“Rock ‘n’ roll up your sleeve” is the charming slogan of the blood drive sponsored by WLUP radio and LifeSource, a joint venture of the Red Cross and the Blood Center of Northern Illinois and the largest blood supplier in the state. You can hang out with the Loop’s Bobby Skafish, Rick Kaempfer, Wendy Snyder, and John Fisher and get a free meal to boot if you give a pint of blood at the China Club, 616 W. Fulton, between noon and 7 today. You need to be 17 or older, weigh at least 110 pounds, “enjoy overall good health,” and not have given blood in the last two months. There’ll be drawings for music, Loop T-shirts, and a Nintendo system. It’s free, except for whatever value you place on your blood. Call 708-808-7660 for details.
The father of the Moog synthesizer–the technology used by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and lots of other pop-music icons–and his sometime collaborator will show off a new instrument today. Robert Moog (rhymes with “vogue”), who designed his namesake in the mid 60s, and John Eaton, U. of C. prof and noted composer, have come up with a revolutionary new concept called the Multiple-Touch-Sensitive Keyboard. Each key on the instrument has a computer chip that can sense how far the key is depressed, where the finger is touching it, how the finger moves, and more. The new keyboard, says Eaton, who’s been funding the project with a MacArthur genius grant he copped in 1990, will be “the world’s most sensitive instrument next to the human voice.” You can see the new sensation at a lecture and demonstration by Moog and Eaton at the University of Chicago’s Goodspeed Hall, 5845 S. Ellis, at 3:30. It’s free. Call 702-6421 for details.
At its height the Negro Baseball League drew tens of thousands of fans to games, outdrawing the white leagues; the players traveled first-class and even had their own baseball cards. Nowadays the games and the players have been largely forgotten. But the Negro League Baseball Players Association is trying to change that, and one of its goals is getting financial assistance to some of the few surviving players. Tonight’s premiere of American Giants: Legends of the Negro Leagues, a half-hour documentary produced by WGN, will serve partly as fund-raiser: it shows on Channel Nine at 6 and 10 PM, but if you watch it at Sluggers sports bar and pay the $5 admission charge ($3 for kids), which goes to the association, you’ll get to hobnob with Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe and Jimmie Crutchfield and a few more old-time players, hear celebs like Studs Terkel and Vernon Jarrett hold forth about the league, and be entertained by the Jesse White Tumblers and several types of musical aggregations–steel drum, rock, reggae, bluegrass, and more. Sluggers is at 3540 N. Clark, and the whole shebang runs 5 PM to 3 AM. Call 281-1364.
While MTV does have certain systemic drawbacks, it’s still the most relentlessly creative and challenging entity ever to broadcast over television–take, for example, the channel’s commissioning of adventurous videos on topics other than music. Some of the station’s “art breaks” by visual artist Jenny Holzer will be shown at Randolph Street Gallery tonight as part of a mixed-media program called Triplespeak. Also on the agenda: public-service announcements by R.E.M. and Laurie Anderson; Art Jones’s documentary Know Your Enemy, a look at the rap group Public Enemy’s treatment in the press; and the music video “We’re Talking Vulva.” The program starts at 8 at the gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. It’s $5, $3 for members. Call 666-7737 for more.
Geraldine Ferarro is the featured speaker at the fifth annual founders’ dinner given by IMPACT, the Chicago gay and lesbian political action committee. Also on the bill are state attorney general Roland Burris, city treasurer Miriam Santos, and the two recipients of the organization’s Alongi Award for activism, lawyer William Kelley and former ACT UP organizer Daniel Sotomayor. Tickets are $150; the event begins at 5:30 with cocktails at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan. Call 880-2308 for details.
Michael Crawford, who played the original phantom of the opera in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, is in town to hawk his new album Michael Crawford Sings Andrew Lloyd Webber. Crawford will sign records or anything else you want to bring in at the downtown Rose Records, 214 S. Wabash, at noon today. It’s free; call 987-9044 for more. He’s also singing a selection of Lloyd Webber’s tunes at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, tomorrow through Sunday, February 9, at 8 PM each night and also 2 PM Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $27.50-$47.50; call 559-1212.
The differences between erotic and pornographic imagery will be the subject of a lecture tonight by Linda Williams, a professor of film studies at the University of California at Irvine and the author of Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the Frenzy of the Visible. Her talk is the first in a five-lecture series at the School of the Art Institute called Eroticized/Exoticized; the series continues with lectures on Marilyn Monroe (February 17), gay Asian men (February 24), vampire literature (April 13), and the portrayal of African Americans in pornography (April 20). All the talks start at 6 PM in the school auditorium, Columbus and Jackson. Admission is $3, free to students, seniors, and staff. Call 443-3711.
Michael Dyson’s title at the Chicago Theological Seminary is assistant professor of ethics, from which platform he’s declaimed on such topics as Michael Jackson, 2 Live Crew, and Boyz N the Hood. His topic today, as part of the School of the Art Institute’s Black History Month lecture series, is Moral Imagination and Postmodern Culture: Reading the Popular. He’ll speak at 6–a reception starts at 4:30–in the eighth-floor conference room of the Champlain Building, 37 S. Wabash. It’s free. Call 899-5105 for more.
You can support Helicon, the Northwestern University student literary magazine, and get a taste of some local poets at a reading tonight. Anne Winters, Johnny Payne, and Charles Wasserburg will be among those reading. It’s free, but the mag is requesting donations and holding a raffle. It starts at 7 in the Great Room of the Jones Fine and Performing Arts Residential College, 1820 Sheridan Road in Evanston. Call 708-475-4977 for details.
The latest performance series at Club Lower Links is The Outside Cabaret, hosted by David Hauptschein, in which poets and performers present “tales of anomalous experiences, aliens, and alienation and portrayals of the greatest kooks of our time.” Performing: Cindy Salach, Doug Spinuzza, Charles Pike, Sharon Sandusky, and more. The shows run tonight and the next three Wednesdays at 8 at 954 W. Newport. Admission is $6. Call 248-5238.
Proponents of legalized gambling say it doesn’t encourage related crime, but just look at all the politicians prostituting themselves to turn Navy Pier into a casino. You can talk about whether gambling would benefit or blight the city at a Friends of Downtown brown-bag luncheon today at noon in the fourth-floor meeting room of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. On the scene: the Metropolitan Planning Council’s Jim Mann, McPier board chairman John Schmidt, and others. It’s free. Call 977-0098.
“Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was nothing if he was not openly, loudly condemnatory of America’s racial dilemma,” writes Charles Hamilton in his new biography of the radical U.S. representative from New York City. “He went to Congress shouting and protesting. His adversaries hated him for it; his admirers loved him precisely because of it.” Hamilton will be talking tonight about his book at Roosevelt University’s second-floor Sullivan Room, 430 S. Michigan, at 5:30. It’s $5. Call 341-3510 for details.