Friday 11/14 – Thursday 11/20


By Cara Jepsen

14 FRIDAY Ancient Africans were the first to plot the solar system, create drainage and irrigation systems, smelt steel, and perform cesarean sections, says writer and anthropologist Ivan Van Sertima. The author of They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America will discuss the scientific contributions of Africans at 4 today in the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Wishnick Hall Auditorium, 3255 S. Dearborn. Later he’ll be joined by activist and professor Conrad Worrill for a roundtable discussion of current events affecting African-Americans; that takes place at 7:30 in IIT’s Hermann Hall Auditorium, 3241 S. Dearborn. Both events are sponsored by the traveling Black Inventions Museum, which will display exhibits about black engineers and scientists from 2 to 7 today in Hermann Hall. Some of the inventions on hand include the stethoscope, which was developed in ancient Egypt, and the less essential Super Soaker water gun. Admission is free to all events; call 630-972-1562 for more.

Randy Redroad’s Cowtipping: The Militant Indian Waiter follows a Cherokee waiter who takes great pains to correct his customers’ preconceived notions about Native Americans and receives bad tips for his efforts. It will be one of three films shown tonight at 7 as part of the Anti-Racism Film Festival at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place. The festival runs today, tomorrow, and next weekend; movies will also be shown at the Latino Cultural Center, 750 S. Halsted, and the Community Film Workshop, 1130 S. Wabash. Admission is $7, $5 for students and seniors. Call 312-630-1960 for a complete schedule.

15 SATURDAY Back in the early 70s the city was dotted with independent bookstores selling progressive publications. Most did not survive the next decade, and today a person has to look long and hard to find a copy of Revolutionary Worker. One store that managed to stick it out is the New World Resource Center, which is staffed entirely by volunteers and carries that publication and many more. Today the NWRC celebrates both its 25th anniversary and its recent move to a roomier Logan Square home with food, drink, and music. The open house starts at 7 at the New World Resource Center, 2600 W. Fullerton. It’s free; call 773-227-4011.

In the pre-Nintendo, pre-Internet, pre-VCR days of my childhood, nothing caught my attention faster than a new pop-up book. After about a day of hard use, though, the movable cardboard display would be trashed and I’d move on to the next toy. A cache of movable and pop-up books that has somehow escaped such abuse is now in the hands of Chicago collector John Railing, whose oldest example dates back to 1561. Part of his collection forms the foundation of a free exhibit called Wondrous Worlds: Pop-Ups and Movable Books, which opened Friday and runs through December 19. It’s open today from 10 to 1 at the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts, 218 S. Wabash. There will also be workshops on making pop-ups today and Sunday from 10 to 4 at the same location; that costs $140, and registration is required. Call 312-344-7743.

16 SUNDAY Native American storytellers Elvira and Hortensia Colorado have been performing together professionally for over ten years in New York City. This weekend they’ll present “A Traditional Kind of Woman–Too Much, Not ‘Nuff,” which deals with the struggles of Indian women, as part of the 1997 Sor Juana Festival, named in honor of the 17th-century Mexican woman who joined a convent so she could continue studying and writing. The Colorados’ performance is at 7 today at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th. It’s $12, $10 for students and seniors. The festival runs through next weekend; call 312-738-1503 for a full schedule of events.

17 MONDAY Black culture, mythology, and religion all figure in Leon Forrest’s 1973 novel There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden, which chronicles the transformation of a character named Nathaniel Witherspoon after his mother’s death. Forrest is said to have used music as a model for the book, which is structured around a series of internal monologues that dip in and out of nightmares, dreams, and visions. Director Catherine Slade has created a new multimedia piece based on the story, made all the more poignant by Forrest’s death last week. She will perform a dramatic reading while saxophonist Henry Threadgill plays and conducts pianist Kirk Brown, cellist Joey Harvey, and Steve Barsotti and Bill Close on invented instruments. The one-time event, part of Steppenwolf’s Traffic series, is at 7:30 at the Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted. Tickets are $25; call 312-335-1650 for more.

18 TUESDAY Who could be more appropriate than Reagan bad guy Edwin Meese to participate in a lecture series called “Public Policy in the United States: Influencing the System”? As one of Ronald Reagan’s most trusted advisers and as U.S. attorney general, he tried to make life hell for the nation’s homosexuals, pro-choicers, and free-speech advocates. Today he’s a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a sought-after speaker. His free talk on the court system is the final installment in a semester-long series at DePaul University curated by former DNC chair David Wilhelm and Republican Party strategist Tom Roeser. Meese speaks tonight at 7:30 in room 154 at DePaul’s Schmitt Academic Center, 2320 N. Kenmore; call 773-325-7300.

19 WEDNESDAY In Iran women can be publicly punished for violating dress and behavior codes–they can forget about speaking their minds. Iranian author Shahrnoosh Parsi-Pour went to prison for trying. She’ll participate in a panel tonight on Silencing Writers in Iran. It also includes Milos Stehlik, director of Facets Multimedia, and Florence Cohen, chairperson of the PEN Midwest Freedom to Write committee. The free discussion starts at 7 at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan. Call 847-729-5925 or 312-943-7945.

20 THURSDAY Charles Kaiser, author of Gay Metropolis, says that the person most responsible for ending gay invisibility in America is…former TV talk-show host Phil Donahue. Kaiser’s research also shows that 91 homosexuals were dismissed from the State Department during the McCarthy era–far more than the number of suspected communists also axed during that time–and that in the 1950s the Washington press corps tried to prove that McCarthy was a homosexual. The particulars surrounding those factoids and more are detailed in the former New York Times reporter’s new history of gay life in urban America. He’ll discuss his findings tonight at 7:30 at Unabridged Bookstore, 3251 N. Broadway. It’s free; call 773-883-9119.