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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Brand-new Black Flag T-shirts!

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 04:33 PM

The Process of Selling Out. Get it!?
  • The Process of Selling Out. Get it!?
Hot on the heels of the announcement of not one, but two Black Flag reunions taking place later this year comes the hilarious backlash. Today it's in the form of two amazing T-shirts, for sale at a Big Cartel page simply run under the name Black Flag. Both shirts parody classic Flag imagery while aptly pointing out exactly what's happening right now: one shirt depicts a dick-measuring contest between the former members and one notes that this is clearly an outrageous cashgrab for a down-on-his-luck Greg Ginn.

I'd recommend ordering these guys ASAP before the inevitable cease-and-desist order.

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Five dishes worth the drive to Schaumburg's Pepper & Salt

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 04:04 PM

Franky Roll, Pepper & Salt
Earlier this month Friend of the Food chain Rob Lopata decreed that the finest haleem in the land was to be had not on Devon but out among the strip malls and big boxes of Schaumburg at the Pakistani restaurant Pepper & Salt. Haleem, as he testified in the Trib, is the spicy, meaty grain porridge especially popular at Ramadan, though available year-round in some places. But Pepper & Salt is about more than just gruel: it's another piece of evidence in the case that the west and northwest suburbs are home to outlets for subcontinental eats that rival or even best anything in the city. (And the burbs are like that for all kinds of expats.)

Pepper & Salt sits in a parking lot hard against busy Schaumburg Road, a convenient location that allows it to have a busy takeout and catering business (in the same way Sam's Rasoi and Royal Malabar Catering operate). But you can eat in too, in a mirrored dining room that assures you a view of whatever anyone else is eating. That means six different biryanis, a dozen vegetable curries, 13 meat curries, kebabs, breads (including the uncommon saffron-spiced sheermal), and snackier things like samosas, chat, and the pictured Franky Roll. The last is often compared to the "Bombay burrito," aka the kati (or kathi) roll—though this blogger begs to differ. It's basically a warm roti wrapping some kind of filling (though it doesn't have the allegedly de rigueur egg wash). At Pepper & Salt, it's beef, chicken, or a tangy tamarind-slicked, chiled potato filling—more than enough for one reasonable eater's lunch. But did I stop there? Read on:

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Benjamin, the R&B alter ego of Chicago Stone Lightning Band's front man, releases an outrageous new single

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 02:00 PM

  • Benjamin
One of my favorite Chicago projects has always been Benjamin, the superfly R&B alter ego of Ben Pirani, front man for blues-rockers Chicago Stone Lightning Band and hype man for Windy City Soul Club. However, Benjamin only existed in the form of a short-run, two-song cassette release on Priority Male, a hilarious music video, and a shelved collaboration with "wurkstep" pioneers Sich Mang. Pirani has since moved to New York, dyed his hair blond, and hooked up with new Humboldt Park funk and R&B label Cherries Records, who this week released a new Benjamin seven-inch. The record's A side, "Love Is Gonna Let You Down," is a funky, 80s-flavored dance track, punctuated with twinkly piano and horn blasts, but the highlight is the B-side track, "Not a Moment Too Soon"; it's a full-on slow jam, complete with slap bass, phased-out synths, a wailing guitar solo, and—because why the hell not—a lot of 808 cowbell. It's irresistible and has so much replay factor it's not even funny. Cherries released an amazing/hilarious promo video for the record, which can be viewed after the jump.

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How can the sky be falling when there's Dak Korean Chicken Wings?

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 01:45 PM

Dak soy garlic wings, coiled and ready to strike
  • Mike Sula
  • Dak soy-garlic wings, coiled and ready to strike
This week and last, lots of link baiters have been pretending the National Chicken Council's recent press release on the State of the Chicken Wing means that the nation will go wingless on Super Bowl Sunday. After all, the lobbying group claimed chicken production was down about 1 percent last year, even though just a few paragraphs later came its assurance that "consumers shouldn't worry about any shortage of wings on Super Bowl Sunday or any time soon."

It's more troubling to worry about the reasons why—high corn prices due to drought and mandated ethanol production—and what these may mean for future food production in general.

But hey, chicken wings, right? Don't be a Chicken Little.

Which elegantly brings me to the subject of Dak Korean Chicken Wings, the Edgewater storefront chicken hawker that opened just after the holidays, specializing in the sweet, sticky genus of K(orean)F(ried)(C(hicken) known as tongdak. You might be most familiar with this kind of bird from those found at Lakeview's wonderful Crisp, or Toreore Chicken & Joy at HMart, or perhaps even at the late Cheogajip/Pizza Chicken & Love Letter.

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Cubs vs. rooftop owners: The most exciting game in town

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 01:15 PM

More entertaining than the ball game!
For my money, the ongoing dispute between the Cubs and their rooftop-owning neighbors is far more interesting than last year's Cubs season.

In that season, the Cubs managed to lose 101 out of 162 games—ten more than they lost in 2011. So if losing is the objective, you could say the Cubs are making progress.

