When Beatles fan Birdi Dawson started working as a music reference librarian at Northwestern University last summer, she was surprised to learn that the school owns nine original lyric manuscripts penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The papers were procured in the late 1960s by John Cage, who was collecting original song manuscripts from a variety of composers; after publishing 400 of them in the 1970 book Notations, Cage donated the whole lot to Northwestern. The Lennon and McCartney lyrics were written on "any kind of manila envelopes or stenographer's paper," says Dawson. "They were the working versions; there was much crossing out and changing of words"--showing, for instance, that the song "For No One" (from Revolver) was originally titled "Why Did It Die." Those sheets, as well as letters from Lennon and Yoko Ono to Cage, are part of The Beatles: A Musical History Tour, an exhibit that also includes videos and a cache of items from Dawson's own collection of memorabilia. It runs through August 31 at the music library, located on the second floor of Deering Library; enter through Northwestern's main library, 1970 Campus Drive in Evanston (847-491-3434). It's open 8:30 to 5 Fridays, 10 to 5 Saturdays, and 8:30 to 10 other days. Admission is free.
"I don't think outsiders are going to be alienated--that there are so many in-jokes that they wouldn't get it," says Factory Theater managing director Chas Vrba about the 11-year-old troupe's new show, Chicagostyle. The series of comedic vignettes ranges from a sketch skewering da mare's Neighborhoods Alive program to a musical production about riding the el to a newcomer's take on the Windy City, in which he marvels at the high-fat cuisine and the sports fans' penchant for attacking umpires and coaches. It opens tonight at 11 and runs Fridays and Saturdays through June 28 at Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan in Chicago. Tickets are $8; for reservations call 312-409-3247.
The not-for-profit Near South Planning Board started the Printers Row Book Fair in 1985 to lure visitors to the city's former bookmaking hub, which was rapidly gentrifying. Last winter the Tribune Company purchased the fair, which had grown too big for the NSPB to manage. This year's lineup of visiting authors includes heavy hitters Erik Larson (today at 2), former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal (today at 3), Alice Walker (Sunday at 11), and Margaret Atwood (Sunday at 1:30). The free fair runs from 10 to 6 today and tomorrow on Dearborn between Congress and Polk, at Dearborn Station (47 W. Polk), and at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State) in Chicago. For more information, call 312-222-3986.
A way to experience nature and the dramatic arts at the same time: that's how the Morton Arboretum bills its three-year-old Theatre-Hikes series, in which the audience walks from scene to scene through the Arb's west side. This year's season opens with an adaptation of The Hobbit, which takes place largely in the Land of the Wood Elves; it runs today and tomorrow from 1 to 4 PM and again June 14 and 15. Performances later in the summer are Travels With Lewis and Clark (July 5, 6, 12, and 13), Alice Through the Looking Glass (August 2, 3, 9, and 10), and Twelfth Night (August 30 and 31 and September 1, 6, and 7). The show goes on rain or shine at the Morton Arboretum, 4100 Route 53 in Lisle. Tickets are $10, plus there's a $7 admission per car. Theatergoers are advised to bring water and bug spray and wear comfortable shoes. For reservations call 630-719-2465.
In addition to feats of spinning, gliding, hopping, and rolling on tricked-out two-wheelers, the La Jolla-based bicycle stunt team Perfection on Wheels injects its kid-friendly 40-minute show with a healthy dose of ideology promoting drug-free living and safe riding (i.e., wearing helmets, using hand signals, and doing simple bike maintenance). They'll perform today at 2 in front of the Waukegan Public Library (847-623-2041), at the corner of County and Clayton in Waukegan. It's free; bring your own lawn chair.
Lookingglass Theatre Company moves into its $1-a-year Water Tower Water Works digs this month, and it's inaugurating the space with David Schwimmer and Joy Gregory's adaptation of Studs Terkel's 1992 book Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession, which opened in previews June 5. Schwimmer and Terkel will talk about bringing the work to the stage tonight at 6:30; following that there'll be a roundtable discussion on race relations with Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, poet Betty Cortina, attorney and author Scott Turow, and Clarence N. Wood, chair of the city's Commission on Human Relations, to be moderated by Chicago Historical Society president Lonnie Bunch. The event takes place at the CHS, 1601 N. Clark in Chicago. It's free, but reservations are required (312-799-2002).
"There is nothing in the world, he thought, quite as strange as watching another person sleep; the way they are both present and not. Langston couldn't know her own face at that moment, couldn't know how young she looked, or how inno-cent, but Amos knew," writes Haven Kimmel in The Solace of Leaving Early, a novel that has been compared to Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and concerns an unlikely match between Amos, a preacher, and Langston, an American-literature PhD dropout. It takes place in the tiny fictional town of Haddington, Indiana--Kimmel's home state--and is the first book in a planned trilogy. The author will read from and discuss her work tonight at 7 at Borders, 830 N. Michigan in Chicago (312-573-0564), and tomorrow night at 7 at Anderson's Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson in Naperville (630-355-2665). Both events are free.
Last month Tribune senior correspondent Richard C. Longworth was scheduled to give a lecture at DePaul University called Where Is This Administration Taking Our Country/Do We Really Want to Go There? when he was dispatched to Europe for a month. He'll try again tonight. The gist of his talk? "The Bush administration has abandoned America's traditional role as a benign superpower devoted to global stability and, like the empires of the past, is out to remake the world and rewrite the global rule book to its own specifications," explains Longworth, who's also the author of 1998's Global Squeeze: The Coming Crisis for First-World Nations. The free event is sponsored by Lincoln Park Neighbors United for Peace and DePaul Students Against the War and starts at 7 in rooms 314-315 of DePaul's student center at 2250 N. Sheffield in Chicago. Call 773-929-2248.
Unlike Ravinia, the Grant Park Music Festival is gratis--in fact, it's the nation's only remaining free, city-funded outdoor classical music series. It marks its final season in the Petrillo Music Shell this summer before moving into the Frank Gehry-designed pavilion in Millennium Park next year. Tonight's season opener is an all-Beethoven program that will include his Fifth Symphony and feature hotshot Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa and the Grant Park Orchestra, conducted by Carlos Kalmar. It starts at 6:30; the band shell is at Columbus and Jackson in Chicago, and there's free bicycle valet parking for Wednesday-night performances. Call 312-742-4763 or see grantparkmusicfestival.com.
Painter Leon Oks was allowed to produce only realistic landscapes and murals when he worked at a Soviet-run artists' studio in his native Ukraine. Oks emigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1980 and now lives in Niles, where he explores more emotional territory. His figurative and landscape pieces are on display along with work by Dick Detzner and self-designated "spiritual realist" ISz through July 28 at Gallery Mornea, 624 Davis in Evanston (847-864-1906). It's open today from 10 to 7--on Thursdays the last two hours feature free beverages--and admission is free. The gallery is also open 10 to 6 Monday through Wednesday and Friday and 1 to 5 Saturday.