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Friday 5/17 - Thursday 5/23

MAY

17 FRIDAY The city kicks off its 12th annual celebration of the joys of two-wheeled transit with today's Bike to Work Day Rally at Daley Plaza, where riders can pick up a free breakfast and Bike Chicago 2002 T-shirt and participate in any number of bike-boosting events. For those seeking safety in numbers, volunteers from the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation will lead 7 AM commutes from the Chicago Public Library's Blackstone branch at 4904 S. Lake Park and the Uptown branch at 929 W. Buena. The bagels and juice will be dished out from 7:30 to 9 at Washington and Dearborn; call 312-744-3315 for more.

See for yourself whether taquerias are really "the cultural crossroads for the new millennium" when the Taco Shop Poets, a loose-knit collective of San Diego poets and musicians who have been staging guerrilla performances of jazz and poetry across the country since 1994, hit Chicago this weekend for four scheduled events. Tonight at 7 at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum (1852 W. 19th, 312-738-1503) they'll be joined by poet and educator Brenda Cardenas for a panel discussion entitled "The New Latin Renaissance: Culture or Commodity?" Admission is $5, $3 for students and seniors. Tomorrow they'll make free appearances at Los Dos Laredos Restaurant (3120 W. 26th, 773-376-3218) at noon and Cafe Jumping Bean (1439 W. 18th Street, 312-455-0019) at 2. Then they'll head back to the museum for a 7 PM performance tomorrow; tickets for that are $7, $5 for students and seniors.

18 SATURDAY Five years ago the words "west of Western" struck fear into the hearts of some real estate speculators, but now it appears to be official: Humboldt Park is hot. This weekend the Division Street Market--60-odd vendors selling vintage clothing, handmade textiles, used books, collectible ceramics, and avocado green glassware, brought together by the folks who run the Bucktown Arts Fest--makes its inaugural appearance in and around the 206-acre park's stables at 3015 W. Division. The market runs today and tomorrow from 9 to 4, rain or shine. Admission is free; call 312-409-4658.

After a night spent meditating under the bodhi tree--and vanquishing the hordes of demons sent by Mara, lord of the world of passion, to distract him from the task at hand--Prince Siddhartha finally achieved enlightenment on the morning of the day of the first full moon in May, also known as Visakha. Today the Buddhist Council of the Midwest marks the founding of Buddhism with its 18th Visakha Festival at Evanston's Lake Street Church. The free daylong event starts at 9:30 with an ecumenical Buddhist service led by DePaul University religion professor Ron Kidd; in the afternoon celebrants can choose between meditation, a lecture on Buddhist traditions, and activities for kids. Then from 6:30 to 9:30 there'll be food, music, and dance from just about every Asian community in Chicago. The church is at 607 Lake (at Chicago Avenue). Admission to all events is free, though donations will be accepted. Call 847-869-5806 for more information.

19 SUNDAY A 1980 radio piece by NPR reporter Noah Adams--in which he takes on the persona of a People's Temple member to present a series of recently discovered tapes of Jim Jones's sermons--could very well be the highlight of the second installment of the Third Coast Listening Room. Organized by the Third Coast International Audio Festival-- WBEZ's fledgling effort to spotlight radio documentaries and features from all over the world--today's program is curated by This American Life producers Alex Blumberg and Julie Snyder. The two-hour audio program will also include an early Ira Glass-produced NPR piece and excerpts from past TAL episodes, as well as a discussion on bringing out narratives in the news. It starts at 2 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Tickets are $5, $3 for students, and reservations are recommended. Call 312-832-3382 or E-mail info@thirdcoastfestival.org.

Artist, poet, composer, and one-armed pianist Ed Balchowsky fought Franco as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and was buried in an unmarked grave when he died, impoverished, in 1989. Ten years later Jeff Balch, the grandson of a cousin of Balchowsky's, decided to do something to commemorate his radical relative. In conjunction with the Chicago Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, he spent three years raising money to commission the Ed Balchowsky Memorial Stone, which will be dedicated today at 2 at Forest Home Cemetery, 863 S. Des Plaines in Forest Park, 200 feet from the plot where his ashes were interred and not far from the Haymarket martyrs' monument. University of Illinois professor Cary Nelson, who's the vice chair of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, will speak; Tom Kimball and Balchowsky's friend Jamie O'Reilly will play some of his music; and guests will offer up personal reminiscences. It's free. Call Balch at 847-864-9468 for directions and more info.

20 MONDAY Before Breakin' and Krush Groove, there was Wild Style. Named the best hip-hop film of all time by Source magazine, Charlie Ahearn's 1982 feature loosely follows New York graffiti artist Lee Quinones (playing a fictional tagger) as he goes from bombing the subways to flirting with art-world fame. The film, costarring Fab Five Freddy as a slick hip-hop impresario, is jam-packed with DJs, break dancers, MCs--including Grandmaster Flash--and just about anyone who was anybody in the South Bronx scene. It's showing tonight at 8:15 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State (312-846-2800). Additional screenings this week are Friday, May 17, at 8:30; Sunday, May 19, at 6:15; and Thursday, May 23, at 8:15. Tickets are $8.

21 TUESDAY "When he is moving inside her, and her eyes roll when she feels him in certain spots, he presses her in just those spots. Suvarnanabha says, 'This is the secret of young women.'" These third-century instructions on locating the G-spot come from University of Chicago professor Wendy Doniger and Harvard scholar Sudhir Kakar's new translation of the ultimate primer on erotic love, the Kama Sutra. Frustrated with the flowery 19th-century translation by Sir Richard Francis Burton, which Doniger and Kakar argue denies sexual agency to women and mutes the frank sensuality of the original text by adding words like "lingam" and "yoni" to refer to male and female genitalia, the authors went back to the original Sanskrit to construct their version, which was published this year by Oxford University Press. Though Doniger noted in a recent interview that "The Kama Sutra is about pleasure in a much broader sense--good food and good drink, wearing beautiful silk clothing, going on picnics, listening to good music," there are still plenty of descriptions of acrobatic sex. She'll speak and sign books tonight at 6 at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. It's free; call 312-255-3700.

22 WEDNESDAY In his 2001 book, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991, Brooklyn journalist Michael Azerrad captures the cultural moment when handfuls of disaffected kids with guitars first discovered the joys of touring the country in rickety Ford Econoline vans that smelled of sweaty socks. Now Azerrad's doing it himself; his band, the King of France, plays the Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444) tonight at 11. Doors open at 9. Miles of Empty and Tulip Sweet open. There's a $5 cover, and you must be 21 or over.

23 THURSDAY One of Toronto writer Emily Pohl-Weary's most vivid memories of childhood is being let loose to prowl the shelves of the science fiction library her grandmother founded. Grandma, whom Pohl-Weary lovingly describes as "a crazy old broad" and whom J.G. Ballard once called "the strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men," was science fiction writer, editor, and cultural theorist Judith Merril. When she died in 1997 she left her granddaughter with half a manuscript, a dozen audio tapes, and detailed instructions on how to finish writing her autobiography. Tonight at 7 Pohl-Weary reads from her book, Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, at Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North. Joining her will be Todd Dills, editor of The 2nd Hand, in which Pohl-Weary has published work. (Dills is also hosting a release party at Quimby's for the eighth issue of his free broadside on Sunday, May 19, at 3.) Call 773-342-0910 for more information.

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