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Friday 5/21 - Thursday 5/27

MAY

21 FRIDAY The awe-inspiring buildings and grand public areas of our town will be feted and explored this weekend as part of Great Chicago Places and Spaces, the city's sixth annual festival of architecture and design. It kicks off today with a discussion of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize moderated by Bill Kurtis. Panelists include Frank Gehry (architect of the new Millennium Park band shell and a prize laureate), Pritzker Prize executive director Bill Lacy, and iconoclastic local architect Stanley Tigerman. Admission to "Great Chicago Conversations: 25 Years of the Pritzker Architecture Prize" is free; doors open at 5:30 PM and the event starts an hour later in the Art Institute of Chicago's Rubloff Auditorium, 111 S. Michigan (enter on Columbus). Other activities this weekend include architect-led tours of the controversial renovation of Soldier Field and the new Hard Rock Hotel in the Carbide & Carbon Building, and access to indoor areas in the Loop not normally open to the public, such as the Union League Club and the lobby of the Rookery Building. See Section Two for a complete schedule; call 312-744-3315 for more information.

You can hop on the old-school party train tonight at Soul Explosion, a concert with Morris Day & the Time, Rose Royce, the Gap Band, and the SOS Band. It starts at 7 at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Tickets range from $35 to $55; call 312-263-1138 or 312-902-1500.

22 SATURDAY The Railroad Club of Chicago's Railfan Weekend starts off today with a trip to the Rochelle Railroad Park, basically a pavilion smack in the middle of the crossing of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific lines, where as many as 60 trains might pass by on any given day. It also features a "hobo fire pit," where rail fanatics can hang out and watch trains by firelight, a switch that kids are welcome to play on, and reproductions of the marks hoboes drew to alert each other about things like where to get a free meal. The trip leaves today from Union Station, 210 S. Canal, at 8:30 AM and returns at 5:40 PM on regularly scheduled Metra trains; tickets are $25, $12.50 for kids. On Sunday the club sponsors a trip to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union; tickets to that are $30, $15 for kids. Call 847-251-2262 or see www.railcc.org.

This afternoon Shozo Sato, a theater director known for his Kabuki versions of Western classics like Macbeth and Medea, will give a free slide lecture on the ancient art of serving tea. He'll explain how the steps of the ceremony relate to Zen philosophy and will show slides of tea bowls from Korea, China, and Japan as well as textiles used in the ritual. Sato, a visiting professor at Northwestern University, recently returned from his native Japan, where he was presented with the highest honor in Japanese arts by the emperor. Sense of Beauty Through the Tea Ceremony starts at 1 in the McCormick Auditorium of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive in Evanston on the Northwestern campus; call 847-467-3005.

Bibliophiles too impatient to wait for the Printers Row Book Fair next month can get a jump on their collecting at the Midwest Bookhunters Spring Fair, which starts today. It features the usual mix of rare, out-of-print, and used books from dealers in Illinois and nearby states, but unlike Printers Row, it costs money to get in: $6 for both days ($4 for students). It's from 4 to 8 PM today and 10 to 4 tomorrow at Loyola University's Joseph J. Gentile Center, 6525 N. Sheridan. Call 773-989-2200 or go to www.midwestbookhunters.org.

23 SUNDAY The second annual Andersonville Bike Week kicks off at 10 AM today behind the U.S. Bank at 5340 N. Clark with a free clinic on basic bike maintenance; at 6 PM there's a party at T's Bar and Restaurant, 5025 N. Clark, with free nibbles and music by John Greenfield's Rock Band. Other free activities throughout the week include massages and Reiki sessions, a spinning class, and a bike tour of Andersonville and Edgewater. In addition bikers riding to work Monday through Friday can stop by the Bike Week booth at Clark and Berwyn between 7 and 10 AM for a free breakfast, water bottle, and raffle ticket. The full schedule of events is at www.andersonville.org; call 773-728-2995.

24 MONDAY At the behest of the University of Chicago's student-run Smart Museum Activities Committee, outgoing Smart director Kimerly Rorschach and Renaissance Society director Susanne Ghez will talk today about their jobs as heads of arts institutions: what they like about them, what they don't, how they got where they are, and what they actually do all day. The free Art Talk, part of the U. of C.'s weeklong Festival of the Arts, starts at 5:30 PM at the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood; refreshments will be served. Call 773-702-0200.

25 TUESDAY While many of the 80 photographs that make up Roni Horn's series Some Thames are concentrated in a gallery at the Art Institute, others are installed throughout the museum--in some cases even replacing other objects--to simulate a river meandering through a town. To mark today's opening of the exhibit Focus: Roni Horn, she'll present a spoken-word performance called Saying Water, in which she'll explore a favorite theme--"the visual and literary qualities of opaque water"--by relating stories from the Thames's history and her own observations of the English river. It starts at 6 PM at the Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan, and it's free; call 312-443-3600.

26 WEDNESDAY Boys and beginners are welcome at the Kelly Girls' weekly knitting klatch, where members have been stitching and bitching for over a year now. The group--which took its name from the iconic temp firm in an "ironic tribute to these pioneering 'girls'"--has been meeting for the last few months at 7:15 PM Wednesdays at Cosmicafe, 1944 W. Montrose, 773-728-2233. "We have several experienced knitters in the group who are always happy to teach people to knit or to help explain patterns or projects," says Hilary Leon, who has more info on her Web site, www.craftylibrarian.com. Admission is free, coffee is not.

27 THURSDAY Tonight from 7 to 9 the Hideout hosts a free listening party in honor of the release of Don't Cry to Me: Songs From the Film "King of Bluegrass," the sound track to George Goehl's 2003 documentary celebrating bluegrass pioneer Jimmy Martin. Featuring ten previously unreleased songs and five DVD clips from the movie, Don't Cry to Me was released this month by Thrill Jockey. The party will include a potluck and live performances of Martin songs by members of Goehl's old band, Ground Speed. It's at 1354 W. Wabansia; see www.hideoutchicago.com for more.

Last month Bob Edwards, longtime host of NPR's Morning Edition, signed off for the last time. Edwards, who was removed from the position he'd held for almost 25 years in the name of keeping the broadcast fresh, is now a senior correspondent for NPR News, but it was no secret that he had hoped to keep his morning post. He's in town tonight to read from his new book, Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism, and talk about the state of the art with Chicago Public Radio's Lisa Labuz. The presentation starts at 7 at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington. Tickets are $20; call 312-948-4800.

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