Friday 2/22 - Thursday 2/28
22 FRIDAY It was Lester Young who nicknamed Billie Holiday "Lady Day," and she in turn dubbed him "Pres," supposedly short for "president of the tenor sax." Young is also credited with popularizing the hipster uniform of rumpled suit, skinny tie, and porkpie hat and the use of laconic slang--"You dig"--among the jazz crowd. But it's his music that's had the most lasting influence, inspiring legions of younger performers such as Stan Getz and Charlie Parker to follow him as he made the move from swing to bebop. Douglas Henry Daniels, professor of history and black studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has just written a new biography of the jazz artist, Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester "Pres" Young. Daniels will be at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster, at 8:30 tonight to discuss Young's life and career. It's free; call 773-871-3825. On Saturday, February 23, he'll appear at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th, at 1:30. It's free with museum admission ($3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, $1 for kids ages 6 to 13, and free for kids under 6). Call 773-947-0600.
Also on the subject of saxophones, the Jazz Institute of Chicago is inaugurating its fifth year of free concerts and workshops with the debut of Saxophone Summit, an evening of world-class Chicago-based saxophonists at the Tuley Park auditorium, 501 E. 90th Place. Backed by a three-piece rhythm section, the lineup includes Mwata Bowden, Taku Akiyama, Duke Payne, Eric Schneider, and the legendary Von Freeman. The event, presented in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, starts at 7 PM (which is, what, around 8 PM jazz time?). It's free but seating is limited. Call 312-427-1676 for more information.
23 SATURDAY OK, so Theater Fever sounds like one of those lame themes that high school student councils use to jazz up homecoming. But from 11 AM until 3 PM today, workshops and performances will cram every nook and cranny of the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington). The full spectrum of Chicago theater will be represented, from the big dogs at Steppenwolf to the little guys who can't even afford a ratty storefront space. At noon, for example, choreographer Kenny Ingram teaches hip-hop dancing in Preston Bradley Hall, while folks from Chicago Dramatists conduct a playwriting workshop in the G.A.R. Hall Annex and members of the Stockyards Theatre Project "get in touch with their personal creative goddess" in the Visitor Information Center. It's all free and no reservations are required, although some activities will probably fill up fast. For more information call 312-742-1079 or visit the League of Chicago Theatres' Web site (www.chicagoplays.com) for a full schedule of events.
Murdered in 1936 by Franco sympathizers, Federico Garcia Lorca, barely 38 at his death, still managed to leave behind a remarkable body of work--poems, prose, and one-act and full-length plays--most of it steeped in his trademark mix of high and folk cultures and surrealism. His dreamlike imagery angered and frightened tradition-bound fascists almost as much as his left-wing politics, and it gives his work a power and accessibility that make him more understandable to our eyes than he ever was to his contemporaries. Tonight at 8 the Aguijon Theater (2707 N. Laramie), sponsored by the Instituto Cervantes, presents an evening of dramatized readings, in English and Spanish, of Lorca's poetry. Tickets are $10; for information and reservations call 773-637-5899.
24 SUNDAY What is evil? Where does it come from? Are there evil people, or are people just inspired--or possessed--to do evil things? A year ago such questions might have seemed academic, but recent events have made them painfully relevant. Today Adolfo Roitman, curator at the Israel Museum and lecturer in the department of comparative religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will give a lecture entitled The Concept of Evil in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in Ancient Jewish Thought, in which he'll discuss ancient and contemporary ideas of evil as seen through the lenses of the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and rabbinic literature. The lecture begins at noon at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 618 S. Michigan. Admission is free but reservations are requested. Call 312-322-1769.
25 MONDAY Where do used cell phones go when they die? Usually the back of a drawer, along with the cut-up credit cards, the headphones with one working earpiece, and the used dinner candles. Now through March 31, you can recycle your old cell phones by sending them to Chicago-based U.S. Cellular. They'll pick through the contributions, sell what they can--whole or in pieces--and donate the proceeds to a fund providing education and job training assistance for needy dependents of those killed or disabled by the September 11 attacks. Phones may be mailed to U.S. Cellular's External Communications Department, c/o C.A.R.E., 8410 W. Bryn Mawr, suite 700, Chicago, 60631, or dropped off at the same address in the collection bin on the seventh floor. More information on the program can be found at www.uscellular.com.
26 TUESDAY Whether or not you agree with the president's claim that Iran, Iraq, and North Korea form an axis of evil (when have Iran and Iraq been on the same side of anything?), it's clear that we're in a struggle with forces intent on disrupting Western society. Today the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations is sponsoring a panel discussion on The Anatomy of Terrorism--Success Stories in Countering Terrorism, part of an ongoing series on security and the effects of terrorism on global society. Panelists include Fernando Nestares, a political scientist and terrorism expert at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid; Thomas Mockaitis, chair of DePaul University's department of history; Ibrahim Karawan, director of the Middle East Center at the University of Utah; and Laura Donohue, postdoctoral fellow in international security at Harvard University. The panel discussion begins at 5:45 at the Hotel Inter-Continental, 505 N. Michigan; a cocktail reception follows at 7. Admission is $25; for more information call 312-726-3860.
27 WEDNESDAY What do you do when the media single you out as the spokesperson for a subset of the American experience? If you're Amy Tan, author of the best-selling 1989 novel The Joy Luck Club, you insist that you are writing only for yourself, as she asserted in a 1996 essay in The Threepenny Review--even as publicists hyped her as the voice of her generation of Asian-American women. Hopefully, such contradictions only add spice to a writer's public persona. Tan will speak about her life and writing tonight at 7 in the auditorium of Loyola University Chicago's Sky Building, 6363 N. Sheridan (312-915-6164). She's currently touring to promote the paperback edition of her 2001 novel, The Bonesetter's Daughter. A book signing will follow the free lecture.
28 THURSDAY Best known for his enigmatic boxes containing collages of found objects and snipped photographs, Joseph Cornell also made a handful of short but very influential surrealistic films. In Rose Hobart (1936), his most famous, he took a found object--in this case a forgotten B movie starring an obscure actress named Rose Hobart--and cut it from 77 minutes to 20 by removing all the scenes that don't feature her and then juggling the sequence to scramble the narrative. The result was a film that fired the imagination of a generation of young filmmakers, from Jack Smith to Ken Jacobs to Stan Brakhage. Today at 6 the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State) will show Rose Hobart and several of Cornell's other shorts. Tickets are $8; for more information call 312-846-2800. i With roots in 10th-century Persia, the ghazal is a form of Persian and Indian classical music structured around a cycle of short poems and usually concerned with love--earthly, spiritual, or both. The name is derived from an Arabic word meaning "to talk amorously with women," and even the most abstract, ethereal ghazals have an erotic feel, in the way that eros permeates even the most spiritual passages of the Song of Songs. Tonight the Ghazal Ensemble, a trio of musicians originally from Iran and India, will perform a free concert at 7 in the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington. For more information call 312-744-6630.