In 1969 botanist Floyd Swink first published his Plants of the Chicago Region. Its latest edition, a 900-page bible, features habitat info, an illustrated glossary, and distribution maps for 2,500 species that live within a 75-mile radius of the city. Swink and junior author Gerould Wilhelm will be on hand today at 5 to celebrate the new fourth edition in the Thornhill Education Center at Morton Arboretum, on route 53 just north of I-88 in Lisle. There’s no charge to attend. Call 708-719-2465 for more.
Anyone with a fat checkbook and an urge to get in touch with his or her inner thespian can bid on a starring role in an October 22 performance of Bye Bye Birdie at the Victory Gardens Theater’s 20th-anniversary celebration tonight. A $25 ticket buys you food, drinks, and birthday cake, and will help cover the company’s expenses during the coming season. Things get under way at 7:30 at the theater, 2257 N. Lincoln. Call 549-5788 for reservations and info.
Student groups Generation Y and ASPIRA cut their activist teeth and gained a fair amount of media exposure earlier this year when they challenged Oak Park and River Forest High School’s decision to fire a left-wing Latino teacher. They will participate in tonight’s meeting of the monthly series Haymarket Cafe at 7:30 at the Unitarian church at 875 Lake St. in Oak Park. William Gonzalez of the Institute for Latino Progress will lead a discussion on racism, to be followed by coffee, eats, a poetry reading, and live music. Admission is $7, $2 for students. Call 708-383-4608 for more.
Quilts and wall hangings made by Mennonites and the Amish will be on sale at the tenth Chicago Mennonite Festival and Quilt Sale, which takes place from 10 to 2 today at the Redeemer Lutheran Church Center, Kenilworth and Saint Charles Road in Elmhurst. Proceeds will go to the Mennonite Learning Center, an elementary school on the south side. Call 708-894-3654 for more information.
Not all of Wicker Park’s numerous venues are participating in this weekend’s Around the Coyote arts fest, but many that aren’t on the official map are holding events all the same. Among the contemporaneous but not connected is an exhibit of the work of local designers at HotHouse. Millinery, clothing, jewelry, and jewelry boxes from the likes of Monica Brown, Jalil Iah, Kathleen Nagel, Makeba Kedem Dubose, and others will be on view and available for sale from 11 to 5 today and tomorrow at the club, 1565 N. Milwaukee. Call 248-1034 or 235-2334 for more.
His mastery of hypnotic, ringing soukous melodies made Zairian guitarist Diblo Dibala the soul of the popular group Loketo. He’ll be appearing this weekend with his own band, Matchatcha, in free outdoor performances at Cricket Hill, in Lincoln Park south of Wilson Avenue. They’re headlining the African Music Festival of Chicago, which features food, crafts, dancing, and musicians from Zaire, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, and Haiti. The fest runs from 11 to 9:30 today and Sunday, and Diblo is supposed to go on around 7 both nights. Call 728-2411 for more.
Saint Basil Greek Orthodox Church, a survivor of UIC’s encroachment on the near west side, is holding its annual Greek Festival this weekend. A slew of foods–including cheeseburgers from the Billy Goat Tavern–is being offered up, along with traditional music and dancing. The fest runs from 4 to midnight today and noon to 11 Sunday. The Olympian Dance Troupe will perform both nights at 8. Admission is $2, free for children under 12. Saint Basil is at 733 S. Ashland. Call 243-3738 for more.
What do you get when performance artists put on a psychic fair? Free fortune cookies and your molars read. Psycho Circus, a marathon evening of performance and interactive installations, is being held again this year to benefit P-Form, the local quarterly performance-art journal. Matthew Owens, Julie Laffin, Larry Steger, and others perform starting at 8 tonight at Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. Doors open at 7. Admission is $10, $7 for students, members, and P-Form subscribers. For information call 666-7737.
A film being shown at 2 today by the Chicago Historical Society examines the lives of African American railroad workers from the 1920s to the ’80s. Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle will be followed by a ten-minute short on civil rights and union organizer A. Philip Randolph. The society, at Clark Street and North Avenue, is open noon to 5 today and 9:30 to 4:30 Monday through Saturday. The film is free with admission, $3, $2 for students and seniors. Call 642-4600 for info.
