Datebook | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe



The Stray Show, Thomas Blackman Associates' annual expo of art from alternative galleries and collectives, kicked off last night and runs through Sunday, May 9, at 1418 N. Kingsbury in Chicago. Featuring work from a wide range of emerging artists-and staged to coincide with the Art Chicago takeover of Navy Pier-this year the show also includes film and video programming by the Movieside Film Festival. It's open today and tomorrow from 2 to 10 PM and Sunday from 2 to 7. Tickets are $10; call 312-587-3300 or see

Last year 26-year-old Jason West won the mayoral election in New Paltz, New York, and became the first Green Party mayor in that state. Early this year he made the news again as one of only three mayors across the country to grant marriage licenses to gay couples; he's now facing several misdemeanor charges for performing same-sex marriages. Tonight West comes to town for the rally The Battle for Equal Marriage, where he'll speak alongside former National Organization of Women president Patricia Ireland, veteran lesbian activist Robin Tyler, and the Illinois Green Party's candidate in the recent senatorial election, Scott Summers. It's tonight at 7 at the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence in Chicago, and it's free; call 773-671-7770.

The artists featured in Gently With a Chainsaw are influenced equally by art history and the angst and irony of pop culture, says curator and School of the Art Institute student Lindsey Delahanty. The title of the show comes from the 1989 movie Heathers, minus a crucial vulgarity. Participating artists include Craig Doty, whose photo series "Crying Boys" shows shaggy-haired hipsters in tears, and Meg McCarville, whose installation of more than 300 photos documents her self-mutilating performance work. The show opens tonight with a free reception at 8 at Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton in Chicago, and runs through May 17; call 773-412-7104.


Today, would-be organic gardeners can hit the Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse Plant Sale, where thousands of vegetable, herb, and houseplant seedlings will be available. The heirloom tomatoes-which this year include the 1923 variety Abraham Lincoln, the fuzzy Garden Peach, and the popular Brandywine-go fast, so get there early if that's what you're after. If you're curious how to ensure that your plants bear fruit or flowers, you can enroll in a $40, four-week organic gardening workshop that starts May 13. The sale runs today and tomorrow from 10 AM to noon at 3501 N. Kilbourn in Chicago. Admission is free; call 773-685-3351 or 773-685-3359 for info or to register for the class.

At today's free Art Chicago panel discussion, Chicago Critics on Chicago Art, six local critics will zero in on area artists they think deserve special attention, including abstract painter Anna Kunz, sculptor Steve Reber, and painter, illustrator, and typographer Joe Baldwin. Organized by Reader contributor Fred Camper, it runs today from 4 to 6 PM in room 203 at the east end of Navy Pier's Festival Hall, 600 E. Grand in Chicago; the artists will be present as well. Call 312-587-3300.


The 2003 movie Playing for Change looks at buskers in LA, New Orleans, and New York who thrive on the freedom of playing whenever and wherever they please. It gets its Chicago premiere today at 5 PM at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. There's another show tomorrow at 8:15; local electronic improvisers MF Chicago will perform outside the theater beforehand. Codirector Jonathan Walls will answer questions after each screening. Tickets are $9; call 312-846-2800 for more.


If you've already signed a big-bucks endorsement contract or landed a hot agent, forget it, but if you're a still-undiscovered suburban singing sensation, you may be eligible for the second annual Aurora Idol Search. Open auditions will be held this week for vocalists between the ages of 16 and 26 who live in Aurora, North Aurora, Naperville, Oswego, Yorkville, Geneva, Batavia, Saint Charles, Montgomery, and Plano. Prepare one minute of a song to perform a cappella or with recorded accompaniment for the judges, Paramount Theatre executive director Diana Martinez and Aurora East drama teacher Arlene Hawks. The 20 finalists will compete in Aurora over the summer for a grand prize of $1,000 and oodles of local exposure; two will be eliminated each week by audiences voting online. Auditions are tonight and tomorrow from 4 to 8 PM at the Paramount Theatre, 8 East Galena Blvd. in Aurora. For more information see or call 630-896-7676.


Spring brings warm breezes, colorful blooms, and a collective spike in horniness. The folks at Good Vibrations, San Francisco's legendary female-friendly sex toy shop, have dubbed May "National Masturbation Month," and to celebrate, their Chicago sisters at Early to Bed are holding a workshop titled Solo Flight: Masturbation Tips for Women. No demos, but they'll talk about the benefits of self-love and explain some techniques. It starts tonight at 7:30 at the store, 5232 N. Sheridan, costs $10, and is open to women only. Registration is requested; call 773-271-1219 or e-mail

Be nice to your coworkers and underlings or they may end up exposing your bad manners in a book: The Second Assistant, a new "gossip lit" title a la The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries, is a collaboration between former Hollywood development exec Mimi Hare and novelist Clare Naylor; they tell the tale of a onetime congressional intern who becomes a talent-agency intern and finds herself sorting thumbtacks and counting the ice cubes in her boss's soda. Hare and Naylor appear today at noon at Barbara's Bookstore inside Marshall Field's, 111 N. State in Chicago. It's free; call 312-781-3033.

Ann Arbor writer and filmmaker Davy Rothbart has put out only three issues of Found magazine, a compendium of lost homework, love letters, shopping lists, and other ephemera of daily life, but the gimmick has struck a chord: he's been profiled in the New Yorker, contributed to This American Life, been a guest on Late Show With David Letterman, and landed a book deal. "Found notes and letters open up the entire range of human experience; they offer a shortcut directly into people's minds and hearts," he writes in the introduction to Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items From Around the World, out this month from Simon & Schuster. "It's startling and it's magical. Suddenly, we feel connected to this person we've never met before and probably never will, and in turn, to all people." Currently on tour promoting the book, he'll stop by Chicago's Empty Bottle tonight to share some of his finds. Members of the audience are encouraged to bring their own found photos and notes. It starts tonight at 9 at 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600, and there's a $5 cover; you must be 21 or over. Tomorrow night at 7:30 he'll be at Borders Books & Music, 1 N. La Grange Rd. in La Grange. See for more.


The analysis of DNA evidence has become a powerful tool both in solving crimes and in helping to exonerate the wrongly convicted. Today and tomorrow Rob Warden, executive director of the Northwestern University School of Law's Center on Wrongful Convictions (who with his colleague David Protess helped free the men known as the Ford Heights Four) will discuss the ramifications advances in DNA technology have for the judicial system in two free talks, both titled DNA and Justice. Tonight's discussion is at 6 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Pritzker Auditorium, 251 E. Huron in Chicago; it'll be followed by a reception. Tomorrow Protess will speak at 6:30 (following a 6 PM reception) at NU's Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Dr. in Evanston. Call 312-695-1222.


Tonight at 5:30 DePaul University women's studies professor Laila Farah will use poetry and personal experience to try and shed some light on what it's like to be Arab-American after 9/11. Her new show, Living in the Hyphen-Nation, explores stereotypes of Muslim women and the institutional racism behind the use of profiling and secret evidence. Farah, who has toured the country with the show, performs at the new West Englewood branch of the Chicago Public Library, 1745 W. 63rd in Chicago, under the auspices of the Public Square. Admission is free; call 312-993-0682.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

June 12
Galleries & Museums
Monet and Chicago Art Institute of Chicago
February 11

Popular Stories