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Friday 2/6 - Thursday 2/12

FEBRUARY

By Cara Jepsen

6 FRIDAY The School of the Art Institute's series Fierce Cravings: Deconstructing Black Sexuality in Film and Video will only "scratch the surface" of the racist, stereotypical notions about black sexuality commonly found in the movies, says curator Valerie Cassel. The series runs over the next two weekends; it starts tonight with Zou Zou (1934, starring Josephine Baker) and Sanders of the River (1935, starring Paul Robeson) and continues tomorrow with Princess Tam Tam, Burlesque in Harlem, Xica, and Mandingo--films aimed at white audiences that objectify blacks as "the other." They're being shown on video in conjunction with the exhibit "Sexing Myths: Representing Sexuality in African American Art" at SAIC's Betty Rymer Gallery. Tonight's program starts at 6 in the John M. Flaxman Screening Room, 112 S. Michigan. All screenings are free. Call 312-433-3703 for more.

7 SATURDAY The idea behind the Jericho '98 march on Washington, slated for March 27, is to raise such a din that the powers that be in Washington will have to release the 150 or so political prisoners in U.S. custody. According to local organizers, some of those deserving amnesty have been framed by the government. The list includes members of the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, and the Puerto Rican independence movement, as well as such well-known figures as Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Tonight Jericho '98 coordinator Safiya Bukhari will discuss the upcoming protest with activists Leonilda Calderon and Pam Africa. It starts at 6 in room 154 of DePaul University's Schmitt Academic Center, 2330 N. Kenmore. A $5 donation at the door is suggested. Call 773-278-6706 for more information.

8 SUNDAY Call George M. Pullman what you may, but the Chicago-based strikebreaking railcar tycoon was one of the largest employers of African-Americans after the Civil War. The most visible of his employees were the porters, who made train travel more pleasant--and who were often called "George" by the white passengers (as in "Hey, George, get me another pillow"). In 1925, under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph, the porters formed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Twelve years later the union prevailed; starting pay was upped and hours were reduced. Retired porters will discuss their experiences at today's free Pullman Porter Presentation, an awards event for the winners of the second annual Pullman porter poster contest for Chicago public school students. It starts at 3 at the Historic Pullman Foundation Visitor Center, 11141 S. Cottage Grove (the center and Hotel Florence, which serves brunch, will be open from 10 to 3). Call 773-785-3828 for more.

9 MONDAY In Swahili jambo means hello, umoja means unity, asante is thank you, and kwaheri means good-bye. Those are among the words and concepts taught to the hundreds--perhaps thousands--of kids who have seen Cultural Messengers perform their Brotha A to Sistah Z program over the past 25 years. Through rap, chanting, call and response, and song, school groups have had the Chicago public school system's homework hot line (312-645-5555) ingrained into their brains and have learned how to put off peer pressure. This morning H. Mark Williams (Brotha A) and Kucha Brownlee (Sistah Z) will perform two free shows at 10 and 11:15 in the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. Call 312-595-7437 for more.

10 TUESDAY You've been married over 20 years and have a charming daughter. After years of scrimping and saving, you can finally see the light at the end of the financial tunnel. Things look good. Then, out of the blue, hubby tells you he's been messing around with a youngster at work, and everybody knows about it. What do you do? Tonight's workshop Surviving Betrayal: How to Cope With the Impact of Infidelity has some suggestions. Social worker Joyce Shatney will explain the best way to tell your daughter that her father is a weak-willed louse, as well as what to do if you're thinking about giving the scoundrel a second (or third or fourth) chance. It's sponsored by the Lilac Tree, a nonprofit organization that helps women weather divorce, and it's open to women only. The workshop runs from 7 to 9 at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, 1215 Church Street in Evanston. It's $25; call 847-328-0313.

11 WEDNESDAY Instead of bringing preconceived notions about art, visitors to Gallery 400's exhibit Deposit are asked to contribute an object no bigger than a large suitcase, which they will then carry up a ladder and drop into a space between a wall and a window that's visible from the street. "During the exhibition, objects will accumulate, arbitrarily and free-form, engaging the private and the public in the mutual process of art making," say the organizers. Participants may also record their musings about the objects they brought, which will then be played back during the exhibit. Or they could stay home, take out the trash, and announce to the neighbors that the building's Dumpster is also a community-based art receptacle. The free opening reception for "Deposit" is from 4 to 7 today at UIC's Gallery 400, 400 S. Peoria. Call 312-996-6114 for more.

12 THURSDAY Over a 15-year period in 19th-century Germany, a seemingly religious, moral woman named Gesche Gottfried used rat poison to kill her parents, her brother, two husbands, three children, and several friends--15 people in all. When she was finally caught, Gottfried neither denied nor explained her actions. German filmmaker Walburg von Waldenfels's first feature, Gesche's Poison, examines the possible reasons for her behavior, including old Victorian standbys like a stern upbringing, sexual repression, and pent-up guilt. The movie will be shown at a rare screening (the 1996 film never got a U.S. distributor) at 6 tonight as part of the European Union Film Festival at the Film Center of the School of the Art Institute, Columbus and Jackson. Admission is $6. Call 312-443-3737.

"They liked gym skirts and old white underwear more than spandex or death, giggled when their instruments failed, and were bored silly by masochism or even stoicism," said an article from the Boston Phoenix back in 1981. The story was about the British group the Slits, who opened for the Clash on their 1977 tour and officially became the first all-girl punk band. Alas, their career was short-lived, and today most old punks only know them from their 1979 album Cut and a rare single, an exuberant, bouncy cover of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." These days the Slits have joined the ranks of Kiss, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and countless other legendary groups honored by their very own tribute band. See what you missed when the "Slits" perform tonight (along with Assembly Line People Program and Abort Protocol) at a benefit for Northeastern University radio station WZRD. It starts at 10 at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western. Tickets are $6. Call 773-276-3600.

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