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Monday, September 2, 2013

Reader's Agenda Mon 9/2: City Winery's Bubbly-Q, the Chicago Fringe Festival, and Thin Hymns

Posted By on 09.02.13 at 06:00 AM

Chicago Fringe Festivals Generation Sex: Get Connected
  • Amanda De La Guardia
  • Chicago Fringe Festival's Generation Sex: Get Connected
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

Celebrate Labor Day as the the gods intended, with barbecue and champagne at City Winery's Bubbly-Q. Performances by Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Charlie Parr, and more.

Fringe festivals, for the uninitiated, are uncensored, rapid-fire smorgasbords of puppetry, dance, theater, spoken word, and more. Now in Jefferson Park, the Chicago Fringe Festival features a lineup chosen by lottery. Among today's performances are a rap musical, a play about a slap-bracelet time machine, and something called Boobs and Hope.

On Thin Hymns' new four-song cassette, All Around You, the art-rock group seems far more confident than a band with only two releases to its name. The music is at once expansive, murky, and gorgeous, with addictively weird harmonies and an opening bass line that is "so strong and seductive that they could sing the Sesame Street theme over it and I'd still be hooked," says Peter Margasak. They headline tonight at the Empty Bottle.

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

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Reader's Agenda Sun 9/1: Remix Chicago, Windy City BBQ Classic, and the Rempis Percussion Quartet

Posted By on 09.01.13 at 06:00 AM

Remix Chicago
  • Kalle Eko
  • Remix Chicago
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

Ravenswood Remix now goes by Remix Chicago, but it's still the same sustainability-focused art fair as ever. Booths with folk and indie arts and crafts, all made from used or recycled goods, line Milwaukee Avenue between Fullerton and California. AM Taxi and Makeshift Prodigy perform.

Labor Day weekend demands barbecue consumption, and there's no better place to chow down today than the Windy City BBQ Classic outside Soldier Field, where 30 elite competitors from across the country will be doing their thing low and slow, sans electricity or gas. Categories (and eats) include pork, ribs, chicken, and brisket; Reader food writer Mike Sula will serve as one of the judges.

The Chicago Jazz Festival winds to a close today, but don't think the music stops when Pritzker's lights shut off: the Rempis Percussion Quartet plays at Hungry Brain at 10 PM. Peter Margasak says that on their new CD, Phalanx, the group reaches "their most electric heights yet."

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

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Street View 117: Accessorizing is key

Posted By on 08.31.13 at 09:00 AM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.


Nneka makes her outfit special by pairing bright complementary colors and accessorizing her casual ensemble with bold choices. Ethnic and hip.

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Reader's Agenda Sat 8/31: Ty Segall, Kidd Jordan, and Taste of Polonia

Posted By on 08.31.13 at 06:00 AM

Kidd Jordan
  • Stephen Houser
  • Kidd Jordan
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

Emerging millennial rock god Ty Segall puts out so much new music all the time it's mind-blowing that he has time to tour. Not that we're complaining. After releasing the acoustic album Sleeper last week, he headlines a show tonight at the Logan Square Auditorium. Don't miss the 26-year-old who has Peter Margasak making John Lennon comparisons.

You already know what's going down at Millennium Park, but if you're longing for the days when you could head over to the Velvet Lounge afterward, check out Constellation tonight, where Fred Anderson's old friend Edward "Kidd" Jordan (who'll play earlier with the Hamid Drake Quartet) will be joined by William Parker and Alvin Fielder.

The Copernicus Center plays host to the Taste of Polonia all weekend. Stop by for heaping portions of everyone's favorite P words: pierogi, potato pancakes, Polska kielbasa, and polka.

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

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Trotter wigs out on art students, and other food news bites

Posted By on 08.30.13 at 04:19 PM

Charlie Trotter
  • Sun Times
  • Charlie Trotter
• Charlie Trotter had a major meltdown, reports the Sun-Times.

Ina's is closing. Phil Vettel pays tribute.

• Marie's Riptide Lounge closes for good Saturday, reports DNAinfo.

• Eating the World drops in on New Mexico's Hatch Chile Festival.

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Hey, Mr. Mayor: Don't mess with Wendy Katten!

Posted By on 08.30.13 at 03:51 PM

Wendy Katten, leading protesters to the DePaul Center this past June
  • Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times
  • Wendy Katten, leading protesters to the DePaul Center this past June
In case you missed it, there was a televised toe-to-toe battle the other day on the future of public education in the age of Mayor Emanuel.

It took place on the August 26 episode of Chicago Tonight—shout-out to host Eddie Arruza—and featured two advocates with vastly contrasting points of view.

