Recent Reviews

Re: “Maya del Sol

Totes delicious with attentive but not obsequious service. The unexpected half-price special for the restaurant's 4th anniversary left me ordering half the appetizer menu; any one of them would've made a hella rich meal. Crabcake was insistently wonderful and meaty enough that I had to put down my Jean Rhys and pay attention to the food. It took a supreme act of will to stop eating the vinegar-and-honey braised beef on nachos & maintain some semblance of moderacy and good sense. The wine I ordered was meh, but the sangria was happily flavor-ridden, if sweet. There was other food, too, but I was in a coma by then and can't remember what the nice man wrapped up for me to take home.

The live music was also a treat, and I generally detest live music in restaurants. The volume was a conversation-killer for sure, but if they'd had a dance floor it would've been packed.

Children were welcome and well-behaved, and -- the surest sign of a good restaurant, I think -- everyone there looked happy, even the quiet solo diners.

What I missed: Food that won't make the doctor yell at you, something that Xoco manages well. Everything on the menu was rich; even the veg items were creamy, buttery, sugary. It's cool, I just won't want to eat for a day or two. But something delicious and less atherosclerosis-inducing would be welcome.

Posted by sparky malone on 10/20/2011 at 11:11 PM

Re: “Santullo's Eatery

Really not bad. We're a thousand miles from the real thing, so I'm not going to quibble, and, really, they made my day. The fold was right, the crunch-to-chew ratio was great, the cheese was almost there, the sauce needs a little work. The slices are gigantic, but again, Chicago, not New York, and I never heard anyone complain about too much pizza. Once I took off half the cheese I was a happy lady. And I'll take their pizza guys over the averbal halfwit cousins you get in New York any day. The guy who handed me my pizza over the counter -- on a tray, yet -- was actually polite. I almost dropped my newspaper.

Posted by sparky malone on 06/07/2011 at 4:25 PM

Re: “Tampopo

Still delicious & with good & unobtrusive service in 2011. Portion sizes are enormous, which is maybe why our waitress looked nervous when I ordered the sashimi over soba & asked me if I was familiar with bebimbop -- the bbb-style bowl I got should feed me most of the week. Noodles were toothsome & light, fish all it should've been, miso light, flavorful & fresh.

Posted by sparky malone on 02/20/2011 at 7:53 PM

Recent Comments

Re: “In Equity, the women on Wall Street are as bad as the men

Meh. Whatever the movie's virtues, and I haven't seen it yet but will, it's no great surprise that women on Wall Street would be ruthless, venal, ambitious, etc. The guys who run the place allow nothing else. If you want to stick around you learn to play that game, and if you don't want to play that game, the only choice available is to leave.

Let's see a business world in which the women actually get to make the rules, and we'll see how it goes.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by sparky malone on 08/14/2016 at 9:34 PM

Re: “Looking for a ‘national conversation’ on race? Look around.

Mike, why is that catharsis a good thing?

I don't think that catharsis is a good thing. That's the kind of catharsis that forced my great-grandparents to uproot themselves and spend the rest of their lives scraping out a living in New York, hoping their kids would have something better, something that didn't involve being murdered. Here, Malamud wrote about it:

"When he was a boy, Morris Lieberman saw a burly Russian peasant seize a wagon wheel that was lying against the side of a blacksmith's shop, swing it around, and hurl it at a fleeing Jewish sexton. The wheel caught the Jew in the back, crushing his spine. In speechless terror, he lay on the ground before his burning house, waiting to die.

"Thirty years later Morris, a widower who owned a small grocery and delicatessen store in a Scandinavian neighborhood in Brooklyn, could recall the scene of the pogrom with the twisting fright that he had felt at fifteen. He often experienced the same fear since the Nazis had come to power."

It really doesn't get better from there. My great-grandparents, incidentally, watched helplessly as their children got put in uniform to go fight the next crowd having a cathartic moment, which involved killing most of those who hadn't left because of the pogroms, not that that's why my grandparents got sent to stop them.

