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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chic-a-Go-Go movie premiere this Sunday

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 11:39 AM


Chic-a-Go-Go the Movie premieres Sunday, March 2, at the Portage Theater, and there's no charge to get in. More details on the poster. Presumably if it were rated, it would be rated G.

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The Sun-Times is the Village Green Preservation Society

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 11:36 AM


Maybe I should be standing athwart commerce yelling "Stop!" but my favorite team plays in Crappy Domestic Beer Titan Stadium and is, historically, the best team in the National League. They won the World Series in 2006, it was pretty awesome. Anyway, if you're going to be old school, it's worth doing right.

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Commonplace links

Posted By on 02.28.08 at 08:45 AM

Discovery News : Discovery Channel - Material Could Repel Laser Attacks

"If you have a ship being hit by a laser, and it was made of this metamaterial, you could reflect the laser beam"

Digg, Wikipedia, and the myth of Web 2.0 democracy. - By Chris Wilson - Slate Magazine

"It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Digg—a site meant to "collectively determine the value of content"—is largely run by 100 people."

A Chat With George W. Bush’s Conscience | Health Policy | DISCOVER Magazine

"An old-fashioned moralist, he holds some views that are remarkably unfashionable—even premodern. He still employs the term bastard to describe the children of unwed parents, and he has written despairingly about the loss of 'female modesty'"

Law & Politics Book Review: Reviews Home

"Gant’s thesis is simple, straightforward and stated in the title. He is suggesting that the boundaries between professional journalism and the communications of ordinary citizens are collapsing, if they have not already collapsed."

The Frontal Cortex : The Fourth Culture

"The premise of this movement--perhaps a fourth culture--is that neither culture can exist by itself. Its goal will be to cultivate a positive feedback loop, in which works of art lead to new scientific experiments, which lead to new works of art"

2007 Trends article on LogoLounge.Com

"Dragons: Lots and lots of dragons."

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Spending is saving.

Posted By on 02.27.08 at 09:27 PM


At one point this afternoon, as Cook County board members argued bitterly over spending plans and revenue projections and a proposal to defer a budget amendment, Todd Stroger sat in a chair away from the fray, laughing uncontrollably.

It wasn’t clear to this observer what amused him so much, but the board president had plenty of funny stuff to choose from. The board is required by law to pass a budget this week, which is a big problem. And it’s a big problem for the same reasons Cook County budgets are always a big problem: the money coming in doesn’t cover both the services that have been promised and the salaries of the thousands of people employed to provide them.

Where exactly it all went wrong for Cook County is a matter for great debate, some of which occurred in the meeting this afternoon led by finance committee chairman John Daley. Some commissioners and county officials chalked it up to the waste and poor judgment of other commissioners and county officials. Budget staff blamed Chicago’s professional sports teams, whose recent mediocre performances have led to diminished amusement tax revenues. Commissioner Mike Quigley, meanwhile, intimated that a few of his colleagues had wasted taxpayer money and everyone’s time by attending the “wild weekend in Washington” that is the annual convention of the National Association of Counties. Commissioner Jerry “Iceman” Butler, a soul music legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, challenged Quigley to “find me another song to sing.” When Joseph Moreno called for order, someone demanded to know what he wanted. “I’ll have two tacos and some rice and beans,” he said.

Somewhere in there was a very serious and thoroughly Orwellian conversation about the dismal state of the county’s public health care system. Last year’s budget slashed millions from health programs, and ever since health workers, analysts, and politicians have said the county’s indigent face long, dangerous waits for care from a greatly reduced and demoralized staff. Self-declared reformers on the board have blamed Stroger and his allies for not saving health funding by cutting fat. The Stroger group has cited the health care system in arguing for additional spending and tax hikes.

But today Stroger’s allies and top county officials, including Dr. Robert Simon, chief of the bureau of health services, offered a different take. They didn’t talk as much about the need to spend more to reduce waits and improve care. They said the board needs to spend more to get additional customers and bring in cash.

“Let’s put it this way: if you have 100 physicians and go down to 50 physicians—because of resignations, and partly because of layoffs—those 50 doctors, all of those people they would see obviously can’t be billed,” Simon said. “It’s all easily explained. It’s all logical and simple.”

