Bleader | Chicago Reader

Thursday, May 31, 2012

12 O'Clock Track: That Dog, "Old Timer"

Posted By on 05.31.12 at 12:00 PM

That Dog
  • That Dog
The girl-group-meets-punk-rock boom is certainly a thing that I appreciate. Best Coast, Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Wax Idols, Colleen Green—I can't seem to get enough of that sound. I'm pretty sure it all stems from my obsession with That Dog when I was younger. The Los Angeles band, which existed from 1991 till '97, collaborated with and ran in the same circles as some of the biggest names in alternative rock (Beck, Weezer, the Rentals), but never really broke into the mainstream like their peers. Until they announced a string of reunion dates last year, they'd apparently been all but forgotten—you can find only a couple of their songs on YouTube and pretty much nothing on download networks.

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Learning through seeing: an interview with experimental documentarian Sabine Gruffat

Posted By on 05.31.12 at 10:55 AM

Some of the native Detroiters of I Have Always Been a Dreamer
  • Some of the native Detroiters of I Have Always Been a Dreamer
Sabine Gruffat’s I Have Always Been a Dreamer (a choice selection of this year’s Chicago Underground Film Festival, which we cover in this week’s issue) is less a documentary than a city symphony—though perhaps it’s closer to the mark to call it a city double concerto. The movie compares the recent development of Dubai with that of Detroit; and while Gruffat’s sensitive to issues like labor relations, crime, and sustainable design, she’s clearly more interested in creating images than social analysis. It’s an eyeful, containing some of the most assured sound design and Steadicam work I’ve encountered in a low-budget feature since Ben Russell’s great Let Each One Go Where He May (not coincidentally, Russell assisted with some of the sound recording). The other day, I talked to Gruffat about her working methods and what she learned in making the film. Our conversation follows the jump.

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The case of the nebulous NATO grant funds

Posted By on 05.31.12 at 10:08 AM

The money for NATO must be out there somewhere
We're still waiting for that NATO money to materialize.

Aides to Mayor Rahm Emanuel have repeatedly said they’ve procured tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to cover security costs for the NATO summit—essentially an assurance that Chicagoans won’t be the only taxpayers who have to pony up for Emanuel’s idea of hosting the international meeting.

But it turns out that city officials haven’t even asked the feds for that much money yet. And so far Chicago hasn’t received a dollar from them to cover the NATO security bill, which is almost certain to grow over the coming months.

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In defense of margarine

Posted By on 05.31.12 at 06:51 AM

  • SpooSpa
  • Delicious!
In Kitchen Confidential (the book people who don't really know that much about food refer to when they try to act like they know a lot about food, like myself), Anthony Bourdain writes about butter:

"In a professional kitchen, we sauté in a mixture of butter and oil for that nice brown, caramelised colour, and we finish nearly every sauce with it (we call this monter au beurre); that's why my sauce tastes creamier and mellower than yours. Margarine? That's not food. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter? I can."

Speak for yourself, Tony! Growing up in my house, our go-to spread was margarine. Like many of the "rules" my parents implemented, being kosher was a half-assed endeavor. No shellfish in the house, unless it's shrimp. All meat in the house had to be blessed by a rabbi; but once we left, my family consumed the most blasphemous chickens. And we couldn't butter our bread, because we frequently ate bread with meat, and mixing meat and milk was not kosher. Therefore, we relied on margarine. At first, we went with Country Crock, and that's what I used for the first 15 years of my life. But when it took my mom that long to discover that Country Crock actually also contains some butter, it was out with the crock and in with strictly kosher margarine. At my parents' house, it's still there.

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The Reader's Agenda: Thu 5/31

Posted By on 05.31.12 at 06:24 AM

Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cubs' Dempster 0 for 2012

Posted By on 05.30.12 at 05:37 PM

Things are looking down for Ryan Dempster.
Make the Cubs' Ryan Dempster 0 for April, 0 for May, and 0 for 2012 thus far.

The snake-bitten Dempster hasn't won since last August. He was victimized by Kerry Wood's struggles on opening day and a couple of early-season meltdowns by closer Carlos Marmol. He also drew precious little run support from the Cubs' hitters. It wasn't until May that they scored even three runs in a game he started. He entered today's game at Wrigley Field 0-3, but fourth in the National League in earned run average at 2.14. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the lowest for any pitcher winless over his first eight starts of the season since ERA became an official statistic in 1912.