In the case of the rooftop dispute, the Rickettses—owners of the team—are going at it tooth and nail with the folks who own the buildings across the street from Wrigley Field.

If only their ballplayers played with as much vim and vigor.

As you probably know, the rooftop owners rent out the rooftops of their buildings (hence the name, rooftop owners) to fans who are so stuck on the Cubs that they're willing to pay big bucks to watch a crummy team play from the roof of a building across the street!

The Cubs want to block the view by erecting digital billboards on Wrigley Field that they can rent to advertisers, thus making even more money to squander on mediocre players. Something they're really good at.

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12 O'Clock Track: Clipping's eerie new noise-rap cut, "Killer"

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 12:00 PM

I spent a good chunk of the past 24 hours listening to Local Natives' brand-new album, Hummingbird, to see if the LA outfit made a record that sounded like more than the sum of their indie influences. I haven't made up my mind just yet, but I've been in dire need of a palate cleanser.

Thank goodness for LA noise-rap trio Clipping; these dudes make the kind of jagged and creepy tunes I crave after listening to immaculate-sounding indie rock for hours on end. Clipping recently released a tune called "Killer" and, along with fulfilling my desire to hear a lot of harsh and visceral music, it's also today's 12 O'Clock Track.

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Did you read about pro football, cats, and having fun?

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 11:37 AM

  • D.Maillard
  • Cats
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

• Heart surgeon Mehmet Oz explaining "why surgeons are assholes"? Jena Cutie

• About the genius computer scientist whose breakthroughs in biology and robotics stem from having fun? Mara Shalhoup

• About the shadowy groups that enforce modesty in Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods? Ben Sachs

• That "your cat is making you crazy"—and not in a cute way? Tony Adler

• How pro football has evolved since the first Super Bowl? Mick Dumke

• Jack Shafer's unsolicited advice for new New Republic owner Chris Hughes? Tal Rosenberg

• That Charlie Musselwhite is touring with Ben Harper behind a new record? (And that it's Musselwhite's birthday?) Kate Schmidt

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Raoul Walsh's Wild Girl blazes into Evanston on Friday

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 11:30 AM

Joan Bennett (left) with a pack of backwoods ragamuffins
  • Joan Bennett (left) with a pack of backwoods ragamuffins
On Friday at 7 PM, Block Cinema at Northwestern University will screen Wild Girl, a recently restored comic western directed by Raoul Walsh. Released in 1932, the film comes from a fascinating period of Hollywood cinema—the years following the introduction of sound and prior to the implementation of the Hays Code, the system of self-censorship that would govern mainstream movies for another three decades. It also comes from a prolific time in Walsh's career, a three-year period wherein he signed eight feature films and did uncredited reshoots for a few others. As evidenced by two of his 1933 efforts Sailor's Luck and The Bowery (both of which screened in Chicago in the past few years), these years saw the director at his most carefree and vulgar. Luck and Bowery come on like a loudmouthed stranger buying a round for everyone in the bar; they're brash, unsubtle, and eager to please. And based on the half-hour I saw on Monday (before an unexpected fire drill ended the press screening early), Wild Girl seems just as high-spirited as those two films, if not necessarily as coarse.

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When death row and dog cages are a step up in the world

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 10:23 AM

A cell block at Tamms on the day the supermax was dedicated in March 1998
  • AP Photo/Mark Christian
  • A cell block at Tamms on the day the supermax was dedicated in March 1998
"This place is one hundred times better than Tamms," a prisoner in the Pontiac Correctional Center told me in a recent letter. "I was able to purchase a regular Bic ink pen and a regular-size toothbrush." In Tamms, prisoners were limited to what were called "security toothbrushes," he wrote. "A security toothbrush is the size of your pinky finger. It loses its effectiveness after three brushes. My gums are still bleeding each time I brush my teeth. Everyone that went from Tamms to Pontiac put in for the dentist upon arriving here, to get their teeth cleaned, pulled etc.—things they would not do in Tamms. I'm surprised I still have teeth."

I've been corresponding with this man for more than a decade, and he'd been in Tamms the last six years. Tamms is the supermax prison near the southern tip of Illinois that was closed January 4 because of state budget cuts. The man was among the 138 prisoners who were transferred out in December. The vast majority of these prisoners went to Pontiac, a maximum-security prison 100 miles southwest of Chicago.

At Pontiac, "They moved all of us into the old Death Row," my correspondent wrote. The bottom two tiers of the North Cell House at Pontiac had been death row, but Illinois abolished capital punishment in 2011, so the tiers no longer need to be reserved for condemned inmates.

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The Big Hurt and Twitter, so bad it's good

Posted By on 01.31.13 at 07:33 AM

Frank Thomas
  • AP Photo/Mike Carlson
  • Frank Thomas
A few weeks ago, former Chicago White Sox power-hitting first baseman Frank Thomas placed an ad in Time magazine for the beer bearing the bruising nickname from his playing days, Big Hurt Beer.

I know this, without having purchased the issue, because he tweeted it:

And retweeted someone who took a picture of it. And another. And another. And one more for good measure.

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