Friday 12/5 – Thursday 12/11


5 FRIDAY “The city takes its own pulse at this meeting in a very real way,” says David Perry, director of UIC’s Great Cities Institute, which sponsors today’s Great Cities Winter Forum. “It’s different from the typical university forum. Here the university and the city engage in a conversation about the state of the Chicago region.” Today’s panels will address–among other things–balanced development, the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act, and how the affordable housing shortage may affect Chicago’s murder rate. Wellington Webb, Denver’s first African-American mayor and former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, will give the keynote speech at noon. The tenth annual forum runs from 8 AM to 2 PM at the Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. Admission is $25 ($10 for students) and includes continental breakfast and lunch. To register call 312-996-8700 or see

Nonprofit organizations that oversee projects aimed at “historically neglected audiences” such as the elderly, undereducated, or poor are encouraged to apply for Illinois Humanities Council grants, which range from $2,000 to $10,000 and can be used to fund anything from literary symposia to documentary films. The next grant deadline is January 15; to demystify the process the IHC will offer a free grant workshop today from 10 to noon. It’s at 203 N. Wabash, suite 2020; to register call 312-422-5580 or e-mail

6 SATURDAY The Zen Buddhist Temple resurrected the quarterly magazine Spring Wind: Buddhist Cultural Forum two years ago because after 9/11 “we thought we needed to get Buddhist insight out to the public,” according to a spokesperson. Tonight’s Zen Buddhist Temple Holiday Auction will serve as a fund-raiser for the glossy black-and-white magazine, which is sold via subscription and at bookstores and health food stores around the country. There’ll be a vegetarian buffet and live music, and the bidding starts at 7; items on the block include artwork, meditation courses, massage therapy, and theater tickets. The temple’s at 1710 W. Cornelia, and there’s a suggested donation of $15 ($10 in advance). Call 773-528-8685 or see for more.

Colombia’s petroleum production has the potential to rival that of Venezuela–the second-largest supplier of oil to the U.S. Which, argues the new documentary Plan Colombia: Cashing-In on the Drug War Failure, could be one reason the U.S. has invested so heavily in military aid to that country. The film, narrated by Ed Asner, also asserts that U.S. aid prompted Colombian president Andres Pastrana to withdraw from peace talks with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 2002 and notes that the amount of cocaine smuggled into the U.S. has doubled in the past decade. Chicago Media Action and Andersonville Neighbors for Peace cosponsor a screening of the film tonight at 8 at Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark. Tickets are $7; call 773-293-1447 or see the movie listings in Section Two for more information.

7 SUNDAY Last year’s family-oriented Dance-Along Nutcracker was such a hit the city decided to add an adults-only evening performance this year. Led by Hedwig Dances’ Mei-Kuang Chen and emceed by Annoyance Theater cofounder Mark Sutton, the free event allows audience members to suit up in tutus and tiaras and dance to excerpts from the Tchaikovsky score and other holiday classics. The kid-friendly version starts today at 3 in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington; grown-up time starts at 7. Live music will be provided by the Lakeside Pride Concert Band; call 312-744-6630 for more.

“Make illegal copies, duplicate it, but get it into as many people’s hands as quickly as possible,” said filmmaker Robert Greenwald (director of the 1980 roller-disco musical Xanadu and more recently the Abbie Hoffman biopic Steal This Movie) in a recent interview about his new hour-long documentary. Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, featuring a wide range of military, intelligence, and foreign service experts–including former CIA agent Robert Baer, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman, and former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter–was funded in part by the online political advocacy group, which has so far given away 22,000 copies of the DVD as a donation premium. The organization is encouraging people around the country to show it at house parties tonight–at press time nearly 20,000 were planned nationwide. Free local screenings include one at 4 PM at Inside Out Studios (4251 N. Lincoln, 773-661-0248); one at 5 hosted by U.S. Senate candidate Blair Hull at No Exit Cafe (6970 N. Glenwood, 773-743-3355); one at 5:30 at Stolen Buick Studio (1303 W. Chicago, 312-226-5902); and one at 6 at Healing Earth Resources (3111 N. Ashland, 773-327-8459). For information on additional screenings, or to RSVP, see For more about the movie, go to

