Wheaton College’s 45th annual Archaeology Conference, Travel and Trade in the Ancient World, brings an international roster of scholarly treasure hunters together to discuss the way things were in the Middle East. Keynote speaker Kenneth Kitchen, professor emeritus at Liverpool University, will talk about “Egypt and Israel During the Time of the Hebrew Monarchy.” Other lecturers include archaeologists currently working on excavations in the area. Geared to professional archaeologists and history buffs, it’s a bargain–the two-day conference is $15; an optional dinner tonight is $16. Hours are 12:30 to 9 today and 9 to 12:15 Saturday at the college’s Barrows Auditorium in the Billy Graham Center, 500 East College in Wheaton. Call 630-752-5054.

Fluxus artist Dick Higgins’s early-1960s “Danger Music” series of performance pieces consists of 43 unconventional instructions for artists that address notions of risk taking: grab on to a hoist hook and be lifted three stories in the air, says one; volunteer to have your spine removed, says another. “They’re not saying to have your spine removed but to volunteer to have it done and think about what it would be like if that happened. The pieces are the forerunners of what we think of as conceptual art,” says Columbia College professor Jeff Abell, who organized the performance segment of tonight’s opening of Betwixt and Between: The Life and Work of Fluxus Artist Dick Higgins. Cocurator Simon Anderson of the School of the Art Institute and Higgins’s widow, Alison Knowles, will perform Danger Music Number Two, a piece based on a list of five words–“hat, rags, paper, heave, shave”–which Knowles used to perform with Higgins, who died in 1998. Higgins’s daughter Hannah–an artist, UIC faculty member, and the retrospective’s other curator–will also perform. The free opening reception is from 5 to 7 at Columbia College’s Center for Book & Paper Arts, 1104 S. Wabash, Chicago. The free performance starts at 7:30 in the Columbia College Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan, Chicago. Call 312-344-6630.


The Latino Book & Family Festival is a Los Angeles export produced by actor Edward James Olmos. The hometown version of this event, which is dedicated to “broadening cultural awareness through literacy,” is also “the largest Latino consumer trade show in the United States.” This is its second year in Chicago. Olmos will be there, as will a dozen Latino authors, including local poet Beatriz Badikian and prizewinning fiction writer Art Rodriguez. Along with workshops, readings, and panel discussions, there will be music on three stages, children’s programs, and the presence of major corporate sponsors. Hours are 10 to 7 today and 10 to 6 Sunday at Sportsman’s Park, 3301 S. Laramie in Cicero. Admission is free. Call 708-656-6666 or check it out at

When they were implemented in 1990, the UN’s economic sanctions against Iraq were touted as an alternative to war that would hasten the downfall of Saddam Hussein. A decade later, he’s still in power and over one million people have died from malnutrition and disease because they’re not getting enough food and medicine, say the folks at the American Friends Service Committee (which initially supported the measures). Today’s cultural bazaar Building Bridges With Iraq is designed to drum up support for ending the sanctions. It will include Iraqi food, music, and art as well as educational exhibits. It’s from 1 to 4 in the social hall at Saint Gertrude’s Church, 1401 W. Granville, Chicago. The suggested donation is $5. Call 312-427-2533, ext. 14, for more.


The idea behind today’s Bar Art tour is that people who visit taverns don’t go to look at art (and it’s usually too dark to see what’s on the walls anyway), while collectors and connoisseurs tend to stick to galleries and museums. “The message is that art by Chicago artists is at all sorts of unexpected places, like bars, restaurants, airports, and on the street,” says a spokesperson for the tour, which runs from 3 to 6 and departs from the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington in Chicago. The $40 fee includes transportation, drinks, and snacks; all ages are welcome. It’ll include stops at Rainbo, Webster’s Wine Bar, and Gold Star. Space is limited and reservations are required; call 312-744-4405.

Steve Cushing recently celebrated the 20th year of his public radio program Blues Before Sunrise, but after falling out with WBEZ four years ago he lost his funding–and his job as engineer. Cushing, who now works as a tour guide in the Museum of Science and Industry’s coal mine exhibit, has been finding his own underwriters and producing the show himself; it’s now heard on 70 stations nationwide. But he says he needs to raise $1,000 for annual broadcast liability insurance, which is required by law. Tonight he’ll get help from retired blues guitarist Jody Williams (in his third appearance in 35 years), Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Howlin’ Wolf imitator Little Wolf, and a bevy of old-school blues bands (including Cushing’s own Ice Cream Men) who will play a fund-raiser for the show. It starts at 6 at Rosa’s Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage, Chicago. Admission is $10; call 708-771-2135.


The novelists invited to participate in the European Union-sponsored New European Literature reading and discussion had to be relatively young, speak English, and have at least one book published in the U.S. Austrian writer Marlene Streeruwitz (Seductions), Danish writer Ib Michael (Prince), and French writer Martin Winckler, who has sold “truckloads” of 1998’s The Case of Dr. Sachs (which was recently made into a film), all fit the bill. They’ll read from and discuss their work–in the original language and in English–tonight at 6 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, Chicago. Tomorrow night at 6 German author Alissa Walser (The Lesser Half of the World), Italian author Sandra Petrignani (The Toy Catalog), and Dutch writer Philibert Schogt (The Wild Numbers) will do the same. Local critic Andrew Patner will moderate both free events; call 312-664-3525 or see for more.


The American Cancer Society predicts that by the end of this year some 6,300 Illinois women will die of lung and bronchus cancer; women who smoke are six times more likely to have a heart attack than their nonsmoking peers. Tonight’s panel Clearing the Air: The Tobacco Epidemic in Women and Youth is aimed at lowering those numbers. Panelists include Carol R. Southard, a registered nurse at Northwestern University Medical Center’s Wellness Institute, discussing the effects of secondhand smoke; Janet Williams, director of the Cook County Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control program, on tobacco advertising targeting women and youth; and Donna Grande, codirector of the AMA’s SmokeLess States program, will explain how to develop local tobacco-control strategies. The event, sponsored by the Soroptimist International of Chicago, runs from 6 to 8:30 and includes dinner. It’s at the American Medical Association, 515 N. State, Chicago. It’s $10, and reservations are suggested (312-527-3099).


Belen–A Book of Hours, a multimedia collaboration between theater artists in Mexico City and New York City, links the oppression of poor women today to that of the women who lived in Mexico City’s Recogimiento de Belen, an 18th-century Catholic “sanctuary” for impoverished single women. Their days were filled with a strict regimen of work and prayer, and they were never allowed to leave. (Appropriately, Belen became a prison in 1860.) The show, produced by NYC’s Mabou Mines, drew rave reviews and a Special Citation Obie award for performer Jesusa Rodriguez during its New York run. It opens here tonight at 7 and runs through November 19 at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th, Chicago. Tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors; call 312-738-1503.


The invitation to taste the first wine of the harvest at Pops Highwood reminds us that the French Revolution may have put Marie Antoinette out of business, but some folks still go hungry while others sip Beaujolais Nouveau, snack on paté, and listen to jazz. The third Thursday of November is the traditional day for uncorking the new juice, made from handpicked Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France. Pops has turned it into a benefit, with proceeds going to the Share Our Strength foundation, which works to alleviate and prevent hunger. The Cecile Savage Trio will play from 8:30 to 11:30. There’s an $8 cover charge; Beaujolais is $6 a glass, $18 a bottle; appetizer and dessert prices are from $6 to $9. Pops Highwood is located at 214 Green Bay in Highwood. Call 773-472-1000 for more.