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Friday, February 8
“Like jazz, Ugandan traditional music is based on improvisation,” says Ugandan musician Samite, “and I like to use everything I’ve heard–traditional African music, country music, classical, jazz, and the songs that come to me in dreams. I play them over and over again into my tape recorder until they arrange themselves into songs.” Samite will play flutes, kalimba (finger piano), litungu (an African lyre), marimba, and percussion tonight at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; he sings as well. As he performs, he’ll talk about his instruments and his songs. The show starts at 8; tickets are $13, $11 for members, and $9 for seniors and children. Call 525-7793.
Roman a clef–how is it pronounced, anyway? This and other questions may be answered today as Charles Dickinson, former Sun-Times writer and current Tribune writer and bona fide fiction pro as well (his stories have appeared in the Atlantic, the New Yorker, Grand Street), signs copies of his new book, Rumor Has It, a journalism novel set in the halls of a failing big-city newspaper. At Coopersmith’s, in the mall at 900 N. Michigan, from 1 to 2 PM today. It’s free, though they’d probably like you to buy the book (it’s $18.95). Call 337-0330.
Like Nixon and Aerosmith, Malcolm X is back. But for some people he never really left; Why the “Resurrection” of Malcolm X? is a panel discussion on his theory and practice. Present will be Abdul Akalimat, owner of Twenty First Century Books and an organizer of a conference on Malcolm X in New York; Conrad Worril, chairman of the Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University; police brutality activist Edward Bannister, director of the Leonard Bannister Memorial and Defense Committee; and Nelson Peery, chairman of the Communist Labor Party. Poet Rohan Preston will read as well. Presented by the Guild Complex, the panel goes from 3 to 5 today at Edge of the Lookingglass, 62 E. 13th St. Admission is $4. Call 939-2509 for details.
Artist-made valentines and a dance party are two of the attractions of the tenth annual Saint Valentine’s Benefit Auction, the major yearly fund-raiser for the artist-run art gallery N.A.M.E., at 700 N. Carpenter. More than 100 artists have contributed work to be sold at tonight’s silent auction from 7 to 9:30, emceed by Trib arts writer David McCracken. Valentines, sold throughout the auction, are $20 a pop; the dance party starts at 10. $10 gets you into both events; just the dance is $5. Free food; cash bar. Call 226-0671.
Otis Clay comes out of the radiant school of Memphis soul best typified by Al Green. Like Green, he recorded with Willie Mitchell at Memphis’s Hi Records; unlike him, he did not have a string of top-ten singles, but did have a couple of demi-hits–“Trying to Live My Life Without You” and “Die a Little Each Day.” Now he plays transcendent shows in a variety of Chicago blues bars, and his shifting band and a horn section features the fabulous Bridget “Lock It in the Pocket” Lockett. The Otis Clay Review plays tonight at B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont. It’s $8. Call 525-8989.
Feline fanciers on the lookout for products that are tested sans cruelty to cats can check out the second annual Cruelty-Free Fair and Valentine Open House today at the Animal Protective Association, which is known for its “cageless shelter” in which cats are allowed to roam where they will. Sales reps for cruelty-free products and natural pet foods will vie with the cats themselves for attention from noon to 4; also available will be $5 valentines “signed” by cats. The shelter is at 3809 N. Kedzie; the fair is free. Call 463-6667.
Complete sexual license is “the only way to smash the wretched civilization,” wrote playwright Joe Orton. In conjunction with the Court Theatre’s production of Orton’s risque-for-its-time What the Butler Saw, actor Denis O’Hare will read today from some of the more titillating passages of Orton’s diaries, which were the basis of Orton’s biography and its subsequent dramatization in the movie Prick Up Your Ears. The free reading is at 1 in the university’s Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood; 702-0200. Conveniently, the Court Theatre’s matinee of What the Butler Saw starts at 2:30 at 5535 S. Ellis. Tickets are $19-$25; 753-4472.
No More Peace!, opening tonight at Live Bait Theater, tells the story of Napoleon and Saint Francis in heaven, arguing over whether man’s nature is peaceful or warlike. (Guess who takes which side.) They decide to use the mythical country of Dunkelstein as their guinea pig; they send it a fake declaration of war and watch the country turn itself inside out. The play, written by satirist Ernst Toller, dates from the early Hitler era. No More Peace! runs through March 31. Tonight’s show, which starts at 7 and is followed by a reception, is a benefit for the Peace Museum and the theater. Tickets are $35, $50 a couple. The theater is at 3914 N. Clark. Call 871-1212.
The panelists at tonight’s Jewish Council on Urban Affairs forum The Future of Chicago Public Schools are Bill Ayers, erstwhile Weatherman and current education professor at UIC; the U.S. Department of Education’s Susan Gamm, director of the department’s office of civil rights; and Reader writer Ben Joravsky. The forum goes from 6 to 8:30 in a 42nd-floor meeting room at the law firm of Jenner & Block, One IBM Plaza. Call 663-0960 for details. It’s free.
Seven groups–each representing one of the seven deadly sins–will be the competitors at the second annual Fat Tuesday Poetry Parade Competition, a special installment of the weekly West Side Poetry Slam at FitzGerald’s. The idea is that the groups will perform a combination of poetry reading and promenade; under the rules, the performance must include some sort of spin through the audience (think of the poems, say organizers, “as floats in a parade”). Judging will be on the basis of technique, content, performance, costume, and spectacle. It’s $5; doors open at 6:30, the Lester Stevens Traditional Jazz Band plays at 7:30, the poetry parade is at 8:30, and the Remainders play at 10:30. FitzGerald’s is at 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn. Call 708-788-2118.
British sailor Peter Blake has covered something close to half-a-million ocean miles in his various voyages and races; he’s currently planning an “around the world in 80 days” sail. He’s in town to speak on behalf of the Junior Sailors of the Chicago Yacht Club and the Northwestern Hospital medical expedition to Ethiopia. He’ll talk tonight at 7:30 about his various adventures, show accompanying slides and videos, and answer questions at the yacht club’s Belmont Station, at the foot of Belmont east of Lake Shore Drive. Tickets are $15; it’s free for the under-18 set. Proceeds go to the two groups. Call 664-4949 for information.
“We must not retreat into the alcove from which we have so painfully emerged,” wrote Anais Nin. Director Karen Goodman used that as the inspiration for Erotica: Little Birds, the second of two adaptations for the stage she’s made of the erotic writings of Anais Nin. Like the first one, Delta of Venus, Little Birds is a series of pungently erotic vignettes, originally written by Nin for the cold cash; in Goodman’s production, opening tonight at 8 at the Organic Theater, Lindsay Porter plays Nin and there’s a supporting cast of nine. After tonight the play runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 7; tickets are $12 and $15. The Organic is at 3319 N. Clark; call 327-5588 for details.
Bunny and Pussy are the famed columnists for Thing, which describes itself as “Chicago’s coolest hip-hop paper”; they’re going to be at People Like Us bookstore tonight to talk about “life, love, and lust among the ruins of Western civilization.” People Like Us is at 3321 N. Clark; the event (which is free) starts at 7. Call 248-6363 for info.