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Friday 5/30 - Thursday 6/5

MAY

30 FRIDAY Ten years after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the breast cancer rate in Ukraine began to skyrocket; in the area immediately surrounding the power plant the number of cases has increased by 236 percent. The disease is now the leading cause of death among working-age women in the country. Last year more than 7,000 died from it and another 14,000 were diagnosed--20 percent of whom are expected to die within a year. The lack of diagnostic equipment in rural areas, cultural taboos against discussing illness, and the (understandable) inclination of Ukrainian women to steer clear of mammograms because they're afraid of radiation have compounded the problem. The proceeds from tonight's fashion show fund-raiser, Because Life Is Beautiful, will go toward the purchase of mammography equipment in Ukraine. Hosted by the Kiev Committee of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program, the event will feature work by Ukrainian designers Oksana Karavanska, Victoria Gres, and Anna Babenko as well as local designers Tatiana Chelekhova and Natalie Nazarova. The show starts at 7:30, following a 6:30 reception, in the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington. Tickets are $75; call 312-744-5320.

Japanese game shows. The Turkish version of Star Wars. Andy Kaufman and David Letterman. Ted Nugent blowing away keyboards with an automatic rifle. Once a month in Atlanta, the zine Chunklet teams up with video and magazine distributor 5 Minutes to Live to host screenings of video clips like these and more. Now they've packaged the best for the rest of us as the three-volume Lost and Found Video Series. Tonight Quimby's will screen volume one, which includes a naughty piece featuring a GI Joe and a Six Million Dollar Man doll and footage of an out-of-control Metallica fan playing air drums. It starts at 8 at 1854 W. North and it's free; call 773-342-0910. For more on the videos go to www.5minutestolive.com.

31 SATURDAY Today's Peace and Justice Teach-In is organized around the theme "Building Democracy: Knowledge and Action in an Age of War and Repression." Sponsored by 43 groups, from the American Friends Service Committee to Voices in the Wilderness, the daylong event features workshops on grassroots fund-raising, civil liberties and the Patriot Act, depleted-uranium poisoning, the philosophy of nonviolent civil disobedience, and much more. It starts at 8:30 AM at Jones College Prep High School, 606 S. State, and runs till 6:30 PM; admission is $10, $5 for students and others of limited means. Preregistration is encouraged; call 312-427-0353 or see www.chicagoteachin.org.

Last year about 40 people tried their hands at rowing, canoeing, and kayaking at the local edition of National Learn to Row Day. The free annual event is hosted by the Chicago River Rowing and Paddling Center, which is hidden away in the old coast guard boathouse at the mouth of the Chicago River, just south of Navy Pier. Because they share the space with the marine and conservation police, "we haven't really been able to put a sign up," explains CRRC president Susan Urbas; the group plans to move to a new, more visible boathouse at soon-to-be-developed DuSable Park. The 55-member group expects about 100 others for this year's free celebration, which runs from 9 to 3 at the boathouse and along the river. For more information see www.chicagorowing.org.

The WBEZ-based radio show This American Life last went onstage three years ago, when it toured with a group of writers and the band OK Go. This time around the five-city tour includes a band the Mekons' Jon Langford assembled from musicians he found through the Reader classifieds, a stunt he first pulled in October for an episode of the show. The storytelling lineup consists of producer-host Ira Glass and local cartoonist Chris Ware, who are "coreporting a story in cartoons and audio," according to a spokesperson, as well as regular contributors Sarah Vowell, Davy Rothbart, and Jonathan Goldstein. All of them will somehow address the theme "Lost in America." The Chicago performance starts tonight at 8 at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; a radio version will air at 7 PM June 13 on 'BEZ. Tickets are $20 and $30; call 312-902-1500.

