Friday, March 29, 2013

Black is beautiful, and the rest of this week's screenings

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 12:29 PM

  • Criterion Collection
  • Warrendale
You've got one chance yet, Saturday at 12:30 PM, to see the Gene Siskel Film Center's program of rare shorts from the L.A. Rebellion, the black filmmaking movement that emerged from UCLA in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The program kicks off a series of 12 retrospective screenings through June; check out our long review here. We also have recommended reviews of From Up on Poppy Hill, the latest animation from Japan's Studio Ghibli; Gimme the Loot, an indie comedy about two taggers hoping to spraypaint the giant apple at Citi Field; Reality, the latest from Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone; and Warrendale, a 1967 cinema verite documentary about emotionally disturbed children.

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12 O'Clock Track: "Kush Coma," a sneak peek from Danny Brown's upcoming record

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 12:00 PM

Danny Brown is Old.
  • Danny Brown is Old.
Last week Danny Brown released today's 12 O'Clock Track, "Kush Coma," on his Soundcloud. It's a track off of his upcoming LP, Old, which drops in August, and it's actually not the complete version of the song—the one on the album is set to feature an appearance from A$AP Rocky. The absence of Rocky doesn't hurt this track in any way, though—Brown is the kind of rapper who can cram ten songs' worth of personality into one track. The drugged-out, strained sythns and 808 handclaps of the Skywlkr-produced beat set the perfect base for Brown's schizophrenic ramblings about marijuana and pill overuse. He shows his range on the song, from high-pitched, rapid-fire rhymes to guttural tones—and the nonstop mood swings border on sensory overload, which makes for an exciting listening experience.

You can stream "Kush Coma" after the jump.

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Did you read about Gangs of New York, Boston cops, and the HRC?

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 11:23 AM

Martin Scorsese
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

• That Martin Scorsese is developing a TV series based on Gangs of New York? Ben Sachs

• We could cut homicides by focusing on heavy drinkers? Mick Dumke

• That Boston cops are catfishing DIY show promoters in an effort to crack down on illegal house shows? Luca Cimarusti

• That two middle schoolers from Virginia are facing felony charges for allegedly poisoning their math teacher? Drew Hunt

• Or noticed, in support of marriage equality, all the creative pink and red versions of the Human Rights Campaign logo on FB? (The HRC is impressed.) —Jennifer McLaughlin

• That the honeybee die-off got even worse in 2012—and a new class of pesticides could be to blame? Kate Schmidt

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T's is shuttered and other food news bites

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 10:37 AM

Andersonville LGBT barstaurant T's was shuttered by the sheriff's office after facing thousands in fines from the state department of revenue, per the Windy City Times.

Louisa Chu on the lucrative and cutthroat Wisconsin wild ginseng trade.

Food/art blog Food Crypt posted some boss posters designed by Dutch artist Koen van Os.

Check out Titus's epic northwest Indiana lake perch quest at Smokin' Chokin' and Chowing With the King.

Zagat reports a second food truck has received a mobile food-preparer's license, allowing the Jerk Truck to deep-fry wings and grill chicken.

Chicago's first Olive Garden is coming, according to Crain's, and Dish offers a how-to.

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On the prison-segregation cycle and the wish for solutions

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 08:51 AM

The Menard Correctional Center in downstate Chester. The path between poor, black neighborhoods and prison is well worn.
  • AP Photo/The Southern/Paul Newton
  • The Menard Correctional Center in downstate Chester. The path between poor, black neighborhoods and prison is well worn.
I wrote yesterday about questions WBEZ reporter Rob Wildeboer has been trying to ask Governor Quinn about prisons—questions about crowding, health care, and the lack of rehabilitative programs.

As Wildeboer noted in one of his stories this week, 33,000 prisoners are released from Illinois’s penitentiaries every year. (The prison population, now 49,000, is constantly replenished.) Each newly-minted ex-offender gets $10, and, if no relative or friend is willing to pick him up, a bus or train ticket home.

Home is often the poor, black neighborhoods the ex-offender left. A disproportionate number come from, and return to, Englewood and West Englewood, Greater Grand Boulevard, Woodlawn, Roseland, West and East Garfield Park, North Lawndale, and Austin.

This concentration of ex-offenders is hard for the ex-offenders, and hard for their neighborhoods.

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With check-writing friends like Mayor Emanuel's, who gives a f— about enemies?

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 07:49 AM

Dialing for dollars is easy for Mayor Rahm Emanuel
  • Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media
  • Dialing for dollars is easy for Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Around the time thousands of protesters were demonstrating downtown Wednesday, I was talking with some west-siders who were no less upset about Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to close 54 schools. Two years into the mayor's first term, they'd already had it with him—a sentiment I've encountered with increasing regularity.

Their daydream was that Michelle Obama would come home to lead the city, but in the realm of possibility they weren't sure who else could seriously challenge Rahm, for one simple reason.

"You'd need lots and lots of money," as one of the west-siders put it.

