Show: Strange Boys "Rock 'n' roll has a long tradition of combining snottiness and undeniable bubblegum hooks, going back at least as far as the generation of sugar-buzzed teen angsters who invented garage rock during the Stones' first flush of fame—and Austin's Strange Boys can stand proudly amongst the snottiest and hookiest," writes Miles Raymer.
Dinner: Small Bar This unassuming soccer bar is decorated with lava lamps and classic rock photography as well as rally scarves and framed jerseys. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable, and good thing, too, since Small Bar has a massive beer selection—120 to 150 varieties in total.
2049 W. Division St., 773-772-2727, thesmallbar.com/division
The obsessions of three Mexico City residents—a schizophrenic haunted by aliens, a porn-addicted woman and a retired teacher caring for his paraplegic daughter—intertwine in Carlos Enderle's dark comedy Cronicas Chilangas.
It screens in the Latino Cultural Center's monthly Reel Film Club, tonight at 7 p.m. at 676 Media Center, 676 N. LaSalle Blvd., 2nd Floor Screening Room. Wine and hors d'oeuvres at 6. $25; $20 members.
Bill Rankin, a PhD student in the history of science and architecture at Harvard, published a map of Chicago circa 2000 (Perspecta, Spring 2010) showing the distribution of race and income in the city and near suburbs on a block level. It's fascinating to browse around, with lots of little details: Rogers Park would seem to be the most diverse; the divide between black and Latino populations along Grand Avenue in Humboldt Park is striking; community areas rarely represent stark racial divides, except in the case of North and South Lawndale; income presents few surprises, even when it looks like it might (the pocket of $100k+ incomes on the far southwest side is Beverly and to a lesser extent west Morgan Park). H/t Sean.
There's something fascinating about watching a monster celebrity at the peak of his powers go off-script the way Kanye has, breaking from the usual publicity tactics and taking it straight to the people via Twitter and giving away music (when he's not doing more traditional stuff like delivering a hot-fire performance at the VMAs). But if you think about it for a second, you might find something a little worrying behind the Wu-Tang cameos and the stunt remixes of Justin Bieber. Critic Nick Sylvester, who's been on a roll recently with his Riff City column for thirteen.org, thought for a little while, and what he came up with was a spot-on meditation on the nature of art and publicity in the hypernetworked present. It's specifically about Kanye West and more broadly about what anyone making anything these days needs to do to get noticed. It's a subject I've been thinking about for a while, and it's in the background of the Sharp Darts column I have coming out in the next issue of the Reader. Sylvester puts it out front in a recent piece that I wish I'd read before I wrote my own:
It bums me out that even the most significant mountain-moving type pop artists like Kanye West have to be "good at Twitter" in order to put a dent in the zeitgeist. That his music—very little music anymore, not even the best stuff—can't do the kind of heavy lifting that movies and video games and television can without this extra-song-and-dance. . . . It bums me out that music is so devalued at this point that Kanye West—one of the greats—is giving away his entire album a track at a time here because albums are basically just 'promotional materials' for 'artist brands.'
It's worth reading the whole thing, and it's also worth wondering what kind of hidden costs free music might have and what the implications might be of our increasing appetite for—and growing immunity to—novel Internet promotional strategies.