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Chicago incubates a new generation of architects

Posted By on 05.30.12 at 04:03 PM

Neil M. Denari, HL23, New York, 2011.
  • Courtesy of the artist.
  • Neil M. Denari, HL23, New York, 2011.
Earlier this week the Graham Foundation announced its 2012 individual grantees. The foundation awarded more than $400,000 to 55 projects across the world. According to director Sarah Herda, this year was its largest applicant pool—over 670 people applied. “For me, this is at the core of the importance of the Graham Foundation,” says Herda. “We have funded individuals since day one in 1956. And in our area, we’re the only people who directly fund individuals in architecture and design.”

Fritz Haeg’s project “Edible Estate #12: Budapest, Hungary” is one of this year’s grantees. In this work the LA-based artist is partnering with the Blood Mountain Foundation—an arts organization focused on bringing arts projects to Budapest and Hungary— to revisit the utopian-planned community Wekerletelep, a housing block that was constructed between 1908 and 1950. Haeg will work with community members there and revitalize a communal garden.

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Mea culpa time for Adam Dunn haters

Posted By on 05.30.12 at 01:37 PM

Why dont the Adam Dunn critics acknowledge their mistake?
  • Keith Allison
  • Why don't the Adam Dunn critics acknowledge their mistake?
A Reader colleague of mine, Steve Bogira (no relation), mocked Adam Dunn endlessly last year, and it's about time he and his fellow haters ate a little crow.

The White Sox vaulted into first place last night with their seventh straight win—and Dunn has helped lead them to the top. He's tied for second in the American League with 16 homers, and he's sixth in RBI with 37. His two-run, 448-foot blast on Memorial Day lifted the Sox to a 2-1 victory. He's been doing that kind of thing most of the season.

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Jenny McCarthy says men in California are total pussies

Posted By on 05.30.12 at 01:01 PM

  • graphicitinerary
  • Humor
Today the Chicago Sun-Times paid $1,000 in exchange for 438 words by the entertainer Jenny McCarthy on the differences between men in Chicago and men in Los Angeles. "It's almost as if [men] trade their manhood in for vaginas when they cross the border into California" is an actual thing that McCarthy writes in this column, in which she excoriates the men she's encountered in Los Angeles for, I don’t know, ordering salads as entrees or something. No, actually it's because they wear makeup. (Gay joke!) On which, more later.

McCarthy's is the third installment in the Sun-Times's new Splash, a fraught weekday feature in which the paper hires minor celebrities for their "opinions" about something or other. Yesterday ended on a slightly embarrassing note. Minor celebrity Jim Belushi had written about becoming a "pill popper" in his advancing age (pills like Viagra! get it?) and the S-T had to tack on an editor's addendum noting that when Belushi mentioned taking the gout treatment medication Allopurinol, the paper "should have noted that Belushi is in an awareness campaign sponsored by the drug's maker, Savient Pharmaceuticals." (Via Robert Feder.) (See correction below.)

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No Alternative Week: The No Alternative album

Posted By on 05.30.12 at 12:30 PM

When I heard that the theme on the Bleader this week was to be "No Alternative," the first idea that popped into my head was that I should write about the 1993 alt-rock compilation No Alternative. I pitched it at least half as a joke, seeing as the album—which collects live tracks, cover songs, and what often seem to be recordings otherwise destined for the B sides of Japanese CD singles—hasn't garnered much critical respect since it was released.

But despite its flaws, the record remains a fascinating document of a strange time in pop-music history, when members of a stubbornly antisocial subculture found themselves suddenly gaining power over the mainstream, but before they'd completely hardened into cynicism as a result. Nirvana (who contributed the "secret" track "Verse Chorus Verse," better known to bootleggers as "Sappy") and the Smashing Pumpkins ("Glynis") had recently broken through to the pop charts, and for a second it didn't seem too outrageous an idea that Uncle Tupelo ("Effigy") or the Verlaines ("Heavy 33") might follow. For all of Gen X's trend-piece-inspiring snarkiness, there was a genuine feeling at the time that weirdo underground bands showing up on the pop charts meant something, and the "counterculture summit" aspect of No Alternative—it includes not only Nirvana and the Pumpkins but Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys, and Soundgarden—combined with the fact that it was a benefit for AIDS awareness charity the Red Hot Organization gave it considerable philosophical weight, at least to impressionable teenage fans such as myself.

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