JULY

Friday 26

It’s a night of hyperbolically named street events. The World’s Largest Garage Sale runs today through Sunday in Evanston in the six-story Municipal Garage, on Sherman between Church and Davis. More than 500 vendors are expected, along with tens of thousands of buyers. It’s free and opens at 11 each day, closing at 9 tonight and at 6 Saturday and Sunday. There’s a 24-hour sale hot line at 708-328-1574. With a $25 admission fee ($35 for both nights), the World’s Largest Block Party at Adams and Desplaines should probably be called the World’s Priciest Block Party. (It’s a fund-raiser for Old Saint Patrick’s Church.) The theme this year is “Limbo in the Loop,” and the featured guests are the Jamaican Bobsled Team (yes, the Olympic team, and no, they won’t be bobsledding), along with the usual attractions; bands include Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans tonight and Poi Dog Pondering tomorrow. The party runs 5 to midnight both nights. Call 782-6173 for details.

“A cultural nexus within a cultural nexus”–that’s how a new trio of hipster emporia in Wicker Park–Earwaxx Records, the Bombadier Cafe, and Myopic Books–is optimistically billing itself for its grand opening (reopening, in the case of Earwaxx) party tonight. Providing the sound track will be the off-kilter and friendly Shrimp Boat and an even stranger duo called Math, who drum a lot and play a Hammond organ. It starts at 8 at 1564 N. Milwaukee, and it’s free. Call 772-4019 or 772-4055.

Saturday 27

A list of noted cat lovers might include Sylvia, Bertie Wooster, and of course Samuel Johnson (“And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favorite cat, and said, ‘But, Hodge shan’t be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot'”). Various obstacles (including death and fictional status) prevent those three from attending, but the Brookfield Zoo is nevertheless going forward with Hats Off to Cats, a celebration of the fabulous feline today and tomorrow. Guides will give you details on the zoo’s big-cat contingent, including tigers, lions, lynxes, snow leopards, caracals, and jaguars. You can learn about regular old cats as well, and about efforts to preserve endangered ones. The zoo is at First Avenue and 31st Street in Brookfield; it’s open 9:30 to 5:30 daily. Admission is $2.75, $1 for children under 12 and seniors. (Zoo admission goes up to $3.50 and $1.50 on August 1.) Call 708-485-0263 for more information.

The planes that delivered the Persian Gulf war’s most impressive hits–on the civilians in a Baghdad bomb shelter, on the thousands of retreating soldiers fried to a crisp in the “turkey shoot” outside Kuwait City–will be on display at the 33rd annual Air and Water Show this weekend off North Avenue Beach. They’ll all be there–from the F-15 Eagle to the B-52 Stratofortress to the Stealth bomber–along with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Army’s Golden Knights parachuters, a helicopter trapeze act, and a bunch of other aerial antics in what promoters say is the largest two-day spectator event in the United States, today and tomorrow from 10 to 5. It’s free. Call 708-498-5071 for schedules and information.

Didn’t get tickets to the James Brown/Aretha Franklin show tonight? You can still investigate the history of rhythm and blues: At the Rodde Center, music buff Darrell Gordon will be giving a lecture on the evolution of the music through the 60s, complete with recordings and some vintage video clips. The two-hour affair starts at 7 tonight; the Rodde Center is at 4753 N. Broadway, suite 1200. It’s free; call 271-4155.

Sunday 28

If the world of the 90s is too much with you, you can go back–way back–today at Poplar Creek for Psychedelic Celebration, as Dave Mason, Robbie Krieger of the Doors, Arlo Guthrie, John Kay and Steppenwolf, and Three Dog Night (Three Dog Night?) turn Poplar Creek into–well, if not quite the 60s, then a pungently nostalgic simulation. The gates open at noon for WCKG’s “psychedelic flashback” band Ruckus and booths full of spin art, sand candles, and tie-dye. The full show starts at 3. Tix are $5; Poplar Creek is at the intersection of routes 59 and 72 and the Northwest Tollway in Hoffman Estates. Call 781-7300.

Monday 29

John Herrera played Father Alvito in the Broadway version of Shogun and got a Tony nomination for his work in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Right now, he’s one of the stars of Book of the Night, the Thom Bishop and Louis Rosen musical world-premiering at the Goodman. Herrera, along with a trio that includes Book of the Night’s musical director Mark Mitchell, will be singing up a storm at the Pump Room, 1301 N. State, tonight at 9. There’s no cover; you can order dinner or sit at the bar to watch. Call 266-0360 for more information.

Tuesday 30

“Reagan promised everyone a seven-course dinner. Ours was a possum and a six-pack.” That’s Texas’s Jim Hightower, the fiery and witty populist who became an unlikely celebrity as Texas’s commissioner of agriculture in the late 80s and is now a full-time campaigner for a group called the Financial Democracy Campaign. He bases his shtick on the assertion that too-distorted concentrations of money and power aren’t just morally wrong, they’re bad for the economy. (“Sure Wall Street is whizzing, but it’s whizzing on you and me.”) FDC, along with the populist-flavored alliance of community organizations Acorn, is sponsoring an old-fashioned stump speech on the S&L bailout by Hightower at the Bismarck Hotel, 171 W. Randolph, at 6 tonight. It’s free, though the two groups will probably hit you up for donations. Call 939-7488 for details.

Wednesday 31

Poet and free-lance goofball Thax Douglas’s The Baseball Show: The Muzak of Your Life, brought together an interdenominational array of baseball fans to declaim and spout off, reminisce and natter about baseball and its discontents. Now Douglas opens the field up to other sports with The Ultimate Sports Show: Bible Show, with a variety of scheduled performers and poets. It’s at Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport, at 8:30. $6 is the price. Call 248-5238 for more info.

AUGUST

Thursday 1

The superstars of polka worldwide–Eddie Blazonczyk’s Versatones, Henny and the Versa J’s, the Downtown Sound, Vinny and the New Soundz, the Music Company, Prime Drive, Stas Golonka and the Chicago Masters, the Brass Works, Gennie “O” and the Windy City Brass, Stas Bulanda’s Average Polka Band, the E-Z Tones, and others–will be scraping accordions at the Ramada O’Hare this weekend as the International Polka Festival opens its 23rd annual slate of events. Things get under way today: doors open at 7, music goes 8 to midnight, admission is $5. Tomorrow and Saturday the doors open at 5:30, with music from 6 to 2 and a $9 admission fee; Sunday they open at noon, music goes 1 to 10, and admission is $9. Miss International Polka Association of 1990-91, Doreen Biela, will crown this year’s polka beauty Sunday at 6. A four-day pass is $25; a Friday-through-Sunday pass is $22. The hotel is at 6600 Mannheim in Rosemont. Call 254-7771 for details.

Christmas Is for Kids is a Jam Productions charity that raises money for displaced and abused children. It distributes presents at Christmas and buys holiday trimmings and appliances for shelters as well. Tonight is the second of its two major yearly fund-raisers, the three-hour Charity Rock Cruise, leaving from the foot of Lake Point Tower tonight at 7:30. Irish rockers the Drovers, along with singer-songwriter Nicholas Barron and acoustic funnyman Pat McCurdy, will provide the music. Tickets are $30. Call 440-9191 for more info.