The Illinois Artisans Shop, tucked away on the second floor of the State of Illinois Center, 100 W. Randolph, holds its annual Christmas Crafts Fair today from 8:30 to 2. Buyable gift stuff, from scarves and picture frames to jewelry and ornaments, all made by Illinois artists, will be displayed in the atrium. It’s free to go look; call 814-5321 for more.
After he was Malcolm X, he was El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Journalist Gil Noble’s hour-long documentary of the same name lets the man talk for himself through archival footage. The Committee to End the Marion Lockdown, the prisoners’-rights activist group, will show the film at 7 tonight in room 154 of DePaul’s Schmitt Center, 2323 N. Seminary. There’s a $5 requested contribution; call 235-0070 for more.
Gonna Find Out Who’s Naughty and Nice is this year’s double entendre title for the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus’s annual holiday concert; the guys’ll be singing traditional carols and providing, so they say, “light-hearted choreography with a holiday flair, including dancing reindeers, teddy bears, toy soldiers, the beloved sugar plum fairies, and a guest appearance from “Bette Davis’ performing an unforgettable rendition of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”‘ There’ll also be an audience sing-along. Shows are at Lane Tech, 2501 W. Addison, at 3 and 8 today. Tickets are $15; call 275-7294 for more.
The Women’s Action Coalition–the in-your-face women-only activist organization that literally beats drums for the cause–has put together Wac-a-Go-Go, a performance ‘n’ dance party to raise cash tonight at HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee. The all-star lineup includes Paula Killen, creator of Music Kills a Memory and the Disgraces; Mishuganismo’s Susan Nussbaum; Maestro Subgum and the Whole’s Jenny Magnus; and performer, P-Form magazine editor, and Reader contributor Carmela Rago. It starts at 8, with a dance party to follow; there’s a requested donation of $10. Call 235-2334 for more.
It’s Howard Finster’s birthday! Work by the renowned folk artist–who got a boost when Talking Heads commissioned him to do the cover of their Little Creatures album–will be on exhibit at the David Leonardis Gallery, 1352 N. Paulina. The Folk Art Show also includes work from Andy Kane, Kevin Orth, and various of Finster’s progeny. The free birthday party and opening start at 8 tonight. Call 278-3058 for more.
You can hallelujah all the day long at at least three separate Messiah performances. First, the University of Chicago Chorus sings it at 2 PM at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn. (There’s also a late show at 8.) Tickets are $10; call 702-7300. Then, rush north to the Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan, for the Chicago Chamber Orchestra’s rendition, sponsored by the Presbyterian Churches of Chicago. That show starts at 3, and it’s free. Call 225-4951. Finally, head north by northwest to the Queen of All Saints Basilica, 6280 N. Sauganash, where the church’s choir, soloists, and orchestra will give a free performance of the piece at 4:30. Call 736-6060 for more.
A cross section of the Chicago music community celebrates the memory of Mike Jordan with acoustic performances from his friends and colleagues. The folksinger, songwriter, and bandleader (of the Swamp Dogs and Mike Jordan and the Rockamatics) died in a car accident in Saint Louis in August. Tonight at least 18 performers will sing his songs, and his former bandmates will jam as well, in three sets hosted by Tom Dundee, Harry Waller, and Ollie O’Shea. It’s free, starting at 6 at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont. Call 281-4444 for more.
Steppenwolf Theatre’s Inspecting Carol may provide a welcome respite from your usual sentimental holiday fare. The show tells the story of a hapless midwest theater company and its clumsy attempts to stage A Christmas Carol; it’s directed by Eric Simonson, who also handled The Song of Jacob Zulu. The show opens tonight at 7, with performances continuing at the theater, 1650 N. Halsted, Tuesday through Friday at 8, Saturday at 5 and 9, and Sunday at 3 and 7 through January 24; there are certain irregularities in the schedule, so you should call in advance. Tickets range from $21.50 to $31; call 335-1888 for more.
With the 25th anniversary of the Joseph Jefferson Theater awards in sight, the Jeff Committee and the Cultural Center begin a yearlong series of monthly discussions on Chicago theater, past and present. Today’s premiere session, Developing Theater: Making It Happen in Chicago, takes a look at the evolution of the scene, from the WPA programs of the 30s to the ground-breaking 60s. The Trib’s Richard Christiansen will moderate a panel that includes ETA director Abena Joan Brown; actor and director Mike Nussbaum; WPA theater vets Alan Peters and Lucille Strauss; Bill Pullinsi, director of the Candlelight and Forum theaters; director June Pyskacek; Second City’s Bernie Sahlins; and Studs Terkel. The free program starts at 5:30 in the center’s theater, at 78 E. Washington. Call 649-1012 for more.
What the book industry will look like in 20 years is an open question. Will we still hold print in our hands? Or will we imbibe our text from an electronic pad, a computer screen, a TV, a wall? “Are publishers, printers and others involved in the book business responding to or resisting these trends?” the Chicago Book Clinic wants to know. The organization is sponsoring this evening’s discussion and debate, The Future of the Book, at the University Club, 76 E. Monroe. Both publishing professionals and reps from some companies exploring new publishing and educational technologies will be on hand. Things get under way with a cocktail reception at 5; the program starts at 6:30. It’s $15, $10 for members; call 946-1700 for more.
Everyone wants to do something for the less fortunate at Christmas. This is what Sally Bushwaller does: she gets a bunch of letters to Santa from disadvantaged kids and tries to fill the requests. You can help tonight at a fund-raiser at the Jury Room, 2432 N. Lincoln. There’s a raffle and hors d’oeuvres, and a portion of the money paid for drinks and food goes to her campaign. The party is free and gets under way at 6. If you can’t make it, she’s planning on meeting again at the Jury Room on Sunday, December 20, to wrap the gifts. Call her at 267-2131 for details.
Tell it to the guy who runs Calvin and Hobbes so small: “The Tribune may not have been the first paper to put a political cartoon on page one, or run Sunday comics in color, or even develop a special weekly picture section, but it was on the cutting edge. [Publisher and editor Robert] McCormick and [editor Joseph] Patterson understood the bottom line: art helped sell newspapers, both to readers and advertisers.” So saith Janet Ginsburg, curator of an ongoing State of Illinois Art Gallery exhibition, The Art of the Message, that chronicles the Trib’s use of art in its pages over the years. Ginsburg will give a talk about the exhibit at 12:15 PM in the gallery, on the second floor of the State of Illinois Center, 100 W. Randolph. It’s free. Call 814-5322 for more.
You can hobnob with local music-industry types at Excalibur tonight during a simulcast of the Billboard Music Awards Party, which is hosted this year by Phil Collins. Rose Records and the local offices of Columbia, Atlantic, EMI, and PolyGram have teamed up for the party, which is a fund-raiser for the Homeless Helpline. Actually, it’s a clothes-raiser, not a fund-raiser. There’s no admission fee, but the organizers ask that you bring and donate articles of winter clothing. Excalibur is at 632 N. Dearborn; things get under way at 7. Call 266-1944 for more.
It wasn’t a terrific year for human rights, but Amnesty International is thinking positively: it’s celebrating the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchu, the defeat of a death-penalty resolution in Washington, D.C., and the liberation of hundreds of political prisoners in Morocco with a Human Rights Day party from 6 to 9 tonight in the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. Nicole Hollander, poet and professor Haki Madhubuti, and poet Ed Two Rivers will give readings, and singer Maggie Brown and the Yuba dance troupe will provide the entertainment. There’s a $10 requested donation; call 427-2060 for more.