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By Cara Jepsen

APRIL

Friday 26

Mike Royko may want to take note of this weekend's free conference Political Culture in Mexico. Topics include "quantitative approaches to political culture in Mexico" and "observing and understanding political culture." It's from 9:30 to 5 today at the University of Chicago's Judd Hall, 5835 S. Kimbark, and continues tomorrow from 9:30 to 4 and Sunday from 10 to noon. Call 702-8420 for more.

Visions of tornadoes, falling airplanes, and high-speed chases usually dominate my sleep. Last week, though, I had a dream about yellow flowers. The next day at Jewel daffodils were on sale for $1. What does it mean? Starting tonight the School of Metaphysics in Berwyn activates its National Dream Hotline, in which experts help callers interpret their nighttime adventures. It starts at 6 and runs through midnight Sunday. It's free. Call 772-0966, 708-788-0674, or 847-991-0140.

In 1990 mountaineer Kitty Calhoun-Grissom braved 60-mile-per-hour winds to become the first woman to climb Nepal's Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world. She's also climbed Dhaulagiri, a 26,810-foot Himalayan peak in Nepal, and Denali in Alaska. Tonight at 7 she'll show slides and discuss her big climbs. It happens at the Evanston Athletic Club, 1723 Benson, in Evanston. Admission is $3; call 847-866-6190 for more.

Slave ships and cocktails go together like nothing else. Tonight Brothers United in Support, a group for HIV positive gay and bisexual black men, hosts a cocktail reception at the DuSable Museum of African American History's exhibit A Slave Ship Speaks: The Wreck of Henrietta Marie. There'll be dramatic performances and music as well as a tour of the excavated ship's middle passage. The $20 fee will help people affected by HIV attend a spring retreat in Michigan. The reception is from 8 to 11 at the museum, 740 E. 56th Pl. Call 404-8726.

SATURDAY 27

Students for a Democratic Society may be long gone, but that doesn't mean there aren't a bunch of would-be student activists waiting for a cause more meaningful than Rock the Vote. Today they'll join forces at a conference called The Creation of a Chicago-Wide Progressive Student Alliance. Longtime activists Tom Balanoff, from Jobs With Justice, and Adolph Reed Jr., from Coalition for New Priorities, will lead the way; there'll be workshops on urban issues and organizing strategies. It's from 10 to 2 at the Egan Urban Center at DePaul University, 243 S. Wabash, room 9100. It's free; call 338-9647 for more.

Professors at Northwestern University have been experimenting on cats' retinas for the past 29 years to study feline vision, according to animal rights groups, who say the experiments are unnecessary, waste tax dollars, and always result in death for the animals. Today the Animal Rights Mobilization and the Concerned Citizens for Ethical Research will hold a rally protesting this study as part of World Liberation Week for Animals in Laboratories. It's at 1 at Northwestern University's Tech Institute, 2145 Sheridan, in Evanston. It's free; call 381-1181 for more.

It's a rare employer that pays for its workers to visit naprapaths and massage therapists as part of its health plan. A few years ago I worked for a guy who would make us sick with his paranoid accusations and then offer echinacea tea when we fell ill. Today Julie Kennelly of Alternative Health Systems gives a free talk, Insurance for the Rest of Us, in which she'll explain her plan's coverage for acupuncture, homeopathy, and other offbeat and conventional treatments. It's at 3:30 at Prairie Moon, 8 N. Dunton, in Arlington Heights. It's free; call 847-342-9608 for more.

SUNDAY 28

More than 200 tables of antique, contemporary, and classic photographic equipment and collectible images will be featured at the Chicago Photographic Collectors Society's camera and image sale. There'll also be free camera checks and appraisals. It's from 10 to 4 at the Ramada Hotel O'Hare, 6600 N. Mannheim Road, in Rosemont. Admission is $5, $4 for students. Call 262-5979 for more.

Lowrider cars emerged in the barrios of East LA and San Jose during the late 1940s, when the region's postwar boom allowed many Latinos to own homes and cars for the first time. Cars became status symbols, and the first lowriders--bombas--were so low that the bumpers nearly touched the ground. Innovations since then have included hydraulics, gold accessories, neon lighting on the undercarriage, and fancy paint. In recent years the phenomenon has expanded to include bicycles and trucks, but cars still dominate the subculture. Lowriders from the past two decades will compete for cash and prizes today at the Lowrider Magazine 20th Anniversary Tour. They'll be judged for their outrageousness, ability to jump (many hop six feet or more when their hydraulic suspension is activated), and stereos, among other features. The tour also includes a concert featuring live performances by R & B, rap, and house-music artists. It's from 11 to 5 at the International Amphitheater, 4220 S. Halsted. It's $18, kids under ten get in free. Call 254-6900.

