Friday 7/18 - Thursday 7/24
By Cara Jepsen
18 FRIDAY "Lately, I've become accustomed to the way / The ground opens up and envelopes me / Each time I go out to walk the dog. / On the broad edged silly music the wind / Makes when I run for a bus... / Things have come to that. / And now, each night I count the stars, / And each night I get the same number. / And when they will not come to be counted, / I count the holes they leave." That's from Amiri Baraka's 1957 poem "Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note." In 40-odd years on the literary scene, Baraka, aka LeRoi Jones, has written 20 plays, three jazz operas, and 15 volumes of poetry, and recorded his poems with a number of jazz musicians. Tonight he and a full moon will help the DuSable Museum kick off its summer poetry series. The evening starts with a short open mike for local poets at 6 on the grounds of the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place. It's free. Call 773-947-0600.
19 SATURDAY For the past four years the members of the Autonomous Zone have attempted to create an antiauthoritarian culture--a real democracy--by implementing a nonhierarchical structure into the group and making decisions from the bottom up. The group's home has functioned as a library, homeless outreach center, meeting space, and free school where people share their knowledge of everything from belly dancing to bookmaking. Gentrification has forced the A-Zone to move around quite a bit. The new location used to be a restaurant; members say that food and its preparation may play a part in the group's plans. Tonight they'll mark the latest move with a low-key grand opening party, where they'll discuss current projects and ask for input on future endeavors. It starts at 7 at 2012 W. Chicago. It's free; donations are encouraged. Call 773-252-6019 for more.
The so-popular-even-your-parents-know-about-them performance artists Blue Man Group made their Chicago debut at Milly's Orchid Show in 1989--back when Jay Leno was a substitute talk show host and the millennium wasn't the topic of every conversation. Since she started the spectacle in 1987, Brigid Murphy, aka Milly May Smithy, has brought a who's who of cool to her vaudevillian stage, including Lynda Barry, Eric Bogosian, Emo Philips, David Sedaris, Nora Dunn, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Frank McCourt (before the prize, of course). Tonight she'll preside over the ten year anniversary of Milly's Orchid Show with the aforementioned Blue Man Group and a talent roster that includes musicians Syd Straw and Poi Dog Pondering, humorist Tom Wolfe, filmmakers Heather McAdams and Chris Ligon, Monk the fire-eater, and DJ Nan Warshaw. It starts at 8 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Tickets are $25 and are available at the Park West as well as at Lounge Ax and Unabridged Books. Call 773-929-5959 for more.
20 SUNDAY The Howard Brown Health Center's annual Who's That Girl? fund-raiser is not just a drag show--it's an over-the-top theatrical production complete with female impersonators, elaborate sets, singing, dancing, and high-stepping choreography. This year's show will feature a spaceship in the opening number and a closing tribute to Hollywood with performers dressed as Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Cher, Aretha Franklin, and Barbra Streisand. It begins tonight at 7 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Tickets are $25; $50 gets you admission and a preshow champagne reception at 5:30. Call 773-871-5777, ext. 360.
21 MONDAY The Defiant Theatre's interpretation of the life and times of the Roman emperor Caligula is quite different from the notorious Bob Guccione flick. For one, it relies less on sex and violence and more on history. For another, this new production uses Albert Camus' script about a society in decline, which Camus used as a mouthpiece to vent his own feelings about existentialism. The screenplay for the movie was originally written by Gore Vidal and then overhauled to the nth degree by Guccione. "Our version is a lyrical and poetic historical tale with deep philosophical insights," says one Defiant member. "The movie's for sitting at home with the blinds drawn." It opens tonight at 8 (and closes August 24) at the Griffin Theatre, 5404 N. Clark. Tickets are $10; call 312-357-3461.
22 TUESDAY In a nondescript central European country, design engineer Gizella Weisz finds herself transferred to a branch office in the middle of nowhere. The allegorical film The Outback, directed by Peter Gothar, chronicles her hellish journey to her new digs, which turn out to be a vermin-infested hut in the mountains. Along the way she encounters environmental and industrial devastation and brutal authoritarian officials. The tone of the film alternates between humor and despair, like much of central and eastern European art. It's being shown as part of Facets Cinematheque's Hungarian Film Week, which began Friday and runs through Thursday and features a small but important selection of films made in that country since 1989. It screens at 7 tonight at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton. Admission is $7. Call 773-281-4114 for a complete schedule.
23 WEDNESDAY Sculptor David Snyder has cut, refashioned, and screwed together several trunkloads of used toys to create giant versions of five insects--a dragonfly, a praying mantis, a spider, an ant, and a beetle. They're the centerpiece of Garfield Park's Bug Fair. Live scorpions and spiders, as well as virtual bugs on CD-ROM, will be on display at the monthlong bazaar. The hands-on activities include fossil rubbing, mask making, and honey tasting. Since most events take place in the outdoor Sensory Garden, there are sure to be plenty of cameo appearances by local mosquitoes, flies, bees, spiders, and grasshoppers. The free fair is from 10 to 4 today and runs through August 20 at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park. Call 773-638-1766, ext. 17, for more.
24 THURSDAY Over 200 businesses participate in Downtown Thursday Night, a project designed to encourage people to stick around the Loop after work that evening. Field's, Carson's, and the Chicago Cultural Center do their part by keeping their doors open until 8. The Adler Planetarium presents live country music, dancing, and a laser light show; there's jazz at the Shedd Aquarium, blues at the Goodman Theatre, and exhibits at the Fine Arts Building Gallery and the Museum of Photography. Guides are stationed at a handful of downtown building lobbies and there's a free trolley service to take you where you're going. It's from 5 to 8; you can find both guides and trolleys at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; the Sears Tower, 233 S. Wacker; the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive; and the Printers Row area. Admission is free for some events and varies for others; call 800-226-6632 for details.