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Why did African-Americans overwhelmingly support Clarence Thomas? The reasons, say scholars Johnetta Betsch Cole and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, have their roots in slavery and the need for black men to align themselves with white men to achieve parity--at the expense of black women. In their new book, Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women's Equality in African American Communities, Cole and Guy-Sheftall argue that concerns particular to black women were excluded from the agendas of both the civil rights and feminist movements of the 60s, and as a result the women lost out. Cole, who's president of Bennett College and president emerita of Spelman, and Guy-Sheftall, who teaches English and women's studies at Spelman, will discuss and sign their book tonight at 7 at South Shore High School, 7627 S. Constance in Chicago. It's free; for more information call 773-752-1571.

New York-based experimental filmmaker Su Friedrich has suffered more than her fair share of medical problems--over the last several years she's had a 13-pound cyst on her spleen, an abscessed ovary, polyps on her uterus, a torn ligament in her knee, and an intractable hormone imbalance that clogged her breast ducts. Her struggle with illness is the centerpiece of her latest film, The Odds of Recovery (2002), which combines first-person narration with documentary-style footage to explore aging, mortality, and Western medicine. Friedrich will discuss her work today at 12:15 at a brown-bag lunch sponsored by the University of Chicago's Center for Gender Studies, 5733 S. University, Chicago; at 2 her 1996 film Hide and Seek, about a 12-year-old lesbian in the 60s, will be screened at the U. of C.'s Film Studies Center in Cobb Hall, room 306, 5811 S. Ellis, Chicago. Both events are free; call 773-702-9936. Tomorrow from 1 to 3 Friedrich will sit on a Women in the Director's Chair panel called "Is There a Need for Women's Media (Anymore)?"; she'll be joined by film- and video makers Yvonne Welbon, Salome Chasnoff, Jennifer Reeder, and Tammy Ko Robinson. It's part of WIDC's 22nd annual film and video festival, which will present the Chicago premiere of The Odds of Recovery on Saturday, March 15, at 9 PM in the School of the Art Institute Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus, Chicago. Tickets are $8, $6 for students and seniors; call 773-907-0610. For more on the festival see the sidebar in Movies or


U.S. transportation policy treats money for passenger rail as a subsidy, while funding for air and highway travel is seen as infrastructure maintenance. This'll have to change, say the folks at the Reconnecting America Project, if the country's ever to achieve a safe and profitable integrated network of passenger aviation, rail, and bus systems. RAP codirector Scott Bernstein, who's also president of the Center for Neighborhood Techno-logy, and Anthony Perl, author of New Departures: Rethinking Rail Passenger Policy in the Twenty-First Century, will discuss strategies for making rail travel a priority at today's conference sponsored by the Midwest High Speed Rail Coalition. It's from 1 to 4 at DePaul University's Lewis Center, 25 E. Jackson in Chicago, and admission is $10. To reserve a seat call 312-409-7723.

Over the past five years Chuck Mertz, the irreverent architect of WNUR's left-of-center Saturday-morning talk show This Is Hell! (8 to 11 on 89.3 FM), has conducted in-depth interviews with activists in such far-flung places as Qatar, South Africa, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Brazil, and Bolivia--and racked up tens of thousands of dollars in phone bills. Mertz doesn't get paid for his exhaustively researched public-affairs program, which Noam Chomsky once called "a voice of sanity on talk radio," and he says he'll be lucky to raise enough to cover a fraction of his debt at tonight's combined benefit for This Is Hell! and In These Times. It's from 6 to 9 at Northwestern Univer-sity's John L. Louis Hall, 1877 Campus Drive in Evanston, and features a screening of the documentary Counting on Democracy, on the 2000 Florida recount, and a lecture and book signing by British journalist Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. There's a suggested donation of $6; for more information call 773-772-0100, ext. 236, or see


Polish filmmaker Ryszard Bugajski's Interrogation--about a cabaret singer in Stalin-era Warsaw who spends five years in prison being starved and tortured for sleeping with and playing reckless pranks on a high-ranking military officer--hit a little too close to home for communist government officials, who banned the film upon its release in 1982. It was suppressed until 1990, when a print was smuggled out of the country and screened at Cannes, netting leading lady Krystyna Janda the festival prize for best actress. The feature will be shown today at 4 as the final installment in the University of Chicago Human Rights Program's "Detention and Incarceration Film & Lecture Series"; a Q & A with film critic Zbigniew Banas follows. It's at Doc Films in the U. of C.'s Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th, Chicago. Admission is $4; call 773-702-8575.


With area Saint Patrick's Day parades starting on Sunday, March 2 (Tinley Park), and concluding with yesterday's south-side procession, the day itself seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. But the Irish American Heritage Center has its calendar straight, offering an all-ages Saint Patrick's Day Party that starts with a noon mass at the IAHC auditorium. At 12:30 the Fifth Province Pub will open up and, for a $5 cover, offer live entertainment until 11 that night. The lineup includes Irish dancers, bagpipers, and performers Sean O'Donnell, the Sprigs, the Chancey Brothers, the Shannon Rovers, and County Kerry's Tim O'Shea and Gerard Culhane; there'll also be corned beef sandwiches for $5 a pop. It's all at 4626 N. Knox, Chicago; call 773-282-7035 or see for more information.


Participants in the last Vagina Dialogues workshop discussed women's reproductive health and learned how to examine their own cervixes. They also found out just exactly "what you should and shouldn't put in there," explains Searah Deysach, owner of the sex-toy shop Early to Bed, which hosts the sporadic women-only event. The next workshop is tonight at 7:30, led by Carissa Szymanski of the Chicago Women's Health Center. The store's at 5232 N. Sheridan, Chicago (773-271-1219). Admission is $10 or pay what you can and includes a speculum.


A company soloist once described working with maverick ballet master Boris Eifman as psychologically as well as physically demanding: The director of the Eifman Ballet of Saint Petersburg is a perfectionist who's wont to change things as late as opening night, and trying to understand him, the dancer said, is a "senseless task." Eifman will attend a reception in his honor tonight following the 7:30 Chicago premiere of his most recent full-length ballet, Who's Who, which draws on several styles of 20th-century dance and concerns the adventures of two Russian immigrants in the U.S. Who's Who runs at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress in Chicago, through March 23; tickets run $37 to $67. Call 312-902-1500. Tickets to tonight's reception in the theater's second-floor dress circle are an additional $40; call 312-742-5320.


Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o almost completely stopped working in English when he decided that the assumptions of colonialism were hopelessly embedded in the language. His 1977 play, I Will Marry When I Want, written in his native Kikuyu, landed him in jail for a year; while there he composed a novel, Devil's Cross, on prison toilet paper, and after it was published he was exiled. Now a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California-Irvine, he'll lecture on "Language and Postcolonial Identities" at 8 tonight in Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel, Lake Forest College, 555 N. Sheridan in Lake Forest. It's free; call 847-735-6010.

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