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Friday, May 29, 2009

5/31 -- Rachel Unthank & the Winterset

Posted By on 05.29.09 at 01:56 PM

British folkies Rachel Unthank & the Winterset play a free show Sunday 5/21 at 7 PM in the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall (78 E. Washington). Their performance at the Old Town School of Folk Music last September was Peter Margasak's pick for best concert of the year.

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You don't have to be a jock...

Posted By on 05.29.09 at 01:40 PM

If Derrick Rose had to be embarrassed by front-page headlines suggesting he's dishonest and either stupid or lazy, at least he picked the right day. 

Thursday Tribune: "Allegations of academic fraud touch Bulls star Derrick Rose."

Thursday Sun-Times: "ROSE GRADE SCANDAL."

But there was a story played even bigger on the front page of the Tribune: "Clout goes to college / Rezko relative is among those admitted to U. of I. in shadow system influenced by trustees and other insiders."

Because that story was the result of a Tribune investigation, the Sun-Times ran its version back on page five: "U. of I. admits secret clout list."

The upshot: If Rose did something wrong, he has lots of company. Anyone can go to college whether they belong there or not. If it's not what you do, it's who you know. The Tribune said about 800 undergraduates have landed on a University of Illinois "clout list," since 2005, but it gave no names. So Rose stands alone in the spotlight.

The Tribune reported: "Politically appointed trustees and lawmakers routinely behave as armchair admissions officers advocating on behalf of relatives and neighbors -- even housekeepers' kids and families with whom they share Hawaiian vacations. They declare their candidates 'no brainers' for admission and suggest that if they are not accepted, the admissions system may need revamping."

And just the other day Gail Collins was saying in the New York Times about how the student loan system has become a racket that makes lenders rich and screws students.

So whatever happened to Derrick Rose at Simeon High and the University of Memphis, it was a schooling in the real world.


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Big red letter corruption day

Posted By on 05.29.09 at 12:37 PM

Don't go to bed tonight without having read having read the Sun-Times's report on Alderman Carothers's wire (pass the popcorn) and the Trib's article on the UIUC clout list.

Can't Hardly Wait

Posted By on 05.29.09 at 12:16 PM

Michael Miner points out that, as the next generation of Chicago journalists prepares for the Chicago Media Future Conference, the Montgomery Burnses of the media got together in Rosemont to fuck up a baked potato.*

James Warren - the same James Warren who donates his time to a billionaire's media venture which skims substantial bits of other people's content in order to supplant them as a go-to news homepage - broke the news. Regarding "technology/service to track content on the Web and to extract payments from third-parties and ad networks that have appropriated newspaper content," he writes:

"Presumably, Google, Yahoo! and any one of thousands of websites could, and should, get mentioned with scant reverence. Perhaps the age of content theft is coming to an end."

Your moral outrage is noted, silly goose. As much experience in the field as Warren has, I have to admit I'm less inclined to trust him knowing that he's not just an active and high-profile participant in the same process he views with "scant reverence" and accuses of theft, and is not just aware of the irony, but also seems uninterested in exploring it. If he's just trying to get in on the ground floor, or wants to change it from within as well as without, that's defensible, but, y'know, just asking.

So, what'd they say? Who knows, it was firewalled secret. Maybe they decided to try charging for David Brooks columns again. Maybe they can try charging for the report. Alan Mutter and Ben Sheffner discuss whether the meeting could amount to collusion.


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5/30 -- Top Chef cooking demos

Posted By on 05.29.09 at 10:59 AM

The national Top Chef Tour rolls through Lincoln Park this weekend with free cooking demos and samples by Radhika Desai, season five "cheftestant" and former executive chef at Between Boutique Cafe & Lounge, and Antonia Lofaso, who competed on season four. It's first come, first served. Sat-Sun 5/30-5/31, 10:30-11:30 AM, noon-1 PM, and 1:30-2:30 PM, south end of Lincoln Park, next to Green City Market.

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Fashion events this weekend

Posted By on 05.29.09 at 10:53 AM

Tonight (Friday) Le Dress celebrates its first year in business with a runway show at Vertigo Sky Lounge from 9 to 11. Attendees are entered into a contest to win (what else?) a dress. RSVP to

On Saturday and Sunday, the Do Division streetfest features food, drink, music, and sidewalk sales from shops on Division from Ashland to Leavitt.

On Sunday, SoKo and the Chicago Avenue Salon cohost a runway show with live music from "three local bands" at Darkroom. Doors open at 8 and the show starts at 10. Show a flyer from the event at SoKo between Jun2 and 5 and and get 25 percent off an item.

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Up: Yours!

Posted By on 05.29.09 at 08:20 AM

In this week's issue, Andrea Gronvall awards a Critic's Choice to the new Pixar animation, Up, about an old codger who sets off for South America by tying hundreds of helium balloons to his house. Sam Raimi takes a break from the Spider-Man movies to direct Drag Me to Hell, with Alison Lohman as a loan officer who forecloses on an old crone's mortgage and discovers there's hell to pay. And Jonathan Rosenbaum reviews Easy Virtue, an adaptation of the Noel Coward play by Australian director Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert).

