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Friday, July 31, 2009

Women in Comedy I: Stand-up

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 06:44 PM

In a recent blog post I asked, "Why don't more women become comedians?" While top performers such as Margaret Cho and Tina Fey are as successful as top male comedians, there remains a significant gender gap in the business, particularly in stand-up. Over the past 12 months at Zanies, arguably the most active stand-up club in Chicago, there were 5 female headliners vs. 67 male headliners. The current teams at iO, arguably the most active local improv theater, include 93 women and 176 men.

I decided to find out why.

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8/1 — Open Streets Frees Boulevards for Pedestrian Use

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 05:11 PM

b91d/1249073095-dancing.jpgOn Saturday from 8:30 AM to 2 PM, the Open Streets project will reclaim an eight-mile west-side stretch of Chicago's historic boulevard system for non-car use. Running from Logan Square in the north to Little Village in the south, the route will be free and open for pedestrians, bikers, and skaters to use as it intersects five neighborhoods and three major parks.

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Why I Haven't Reviewed Zebda Yet

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 04:14 PM


One of the drawbacks of this gig is that there's such a constant stream of new places to eat (many mediocre to worse) that after I've done my duty and weighed in on as many as I can, there's never enough time to frequent the ones that really distinguish themselves (I know, I know).

I keep telling myself that the reason I haven't yet published a proper review of Zebda, the North African-leaning Mediterranean take-out partnership between Tassili Cafe owner Mohammed Djeddour and ex-Mundial-Cocina Mestiza chef Katie Garcia, is that they haven't yet fully ramped up to their promised offerings—they just started entrees two days ago. The truth is, everything I've tried there is so good I don't really want to move on.

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Friday Face Rippers: Behemoth

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 04:00 PM

Oh hell yeah everybody. Behemoth is streaming their sublimely punishing Evangelion over at their MySpace page. I'm currently on my first listen, and though so far I don't think it's quite as good as 2004's Demigod or their 1995 debut, Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic), it's still Behemoth and they will still rip your head off with real pride of workmanship. This one song just ended with a sitar—I am fully down with unexpected instrumentation in metal.

Note: the best way to meet random Polish people is to wear a Behemoth T-shirt. Apparently in Poland blackened death metal is considered pop music.

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A reliable source of revenue

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 02:26 PM

I've got another idea for how to take care of the city's budget deficit, and it doesn't involve touching anything as sacred as TIF slush funds.

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A new clothing line in Chicago

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 01:51 PM


About two years ago, Jenna Fowler and Melanie Manego started Fashion Heist, a Chicago-based showroom offering designers and labels representation to retailers throughout the midwest. Now they've gotten into the design biz themselves with Jlee Silver, a line of women's separates that Fowler describes as "fun, functional, and attainable."

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Ruminating Guantanamo

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 01:35 PM


What are the legal, ethical and public safety ramifications of military detention?

Sig Libowitz, an actor and film executive studying law at the University of Maryland, brought his varied careers together in The Response, a 30-minute dramatization of Guantanamo military detention hearing transcripts, screening twice today in the Loop.

Libowitz wrote and produced the film. He stars with Peter Riegert (The Sopranos), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), and Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show). Adam Rodgers directed.

The Response screens for the American Bar Association's national convention, today at 3 PM at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St. Then tonight at 6:30 PM, Amnesty International hosts a screening at University Center, 525 S. State. Libowitz and Mulgrew will attend both screenings.

Apologies for the sync problems with this clip:

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Post No Bills podcast number two

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 01:03 PM

Well, better late than never, I suppose. I still intend to make these podcasts monthly, but I got a little behind. Anyway, here's the second installment. Thanks for listening!

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Theatre Facts analyzes U.S. nonprofit theater

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 08:44 AM

The Theatre Communications Group has published Theatre Facts 2008, an online report analyzing how theater in America has been affected by the economic downturn. Bottom line: "the not-for-profit theater field, although also shaken by the state of the union, increased its contribution to the economy to $1.9 billion and offered 202,000 performances that attracted 32 million attendees." However, notes TCG executive director Teresa Eyring, "We're aware that our survey for fiscal years ending in 2009 may look bleaker."

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The Toy Killers: from Weasel Walter’s no wave archives to your ears

Posted By on 07.31.09 at 02:01 AM

53b4/1249038552-l_49040834788842839ed8122e50643d03.jpgAs I wrote in my Critic’s Choice for drummer and former Chicagoan Weasel Walter, who plays Friday night at Enemy and Tuesday night at Elastic, he’s been churning out recordings since he moved to Oakland in 2003, especially in the past few years. He dials down his usual frenzied energy on the brand-new Last Distractions (Singlespeed) with reedist Aram Shelton (another former Chicagoan) and cornetist Josh Berman, and he’s part of an unlikely meeting with drummer Grant Calvin Weston—a longtime cohort of James Blood Ulmer—on last year’s Nassira (Amulet). He’s also put out several albums via his own UgExplode imprint—which he’s been running since his Chicago days—where he plays with folks like Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans, Greg Kelley, and Marc Edwards. He also recently released a knockout archival dig of music by no wave combo the Toy Killers (pictured), The Unlistenable Years.

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