“I was a teenager when WVON came on the air, and it affected me in such a positive way,” says Black Ensemble Theater artistic director Jackie Taylor. The nation’s first black-oriented radio station, started by Phil and Leonard Chess of Chess Records in 1963, “Voice of the Negro” broke soul acts such as Lou Rawls and Betty Wright, helped elect black politicians, and kept Chicagoans abreast of developments in the civil rights movement. “I remember when the Good Guys came on the radio and talked to the teenagers [after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated] and said, ‘Please, don’t burn up the community. Please, stay in the house and don’t join in the negativity,'” Taylor says. “I want people to remember that, and how radio served the community.” A decade ago Taylor and musical director Jimmy Tillman cowrote The WVON Radio Story, a tribute to the station and its on-air talent, which included Herb Kent, Pervis Spann, Lucky Cordell, Bernadine C. Washington, and Richard Pegue (it’s also where Soul Train’s Don Cornelius got his start). An updated version of the show, mounted this month to coincide with the station’s 40th anniversary, includes songs by Al Green and Mary Wells and a new segment about Melody Spann-Cooper, who was named general manager in 1994. Preview performances are tonight and tomorrow, May 3, at 8 at the theater, 4520 N. Beacon, Chicago; the show opens Sunday, May 4, at 7:30 and runs through June 15. Preview tickets are $30; all others are $32.50. Call 773-769-4451 for more information.


As part of last year’s inaugural Free Comic Book Day, Chicago Comics gave away thousands of books, says manager Eric Thornton. The now-annual nationwide event is designed to bring new patrons into comic book stores–the majority of which are independently owned and operated–and expose them to the full range of the genre. But Thornton says that “the biggest effect I’ve seen is that it gets people who read just a little bit of comics to try something they normally wouldn’t.” Today Chicago Comics will be giving away a “hodgepodge” of stuff from 11 AM to 10 PM at the store, 3244 N. Clark, Chicago. For more information call 773-528-1983 or see

John Sosnowski bought his Lisle home because it had a dozen 200-year-old oaks in the yard. “But it was just oak trees and grass,” he says; what he wanted was land filled with trees and wildflowers, the way it was before the area was settled. To that end, he smothered the lawn with a five-inch-thick mat of leaves, then planted a violet here and a trillium there, along with dozens of other wild beauties, sometimes “just laying seed pods on the ground.” Sosnowski’s a horticulturalist, but he says anyone can do this. He’ll explain how in Woodland Wildflowers, a slide lecture at 1 today in the Cudahy Auditorium of the Morton Arboretum’s Admini-stration and Research Building. After the lecture he’ll lead a one-hour nature walk. The arboretum is located at 4100 Illinois Route 53 in Lisle; ad-mission is free, but parking is $7

per car. Call 630-719-2465.


The Chicago Photographic Collectors Society was founded in 1971 by photo buffs interested in preserving vintage photographs and the early history of the field; it later expanded to include collectors of antique cameras and other equipment. Each year the group–which in the mid-1990s gave $10,000 to the Chicago Historical Society to help preserve 100 daguerreotypes in its rapidly deteriorating collection–holds two International Camera Shows. “It’s not only a camera show but a history show,” says event chair Marv Chait. The spring installment includes over 80 dealers and takes place today from 10 to 3 at the O’Hare Marriott, 8535 W. Higgins in Chicago (near the Cumberland Blue Line stop). Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children; for $30 avid collectors can get in at 8:15. For more information call 312-813-0965.

Tabloo Revue, a series of vignettes by students at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, was inspired by the city’s real “red” tabloids as well as people’s heightened interest in the news during the war with Iraq, says theater professor Kestutis Nakas, who planned the event. “Michael Jackson-type news goes hand in hand with Iraq news, and things seem to be given equal value.” The show starts tonight at 8 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo in Chicago (312-362-9707). Admission is $8, $5 for students; you must be 18 or over to attend.


Lindsay Porter’s update of Lysistrata–Aristophanes’ fable about Athenian women who withhold sex from their mates in order to stop the Peloponnesian War–takes place in a media-saturated ancient Greece where women have a variety of social choices. “Typically, female characters were very limited in what their options were,” says Heather Hartley, who plays the title role. “We wanted to shift that a bit. One of the people on the council advocating war is a woman, and there are opportunities for homosexual relationships, to see how this sexual tension affects those of the same sex.” Running With Scissors, which debuted the play in slightly different form as part of the antiwar Lysistrata Project in March, opens a full-scale production tonight at 7. It runs through June 8 at the Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western, Chicago. Tickets are $20, $16 for students and seniors. For reservations call 773-913-6471.


Stereotype-busting actor, model, writer, producer, and director Quincy Wong got his start in theater in the early 1980s, when he played a hard-boiled detective in the Organic Theater’s Yellow Fever. Wong went on to appear in countless ads and TV shows as well as cofound the comedy sketch group Stir-Friday Night! and the Angel Island Theatre Company. He had most recently appeared in the Steppen-wolf production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and was writing two plays and making plans to go to Hollywood when he died of a heart attack last July at the age of 48. Tonight’s free Tribute to Quincy Wong….Pioneer Who Touched the Lives of Many will include performances by Yoko Noge, Tatsu Aoki, Vivian Chiu, Stephanie Santos, K.M. Lowe, Joe Foronda, Bob Kiser, Angel Abecede, and Walter Tambor. It starts at 7 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, Chicago (312-744-6630).


Columbia College’s five-day-long Dignity Without Borders: Art, Media & Human Rights conference encompasses a wide range of events relevant to the topic, including a panel on “Latin America’s Unpardonable Sins: Drugs, Dictators, and Economic Distress” (May 8 at 10:45 AM), a photo presentation on child labor by award-winning photographer Peter Turnley (May 6 at 9:15 AM), and a discussion of whether documentary filmmakers exploit their subjects (May 5 at 5 PM). Today’s programming focuses on women: the 9:15 AM keynote panel, “Rape, Mutilation, and Violence Against Women–What Everyone Should Know,” features Azza Karam, director of the women’s program of the World Council on Religion and Peace; Pauline Taylor, board chair of the Chicago Abused Women’s Coalition; and Teresa Loar, executive director of Vital Voices Global Partnerships. Author and scholar Marjorie Agosin, winner of a 1998 UN Leadership Award in Human Rights, will moderate. The conference began on Friday and runs through May 8 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan, Chicago. It’s free, except for several ticketed lunchtime events, which cost $36, food included. To register call 312-344-7675 or go to


Mystery writer Michael Allen Dymmoch has made bad things happen all over the Chicago area. In her most recent book, The Feline Friendship, she engineers a near-rape in Highland Park; in an earlier book she knocked off a Kenilworth woman by having her car go up in flames while she drives home from the city. Lately she’s been thinking about a couple of sites in Wilmette. Dymmoch and four other local whodunit writers will talk about drawing inspiration from their surroundings tonight at 7 in Murder on the North Shore, a free panel discussion at the Northbrook Public Library. Participants include Eleanor Taylor Bland, Libby Fischer Hellmann, David Walker, and Bruce Kreisman. It’s at 1201 Cedar in Northbrook; call 847-272-6224 for more information.