Commissioner Forrest Claypool said he agreed, though as usual he reframed the point to place the blame directly on his chief foe, Stroger. “The problem we have here is that the board here cannot make this administration manage,” he said. Stroger had failed to put competent people in charge of the health system’s billing and collections, Claypool argued, and his last budget had protected patronage employees instead of needy residents. “There were bad decisions about where we cut last year as opposed to how much we cut, and we’re going to have to change all that this year.”

Simon didn’t respond directly; he just continued the blame game. “The resignations really started [last fall] when the doctors started seeing the stories in the papers about the lack of support for getting dollars this next year,” he said. He didn’t have to point out that Claypool was one of those unsupportive.

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The inevitable William F. Buckley, Jr. roundup

Posted By on 02.27.08 at 07:01 PM

Eric Zorn: "I found his patrician bearing, devastating eloquence and understated, scornful wit  thoroughly captivating.  His quiet confidence and penetrating intellect were exactly what I aspired to. . . . I always found him curious, fair, funny, occasionally surprising  and about as open-minded and truly engaging as pundits get.  If he was ever a shouter or a name-caller or a race baiter or a taunter, I missed it." [Ed. note: !]

Reader cover star Rick Perlstein: "I cannot deny that William F. Buckley said and did many things over the course of his career that were disgusting as well. I've written about some of them. But this is not the time to go into all that. My friend just passed away at the age of 82. He was a good and decent man."

James Wolcott: "As the magazine he founded, National Review, became more and more of a catapult platform for neoconservatism and a playpen for yahoos (gone were the intellectual sophistication and modernist forays by Hugh Kenner, D. Keith Mano, and Guy Davenport), he became a superannuated eminence, revered but irrelevant. His misgivings about the Iraq war fell snowflakes on a bunker mentality that now housed the likes of Michael Ledeen and Victor Davis Hanson."

Spencer Ackerman: "No William F. Buckley, no National Review; no National Review, no Goldwater movement; no Goldwater movement, no Ronald Reagan… and on and on. Naturally liberals will find much of Buckley’s legacy to be ultimately malign. But what was undeniably valuable was how he forced mid-century liberalism, so self-satisfied, to rethink many of its basic premises, grapple with inconvenient truths and harsh assessments, and emerge (in my opinion) stronger."

Gavin M.: "Buckley might not have been a force for good in the world, but his was a conservatism of principles — one far more substantial and measured than the one of stances and shibboleths that today’s young conservatives learn to swallow whole and regurgitate."

I'll confess to being largely ignorant of the man's writings, but the most interesting thing I read about him today was this: In 1986, Buckley wrote, "everyone detected with AIDS should be tatooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals." Tristero, at Hullabaloo, adds "I understand that, after hearing that a friend of his, the odious Roy Cohn, had contracted AIDS, he changed his mind."

It's resonant that Buckley would earnestly revise a nauseating belief on the basis of a personal tragedy suffered by a truly horrible friend. It seems to encapsulate Rick Perlstein's belief that Buckley was a humane man that believed a number of very inhumane things, but was not immune to revising his beliefs towards the light. A lot of people seem blinded by his personality and mannerisms, which Wolcott deftly describes and I have to admit I find kind of icky in the most classist possible way, but the takeaway lesson comes from Perlstein, as it so often does.


Congress asks Justice Department to probe whether Clemens committed perjury

Posted By on 02.27.08 at 06:40 PM


Earlier Wednesday Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to "investigate whether former professional baseball player Roger Clemens committed perjury" during the committee's investigation of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

Here's the memo.

And here's the memo Waxman sent the Democratic members of his committee explaining the basis of his request to Mukasey. Waxman summarizes "seven sets of assertions" made by Clemens that appear to him to be contradicted by the testimony of former trainer Brian McNamee and by other evidence before the committee:

1. "that he has 'never taken steroids or HGH [human growth hormone]'"

2. "that Mr. McNamee injected him with Lidocaine"

3. "that team trainers gave him pain injections"

4. "that he received many vitamin B-12 injections"

5. "that he never discussed HGH with Mr. McNamee"

6. "that he was not at Jose Canseco's home from June 8 to June 10, 1998"

7. "that he was 'never told' about Senator Mitchell's request [for an interview for his investigation]"

What neither memo clarifies is why Waxman is not recommending further investigation of McNamee's testimony in light of Clemens's testimony and other evidence before the committee. And of course the memos don't explain why, of all the players accused of using performance-enhancing drugs in the Mitchell Report (an investigation the committee helped prompt), the committee has focused almost exclusively on Roger Clemens.

