Friday 4/21 - Thursday 4/27
By Cara Jepsen
21 FRIDAY Hanns Heinz Ewers's 1911 novel Alraune tells the story of a genetics professor who conducts a nature-versus-nurture experiment by using the semen of a hanged man to impregnate a prostitute. The result is the bad seed Alraune, who takes her name from the mandrake root, which, according to myth, grows where a hanged man's seed has fallen. Henrik Galeen's 1928 film based on the book stars Brigitte Helm (the evil robot in Metropolis) as the soulless, vengeful daughter who brings misery wherever she goes. Tonight at 7 the U. of C.'s Doc Films will premiere a newly restored version of Alraune on a double bill with F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu. Stefan Drossler, director of the Munich Filmmuseum, which restored the film, will introduce the program; pianist Aljoscha Zimmermann will accompany both movies. Doc Films is at 1212 E. 59th. Admission is $8. Call 773-702-8575.
"Solar power doesn't only have to be outside," says the Chicago Students Environmental Alliance, which is sponsoring tonight's ECOncert. The event, powered by solar cells and promising "music with a positive message," includes guitarist and longtime Dave Matthews collaborator Tim Reynolds and the group Roots Rock Society. It starts at 7 in the University of Chicago's Mandel Hall, 5706 S. University; there will be free bus service to the U. of C. from DePaul and Northwestern. Tickets are $10; call 773-702-0405. It'll be preceded by a free festival of "music, food, and earth-friendly nonprofit organizations" and followed by a party with a DJ, all at the same location.
22 SATURDAY Beneficial insects, ecotourism, urban sprawl, alternative energy, environmental justice, natural capitalism, and "eating a safe egg" are just a few of the topics that will be covered at today's Earth Day Celebration in Lincoln Park, which promises some 100 exhibits from 90 organizations. In addition to a who's who of green speakers (including omnipresent media institution Bill Kurtis), the event promises performances by Ballet Folklorico and musician Minna Bromberg as well as lots of drumming, poetry, art, storytelling, and drama. It's from 9:30 to 4:30 along Cannon Drive between Fullerton and Diversey, near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. It's free. Call 312-755-5171 for more.
23 SUNDAY Blanche Blacke, once a bleached blond who sang about vasectomies with local new wave group Phil 'n' the Blanks, went to LA and became a spiritual healer. Now she's got a new band, Shakura Ensemble, which blends world beat, avant-garde classical music, and free jazz to support her improvised shamanistic healing chants. The group has committed to hosting multidenominational "Spirit Sundays" once a month at HotHouse. Today's debut installment features an international buffet followed by music. The grazing starts at 6 and the band goes on at 7 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo (312-362-9707). Admission is $10.
24 MONDAY "A narrow focus on lifestyle--like a narrow focus on genetic mechanisms--obscures cancer's environmental roots. It presumes that the ongoing contamination of our air, food, and water is an immutable fact of the human condition to which we must accommodate ourselves," writes poet, biologist, and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber in her 1997 book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment. Steingraber, who grew up in central Illinois and wrote the book while a postdoctoral fellow at UIC, will give a lecture today from noon to 1:30 in auditorium 134-2 at UIC's College of Pharmacy, 833 S. Wood. It's free. Call 312-996-2517.
25 TUESDAY In between hanging out with the beats, performing in Andy Warhol films, writing plays for NYC's Living Theatre, founding The Floating Bear with LeRoi Jones, teaching in prisons, on reservations, and in reform schools, helping to start the San Francisco Institute of Magikal and Healing Arts, and having five kids, Diane di Prima was writing poetry. Author of some 34 books of poetry and prose and currently poet-in-residence at Columbia College, di Prima will give a lecture on Poetry as a Spiritual Practice tonight at 5:30 at the Conaway Performance Center, 1104 S. Wabash. On Thursday she'll read from her work at the same time and place. Both events are free. Call 312-344-8100.
Equally prolific author, playwright, and director Susan Sontag lectures tonight at 6 on her new book, In America, her other work, and her life, including her recent struggle with uterine cancer. It's at Northwestern University Law School's Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago, and it's free, but reservations are recommended. Call 312-661-1028, ext. 12, for more information. Tomorrow at 6:30 Sontag reads from In America at the U. of C.'s Max Palevsky Cinema, 1212 E. 59th. It's also free.
26 WEDNESDAY Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney barely survived a car bomb in 1990. On the day following the explosion they were arrested by Oakland police for allegedly transporting the bomb that nearly killed them. The charges were eventually dropped and the bombers are still at large. Bari, one of the original organizers of the Redwood Summer antilogging protests, died in 1997 of breast cancer, but her civil rights lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland police is still winding through the federal courts. Tonight Redwood Justice Fund rep Alicia Littletree brings the latest news to Chicago with The Judi Bari Road Show. It's from 6 to 7:30 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo (312-362-9707). Sliding-scale admission is $3 to $7.
Sarah Vowell's wry essays and childlike voice have made her a sort of female counterpart to This American Life showmate David Sedaris. Vowell, a former Okie who used to live in Chicago but now makes her home in NYC, has collected a bunch of her self-referential stories in a new book, Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World. She'll sign and discuss it tonight at 7 at Borders Books & Music, 830 N. Michigan, 312-573-0564. It's free.
27 THURSDAY The Chicago Maritime Society's treasure trove of 4,000 artifacts and 3,000 photos includes antique spyglasses, uniforms, and models of ships as well as vintage photographs of the Eastland disaster and ships delivering lumber to rebuild the city after the Chicago Fire. The society plans to open a museum one day; in the meantime you can see its collection at tonight's benefit dinner. It concludes with a lecture by member Deane Tank, who will discuss Images and Artifacts from Chicago's Maritime History. It's at 6 at the Chicago Yacht Club, 400 E. Monroe. Tank's lecture starts at 7:30. Tickets for dinner and the lecture are $25 and $50; it's $10 to attend just the lecture. Call 312-421-9096 for more.
In the performance piece Our Brief Eternity, the Vancouver-based dance trio Holy Body Tattoo performs a repetitive series of violent, grueling movements to a discordant score while black-and-white film images of their dance are shown. They say they're seeking to locate "a sense of conscience and hope through intense physicality." They'll perform Our Brief Eternity tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan. Tickets are $20. They'll also host a community master class Saturday, April 29, from 12:30 to 2:30 at Zephyr Dance at Holstein Park, 2200 N. Oakley. Call 773-989-3110.