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Friday, May 31, 2013

12 O'Clock Track: Dirty Beaches is back and darker than ever with "Mirage Hall"

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 12:00 PM

Drifters/Love Is the Devil
  • Drifters/Love Is the Devil
2011's Badlands put Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches, on the map. The sparse, dark record sounded like Suicide's first album made by the bad guy from a 50s beach-party flick. Hungtai's greaser image paired with his damaged Elvis Presley whine made for one of the creepiest and coolest records of that year, one that I still spin frequently. Since Badlands dropped, Hungtai's put out a small handful of releases as Dirty Beaches, including two more ambient and synthy film scores, and this month he's back with a new proper full length, Drifters/Love Is the Devil, and as expected, it's really great. This LP, which Hungati has said is a break-up record, is bleaker than anything he's done before. Gone are the greaser vibes, and stronger than ever is the minimal synth-punk. The record's centerpiece, "Mirage Hall" is today's 12 O'Clock Track, a fractured, damaged, almost dancey drone number. It's really dark and moody, almost uncomfortably so, and all that makes it amazing. Take a listen after the jump.

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Did you read about John H. White, Detroit, and Rafael Nadal?

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 11:16 AM

John H. White, the man behind the camera, photographed in April, 2012.
  • Gary Middendorf/Sun-Times Media
  • John H. White, the man behind the camera, photographed in April, 2012.
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

• This photo essay on Pulitzer Prize winner John H. White, who was laid off yesterday along with the rest of the Sun-Times's photo staff? Kate Schmidt

• The theory that Detroit can only be saved by demolishing large swaths of it? Mick Dumke

"Ancient Gay History," Frank Rich's beautiful, sad remembrance of an early mentor? Sam Worley

• That Jockey is trying to revolutionize the bra-fitting system (though early adapters say their new system works about as well as the old standard one)? Aimee Levitt

• About Pitchfork's new Chicago-based film site, the Dissolve? Leor Galil

• Brian Phillips on Rafael Nadal's "Lost Weekend"? ("So let's say the Lost Weekend is the background to this year's French Open. The foreground is … but what should we call it? The Decisively Located Workweek? The Monday Morning Of This Is My PhD In Cartography, Motherf——-?") Tal Rosenberg

• "19 Tweets From the Audubon Society/Barack Obama Twitter Feud"? Sam Worley

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NCFS hits the road, and the rest of this week's screenings

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 10:44 AM

High Treason
  • High Treason
Following last week's closing of the Portage Theater, Northwest Chicago Film Society is currently looking for a new permanent venue for its Wednesday (and frequently Monday) repertory shows. High Treason, originally booked at the Portage, screens a couple miles west on Irving Park at the Patio on Wednesday, June 5, at 8 PM.

In this week's issue: Facets Cinematheque opens a weeklong run of Jen and Sylvia Soska's American Mary, Gene Siskel Film Center screens Ulrich Seidl's "Paradise" trilogy, and Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke star in Richard Linklater's Before Midnight.

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Two parking meter deals are worse than one

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 07:36 AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has worked to lock the parking meter privatization in place
After winning the mayor's office on a promise of reform, Rahm Emanuel vowed to rework or undo the city's parking meter privatization deal, one of the enduring legacies of the insider politics of the Daley era.

"I have people on the transition—and more than a person—working on this," Emanuel said. "I have some ideas and we're exploring them."

Two years later the City Council is scheduled to take up the result of those explorations—a revised meter agreement forged by Emanuel's staff. But far from scotching or significantly retooling the deal, the new agreement would essentially kill the possibility of meaningful changes for the next seven decades.

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Reader's Agenda Fri 5/31: Chicago Jazz String Summit, the Chicago Turkish Festival, and One Million Degrees

Posted By on 05.31.13 at 06:10 AM

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

The University of Chicago's Arts Incubator hosts the Chicago Jazz String Summit, featuring performances by Musique Noire, Jessica Pavone & Mary Halvorson, Tomeka Reid Trio, and James Sanders's Blue Violin Quartet.

The Chicago Turkish Festival, at Pioneer Court, features traditional Turkish food and family entertainment.

Local chefs including Matthias Merges and Martial Noguier prepare food at One Million Degrees's Food and Wine Tasting event, which takes place at Bridgeport Art Center.

