Friday 7/25 – Thursday 7/31
25 FRIDAY Over the past few weeks folks from Chicago Critical Mass have been diligently papering walls and parked bicycles with flyers promoting tonight’s installment of the free monthly ride, which they’ve dubbed the 1,000 Rider Critical Mass. “It’s the strongest push we’ve ever made to get more people to show up,” says a regular, noting that the event comes at the tail end of the city’s three-month-long Bike Chicago initiative. “This has been a really big summer for biking in Chicago.” The route for the leisurely two-hour cruise around the city is still TBD, but cyclists should meet at Daley Plaza, Dearborn and Washington, at 5:30 PM; call 773-278-2107 or see www.chicagocriticalmass.org for more information.
In 1914 activist and songwriter Joe Hill–aka Joel Hagglund, a Swedish immigrant turned Industrial Workers of the World organizer–was arrested for a double murder in Utah. Labor leaders insisted he’d been framed by mine bosses, but Hill refused to provide an alibi for the night in question and was found guilty. His case became a cause celebre for everyone from Helen Keller to President Woodrow Wilson, whose call for a stay of execution was temporarily granted by Utah’s governor, but Hill was executed by a firing squad in 1915. Before he died he told his fellow Wobblies, “Don’t waste time in mourning. Organize!” Tonight’s tribute performance, Celebrate Joe Hill, starts at 6. The evening of song, storytelling, and theater kicks off this weekend’s Bughouse Square Debates. Tomorrow at 1 PM the debates committee will present former Governor George Ryan with the John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award for his work against the death penalty; pardoned death-row inmate Aaron Patterson will be on hand as well. The annual soapbox debates, including the 3 PM main event, “Are We Safer With Fewer Civil Liberties?,” run tomorrow from noon to 5 in Washington Square Park, 901 N. Clark. All events are free; call 312-255-3510.
26 SATURDAY Sam Greenlee’s best-selling 1969 satire on race relations, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, was set in Chicago and focused on the travails of one Dan Freeman, a “token Negro” hired by the CIA. He outwardly plays along with the establishment but seethes inside, and eventually drops out and uses his skills to train young African-Americans for an armed uprising. Greenlee–an activist, poet, journalist, teacher, and talk-show host–walked his first picket line at age 15 and went on to serve as a foreign service officer for the U.S. State Department, win an award for bravery during the 1958 Baghdad revolution, and pen the 1991 book Baghdad Blues: The Revolution That Brought Saddam Hussein to Power. He’ll discuss the origins of Spook today at 2 at the Bessie Coleman branch of the Chicago Public Library, 731 E. 63rd. On Saturday, August 16, at 1 he’ll attend a discussion of the book and 1972 film of the same name, for which he cowrote the screenplay. Both events are free; call 312-747-7760.
27 SUNDAY About 300 people attended last year’s free Grant Park drum circle, which attracts a wide range of drummers, from tie-dyed Deadheads to die-hard professionals. This three-hour event will be facilitated by John Yost, head of Rhythm Revolution Chicago, a group that advocates using music “to break down the barriers that separate people from their community, to empower people to heal, to educate, and entertain themselves.” It starts at 2 at the Lincoln statue in Grant Park, near Columbus and Congress. Novices are welcome; bring something to beat on. Call 312-744-6630.
28 MONDAY The Freedom Schooner Amistad is a Connecticut-based replica of the Spanish cargo ship Amistad–site of an 1839 revolt by enslaved Africans, who were subsequently brought to the U.S., imprisoned, and eventually let off by the Supreme Court. A floating museum dedicated to improving race relations, it’ll dock at Navy Pier on July 26; the DuSable Museum of African American History has put together a slew of activities in conjunction with its visit, which ends August 13. Tonight at 7:30 there’ll be a one-time-only performance of Ifa Bayeza and Pam Dickler’s musical Amistad Voices at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand. Tickets are $20.50 (312-595-5600). A free mock trial and legal symposium take place Wednesday, July 30, from 5 to 9 at the pier’s Chicago Children’s Museum. Tours of the ship–which is sailing the Great Lakes through the end of the year–take place Monday through Friday from 2 to 4:15 and weekends from 10 to 5:15. They’re $8 for adults, $5 for children; call 773-947-0600, ext. 232, for more information.
29 TUESDAY Last spring Glenview neighbors Gretchen Grad and Deanna Jacobson noticed how well their four children get along despite their religious differences (Grad is Christian, Jacobson Jewish) and decided to start Hands of Peace, an organization promoting understanding between Israeli and Palestinian kids. They convinced Islamic Cultural Center of Northbrook member Nuha Dabbousseh to join them, and last Monday the ad hoc group brought a dozen teens from the Middle East to stay with North Shore families of various faiths for two weeks. Along with ten local high school students, they spend their mornings talking about cultural differences with the help of adult facilitators and the rest of their time going to the beach and seeing the sights. Tonight’s benefit for Hands of Peace will feature the musical acts Dakota/Dakota, All Natural, and Balthazar de Ley (of Menthol). It starts at 7:30 at Nevin’s Live, 1450 Sherman in Evanston, and there’s a suggested donation of $5. Call 847-869-0450; E-mail email@example.com for more information on Hands of Peace.
30 WEDNESDAY The new Sebastiao Salgado exhibits “Migrations: Humanity in Transition” and “The Children” feature 300 photographs taken in more than 35 countries between 1993 and 2000. All of them depict people forced to leave their homelands and set up new lives, usually in slums or refugee camps. “These images tell us a story of our times,” the Brazilian-born photographer has said. “We must not remain indifferent; we cannot afford to turn away.” The Chicago Cultural Center is presenting a series of related films in conjunction with the exhibits. It kicks off tonight at 6 with three shorts about photography, including The Spectre of Hope (2001), which includes interviews with Salgado. The series continues Wednesday nights through August 27 at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. The exhibits will be up through September 28 and are split between the CCC and the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. All events are free; call 312-744-6630 for more information.
31 THURSDAY The biggest, most visible Talk Show With Johnny White took place in July 1996 at the Polish Triangle–the island at the intersection of Milwaukee, Division, and Ashland. White sat in a hot tub and presided over guests that included bassist Tatsu Aoki and filmmaker Tom Palazzolo. Later, the Chicago-based actor, artist, and filmmaker moved to LA, where he scored a role in the Russell Crowe-Peter Weir swashbuckler Master and Commander and worked in the art department on the TV show The Bachelor. He’ll discuss his experiences tonight from 7 to 9 at an event called Meet and Greet With Johnny White: Navigating the LA Scene. It’s at Chicago Filmmakers, 5423 N. Clark (773-293-1447). Admission is $7.