With Police Department proceedings against Chicago police commander Jon Burge opening this week–in response to charges that Burge and other officers tortured accused cop killers–police-reform activists are lobbying for an independent prosecutor on the case. Why? Probably for the same reason it’s taken nearly ten years to get the case this far: police don’t investigate–much less prosecute–their own very well. You can reflect on this and other problems with various combators of police nogoodnikness (including Flint Taylor of the Peoples Law Office, who worked tirelessly on the Burge case) at the National Conference on Police Accountability, starting today at 1 at the International Conference Center, 4750 N. Sheridan. It’s $20 for the two days of sessions (1 to 9 today, 9 to 5 tomorrow). Call 663-5392 for details.
To the people of the west African country of Mali, the drum is much more than a musical instrument, say the folks at the Degerberg Academy, the martial arts place at 4717 N. Lincoln. “It is their primary tool for transmitting knowledge, for healing, and for harmonizing the forces of the visible and invisible worlds.” Master drummer Yaya Diallo is in town to perform and give a two-day class on his culture and its drums. The show is tonight at 7:30; tickets are $15, $4 for kids. The workshop runs from 10 to 5 tomorrow and Sunday, and costs $125. Both events take place at the academy; call 728-5300 for details.
A vampire clown, three vampire bands, vampire art, a vampire author, and a raffle for a set of professionally made fangs are the main features of–what else?–a Vampire Circus tonight at Bistro Too, 5015 N. Clark. The bands are the Wake, Dark Theater, and Lestat (named after the bloodsucking Anne Rice antihero); they’re all industrial and Gothic as all get-out. Dark Theater’s leader, Vlad, says he’s a real vampire and has credits from both the Sally Jessy Raphael and Montel Williams shows to prove it; the vampire clown, Renfield, claims to be the only such combination in the world. The party begins at 9 and runs to 1; admission is $10. Call 708-430-2536 for more.
Imagining America is Evanston author Sharon Sloan Fiffer’s account of (as the book’s subtitle says) “Paul Thai’s journey from the killing fields of Cambodia to freedom in the U.S.A.” Thai, who now lives in Chicago, and Fiffer will be at a benefit dinner for the Cambodia Association of Illinois tonight to read from the book and talk about his journey. The $25 cover includes a buffet dinner, the talk, and a performance of classical Cambodian music. It’s at the Monorom Restaurant, 1108 W. Leland, from 5 to 8. Call 878-7090 for more.
Celebrated underground comic book artists Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are in town for Comic Book & Art Expo ’91 this weekend at the Rosemont Expo Center. Their ten-year-old creation Love and Rockets has achieved acclaim and underground stardom over the years for its gritty, sci-fi-ish adventures and characters. Tonight they’ll be signing copies of Love and Rockets # 36 at Halley’s Comix, 3107 N. Lincoln; Chicago’s Daniel Clowes (Eightball, Blab) and Terry LaBan (Unsupervised Existence) will also be there, starting at 9 PM. It’s free. Call 477-3555 for details on the signing, 708-496-0004 for expo info.
The AIDS service group Open Hand Chicago, Illinois hate-crimes bill sponsors in the Illinois house and senate, and Laurie Dittman, executive director of the gay and lesbian political action committee IMPACT, are the recipients of the seventh annual Glynn Sudbery Awards, named after the late gay activist and given by the Gay and Lesbian Caucus of the Independent Voters of Illinois/Independent Precinct Organization. A reception for the winners starts at 7 tonight at the Ann Sather restaurant at 929 W. Belmont; it’s $10. Call 248-4192 for details.
Photographer Marty Perez grew up in Chicago, then went off to school in Seattle, where he chronicled the exploits of alternative-rock pooh-bahs the Young Fresh Fellows and others. He’s been back in Chicago for a few years now, doing album covers and work for Spin and the Reader, specializing in the faces and scenes of the world of underground rock. His first exhibit, Mesmerized by the Stage-Lit Screams, a show of more than two dozen shots, will be up at Pravda Records, 3729 N. Southport, through January 5. The store’s open noon to 10 Sunday through Thursday and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday. Call 296-0744.
“During the 50s, elements of film noir infiltrated the Western genre, creating stange hybrids, films which puzzled the purists but delighted the critics at Cahiers du Cinema.” That’s the Film Center’s Alissa Simon explaining “psychological westerns.” Tonight the center is showing “one of the most intoxicating and bizarre,” Johnny Guitar, made in 1953 by Nicholas Ray and starring Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, and Mercedes McCambridge. It starts at 6 at the center, Columbus and Jackson. Admission is $5; call 443-3733.
Latkes or hamentaschen? This age-old question of obvious and ever-increasing import is the subject of the University of Chicago’s annual Latke-Hamentasch Debate. College prez Hanna Gray, humanities dean Philip Gossett, and profs Wendy Doniger and Francis Kinahan will debate the “cosmological, historical, literary, musical, and philosophical implications” of potato pancakes versus pastries in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St., tonight at 7:30. It’s free to listen, $2 to partake in latkes, hamentaschen, sour cream, applesauce, and cider. Call 752-1127 for details.
The Olive Branch Mission–recent recipient of the “U.S. Mayors’ End Hunger Award”–is holding a free early Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless tonight at its center, 1047 W. Madison. The mission has been around since 1876, serving more than 500 meals each day and providing shelter and warming centers in the winter. They’re expecting a turnout of 500 tonight, who will be served by formally dressed mission volunteers. Serving gets underway at 4:30. Call 243-3373 for details.
Lefty Dizz knew Jimi Hendrix back in Seattle: both were southpaw guitarists who had an appreciation of souped-up blues. Dizz is heading up the third annual Jimi Hendrix Birthday Party blues jam tonight at Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash. The jam each year raises money for a cause: this year it’ll go toward medical expenses incurred by the Junior Wells Band in a tour accident. Tickets are $8; doors open at 8. Call 708-803-8373 or 338-5842 for details.
There’s actually a chance that the Rolling Stones’ IMAX film–one of those dizzying megamovies designed to be projected onto massive 75-foot screens–may come to Chicago after all: the Museum of Science and Industry, the only Chicago facility with the requisite Omnimax theater, is currently negotiating to bring Rolling Stones to the Max to town for shows next spring. In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with the less rockin’ but probably more awesome Antarctica, an adventure documentary about the world’s largest ice cube. It shows every 50 minutes from 10 to 3 daily, to 4:40 Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. There are also 7 and 8 PM performances on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s $8 for admission to both the museum and theater, $6 for seniors, $4 for children under 13. You can also get tickets for the film only: $5, $4, and $3. The museum’s at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive; call 684-1414.