Nostalgia Week

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My nostalgia problem with the Bulls—or is it?

Posted By on 04.21.12 at 02:19 PM

Michael Jordan: Lets see you do this.
I have a nostalgia problem with the current Bulls, and I don't think I'm alone in that. As much as I like the current roster, from the goofy Joakim Noah, who has made himself a much better pro than I ever expected, to Luol Deng, the one holdover from the promising previous bunch of Bulls who never fully panned out, to of course Derrick Rose, whom I saw first as a sophomore at Simeon and have been following ever since, they just don't compare to the Bulls of Michael Jordan.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Blackhawks: nostalgia, perhaps yet to come

Posted By on 04.20.12 at 03:21 PM

Corey Crawford: Brutal plus brutal equals doubly brutal.
It's funny how the outcome colors the drama of a sporting event—funny yet somehow sad. Here the Blackhawks are playing one of the most exciting, dramatic Stanley Cup playoff series in memory. Each of their first four games with the Phoenix Coyotes has gone into overtime, and three of those regulation ties came with the Hawks scoring after they had pulled their goalie for a sixth attacker in the final minute or so. There's been conflict, in the form of Raffi Torres's savage hit on Marian Hossa in the third game, and there's been beauty, with the two teams playing oftentimes at an urgent, breakneck pace back and forth—the sport at its gorgeous best.

There are moments in these games that would be as fondly remembered as Hossa's game-winning goal coming out of the penalty box in overtime in the fifth game of their series against Nashville two years ago—if only the Hawks hadn't lost three of those games, the last two at home on very soft scores surrendered by goaltender Corey Crawford.

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Permanent resurrects Clone Records' dead stock

Posted By on 04.20.12 at 07:22 AM

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A couple weeks back, I was one of many recipients of a Permanent Records e-blast emphatically titled "Clone Records Warehouse Find!" Unlike Permanent's weekly store and label updates, which detail new stock, recommended restocks, and the like, this one discussed nothing but releases from very much defunct Akron label Clone Records.

Nick Nicholis of the Bizarros founded Clone in 1977 and ran it till it folded in '81. The label worked to document the scene in Akron, 39 miles south of Pere Ubu's Cleveland, and released more than a dozen records from bands such as Tin Huey, the Human Switchboard, the Waitresses (who counted Chicago saxophonist Mars Williams among their members), Unit 5, Teacher's Pet, Gray Bunnies, and of course the Bizarros. Nicholis shuttered the label because of family obligations, and the pressings suddenly entered the cloudy world of vintage dead stock. (The label, or at least its name, resurfaced in 2003, when the re-formed Bizarros released their first new album in 23 years, Can't Fight Your Way Up Town From Here.)

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Projections for the future

Posted By on 04.19.12 at 10:18 AM

It didnt look this pretty at Doc.
  • It didn't look this pretty at Doc.
The print of Time Bandits that Doc Films screened last night was far from perfect. The first few reels had degraded and taken on a pinkish hue; others appeared washed out, as if the film been exposed to sunlight before processing; and the music sounded like it was came from an old transistor radio. I loved it.

Having come of age at repertory film screenings, I learned to appreciate older movies in no small part for the fragility of their medium. Weathered prints taught that movies not only reflect the moment of their creation but continue to exist in time. To dream of the era a beat-up film came from was no mere nostalgia; it was an exercise in creative thought, requiring you to reconstruct an ideal film in your mind from the evidence that remained. I like that it should take work to communicate with the past. For one thing, it gives you a firmer bearing on the present.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

And I think that song ain't going out of my head . . .

Posted By on 04.18.12 at 07:50 AM

The jacket says Beethoven. But as he waits for the photographer to set up, what's he hearing?
  • The jacket says Beethoven. But as he waits for the photographer to set up, what's he hearing?
During his years in Chicago leading the CSO, I knew exactly what question I'd ask Georg Solti if I had the chance. “If someone stopped you on the street,” I’d say to him, “and said ‘What music, right now, is running through your head?’ would you always have an answer?”

And if he said “yes,” or “most of the time,” I’d ask Solti to describe the music. A tricky passage from the coming weekend’s program? Or maybe a cheap tune he remembered from his high school days in Budapest?

Did Solti always have the upper hand on the music that no one heard but himself? Could he always control what it was? Or was he like the rest of us? Were there triggers he was powerless to control that shooed away the masters in favor of some inane Hungarian novelty from his childhood? Did he sometimes wonder if he was crazy?

