Chicago Critical Mass is hoping to break its attendance record today by drawing more than 3,000 bike riders for the group's monthly pedal through the city. Cyclists will meet at Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn in Chicago, at 5:30 PM, vote on a route, and take off on a ride that'll run about two hours and cover 8 to 12 miles. It's free; see www.chicagocriticalmass.org.
Back in the 20s, whenever it was too cold for bohemians, radicals, professors, and hoboes to debate the issues of the day in Bughouse Square, they'd gather inside the Dil Pickle Club just west of Washington Square Park. "It was a little barn in an alley that had a very small door--you had to stoop down to get in," says Penelope Rosemont, who organized today's Ghosts of Bughouse Past celebration in honor of the club's 90th anniversary. "The funny thing was, it was a tea place. They didn't serve any hard liquor"--at least not until gangsters muscled in on the action during Prohibition. Tonight at 6, in the park opposite the Newberry Library at 60 W. Walton in Chicago, Rosemont's husband, Franklin, the author of The Rise & Fall of the Dil Pickle, will speak, followed by Alma Washington and Paige Phillips giving speeches as Lucy Parsons and Emma Goldman and a performance by the Dil Pickle Players, who'll reenact some of the incidents recounted in Rosemont's book. Afterward, in true Bughouse fashion, the mike will be open to members of the public. On Saturday the annual Bughouse Square Debates run from 1 to 5 PM with more soapbox rants, music, and poetry. Admission is free; call 312-255-3510.
If you'd rather read your rants than hear them, hop across the street for the Newberry's 20th annual book fair, where more than 100,000 books, plus records, CDs, and videocassettes, are priced to move. It's today from noon to 8 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Admission is free.
While the rest of the world digitizes literature to save space, miniature-book binders simply make smaller books--less than three inches in any dimension. Some use tiny presses to print up the volumes, which do indeed contain entire texts. "A lot of it is the 'look what I can do' kind of thing," admits Bill Drendel, director of Columbia College's Center for Book and Paper Arts, but it's also an art form in its own right. Today binder and book conservator Gabrielle Fox will give a slide lecture on miniature bookbinding. It's from 6:30 to 7:30 PM at the center, on the second floor at 1104 S. Wabash in Chicago. Admission is free; call 312-344-6630 for more.
The Chicago Public Library's loss can be your gain at today's Vintage Music Sale, where the library's unloading a trove of classical, Broadway, jazz, opera, and other oldies on vinyl for a dollar a pop. Other stuff up for grabs includes laser discs, sheet music, Lyric Opera souvenir programs, and eight-track tapes and audiocassettes. All proceeds benefit the Chicago Blues Archives. The sale's today from 9 AM to 4 PM and Sunday from 1 to 4 PM in the Harold Washington Library Center's eighth-floor meeting room, 400 S. State in Chicago. Admission is free; call 312-747-4850 for more info.
Last month the Reader profiled local stencil artist, printmaker, and activist Josh MacPhee, who's been making his mark on public property for the better part of 12 years. Since 1997 he's taken photos of stenciled street art around the world; now he's compiled over 1,000 of his shots and others taken by friends and contacts in a book, Stencil Pirates, published by Soft Skull Press. He'll discuss and sign copies of it tonight at 7 at Quimby's, 1854 W. North in Chicago (773-342-0910). It's free. Afterward, around 8 PM, there'll be a party at the offices of In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee, to celebrate the book and mark the closing of "Paper Politics," a show of silkscreened and stenciled posters MacPhee curated. All the posters are for sale and priced at $25 or less. A $3 donation is requested; call 773-772-0100 for more.
The Nepalese folk ensemble Sur Sudha plays tonight at a concert to benefit the construction of senior housing in southern Nepal. The show's at 7 at Northwestern University School of Law's Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago in Chicago. Tickets range from $25 to $50, with a $10 discount for kids 6 to 12. Call 312-953-7192 or 773-334-7101 for information; order tickets at www.nepbiz.com. i This is opening night for the 18th annual Woodstock Mozart Festival, held in the quaint confines of the Woodstock Opera House. For three successive weekends guest artists and the festival orchestra perform work by Mozart and his contemporaries; tonight Catherine Comet conducts trumpet soloist Ross Beacraft in Mozart's "Posthorn" Serenade, followed by Beethoven's Triple Concerto, featuring the Vienna Piano Trio. The concert starts at 8; it'll be repeated at 3 tomorrow. Preconcert lectures--free with tickets--begin an hour before each performance at the opera house, 121 Van Buren in Woodstock. Tickets range from $20 to $42. See www.mozartfest.org or call 815-338-5300 for more information.
Old Town School of Folk Music instructor Charles Kim (Pinetop Seven, Sinister Luck Ensemble) will lead beginners through the basics of Pro Tools at today's Recording Software Workshop. No equipment is necessary, but attendees who have laptops with the software installed are encouraged to bring them. It starts at 3 PM at the Old Town School, 4544 N. Lincoln in Chicago, and it's $20. Go to www.oldtownschool.com or call 773-728-6000 to register.
The idea for this summer's juried exhibit of Des Plaines River photographs came up two years ago, says Nathan Harpaz, curator of Oakton Community College's William A. Koehnline Gallery. The planners didn't anticipate that the placid river, flowing across the school's Des Plaines campus, would become a more dramatic subject this year, swelling beyond its banks and shutting the college down for three weeks. The 65 photographs in Along the Des Plaines River range from Judy Langston's lush, nearly abstract ink-jet print Untitled to Bill Kniest's stark and literal At the Washington St. Bridge, and include 23 images by the Maine West High School Photography Project. The exhibit continues at the gallery, 1600 E. Golf in Des Plaines, through August 26. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 to 7, and admission is free; call 847-835-1600.
Proponents of raw food claim it has more nutrients than cooked grub and that it's less work for the body to digest, making the body less prone to illness. Today at noon Karyn Calabrese, owner of the vegan raw-foods restaurant Karyn's Fresh Corner and the Karyn's Inner Beauty Center day spa, will host a free info session on the foods and services she provides. She'll also have a selection of raw dishes to sample, including "ravioli" (thin-sliced turnips stuffed with a smooth nut sauce and topped with sun-dried tomatoes and basil); sandwiches made with dehydrated sprouted rye bread, walnut pate, and veggies; and raw renditions of vegan cakes and ice cream. It's at Karyn's Fresh Corner, 1901 N. Halsted in Chicago; call 312-255-1590 or see www.karynraw.com.
In the 1984 movie Breakin', a struggling dancer found that learning to spin on her head was the key to realizing her dreams. Tonight's "creatively staged" reading of the break-dance classic is part of It Came From the Neo-Futurarium III: Return to the Neo-Futurarium. It's also the last of this year's series, which focuses on the so-bad-they're-great films of the last century; Jonathan Mastro directs. It starts at 8 at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland in Chicago, and tickets are $10, $8 for students, seniors, and cinema and video-store employees. Call 773-275-5255 or see www.neofuturists.org.
The storefront movie theaters known as nickelodeons had their heyday at the beginning of the last century, screening short silent films--anything from narratives to "scenics," or views from speeding trains--for a nickel. Tonight Northwestern University radio, television, and film professor Scott Curtis will discuss and show several examples of nickelodeon films, including The Dancing Pig and Theodore Roosevelt in Africa, in conjunction with the Mary and Leigh Block Museum's exhibit "Persistence of Vision: The Evolution of the Moving Image, 1895-1910." A Night at the Nickelodeon starts at 7:30 PM at the museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive on the Northwestern campus in Evanston. It's free, but reservations are required; call 847-491-7540.