Friday 6/16 – Thursday 6/22


by Mike Sula

16 FRIDAY Spanish painter Remedios Varo was the daughter of an atheist scientist father and strict Catholic mother. As a youngster she ran away from the convent where her mother had enrolled her in school and ended up hanging out in Madrid and Barcelona with all the right surrealists. Dodging World War II, she later immigrated to Mexico, where she lived the rest of her life and produced her most famous paintings–lysergic images executed with mathematical precision, which critics often attribute to her conflicting parental influences and the tutelage of Salvador Dali. A retrospective of her work opens tonight at 6 and runs through August 20 at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th. It’s free. Call 312-738-1503.

The Pine Valley Cosmonauts lead interpretations of riding the lightning during The Executioner’s Last Songs, an evening of gallows laments by the likes of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Led Zeppelin. The benefit for the Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Project features vocal turns by Sally Timms, Rebecca Gates, Janet Bean, Brett Sparks, and others. They’ll sing you back home before you die, tonight at 8 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $15; call 773-728-6000.

After a grand entry procession by over 200 competitors in the Eighth Annual Native American Pow Wow, the 5,000 or so expected spectators are invited to join them in a massive intertribal dance before the contest begins. This spectacle will be repeated several times over the course of the event, which culminates Sunday with finals in six different dance categories. Doors open at 4 this afternoon and the march starts at 6 at Mather Park, California and Peterson. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, $3 for children 7 to 15 (children under 7 get in free). Call 773-761-5000 for more information.

17 SATURDAY In the recent 150th anniversary issue of Harper’s the journal celebrates its institutionality with a congratulatory letter from Bill Clinton and an honorary mayoral proclamation from Rudolph Giuliani, whom the rag recently nailed for his stubborn antiferret position. One might think early contributor Mark Twain would scorn the company of such pincushions, but there he is on the cover smoking a cheroot. Editor Lewis Lapham and a Twain impersonator make two bookstore appearances this weekend to plug An American Album: 150 Years of Harper’s Magazine, Friday at 7:30 PM at Barbara’s Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells, 312-642-5044, and today at 3 PM at the Evanston Barnes & Noble, 1701 Sherman, 847-328-0883. Both events are free.

Legend has it that if you toss a coin into Giovanni Bucci’s 20-foot fiberglass replica of Rome’s Trevi Fountain you will most certainly return to Oakley and 24th Street where the fully operational sculpture will be installed for the Taste of the Heart of Italy Food and Wine Festival. “No corn dogs” at this fest, promises an organizer–only Italian specialties from the restaurants in the neighborhood, plus music, games, and a performance at 5 by neo-Rat Packer and recent Reader cover story subject Tony Ocean. It runs from noon to 11 today, but call 773-625-0506 or see the Fairs & Festivals listings in Section Three for the full weekend schedule.

18 SUNDAY In George Pullman’s day a group of rail-riding freeloaders with guitars, bagpipes, and didgeridoos had about as much chance of assembling and playing songs inside his United Methodist Church as a Pullman porter did of eating oysters and caviar in first class. But times have changed, and unless the rail-yard dicks suddenly start hassling the ‘bos, the free Grand Hobo Concert: Songs and Stories of the Railroad and the Wanderer will go off for its fourth year in a row today at 3 in the church, at 11211 S. Saint Lawrence. Call 312-829-4500 for more information.

Juneteenth usually commemorates the belated delivery of the news of emancipation to slaves in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, but this year it means more to Bill Brickey. The musician’s father fought in Vietnam, and when he died last year, the VA paid for part of the funeral and a tuna-can-sized urn for his ashes, which his son keeps on his mantel. Brickey will sing and orate in honor of African-American veterans today at the Juneteenth celebration he’s organized at the Old Town School of Folk Music, which also features poets, rappers, griots, storytellers, musicians, art, dancing, and southern and African food. The party starts at 1 and goes until 8 at the school, 4544 N. Lincoln (773-728-6000). A donation is requested.

19 MONDAY This morning, on the actual anniversary of Juneteenth, the Coalition to Protect Public Housing is conducting a rally in the mayor’s neighborhood to call attention to the growing scarcity of public, subsidized, and affordable housing in the city. It starts at 10:30 at the corner of Roosevelt and Michigan. Call the CPPH at 312-280-2298 for more.

20 TUESDAY With the exception of planetarium laser shows, nothing draws potheads out of their burrows like movies about marijuana. Joining an illustrious canon, Grass is a documentary about the history of the war on weed, narrated by Woody Harrelson and featuring lots of giggle-triggering antidrug propaganda. It continues its run at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, tonight at 5:45, 7:45, and 9:45. Tickets are $8; call 773-871-6604.

Before setting off to Athens to deliver the news of victory at Marathon, it’s important not to expend one’s energy plundering the corpses of Persian soldiers. Tonight the Chicago Area Runners Association hosts one of its many marathon training clinics, which aim to help competitors avoid such pitfalls prior to a big race. The workshop starts at 6:30 at Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, 1001 N. Dearborn. It’s $115, $100 for CARA members. Call 312-666-9836 for more.

21 WEDNESDAY Aside from being the appropriate occasion to lock a sacrificial victim into a wicker man and set him ablaze, the summer solstice is an excellent opportunity for stargazing. Tonight, Morton Arboretum instructor Ron Garbers, who may know nothing of the ways of the druids, will conduct a class titled The Longest Day, which will focus strictly on the astronomical particulars of June 21. It starts at 8 in Godshalk Hall in the Thornhill Educational Center at the arboretum, Route 53 and I-88 in Lisle. It costs $16 for the first family member; $7 for each additional one. Call 630-719-2468.

22 THURSDAY The protagonist of Reader contributor Adam Langer’s latest play, Coaster, is the author of a travel guide titled Steer Clear Chicago, about the worst the city has to offer. Langer, himself the author of a guide for artistic types trying to get over in the Windy City, has decided to move to New York for an arts-journalism fellowship at Columbia University. He leaves later this year, but the play opens tonight at 8 and runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through July 15 at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago. Tickets are $10. Call 773-250-3166 for reservations.