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Friday 2/15 - Thursday 2/21

15 FRIDAY Lisa Alvarado--poet, performer, and founder of La Onda Negra Press, a small publishing house devoted to work by women of color--paid for her art habit in the late 90s by working as a maid for a wealthy Chicago family. She wrote a cycle of poems about her experience called The Housekeeper's Diary, which she published as a chapbook in 1999 and later adapted into a solo performance that premiered in 2001 in Washington, D.C. This weekend Alvarado will stage her first hometown performances of the piece. The Housekeeper's Diary runs tonight and tomorrow, February 15 and 16, at Insight Arts, 1545 W. Morse. Tickets are $10; call 773-973-1521.

LSD, crazy editing, groovy dialogue, a go-go dancer who moonlights as a mass murderer (or vice versa): only in a psychotronic film. This one's called Mantis in Lace, a late-60s horror movie shot by cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs, who cut his teeth filming exploitation films before making Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces. Mantis was released in two versions--one that emphasized the violence and another that focused on the sex--both equally campy. The folks at the Chicago Psychotronic Film Society promise that tonight they'll be showing the racier version. The free screening starts at 7 at Bobbo and Doc's, 1952 N. Damen; you must be 21 or older to attend. For more information call 773-250-3004.

16 SATURDAY Why, during World War II, was the brilliant German scientist Werner Heisenberg, a student of famed nuclear physicist Niels Bohr and a Nobel Prize winner, unable to unlock the secrets of the atom? Did he intentionally hold back Nazi research, as some argue, hoping to save the world from a nuclear Hitler? Or was there a less heroic reason? (Say, the fact that the Nazis murdered or drove into exile plenty of scientists, like Einstein and Bohr, who might have helped him out.) These and other questions will be discussed at today's Copenhagen symposium on the campus of the University of Chicago, site of the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction. The free forum will be moderated by U. of C. astronomer and astrophysicist Doug Duncan and features his colleagues Peter Freund, a physicist who knew Heisenberg, and Joseph Masco, an anthropologist whose work focuses on cold-war culture. Also on the panel are Albert Wattenberg of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who worked on the Manhattan Project, and Kelly AuCoin, understudy for the role of Heisenberg in the current Shubert Theatre engagement of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen. The play presents a fictionalized account of Heisenberg's 1941 meeting with Bohr, at which, according to speculation, he either pumped Bohr for information or decided the Nazis should never get the bomb. The symposium is from 3 to 5 at the Oriental Institute, 1155 E. 58th, and reservations are required; call 773-753-4472. Copenhagen runs through February 24 at the Shubert, 22 W. Monroe. For tickets call 312-902-1400.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's anorectic motto "less is more" inspired hundreds of architects to erect thousands of high-rise steel-and-glass boxes, none as graceful as his own transcendent designs, which include the IBM Building, the Illinois Institute of Technology campus, and the Federal Plaza. The traveling retrospective Mies in America, which focuses on his work after he emigrated to Chicago from Germany in 1937, opens today and runs through May 26 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. The exhibit features 220 of the architect's drawings, 60 photographs, and models of four of his projects. Related events include a panel discussion, "Mies and His Legacy," on February 19, a symposium March 8 and 9, and architecture tours around Chicago. The museum is open from 10 to 8 on Tuesdays and 10 to 5 Wednesdays through Sundays; admission is $10, $6 for students and seniors, and free for kids 12 and under. Everyone gets in for free on Tuesdays. Call 312-280-2660.

17 SUNDAY Happy Chinese New Year! Actually, the Year of the Horse started February 12, but on a Tuesday afternoon, who's got time to celebrate? As in years past, the powers that be in Chicago's Chinatown have pushed New Year's to Sunday, the better to pack the streets with locals and tourists enjoying the drums, gongs, cymbals, fireworks, 100-foot dragon, floats packed with local merchants and politicos, and marching bands. The parade steps off at 1 PM at Wentworth and Cermak and will promenade south to 24th Street. It's free; call 312-225-0303.

18 MONDAY Now that patriotism is in again, if not mandatory, you are strongly encouraged to stop grumbling about the lack of mail and take Presidents' Day seriously. To help, the U.S. Navy Band will perform tonight at 7:30 in Northwestern University's Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 1977 South Campus Dr. in Evanston. It's free, but tickets are required; call the box office at 847-467-4000 for reservations. John Philip Sousa will be well represented, as will lesser-known composers such as E.E. Bagley, Karl L. King, and the prolific Henry Fillmore, who left behind 250 original works and 750 arrangements when he died in 1956. The band is performing here as part of a 22-city tour--those unable to make today's concert can catch one tomorrow, February 19, at 7 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.

19 TUESDAY Founded in 1963 by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, of the famed Chess Records, WVON was America's first and for a long time only 24-hour black radio station. Broadcasting from the south side, the 1,000-watt station was consistently ranked among the three most popular in Chicago. WVON, whose call letters stood for "Voice of the Negro" (now "Voice of the Nation"), provided listeners with local and national news and entertainment that were all but ignored by the white media. The Department of Cultural Affairs is hosting a free panel discussion, WVON: The Good Ol' Days of Radio, tonight at 6 in the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630). Moderated by former alderman turned radio talk-show host Clifford Kelley, the panel will include current and former WVON DJs Lucky Cordell, Herb Kent, Richard Pegue, and Pervis Spann.

20 WEDNESDAY When Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack in 1995, he left behind more than a band that, despite its claim not to have a leader, proved unable to carry on without him: thousands of Deadheads were also left in the lurch. Brent Meeske's documentary The End of the Road follows what turned out to be the Grateful Dead's last tour from the perspective of the fans, capturing them as they engage in their myriad rituals, including bootleg taping of live shows (encouraged by the band), trading tapes, and indulging in copious amounts of illegal substances. The feature-length video also provides a history of the Grateful Dead and the Deadhead phenomenon. The End of the Road runs through February 21 at Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton. Screenings are at 7 and 9 today. Tickets are $7; call 773-281-4114 or see Section Two for more.

21 THURSDAY It may clash with the macho image of Chicago as hog butcher, wheat stacker, and railroad capital, but in the years following the Great Chicago Fire the city also became a world center for stained glass. Hundreds of artisans moved to Chicago as it rebuilt, forming their own studios and creating work to satisfy the era's vogue for the medium. Some firms, like Healy and Millet, specialized in large-scale projects, creating the windows for the Auditorium Building and the Stock Exchange ceiling after Louis Sullivan's designs. Other, smaller firms created humbler--but no less beautiful--windows for residential two-flats. Rolf Achilles, curator of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, will deliver a free talk on Chicago's stained glass, sponsored by the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (312-922-1742), at 12:15 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Bring your own lunch.

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