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Friday 6/13 - Thursday 6/19

JUNE

13 FRIDAY Wesley Willis--the schizophrenic singer and Magic Marker artist so fond of head-butting his fans--won't be playing at tonight's opening of the new exhibit Nitty Gritty: Slim's Bike and the Street Art of Curtis Cuffie and Wesley Willis, which features 14 of his streetscapes on poster board. He's been fighting leukemia since late last year; earlier this month he was hospitalized for (unrelated) internal bleeding, but he's expected to make a full recovery. The show's up through August 30, and also includes found-object sculptures by late New York City artist Cuffie and a seven-foot-tall, nine-foot-long Schwinn cruiser customized by the late Jim "Slim" Thompson, who used to ride the wildly decorated bicycle around Detroit's Cass Corridor area and tell stories about his life to anyone who'd listen. The free reception runs from 5 to 8 at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 756 N. Milwaukee. The gallery has lined up blind street musician the Big DooWopper as a replacement act for Willis. Also opening tonight, in Intuit's back gallery, is "Gugging: An Artists' House," an exhibit of work by inmates of an Austrian psychiatric hospital; it's up through the end of the year. Call 312-243-9088 for more information.

14 SATURDAY Last year I saw an orthopedic surgeon about a swollen knee. When it turned out the consultation wasn't covered by my insurance, I got a $400 bill--but after a long conversation with the billing department, I got off for half of that. That was how I learned what the folks behind the Service Employees International Union's Hospital Accountability Project have known for a while: self-paying patients in Cook County often have to cough up more than double what insurance companies negotiate for the same services. The union released "Uninsured and Overcharged," a study of discriminatory pricing, in January, and has been lobbying for hospitals to stop the practice ever since; it'll host a free town hall meeting on the topic today at 1 at the IBEW Hall, 600 W. Washington. Speakers include Physicians for a National Health Care Plan national coordinator Dr. Quentin Young, state senator Barack Obama, and SEIU Local One president Tom Balanoff. The panel, moderated by WVON's Cliff Kelley, will be followed by a rally at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, 836 W. Wellington; shuttles will be provided. For more information call 312-541-9588 or see www.hospitalmonitor.org.

By nurturing a climate of fear and conformity, the cold war was a godsend for Soviet and U.S. leaders alike, writes In These Times founder James Weinstein in his new book, The Long Detour: The History and Future of the American Left. The cold war "provided the Soviet Union with a rationale for the Communist Party's unquestioned rule at home and in Eastern Europe," says Weinstein. The long-term effect stateside was to derail the progressive agenda: "By equating opposition to corporate domination of public life with disloyalty, our country's rulers disoriented the left, stifled public discussion of the most basic public policy issues, and transformed the left into a plethora of single-issue movements." Weinstein, a lifelong socialist and "pathological optimist," says it's high time progressives regrouped. He'll attend a release party for his book tonight from 7 to midnight at the offices of In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee; call 773-772-0100, ext. 246, or see www.thelongdetour.com for more information.

"Joyce is difficult stuff to get through reading, but it's wonderful hearing it spoken," says a spokesperson for the Irish American Heritage Center's annual Bloomsday show, Rattlin' of the Joists. Staged by the IAHC's resident theater company, Shapeshifters, the one-night-only event commemorates June 16, 1904, the date on which Ulysses is set (and the day Joyce met his wife to be, chambermaid Nora Barnacle), in music, song, and story. It starts at 8 at the center, 4626 N. Knox; tickets are $10, $8 for seniors. Call 773-282-7035, ext. 17, for more information.