Prop Theatre is opening its ’94-’95 season with a world-premiere production of Never Come Morning, Nelson Algren’s story about crime on the near north side, which Ernest Hemingway called “about the best book to come out of Chicago.” The script is adapted by Paul Peditto, who also wrote Buk, a stage adaptation of Charles Bukowski’s stories. Never Come Morning opens tonight at 7 at the Firehouse, 1625 N. Damen, with a Polish smorgasbord following the performance. Tickets are $15. After tonight the show will run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7 through October 16. Regular ticket prices will be $10 for Thursday and Sunday shows, $12 for Friday, and $15 for Saturday. Call 409-0299 for more.
Beginning tonight the Cue Club hosts Heckler’s Heaven, a sort of open-mike boot camp for virgin comedians, Sundays at 8 at 2833 N. Sheffield. Admission is free, and audience members are encouraged to make the comics sweat. Smart alecks can sign up at the door for mike time. The night’s best comic wins $250. For info call Gerald Lott at 708-640-8936.
An exhibit of delft pottery, the imitation Chinese porcelain made in Europe and its colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries, is on display in Art Institute galleries 141 and 142 through November 6. British Delft From Colonial Williamsburg features everyday delftware as well as decorative items like large plates painted with the likenesses of British monarchs. Located at 111 S. Michigan, the Art Institute is open 10:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday, 10:30 to 8 Tuesday, 10 to 5 Saturday, and noon to 5 Sunday. Suggested admission is $6.50, except Tuesday, which is free. For more information call 443-3600.
While her old buddy Mick drags his bones around the country in support of Voodoo Lounge, Marianne Faithfull is on tour promoting her new autobiography, Faithfull. Tonight at 7:30 she’ll be reading and signing copies at Barbara’s Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells. Admission is free. Call 642-5044 for information.
The Goethe-Institut Chicago is holding a panel discussion on design trends coming out of the former East Germany. The free seminar, which features prominent German design experts as well as professors from IIT and U. of I., is being held in conjunction with The East German Take-Off: Products and Design From an Economic Region in Transition, an exhibit that focuses on the design of consumer products developed since the Berlin Wall came down. The exhibit runs through October 12 in the east lobby of the Equitable Building, 401 N. Michigan, and is open 10 to 6 Monday through Saturday. The panel is this afternoon at 5:30 at the Goethe-Institut, 401 N. Michigan. Admission to both is free. For more information call 329-0915.
The Peruvian/Bosnian performance duo Teatro Hugo & Ines use body puppetry to create the characters in their new G-rated show, The Adventures of Ginocchio. Presented by Performing Arts Chicago, the show begins its run at 7:30 tonight in the Athenaeum Annex Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. It also plays Thursday at 7:30, Friday at 8, and Saturday at 2 and 8. Tickets cost $20, $10 for children under 16. Call 663-1628 or 722-5463 for more.
The history of emotional and sexual longings will be discussed in a ten-week Socratic seminar offered by an adult education outfit called Educational Networks. Beginning tonight Love: Understanding an Emotion will be held Wednesdays from 7 to 9 at Evanston’s Holiday Inn, 1501 Sherman. It costs $95. Call 708-866-9885 to register.
Local poets Eduardo Arocho and Lourdes Lugo Lopez will be joined by Northeastern Illinois University history professor Jose E. Lopez and a legion of rap artists tonight to honor Puerto Rican nationalist Pedro Albizu Campos. The tribute is at HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee. Admission is $5, $2 if you participate in the open mike that starts the evening off at 7:30. Call 278-2210 for more. The event is part of a week-long celebration commemorating Campos’s birthday and the first anniversary of the museum named for him. The museum, founded to promote Puerto Rican history and culture, currently houses the six-foot-tall statue of Campos intended for Humboldt Park but stuck in legal limbo. The free museum is at 1457 N. California and is open 2 to 7 Fridays, 12 to 5 Saturdays, and 1 to 5 Sundays. More at 342-4880 or 342-8027.
The Loop is the place to go today for harvest-fresh fruits and vegetables; the city-sponsored farmers’ market begins at noon under the rusty baboon at Daley Plaza, Washington and LaSalle. Call 346-3278 for information.
The Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute opens its new season with City of Big Shoulders, a two-part program highlighting the work of local video artists. The first part, subtitled Image Processing, will be shown tonight at 7 in Gallery Two, 1040 W. Huron. It features 11 shorts on diverse topics: Ed Paschke contributed to one, and Ed Two-Rivers reads his poetry in another. The second half of the program, Guerrilla TV Video & Activism, will be screened next Saturday, September 17, at 6 PM in the John M. Flaxman Memorial Screening Room of the school’s 112 S. Michigan building. Admission is free. Call 345-3550 for more.