Only a symposium on the JFK assassination could bring together the likes of deposed house speaker Jim Wright, actor and political do-gooder Ed Asner, and comedian cum diet-promoter Dick Gregory. Wright, who rode in the fateful Dallas motorcade in November 1963, serves as master of ceremonies at a dinner tonight to kick off two days of lectures on various assassination-related topics at Northwestern’s downtown campus. Gregory and Asner will deliver keynote addresses starting at 6 at the Marriott, 540 N. Michigan. The weekend lectures take place in Northwestern’s Thorne Hall, 375 E. Chicago, from 9 to 9 Saturday and 9 to 5 Sunday and feature authors Robert Groden (High Treason), Dr. Charles Crenshaw (JFK: Conspiracy of Silence), and Craig Zirbel (The Texas Connection). The organizers–a group of researchers called the Third Decade based in Fredonia, New York–claim that this will be the largest-ever gathering of experts on the killing. The dinner costs $55; another $55 buys the weekend’s worth of lectures. Call 800-323-4961, extension 450, for details or registration.
Ralph Bakshi–the famed animator of the naughty Fritz the Cat movies of the 1970s and, more recently, the rather nicer update of the Mighty Mouse Saturday-morning cartoon–is back with a new flick called Cool World, which integrates animation and live action. Gabriel Byrne and Kim Basinger star in the story about a cartoonist who ventures inside his own cartoon. Cels and drawings from the movie are on display at the Animation Plus! gallery at 790 N. Milwaukee, and Bakshi himself will be there from 6 to 9 tonight. It’s free to go look; call 243-8666. Seven-oh-eighters can see him tomorrow between 1 and 4 PM at the gallery’s Highland Park digs in Port Clinton Square, 600 Central Ave. Call 708-926-9501 for more.
The arts journal Hyphen sponsors a free festival of art, words, and performance–called, appropriately enough, Art! Words! & Performance!–at the Beacon Street Gallery this weekend. Tonight there’ll be visual-arts displays, readings from Hyphen contributors, and various theatrical and musical performances. Tomorrow the magazine holds a free open house, during which you can chat with editors and contributors. Both events start at 7:30 at the gallery, 4520 N. Beacon. Call 478-3609 for more.
Why, in a world where Macintoshes are freely available, anyone would choose to bring a PC into their home is something that will forever puzzle us. If, however, you’ve already made the fateful decision, you can commiserate with fellow unfortunates at the Association of Personal Computer Users’ monthly meeting this morning at 9:30. The agenda includes a discussion of various new virus-detection systems and a demonstration of the new Chicago On-Line service. Mac users are also welcome. It’s in room 105 of the University of Chicago’s Stuart Hall, 5835 Greenwood, and it’s free. Call 708-824-2617 for more info.
Tellers of tales representing traditions from Japan, Italy, Puerto Rico, Poland, and more will show off their talents at the free third annual Storytelling Festival at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, from 11 to 3 today. The sponsoring Maathian Storytellers Network gets its name from the Egyptian goddess Maat, who symbolized balance and harmony. The network believes that story telling similarly preserves balance in society by encouraging communication between people. Call 791-7437 for details.
This is an item about bells–big bells–and the people who ring them. A carillon is a bell tower, nothing more; the players, or carillonneurs, use their hands and feet to push pedals, which swing clappers against the bells. The resulting racket is something of an acquired taste, but some people like it. Carillon players from around the world will be jamming on the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel’s carillon–reputedly the second largest in the world, with 72 bells–on Sunday evenings at 6 all summer for the 1992 Summer Carillon Festival. The free series begins this evening with Peter Langberg from Logumkloster, Denmark. You’re welcome to sit outside and listen to the performances or even meet the carillonneur a half hour before each show. The chapel is at 5850 S. Woodlawn on the U. of C. campus. Call 702-2100 for more.
“The Walrus and the Carpenter,” a wound-up and quite amusing radio presentation, is the first of Sharkskin Productions’ Twisted Classics–what the group hopes will be an ongoing series of radio novelties. (“The Raven” is next on the agenda.) You can hear a sneak preview of their take on the classic Lewis Carroll poem at a party tonight to celebrate the formation of Sharkskin, a partnership of two Goodman Theatre vets: actor-director-designer Steve Pickering (seen recently in On the Open Road and The Good Person of Setzuan) and sound designer Rob Milburn, the recipient of no less than seven Jefferson awards. Also tonight: a preview of “The Curse of Anubis,” a planned 12-part send-up of classic radio drama with cameos by more than 70 Chicago actors. The party costs $10 and starts at 7 at the Remains Theatre, 1800 N. Clybourn. Call 335-9800 for more.
You may know her solely as a TV pitchwoman for Certs, but Rita Rudner is also a respected comedian. She’s written a book as well–Naked Beneath My Clothes: Tales of a Revealing Nature–from which she’ll read at 7:30 tonight at Barbara’s Bookstore, 3130 N. Broadway. It’s free. Call 477-0411.
Photographer Dennis Carlyle Darling’s show True Believers–selections from four recent series, including “Elvis Impersonators,” “Rainbow Family Commune,” “Identical Twins,” and “Tattoo Devotees”–will be on display at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, through July 25. Exhibition hours are 9 to 7 Monday through Thursday, 9 to 6 Friday, 9 to 5 Saturday, and noon to 5 on Sunday. It’s free. Call 346-3278 for more.
We’ll tell you one difference between the media in Canada and in the U.S.: Canadians don’t have to contend with Willard Scott. Ohio native Ron Kish has worked for Canadian television for the past 13 years and is now the network’s national news editor. This summer he’s teaching a class at Roosevelt University on “International Issues in Journalism,” but today he gives a free public talk on The Canadian and U.S. Press: Similarities and Differences in the university’s second-floor Sullivan Room, 430 S. Michigan, at noon. Call 341-3510 for more.
Are the battles over Northern Ireland as intractable as they sometimes seem? You can ask Irish journalist Robin Wilson at a free lecture sponsored by the Peace Museum. Wilson is a regular commentator on the BBC and editor of the respected politics and arts journal Fortnight; he’ll speak at 12:15 PM in the second-floor theater at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 541-1474 for more.
It’s nearly the Fourth of July, and time again for FitzGerald’s annual American Music Festival, which presents the cream of the Berwyn roadhouse’s exemplary music programming all crammed into one weekend. Tonight you can see Austin songwriting legend Alejandro Escovedo in a rare appearance outside of Texas; zydeco vet Boozoo Chavis; another Texas legend, Marcia Ball; and the steamy R & B of Paul Cebar & the Milwaukeeans. Tomorrow, Chavis plays again on a bill with the midwest rockers the Skeletons, known for their wistful 60s-flavored tunes and for sets sprinkled liberally with Sonny Bono covers. And on Saturday there’s New Orleans songbird Irma Thomas, guitar virtuoso Danny Gatton, Ball, and many others. FitzGerald’s is at 6615 Roosevelt in Berwyn; admission is $15 per day, or $30 for the weekend. Things get under way each night at 5. Call 708-788-2118 for details.