Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Reader's Agenda Tue 6/4: Chicago Pride Month, Pure Bathing Culture, and readings at Quencher's

Posted By on 06.04.13 at 06:06 AM

Pure Bathing Culture
  • COURTESY OF BILLIONS CORPORATION
  • Pure Bathing Culture
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

Director Wolfgang Busch screens his documentary How Do I Look—Voguing in the New Millennium, an examination of Harlem drag ball culture, at Harold Washington Library to kick off Chicago Pride Month.

Portland band Pure Bathing Culture performs at the Empty Bottle. In Soundboard, Kevin Warwick praises band member Daniel Hindman’s "lazily floating guitar" that "never starts or stops but just always hangs there." Night Panther and Gold Cult open.

The Wit Rabbit Reading Series continues at Quencher's Saloon tonight with Andrew Farkas, Kenyatta Rogers, and more.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Reader's Agenda Mon 6/3: Mud wrestling, Dance Improvisation Festival, and bong-hit dream-catcher music

Posted By on 06.03.13 at 06:06 AM

The Mud Queens
  • Courtesy of the Mud Queens
  • The Mud Queens
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

The premise of the Mud Queens of Chicago is: wrestle in mud, play a show while doing so. This goes down at Reggie's tonight.

Columbia College's Dance Improvisation Festival kicks off today at Links Hall with a community showcase featuring Jennifer Monson, Peter Halkin, and more.

Maine-based psych-rock band Herbcraft plays an in-store show at Permanent Records at 6 PM, then jumps over to Burlington to open for Verma. In Soundboard, Miles Raymer calls the band, "The musical equivalent of watching someone taking a massive bong hit and then blow a perfect dream catcher out of smoke."

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reader's Agenda Sun 6/2: Chicago Flea MKT, About Face Youth Theater, and Do-Division Street Fest

Posted By on 06.02.13 at 06:00 AM

Do-Division Street Fest
  • Courtesy of Do-Division Street Fest
  • Do-Division Street Fest
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

Today is the last day to catch About Face Youth Theatre's What's the T?, based on interviews with LGBT teens in the city. It plays at Victory Gardens Theater.

Satisfy your weekly open-air market needs at Chicago Flea MKT at the A.N. Pritzker School off the Damon-O'Hare Blue Line stop, featuring more than 60 vendors.

Jeff the Brotherhood and Gaslamp Killer headline the final day of Do-Division Street Fest, Division Street's annual chance to show off. Come for the music; stay to shop at the block's boutique sidewalk sale.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

The Sun-Times eliminates its staff photographers

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 05:00 PM

Pulitzer Prize winning photographer John White (pictured) was one of the 28 photographers laid off by Sun-Times Media yesterday.
  • Gary Middendorf/Sun-Times Media
  • Pulitzer Prize winning photographer John White (pictured) was one of the 28 photographers laid off by Sun-Times Media yesterday.
A place still remains for staff photography at Sun-Times Media. It graces the corridor walls of the company suite at 350 N. Orleans. Those splendid pictures, spanning decades, saw the company's current photo staff out the door Thursday when the Sun-Times laid off every last one of them.

The paper strained to find something far-sighted in the dismissals. "The Sun-Times business is changing rapidly and our audiences are consistently seeking more video content with their news," said a prepared statement. "We have made great progress in meeting this demand and are focused on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements. The Chicago Sun-Times continues to evolve with our digitally savvy customers, and as a result, we have had to restructure the way we manage multimedia, including photography, across the network."

But words like "great progress," "bolstering," and "continues to evolve" don't obscure what's brutal and desperate about these layoffs. Video has transformed the job description of the modern professional journalist—on Thursday afternoon all Sun-Times editorial employees were told they must undergo mandatory training in shooting and editing video, as well as in basic iPhone photo techniques—but newspapers haven't outgrown pictures. If the Sun-Times chooses not to keep professionals on staff to take them—for its constellation of daily and weekly titles—then it thinks it can't afford to. Times are tough indeed.

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Bacteria in your food, and other food news bites

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 04:41 PM

campylobacter--its in your food
• Enjoy your pork chop. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria has invaded the food chain, reports Monica Eng.

• Eating the World checks out the rare Brazilian fruit known as the feijoa.

• After dragging it out as long as humanly possible, Check, Please! chose a new host. The Sun-Times talks to Catherine De Orio.

• Why are almost all of the city's sidewalk cafes on the north side? WBEZ digs into it.

• The Chicago Cocktail Chronicles gets into the Hirsch Gupta by Joel Rund at Rebar.

• Chicago Foodies profiles the woman opening Chicago's first butcher's school.