15 SUNDAY Lake Shore Drive will be closed between 57th and Hollywood this morning for the second annual Bike the Drive; some 18,000 two-wheelers are expected to take part. Organizers emphasize that there's no typical rider for the event--"We have everyone from little kids on training wheels to professional racers," says the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's Cathy Haibach--but the 30-mile round-trip should take an intermediate-level biker about three hours; those not game to go the distance can do less, as long as they get off the road before 10 AM, when LSD reopens to automobile traffic. Cyclists must register in advance and can start pedaling between 5:30 and 8 AM from Grant Park at Columbus and Balbo (laggards be warned: if you show up after 8 you won't be allowed to ride). The $35 fee ($20 for kids under 14) benefits the CBF and includes water, snacks, help with flats, and admission to the postride festival in Grant Park from 8 to noon. Helmets are required; to register call 312-427-3325 or go to www.bikethedrive.org.

16 MONDAY In March the Illinois state house passed the Health Care Justice Act of 2003, which would provide uniform health benefits for all Illinois residents by 2007. The bill made it through the senate insurance committee in April and will be taken up by the full senate during the fall veto session. This is a busy week for health care reformers; tonight senator Barack Obama and representative William Delgado, sponsors of the bill, will speak at a fund-raiser for the umbrella group Campaign for Better Health Care. It's from 5:30 to 7:30 at La Decima Musa Restaurant, 1901 S. Loomis. Tickets are $50 and include light refreshments. For more information call 312-913-9449 or go to www.cbhconline.org.

Today, Bloomsday proper, the Cliff Dwellers Club will present a program emceed by independent scholar and Ulysses specialist Steve Diedrich. It starts at 6:30 at 200 S. Michigan, second floor, and tickets are $10; for reservations call 312-922-8080.

17 TUESDAY Last week attorney general John Ashcroft called for the expansion of the Patriot Act, explaining that "we need for the law to make it clear that it's just as much a conspiracy to aid and assist the terrorists, to join them for fighting purposes, as it is to carry them a lunch or to provide them with a weapon." But a Justice Department report released a few days earlier found "significant problems" with the administration's treatment of the 762 foreign nationals held on immigration violations under the current version of the law (some were held up to eight months, and 505 were deported, but only one--Zacarias Moussaoui--was charged with a crime related to terrorism). Tonight Emma Lozano of Centro Sin Fronteras and Jim Fennerty of the National Lawyers Guild will discuss the Patriot Act and immigrants' rights at a meeting of Logan Square Neighbors for Justice and Peace. It starts at 7 at Grace United Methodist Church, 3325 W. Wrightwood, and it's free. For more information call 773-252-9956.

18 WEDNESDAY Public Square executive director and UIC professor Barbara Ransby spent a dozen years researching and writing her new book, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision. It examines the outspoken grassroots organizer's sometimes contentious working relationships with her male contemporaries (including W.E.B. DuBois, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., and Stokely Carmichael) as well as her work with feminist groups, the Puerto Rican independence movement, and the Free Angela Davis Campaign. "The most amazing thing about her is that she was someone who was able to live a life according to her principles--and she lived a long and active life," says Ransby. "She lived with integrity and treated other people humanely and honorably." Ransby will discuss her book tonight at 7:30 at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark. It's free; call 773-769-9299.

19 THURSDAY Last year the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois launched its annual Chicagoland Watch List of endangered historic places. "It cuts through the arguments that a lot of people have--that the building isn't that good, it isn't that important, or it's not on the National Register," says LPCI president David Bahlman. "[This] gives the issue credibility and status that it wouldn't have otherwise." Only one building from last year's list--the W.H. Knight House in Hinsdale--has been demolished, although Alfred Alschuler's 1927 Chicago Mercantile Exchange could fall to the wrecking ball any day now. "The demolition permit was issued before anybody in the city knew about it, including the planning department, the mayor's office, and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks," says Bahlman. The oversight prompted an amendment to the building-department ordinance that created a 90-day delay for endangered buildings of some historical significance to the surrounding community. Bahlman and LPCI board chairman John Stassen will unveil the 2003 list today at a free brown-bag lunch event in the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater. It starts at 12:15 at 78 E. Washington; call 312-744-6630 for more. For more on the list see www.landmarks.org.

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