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Friday 6/29 - Thursday 7/5

JUNE

By Cara Jepsen

29 FRIDAY This weekend's StandDown 2001 is a community-based day of activities designed to provide services and a "safe haven" for veterans, who make up 30 percent of the area's homeless population. The free event, which attracted 800 vets last year, includes medical, dental, and optical services, legal assistance, haircuts, entertainment, and meals. "It's an environment that's casual and will help them obtain permanent housing, employment, and benefits," says a spokeswoman. "It's also a day of camaraderie and relief from their everyday situation." It starts today at 8 and runs through noon tomorrow at the National Guard Armory, 1551 N. Kedzie, and in Humboldt Park. For more info, call 708-383-3225; to volunteer, call 708-202-2084; to register, call 800-827-1000.

Artist H.C. Westermann, who died in 1981, was profoundly influenced by the four years he spent as a marine in World War II, when as a gunner on the carrier Enterprise he witnessed kamikaze attacks and many other horrors. After a tour of duty in Korea, he studied at the Art Institute and refined his method--combining traditional sculpting techniques with assemblage, design, and woodworking. An exhibit of some 90 prints and drawings, "See America First," opens tonight at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood, with a free reception from 5 to 7:30 (773-702-0200), and runs through September 9. Tomorrow the Museum of Contemporary Art will unveil an exhibit of 130 of Westermann's sculptures; tonight at 8 the museum hosts a related event with musician and multimedia artist Terry Allen and his Panhandle Mystery Band. Allen and Westermann corresponded for 11 years, and between songs Allen will read excerpts from Westermann's letters. It's $15 and takes place at the MCA theater, 220 E. Chicago (312-397-4010).

"According to [the philosopher Martin] Buber, it can be when you least expect it with whom you least expect it," says Bob Lichtenbert, founder of the philosophy discussion group the Chicago Seekers. By "it" he means a meaningful conversation that goes beyond small talk and social niceties. How to initiate one is the focus of tonight's "philosophical cookout" titled Intellectual Dialogues in Daily Life. Attendees are encouraged to read Buber's I and Thou, David Bohm's On Dialogue, Gemma Corradi Fiumara's The Other Side of Language: A Philosophy of Listening, and Plato's Symposium--although Lichtenbert notes that "even Plato gave up on it and quit writing dialogues after a while, and started writing long, boring books like all the other philosophers." The cookout starts at 7 at 1823 W. Barry, and it's free; call 773-477-1744.

30 SATURDAY San Francisco-based writer and performance poet Thea Hillman has been driving her grandmother's Honda around the country since May to promote her new book, Depending on the Light, a mix of fiction and poetry described by her publisher as "smart lessons in lust from a young lesbian upstart." Hillman will read from and discuss her work tonight at 7 at Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North (773-342-0910).

JULY

1 SUNDAY When Wrigleyville's Uncommon Ground opened its doors in 1991, it was just one of many indie coffeehouses around the city--sibling to Caffe Pergolesi, Scenes, Urbus Orbis, and Cafe Voltaire. Now it's one of the few left standing in the wake of the chains. The mom-and-pop cafe, which has distinguished itself as a live music venue, concludes its ten-day-long anniversary celebration tonight with free performances by Rose Polenzani, Stuart Davis, and Al Rose. It starts at 7 at the cafe at 1214 W. Grace (773-929-3680).

The annual Ravenswood Manor Garden Walk was recently named one of the city's best by Chicago magazine. The free walk, sponsored by the 41-year-old Manor Garden Club, takes place today from 2 to 6 and starts at Manor Park, 4650 N. Manor. Call 773-588-5675 or visit www.manorgardenclub.org.

2 MONDAY In the 1950s TV audiences went wild for Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, a sci-fi show so popular it was broadcast live over four networks at once (including the long-gone Dumont network). Today audiences can tune in to The Adventures of Gus Galaxy, Intergalactic Space Ranger, which will travel to a different part of the solar system each week as part of the new, live educational cable show Urban Astronomy. The program, sponsored by the STARS Foundation, will also include how-to segments and interviews with astronomers. It debuts tonight at 7 and runs Mondays through September 24 on Channel 21. Call 773-398-8355 or see www.starsfoundation.org.

3 TUESDAY The tradition of celebrating Independence Day early continues tonight when the Grant Park Orchestra, led by guest conductor Andre Raphel Smith and featuring bass Kevin Maynor, performs a program that will begin with songs made popular by vocalist and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. More traditional patriotic pieces will accompany the city's fireworks display, which starts around 9. The free concert begins at 7:30 at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park, Columbus and Jackson. Call 312-742-4763 or see www.grantparkmusicfestival.com.

4 WEDNESDAY Hyde Parkers celebrate the Fourth on the fourth, and their "everybody marches, nobody watches" parade boasts bands, floats, and local luminaries in period garb, including Alderman Toni Preckwinkle as the Statue of Liberty and state representative Barbara Flynn Currie as Uncle Sam. It starts at 11 AM at 54th and Lake Park Avenue, runs south to 55th, east to Hyde Park Boulevard, north to 53rd, and west to Nichols Park at 53rd and Kenwood, where it'll be followed by a picnic, sing-along, and games. It's all free; call 773-955-3622 for more information.

5 THURSDAY The scariest place I visited while in J-school was not the U.S. Senate or even the Chicago City Council. It was the old main post office at Harrison and Canal, where civil servants toiled in dark, depressing conditions reminiscent of the 1985 film Brazil. The employees eventually went on to better digs, and now the fate of the 2.5 million-square-foot edifice is up in the air. Today, Grant Uhlir, senior associate with Gensler Architects, will present his firm's vision for the site: a mixed-use development that includes offices, a hotel, parking, retail stores, and a plaza along the Chicago River. He'll discuss the plan at 12:15 as part of the Friends of Downtown's lunchtime series. It's in the fifth-floor southeast meeting room at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. It's free, but bring your own lunch (312-744-6630).

A recent study by the Environmental Law & Policy Center found that by 2020 the midwest could obtain over 20 percent of its electricity from local, renewable energy sources. The operative word, of course, is "could," and tonight at 6:30 ELPC policy advocate Hans Detweiler will discuss findings from the report, called Repowering the Midwest: The Clean Energy Development Plan for the Heartland. The free event takes place at the Crystal Lake Public Library, 126 Paddock in Crystal Lake. Call 815-338-0393 for more.

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