigns as the city's best, with its art, eclectic vendors, three stages of entertainment, and endless parade of freaks. Poe headlines at the Roscoe stage tonight at 8:10; one-hit wonder Jill "I Kissed a Girl" Sobule takes the Belmont stage at 8:20. More than 30 other bands and artists are scheduled to perform. The fair runs today and tomorrow from 11 to 9 on Halsted between Addison and Belmont. There's a suggested donation of $1. Call 868-3010.
Grupo AfroCuba de Matanzas, an Afro-Cuban folklore group that combines dances, songs, and percussion with symbolic religious ritual, will perform tonight at 8 at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, as part of a series of events sponsored by the HotHouse. The HotHouse closed but plans to reopen this fall and in the meantime continues to put on events with other organizations. Tickets are $20. The group will offer an advanced percussion workshop tomorrow at 1; call 235-2334 for info on either event.
All you really need to know about the Heartland Cafe's 20th Anniversary Celebration tonight is that there's a free buffet. While you're stuffing your face with healthy vegetarian and vegan fare--plus chicken and fish for those less crunchy--staff members will sing and dance for you. It's from 8 PM to 3 AM at the Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood. There's no cover; call 465-8005 for information.
Hiroshima survivor Kaz Suyeishi; executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Nancy Myers; and historian Larry Armstrong, who's studied the experiences of A-bomb survivors, will speak at the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Flame of Peace commemoration today. There will also be an open mike and a performance by folksinger Kristin Lems. The event begins at 2 at Scoville Park at Lake and Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park (in case of rain, go to the First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake). It's free; bring a lawn chair or blanket. Call 630-848-6330.
A 32-piece orchestra, including a full string section, is the highlight of the Beverly Area Planning Association's Music Under the Stars. The outdoor concert features the City Lights Orchestra, which will perform music by Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Ellington, and Goodman. Picnic-style food and beverages will be sold by neighborhood restaurants. It's tonight at 6 (music starts at 7) on the grounds of Morgan Park Academy, 2151 W. 111th. Tickets are $5 per person or $10 per family (with children 12 and under). Reserved tables are available. For tables, tickets, or information, call 233-3100.
Jerry Bryant was once described by a colleague as a "short little guy with a lot of hair," but he's best known for his TV show J.B.T.V., a weekly program that features videos from new alternative bands. Tonight he hosts the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science's networking party--held monthly for music, film, TV, advertising, theater, and other entertainment professionals to get together, graze from a free buffet, and brainstorm. Blues rockers the Michael Charles Band will perform. It starts at 8 at the Dome Room at Excalibur, 632 N. Dearborn. It's free for members, $3 for the rest of us. Call 786-1121.
Manifest destiny and the Civil War had a significant impact on the art of the 19th century. This evening Loyola fine-arts professor Paula Wisotzki will discuss the relationship between art and politics of the 1800s, focusing on the emphasis on landscape in art during that period. Among the artists she'll examine are Albert Bierstadt, George Caleb Bingham, and Frederic Edwin Church. The lecture is in conjunction with the Terra Museum's Visions of a Nation exhibition, which looks at how our national identity is reflected in the arts. Wisotzki speaks at 5:30 at the Terra Museum of American Art, 666 N. Michigan. It's $6, $5 for students, and reservations are recommended. Call 664-3939.
John Waters once said that films of George and Mike Kuchar are what made him become a filmmaker. The twin brothers specialized in creating their own sleazy send-ups of Hollywood melodramas until they parted ways in the 1960s. George went on to make such underground classics as Hold Me While I'm Naked and the X-rated Thundercrack!, and today he teaches film at the San Francisco Art Institute. This year's Chicago Underground Film Festival--which opens tonight and runs through Sunday, August 18, at the Theatre Building--will honor Kuchar with a screening of his recent video work Friday, August 16, at 5:30. Tonight the fest will show a film by a former student of Kuchar's--24-year-old Sarah Jacobson's Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore, a supposedly uncensored look at teenage sex that features music by Mudhoney and Babes in Toyland. The film screens at 7:30 at the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. Tickets are $5; $15 includes an opening-night party at Thurston's, 1248 W. George, featuring Red Red Meat. Call 866-8660 for information.
Buffets for both dogs and humans will be the centerpieces of tonight's Dog's Night Out fund-raiser for the "no-kill, all-species" Lake Shore Animal Shelter. The event features a silent auction (getaways, dinners, doggie desirables) and contests, including top dog, best trick, most original costume, and--my favorite--the dog/owner look-alike contest. Cats aren't allowed ("No cats may attend in person!!!"), but if you bring a photo the shelter will judge it too--cat-egories include fluffiest, best in repose, and best action shot. It's from 5:30 to 9 at the Galleria Marchetti of the Como Inn, 825 W. Erie. Tickets are $60 in advance, $70 at the door (free for dogs). Call 733-6073.
At a recent event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, performance artist Julie Laffin and a partner donned a single giant evening gown with a 75-foot train that patrons walked on as if it were a red carpet. Tonight she'll perform her piece Over (translation: wear another dress) outside of the Rhinoceros Theater Festival. The costume wasn't finished at press time, but she promised 30 feet of crushed velour hanging off the facade of the Lunar Cabaret. Inside there'll be performances and music, including work by Neo-Futurist David Kodeski and a set by Ken Vandermark's group Steam. The fest starts at 7 at the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln. You can check out Laffin and her getup for free; but to go inside it's $10. Call 327-6666.