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By Cara Jepsen

AUGUST

Friday 16

It's nearly a three-hour drive from Chicago, but this weekend's Nudie Blues & Sunsplash Festival promises to allow participants to let their hair--and pants--down. The three-day event--which takes place at a 160-acre, mostly clothing-optional Michigan resort--starts tonight at 8 with the reggae band Immunity and ends 11 bands later with Lonnie Brooks's performance Sunday at 4:45. It's at Turtle Lake Resort, 2101 Nine Mile Road, Union City, Michigan. Individual weekend tickets are $125 in advance, $150 at the gate, and include parking and camping fees and use of the resort's facilities (pool, hot tub, water slide, lagoon--nudity required). Single-day admission fees are $30 for tonight, $45 Saturday and Sunday--both in advance and at the gate. Call 800-480-7004.

For six weeks this summer 12 teenagers from West Town and Humboldt Park have been writing and performing theater pieces with the help of arts professionals as part of the Association House's summer arts program. The resulting compilation, Voces Ansiosas Tres/Anxious Voices III: Dreams in the Barrio, deals with such topics as love, parents, violence, death, God, and gender differences and spans the spectrum between comedy and drama, music and dance. It will be performed tonight and tomorrow at 8 and Sunday at 7 at the Firehouse, 1625 N. Damen. Tickets are $10, $5 for students and seniors. Saturday's show is a benefit for the Association House and has a suggested donation of $30. Call 276-0084, ext. 218, for reservations or information.

SATURDAY 17

If no one appreciates your booming car stereo except you, take comfort at today's car-stereo showdown at Lambs Farm. There'll be four levels of competition--novice, amateur, professional, and expert--and stereos will be judged not only for volume but also for quality of sound and installation (how well the wiring blends in with the car's interior). If that doesn't woof your tweeter, maybe the model-boat races across the park will; they'll feature radio-controlled hydroplanes and runabouts. The car-stereo contest is from 10 to 7 and the boat races are from 10 to 5 at Lambs Farm, I-94 and Route 176 in Libertyville. Both events are free. Bringing your own food and beverages is not encouraged; Lambs Farm uses concession sales to fund vocational and residential programs for the 250 adults with mental disabilities it serves each year. Call 847-362-4636 for more information.

Last year's Empty Bottle Prom featured members of Red Red Meat performing as a 1980s new-wave band. The usually morose group played upbeat, highly synthesized selections from such bands as Spandau Ballet and Heaven 17, and the usually too-cool-for-this regulars wore secondhand prom clothes and actually danced. This year's entertainment will be provided by the Pump Action Retards, another "serious" band breaking character to perform the music of the 70s. The prom starts tonight at 10 at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western. Cover is $6, and yes, you should make an attempt to leave the soccer shirt and cutoffs at home (limo optional). Call 276-3600 for info.

SUNDAY 18

You don't have to be a svelte Joyner-Kersee type to participate in today's Heat of the Summer Run--categories include Big Women Over 175 Pounds, Big Guys Over 200 Pounds, and Baby Jogger as well as the traditional age groups. The five-K run and/or walk is sponsored by Heartland Athletic Club's Athletes United for Peace and starts at 8 AM at the Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood. It's $15 if you preregister, $20 if you don't; entry fees include a T-shirt and postrace breakfast. Call 465-8005.

As punk, free-jazz, and postrock have shown, music doesn't have to be about reading notes and sticking to the rules; it's improvising and playing by feel that counts. Today's free Toys That Make Noise or One Minute Music Lessons should put the fun back into music for both children and adults as steel drums, dulcimers, nose flutes, and other instruments are demonstrated. Afterward, participants will be given a one-minute lesson and a chance to play the instruments and participate in a jam session. It's at the top of each hour from 1 to 5 today at Toyscape, 2911 N. Broadway. Call 665-7400.

MONDAY 19

Referred to as the first black political cartoonist, Henry J. Lewis gained notoriety in 1889 for his cartoons attacking President Benjamin Harrison's racial policies in the Indianapolis-based Freeman newspaper, known as "The Harper's Weekly of the Colored Race." An exhibit of 30 of the former slave's cartoons runs through December 31 at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl.; they'll be on display today from 10 to 5. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, $1 for children 6 to 13, and free for kids under 6. For more information call 947-0600.

Reader contributor Adam Langer's new book, The Madness of Art: A Guide to Living and Working in Chicago for Musicians, Writers, Actors, Dancers, Artists, Filmmakers, and So On, details everything about making it as an artist in Chicago, from whom to hit up for work to where to live. He'll discuss the book tonight after a performance of his new play, Dark Matter, which looks at surrealistic art and forgery. The performance starts at 7:30 at Barnes & Noble, 659 W. Diversey. Both the play and discussion are free; call 871-9004. Langer will also speak Thursday at 7:30 at the Barnes & Noble at 5405 W. Touhy in Skokie. It's also free; call 847-329-8460 for more.

TUESDAY 20

The Unconventional Film and Video Festival is an effort by several political and media groups to provide an alternative to Democratic National Convention activities by showing underreleased, underground, and independent features and documentaries focusing on grassroots struggles and other topics ignored by the mainstream media. The fest runs through August 26, and tonight's screening is the documentary Four More Years, about the 1972 Republican National Convention. It's at 7:30 at the Near Northwest Arts Council, 2416 W. Bloomingdale. Tickets are $5 or whatever you can afford. For more information call 278-7677.

WEDNESDAY 21

Since 1986 the Uptown chapter of Habitat for Humanity has rehabilitated and sold housing to 61 low-income families; with its help, the "sweat equity" that families put into the homes makes them affordable, allowing a family to buy a house with a zero-interest mortgage. Tonight H4H will hold a music benefit with a lineup that includes Liquid Soul, Brando's Charm, Jive Council, and Infraction. It's at 7 at Crobar, 1543 N. Kingsbury. Tickets are $6 in advance, $8 at the door. Call 696-8943.

THURSDAY 22

Over the last three decades pop artist Peter Saul has depicted the uglier side of the art world, causing him to be referred to as the "ultimate insider's outsider." His portraits, rendered in Day-Glo colors and a comic-book style, lampoon such artists, critics, and dealers as Andy Warhol, Franz Schulze, and Frank Stella (and occasionally Saul himself) and are characterized by enlarged genitalia and mean-yet-playful labels like "So Shull Significunss" and "Ritsch Peeple." Fourteen of his paintings will be included in Peter Saul: Art World Portraits, which examines Saul's impact on contemporary Chicago artists. Saul will discuss his work today at 5 at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood; a reception follows from 5:30 to 7:30. Both the talk and reception are free; call 702-0200.

Politically motivated work--including cartoons by Jack Higgins from the Chicago Sun-Times, portraits by Tim Anderson, installations by Paula Kloczkowski-Luberda, a collage by Betty Ann Mocek, and a video installation by Tom Pallazzolo--will be showcased at Vendanta Gallery's The Art of Politics exhibit. Tonight a benefit will be held for the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services, a hot line that provides low-income Cook County residents with access to legal help. It's from 5 to 10 at the gallery, 119 N. Peoria. Admission is $20 in advance, $30 at the door, and includes wine, beer, and appetizers. Call 738-9494, ext. 317, for tickets or information.

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