How many literary critics have their name become a mantra? One is French deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida, who wrote Of Grammatology, a Moby Dick-sized, blithely incomprehensible disquisition on, um, well . . . oh, you know–deconstruction, hermeneutics, stuff like that: “Nature denaturing itself, being separated from itself, naturally gathering its outside into its inside, is catastrophe, a natural event that overthrows nature, or monstrosity, a natural deviation within nature.” Derrida is a visiting professor at the University of Chicago this year; he’ll give the first of four public lectures today at 4 at the Max Palevsky Cinema in the U. of C.’s Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St. It won’t cost you a farthing, but there is a suggested reading list of five books, among them Baudelaire’s Paris’ Spleen and Heidegger’s Zeit und Sein. His other lectures are Monday, Wednesday, and next Friday, same time, same place. Call 702-8315 for details.
Hammers calls itself “an end of millennium irregular poetry magazine”; it’s edited by poet Nat David, who snapped up the 1989 Carl Sandburg award for his book Heartdance. The magazine’s third issue is being feted tonight at 7:30 with a reading at the Guild Complex at Edge of the Lookingglass, 62 E. 13th St. On hand will be David and about 18 other poets, including Sandra Frank-Mosenson, Megan Fitzer, Larry Winfield, Julie Hattory, John Dickson, and Reader contributor Achy Obejas. It’s $3. Call 708-328-7555 for details.
Little Women, a bunch of white reggae-funk-popsters from Boulder, believe less in genres than in grooves, and they find them efficiently enough that their infrequent Chicago appearances are something of an event. They play tonight ($7) and tomorrow night ($8) at 9:30 at Wise Fools Pub, 2270 N. Lincoln (929-1510).
Roddy McDowall will probably always look simian to us, thanks to his work in the Planet of the Apes and its seemingly innumerable sequels. But McDowall was a fairly noted child star (in How Green Was My Valley and My Friend Flicka) and, unknown to most, is a fairly noted photographer as well: his portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, her head wrapped in a towel, once graced the cover of Life, and his Hollywood entree lent an air of intimacy to many of his portraits of other stars–everything from a shot of Michelle Pfeiffer looking suspiciously like a space alien to an early portrait of Dennis Hopper looking positively Capotean. A selection of McDowall’s work opens at Merrill Chase Galleries in Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan, with a reception tonight from 5:30 to 8; the $25 ticket goes to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. The portraits will be up through May 16; the gallery is open 9:30 to 7 Monday through Friday, 10 to 6 Saturday, and noon to 6 Sunday. Call 642-5454 for info on tickets.
The North Shore Dead-Eyes sound like a shooting club, but actually they’re into models–ship models, to be exact: meticulously detailed, labor-intensive re-creations of boats. The Chicago Maritime Museum in North Pier opened an exhibit yesterday of some of the Dead-Eyes’ best work; today there’s an opening reception from 3 to 5. More than 40 models will be on display through next Sunday; among the most famous is a replica of the Indiana, a 19th-century riverboat, and work from noted maritime artist Charles Vickery, who’ll be donating a painting of his own model of a boat called the Sea-Witch to raise money for the museum. The museum’s at 465 E. Illinois and open noon to 5 daily. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for kids. Call 836-7788 or 836-4343 for details.
Where were you when the minions of Kissinger and Nixon dispatched Chile’s Salvador Allende? The members of Inti-Illimani, a radical student singing group in the Nueva Cancion movement, were on a world tour as Allende’s musical ambassadors. With Pinochet in power they were denied permission to return, and they’ve been exiles for the nearly 20 years since. Their music–a constellation of world folk influences, rhythms and lyrics–is pristine and dizzyingly varied, and the songs still recall their beginnings: “There’s nothing left but to raise our spirits / To the beat of an earth-shaking dance / To shout our songs to the heavens.” The seven-member ensemble plays tonight as a presentation of Chamber Music Chicago at the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, at 7 PM. Tickets are $10-$30; call 242-6237.
Sculptor Steven Maslach does with glass what he will–he blows it, casts it, fuses and cold-works it. When he’s done, he laminates onto it things called dichroic filters, which fracture the light and send it, prismed into a rainbow of hues, up through the sculpture. Maslach’s work is showing at Evanston’s Mindscape Gallery, 1506 Sherman, through May 25. It’s free; Mindscape is open 10 to 6 every day except Monday (noon to 8), Thursday (10 to 8), and Sunday (noon to 4:30). Call 708-864-2660.
The sarcastic and edgy Eric Bogosian inhabits a space somewhere between play writing, comedy, and acting: the monologues that make up his act seem at first just elaborate stand-up shtick until the dense themes and Bogosian’s often draining performances bring out a scary subtext. What start out as caricatures–a rock star reminiscing about his druggy salad days, a Master of the Universe firing his mentor, a street crazy or a taut young hood explicating his life–quickly cut deep. Bogosian’s third solo show, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, is now out as a book; he’ll be at Barbara’s Bookstore to talk about it tonight at 7. It’s free. Barbara’s is at 1350 N. Wells; call 642-5044.
Gordon Berger, a Japanese-history professor from the University of Southern California, talks about The Samurai Legacy in the Business and Social Ethics of Modern Japan tonight; Berger says that that legacy might be a pretty deep-seated one. His talk is part of a series sponsored by the Japan America Society of Chicago called “Myths and Traditions: Clues to the Modern Japanese Mind.” In a week, Gary Ebersole, from the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, speaks on “The Divine Creation of Japan: Myth and History”; a week after that, Indiana University comp lit professor Sumie Jones will lecture on “The Myth of Ideal Beauties: Edo Period Courtesans and Women of the 90s.” The talks are on successive Wednesdays, starting tonight, in the sixth-floor conference room of the Encyclopaedia Britannica offices, 310 S. Michigan. They start at 6 PM, with a half hour of light refreshments beforehand. Admission is $5 a lecture or $12.50 for all three. Call the Japan America Society at 263-3049 for more information or reservations.
If you’re the type who goes hog-wild over a Harley, you can mingle with some folks with similar feelings at Lannon/Cole Gallery tonight. The occasion is the publication of Road Pirates, a collection of more than 60 portraits of bikers by photographer Marc Hauser. The posed photographs form a literal rogue’s gallery; the exhibition runs through May 4. On hand for the opening tonight will be some of the portrait subjects themselves, dressed, the gallery promises, in “full Harley regalia.” The opening runs from 6 to 9; it’s free (though the book is $24.95). Lannon/Cole is at 365 W. Chicago. Call 951-0700 for more information.
Dave Lippman is sort of what Weird Al Yankovic would sound like if he read Mother Jones and managed to keep his sense of humor. The result is body blows against everything from “We Are the World” (“We Arm the World”) to John Denver (“Life bearin’ arms is never laid back / Ain’t much a contra boy like me won’t attack / Sandanistan peasants in a tin roof shack / Thank God, I’m a contra boy”). He also does nonsinging characters, like George Schrub, a sometime newscaster who gives the latest views on world affairs from the point of view of the CIA (that’s Committee to Intervene Anywhere): “Meanwhile, Israeli peace troops continue their defense of the West Bank against attacks from its inhabitants. . . . The soldiers use only Uzi rifles to defend themselves against the terrorists, who are armed with Soviet Bloc rocks.” Lippman performs tonight at Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport, at 8:30. It’s $6. Call 248-5238.