Friday 11/29 - Thursday 12/5
29 FRIDAY For the past 11 years the Vancouver-based Adbusters Media Foundation has celebrated the day after Thanksgiving as Buy Nothing Day, asking folks around the globe to keep their wallets in their pockets on America's biggest shopping day of the year. This year organizers expect more than a million people in 30 countries to host teach-ins on overconsumption, stage mass credit card cut-ups, and generally throw as many monkey wrenches as possible into the holiday machine. Adbusters itself hopes to air a spot during today's broadcast of CNN's Lou Dobbs Moneyline--"the most prestigious business news program in history"--reminding viewers that the average American consumes 5 times more stuff than his or her Mexican counterpart, 10 times more than the average Chinese person, and 30 times more than someone in India. BND activities are planned throughout the day; look on Michigan Avenue and in other commercial zones. For more information see www.adbusters.org.
30 SATURDAY Dan Decker, founder of the Center for Script Development and author of the writing handbook Anatomy of a Screenplay, spent four years researching his first play, An Evening With Will Shakespeare. In addition to discovering that the Bard contracted syphilis at age 24--hence all those references to poxes on houses ("pox" being popular slang for the disease, which at the time was incurable)--he also claims to have figured out whom all those sonnets were written for and why. All is revealed in Decker's one-man show (performed by Jason Grubbe and directed by Tom Lenane), which is set on Shakespeare's 52nd birthday--the day he died. It opened last week and runs through December 22. Performances are daily at 8 PM (except Mondays) and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 at the Heartland Cafe's Studio Theatre, 7006 N. Glenwood. Tickets are $20; call 773-665-9882.
1 SUNDAY The Lira Ensemble's annual Polish-American Christmas Gala features Polish and American carols, folk songs, and dances as well as audience sing-alongs, all accompanied by a 16-piece orchestra. But the real draw this year may be a performance of the dzek, or "wild dance," in which men "jump into the air and show off," according to a spokesperson. The dance originated in the Baltic fishing villages of the Kashubian region of Poland, and is said to be the legacy of visits from pirates, whose high spirits and partying habits were a big hit with the local peasants. Today's 3 PM performance at the Morton East Auditorium, 2401 S. Austin in Cicero, will also feature a holiday bazaar and an appearance by the Lira Children's Chorus. On Saturday, December 7, the show will be remounted (without the kids) at 8 PM at Maine East Auditorium, 2601 W. Dempster in Park Ridge. Tickets range from $20 to $27, with discounts available for students and seniors; call 773-508-7040.
2 MONDAY The U.S. needs to stop making self-centered economic, political, and military decisions if it wants to keep NATO countries as allies, says Josef Joffe, editor in chief and publisher of the Hamburg-based weekly Die Zeit. If we don't, he predicts, European countries will eventually band together against us. He'll elaborate tonight in the second installment of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations's three-part series Allies at Odds? The Future of the Transatlantic Relationship. There's a reception at 5:30 and the lecture starts at 6 at the Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus. Tickets are $25; call 312-726-3860.
3 TUESDAY A 2000 collaboration between M.I.T. students and the performance group La Pocha Nostra resulted in The Ethnographic Museum of Irrelevant Races, an installation designed to address preconceived notions of race, ethnicity, and class. The "exhibits"--seven people of different backgrounds housed in Plexiglas cases, complete with guards and docents--pointedly behaved against type: the demure Bengali woman stripped to reveal a sexy gold lame outfit; the Salvadoran aristocrat crawled around her display case like an ape. "I like to see myself as a professional troublemaker," La Pocha Nostra director Guillermo Gomez-Pena told the Boston Globe. "I'm always looking for ways to create total experiences that are really exciting and playful, but at the same time hopefully politically enlightening and critical." Over the next two weeks La Pocha Nostra will be working with 12 Columbia College students on the Brown Sheep Project, a performance and installation to be presented December 12 and 13 (call 312-344-6650). Tonight Gomez-Pena--a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipient--will read from his work at an event called "Intercultural Fetishes"; it'll be followed by a discussion between him and Chicago writer Achy Obejas. The reading starts at 7 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, and tickets are $10, $5 for students and seniors (persons under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian). Call 312-362-9707 or see www.hothouse.net; for more on La Pocha Nostra see www.pochanostra.com.
4 WEDNESDAY In eighth grade Columbia College grad student Nissan Wasfie dated a girl who wrote him "some of the most fabulous letters I've ever gotten"--about 80 in all. The early ones are sweet missives decorated with elaborate, colorful drawings. After the couple broke up, though, her tone became more serious; an (unsuccessful) 15-page "last-ditch effort" repeats "I love you" 1,000 times. These and many other epistles, including some written by a father serving in Vietnam to his son, go on display today in the free student-curated exhibit Dear ______,--Our Lives in Letters, which runs through January 7 at Columbia College's Hokin Gallery, 623 S. Wabash (312-344-7696). Gallery hours are 9 to 7 Monday through Thursday and 9 to 5 Friday; guests are invited to bring or write their own letters and add them to the display.
What North Central College history professor Anne Keating refers to as Chicago's "American era" began not long after the Revolutionary War and took off in the 1830s and '40s, after the Blackhawk War drove Native Americans out of the region and "people were moving in to stay," building frame houses with windows and Greek revival features on the land around the confluence of the north and south branches of the Chicago River. She'll discuss these dwellings, and North Central College history professor emeritus B. Pierre Lebeau will talk about those of the preceding "French era," at tonight's slide presentation From Checagou to Chicago: The Story of a Great Lakes Settlement. There's a reception at 5:30 and the event starts at 6 at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton (312-255-3510). Admission is $12 and includes refreshments.
"We were angry about the war in Vietnam, about police brutality, strict drug penalties, racism, social injustice everywhere. I felt like an antennae, receiver, conduit for 'my time.' I was reeling--like so many of us in the sixties--from the intensity of a passionate vision of a better world and from all the sweet and painful informations that sang in my ear. Drug induced? Not entirely. More appropriately, poetry induced. Poets had always been oppositional, liberated, angry about the right things or at least tuned in to where the energy, power was. Witnesses drawn to the flames." So writes Anne Waldman of the work she did as director of the Saint Mark's Poetry Project in New York in the 60s and 70s. Waldman is widely credited with helping pull poetry off the page and onto the stage, bridging the gap between the beats and the punks by booking poets such as William Burroughs and Patti Smith. The founder (with Allen Ginsberg) of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Boulder's Naropa University, she's written over 40 books of poetry. She'll read tonight at 6:30 in the School of the Art Institute ballroom, 112 S. Michigan. Tickets are $15; for more information call the Poetry Center of Chicago at 312-899-1229 or see www.poetrycenter.org.
5 THURSDAY Robert and Richard LaPorta's movie career started in 1971, when their father corralled the family into the front yard to make a Super-8 short called The Lost Glove. Two dozen years later the pair formed Lost Glove Film Productions. Richard, who lives in Chicago, is the writer, director, and editor and Robert is the producer and star (his wife, Alexa Fischer, costars) of their first feature, One Man's Ceiling, which was shot in Andersonville on digital video. Screenings of the comedy about one critical day in the life of an apathetic architect began Friday, November 29; the last one is tonight at 6:15 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Admission is $8; for a complete schedule call 312-846-2800 or see the movie listings.