2 FRIDAY There are some 20,000 part-time, adjunct, or "contingent" faculty members working at colleges and universities in the Chicago area. "Most don't get benefits," says activist Joe Berry, who teaches history and labor studies at a handful of local institutions, "although there are exceptions"--at Columbia College and Roosevelt University, for instance, workers have organized unions. But the vast majority "lack job security and on the average are paid less than 50 percent of what a regular faculty member doing that same work would get." The organizing process is the focus of Barbara Wolf's new film, A Simple Matter of Justice, which includes footage shot here in Chicago. It'll be screened at today's Campus Equity Week conference; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign liberal arts and sciences professor Cary Nelson, editor of 1997's Will Teach for Food: Academic Labor in Crisis, will speak. The free conference runs from 1:30 to 7:30 at Harold Washington College, 30 E. Lake, on the 11th floor, and includes dinner. At noon there will be a rally outside the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph. Call 312-733-2172 or see www.cewaction.org/chicago for more information.
3 SATURDAY The term "affluenza" is defined by writer John de Graaf as "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more." In their new book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, de Graaf and coauthors Thomas Naylor and David Wann estimate that the average American spends $21,000 a year on consumer goods and saves nothing. De Graaf will read from and discuss the book today at 2 in the Chicago Authors Room of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State (312-747-4600). It's free.
The latest installment in the Block Museum's "Sonic Visions" cinema series features two sets by the local "electro-acoustic blues" band Califone. For the first, the musicians will improvise accompaniment to images curated and mixed live by local filmmakers Carolyn Faber and Jeff Economy. For the second set, they'll play along with Ladislaw Starewicz's short 1933 puppet masterpiece The Mascot, about a dog who tries to bring an orange to his poor mistress and is thwarted by monsters. It's tonight at 8 at Northwestern University's Mary and Leigh Block Museum, 1967 South Campus Drive in Evanston (847-491-4000); tickets are $10.
4 SUNDAY "I see all these sweaty, rasping cyclists on ozone action days in July--to me, that's much more extreme than biking through crisp, snow-calmed January evenings," says year-round cyclist Gin Kilgore. She'll share her secrets to staying safe and warm today at a free class called Go With the Snow! Winter Cycling Tips and Tricks. It's from 3 to 5 at Quencher's Saloon, 2401 N. Western; call 773-486-9015 or go to www.bikewinter.org for more information.
As the mercury goes down, the gas bill invariably goes back up, which means that the nonprofit Citizen's Utility Board will probably be bustling by the winter solstice. The statewide group, which was founded in 1983 as an advocate for residential and small business utility rate payers, offers consumer education, fights for rate reductions and refunds, and argues for stronger consumer protection laws in the state legislature. Last year, the CUB consumer hot line (800-669-5556) logged over 6,000 calls. Tonight at 6 the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia) plays host to a benefit for the CUB, with music from the Fred Anderson Trio and Umbrella Unlimited. Admission is $15, $10 for students; you must be 21 or older. Call 773-227-4433 for more.
5 MONDAY "Asymmetric threats" from terrorists and their effect on American society, the economy, and civil liberties are the focus of tonight's Chicago Council on Foreign Relations town hall meeting, Attack on America: How the World Has Changed. Panelists include Diane C. Swonk, chief economist at Bank One; Douglass Cassell, director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern's law school; Afghanistan expert and former special envoy to the Afghan resistance Peter Tomsen; and Mitchel Wallerstein, vice president of the MacArthur Foundation's Program on Global Security & Sustainability. Tribune managing editor Jim O'Shea moderates. It's from 6 to 8 at the Omni Orrington Hotel, 1710 Orrington in Evanston. Admission is $20; to register call 312-726-3860.
6 TUESDAY The week of September 11 also marked the fifth anniversary of the shooting death of 25-year-old rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, who's the focus of DePaul University religion professor and Baptist minister Michael Eric Dyson's sixth book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur. Dyson includes interviews with everyone from Shakur's mother (former Black Panther and ex-crack addict Afeni Shakur) to love interest Jada Pinkett Smith (who turned down his marriage proposal), and lionizes the rapper as the "hip-hop James Baldwin," the "African-American version of Marlon Brando," "our James Dean," and "another Charlie Parker." Dyson will read from and discuss his book tonight at 7:30 at the Guild Complex at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (773-227-6117). Admission is $5, $3 for students and seniors.
7 WEDNESDAY The theme of this year's Chicago Humanities Festival is "Words & Pictures," and one of the more ambitious offerings is tonight's panel, Words and Pictures That Harm. The dozen or so panelists, including ACLU president Nadine Strossen, former adult film star and High Society publisher Gloria Leonard, Chicago Public Library commissioner Mary Dempsey, and U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge Richard Posner, will debate a hypothetical free speech case tonight at 6 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. Tickets are $5; for more information call 312-494-9509 or log on to www.chfestival.org.
Prior to 1876, most depictions of Cleopatra showed a calm and regal monarch. That's why Edmonia Lewis's two-ton sculpture of the queen dying from the bite of an asp created a stir when it was unveiled at the Philadelphia Exposition that year. After the expo Lewis, who was of African-American and Chippewa descent and lived in Rome, put the sculpture on tour, and it eventually ended up in storage in Chicago. Later, however, it materialized in a Clark Street saloon and then was acquired by gambler and racehorse owner "Blind John" Condon, who used it as a headstone for his favorite horse--Cleopatra. The Death of Cleopatra found its way to the Historical Society of Forest Park in 1985 and was restored a decade later; it's now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Tonight University of Chicago Egyptologist Robert K. Ritner, who helped identify Lewis's statue, will give a slide lecture about changing interpretations of the queen, entitled In Death Immortal. It takes place from 8 to 9:30 at the Oriental Institute, 1155 E. 58th (773-702-9507). Admission is free and includes a reception; preregistration is recommended.
8 THURSDAY The first year of the Chicago Dance Legacy Project examined modern dance; for year two it'll concentrate on local classical dance performance, which according to Newberry Library curator of modern manuscripts Diana Haskell dates back to the 1830s, "when 'Master Joseph Jefferson' (who later gained enormous fame for his acting) danced a pas de deux with [ballerina] Julia Turnbull between acts of a play given in the parlor of the Sauganash Hotel." To kick off the new year of dance research, a group of panelists including dance critic Ann Barzel, Ballet Chicago's Dan Duell, and Larry Long from the Ruth Page Foundation School of Dance and the Civic Ballet of Chicago will participate in a free discussion tonight called Moving On: Chicago's Dance Heritage. It's at 5:30 at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton (312-255-3700).