I think you're making the mistake of the free-speech libertarians who run the internet. Sure, encouraging that sort of thing's terrific when you're as secure as they are. If your situation's not so solid, if you're actually endangered by the mob's catharsis, it's not so good. I don't run into too many free-speech evangelists who're good at imagining that kind of vulnerability. That's a thing for other people. But I don't find it exhilarating at all. I find it frightening and exhausting. I'm too old to schlep off to another country and start again just because some pitchfork mob is having a cathartic moment. (I really am. They won't have me, too old.)

It's a very odd take you have, too, on the Civil War, which was surely a *bad* thing for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. And if you don't think it became a cancer in itself, you'd better reread your Faulkner. (I just stayed in a place that had a mug with a grotesque quote from General US Grant on it: "Let us have peace." Hell of a thing for a drunk anti-semite responsible for 150,000 casualties to say.)

I know you've been in the midwest a long time, but there really are stopping points between pretending everything's fine and war. It's supposed to be part of writers' jobs to articulate them so that people, in particular the people who run things, can see them. I mean when they're not busy writing hot-air letters.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by sparky malone on 08/08/2016 at 9:53 PM

Re: “A critic’s mea culpa, or How Chicago theater critics failed the women of Profiles Theatre

@Aimee - I mean no disrespect at all to Alison, who I think is one of the last remaining fine literary editors in the country, when I say that editor is one thing; writer is another. Whose voice and viewpoint is on the page, in the end? Who's pitching the stories?

I stopped reading the Reader regularly a few years ago because the stories, voices, and sensibilities were so relentlessly brogressive. Reliable: CPS coverage that's big on political welterweight fights, short on understanding of the lives of mothers, children, and women working in the system; coverage of the dispossessed that casts wives, sisters, mothers as happily self-abnegating Marys; fascination with sex workers; almost complete lack of interest in systemic problems of sexual harassment and abuse in Chicago political systems. But that's usual in male-dominated journalism, the blindness to abuse of middle-class women. Same orientation in the food/drink coverage: More meat! More heat! More booze! More macho cheffery and hipster mixology! Key Ingredient had some interesting experiments, and I like Mike's writing, but after a couple of years of reviews of food I'm unlikely ever to want to eat, I'd had enough.

Has there been some change since then? Yeah, I think so. There are definitely more women writing now. But not enough, and they're not enough in control, to change the sense of who the Reader is. Let me put it this way: if you put a Reader story next to a Jezebel story by a Chicago-bred staffer about something going on in Chicago, I'm pretty sure I'd be able to tell which was which.

Maybe you guys have just been in this culture for so long that you can't see the problem. From the outside, it looks like Tony's done the most work in bringing on junior writers who are women for arts coverage, but, as I've noted, that doesn't really start talking till the senior staff writers are women. That's true across industries: you get people hiring a ton of young women as junior staff, but somehow (you know, somehow) they don't make it up the ladder so well, which means the cultures don't change.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by sparky malone on 06/17/2016 at 4:26 PM

Re: “‘Unfortunately, I am the villain’: Profiles Theatre artistic director Darrell W. Cox responds to Reader abuse investigation

Ugh. These perp self-defenses are all the same: long on self-pity and "but context!", the lugubrious generalized respect-for-women statement, total lack of recognition of the problem. I'm so fucking sick of this script.

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by sparky malone on 06/17/2016 at 3:53 PM

Re: “A critic’s mea culpa, or How Chicago theater critics failed the women of Profiles Theatre

Well, part of the problem, Chris, is something that's been pointed out repeatedly: the macho quality of so much of journalism, including alt-journalism. For years, the only woman on I can think of who was covering arts/culture as staff at the Reader was Deanna. Apart from Mara's tenure, it's been men at the top for ages. And I have found even progressive, fist-shaking-at-injustice men to be fairly relentlessly blind to routine sexual violence in your worlds unless it involves white men victimizing women of color, in which case the point is never actually the women anyway, but a larger fight with men in an enemy camp. It's been something you guys -- yes, you guys -- really have not wanted to deal with. I have always gotten the impression that the reluctance has had less to do with discomfort and fear of getting called out, somehow, than it's had to do with not wanting your buzz harshed, and a sense of profound entitlement to that buzz.

