Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Chicago rapper Roy French paints more vividly with fewer colors on ‘Tommy Pickles’

Posted By today at 12.00 PM

  • Image via Roy French's Facebook page
  • Roy French

Local rapper Roy French first caught my eye and ear with 2014's Face God, which I liked for its vivid artwork and psychedelic flair. Yesterday French dropped a mixtape called Vroom, and he seems to have figured out how to use the colors on his palette with more precision and restraint—he's at his best when he goes monochromatic. On "Tommy Pickles," whose pared-down instrumental is dominated by echoing, bell-like synths, he spends half the time rapping in a calm monotone; when he changes gears to half-sing the song's hook, the track's minimalism makes the subtle shift feel huge, as though he's suddenly dropping his defenses.

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Scott Herring says our problem with hoarders isn't them—it's us

Posted By today at 09.09 AM

A police inspector examines the Collyer brothers' brownstone in 1947. - THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • The New York Times
  • A police inspector examines the Collyer brothers' brownstone in 1947.

Scott Herring is not a hoarder. He watches shows like Hoarders with the same appalled fascination as the rest of us. But Herring is also an English professor who specializes in American cultural studies, which means it's his job to think about why shows like Hoarders appall and fascinate Americans to the degree that they do, and how hoarding has become transformed in the eyes of the public from an eccentricity to a mental disorder. His 2014 book The Hoarders: Material Deviance in Modern American Culture, which he'll discuss this weekend at the Chicago Humanities Spring Festival, is a history not of hoarding, but of other people's reactions to hoarders.

"I see hoarding as a cultural rather than a biochemical phenomenon," Herring says. "Some have argued that it’s something about chromosome 14. I was unsure of that claim. I wanted to look at the cultural specifics of it. I wanted to not draw a pro or a con line. I did not want to cheapen the distress of anyone who lives with a hoarder. There are links to grief and suffering, but do not believe that that hoarding makes one mentally ill. I wanted to understand the history."

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Unforgettable revives a worthy subgenre but adds nothing to it

Posted By today at 08.00 AM

Rosario Dawson (left) in Unforgettable
  • Rosario Dawson (left) in Unforgettable
This spring Chicago is offering lots of great opportunities to see movies directed by women. The Gene Siskel Film Center is almost done with its series devoted to pioneering American filmmaker Lois Weber, and next month it’ll present a retrospective of films by Lina Wertmuller; Block Cinema wraps up a Chantal Akerman series this week with a screening of From the Other Side on Thursday and a symposium about the director’s work on Friday; Doc Films is in the middle of a series called “Women by Women: Portraits by Contemporary Directors,” which has included such great films as Vagabond, Madeinusa, and Wendy and Lucy; and at the Chicago Latino Film Festival (which started last weekend at the AMC River East), almost a quarter of the narrative features showing were directed or codirected by women. As film culture has traditionally been—and in many respects remains—dominated by men, these local efforts to spotlight female perspectives are encouraging.

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Spektral Quartet hustles to close its Chicago season on the gig poster of the week

Posted By today at 07.00 AM


ARTIST: Ryan Duggan
SHOW: Spektral Quartet at Constellation on Fri 5/12

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More than 1,000 people have been shot in Chicago in 2017, and other news

Posted By today at 06.00 AM

Montrell Davis, 10, breaks down in tears as he talks about Chicago gun violence. Davis and hundreds of people joined Cardinal Blase Cupich in Englewood earlier this month. - ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
  • Montrell Davis, 10, breaks down in tears as he talks about Chicago gun violence. Davis and hundreds of people joined Cardinal Blase Cupich in Englewood earlier this month.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

  • More than 1,000 people have been shot in Chicago in 2017

At least 1,008 people had been shot in Chicago in 2017 as of Tuesday morning, according to the Tribune. The city reached the 1,000 gunshot victims milestone Monday, just four days later than the city reached that number in 2016. The weekend violence (seven people were killed and 31 were wounded in shootings) continued into Monday and early Tuesday when three people were killed and 13 were wounded in shootings. [Tribune] [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Federal judge in San Francisco blocks Trump's sanctuary cities funding order

    A federal judge in San Francisco blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to stop funding sanctuary cities, including Chicago, that don't share information on a person's immigration status with federal agencies. San Francisco and nearby Santa Clara County started the legal action against the executive order, arguing that it violated the Constitution, and won the preliminary injunctions Tuesday. The federal government could still ask the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling, according to Bloomberg. [Bloomberg[

