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Joseph G. Giambra is a retired police officer. That hardly begins to describe the range of his interests and accomplishments. The briefest summary: He has stood as a mayoral candidate, he has owned a Hertel Avenue restaurant where he did all the cooking, he's a jazz musician, he's an actor (most recently in the fall, a strong performance as the narrator-lawyer in Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge"), he has appeared in films and he has written pieces for theater and film. He's also one of the city's true raconteurs, regaling friends and listeners with stories from the old Italian neighborhood on the West Side where he grew up and from his quite funny sojourns in Hollywood. Giambra is very serious about his Italian past. He has written several plays on the subject. One of the pieces is "Bread and Onions: The Last Neighborhood," about the Sicilian neighborhood around St. Anthony's Church and what happened to it when it was ruined in the 1950s and '60s by so-called urban renewal. Giambra calls it a "poetic odyssey embracing four decades." Starting Sunday, and continuing on subsequent Sundays, it will be given a staged reading in the Calumet Arts Cafe, 56 W. Chippewa St. Michele Gigante directs, and John Buscaglia, John Warren, Paul Todaro, Gigante and Giambra will perform. Supporting the performance will be music by pianist Dick Mecca and a display of historic photographs from the period by Jerry Greenberg. Before the performance (which is at 7:30), Giambra will pitch in and cook a three-course Sicilian dinner (pasta marinara, salad, home-baked bread, sfingi, wine) for serving at 6.

-- Terry Doran

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