Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Paralleled, Definitely Paralleled

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 04:31 PM

Grand Forks Daily Herald, November 25, 1883. Now there's a headline to stir the blood, all quivering as it is with walrus-mustachioed dudgeon and outrage and all good stuff like that. But the tragedy behind it is anything but "unparalleled": We've got a father (fella named Finzer, in Pittsburgh) who's unable to provide for his family (too sick to work) who solves the problem by murdering his dependents (a wife and two kids in this case) and then himself. Same basic thing happened all the time, folks. According to this very interesting book I read recently, German immigrants and German Americans had a particular bent for this kind of behavior when they were losing economic ground—it was the signature crime of the male German murder defendants. But there is one somewhat distinctive detail to this tragedy, viz:

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Dinner & a Show: Tuesday 9/28

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 02:56 PM


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.

9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, emptybottle.com, $8.

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

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Cronicas Chilangas

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 02:50 PM


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.

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9/29—Free Screening of If These Walls Could Talk at the Music Box

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 02:47 PM

Tomorrow the pro-choice organization Personal PAC sponsors a free screening of If These Walls Could Talk at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport). First aired on HBO in 1996, and directed by Cher and Nancy Savoca, the movie tells the story of three women of different generations (played by Cher, Sissy Spacek, and Demi Moore) who have undergone abortions. A reception with free cocktails and hors d'oeuvres is at 5 PM, the screening begins at 7 PM, and a discussion follows. An RSVP is required; call 312-422-0005 or e-mail leonas@personalpac.org.

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Today in Unexpected Pairings

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 02:40 PM

Mick Foley's career has had two distinct phases. First he was a wrestler whose ability to endure brutal physical punishment put him on the thin line between professional athlete and sideshow act. Then he flipped that image on its head by writing a series of incredibly popular autobiographical books, which are more emotional, philosophical, and likable than most other memoirs, to say nothing of other memoirs by wrestlers with long histories of barbed-wire matches. It's safe to say that surprising juxtapositions have helped fuel Foley's second act, and apparently he hasn't run out: in this piece for Slate, adapted from his newest memoir, he writes about his deep and abiding love for the music of Tori Amos. Definitely didn't see that one coming.

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Chicago Gourmet 2010

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 02:16 PM

Chefs grilling at the Hamburger Hop
  • Chefs grilling at the Hamburger Hop
Entering the tent on the Harris Theater Rooftop where the Hamburger Hop—Chicago Gourmet’s kickoff event this year—was held on Friday, I had flashbacks to the gala opening event two years ago where I spent the evening waiting in endless lines for small bites of food and chasing down servers bearing hors d’oeuvres, trying to ward off hunger pangs. This time, though, the space was packed with 15 restaurants each serving tasting portions of a different hamburger, which would be judged at the end of the night by a panel of judges including Barbara Fairchild, Thomas Keller, and Jean Luc Naret. Lack of food would not be a problem here, though hamburger fatigue might. And as the smoke from 15 industrial-size grills filled the tent, I prayed I wouldn’t asphyxiate.

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Through 10/10—Free Performances of QED at Northwestern

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 12:21 PM

Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science presents free performances of QED, Peter Parnell's play about the physicist Richard Feynman, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM until Sun 10/10 in the Jerome B. Cohen Commons (4th floor) of the Technological Institute (2145 Sheridan, Evanston). The play is part of McCormick's "Engineering Transdisciplinary Outreach Project in the Arts" (Etopia) initiative to inspire conversations about the role of science and technology in society. A panel discussion with the cast and Northwestern faculty takes place after every performance. RSVP at 847-324-3298 or by filling out this form.

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Chicago Mapped by Race and Income, Circa 2000

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 11:35 AM

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.

Topshop Is Coming!

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 11:00 AM

One of the many affordable offerings at Topshop
  • topshop.com
  • One of the many affordable offerings at Topshop
Topshop, the British fast-fashion retailer that is a mecca for budget-conscious clotheshorses the world over, has announced it's opening a store in Chicago. Expected to open next May, it will take over the Magnificent Mile space currently occupied by Borders at 830 N. Michigan. Now all we need is Uniqlo and Muji and we'll be set!

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The Bad News About GOOD Fridays

Posted By on 09.28.10 at 10:37 AM

On each the past seven Fridays, Kanye West has posted a new free-to-download song on his website. If you aren't a shut-in or one of the Mole People, you already know that—and that he's calling this pattern of largesse "GOOD Fridays" after his label, GOOD Music, and that he promises to continue posting GOOD Friday songs till the end of the calendar year, and that the songs are several orders of magnitude above your average promotional MP3 in quality, with diamond-class guests and more than a couple potential Best of 2010 candidates in the mix already.

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.

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