Anti-Americanism in the Middle East “is driven not only by the blind hatred or religious zealotry of extremists, but also by frustration and anger with U.S. foreign policy among the mainstream Muslim world,” says Georgetown University professor John L. Esposito, the founding director of the school’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, in his new book, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. “The West’s espousal of self-determination, democratization, and human rights is often seen as a hypocritical ‘double standard’ when compared to its policies.” Today at 4:30, Esposito, who’s written more than a dozen books on political Islam and is editor in chief of the four-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, will give a lecture called Post-September 11: The U.S. and the Muslim World. It’s at North Park University’s Viking Hall, 3225 W. Foster in Chicago. The talk’s free, but seating is limited; call 773-244-5640.


Joe Louis’s boxing gloves, Steve Dahl’s helmet from Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, and a photograph of Hull House’s 1909 women’s basketball team–stiffly posed in bloomers and black stockings, their shirts buttoned to their chins–are just a few of the bits of memorabilia on display in the Chicago Historical Society’s new exhibit Chicago Sports! You Shoulda Been There. The opening celebration takes place today from 9:30 to 4:30 and includes a demonstration of 19th-century basketball, pennant making and other crafts, and sports activities for families (including a cricket game). Sports celebs such as blind Roller Derby star Sammy Skobel, who lives in Mount Prospect, will be on hand to tell stories about the good old days. The Chicago Historical Society is at 1602 N. Clark in Chicago (312-642-4600). There’s a suggested donation of $5, $3 for students and seniors, $1 for kids 6 to 12.

Lucy Van Pelt’s five-cent advice booth in the Peanuts comic strip provided the inspiration for Chicago County Fair’s interactive art event, Ask Me!, in which experts on a variety of subjects will descend on the Chicago Cultural Center to sit in plywood booths and entertain questions on a host of topics. Participants include a five-year-old Power Rangers enthusiast, a World War II conscientious objector, a dominatrix, a doula, and a dialect coach. There’ll also be a “pick your own subject” booth where visitors can sit and dispense their own advice. “Ask Me!” takes place today from noon to 4 at the center, 78 E. Washington, Chicago. It’s free; call 773-826-5371 for more.


Sonali Fernando’s 2002 film India Calling documents the upside-down lives of night-shift workers at a New Delhi call center, who’ve adopted Western names, identities, and accents in order to serve British and American customers many time zones away. Along with Nisha Pahuja’s Bollywood Bound, India Calling will be screened today and next Sunday, April 6, at 4 as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Bollywood Rising film series, which continues through April 6. Fernando’s documentary was one of several points of inspiration for the multimedia performance piece, a collaboration between Londoners Keith Khan and Ali Zaidi and New Yorker Marianne Weems that also draws on Bollywood films, the legend of Aladdin, and the impact of technology on places such as high-tech Bangalore in southern India. It runs April 10 through 13, also at the MCA, 220 E. Chicago in Chicago. Admission to the films is $7 and Alladeen tickets are $22; for more information call 312-397-4010.


“The Best Cigarette,” wrote poet laureate Billy Collins, was the one he lit up “when I would have a little something going / in the typewriter, / the sun bright in the windows, / maybe some Berlioz on in the background.” Collins sent his “last one out a car window / sparking along the road one night, years ago”–but can still evoke the “vaporous hope” they lent him, along with all the other fleeting pleasures of contemporary life. He’ll read from and discuss his work tonight at the last of Literary Circle’s 2002-’03 series of author’s lectures. It starts at 7:30 at Glenbrook South High School, 4000 W. Lake in Glenview. General admission tickets are $25; it’s $48 if you want to attend a reception with Collins after the event. Call 847-353-7143.



Between 1981 and 1998, French filmmaker Christophe de Ponfilly made eight trips to Afghanistan to interview Ahmed Shah Massoud, the charismatic Northern Alliance leader who was assassinated on September 9, 2001, by two men posing as journalists (and allegedly doing the bidding of Osama bin Laden). Massoud, the Afghan, de Ponfilly’s first-person account of his travels, follows Massoud’s resistance fighters–who had their own self-contained society complete with currency, schools, and courts–as they rise up against the Soviets and, later, the Taliban. It opened Friday, March 28, and runs through Thursday, April 3, at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, Chicago. Tonight’s screenings are at 7 and 9; tickets are $7. Call 773-281-4114 or see the Movie listings for additional show times.


“Anyone can do it. You just sit in front of the computer in a catatonic state,” says Ken Nordine, the alchemist behind the long-running radio feature Word Jazz, of the meditative computer-generated short films he’s been creating over the past five years. “With Word Jazz, the images are made by the greatest cinematographer there is–which is your own fantasy and imagination. I wanted something nonintrusive you could watch and tie into what you’re hearing, but not compete with it. That way it’s more dreamlike.” Nordine, who’s working on a DVD, will screen and discuss a selection of his Image Jazz experimental films tonight at 8 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Chicago. Tickets are $8; call 312-846-2800.


Each year National Poetry Slam organizers hold a SlamMasters Weekend in Chicago to discuss issues and vote on bylaws. At recent get-togethers the group addressed how to make the transition from “funky, disorganized, nonofficial organization to being a real 501(c)(3) not-for-profit,” according to a spokes-person. This time around members will probably weigh in on how best to spend the $20,000 NEA grant they’ve been awarded to mount the 14th National Poetry Slam Champion-ships here in August–an event that’ll showcase 250 poets and could draw an audience of up to 10,000. After the discussion they’ll do what they always do–hit the bars and perform. Tonight slam masters from several cities will compete against local teams at the Chi-Town Classic for a purse of $300. It starts at 7 at the Funky Buddha Lounge, 728 W. Grand. The suggested donation of $6 benefits Poetry Slam, Inc., the group’s parent organization. On Friday, April 4, there’ll be a free meet and greet with poets at 8 at Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division, and on Saturday, April 5, there’ll be a book release party for Mark Eleveld and Marc Smith’s The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip Hop & the Poetry of a New Generation and Jack McCarthy’s Say Goodnight: Grace Notes from 7 to 10 at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont ($5 cover). Smith’s regular Sunday-night slam at the Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, starts at 7 on April 6 and will feature many visiting slammers. It’s $6. All events are 21 and over; for more call 708-848-8007.

The production of To Kill a Mockingbird that opens tonight at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre is an important step in the theater’s attempt to reinvent itself, says executive director Tim Rater. Metropolis was born as a for-profit importer of theater to the northwest suburbs; when financial gain proved elusive, it was retooled as a nonprofit producer of its own shows. Mockingbird, its second homegrown production (the first was last winter’s A Christmas Carol), won’t be hurt by the fact that in 2001 Harper Lee’s book was the first selection in the Chicago Public Library’s “One Book, One Chicago” program. Directed by Matthew Reeder, the play features Mallory Baysek as Scout and Stephen Connell as Atticus Finch. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 3 through May 4 at 111 W. Campbell in Arlington Heights. Tickets are $34; call 847-577-2121.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Johnny Knight.