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Friday 12/4 - Thursday 12/10

DECEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

4 FRIDAY Cartoonist Jennifer Berman got her start in 1985, selling her postcards to make some extra money while studying law at the University of California at Berkeley. Now she's got a nationwide syndication deal and a spot in the Reader's Section Four. Tonight she'll attend the opening-night reception for her first exhibit, which includes postcards, panels from Berman, and some unpublished work. "Cartoons as a medium are so ephemeral," says Berman, who lives in Rogers Park. "People look at them for a minute and toss them out. This is a chance for me to let them hang out for a little while." They'll hang out at Artemisia, 700 N. Carpenter (312-226-7323), through January 2. The free reception is from 5 to 8.

5 SATURDAY A recent Reader cover story focused on the controversy surrounding plans to erect a fountain in honor of Nelson Algren in Wicker Park's Polish Triangle. The story had a happy ending, and the fountain will be dedicated today at 11:30 AM at the intersection of Division, Milwaukee, and Ashland. Mayor Daley and Studs Terkel will preside. It's free, of course. Call 773-252-0371 for more.

On December 4, 1969, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed in an early-morning raid on the Black Panthers' west-side headquarters. Hampton's son, Fred Jr., is now serving time for arson--a crime some say he didn't commit. Two Free Fred Hampton's Son benefit concerts today at 4 and 7:30 will feature the Last Poets, rappers Dead Prez, the Alyo Children's Dance Theatre, and students from the Mount Carmel Martial Arts Academy, as well as Hampton Jr.'s mother, Akua Njeri. The shows are at the Fred Hampton Uhuru House, 5409 S. Halsted. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 773-924-7072 for more information.

Despite his showy appearance, 70s rhinestone cowboy Glen Campbell has real country credentials. The former star of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour was born in Delight, Arkansas, is one of 12 siblings, and left home at age 14 to seek his fortune. More recently the crooner of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Southern Nights" has built himself a theater in Branson, Missouri, and hit the road again. He'll perform at A Country Christmas today at 4 and 8 at the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, Stuenkel Road and Governors Highway in University Park. Tickets are $29.50, or $19.50 for kids under 16; call 708-235-2222.

Charles Hall, one of the few surviving Chicagoans who fought the fascist menace during the Spanish civil war more than 60 years ago, says one of his first experiences overseas was seeing Paul Robeson perform at a training camp: "He sang at the fronts for various audiences and held concerts in support of the Spanish republic." Hall still keeps in touch with other veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, who are sponsoring tonight's multimedia theatrical tribute, Paul Robeson: The Artist Must Take Sides. The program starts at 7 (and is followed by a sit-down reception with Hall and his comrades) at Roosevelt University's O'Malley Theatre, 430 S. Michigan. It's $30; call 773-769-2665 to reserve a spot.

6 SUNDAY Seventy-seven-year-old Chicago blues legend Johnnie Mae Dunson Smith's home was condemned by the city in September, and she recently got out of the hospital after being treated for a heart condition. And the "Big Boss Lady" just can't stretch her late husband's navy pension to cover the costs of rehabbing her body and her digs, where, as she recently told the Reader's Neal Pollack, her "whole heart and mind is." So tonight local blues musicians, including Jimmie Lee Robinson, Katherine Davis, Devil in a Woodpile, Willie Kent, and Rollin' & Tumblin' (and Smith herself, health permitting), will perform at a Blues Benefit for Johnnie Mae Dunson Smith. There will also be a raffle and a silent auction. The suggested donation is $10, which includes food. The benefit starts at 5 at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia (773-227-4433).

7 MONDAY "Liberation is not the private province of any one particular group," said African-American lesbian poet and activist Audre Lorde. Her poetry about civil rights, sexuality, and family inspired Adrienne Rich, Sapphire, and Sonia Sanchez, who are interviewed in the 1995 film A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde. Third World Newsreel filmmakers Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle Parkerson spent eight years working on the documentary with Lorde, who succumbed to breast cancer during the filming. But, as Lorde explained shortly before her death, "What I leave behind has a life of its own." The movie will screen tonight at 7 at the University of Chicago's Doc Films in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th (773-702-8575). Admission is $3.

8 TUESDAY Counting sheep is not the best way to fight insomnia. "It tends to make some people hyperalert and cause additional worry," says Elmhurst College psychology professor Kathy Sexton-Radek. Instead, commonsense things like avoiding late meals and getting up and going to bed at consistent times can make the difference between restfulness and restlessness. For those who wake up in the wee hours, a calming ritual (my favorite--shoveling down a few spoonfuls of yogurt) could send you back to the land of REM. Sexton-Radek will discuss strategies to conquer insomnia and other sleep disorders tonight at 7 at Elmhurst College's Schaible Science Center Auditorium, 190 Prospect in Elmhurst. Admission is free. Call 630-617-6100 for more.

9 WEDNESDAY Though 17th-century composer Alessandro Stradella had a weakness for the ladies, he managed to get a prodigious amount of work done before his death in 1682. That's when the brilliant philanderer was stabbed in Genoa--most likely by someone avenging the honor of one of Stradella's upper-class female students. But the composer's professional reputation was unimpeachable--as is the quality of the music he left behind, which includes chamber music, operas, and complex cantatas. The Newberry Library recently acquired a rare manuscript of the cantatas, which have been performed and recorded by the Newberry Consort with soprano Christine Brandes. The group will be present at a listening party for Stradella Cantatas from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Newberry Library's A.C. McClurg Bookstore, 60 W. Walton. Call 312-255-3700 for more.

10 THURSDAY The Chicago Cultural Center's sequel to its successful program of opera excerpts could both relax and open your mind during the holiday hoo-ha. Opera's Greatest Hits: Part II features accompanist Gabriella Scanu; soprano Angela Stramaglia, who's played the title role in Tosca; tenor Warren Moulton, who's been in Madama Butterfly and The Magic Flute; and baritone Troy Clark, who, improbably, first trod the boards at Second City. The free performance starts at 6:30 at the center, 78 E. Washington (312-346-3278).

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