Friday 11/19 - Thursday 11/25
19 FRIDAY Every year French hat designers honor Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of milliners, with a festival known as La Fete des Catherinettes. The Millinery Arts Alliance of Chicago follows fashion by holding its own version of the event; this year, the fifth, benefits the Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization. It will include a hat sale by local designers, an auction of hat-related art, refreshments, and a tribute to north-side milliner Raymond Hudd, who's kept Chicago covered since 1950. It's from 5:30 to 9:30 at Kass/Meridian Gallery, 215 W. Superior. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Call 312-409-6311.
Hula hoops, the moon landing, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Elvis, and menopause are among the timeworn cultural markers cited in a new anthology of verse, Boomer Girls: Poems by Women From the Baby Boom Generation. Tonight editors Pamela Gemin and Paula Sergi will be joined by contributors Kelly Norman Ellis, Cynthia Gallaher, Maureen Seaton, and Kate Sontag at a free reading at 7:30 at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark (773-769-9299).
20 SATURDAY The Chicago Historical Society's new exhibit Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions--curated by historian Bernice Johnson Reagon, who's also the founder of the gospel group Sweet Honey in the Rock--examines the cultural forces behind spiritual music, from hymns to Pentecostal "shout singing." The exhibit, which ties into the society's ongoing program "Good News! Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music," opens today with performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the South Shore Community Chorus at 2 and Lyric baritone Robert Sims at 3:30 in the Rubloff Auditorium. Other local choruses will perform between 11 and 2 in the galleries, and music will continue tomorrow from noon to 3 at the Chicago Historical Society, Clark at North (312-642-4600). Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors.
Five years ago a group of African-American women founded Affinity Community Services to address the lack of resources for lesbians and bisexuals on the south side. Today they offer support to gay and transgendered women of all ages through social, educational, and outreach events. At tonight's annual benefit, which begins with a reception at 7, Tracy and Marcy Baim will donate books on African history and the civil rights struggle from the collection of their late mother, community activist Joy Darrow, and Blacklines's Sanford Gaylord and others will read from their work. It's at Affinity Community Services, 5650 S. Woodlawn (the garden level of the First Unitarian Church). Tickets are $25. Call 773-324-0377.
Jubilee 2000 is not a millennial feel-good musical event but rather an international movement calling for "a one-off cancellation of the unpayable debts of the world's poorest countries by the year 2000." Organizers say paying off the debts diverts funds from health, education, and sanitation--which only makes things worse. Tonight at 8 Jessica Tulloch from the American Friends Service Committee will outline local Jubilee 2000 efforts at the College of Complexes at Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln. It's $3 plus a food or drink purchase. Call 312-326-2120 for more information.
21 SUNDAY Bob Skilnik, who grew up near two breweries on the south side, wrote his book The History of Beer and Brewing in Chicago, 1833-1978 when he discovered no one had published anything on what was once a rather large local industry. What Skilnik found in his research--riots, mob involvement--evolved into what Stanley J. Galloway, director of the American Breweriana Association, calls "a detailed story of suspense, forceful personalities, and conflict." Skilnik will give a free reading today at 3 at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster (312-871-3610).
Groundbreaking Greek musician George Dalaras, who's credited with introducing Greek music to an international audience, blends traditional sounds with more contemporary rhythms. He'll play tonight at 8 at the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive. Tickets are $40 to $75; call 312-559-1212. For more information, call 312-791-6516 or see the Critic's Choice in Section Three.
22 MONDAY Rogers Park, Humboldt Park, and Highland Park provide the backdrop for James Sherman's new play, Door to Door, which advance press materials describe as a "poignant, funny and unexpectedly feminist view of Chicago Jewish life into the last century." Sherman, who based the play on his mother's life, was dubbed the "Neil Simon of Lincoln Avenue" by the Sun-Times after his first play, Beau Jest, opened at Victory Gardens in 1985. His latest opens tonight at 7:30 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $25 to $30; call 773-871-3000.
Marge Waterstreet's play The Rape of Nanking According to Winnie is based on the 500-page diary of Winnie Singleton, a missionary at Nanking Women's College who helped save 10,000 Chinese women and children when the Japanese invaded in 1937. But a few years later the downstate native suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to the U.S., where she later committed suicide. There will be a staged reading tonight at 8 at the Red Lion Restaurant & Pub, 2246 N. Lincoln, as part of the spoken-word series "Twilight Tales." It's $2. Call 773-296-0970 for details.
23 TUESDAY Prune cookies or potato pancakes? Who cares? A lot of people, it seems. The University of Chicago's Latke Hamentash Symposium has been going on since 1946 with no clear winner in sight. This year the panel includes U. of C. professors Joel Kraemer, W.J.T. Mitchell, Ross Stolzenberg, and William Meadow. Ted Cohen, author of Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters, moderates. It's at 7:30 at Mandel Hall in the university's Reynolds Club, 5706 S. University. It's free; $3 gets you all the hamantaschen and latkes you can eat. Call 773-752-1127 for more.
24 WEDNESDAY In an age when Christmas decorations appear before Halloween, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Santa Claus is showing up at Navy Pier before turkey day. Today from 11 to 7 and every day through December 24 (except Thanksgiving), Kriss Kringle will be on hand to listen to the Pokemon wishes and Beanie Baby dreams of little girls and boys. Other holiday hoo-ha includes fireworks, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and ice skating. It's all free at 600 E. Grand; call 312-595-7437 for more information.
25 THURSDAY If you need an excuse to get away from the family and take a drive this Thanksgiving, you're in luck--and you might learn something about Chicago in the process. The city has installed 20 more Tribute Markers of Distinction (for 60 total) around town to honor local movers and shakers. The seven-foot-high triangular markers, which include a photo and biographical info, are installed where notable citizens lived and worked. The newest salute writer Ben Hecht (5210 S. Kenwood), bluesman McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters (4339 S. Lake Park), Kukla, Fran & Ollie creator Burr Tillstrom (1407 W. Sherwin), and Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein (5551 W. Van Buren). Call 312-744-6630 for more information.