Friday 7/26 - Thursday 8/1
26 FRIDAY Local comedian and actress Sapna Kumar has the same name as an Indian supermodel, but that's where the similarities end. Kumar, now an out lesbian, says she was "tragically misplaced, eating curry in a cornfield" while growing up in Indiana. She often relies on her eccentric Bombay-born parents to provide fodder for her act: "They came to one of my shows at Zanies," says Kumar, "and my mom said, 'You make us sound like we come from a bloody village.'" Kumar will perform tonight at a benefit for Gilda's Club and the Funny Women Fest Education Program at 7 at the Black Orchid, Piper's Alley, 230 W. North (third floor). Also performing will be Hilary Chaplain, Dionna Griffin, Lynn Lewis, the Women of Second City, and the improv group All Jane, No Dick, from Portland, Oregon; a short film by M.T. Cozzola will also be shown. Tickets are $25; ten bucks more covers admission to a 5:30 benefit reception and awards presentation. For more information on the two-day Funny Women Fest, call 773-320-4575 or see www.funnywomenfest.com.
"And the truth is that the great multitudes annually arrested are the poor, the unfortunate, the young, and the neglected. In short, our penal machinery seems to recruit its victims from among those who are fighting an unequal fight in the struggle for existence." When Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld spoke those words over 100 years ago he was referring to the Haymarket trials, in which--despite a lack of evidence--eight men "with foreign-sounding names" were sentenced to death for detonating a bomb and inciting a riot that left seven policemen dead. Four of the alleged anarchists were executed and one committed suicide, but Altgeld, the state's first foreign-born governor, pardoned the three remaining men after taking office in 1893. As he predicted, the move was political suicide. Tonight's free Altgeld Centennial Celebration marks the 100th anniversary of his death. It runs from 6 to 8 and will include actors performing excerpts from Warren Leming's play Cold Chicago: A Haymarket Fable, followed by an open-mike debate. Tomorrow's open-mike Bughouse Square debates start at 1 with introductory remarks from Studs Terkel, who will then be presented with the John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award. (The main debate, "Is Corporate Health Care Killing You?," starts at 3:15.) It's all at Washington Square Park at Walton and Clark, across the street from the Newberry Library, which is holding its annual book fair from noon to 8 today and from 10 to 6 tomorrow and Sunday. Call 312-255-3510.
27 SATURDAY For past Venetian Night boat parades, "the boat owners would come up with generic decorations because they weren't artists. They would throw on some Christmas lights and call it a day," says a spokesperson for the mayor's office of special events. For this year's event, themed "Tribute to the Arts," boaters have been paired with members of the Illinois Arts Alliance in the hope they'll come up with some more innovative designs. Participating organizations include the Apollo Chorus (their boat's titled "Heaven"), the CSO ("Rock Me Amadeus"), and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago ("The Nutcracker"). The free parade starts at 8:30 and will be followed by fireworks at 9:30. It runs along the lakefront from the Shedd Aquarium (at Roosevelt) to the Chicago Yacht Club (at Monroe); call 312-744-3315 or log on to www.cityofchicago.org/specialevents for more.
Composer Charles Kim and filmmaker Jeff Economy have each participated in about a dozen public sound and film collaborations over the past year, but attendance hasn't exactly been breaking box office records. "Multimedia events like this get overlooked because no one knows where to publicize them," says Kim. "They fall between the cracks." So he and Economy created Chicago Sound and Vision, a collective that pairs filmmakers with musicians and organizes events like tonight's showcase at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia (773-227-4433). The bill includes Jeff Parker playing music to a film by Tatsu Aoki, Kranky Records' Pan American accompanying live film projections by Carolyn Faber, Sinister Luck Ensemble performing Kim's score to a film by Paula Froehle, and Fred Lonberg-Holm (music) and John McGeehan (film). It starts at 9:30 and admission is $8 (you must be 21). For more info on Chicago Sound and Vision, call 773-292-1929.
28 SUNDAY Since President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act last fall, the FBI has visited more than 80 libraries. Under the new law it can request information about the reading and browsing habits of patrons, and librarians are prohibited from telling others about the inquiries. Today Judith Krug, director of the American Library Association's intellectual freedom office, will discuss what the law means for library and bookstore employees and the reading public at an event called Who's Watching What You Read? Emceed by WVON host Cliff Kelly, it's from 1 to 4 (Krug will speak at 2) at the Garfield Park Field House, 100 N. Central Park; tickets are $25 and benefit the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights (312-939-0675).
29 MONDAY British lesbians earn, on average, about $4,500 more per year than their straight sisters, and more than a few of them like to blow it in London's Soho district--home to places like the Candy Bar, the first UK watering hole catering exclusively to women. The bar is the focus of Kerry McKibben's 2001 short film Lesbians Behaving Badly, which also includes a sequence about three women out to win a New Year's Eve "snog-a-thon." It'll be shown tonight at 7 at Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark) along with Richard Currier's film The Butch, about NYC comic and cabaret star Lea DeLaria. It's part of the Reeling 2002 Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival, which started Thursday and runs through August 8. Tickets are $7. For more info call 312-458-9117 or see www.chicagofilmmakers.org/reeling.
30 TUESDAY Jazz bassist and former Evanston band teacher Michael Manson has played with everyone from gospel greats Vanessa Bell and James Cleveland to the R & B group Blacques. He's also a composer, and recently finished work on his first solo album, The Bottom Line. He'll be joined by George Duke, Steve Dole, and Kirk Whalum at tonight's release party, which starts at 7 at Isaac Hayes, 737 N. Clark. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door; admission includes a free copy of the CD. For tickets call 312-850-2440 or go to www.socialstep.com.
31 WEDNESDAY Poet Tyehimba Jess, who won the Sun-Times's poetry contest last year (and was the subject of a Reader story last month), is leaving town for an MFA program at New York University. He'll give a farewell reading tonight at 7:30 at Nina Corwin's "Word Gourmet" open mike, where he'll also hand out awards to the winners of his Ndugu Poetry Contest for African-American Young Men. It's at the Guild Complex at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (773-227-6117). Admission is $5, $3 for students and seniors.
1 THURSDAY The 60-odd performers at today's Buskerfest '02 include musicians, mimes, fire-eaters, jugglers, clowns, comedians, and one Dylan Studebaker, who bills himself as "the one and only punk magician." The free festival runs through Saturday, August 3, from 11:30 to 6:30 daily in and around "the New East Side," a neighborhood of offices, apartment buildings, and hotels that's anchored by One Prudential Plaza and bounded by Michigan Avenue, the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, and Randolph Street. See www.chicagoneweastside.com for more.