  • Northside College Prep, Walter Payton College Prep named among the top 100 high schools in the country

Seven Chicago high schools made U.S. News and World Report's annual ranking of the best high schools in Illinois: Northside College Preparatory High School, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Jones College Prep High School, Whitney Young Magnet High School, Lane Tech High School, Lincoln Park High School, and Brooks College Prep Academy High School. Northside and Payton high schools were named in the top 100 in the nation, with Northside at #40 and Payton at #64. [DNAinfo Chicago]

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Former Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey dies

Posted By on 04.25.17 at 04:25 PM

  • Steppenwolf Theatre
  • Martha Lavey

Longtime former artistic director Martha Lavey died today, after a stroke suffered earlier this month. Steppenwolf Theatre announced the news via press release.

Lavey had suffered a previous, more serious stroke in 2015, shortly after she'd left her job at Steppenwolf, where she'd been artistic director for 20 years. She was replaced by current artistic director Anna Shapiro.

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Deportation fears can lead to higher risk of illness in undocumented populations

Posted By on 04.25.17 at 01:30 PM

Patients wait in line for treatment at a California clinic. - AP PHOTO/DAMIAN DOVARGANES/FILE
  • AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes/File
  • Patients wait in line for treatment at a California clinic.

Donald Trump vilified immigrants during his presidential campaign and has continued to do so since being sworn into office, signing executive orders that target undocumented immigrants, among other measures. As federal immigration officials emboldened by Trump's executive orders seek out and detain undocumented immigrants, their communities are experiencing an increase in fear that can impact their health.

"We noticed that there's a lot of mental health needs and specific health problems that people face when they're undocumented," says Wendy Mironov, a registered nurse with Salud Sin Papeles (Health Without Papers). The grassroots group has been around for two years and focuses on improving the health of and access to health care for undocumented immigrants, families, and communities by educating undocumented immigrants on their rights.

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Prog rockers Poor Richard recorded ad jingles but never released their own songs

Posted By on 04.25.17 at 01:00 PM

Since 2004 Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) has used the Secret History of Chicago Music to shine a light on worthy artists with Chicago ties who've been forgotten, underrated, or never noticed in the first place. Older strips are archived here.

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Landmark LGBTQ rights victory in Chicago could lead to major Supreme Court showdown

Posted By on 04.25.17 at 12:49 PM

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this month that a lesbian college professor had the right to sue her school alleging discrimination based on her sexual orientation. - AFP
  • AFP
  • The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this month that a lesbian college professor had the right to sue her school alleging discrimination based on her sexual orientation.

LGBTQ rights are likely headed for a showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court after judges in Illinois came to opposite conclusions from courts in Georgia and New York on whether LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in the workplace.

Last week the New York City-based Second Circuit Court of Appeals found against Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who claims he was let go from his job after informing a client he was gay. A three-judge panel held that a 2000 ruling from the court—which claimed that the 1964 Civil Rights Act doesn't protect against sexual orientation bias—precluded Zarda's ability to challenge his firing.

This conflicts with a decision handed down by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month. In an 8-3 decision, the Chicago-based appellate court ruled that a college professor had the legal right to sue her university after claiming she'd been blocked from a promotion due to her sexual orientation. Kim Hively, a lesbian, claimed in the suit that she had been chastised by an administrator at Indiana's Ivy Tech Community College after kissing her partner in the parking lot. (The staff member claimed that Hively was caught "sucking face.")

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The Numero Group applies its reissue savvy to underrated 60s British rockers the Creation

Posted By on 04.25.17 at 12:00 PM

  • Courtesy of the Numero Group
  • The Creation

When I was a wee lad in the ninth grade—in 1981, I think—I borrowed a compilation of Merseybeat tracks from my local library in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. If memory serves, that record introduced me to loads of one-hit wonders riding the coattails of the Beatles—Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Searchers, the Swinging Blue Jeans, Manfred Mann—and served as my education on early British rock for many years to come. Sure, I knew the Who, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones, but I didn't look much further until years later. In 1987, when I was drinking in the punk rock of the day (indie rock, in more common parlance), I encountered a song by British band the Creation via a cover of their tune "How Does It Feel to Feel" by antisocial Minneapolis trio Halo of Flies. I don't know exactly when I got around to hearing the original, but I remember being shocked that the rude noise of the modern version was only barely jacked up in comparison to the Creation's late-60s recording.

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