Clemens appears to be taking everything in stride, telling reporters to "get a life." 

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The sickness unto election day: The funniest thing I read today

Posted By on 02.27.08 at 05:52 PM

Roy Edroso, one of the best writers on the Web or anywhere, observes: "Andrew Sullivan is freaked out that Obama only 'denounced' Farrakhan, as opposed to -- what? Producing a Farrakhan doll and biting its throat open?"

Fans of close reading and word meanings may enjoy, or be completely horrified by, Tim Russert and Obama going at it over the qualitative difference between "denounce" and "reject." Andrew Sullivan tries to fit more angels on the pin: "Does Obama understand that saying he has consistently denounced him is not the same as simply saying, 'I denounce him'?" Maybe he should have been an English teacher instead of a law prof, but fans of Obama will be pleased to observe that Obama totally manhandles Russert. Only seven more months to go!

For the full horror show, go here.

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Never Enough Hope has its (sort of) annual get-together

Posted By on 02.27.08 at 04:36 PM

This weekend guitarist Tobin Summerfield (Crush Kill Destroy, Larval) reconvenes his minimalist rock orchestra Never Enough Hope for several performances in celebration of the project's new album, The Gift Economy (Contraphonic), a set recorded the last time this sprawling outfit got together, in January 2007. It's to Summerfield's credit that he can coax any order or precision out of a 20-member group with just a few rehearsals, and the new album certainly is an improvement over its predecessor. The bio that came with my CD says he composes with each individual in mind, but considering that most of this material is built around massed ensemble sounds, I'm not sure what that would even mean here.  

Given the presence of dual vibists Tim Brown and Dan Sylvester (almost every instrument comes in pairs) and the heavy use of minimalist melodic licks, Steve Reich is bound to come to mind, but Summerfield doesn't have Reich's patience for slowly evolving motifs. In fact, the six-part suite on The Gift Economy is in a constant state of transformation--melody lines and rhythms shift abruptly and whole sections of the ensemble (strings, reeds, brass, etc) drop in and out. There are a few isolated solos, but most of the work is written out. It's an impressive feat, a kind of supermagnified orchestration of the terse vocabulary of no-wave, but when I get to the end I'm left scratching my head. While it has its peaks and valleys, The Gift Economy lacks any discernible narrative structure--it's more like an endless procession of strung-together episodes, and the dominant dynamic is full-blast.

Never Enough Hope performs Friday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 PM at the AV-aerie. Members of the group, including some out-of-towners, will play satellite gigs beginning Thursday night, when bass saxophonist Colin Stetson and a quartet of Summerfield, violinist Dina Maccabee, trumpeter Brian Lipson, and drummer Tim Tacket Brown perform at Elastic. Different small groups will perform Sunday at Heaven and Monday at the Skylark. I'm sure that some of the players on the recording--including trumpeter Jaimie Branch and saxophonists Aram Shelton, Keefe Jackson and Tim Haldeman--won't be playing this weekend, but Summerfield has lots of pals capable of filling in.

Today's playlist:

Rafael Toral, Space Solo 1 (Quecksilber)
Mia Doi Todd, Gea (City Zen)
Masayuki Takayanagi & New Direction Unit, Axis—Another Revolvable Thing Vol. 2 (Doubt Music)
Volga, Pomol (Lumberton Trading Company)
Patti Smith, Twelve (Columbia)

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RIP Tim Aher

Posted By on 02.27.08 at 03:42 PM

Tim Aher, onetime program director at WHPK and tireless promoter of jarring music, died suddenly on Sunday, February 17, at the age of 25. A student of Notre Dame's law school, he was living in London as part of a study-abroad program. At the WHPK site there's an obituary and a link to a photo album compiled by friends. The article linked to his name at the start of this post has more information about his passion for community service and his legal aid work on behalf of AIDS patients and the poor. This 2002 Reader article by Liz Armstrong gives a glimpse into his love for what he jokingly called "marginalized subgenres." Further information (and beautiful eulogies) can be found at this memorial blog. He will be missed.

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City of God sequel screens Thursday

Posted By on 02.27.08 at 03:24 PM

City of Men, a feature-length version of the Brazilian TV series that followed Fernando Meirelles's City of God, screens tomorrow at 7 PM at 600 N. Michigan. Click here to request tickets.

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Galleries & Museums
The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery Water Tower Place
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