Friday 3/22 – Thursday 3/28
22 FRIDAY Ellen Carey’s Mourning Wall, a grid of 100 large-format Polaroid negatives, is in a constant state of flux, as the oxidizing chemicals streak and pock the film in shades of gray and black. The individual images have no concrete subject matter–the photographer exposed each piece of film either to no light or to a blaze of light–but she intended the cumulative effect to be “the visceral and visual equivalent of mourning.” Carey’s installation is one of four exhibits opening today at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. “Chicago Obscura” features Vera Lutter’s reversed-negative photographs of downtown Chicago, in which the pitch-black Wrigley Building sits east of the Tribune Tower; “Chicago Loop, 1976-78” is a collection of Barbara Crane’s large-format black-and-white images from the late 70s; and “Urban Anomalies, 2000-01” consists of Crane’s contemporary digital color images of the same area. Mourning Wall and “Urban Anomalies” run through May 18; “Chicago Obscura” and “Chicago Loop” will be on display through June 15. Crane gives a gallery talk Thursday, March 28, at 6 PM at the museum, 600 S. Michigan, 312-663-5554. The museum is open 10 to 5 Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 10 to 8 Thursday, and noon to 5 Saturday; admission is free.
In a 1998 interview for Salon.com, self-described “old Jewish-American writer lady” Grace Paley told A.M. Homes that “whatever your calling is, whether it’s as a plumber or an artist, you have to make sure there’s a little more justice in the world when you leave it than when you found it.” Over her 40-year career she’s tried to do her part through poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and her wry voice and uncompromising passion for social justice have netted her both a 1987 senior fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a 1978 arrest for protesting the arms race on the White House lawn. Tonight at 7 Paley–the upcoming recipient of the 2002 Harold Washington Literary Award–will appear with Michael Warr (author of We Are All the Black Boy) and Studs Terkel at a reading sponsored by the Guild Complex at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark. It’s $8, $5 for students and seniors; call 773-227-6117 for more information.
23 SATURDAY With city vacancy rates hovering at a tight 4.2 percent, public housing high-rises turning into mixed-income developments, and condo conversions popping up on every corner, it’s not surprising that many immigrants are having a hard time keeping a roof over their heads. This winter the Coalition of African, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois published a booklet full of first-person tales of housing hardship. Today at 1, contributors will tell their stories as part of “Tales From the Hood,” a multimedia event examining Chicago’s housing crisis. It’ll also feature a screening of Video Machete’s En mi barrio, performances by Teatro Callejero and the House of Daniel Choir (made up of homeless men), and words from journalist Sisi Donald Mosby and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s Jose Lopez. The event runs till 4 in Roosevelt University’s Congress Lounge, 430 S. Michigan, second floor. There’s a $5 suggested donation; call 773-292-4980, ext. 224. i
“A lot of rituals have grown up around this event,” says Nelson Algren Committee member Warren Leming of the group’s annual Nelson Algren Birthday Celebration: “Ritual inebriation, ritual song,” and as usual birthday cupcakes provided by the Alliance Bakery on Division Street. “In order for them to be authentic they had to be made in Wicker Park.” The party, now in its 13th year, will be held for the first time at the Heartland Cafe, miles from the haunts of Wicker Park’s favorite son. “The Heartland is a great progressive venue in Chicago, and [the party’s] now to the point where it’s become a citywide event,” says Leming, who’ll emcee tonight’s multimedia extravaganza, which starts at 8. Featured entertainment will include a slide show by Art Shay on Algren and lady love Simone de Beauvoir, the world premiere of Bob Hercules’s 22-minute video The Last Frontier–“a satirical look at gentrification, urban poverty, and exploitation”–and committee member Alice Prus’s annual rendition of “Stadola,” an old Polish tune. The Heartland is at 7000 N. Glenwood; admission is $5 or “whatever you can afford if you’re broke.” Call 773-235-1522 or see www.nelsonalgren. org for more information.