JUNE

1 SUNDAY Since April a loose-knit group of Chicagoans has been meeting on the first Sunday of the month in front of a local superstore to embark upon a "consumption awareness ritual" called Whirl-Mart, in which they get carts, go inside, and wheel them through the aisles for an hour, buying nothing. The experiment started on April 1, 2001, in Troy, New York, in response to a call by Adbusters magazine to engage in foolish agitprop, and it's now staged worldwide. Today's free happening is one of a dozen diverse activities sponsored by Lumpen Media Group to celebrate its 12th anniversary (for the full slate of events, including an arts-and-crafts evening at Quimby's on May 31, see www.lumpen.com). Would-be whirlers should meet at 2 PM outside Target, 2656 N. Elston. For more information call 773-342-7332 or go to www.breathingplanet.net/whirl/.

2 MONDAY For his 1983 documentary, The Store, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman set up his cameras inside the Neiman Marcus flagship in Dallas in the middle of the Christmas season. Wiseman's best known for his in-depth explorations of life in environments like a hospital for the criminally insane (Titicut Follies, 1967) and Chicago's Ida B. Wells housing projects (Public Housing, 1997). "I'm interested in class in American life, and movies like [The Store] give an opportunity to look at people from a different walk of life," explained Wiseman in an interview with film reviewer Gerald Peary. "I don't just take the more obvious subject of people who haven't made it, but I show the people who have made it. What their values are seem just as important." The Store will be shown tonight at 7:45 as part of the Gene Siskel Film Center's Wiseman retrospective, which runs through Thursday, June 5 (when The Store plays again, at 6). This week's schedule also features multiple screenings of his latest film, The Last Letter, which is making its Chicago premiere. All screenings are at 164 N. State, and tickets are $8; call 312-846-2800.

3 TUESDAY When Ela Weissberger was 11 she and her family were taken to the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Most of Prague's Jewish artists were also brought to Terezin--a stopping point on the way to the Nazi death camps--and one of them, composer Hans Krasa, smuggled in a copy of his short children's opera, Brundibar. The piece tells the story of two kids who sing to raise money to buy milk for their sick mother, with the help of various animals. To keep the children in the camp entertained, the adult artists helped them put on a show, and Weissberger was cast in the role of the cat, which she played for all 55 performances. "When we sang, we forgot where we were," she told the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2000. "We forgot hunger, we forgot all the troubles that we had to go through. When we sang Brundibar, we didn't have to wear the Jewish star on our clothing." Weissberger was one of 100 or so children--out of 15,000--to pass through the camp and survive. Today at 12:15 she'll discuss the legacy of Brundibar at a free brown-bag lunch lecture at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630). Chicago Opera Theater's double production of Brundibar and Comedy on the Bridge, directed by Thor Steingraber with translations by Tony Kushner and production design by Maurice Sendak, opens tomorrow, May 4, at 7:30 PM and runs through June 14 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Weissberger will discuss her experience an hour before curtain on June 4, 6, and 8. Tickets range from $35 to $75; call 312-704-8414 or see www.chicagooperatheater.org. For more on Chicago Opera Theater see Culture Club in Section Two.

4 WEDNESDAY "I once branded the whole business as snake oil, being of the mind that the spiritual powwows were no better than smoking weed or drinking cheap wine. But this was before my teen marriage and a time on welfare and three children to feed by the age of twenty-two led me to seek the intoxication of the Spirit." So writes John Fountain about the Pentecostal True Vine Church of God in Christ on Roosevelt Road, where his grandfather was pastor. Fountain grew up on the west side in K-Town and credits his faith as the key to his survival in an environment that destroyed many of his childhood friends. Now a Chicago-based reporter for the New York Times, Fountain recently published a memoir, True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity. He starts his book tour tonight at 7 at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington in Evanston. It's free; call 847-866-0300.

5 THURSDAY The planned $800 million expansion of McCormick Place will add 610,000 square feet of new exhibition space, 140,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and a 60,000-square-foot ballroom to the complex when it's completed in 2007. That'll ensure the behemoth retains its standing as the nation's largest exposition facility--for a little while anyway. Jack Johnson, director of government and community relations at McCormick Place, will discuss the project today at 12:15 at a free Friends of Downtown-sponsored brown-bag lecture at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630).

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