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Friday 22

Of all the ongoing arguments over political correctness and curriculum revision on college campuses, the most confusing involve those theorists--in all sorts of disciplines, ranging from literature to law to science--who claim to challenge traditional notions of "facts" and "evidence." The University of Chicago journal Critical Inquiry has been batting this subject about for several issues now: today and tomorrow, speakers from around the globe will convene for Questions of Evidence: A Discussion Conference, to take up the matter in front of an audience. It's in Swift Lecture Hall, 1025-35 E. 58th, from 9 to 6 both days. It's free to go watch, but organizers note that discussions will focus around specific essays in the magazine, so they suggest you pick up a few back issues before wading in. You also have to register in advance; call 702-8274.

SisterSerpents, the unfailingly good-humored if quite serious group of radical feminist artists, have a new show in store. It's their third annual "festival of feminist fangs," called Piss on Passivity!! Piss on Patriarchy!! The show, featuring several dozen works from almost as many artists, opens today at At the Gallery, 1543 W. Division; there'll also be poetry readings and other performances over the course of the exhibit, which'll be up through June 11. At the Gallery's open noon to 8 Thursday to Sunday, and admission's free; there's an opening reception tonight from 6 to midnight. Call 486-7357 for more.

Poetry slam grand panjandrum Marc Smith is debuting a new work tonight: a series of monologues he wrote from the point of view of Dr. John Spray, the late-19th-century Cook County coroner and noted member of the death- and literature-obsessed White Chapel Club, whose members (politicians, writers, and lawyers) met in a skull-and-murder-weapon-decorated room to recite the classics as well as their own writing. For the next six Fridays at Cafe Aroma, 1202 W. Webster, Smith will perform his three Spray monologues, plus he'll read his own poetry and that of others. Things get under way at 8:30 PM; its $2. Call 404-6070 for more.

Saturday 23

For those who love country songwriting in all its schlocky, grotesque glory, the Old Town School of Folk Music is presenting Nashville Songwriters From the Bluebird Cafe, a songwriting workshop today and pair of concerts tonight at the school, 909 W. Armitage. The Bluebird Cafe is a legendary C and W club (located in a strip mall, of all things) where the likes of Kathy Mattea and Vince Gill hang out; its representatives at tonight's shows include Don Schlitz, who wrote "The Gambler" for Kenny Rogers and is still walking the streets a free man; Thom Schuyler, perpetrator of Randy Travis's grasping fellation of George Bush, "Point of Light"; J. Fred Knobloch, a successful songwriter and recording star in his own right; and Craig Bickhardt, who's written hits for the Judds and Mattea and appeared in Tender Mercies. The four will lead the free songwriters' workshop today at 3; they'll also sing together in shows tonight at 7 and 10. Tickets for those are $10-$14; call the school at 525-7793 for more.

The keynote panel of the seventh annual convention of the Union of Palestinian Women's Associations includes poet, essayist, and Ms. editor Robin Morgan; Arab Women's Solidarity Association prez Nawal Sadawi; Birzeit University's Eileen Kuttab; and others. There's a book signing by Morgan and a variety of other authors at 7 PM; the panel starts at 8. It's at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, 350 N. Orleans; admission is $10. Call 436-6060 for more.

Sunday 24

Today's your last chance to catch It's a Virtual Life, an art and science event at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory of UIC. Kathy Kohler and Michelle Miller, two grad students working in the field of virtual reality, have fashioned a "cave" that surrounds visitors with video and sound. You can check out the "realities" they've come up with--including computer games in which you interact with everything from speeding vein coagulants to white-tailed deer--from 1 to 4 today at the laboratory, 842 W. Taylor, room 2032. It's free; call 996-3002.

Monday 25

Let's see: Recently, we've invaded Panama, killing hundreds; bombed the hell out of Iraq, killing tens of thousands more; watched idly as Saddam Hussein then took out his frustration on the Kurds; and continued our support of bloodthirsty rightists in El Salvador and Guatemala. We're sitting on our hands as the most important political developments since World War II unfold in the former Soviet Union, and at the same time cuddling up to the leadership of China. In the meantime, our ghettos are exploding. It's definitely a day for patriotism. You can march in the Wellington-Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society's annual Memorial Day parade, starting at 11 AM at the corner of Pine Grove and Wellington in Lakeview. The route goes over to Sheridan, then down to Saint Joe's hospital, near Diversey. Call 664-5051 for details.

Tuesday 26

Two quotations bookend the fifth annual issue of Hammers, the self-described "end of the millennium poetry magazine." The first, from John F. Kennedy, ends editor Nat David's preface: "If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. . . . Where power corrupts, poetry cleanses." The second is on the back cover, from Walt Whitman: "The art of art, the glory of expression, and the sunshine of the light of letters is simplicity." David and 18 of his contributors will be at the publication party for Hammers no. 5, tonight at 5 :15 in the Chicago Authors Room on the seventh floor of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. It's free (though the mag's $4). Call 747-4740 for more.

More poetry stuff: It's Chicago writers reading night at Unabridged Books. A new literary journal called Hyphen is debuting, and contributors Eduardo Cruz Eusebio, Robert MacDonald, Greg Shapiro, Jennifer Sheridan, Sandra Steingraber, and Shawn Shiflett will be on hand to read. Things get started at 7:30, and admission is free. The bookstore is at 3251 N. Broadway; call 883-9119 for details.

Wednesday 27

The Chicago Metro Ethics Coalition is a surprisingly clearheaded group that promotes its aim--"rebuilding confidence in government through the promotion of clean, competent and compassionate government"--with a well-written, fact-filled publication called the Ethics Observer. The group's also been holding an ongoing series of presentations called The Confidence Gap; tonight's goes by the slightly unwieldy title of "More Crime = More Costs = More Taxes--But Few Results: What Will It Take To Break the Cycle?" You can join former Chicago top cop LeRoy Martin and others to discuss the question at the University Club, 76 E. Monroe, starting at 5 PM. It's $10, $40 if you stay for the dinner following. Call 372-3842 for reservations.

Thursday 28

Voice of the People is the Uptown group that's been working to provide affordable housing in the community for 24 years. NBC's Roberta Gonzales hosts the group's annual benefit tonight at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; $25 gets you appetizers, dancing, drinks, and entertainment from comedian Matthew Kissane, a Chicago band called Da Cor Do Samba that plays Brazilian jazz, and a children's step dancing group from Uptown called the Voice Steppers. There'll also be two airplane tickets raffled off and some smaller stuff auctioned off. Things get under way at 6; call 769-2442 for details.

Renowned architect and educator John Hejduk--the subject of an exhibit at the Chicago Institute for Architecture and Urbanism through June 3--will give an accompanying talk tonight. Hejduk has taught at the Cooper Union in New York for nearly 30 years; he's also the author of several books and the mind behind buildings in several countries. He'll be at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 4 W. Burton, at 6:30. Tix are $10, $5 for students. Call 951-8006 for details.

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