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I had too much to dream last night

Posted By on 04.18.12 at 06:35 AM

Dic.jpg
I'm not a particularly athletic individual, and that undoubtedly has to do with the fact that I spent an inordinate amount of time as a youngster either reading or watching television. One common element of the latter was that television stations programmed huge blocks of children's shows, so there was no reason to change the channel in the afternoon when you came home from school or on the weekends. That would mean that watching these television blocks became routine, so that you would be able to memorize certain aspects of the programs, like the theme songs and, in my case, the production logos at the end credits.

The history behind production logos should be written if it hasn't already—an Amazon search doesn't turn up much. At the end of each show, a sequence between five and ten seconds would take place where an animated graphic would show up on the screen, typically accompanied by a brief, melodic, synthesizer-based piece of music. Sometime in the 80s, the closing production logos ventured further into 3-D animation, the creepiest example perhaps being DIC Entertainment; or Diffusion, Information et Communication, a French production company. In that spot, the camera is inside of a little boy's bedroom, squarely framing the scene of a boy asleep in his bed; the camera zooms out the window, where a giant flashing "DIC" logo looms in the sky. You know, just another giant metallic production logo waiting outside of a sleeping little boy's bedroom—nothing unusual about that.

Check out two YouTube videos after the jump, featuring some of my favorite old TV production logo end credits.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Uptown Theatre's opulent decay

Posted By on 04.17.12 at 06:25 AM

Downstaging Uptown
  • Eric Holubow
  • Downstaging Uptown

Last Saturday I went with my 83-year-old grandmother to see Eric Holubow's photography exhibit “In Decay—Stitching America’s Ruins” at the Chicago Cultural Center. My grandmother grew up in Uptown and used to spend her Saturday afternoons going to the Uptown Theatre, where she’d spend ten cents on a vaudeville show and talkie picture. When she stood in front of Holubow’s photograph Downstaging Uptown, she said, “Oohhh, the lobby was so beautiful! It was like a palace with gorgeous frescoes and marble floors. Mies van der Rohe said ‘less is more.’ But in these kinds of theaters, more is more.”

The Uptown Theatre opened in 1925 with 4,381 seats and 46,000 square footage. It was the heart of Uptown’s entertainment district (a district that Rahm wants to revive). But as the middle class moved from Chicago to the suburbs, the theater rapidly lost its audience. It officially closed after a water pipe burst in 1981. Downstaging Uptown depicts the theater’s opulent decay. Every inch of the place is colored with decorative columns, ornate carvings resembling church organs, and peeling paint. It’s a gorgeous, melancholy, and nostalgic photograph.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

How I survived the good old days

Posted By on 04.16.12 at 10:40 AM

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Tuesday marks my 15th year at the Reader, but I can't honestly say this means anything more to me than a convenient hook I can use to get this blog post written, so I can move on to the next task. I miss a lot of people who used to work here, but otherwise I have few fond feelings for the Reader's illustrious past. Back when we published 174 or even 198 pages a week, the editorial department was a horrible sweatshop. People worked until 10 PM, 11 PM, midnight, 1 AM. They'd lie down on the cheap carpeting of their offices for cat naps so they could get up and keep working. Occasionally someone would burst into tears from the pressure, the endless drumbeat of more, more, more. In this business one quickly learns the dire imperative of getting this fucking blog post written, so I can move on to the next task.

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All week long, taking a trip down memory lane

Posted By on 04.16.12 at 06:35 AM

A park in Hungary literally called Nostalgia Park
  • Burrows/Wikimedia Commons
  • A park in Hungary literally called Nostalgia Park
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "nostalgia" as: 1) the state of being homesick, or 2) a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. Nowadays, nostalgia seems to be popping up everywhere, from the recent reemergence of Mad Men to news coverage of a long-gestating Lyndon Johnson biography to a book with the premise that nostalgia is the overriding current of present day culture. There's no shortage of discussions about nostalgia on the Internet, itself sometimes appearing to be little more than a limitless archive of media and information.

For this week's edition of "Variations on a Theme," we'll be exploring all things nostalgia on the Bleader. And hey, remember books? You know, those collections of paper with words on them? Well, that's what we wrote about last week. You can read all of our Spring Books Week coverage here.

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Shakespeare in Love Chicago Shakespeare Theater
April 28
Galleries & Museums
Visible and Permanent Carrie Secrist Gallery
March 17

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