24 SUNDAY Some climatologists predict the midwest is in for a long, hot summer; you can get a jump on the tropical times ahead when Chicago WinterDance wraps up for the year with free samba and rhumba lessons today at the Chicago Cultural Center. At 2, Gregory Day and Tommye Giacchino will lead a lesson in the basics; from 3 to 5 you can practice to the music of Marshall Vente & Tropicale. It’s in the center’s Preston Bradley Hall, on the third floor at 78 E. Washington (312-742-4007).
25 MONDAY Only two more shopping days till Passover–so the Bariff Shop for Judaica at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies is open late through March 26. In addition to a multitude of seder plates, Miriam cups, and Haggadoth that adapt the story of Exodus for feminist, vegetarian, and children’s celebrations, the shop is offering its annual Seder Survival Kit, and “this year it truly is the best,” says shop manager Eileen Braun. Included in the $12 gift box is an assortment of novelties symbolizing the ten plagues of Egypt: plastic bugs that squirt water to represent locusts, soap bubbles for boils, and a 27-inch inflatable plastic cow that comes with red stick-on “measles” for pestilence. The worst and last plague–slaying of the firstborn–is represented by a small Traveler’s Prayer key chain, which “reminds us of the Haggadah teaching that we should not rejoice in the Egyptians’ suffering.” Hours are 10 to 7 Thursday, 10 to 3 Friday, 10 to 5 Sunday, and 10 to 6 Monday and Tuesday; the shop will close at 1 on Wednesday, March 27, for the holiday and will remain closed until Sunday. The Spertus Institute is at 618 S. Michigan, 312-322-1740.
26 TUESDAY A few weeks ago at United Nations headquarters in New York, Laura Bush joined Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the UN Population Fund, to champion the rights of Afghan women. But back in Washington, the Bush administration continues to withhold the $34 million Congress authorized to go to the fund because of allegations (unsubstantiated to date) that it bankrolls forced abortion in China. Today at 6, Obaid, the first Saudi woman to head a UN agency, will discuss the fund’s activities in Afghanistan–where an estimated 1 in 15 women die in childbirth–and the importance of including Afghan women in the post-Taliban government at a lecture and panel discussion entitled “The Anatomy of Terrorism: Women in the Aftermath of the War on Terrorism.” The event, sponsored by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, takes place at the Hotel Inter-Continental, 505 N. Michigan; a cash bar opens at 5:30. Tickets are $25; for more information call 312-726-3860, ext. 238.
27 WEDNESDAY Saint Sabina’s Father Michael Pfleger will take time out from tangling with the Southside Catholic Conference to riff on the third dying phrase of Jesus on the cross–“Woman, behold thy son; behold thy mother”–as part of tonight’s performance of The Seven Last Words of Christ. Composed by Haydn in 1786 and originally presented on Good Friday the following year in Cadiz, the work intersperses meditative musical passages with homilies. The Vermeer String Quartet, whose rendition of the work snagged it a 1996 Grammy nomination, will tackle the score, while Pfleger divvies up the speaking duties with the University of Chicago’s Martin Marty, Chicago Fire Department chaplain Landis McAlpin, and others. It starts at 8 in Rockefeller Chapel on the U. of C. campus, 5850 S. Woodlawn. Tickets are $10, free for those 17 and under; call 773-702-7059.
28 THURSDAY “I don’t see any way of winning,” said Lyndon Johnson to Robert McNamara in 1965, one week before ordering the marines into Vietnam. A few months ago, just after the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom, presidential historian Michael Beschloss wrote in Newsweek that when he first heard those words on a private audiotape made by Johnson, “I felt the hair rise on the back of my neck and wished I could turn back time, tug the president’s sleeve and implore him not to do it.” Beschloss drew from 642 hours of tape recorded over the course of Johnson’s presidency for his most recent book, Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson’s Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965, the second in a planned three-volume series. Tonight at 7, as part of the Chicago Historical Society series “The Presidency in Perspective,” Beschloss will speak on past and present presidents in a lecture titled “Analyzing the Presidency.” Tickets are $20. The CHS is at 1601 N. Clark (312-642-4600).