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Friday 9/5 - Thursday 9/11

SEPTEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

5 FRIDAY The goal of the Critical Mass bike ride is to gather a large group of cyclists, choose a route, block traffic at major intersections, and piss off motorists--in other words, to turn the tables on fossil-fuel fanatics and show the power of bikes. While such rides have been successful in cities like San Francisco, past attempts in Chicago were poorly attended affairs that sometimes ended in arrests. The organizers of today's event say they expect lots of bikes, no trouble with the police, and plenty of reaction from commuters. The route will be disclosed when cyclists assemble tonight at 5:30 at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington. It's free, unless you're arrested and need to post bail. Call 773-278-1367 for more.

6 SATURDAY In the 1970s mystery writer Sara Paretsky did an analysis of the popularity of female authors by examining how much shelf space their books were allocated, how quickly they were taken out of print, and how frequently--or infrequently--they were reviewed compared to books by male authors. The results were dismal, and her findings goaded her to start Sisters in Crime, a group designed to help female mystery writers gain the recognition they deserve. These days the group includes both men and women, and the focus is more on writing and how to make fiction ring true. Today guest speaker Luci Zahray, a pharmacist with an MS in toxicology, will talk about different poisons and their effects on the body--heaven knows you wouldn't want one of your murder victims to react to arsenic as if it were cyanide. It's at 1 at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 743 Garfield in Oak Park. It's free; call 708-848-7243.

7 SUNDAY Great America. It conjures up images of overweight nuclear families in matching white T-shirts eating overpriced Belgian waffles and carrying puffy silver balloons--a sight that's almost as nauseating to some as the amusement park's gravity-defying rides. The Chicago Lesbian Avengers aim to buck the trend today when they host a Day Out at Six Flags Great America. Not just for lesbians, the event is also open to gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people, PWAs, leather folk, and anyone else who doesn't fit the corn-fed stereotype. They'll meet for a day of high jinks between 10 and noon at the reflecting pool in front of the theme park's double-decked carousel. Great America is at Grand Avenue and I-94 in Gurnee. Individual tickets are $33. Call 312-409-3705 for more; to find out about discounts, call the park at 847-249-1952.

8 MONDAY Compared to just about anyone else in the nation, Chicagoans pay more for electricity. But is the utility deregulation Com Ed is so gung ho about in our best interest or theirs? Today a panel of experts will discuss legislation to deregulate the electric utility industry, its chances of passage, and what its effects may be. The panel includes lawyers from the Citizens Utility Board, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago, and Com Ed, as well as guest speaker state senator William F. Mahar Jr., chair of the Illinois senate's energy and environment committee. The Chicago Bar Association-sponsored event starts at 12:15 at the CBA, 321 S. Plymouth. It's free, but you must register in advance. Call 312-345-2411.

9 TUESDAY With each successive generation within an immigrant family, ethnic craft traditions brought over from the old country tend to fall further into neglect as family members strive to adjust to American ways. The Illinois Artisans Shop is sponsoring a program to seek out ethnic artists and promote traditional craft making. Today and tomorrow from 9 to 3:30 the shop

is hosting demonstrations of Ukrainian egg decoration, Chinese calligraphy, and American corn-husk dollmaking. There will also be a sale of these and other crafts at the Ethnic Arts Bazaar. It's in the atrium mall at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph. It's free to attend; call 312-814-1794 for more.

10 WEDNESDAY Daniel Webster makes today's legislators look like cardboard cutouts. The senator's public record was impeccable, and he was known for his remarkable powers of oratory and work to protect individual rights through the Constitution. Yet, at the same time, "Black Dan"--as his friends called him behind his back--borrowed heavily, got involved in dubious business dealings, and had a wandering eye. Though this may begin to sound familiar, back in those days a statesman's public and private lives were considered separate things. Today Robert V. Remini, author of a new biography about Webster, will discuss the venerable politician's life and theorize about his fate in the current political climate in a lecture called Could Daniel Webster Be Elected in 2000? The speech opens the 1997 Chicago Humanities Festival. A reception starts at 5 and Remini takes the mike at 6 at Francis W. Parker School, 330 W. Webster. It's free, but reservations are recommended. Call 312-422-5585, ext. 230.

11 THURSDAY Who says the CTA has no sense of aesthetics? Lousy service aside, riding the el doesn't have to be a bleak experience. Starting this week commuters will have something to look at other than pregnancy counseling ads or their own feet, thanks to the CTA's Poetry in Motion program. The latest poems to go up on placards were written by a roster of Chicago poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Ana Castillo, Ray Gonzalez, Susan Hahn, Angela Jackson, Li-Young Lee, Rohan Preston, and Mark Turcotte. The newest installment of the program will be launched by Brooks, Castillo, Hahn, and Lee, who'll read from their work today at 12:15 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; it will be followed by a reception. Another group comprising Castillo, Gonzalez, Hahn, Jackson, Lee, Preston, and Turcotte will read tonight at 6 at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster. Both events are free. Call 773-871-3825 for more information.

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