Internationally renowned Argentine tango dancers Danel and Maria coached the now-pregnant Madonna for her big tango scene in Evita. This evening they'll kick up their heels at a tango ball, which includes a live orchestra, a singer, and ensemble dancers from the Chicago Tango Club Argentine. Participants are encouraged to dress up (black tie optional) and dance as well; it takes place from 7:30 to 11:30 at the Fairmont Hotel's Moulin Rouge Room, 200 N. Columbus. It's $20. Call 493-0666.

MONDAY 29

Six months before the Oklahoma City bombing, Morris Dees, cofounder and chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote to Attorney General Janet Reno, warning of the threat of domestic terrorists. In his new book Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat, written with James Corcoran, Dees insists that the bombing wasn't an isolated incident and that many of the militia groups and so-called patriot organizations have ties to state and national government officials. He'll discuss his theories at 4 today at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5757 S. University. It's free; call 752-4381 for more.

Oak Park mystery writer Alex Matthews has wanted to become a writer since she was ten, when she started her first, still-unfinished novel. Her new book, Secret's Shadow, is the first of a psychological mystery series featuring the female protagonist Cassidy McCabe. She'll read from it tonight at 7 to help celebrate the third anniversary of the Writers' Center of Oak Park; she's also a member. It's free and happens in the meeting room of the Dole Library, 255 Augusta, in Oak Park. Call 708-524-8725 for more.

TUESDAY 30

Naomi is a play about an Israeli bedouin woman caught between nomadic tradition and the modern world. Three days after being raped on her wedding night, she is circumcised--without anesthesia--by her mother-in-law. Traumatized, Naomi runs away from her tribe. She becomes a university student but flees from that life too when she realizes that secular Israel also oppresses women. She then creates a traveling museum that chronicles her life. While making pita bread, which she serves to the audience, Naomi tells her story. She is portrayed by Ruby Porat Shoval, a former social worker who began researching bedouin culture ten years ago. The play is tonight at 7:30 at the Harold Washington Library Center auditorium, 400 S. State, and tomorrow at 7:30 at Wilmette's Beth Hillel Congregation, 3220 Big Tree Lane. Tickets are $15. Call 565-3305 for reservations.

MAY

WEDNESDAY 1

Anxiety disorders--including agoraphobia, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder--are America's most common mental-health illnesses, affecting more than 28 million Americans each year, according to the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center. You'll be able to find out whether you have a normal dose of fear or something more serious at a free screening for anxiety disorders today. Participants can learn more about the subject, fill out a questionnaire, and speak to a mental-health professional. The screening takes place from 9 to 5:30 at the center, 680 N. Lake Shore Dr., suite 1325. It's free; call 642-7952 for an appointment.

Making something out of what had been perceived as nothing is the idea behind the Resource Center's new Creative Reuse Warehouse, which collects unwanted materials from businesses, industries, and individuals and reroutes them for educational and artistic reuse. The warehouse contains plastic plumbing pipes, office binders, recycled wood products, telephone cords, and all kinds of other gadgets and widgets. A free open house today will include a display of art projects made from warehouse materials, handouts for use in education, and demonstrations on woodworking and making rain sticks. The open house is from 3 to 7 at the warehouse, 721 W. O'Brien. Call 421-3640.

THURSDAY 2

It's estimated that 15,000 more diners than usual went out to eat as part of last year's Dine Out for Life, which raised almost $100,000 to fight HIV/AIDS. More than 150 restaurants, from the Abbey Pub & Restaurant to the Winnetka Grill, will participate in this year's fund-raiser. All you have to do is go out and eat tonight; the restaurants donate a percentage of their receipts to Stop AIDS and AIDSCARE. To find out who's participating look for a green and blue window decal, or call 871-3463.

David Marc's book Bonfire of the Humanities hit the shelves about six months ago, made a bit of a splash, and basically disappeared. In the book Marc contends that universities have ignored the technological gains made in the last 30 years. He says there's a disparity between the way humanities are taught and the way students receive most of their information and believes that academia must find new ways to convey information to students. Tonight he'll give the keynote address "What Was Broadcasting?" at a DePaul University conference, From Microchip to Mass Media: Culture and the Technological Age, which runs through the weekend. Related workshops include "Cruising the Web for Beginners" and "Imagining a Virtual Religious Community: Neo-Pagans and the Internet." Marc speaks at 6:45 at DePaul University's commons building, 2324 N. Fremont. The conference requests a sliding-scale donation of up to $10. Call 325-7000, ext. 1825, for more.

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