Friday 8/23 - Thursday 8/29
23 FRIDAY Before housing waste dumps and steel mills, the Lake Calumet area was a thriving prairie wetland; today at 2, rain or shine, over 100 biologists will begin to identify as many plants, animals, and fungi as they can find in its three remaining natural spots--Wolf Lake, Eggers Woods, and Powderhorn Lake. The 24-hour BioBlitz event launches phase two of the Calumet Stewardship Initiative, an attempt to preserve the region's fragile ecosystem--which contains threatened and endangered species such as the Blanding's turtle and the Franklin's ground squirrel. Public programs coinciding with the blitz include regular updates from the scientists as well as opportunities to test water from Wolf Lake, track zebra mussels, count bats and insects, and see birds of prey up close. The free programs run today from 4 to 9 PM and tomorrow from 8 AM to 2 PM at the William W. Powers State Recreation Area, 12949 S. Avenue O (at 123rd). For more information call 312-665-7450.
"To me," says actor James T. Alfred, "'da da' means truth. Tell me the da da. That's how I spin it; that's the truth about me." Consequently, every story in his new solo show, The Big Da Da, comes from personal experience--from his anecdotes about growing up in the old Washington Park Homes and teaching in the Chicago Public Schools to his musings on the dating scene and fast-food service in different parts of the city. The Big Da Da opens tonight at 8 and runs weekends through September 22 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors; call Ticketmaster at 312-902-1500.
24 SATURDAY Stanley Tigerman's parking garage at 60 E. Lake is the only edifice featured in today's A View From the Road tour designed by a "serious" architect--though the ten-story structure, modeled after a Rolls-Royce grille, certainly doesn't look it. Other stops on the 50s-car-culture-inspired expedition include the Esquire Motel on Elston, the Superdawg hot dog stand, the original Ray Kroc McDonald's in Des Plaines, and the Par-King Skill Golf miniature golf course in Morton Grove. The four-hour bus tour features docents in period costumes and leaves at 10:30 AM from the Chicago Architecture Foundation's center at 224 S. Michigan; a $40 fee includes lunch. To make a reservation, call 312-922-3432, ext. 240.
During their careers, Bronzeville regulars Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, and Jimmy Blythe each created handmade player piano rolls that captured their performances down to the last note. Those rolls will get a rare outing on a vintage piano today at noon, the first event in a four-hour celebration called The Stroll: Bronzeville's Musical Legacy. It commemorates the Jazz Age heyday of State Street between 31st and 35th; once lined with clubs and theaters, the strip is now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology campus. In addition to performances by Franz Jackson & the Chicago Hot Jazz Ensemble and pianists Reginald Robinson and Erwin Helfer, there will be historical re-creations and tours of historic music sites. The free event, part of the city's summerlong "Music Everywhere" initiative, runs from noon to 4 at the corner of 33rd and State; call 877-244-2246.
The three-part "Public Planning" series was designed to explore "alternate plans for how communities should be built or left alone," says artist and activist Brett Bloom. The first event took place August 21. Installments two and three are this weekend and link the fight to save the rocks at Promontory Point in Hyde Park to the fate of the Experimental Station, the complex designed to replace the Woodlawn building that housed the Baffler, Blackstone Bicycle Works, Big Fish Furniture, and other enterprises before it burned down in April 2001; plans to rebuild have been snarled for months by the city's permit process. Tonight at 6 there's a free event on the grounds surrounding the burned-out shell at 6100 S. Blackstone that includes a bonfire, food, outdoor art, short presentations about the Experimental Station and the point, a video screening, and a game of "capture the permit." Tomorrow at noon there'll be a free picnic and swimming at Promontory Point (55th and the lake), where artists Zena Sakowski and Rob Kelly will unveil their "inflatable islands." For more information call 312-498-0006 or go to www.spaces.org.
25 SUNDAY Self-taught filmmaker Doris Wishman was 90 when she died in Miami on August 10 of complications related to lymphoma. But three weeks earlier the "queen of exploitation"--whose zero-budget oeuvre began with 1960's Hideout in the Sun and included such zingers as Another Day, Another Man and Bad Girls Go to Hell--was still editing a new film, Each Time I Kill. She spent much of her last seven years completing her first video feature, Dildo Heaven, the story of three Sunshine State sexpots out to seduce their bosses; the Chicago Underground Film Festival quotes her as saying, "It could have been better, but at least it's finished." CUFF gave Wishman a lifetime achievement award last year and is dedicating this year's festival, which started August 22 and runs through August 28, to her memory. Friends and crew members will share stories at the midwest premiere screenings of Dildo Heaven tonight at 8:45 and Tuesday, August 27, at 10:30 at Landmark's Century Centre, 2828 N. Clark. Tickets are $9; call 773-327-3456 or see the sidebar in Section Two for complete schedule information.
26 MONDAY Until it was shut down by the city in 1999, the Roosevelt Hotel was an SRO whose rooms went for around $300 a month. Now the eight-story building has been converted by its new owners--with assistance from city TIF funds--to apartments that start at $890. "It's part of the whole downtown development that Millennium Park is being built for--for high-end apartment and condo owners," says a spokesman for the Coalition for Fair Community Development. "We want to see the City Council and the mayor begin to take some action to preserve affordable housing." Today the CFCD will hold a march that begins at 4 in front of the old hotel at 1152 S. Wabash and ends at 6 at Millennium Park near Monroe and Michigan, where a tent city will be set up for the night. It's free; for more call 773-292-4980.
27 TUESDAY A 1978 episode of the Tomorrow Show, featuring a youthful Tom Snyder interviewing rock impresarios Kim Fowley and Bill Graham and teenage musicians Joan Jett and Paul Weller about "new wave rock music," is one of the 10,000 TV shows, 50,000 hours of radio, 9,000 TV commercials, and 2,500 newscasts archived at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. For $3 a day visitors can watch their fill of 70s TV at one of 23 "study suites" that are open today (and every day except Sundays and holidays) from 10 to 4:30 at the museum, housed in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Admission is free; to find out what's available call 312-629-6000 or log on to www.mbcnet.org.
28 WEDNESDAY Gallery 400 kicks off its new "At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago" series with an installation by Marc Fischer called Paper Trails (Going Through Your Garbage). For the piece, the artist will fill the gallery with hundreds of pounds of paper meant to be recycled by UIC's Waste Reduction and Recycling Program, which diverts over 1,000 tons of waste from landfills each year. The exhibit opened yesterday and runs through September 27; there's a free opening reception today from 4 to 7 at the gallery, 400 S. Peoria (312-996-6114).
29 THURSDAY A set of free Jazz Festival programs at the Chicago Cultural Center could provide a cool escape from the crowds at Grant Park events. At 12:15 today AACM members George Lewis, Jeff Parker, and Phil Cohran will participate in a panel discussion called Frankiphones and Silver Cycles: African-Americans and Electronic Music in Chicago. Afterward Lewis and AACM saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell will perform Lewis's piece "Voyager," in which improvisers interact with a computer program. At 4:30 pianist Uri Caine will give a solo concert, and tomorrow at 12:15 Scott Rosenberg will perform with an avant-garde big band. All events are at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630).