Andrea also recommends the Japanese drama Departures, which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film, and the Belgian road movie Eldorado, screening at Facets Cinematheque. In addition to the Raimi movie, my pick of the week is the rarely screened Italian black comedy Dillinger Is Dead, showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center. I also weigh in on Courting Condi, a comic documentary about one man's need to get busy with Condoleezza Rice; Riffraff, a locally shot comedy about lifeguards on North Avenue Beach (see also Ed M. Koziarski's "Our Town" story); and What Goes Up, a new indie starring Steve Coogan, Olivia Thirlby, and Hilary Duff.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Paying for news online -- is this the beta model?

Posted By on 05.28.09 at 08:01 PM

Young insurgents plan a conference in Chicago on the future of media, while newspapers' old guard huddles near O'Hare. (See my last post for details.)

It's the "news wants to be free" crowd versus the "over our dead bodies" crowd. And hold the presses! Two more factions have just been heard from, and their loyalties aren't with free news either. Academia, as represented by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, based at the University of Missouri, has allied itself with Silicon Valley, as represented by CircLabs Inc., a new venture dedicated to "building a new service to finance online news."

According to cofounder Jeffrey Vander Clute, quoted in an announcement from the Reynolds Institute, "CircLabs has planned a suite of services, this first of which is code-named Circulate. Software development on Circulate is underway, and we anticipate launching the service during the second half of this year."

The announcement, citing Vander Clute, says "CircLabs is engaged in conversations with a variety of potential strategic partners. The Associated Press has been among media companies providing feedback on the initiative since it emerged from the Reynolds Institute's fellowship program."

The AP has made it crystal clear what it wants to happen with online news. Chairman Dean Singleton said last month at the annual meeting of AP member papers, "We believe all of your newspapers will join our battle to protect our content and receive appropriate compensation for it. AP and its member newspapers and broadcast associate members are the source of most of the news content being created in the world today. We must be paid fully and fairly. We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories. We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more."

If the AP is a strategic partner in Circulate it must have high hopes for it as a tool of "appropriate compensation."

The Reynolds Institute describes CircLabs as an outgrowth of the Information Valet Project, which was developed by former newspaperman Bill Densmore while he was a fellow at the institute. I wrote about Densmore and the InfoValet a couple of months ago, and he gave me a head's up on this development. The idea behind the Information Valet, as I put it in my March column, is this:

"We fritter away our privacy, so why not sell it off for money? Each of us is a file of personal data—our age, our sex, our address, the places we go, the things we buy. Imagine bundling thousands of these files. Advertisers could be so excited to get their hands on all that information they’d go back to paying for our journalism."

But so would we. How much we paid would depend on how much online journalism we wanted to buy and how attractive we made ourselves to advertisers. But if we paid nothing at all, the pickings would be slim. The key to the InfoValet, I see now, is that it's designed to induce advertisers to spend serious money online. With that revenue stream coming in -- or should I say restored? -- publishers would be emboldened to define premium news in broad terms and demand money for it.

To quote again from the news release:

"Pam Johnson, executive director of the Reynolds Institute, said the venture promises to restore a healthy business model to support quality journalism. 'We think Circulate, with its user-friendly approach to delivering trusted news, will strengthen the crucial relationship between individual citizens and local news organizations,' she said." 

Here's more:

"Vander Clute said the Circulate service will 'create a bridge between consumers and publishers of news and information.' Consumers using Circulate will be conveniently served with the news they want, he said. The service will be at their control, with full protection of their privacy."

Vander Clute again: "We believe that newspapers should explore charging for online content when that content is both scarce in nature and of high utility to a segment of the audience. At the same time, we believe that revenue from advertising and other forms of commercial interactions will continue to be a critical means of financing news in the online ecosystem. Circulate will incorporate ways of generating high-value advertising revenue for participating news organizations."  (Vander Clute has been a consultant to the Reynolds Institute.)

Here's the entire announcement.

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5/30 -- Free massages for teachers

Posted By on 05.28.09 at 07:02 PM

In recognition of the imminent (or recent) end of most school years, the Greenheart Shop (746 N. LaSalle) is offering free 10-15 minute massages and reiki treatments for teachers Saturday from 3 to 5 PM. Teachers are advised to show up early; those who have to wait will be served fair trade, organic coffee and tea and local beer.

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Carles is a "culturally relevant" meme

Posted By on 05.28.09 at 06:09 PM

The Twitter for Hipster Runoff currently says, "i think my blog is 'having a party' in Chicago, or something." And it's true: though Carles is usually almost impenetrably ironic on his strangely popular blog, he's being straight up with us here.

The second edition of Branded--the ravey new party series that kicked off with a Deadmau5/Crookers/Late of the Pier show in April--is happening at the Congress Theater on June 19, and not only is Hipster Runoff's name on the bill, the press release makes a point of noting that Carles will be in the building.

Sure, the headliners might be the Rapture, Heartsrevolution, DJ Funk, and the Rub, and they might all be good and everything--actually after I typed that out I realized that it really is an amazing bill--but the real fun of the night will be trying to spot Carles. Maybe he's like an alt leprechaun and if you capture him he gives you the secret to an "authentic personal brand."

So be sure to keep your eye out for this guy:

hipster_runoff (1 of 13)-2

I thought the highlight of my life would be appearing on both the Cobrasnake and Last Night's Party

But really it was becoming bros with Carles

And getting dibs on his leftover tugjobs

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Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery Water Tower Place
June 16
Galleries & Museums
Lincoln's Undying Words Chicago History Museum
April 14

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