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Friday 1/19 - Thursday 1/25

JANUARY

By Cara Jepsen

19 FRIDAY "I am tired of little tight-faced poets sitting down to / shape perfect unimportant pieces. / Poems that cough lightly--catch back a sneeze. / This is a time for Big Poems, / roaring up out of sleaze, / poems from ice, from vomit, and from tainted blood. / This is the time for stiff or viscous poems. / Big and Big." So wrote Gwendolyn Brooks in her 1988 poem "Winnie." Brooks, the first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer prize (for 1949's Annie Allen) and a tireless advocate of helping young people find their voices, passed away December 3. Tonight the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing will hold a memorial service in her honor. It's from 6 to 9 in rooms A and B of Chicago State University's Robinson University Center, 9501 S. King Dr. It's free; call 773-995-4440.

Recently children from three city elementary school classes were asked to make two quilt squares--one based on the worst name they've ever been called, and another detailing their reaction to the affront. One fifth-grader, whose tiny N-word is upstaged by colorful buttons, wrote, "I feel mad when someone calls me a nigger because I know they're not joking....I'd like to hit the person but I just walk away instead so I don't get into trouble." The students' quilts are part of Woman Made Gallery's new prejudice exhibition, a juried show that includes entries from 30 artists (including men, "because how could we be prejudiced against men?" asks executive director Beate Minkovski). The free opening reception takes place tonight from 6 to 9 and the exhibit runs through February 22 at the gallery at 1900 S. Prairie. Call 312-328-0038 for more.

Last semester Teach for America teacher Ariela Freedman worked out a deal in which her students at Benito Juarez High School would work as ushers on weekends at ComedySportz in return for training in improv comedy. In November their team beat a bunch of suburban schools to win the improv company's first-ever high school tournament. Tonight at 8 the students will compete against three teams of ComedySportz professionals. It's at ComedySportz, 2851 N. Halsted. Admission is $15; reservations are recommended. Call 773-549-8080.

20 SATURDAY "We don't know how much of history is secret, just like we don't know what went on at the Skull & Bones society that George Bush senior and George Bush junior were members of," says computer programmer Doug Binkley, referring to Yale's secret club of upperclassmen. Binkley, who has a vast knowledge of Freemasonry, the Priory du Sion, and other favorites of conspiracy theorists everywhere, will discuss secret societies, skulduggery, and the theory "that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had descendants that are alive among us" tonight at 8 at the College of Complexes at Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln. It's $3, and a purchase of food or drink is required. Call 312-326-2120.

21 SUNDAY When it was built in 1920, the Ivanhoe Theater building housed a restaurant, but in 1966 the owners installed a bunch of seats and started putting on shows. A few years later, Tennessee Williams's play Out Cry opened there, and the dressing room was the site of a notorious quarrel between the playwright and his agent, Audrey Wood. But despite this venerable history, the theater will close its doors for good at the end of the month. In homage the Free Associates, the theater's resident company, are presenting a three-day retrospective of their parodic work, called Ten Years on a Hot Tin Roof. It runs Friday, January 19, through today, when they'll perform As We Like It: Shakespeare in Your Face at 2 ($15), followed by The Scryptogram at 3:30 (also $15, or pay $25 for both shows). Tonight they'll revive The Real Darren Stephens at 6 ($15) and Cast on a Hot Tin Roof at 7:30 ($20, or $30 for both). It's all at the Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington. Call 773-975-7171 for more information.

22 MONDAY Ragtime fan Reginald Robinson got hooked on the form in seventh grade, when some Urban Gateways musicians did a program at his Austin school. Since then the self-taught pianist has composed some 40 pieces, including the Jeff-nominated score for the Goodman's production of Gertrude Stein: Each One as She May. Today he'll present a taste of his work as part of the Chicago Public Library's "Sounds of Our City" series. It's at 12:15 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State (312-747-4850).

23 TUESDAY Now that it's clear that Nader supporters may have spoiled the presidential election for Al Gore, many leftists are scratching their heads and wondering, "How will left activists, environmentalists, community/labor organizers, and others working for a more just and equitable world be able to come together to defeat right wing initiatives and build more effective campaigns?" (Here's an idea--support the same presidential candidate.) Local Green Party members will be joined by folks from the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, the Open University of the Left, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Socialist Party of Chicago, Solidarity, and other groups at a free forum called A Postelection Postmortem: Where Does the Left Go From Here? It's tonight at 7 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo (773-486-1823).

24 WEDNESDAY The Catholic Church's infamous silence during the Holocaust isn't surprising when you look at the church's history, argues novelist and cultural critic James Carroll in his new nonfiction book, Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews. In it Carroll, a former Catholic priest, takes the church to task for anti-Judaism that dates back to gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus and continues through today. He'll discuss his ideas tonight at 7 at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. It's free; call 773-752-4381.

25 THURSDAY The University of Illinois' Sluts Against Rape and Rutgers University's LABIA (Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action) are just two of the groups whose members Paula Kamen interviewed for her new book, Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution. The playwright and journalist asked over 100 women from a variety of backgrounds about their attitudes toward sex and relationships. She also dug up a slew of startling statistics, such as the fact that only about 50 percent of women with less than a high school education have ever been on the receiving end of oral sex, compared to over 80 percent of women who have finished college. Kamen will discuss her book tonight at 7:30 at Women & Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark. It's free; call 773-769-9299 for more.

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