Friday 10/12 – Thursday 10/18


12 FRIDAY After Sharon Olds earned a PhD in English at Columbia University in the early 70s, she stood on the library steps and made a vow that “I would give up all I learned if I could just write my own poems.” Her second collection, The Dead and the Living, won the 1984 National Book Critics Circle poetry award and the 1983 Lamont Poetry Selection, and from 1998 to 2000 she was the New York State poet laureate. Tonight Olds and novelist Paule Marshall (The Fisher King) will give the keynote reading for this weekend’s Guild Complex Women Writers Conference. It starts at 7 at the lower-level auditorium of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. Admission is $15, $12 for students and seniors. Call 773-227-6117 for tickets; visit for a complete festival schedule.

13 SATURDAY Following the end of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war–the longest armed conflict in Latin American history, in which more than 150,000 people died and some 45,000 “disappeared”–the Archbishop’s Office on Human Rights in Guatemala interviewed nearly 7,000 people for its Recovery of the Historic Memory Project. “We are gathering the memories of the people because we want to contribute to the construction of a different country,” said Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi Conedera in 1998. Three of the project’s authors will discuss their findings at a free forum called “Refusing to Forget,” tonight at 7 at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 716 W. Addison. Call 773-250-3407.

14 SUNDAY Today’s facetiously named Eighth Annual Festival for the Autonomous Territories of Chicago (actually it’s the first one) will showcase a hodgepodge of nonmainstream organizations, including Indy Media, arts-education outreach program the Stockyards Institute, Temporary Services art gallery, God’s Gang (a Robert Taylor Homes food co-op), and the People’s Republic of Delicious Foods (a “video food interactive portable rave lunatic group”). Highlights include a food foraging workshop (find it, cook it, eat it), a surveillance camera pinata (smash the camera, catch the candy), and an installation by co-organizer Ben Rubin that consists of “a text on the wall that says ‘flag repository’ and a big garbage can,” which he admits “may make people a little angry.” It’s today from noon to 10 at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5307 S. Hyde Park (773-561-5802); admission is free.

“Not even death wants the people of Afghanistan,” says a chador-clad woman in the documentary Jung (War): In the Land of the Mujaheddin, which won a prize at this year’s Human Rights Watch International Film Festival. The film shows the brutality of daily life in the war-torn country (home to some ten million land mines, not to mention the “holy fighters” of the film’s title) as it follows an Italian surgeon and his attempt to build a hospital on the front lines. Facets is screening the film for free today; it starts at 12:30 PM, 1517 W. Fullerton. See Critic’s Choice in Section Two for more info or call 773-281-4114.

The Cultural Center’s well-known free Wednesday-afternoon classical music series took its name from Dame Myra Hess, who played harpsichord for Londoners underground during World War II air raids. The series took on new meaning September 12, and its 85-year-old founder, Al Booth, got a little choked up during his introduction that day. Like Hess, Booth’s goal with the series and his other creations–the annual Do-It-Yourself Messiah and the International Music Foundation, which brings music to schools and nursing homes–has been to bring free classical music to as many people as possible. Now he’s retiring (though all three endeavors will live on); a reception and tribute to Booth follows today’s special-edition Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert by pianist Adam Neiman. It starts at 3 at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, at 78 E. Washington. Call 312-670-6888.

A few years ago former False Prophets bass player and High Times senior editor Steve Wishnia was busted in a squatter riot in New York’s Tompkins Square Park. He sued for false arrest, won, and used the loot to bankroll Exit 25 Utopia: A Great American Punk Rock Novel, based on his experiences in the late 1980s living on the road with his punk rock band while trying to support a wife and son back in New York. He’ll give a free reading today at 3 at Quimby’s, 1854 W. North (773-342-0910).

15 MONDAY Home to Rockford is where the main character of Jennifer Egan’s latest book, Look at Me, goes to recover from a disfiguring car accident, and the author incorporated a lot of Rockford history in the story. “I wanted to render [the book’s] platonic love affair in dialogue that rarely strays from grain elevators and railroads,” she says. She’ll say more at a free reading tonight at the Barbara’s Bookstore at 1350 N. Wells (312-642-5044); it starts at 7:30.

16 TUESDAY Susanna Kaysen’s new memoir about her ailing vagina, The Camera My Mother Gave Me, recounts what happened after she awakened one day to find that her private parts hurt like hell. Specialists and quacks offered treatments ranging from novocaine to oatmeal baths (none of which worked), and she finally had to kick out her boyfriend, who refused to take no for an answer. “It was practical to write it,” she says. “I needed a chronology in order to give each new doctor a proper history. And then it became a sort of mystery novel.” She’ll read from and discuss her book tonight at 7:30 at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark. It’s free; call 773-769-9299.

17 WEDNESDAY Forest Park’s Circle Theatre will re-create the Eiffel Tower and a Paris flea market complete with sketch artists and palm readers for its annual benefit, Circle Live! An Evening at the Moulin Rouge. The organizers are also promising French food, silent and live auctions, and cabaret performances by Ty Perry, Emily Colee, Laura Keeling, Joss Nichols, and many others, as well as excerpts from Circle’s current Fellini-inspired production, Nine. It’s tonight from 6:30 to 10 at the 19th Century Club, 178 Forest in Oak Park. Tickets are $50 in advance, $65 at the door. For reservations call 708-771-3299.

18 THURSDAY Over the past decade the increasingly common practice of demolishing older, often historic homes to build McMansions has many suburbs scrambling to get preservation laws on the books. Today at 12:15 Jean Follett from the Hinsdale Historic Preservation Commission and Ellen Shubart of the Glencoe Preservation Commission will discuss teardowns as part of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois’ “Preservation Snapshots” series. They’ll be in the fifth-floor southwest meeting room of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. It’s free; bring your own lunch (312-922-1742).

When Swedes started flocking to Chicago in the early 1900s, the men often joined trade union-based lodges that served as social organizations and provided a safety net for needy compatriots. As commie phobia swept the nation, membership became more tied to where you came from than your union affiliation. Per Nordahl of the University of Umea, Sweden (currently a guest professor at the University of Indiana), will discuss how it all played out tonight at 7 at North Park University’s Anderson Chapel, 3225 W. Foster. It’s free (773-244-5615).