Friday 10/30 – Thursday 11/5


By Cara Jepsen

30 FRIDAY Not too long ago, Great Beast Theater founder Michael Martin was kvetching with friends in the lobby at one of the city’s many sex-themed theater festivals. “There should be a death festival,” he joked. Lo and behold, a friend, performance artist Barrie Cole, offered to help organize and bankroll the event. The result is the first annual Great Beast Deathfesta, a one-night, six-hour extinction extravaganza. On the bill are performances by the likes of Nancy Van Kanegan, Sheri Reda, Eric Ziegenhagen, Abby Schachner, and Cole, as well as a gruesome death scene from Sweetback Productions’ Scarrie–The Musical, and more. It’s from 8 to 2 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo. Admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 312-409-2876 for information.

31 SATURDAY Last year Redmoon Theater expanded the audience for its annual Halloween Lantern Parade and Spectacle by taking its coterie of dancing puppeteers, scary stilt walkers, fearless fire-breathers, and drumming skeletons to State Street, where they momentarily shook the workday crowd out of its corporate trance and picked up a smattering of costumed kids along the way. This weekend Redmoon members will hit the streets three times. Today they’ll present a puppet-making workshop at 10 and a free parade at 1 at the Field Museum, Roosevelt and Lake Shore Drive (312-922-9410; the workshops are included with museum admission of $7, $4 for children). Then tonight at dusk the Logan Square spectacle will start at the intersection of Milwaukee, Kedzie, and Logan. Tomorrow night you can catch them again at around 9 outside the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Both evening events are free. Call 773-388-9031 for more.


1 SUNDAY In 1991 a book published by the Nation of Islam, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, claimed that Jews had dominated the American slave trade. The book sparked an outcry from Jewish groups who had supported the civil rights movement, and it prompted Eli Faber, a history professor at the City University of New York, to research shipping and tax records, census data, slave registers, synagogue records, and stock-transfer ledgers from the British Empire to find out if the claims were true. He learned that some Jews did own slaves–especially in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies–but their participation in the slave trade was minimal. Literally half of his scholarly new book, Jews, Slaves, and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record Straight, consists of footnotes and appendices. Today Faber will discuss his work at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 618 S. Michigan. A free reception starts at 1:15; Faber will speak at 2. Call 312-322-1769.

2 MONDAY Being the daughter of a famous dead poet can be a real drag, as Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes’s daughter Frieda Hughes suggests in her poem “Readers,” from her debut collection, Wooroloo. “While their mothers lay in quiet graves / Squared out by those / Green cut pebbles and flowers / In a jam jar, / They dug mine up / Right down to the shells / I scattered on her coffin.” But the scrutiny hasn’t stopped Frieda from becoming a writer of six children’s books, an award-winning painter, and a poet whose work doesn’t rely on telling Sylvia’s secrets. Tonight she’ll read from Wooroloo at 6 in the ballroom of the School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan. Admission is $8, $6 for seniors, and $3 for students. Call 312-899-7483.

3 TUESDAY “Who will take care of you when you get old?” is a typical response when a woman announces she doesn’t want children. Forty-eight-year-old Rockford resident Christine Swanberg tells people that she plans to live with her husband in a cottage at a church-affiliated retirement home. “I don’t see people with kids as having many more alternatives in old age than those without kids,” says the teacher and writer in her chapter of Pride and Joy: The Lives and Passions of Women Without Children. Tonight she and (childless) editor Terri Casey, who interviewed 25 women for the book, will share their views on being unfruitful at 7:30 at Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark (773-769-9299). Casey will also speak Sunday, November 1, at 7 at Transitions Bookplace, 1000 W. North (312-951-7323). Both events are free.

4 WEDNESDAY Good-hearted criminal ethnographer Mark Fleisher, who spent two years hanging out with a girl gang in Kansas City, Missouri, just couldn’t help himself: he had to try to help Cara, the best and brightest of the Fremont Hustlers. He gave her money. He advised her on legal matters, such as the importance of asking for a search warrant during a drug bust and not saying “fuck” in front of a judge. He even got her a spot in a vocational program that could have led to college. But the day before she was to start, Cara delivered a stillborn fetus, got shit-faced, and temporarily dropped out of sight. These days she’s unemployed and pregnant again. Fleisher, on the other hand, is teaching criminal justice at Illinois State University and peddling his new book, Dead End Kids: Gang Girls and the Boys They Know–which features the Cara saga. He’ll tell her story today at 2 at Barbara’s Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells (312-642-5044). It’s free.

5 THURSDAY Some people like to vent it right away. Others let it simmer for months until it spills over like a boiling pot of pasta. Neither way is really the best method for dealing with anger, especially when it’s focused on your spouse or your kid. A six-week course for adults called Improving Relationships: Dealing With Hurt and Anger will trace the origins of those feelings, explore how they affect you and others, and discuss healthier ways of releasing your rage–punching a pillow, perhaps? Counselor Tema Rosenblum will lead the group on Thursdays (except for November 26) starting today through December 17 at Jewish Family and Community Service, 210 Skokie Valley in Highland Park. The cost is $60 per person or $110 per couple. Call 847-831-4225 to register.