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After Earth: An epic struggle between good and bad taste

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 04:12 PM

Jaden Smith in After Earth
  • Jaden Smith in After Earth
The most valuable player on After Earth, the big-budget sci-fi feature that opens in general release today, may well be cinematographer Peter Suschitzky. As David Cronenberg's regular cameraman since Dead Ringers, Suschitzky has developed a look of uncanny glossiness in their numerous films together. His lighting never feels unnatural, yet there's always something off about it—it seems almost too controlled, as if the drama were playing out in a museum diorama. Suschitzky's contribution to Cronenberg's work is most pronounced when the settings are the least artificial: the old Chinese exteriors of M. Butterfly, the sanatorium grounds of A Dangerous Method, the woodland settings of eXistenz. The latter film, a rare future-set sci-fi tale without a single metropolitan setting, may represent the height of Cronenberg and Suschitzky's partnership; in it tall trees and country roads seem as alien as any futuristic technology.

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Smoke the accessories at Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 03:33 PM

smoked potato, Rub
Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse is the second coming of Jared Leonard's West Rogers Park barbecue joint Rub BBQ Company, the former day trader having moved his operation around the corner from Lunt to the remote backcountry of Western Avenue in early March. A lot can be said for Leonard's learning curve. He started out on a gas-powered offset cooker, and the results were less than mentionable. Now his menu proudly proclaims "No gas. No electricity," referring to his totally hardwood-fueled smokers, and there has been some improvement, though not necessarily in the barbecue department. Ribs—Saint Louis spares—are Leonard's strongest suit. They hold together nicely, carry the most intense smoke flavor in the repertoire, and while they can be a bit dry, they're not so bad as to require the application of any of the quartet of house-made sauces. But the latter are essential for the brisket, which absorbs no smoke flavor at all. It would taste braised if it weren't so dry, yet it contains deposits of barely rendered fat, an indicator it's been cooked too fast. Pulled chicken and pork are little better—again too dry.

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This week in Kate Bush video reenactment news

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 03:03 PM

kate_bush_wuthering_heights_video.png
Kate Bush is a having a real moment right now. The art-witch vibe she perfected back in the 70s and 80s has provided a foundational influence for Grimes and other new artists who've been accumulating a whole lot of cultural capital recently, and she has some highly influential proselytizers elsewhere as well.

Bush's effects on the zeitgeist reached a weird high last weekend when more than 300 people gathered in a park in Brighton, England, to set a record for the most people simultaneously reenacting the video to her 1978 UK-chart-topping single "Wuthering Heights." (The actual record they were setting and what entity was in charge of verifying it aren't detailed in the article, although it has quite a bit of detailed information about the weather conditions.) From the pictures provided of 300-plus people dancing around in red cloaks, it looks like it was both very fun and totally insane.

Closer to home, Chicago-based Internet idol (and disclosure: my friend) Molly Soda has launched a "project/piece" with the aim of collecting as many video reenactments of the "Wuthering Heights" clip as possible. According to her instructions, "ideally i’d like you to mimic the dance that she does in the video, but you can make it your own, throw your own spin on it." They're already starting to roll in. If you're interested in submitting one, e-mail mollysoda@gmail.com.

Hit the jump to see the Kate Bush original.

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Janet Malcolm is a camera

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 02:32 PM

forty-one_false_starts.jpg
  • Farrar Straus and Giroux
Janet Malcolm is probably best known for the opening salvo of her book The Journalist and the Murderer: "Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible." This has no doubt inspired a great deal of soul-searching in journalism-ethics classes, but it gives an erroneous impression of Malcolm. Janet Malcolm is not (usually) the sort of journalist who poses as the scourge of God. She is a camera.

It's probably not a coincidence that nearly a third of the essays in her new collection, Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers, concern photography and photographers, ranging from the Victorian pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron to Diane Arbus to Thomas Struth, a German who specializes in oversize photos and who two years ago shot an enormous portrait of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

"Photography is a medium of inescapable truthfulness," Malcolm writes in her profile of Struth. "The camera doesn't know how to lie. The most mindless snapshot tells the truth of what the camera's eye saw at the moment the shutter clicked." But, she adds, one of the roles of the photographer is to provide the setting the way Struth (in his portrait of the Queen) selected the suit she would wear ("many of the dresses she wears are quite unfortunate," he tells Malcolm) and repositioned a badly placed pillow behind her.

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Guitarist Mary Halvorson makes her presence felt

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 02:00 PM

strong-place-ingrid-laubrock-anti-house.jpg
The distinctive New York guitarist Mary Halvorson makes one of her infrequent Chicago appearances tonight at the Washington Park Arts Incubator, performing in her excellent duo with violist Jessica Pavone—the set is part of the promising Chicago Jazz String Summit. As I wrote in my preview this week, that project conveys an appealingly loose rapport with a strong dose of folklike rusticity. Halvorson has been operating at an artistic peak in recent years, both leading her own dynamic bands and working as an instantly recognizable side person, and a slew of terrific recordings prove it.

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