Friday 8

Barry Williams probably won’t be remembered for his work in dinner theater over the last two decades, but what else is a former Brady Bunch star supposed to do with himself? He’s recorded his years as Greg Brady in an in-depth memoir called Growing Up Brady, a well-researched and -reported behind-the-scenes look at the not-quite-dysfunctional goings-on of one of America’s most famous families. He’ll be at Kroch’s and Brentano’s, 29 S. Wabash, at noon today to sign it. The book costs $10. Call 332-7500 for more.

“It is safest to grasp the concept of the postmodern as an attempt to think the present historically in an age that has forgotten how to think historically in the first place. . . . Postmodernism, postmodern consciousness, may then amount to not much more than theorizing its own condition of possibility, which consists primarily in the sheer enumeration of changes and modifications.” That’s critic Fredric Jameson elucidating the thesis of his book Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Capitalism. If you have further questions, ask the man personally at one of his lectures at the University of Chicago this week: he’ll be at the Max Palevsky Cinema in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St., at 4 PM today and Thursday, May 14. It’s free; call 702-8537 for details.

Chicago’s new Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center opens tonight at 400 N. Franklin with an exhibit of sculpture, items brought over by Greek immigrants, Byzantine icons, and an assortment of modern Greek paintings. The opening reception–$125 a head, which includes a museum membership–runs from 5 to 8. The exhibit runs through May 22; regular viewing hours are 11 to 4 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 11 to 8 Thursday, and 1 to 5 Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free. Call 467-4622 for details.

Subhra Guha’s “rendition of the thumri is notable for its rich technique and aesthetic appeal emanating from her immaculate use of bol.” What the Old Town School of Folk Music folks are trying to say is that she’s a good singer. Guha is part of the three-day Festival of Indian Classical Music at the school this weekend. She appears tonight at 7, along with tabla master Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay. Tomorrow night, same time, will be sarod player Tejendra Narayan Majumdar and singer Ajoy Chakraborty. Sunday at 3 there’s singer Mashkoor Ali Khan and violinist Pandit V.G. Jog. Tix are $15 per show, $25 for two days, $35 for three; the school is at 909 W. Armitage. Call 525-7793 or 708-983-7887 for details.

Saturday 9

The stories of three of Chicago’s noted female labor leaders–Chicago Teachers Union activist Lillian Herstein, United Steelworkers Union local prez Alice Puerela, and United Packinghouse Workers leader Addie Wyatt–will be told tonight by Roosevelt University prof Elizabeth Balanoff. Her talk, Chicago Labor Struggles through Women’s Eyes, is a presentation of the Chicago Area Women’s History Conference. It’s free and goes from 2 to 4 today at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Call 708-383-7026 for more.

It’s National Astronomy Day, and the Chicago Astronomical Society is marking the day with introductory lectures, star viewings, and films at the Cernan Earth and Space Center of Triton College, 2000 Fifth Avenue in River Grove. Activities run from 6 to 10 tonight, and they’re all free. Call 725-5618 for details.

Sunday 10

Works from a dozen of the School of the Art Institute’s most distinguished alumni make up From America’s Studio: Twelve Contemporary Masters, an exhibit opening today in the institute’s Regenstein Hall. On the walls is stuff by Roger Brown, John Chamberlain, Richard Estes, Leon Golub, Richard Hunt, Robert Indiana, Joan Mitchell, Elizabeth Murray, Jim Nutt, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Paschke, and Donald Sultan. The show’ll be up through June 14. Admission to the Art Institute (at Michigan and Adams, of course) is $6, $3 for students, and free on Tuesdays; it’s open 10:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday (till 8 Thursday), 10 to 5 Saturday, and noon to 5 Sunday. Call 443-3703.

Monday 11

Someone once said an editorial cartoonist’s job is to come down after the battle to shoot the wounded. You can ponder that thought at an exhibit of the work of Sun-Times Pulitzer Prize winner Jack Higgins, running through May 31 at the Beverly Art Center, 2153 W. 111th St. There’s no admission charge, and the center’s open weekdays 9 to 5 and Saturdays 10 to 2. Call 445-3838 for details.

If you’re planning to go to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless benefit tonight at Ditka’s, be informed that Ditka’s has closed and Ka-Boom! has picked up the slack. George Wendt, Chris Farley, and Robert Smigel will do their “Super Fans” shtick from Saturday Night Live, and there’ll also be music from members of the BoDeans and localites the Bad Examples and Dick Holliday and the Bamboo Gang. Hosting duties will be handled by WXRT’s Terri Hemmert and Major Tom from the Blaze, and things get started at 6:30. Tix are $20, $8 for children. Ka-Boom!’s at 747 N. Green; make reservations at 435-4548.

How To Leave a Country, Chris Mazza’s first novel, “would seem to be the work of a young person, but only because of its freshness,” wrote Studs Terkel, Grace Paley, and Roger Groening in awarding it the PEN Nelson Algren Award for Fiction. “Its clarity and simplicity, however, suggest an older writer’s attention and experience. . . . We see the beloved bare fact of fiction; that is, the life of the story happening without explanation or the common masks of cynicism or sentiment.” Mazza hits town to read from her book tonight at 7:30 at Barbara’s Bookstore, 3130 N. Broadway. It’s free (the book is $11.95); call 477-0411.

Tuesday 12

Peter Ustinov has written 23 plays, ten books, and nine screenplays; he’s starred in 38 films, directed eight movies and ten operas, recorded seven albums, and done dozens of other TV and radio shows. He’s also won two Oscars, three Emmys, and a Grammy. That’s why he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth a couple years back. His one-man show An Evening with Peter Ustinov, which has been getting such good reviews in other cities, opens tonight at the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe. It plays Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays and Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 3, through May 31; tickets are $14.50-$38. Call 902-1500 for more info.

Wednesday 13

The Lincoln Park Zoological Society Auxiliary Board’s lecture Population and the Environment: Can the Earth Survive 12 Billion Humans? features Patricia Waak, the population director of the National Audubon Society, and Thomas Merrick, the president of the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C. Merrick will be dispensing numbers, and Waak will talk about what they mean. Hosting is WBBM’s Bill Kurtis; a reception starts at 6 and the program starts at 7 in the auditorium of the First Chicago Center, Dearborn and Madison. It’s $20; call 935-6700 for more.

You’d think it’d be hard to walk away from a fortune made from something as heavenly as ice cream, but that’s what Baskin Robbins heir John Robbins did. Estranged from his family, Robbins fils has supposedly thrown away his riches to work for the environmental causes espoused by the group he founded, the EarthSave Foundation. His book, Diet for a New America (one suspects it frowns on butterfat), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and Robbins himself has been praised all over the world for his views on diet and preservation of natural resources. He’ll talk about everything tonight at 7 at Lane Tech, 2501 W. Addison; tickets are $15, $12 in advance. Call 280-7600 for details.

Thursday 14

Women may not have it great in the U.S., but at least they’ve gotten beyond the dowry. The same can’t be said of India. A longtime campaigner against the systemic exploitation of women in the second largest country in the world is currently in Chicago heading up the mildly religious social-service organization Synapses. In a lecture tonight called Women’s Struggles Against Sexism in Indian Society, Nalina Narain will talk about the dowry system, domestic violence, and the struggle for women’s rights. A 6:30 reception precedes the talk at 7 at the Conrad Sulzer Library, 4455 N. Lincoln. It’s free. Call 421-5513.