It's not an abstract theory. Mayor Emanuel has alienated a few large swaths of Chicago. His poll numbers have tanked. Other elected officials have begun to question him—openly, no less—and some leading ministers have yearned aloud for a mayor who shows some "heart for the people." But Emanuel continues to make the kinds of friends who keep on giving.

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Reader's Agenda Fri 3/29: "100 Acts of Sewing," Psycho/Hitchcock double feature, and Frank Fairfield

Posted By on 03.29.13 at 06:06 AM

  • Hitchcock
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

To show people they don't have to rely on mass-produced "fast fashion" and to celebrate the art of handcrafted clothing, fiber artist Sonya Philip shows off her year's yield in "100 Acts of Sewing," a new exhibit at Lillstreet Art Center.

An evening of meta movie magic awaits you at the Gene Siskel Film Center with back-to-back screenings of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho and Sacha Gervasi's recent Hitchcock, a dramatized account of the making of Psycho that stars Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock. Confused yet? Just be grateful they didn't throw in Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake.

"California singer and multi-instrumentalist Frank Fairfield was born during Reagan’s second term, but he looks like he walked straight out of a Depression-era Farm Security Administration photograph and sounds like someone from Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music," writes Bill Meyer in Soundboard. Catch Fairfield's set at Schubas. Andrew Pelletier opens.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mayor Rahm's antipoverty program: Cruel to be kind

Posted By on 03.28.13 at 04:55 PM

One of many Rahm-related protests
Mayor Emanuel returned from his skiing vacation in Utah just in time to find a few thousand teachers, students, and parents taking to the streets to protest his school closings.

Hundreds of activists are getting ready to protest his mental health clinic closings.

Students at Lane Tech have been protesting CPS's confiscation of Persepolis.

And ministers, priests, and rabbis are protesting the water fees the city now charges charities and other nonprofits.

You know, with all these protests, I wouldn't blame the mayor if he said, "Get me back to Utah!"

But give him some credit. Apparently, he put his time on the slopes to good use, coming up with a compelling reason for closing 54 schools, most in black neighborhoods.

Noting that there's a particularly high dropout rate among young black men, Mayor Emanuel said, "Locking kids into a school that, year in and year out, is failing their full potential—is unacceptable."

In other words, many black students are doing poorly in the public schools, so what he's going to do is—convert uncrowded schools into crowded ones.

'Cause nothing helps students learn like going to crowded schools.

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It's official (or so everyone says): Lollapalooza's 2013 lineup

Posted By on 03.28.13 at 03:31 PM

Early this morning Fake Shore Drive founder Andrew Barber posted a photo of what appears to be the lineup for this year's Lollapalooza. Barber discovered the picture—a shot of a Lollapalooza 2013 poster—on EDM Chicago's Twitter feed, and it went viral this morning. Since then the Lolla lineup has gone from "questionable" to "legitimate." Barber received confirmation that it's the official bill, the Tribune's Greg Kot spoke with several industry insiders who verified the lineup, and I also spoke with a source who confirmed the thing as authentic. And as we wait for the folks at C3 to officially announce the Lolla lineup—scheduled for a week from Tuesday—we can gab about the leaked information.

As far as the actual meat of the lineup is concerned, this year's Lollapalooza is a bit of a glass half-full, glass half-empty scenario. It's a top-heavy bill, though one that's offset by the boring, white-bread bands that take up a large portion of the headlining spots—seriously, the most exciting things about the Lumineers are some tweets that the New York Times' David Itzkoff made about their headgear. If you ignore the Lollapaloozzzzzzzza part of the bill (Mumford & Sons, Lumineers, Killers, Vampire Weekend) there's enough of a stable of solid big names (the Cure, Nine Inch Nails, New Order) and unexpected outsiders (Death Grips?!) to keep me cautiously optimistic. (Also, I hope the "Ghost" that's on the lineup is the theatrical Swedish metal outfit, but I won't be surprised if that's not the case.)

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Before they put Shakespeare in the slammer, the Taviani brothers locked up Tolstoy

Posted By on 03.28.13 at 02:39 PM

Solitary confinement, Taviani style, in St. Michael Had a Rooster
  • Solitary confinement, Taviani style, in St. Michael Had a Rooster
Tonight's your last chance to catch two of the best movies in town, Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills (playing at Landmark's Century) and Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's Caesar Must Die (playing at the Music Box). Given the popularity of Mungiu's previous feature, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, I expected Hills to hang around for longer than it did; I'm not surprised, though, that Caesar would vanish so quickly. The Tavianis aren't exactly name directors here anymore, despite having been staples of U.S. art houses for nearly two decades. The last film of theirs to receive a wide U.S. release was Fiorile, which came out here in 1994.

Truth be told, I hadn't spent much time with their filmography before researching the piece I wrote on Caesar for last week's issue. I had incorrectly assumed, based on the little I'd read about them, that their movies were stodgy pageants on historical or rustic subjects. I didn't expect to encounter so many details that were weird or just plain silly, such as the talking animals who turn up in the largely realistic Padre Padrone. Now that I've seen a number of their films, these details strike me as being central to their work, which I'd describe as an ongoing gentleman's quarrel with cinematic realism.

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