If a slide lecture on Paris seems a poor substitute for the real thing, how about when it’s combined with a dinner of fine French cuisine at Cyrano’s Bistrot and Wine Bar? After a meal of lobster bisque, braised guinea hen, tagliatelle with summer tomato concasse, wine, and dessert, travel consultant Melanie Joy Karsen will present Paris: Beyond the Eiffel Tower, in which she’ll highlight some of the lesser-known attractions in and around the city. The evening starts at 6:30 at Cyrano’s, 546 N. Wells in Chicago, and costs $49.50, including tax and tip. Reservations are required; call 312-467-0546.

Lured from their hometowns by the promise of well-paying work, as many as 400,000 Ukrainian young women and girls have found themselves trapped by organized crime syndicates and sent abroad as sex slaves since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The human trafficking continues thanks to the “complacency, complicity, and corruption” of governments and law enforcement agencies, writes Victor Malarek, a Canadian journalist and author of The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade. Today he’ll speak at a public colloquium called For Sale or Rent: The Captive Daughters of Ukraine. He’ll be joined by Melanne Verveer, chair of Vital Voices, a group that trains female leaders in emerging nations, and Amy Heyden of Winrock International, a nonprofit that runs a trafficking prevention project in Ukraine. It’s tonight at 7 in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington in Chicago; a reception and book signing follows. Admission is free, but reservations are required; call 312-742-5320 or e-mail

Earlier this summer the Reader’s Deanna Isaacs wrote about the plight of artist and photographer Fred Burkhart, who broke his back while trying to install a sign at his north-side gallery and coffeehouse, Burkhart Studios. He’s still in a cast, says his friend Lena Potatova, who met Burkhart in May, but “he is a very strong-spirited man.” She and her husband, Josef Levitis, have organized a benefit for Burkhart tonight at their gallery, Schizoclub. Two-Dimensional Women includes a sale of photos and drawings of the female form by Burkhart; there’ll also be performances by Potatova and Levitis’s band, Schizowave (whose songs feature lyrics in English, Russian, and Tibetan), and Radiant Darling. A wine and cheese reception starts at 6 PM, and the performances begin around 8 at Schizoclub, 2054 W. Chicago in Chicago. There’s a suggested donation of $5. Call 312-498-3547 or see for more.


The second annual Midwest Literary Festival opens at 11 today with readings from The Man Who Walked Between the Towers–a children’s book about Philippe Petit–and the Bill of Rights. After that there’s a profusion of events for adults and kids, including an appearance by former poet laureate Billy Collins, workshops on writing, illustrating, and publishing, a romance writers’ tea, and a Princess Diaries party with author Meg Cabot. The festival runs from 11 to 6 today (Collins appears at noon; the princess party is at 5) and noon to 5 Sunday over a three-block area in front of North Island Center, 8 East Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. It’s all free, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. See for the full schedule or call 630-897-5500.

Karaoke is so 2002. All the cool kids have moved on to Movie-Oke, in which film buffs, incorrigible hams, and drunken fools insert themselves into their favorite big-screen scenes, sneaking peeks at subtitles on a prompter in front of them. Interested parties can even bring their own DVDs to Deja Vu, where Movie-Oke happens from 9 PM to midnight tonight and every Saturday. There’s no cover, but you must be 21 or over. Deja Vu is at 2624 N. Lincoln in Chicago, 773-871-0205.


What are those crazy Neo-Futurists going to come up with next? You can find out today at 2 at the Neo-Preview Party, a benefit for the group’s upcoming season. No bands, no raffles, no improv–just a chance to hang out, talk, and have a drink with the performers, get a tour of backstage “secret spaces,” and peek at some of the Andersonville locations that are going to be transformed into bits of Wonderland for the group’s upcoming site-specific piece, Alice. It’s $20, $15 for seniors and students, at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland in Chicago. Call 773-878-4557 or e-mail


In her 2003 graphic memoir, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi conveyed her experience growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war in simple black-and-white drawings that were surprisingly arresting, powerful, and funny. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, published last month, takes up where the first book ended, with teenage Marjane arriving in Vienna, where her parents have sent her for her own safety. But Europe isn’t as harmless as it seems. In Austria Satrapi struggles with isolation and racism, falls in love, deals drugs, and winds up on the streets. When she returns to her homeland and her family, she’s irrevocably altered. Satrapi, who now lives in Paris, appears today at 7:30 PM at Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark in Chicago (773-769-9299).


Last year local sculptor Mary Brogger was selected to create a monument to the the 1886 Haymarket incident, in which someone threw a bomb into a group of police officers during a rally protesting the death of two striking workers the evening before, killing 11. Though eight men were tried and convicted for the crime (four were executed and one committed suicide), it’s now widely believed that their trial was unjust. Brogger’s 15-foot-high bronze sculpture shows a group of figures either building or dismantling a wagon–a reference to the wagon that was used as an impromptu speakers’ stand that night. She calls the work “a reflection on the dual nature of anarchism–you have to destroy something to build something.” It’ll be unveiled today at Randolph and Desplaines in Chicago, near the site of the tragedy, at 11:30 AM. It’s free; call 312-744-6630.


Blogger and writer Claire Zulkey was hanging out with her pal John Green, a frequent contributor to WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight, and jawing about how they never got invited to any of Chicago’s occasional blogger readings. “We realized that between the two of us, we had some really funny, talented writer friends,” she says, and in true DIY fashion they planned their own reading. Slated to appear tonight at Funny Ha-Ha are Kevin Guilfoile, author of My First Presidentiary; Onion AV Club reviewer Nathan Rabin; RedEye’s Mark Bazer; and parenting humorist Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The comedy troupe Schadenfreude will perform, and filmmaker Steve Delahoyde will screen some of his short stuff. It’s from 8 to 10 PM at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia in Chicago, 773-227-4433. There’s a suggested donation of $5, and you must be 21 or over.


The year is tumultuous 1967, and two angry strangers–a Vietnam vet and a hermit–are thrown together in an isolated cabin in Ends, a play by David Alex that grew out of workshops at Chicago’s Columbia College and Victory Gardens Theater and was a prizewinner in the University of Louisville’s African-American Theatre Festival. Brad Akin directs Andre Teamer and Jason Clark in Bowen Park Theatre Company’s production, which begins tonight with a preview at 8 and continues Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 through October 9, closing with a 3 PM matinee on Sunday, October 10. It’s at the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, 39 Jack Benny Drive in Waukegan. Tickets are $20, $15 for members of the military, $10 for students. Call 847-360-4740 for reservations.