In one corner, representing the Chicago Public Schools, was Andrea Zopp, a mayoral appointee to the board of education.

And in the other corner, representing Raise Your Hand, a citywide coalition, was Wendy Katten, a CPS parent.

Let's get ready to rumble!

The specific topic was charter school funding. Or: Has Mayor Emanuel increased funding to charters while cutting funding for traditional public schools?

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If the past is another country, why aren't there guidebooks?

Posted By on 08.30.13 at 03:19 PM

One of the best parts about reading a history book, aside from finding out some good gossip about famous dead people, is getting to imagine yourself into the past. Obviously life now is safer and more comfortable than it's ever been, and it would be really hard to give up electric light and air-conditioning, but maybe life in other centuries was more colorful and exciting. It's the same impulse that makes people want to travel to Transylvania or Patagonia after they've read Patrick Leigh Fermor or Bruce Chatwin: somewhere else, you might feel more alive.

Unfortunately, a lot of history either concentrates on famous people who, odds are, you would never have gotten to meet if you'd lived at the same time, or tries to make sense of evidence assembled about the past (newspapers, public records) in order to assemble an argument. Which doesn't help much when you just want to know how you might have gone to the bathroom in ancient Crete, where indoor plumbing was allegedly invented. Or to get a sense of what it was like to be alive then, what it was like, say, to be an ordinary person at a time when ordinary people were just starting to believe that the world was round.

Which is why Ian Mortimer, whose new book The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England just came out in the U.S., is my new favorite historian.

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The contemplative beauty of Charles Lloyd, boxed

Posted By on 08.30.13 at 02:48 PM

The veteran saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd headlines the Chicago Jazz Festival tonight in a performance with his malleable trio of bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland, with special guest guitarist Bill Frisell. For several decades Lloyd has been a model of measured seeking, using music to reach for the same sort of spiritual fulfillment as his onetime influence John Coltrane. I know that some folks find the reedist a bit too controlled and, indeed, there have been times when I wish he'd bring more fire to his playing, but once the listener recalibrates expectations to Lloyd's meticulous, thoughtful standards, there's no missing the music's quiet intensity.

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Sharing a vodka with Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812

Posted By on 08.30.13 at 12:41 PM

Phillipa Soos Natasha making a huge mistake with Lucas Steeles Anatole, in Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812
  • Chad Batka
  • Phillipa Soo's Natasha making a huge mistake with Lucas Steele's Anatole in Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812
Reduced to its component parts, Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 looks like an experiment in perversity. Here, adapter/composer Dave Malloy seems to have told himself, see if you can make an engaging entertainment out of this: (1) Pull a storyline from Leo Tolstoy's massive 1869 novel, War and Peace, then (2) retell it in operatic style—but (3) don't perform it in an opera house or even in a conventional theater. Instead, (4) stage it in a big tent that's been filled with bistro tables and banquettes around which you've crammed people who didn't necessarily expect to be spending the evening together. (6) See that you locate the tent in Manhattan's downtown Meatpacking District. (7) Serve dinner.

Epic, operatic, big top, downtown dinner theater: What could possibly go right?

And yet the show succeeds on pretty much every level—including the blood-alcohol level, inasmuch as you can order a carafe of Stolichnaya vodka to make the experience feel more authentically Russian. (Though, as NPR has pointed out, Stoli's actually made in Latvia).

Less lethal accoutrements of the evening include heavy red, somehow czarist curtains; starburst chandeliers; and a full-length portrait of the man responsible for the "war" in War and Peace, Napoleon Bonaparte. The fellow who seated us wore a big fur hat and an earring. There was old-world-style lump sugar on the table—the kind my grandma used to grip between her teeth while she drank tea. We were served shots of very good borscht.

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12 O'Clock Track: "ODB" is a brand new, drugged-up album preview from Danny Brown

Posted By on 08.30.13 at 12:00 PM

  • Old
On Wednesday, Danny Brown released another preview track from his upcoming record Old, due out on 9/30, and, just like the other handful of songs that he's been slowly sharing, it's really great. It's called "ODB," and it's today's 12 O'Clock Track. "ODB" is a perfect example of what makes Danny Brown the best rapper out there right now: rhymes that are both sophisticated and schizophrenic, one of the sharpest and most unique voices you'll ever hear, and a trippy beat that mixes outer-space soul with drugged-out Detroit house music. As the title implies, the song is an homage of sorts to the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, an MC whose idiosyncrasies are often compared to Brown's. But "in the end," Brown raps that he's an old dirty bastard on his own: "I'm just a dirty old man with a pill in my mouth and my dick in my hand!" Keep it classy, Danny. After hearing this track, I'm more excited than ever for Old, probably the record I've anticipated most in 2013.

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