Friday 4

Arriving in Russia for the first time barely speaking the language, American photographer Anne Fishbein promptly outfitted herself in clothing from a local department store and set out to document everyday life. Over four extended trips in the past several years, Fishbein took photographs that she says show “Russia’s relationship to its past as seen through a look at its people.” The result is Faces in Time, an exhibition opening tonight with a free reception from 5 to 7:30 at Printworks Gallery, 311 W. Superior. The show stays up till July 3; regular hours are 11 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday. Call 664-9407 for more information.

Like the rabbit in the battery commercial, the trade embargo the U.S. imposed on Cuba 30 years ago is still going strong–even without the pretext of the cold war. A result of this policy was recently revealed in a New York Times story that reported on nearly 26,000 Cubans who have become partially blind since 1992, possibly as a result of a vitamin B1 deficiency. The decline of trade between Cuba and the former Soviet Union on top of the continuing U.S. embargo has dramatically affected the availability of meat, fish, and eggs–foods naturally rich in this vitamin. Last November’s Friendshipment caravan delivered tons of vital medical supplies to the people of Cuba. Reverend Lucius Walker of Pastors for Peace and the Salvation Baptist Church in Brooklyn will talk about last fall’s breaking of the blockade and his plans for sending another shipment next month at the annual People’s Weekly World banquet, which starts at 7 tonight at Three Happiness, 2130 S. Wentworth. Tickets are $30 at the door; call 842-5665 for more.

Saturday 5

After centuries of conquest and emigration, the Irish language survives only in isolated places along Ireland’s western coast. “There is no such thing as a neutral language,” writes Sinn Fein party president and former MP Gerry Adams in his book The Politics of Irish Freedom, “for language is the means by which culture, the totality of our response to the world we live in, is communicated; and for that reason the Irish language had to be destroyed.” Since the 1980s, interest in the language has grown in nationalist areas like West Belfast and among communities of Irish immigrants in other countries. Na Gaeil, a local group that promotes Irish language and culture, will host this year’s North American Gaelic Language Debate from noon to 8 at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox. The daylong competitive event will feature debates, plays, songs, story telling, and discussion–all in Irish–among speakers from the U.S. and Canada, concluding with what organizers say will be the biggest ceili of the year. Admission to the ceili is $5, everything else is free. Call 708-747-4846 for more information.

Sunday 6

The White Crane Players is a performance troupe made up of senior citizens from the White Crane Wellness Center and formerly homeless tenants of the Lakefront SRO. This afternoon they will stage Home Free, a collection of stories that examine the meaning of home through singing, dancing, and narration. The show starts at 1 at Beacon Street Theatre, 4520 N. Beacon. Tickets are $7, $5 for students and seniors. Call 561-0900 for more information.

If you’re not in a hurry you could stick around Beacon Street after the show for the Pan-African sounds of Ndikho and Nomusa Xaba. Ndikho, a locally based South African musician, plays piano, drums, and a number of traditional instruments while Nomusa, his Chicago-born wife, accompanies him with percussion, poetry, singing, and dancing. Their concert, An African Synthesis, starts at 4, and a $6 donation is requested. Call 708-869-4964 for more.

One organization that played a large role in the securing of domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples at the University of Chicago was the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a 20-year-old national advocacy group working for the rights of lesbians, gays, and people with HIV. The fund celebrates the opening of its midwest office here with a party tonight at 6, at the River Edge Cafe at the Hyatt, 151 E. Wacker, followed by a sunset cruise and dance at 8 on the Anita Dee, departing from the south side of the river by the Hyatt. Tickets cost $75; call 212-995-8585 to make reservations.

Monday 7

The Newberry Library is currently showing Two by Two, an exhibit of 22 pairs of maps dating from the 1400s to the 1900s; the pairings show the growth of different societies, the mapmakers’ own environmental perceptions, and cartographic technology through time. An evening reception for the exhibit will feature a lecture by David Buisseret, who’s curator, director, and all-around pooh-bah of the Newberry-based Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography. The talk will be followed by a tour of the show by the library’s curator of maps, Robert Karrow. The reception starts at 6 tonight at the library, 60 W. Walton. Admission to the event is $15, $12 for members. The exhibit stays up through August 7; library hours are 8:15 to 5:30 Monday, Friday, and Saturday and 8:15 to 7:30 Tuesday through Thursday. Call 943- 9090 for more.

If show tunes aren’t your cup of tea you may find it ironic that the beginning of National Headache Awareness Week coincides with a performance of more than 50 songs by Broadway and Hollywood maestro Irving Berlin. Puttin’ on the Ritz . . . An Irving Berlin American Songbook, which opens tonight at 7:30, is the final production of the National Jewish Theater’s current season. The show includes the Berlin classics “Top Hat,” “Always,” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” and is adapted and directed by Sheldon Patinkin, whose recent projects include The Heidi Chronicles, Awake and Sing!, and The Good Person of Setzuan. The theater is at 5050 W. Church St. in Skokie, and tickets range from $18 to $25. Call 708-675-5070 for reservations and information.

Tuesday 8

So long as she gets the necessary city permit, artist Diane Aoki will lead a march through Lawndale next Saturday, June 12, to commemorate victims of homicide. Anyone interested in helping to carry one of the 150 mock coffins designed for the event or participating in some other way can call 769-5531.

Dr. Jonathan Smith, chairman of Roosevelt University’s psychology department and an expert on stress and relaxation, will begin a series of talks on meditation tonight at the Second Unitarian Church, 656 W. Barry. Smith, author of seven books and the recent Spiritual Living for a Skeptical Age: A Psychological Approach to Meditative Practice, has centered his career on studying the techniques and effects of meditation, with special attention to bridging the gap between clinical and theological approaches. The talk starts at 8; admission is $5. Call 348-4667 for information.

Wednesday 9

The Community Television Network helps young people from all over the city shoot and edit videotapes for the local cable access program Hard Cover, which shows on Channel 19 Mondays at 5:30 PM and Tuesdays at 12:30 PM. Tonight at 6 the network hosts a screening of a number of excerpts from the series including “Gay Teens Speak Out,” “Teens and Television,” and “Homeless Teenagers,” along with a group of videos dealing with racism, produced by the same videomakers, for WTTW’s Image Union. The screening is at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. It’s free; call 278-8500 for more.

Thursday 10

Escucha! (or “Listen!”) is the weekly organ of Universidad Popular, the education center at 2750 W. North that offers classes in reading, writing, and critical thinking in both English and Spanish. The newspaper provides a valuable forum for Universidad Popular students, and school organizers hope to expand its circulation beyond Humboldt Park. There will be a benefit for the paper tonight at 9 at HotHouse, with a screening of Jorge Busot’s film When Tribes Collide and musical entertainment by Ruby Blair, Joe Nicita, and Formerly Wicker Youth. The club is at 1565 N. Milwaukee. Admission is $7, “less if you’re broke.” Call 772-0836 for information.