It doesn't take genius to figure out how to solve this problem. I understand there's an existential problem at the Reader that's perhaps more serious than it used to be, but you need hella more senior women there, and one of the job qualifications should not be "is able to muster or pretend a comforting degree of pissing-contest writer macho or approval of same." That's true generally in journalism, of course, not just at the Reader, but, you know, since you bring it up.

39 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by sparky malone on 06/10/2016 at 12:03 AM

Re: “The apparent druggings in Chicago’s comedy scene are no joke

Part of the problem is guys like Wilson, who experience abuse aimed at women and shrug it off as a joke or -- because they sense no danger to themselves -- no big deal. It's astoundingly self-centered. Here's how deep-dyed selfish it is, compared to how other people react to things like poisoned drinks: people who routinely think of others consider that someone else who *is* vulnerable could be badly hurt by such a thing. They alert management, shut things down, call police, back legislation, and -- above all -- warn other people.

A guy like know, as far as he's concerned, he's the only one in the universe. Things that happen to other people don't matter to him. He doesn't even perceive that he shares a universe with others, and that if they're in trouble, this also has an effect on him. And then one day something he knew about seriously hurts someone else, and because he's a moral idiot, it dawns only very slowly on him that he actually should have spoken up. He has no idea how one might speak up, because he's never paid attention to these things before, and he subsides again, concluding it was too hard to expect anyone, meaning him, to do.

And you know what else? He thinks he's a pretty good guy, a guy like Wilson. He really does. Dunning-Kruger rides again.

3 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by sparky malone on 05/12/2016 at 2:57 AM

Re: “U.S. women's soccer captain: Wage fight 'is about respect'

She's right about that bias, and what makes it more difficult is that the people across the table still aren't aware of how saturated in it they are. I've been watching sportswriters inadvertently coming up with every bad-boyfriend maneuver in the book in trying to explain why the women should back off. They'll just hurt the sport. With their poor little heads that don't understand business, they don't know what a raw, risky deal they're asking for. Soccer is harder for the men (!) and that justifies a pay difference. These things take time. They're paid less because the men negotiated, therefore it's reasonable that they're paid less, which they should accept (!!!).

The guys just really, really do not like this, but there's a tremendous lack of self-awareness in how they're dealing with it. I see the same thing in sports analytics, incidentally. Women turn up and say they're being squeezed out, demand seats at the table; men tell them they're foolish, this is toys, it's not important. Next thing you know, the men are all excited about how analytics is The Future, and you say, "yeah, I thought this wasn't important?" and suddenly the topic changes.

The problem's that the guys in these fields don't yet see that they have to take these things seriously if they want careers. The aggravating thing is that as women do become more prominent in sports, and do force the men to take them seriously, they'll have to deal with all this wailing and aggression from the men about how the women are trying to kill them, kill the sport, kill masculinity, etc., etc. Anything to avoid equitable pay and having to take them seriously. Which is why I'm very much a fan of the newish German law setting a girl quota for corporate boards. Men can't be trusted not to lock the women out.

(thinks, then says brightly) Happens in journalism, too, Mike. I notice that after all this time, there's still decided gender imbalance at the Reader. All men at the top; staff/freelancers still mostly guys. Wait, wait, don't tell me -- educated girls aren't interested in being reporters, they don't like talking to anti-social people. Don't worry, though, you're not alone: the Guardian's just had a good time exposing their own sexism (while continuing to hand most of the stories to white men).

Posted by sparky malone on 04/17/2016 at 12:57 PM

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