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Friday 11/20 - Thursday 11/26

NOVEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

20 FRIDAY Most of the former cheerleaders at my ten-year high school reunion were either struggling divorcees or stay-at-home moms--unlike former Valley Girl cheerleader turned performance artist Nao Bustamante. Upon arriving in San Francisco, she started putting on shows that featured fisting, having white male audience members bite her strap-on vegetarian burrito dildo (to release their colonialist guilt), and squeezing Hello Kitty toys out of her nether regions into an Easter basket. In America, the Beautiful, she climbs the "ladder of success" in high heels and a corset of packing tape. It hits town tonight and tomorrow night as one of the last installments of the Sor Juana Festival. Showtimes are at 7 at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th (312-738-1503). Admission is $12, $10 for students and seniors.

21sATurday Every time heavy rains fill suburban cellars knee-deep with water but leave the city relatively unscathed, a public official goes on TV to invoke and praise the Deep Tunnel. Indeed, since the first phase of the multibillion-dollar underground storm water drainage system was implemented in 1985, reports of fecal grease balls washing up on city beaches--once a regular summer occurrence--have practically come to a halt. But do you know anyone who's actually seen the largest public-works project in the country? Today a lucky few will be able to inspect the bowels of a 300-foot-deep shaft at a Gay and Lesbian Building and Trade Professionals-sponsored private tour. A bus to the site leaves at noon; participants will meet at 11:30 at Big Chicks, 5024 N. Sheridan. Those who make their own travel arrangements can meet at 1 at the Hodgkins pumping station, 6100 River Road in Hodgkins. Round-trip transportation is $10; the tour itself is free, but you must call 773-281-3878 to make a reservation.

22 SUNDAY Thanksgiving can be tough on a vegetarian. Those who would rather pet a bird than truss it can sup with like-minded folks at the Chicago Vegetarian Society's 20th annual Turkey-Free Thanksgiving today. A reception and silent auction of "vegetarian-friendly items" begins at 4 and the five-course dinner and dessert is at 5:30, followed by a short talk by nutrition researcher Dr. T. Colin Campbell. It's at the O'Hare Marriott, 8535 W. Higgins. Call 773-975-8349 for tickets, which are $48.75 for adults, $26.75 for kids, and free for those under five.

23 MONDAY Maverick writer T. Coraghessan Boyle has been called a rock 'n' roll author, and not just because of his wild hair. The Road to Wellville and Riven Rock's satirical lampooning of white America's cultural fears and acquisition obsession can be likened to a clever band's pop songs, while Boyle's less ironic examinations of human love and suffering are the heartfelt ballads. His new book, T.C. Boyle Stories, contains plenty of both. Seven of the sixty-eight tales have never been published in book form; the rest are from his four previous collections. Boyle will read from his stories tonight at 6 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. It's free. Call 312-747-4050 for more.

24 TUESDAY In 1982 Lee Stringer was sitting pretty as the co-owner of a successful Manhattan design studio. But then his brother, father, and business partner died in rapid succession, and he sank into a depression he treated with alcohol and drugs. After losing his business and his home, he spent six years living in the depths of Grand Central Terminal, redeeming aluminum cans to keep his crack pipe full. He also sold copies of Street News, eventually working his way up to editor-in-chief. That led to a memoir, Grand Central Winter. Today a clean and sober Stringer lives in upstate New York, where he's a teacher's aide and aspiring novelist. He'll discuss his six years below Gotham at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless's annual meeting tonight. It starts at 5:30 and will be followed by a reception at 7:30 in the Harris Bank Auditorium, 115 S. LaSalle. It's free, but you must call 312-435-4548 for reservations.

25 WEDNESDAY The local poets showcased in Tia Chucha Press's new anthology Shards of Light/Astillas de Luz hail from diverse countries like Spain, Cuba, and Chile, but they all "maintain a connection with the Spanish language, whether it is their native tongue or their ancestral heritage," writes editor Olivia Maciel in the introduction. Tonight Diana Solis, Beatriz Badikian, and Juana Georgen will represent Mexico, Argentina, and Puerto Rico at the release party for the book at 7:30 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (773-296-1268). Maciel, who is from Mexico City, will also read. Admission is $7, $5 for students and seniors, or free if you buy a book for $12.95.

26 THURSDAY Holiday family squabbles are a heck of a lot easier to take on an endorphin high. That's what I found out a few years ago, when I began Thanksgiving Day with a morning run at the annual Turkey Trot Thanksgiving Day Race. I didn't even come close to winning, but the nearly five-mile run gave me such a buzz that my sister-in-law's pot banging and my brother's fart jokes seemed almost amusing for a change--and I didn't feel guilty about filling my plate several times, either. This year the eight-kilometer race has a new starting point--2500 N. Cannon. Registration is $17 ($20 at the race) plus at least one can of food to be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Prizes will be awarded to the top five men and women overall as well as the top three men and women in each age group. Walking's allowed, and each registrant will get a goody bag and a T-shirt. Registration starts at 7:30 and the race is at 9. Call 773-248-7400 for more.

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