8 MONDAY Between 1941 and ’43, four photographers were commissioned by the United States Farm Security Administration to document daily life in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, then a thriving center of black American culture and home to almost half a million people. An exhibit of 120 of the rarely seen photos, Bronzeville: Black Chicago in Pictures, 1941-1943, opens today and runs through February 29 at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Museum hours are 10 to 5 Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 Sunday. Admission is $3; call 773-947-0600 or see for more.

The three poets behind the 674-page epic Phoebe 2002: An Essay in Verse envisioned their creation–an obsessively detailed response to the 1950 Bette Davis vehicle All About Eve–as something akin to the scene-by-scene commentary found on a DVD. “We follow the narrative and go all over the place,” explains Columbia College poet in residence David Trinidad. “It kept opening more and more doors.” He, Jeffrey Conway, and Lynn Crosbie spent three years writing the piece, which includes fairy tales and recipes as well as sonnets, haiku, villanelles, and ballads. Next, says Trinidad, “Lynn wants to do a musical based on Jacqueline Susann, Anne Sexton, and pill taking. But I’m a little collaborated out.” Conway, Trinidad, and another Columbia poet in residence, Arielle Greenberg (standing in for Crosbie), will give a free reading of selections from Phoebe 2002 tonight at 5:30 at Columbia’s Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash. Call 312-344-8138.

9 TUESDAY Last year the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s five Holiday Hop tours attracted some 350 participants. The mile-long tour of downtown decorations is “very festive,” says head docent Penny Shaw. “All the buildings are decorated for the holidays, and we also focus the tour comments on the architecture we’re seeing.” The route includes Marshall Fields, Carson’s, Symphony Center, the Palmer House, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the offices of architectural firm Lohan Caprile Goettsch. Today’s outing starts at 2 PM at the CAF’s ArchiCenter Shop, 224 S. Michigan. Passes are $10, $5 for students and seniors; call 312-922-3432.

10 WEDNESDAY Former Neo-Futurist Greg Kotis conceived Urinetown, the Tony Award-winning musical he wrote with fellow Chicago expat Mark Hollmann, during a down-and-out ten days he spent in Paris–where you pay to use the public toilets. “It was raining. I was wet. I was miserable,” he told the Reader’s Jack Helbig in 2001. “I was trying to work it out: If I go now, I won’t go again until midnight. But what if I have to go before that? How much money would that leave me? Then I stopped dead in my tracks and the title for a show came to me: Urinetown.” Kotis and Hollmann hit town this week with Urinetown’s national tour, and are taking time out to revisit their roots. Tonight at 8 they’ll discuss their work–and perform songs written for the show that didn’t make the cut–at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland; tickets are $15. On Friday, December 12, they’ll join in a reunion performance by the improv troupe Cardiff Giant, of which both were members. It’s also at 8 at the Neo-Futurarium; tickets are $12. Call 773-275-5255 for more information. Urinetown opens Tuesday, December 9, and runs through December 21 at the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe. Tickets range from $26 to $75; call 312-902-4100 or see the theater listings in Section Two for more info.

11 THURSDAY “Once I started digging, I found all kinds of angles,” says Arnie Bernstein, author of The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago’s Civil War Connections, out this fall from Lake Claremont Press. During his year of research Bernstein was surprised to learn about “the deal making and political chicanery that got Lincoln nominated for president in 1860,” as well as the extent of Confederate support in Chicago and the horrors of Camp Douglas, where at least 6,000 Confederate prisoners of war died. He also discovered that John Wilkes Booth performed at the original McVicker’s Theater at State and Madison in May of 1863. “He took on a series of Shakespearean roles,” says Bernstein, “most fittingly, in ironic historical terms, the lead in Richard III.” Bernstein will give a free slide presentation tonight at 7 at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake in Oak Park; call 708-383-8200.