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

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mayor Rahm's great plan for education: Bankrupt the schools!

Posted By on 05.30.13 at 05:10 PM

Hedge-fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin
  • Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg News
  • Hedge-fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin
It's been over two weeks since Mayor Emanuel released his plans to build a basketball arena and hotel near McCormick Place that nobody asked for and nobody needs.

It's an economic development scheme that turns logic upside down: he proposes to spend $55 million in property taxes today in order to lose untold millions in property taxes tomorrow.

Here, read all about it.

It's got to be the dumbest economic development plan in Chicago since Mayor Daley bought Michael Reese Hospital.

You can read about that one, too—if you dare.

Of course, an idea being dumb won't stop Illinois state reps and senators from approving it, as they move heaven and earth to avoid receiving a profanity-laced late-night phone call from our tempestuous mayor.

Looks like we're really going to need that veto, Governor Quinn.

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Between Beyond the Valley and Dutch Wife in the Desert, Chicago is in the "pink" this weekend

Posted By on 05.30.13 at 03:33 PM

Dutch Wife in the Desert screens at the U of C Film Studies Center on Saturday.
  • Dutch Wife in the Desert screens at the U. of C. Film Studies Center on Saturday.
The "pink film" is a Japanese cinematic genre almost without analogue in American movies. English-language critics usually describe it as soft-core pornography; and while pink films trade in sexual content (and often in a sensational manner), they don't exist solely to gratify spectators' sexual fantasies. Historically the genre has afforded filmmakers a good deal of creative freedom. So long as he or she incorporates the necessary salacious elements, a pink-film director can take the film in any direction he or she pleases. The handful I've seen have been surprisingly varied, ranging from political satire to old-fashioned melodrama to formally daring art films. In fact one of Japan's leading art filmmakers of the past few decades, the recently deceased Koji Wakamatsu, got his start in pink films.

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German reedist Peter Brötzmann, forever looking forward

Posted By on 05.30.13 at 02:30 PM

Last November the powerhouse German reedist Peter Brötzmann announced that he was dissolving his long-running Chicago Tentet, the raucous yet deadly accurate free-jazz orchestra he formed here 14 years earlier. The band had experienced some personnel shifts during that time, but its core—which included reedists Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustafsson, trombonist Jeb Bishop, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Michael Zerang—had largely remained intact all along. In a Wire interview last year Brötzmann commented, "For the audience even the routine is a kind of show, and they like that. But it comes to a point where the band starts to fulfill expectations, and I think I hate that."

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Ono and Piss Piss Piss Moan Moan Moan collaborate again

Posted By on 05.30.13 at 02:00 PM

Piss Piss Piss Moan Moan Moan and Onos split
  • Piss Piss Piss Moan Moan Moan and Ono's split
At Monday's Verma and Herbcraft show at the Burlington, the night kicks off with a special collaborative performance between three of Chicago's best noisemakers: art rock collective Ono, harsh noise duo Piss Piss Piss Moan Moan Moan, and psych guitarist Plastic Crimewave. This is not the first time these guys have shared a stage and sonic space, but it doesn't happen often and should be considered a treat when it does, because the combined force is excellent. The collaboration last went down at the Empty Bottle a few months ago, when they played at the Moonrises record release show, and I was blown away by it.

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Remembering Peter Thompson at Columbia College

Posted By on 05.30.13 at 01:17 PM

Peter Thompson
  • Peter Thompson
Local filmmaker and Columbia College professor Peter Thompson died one week ago today. He was 68. On Friday a public memorial service will be held at Columbia's Film Row Cinema (1104 South Wabash Avenue, eighth floor) from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Thompson's widow, Mary Doughtery, has requested that "in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Peter Thompson Memorial Scholarship Fund."

On his website Jonathan Rosenbaum has posted a moving tribute to Thompson, which touches on their friendship as well as Thompson's films. I recommend it highly, along with this essay that Rosenbaum wrote for the Reader in 2004. These pieces convincingly argue that Thompson was one of the most original filmmakers to have come out of Chicago. Based on what I've learned from former photography students of his, Thompson was also a fabulous professor—a thoughtful instructor who related to his students on a personal level. In the presence of his films (which are set to be released in a DVD box set sometime soon) and his students, Thompson's impact will be felt for some time to come.

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