Friday 8/1 – Thursday 8/7
By Cara Jepsen
1 FRIDAY Summer’s the perfect time for romance–for some people. In first-time director John Fisher’s new comedy How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Perry and Stephanie break up for good at the end of their junior year in college. Each of their friends presents a theory about what went wrong and how to patch things up, illustrating how darned complicated it is to date in the 90s. Fisher will be at a screening tonight at 8 as part of this year’s Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video, which runs through August 10. Tomorrow at 2 a panel of filmmakers and industry types will discuss “The Future of Black Filmmaking: Producing.” All events take place at the Film Center of the Art Institute, Columbus and Jackson. Tickets are $6; a festival pass is $45. For more info, check out the schedule in the Section Two movie listings, or call 312-443-3737.
2 SATURDAY Flying monkeys, melting witches, magic slippers, and warbling midgets are nothing compared to the shenanigans in Frank Baum’s original Wizard of Oz. In his novel the tin woodsman dismembers himself with his own ax, Dorothy falls for a rich munchkin, and the scarecrow wrings the necks of 40 crows. All that in a book written for children. Tonight the Cook County Theatre Department celebrates its fifth anniversary with a summer-stock production of Baum’s story created by actors, designers, and musicians from various theater companies, including Redmoon, Plasticine, and Doorika. They’ve spent only a week rehearsing the show, which promises to be just as odd as the original book. It’s at 8 Friday and tonight at the Cook County Theatre Department, 2255 S. Michigan. The suggested donation is $10; call 312-842-8234.
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “All art constantly aspires toward the condition of music. Architecture really ought to be symphonic.” So perhaps should one’s life, though Wright’s personal behavior was often less than harmonious. A bevy of scholars will attempt to deconstruct the life of the man and the mythology surrounding his work at this weekend’s Edifice of Sound, a series of lectures, exhibits, and performances. Today’s offerings include historian Robert Twombly discussing the tumultuous relationship between Wright and Louis Sullivan; author Neil Levine speaking on Wright’s rural Wisconsin home, Taliesin; and scholar Kathryn A. Smith tackling Wright’s female clients. The symposium starts Friday and runs through Sunday; today’s free events start at 10:30 and run through the early evening at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 773-292-7578 for a complete schedule.
3 SUNDAY Last year more people than live in my hometown converged on McCormick Place for the annual Chicago Lowrider Mega Show Concert and Dance Party. Eighteen thousand folks went to see the competition among souped-up rides, most of which rarely make their way onto the nation’s highways and byways but instead sit in garages, waxed and polished, awaiting the next competition. This year’s attractions include a prize for best auto sound, a model car showcase, and a custom bike exhibit, as well as vendors, a fashion show, and music. It’s from noon to 10 today on the third level of McCormick Place North, 23rd and Lake Shore Drive. Admission is $17 in advance, $20 at the door. Call
4 MONDAY One of the recurring subtexts of Jersey auteur Hal Hartley’s films is the idea that young, beautiful women are dying to be seduced by older bad guys who aren’t really bad. One of his prettiest fantasy girls is Adrienne Shelly, who helped carry The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. But what happens when the actress gets the camera into her own hands? She puts herself in front of it, of course. Shelly’s directorial debut, Sudden Manhattan, tells the story of Donna, an out-of-work gallery drone whose world includes a boyfriend of questionable morals and an infatuated landlord who lets her live rent-free. Complications ensue when Donna starts hearing things from a plate of scrambled eggs and runs into a strange fortune-teller played by Louise Lasser. Some critics have compared Shelly the director to a more playful Hartley. If that’s the case, let’s hope she’ll learn to avoid making the same film over and over and over again. It’s at 7 and 9 at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton. Tickets are $7; call 773-281-4114.
5 TUESDAY By day they drive on sidewalks, use one-way streets as two-lane highways, and employ pedestrians as moving pylons. By night they don even grungier clothes, pick up instruments, and jam. On Tuesday nights you can catch some modern-day Pony Express riders onstage at the Chicago cycle courier concerts. Tonight’s show includes the country music of Ken Walzek, a drum circle called Gorgonzola, and an impromptu bike-messenger band called Concrete Shithouse Drunks. It starts at 8 at Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division. Admission is $1 for messengers with ID, $2 for the rest of us. Call 773-486-9862.
6 WEDNESDAY Cubs fan and history student Thomas Dyja had heard rumors of Civil War baseball games between Union and Confederate soldiers. While looking for evidence at the Brooklyn Historical Society, he found a folder containing a detailed record of the 14th Brooklyn Regiment’s daily activities, including scores from their baseball contests with other Union troops. Dyja never did find proof of any Yankee-rebel matches–being caught playing in such a game would have resulted in a court-martial–but he did find enough letters, diaries, and other historical documents to create the novel Play for a Kingdom, which details a series of fictional ball games between two regiments on opposing sides. Dyja will discuss and sign his book tonight at 7 at Borders Books & Music, 2817 N. Clark. It’s free; call 773-935-3909.
7 THURSDAY One of the windfalls of the McCormick Place expansion and accompanying reconfiguration of Lake Shore Drive is a series of improvements along Chicago’s shoreline. In Burnham Harbor those pleasing-to-the-eye star-shaped boat moorings have been replaced by more practical piers that allow boat owners to walk, rather than paddle, to their vessels. Future plans for the area call for a ferry to Northerly Island, a trolley system, and, of course, restaurants. Let’s hope they have the sense not to duplicate the overladen monstrosity we call Navy Pier. You can offer your two cents worth today when Friends of Downtown lakefront coordinator Leslie Recht discusses the face-lift for Monroe and Burnham Harbors with Scott Stevenson of Westrec Marinas, which is implementing the changes. The free discussion is at noon in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 312-726-4031.