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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Street View 147: Out with the new, in with the old

Posted By on 11.30.13 at 08:00 AM

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


Thanks to the counterculture spirit of the 60s, wearing second-hand clothes became a trend, one that's lasted up through these days. Out with the new, in with the old—preferably reinterpreted in novel ways, to avoid a costumey feel. Mark does just that, mixing a very Sergeant Pepper's military jacket with a pair of Air Jordan sneakers. Harmonizing apparently dissonant items is what takes a look to the next level.

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Reader's Agenda Sat 11/30: Corrections House, Paper Machete, and classic horror films

Posted By on 11.30.13 at 06:00 AM

Corrections House
  • Corrections House
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

Corrections House, an experimental industrial project that brings together members of Eyehategod, Neurosis, and Bloodiest, celebrate the release of their new album, Last City Zero, at the Empty Bottle. The Reader's Luca Cimarusti says it's "as brilliant and intense as you'd expect, given the personnel involved."

Today's edition of the Paper Machete at the Green Mill, a weekly "salon in a saloon" and "live magazine show," features Carisa Barreca (Second City) and Stephen Walker (Factory Theater).

Halloween has long since passed, but that doesn't mean the time to watch horror films is over. You can see three of them at the Patio today: Gary Schultz's Devil in My Ride (2013), Dario Argento's classic chiller Suspiria (1977), and Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat (1981). Vintage trailers and short films are included, as are appearances by Schultz and poster artist Mitch O'Connell.

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

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Sala Bua's tao-jeaw is like a coconut Bolognese

Posted By on 11.29.13 at 03:33 PM

tao-jaew, Sala Bua

A Thai restaurant in Chinatown? What's next? Korean? Japanese? (Oh, yeah.) Actually, you can look at most Asian cuisines and cherrypick dishes/techniques/influences that can be traced back to China. Cha chiang mian? China. Ramen? China.* In Thailand it's pretty much anything stir-fried or any noodle dish (which, by the way, is the only thing you should be using chopsticks for in a Thai restaurant).

Sala Bua, at the far-eastern reach of the Chinatown Mall in the space that housed the late Tao Ran Ju, has a menu of familiar Ameri-Thai standards (crab Rangoon, pad thai, etc), but it's also been getting some attention for being upfront about serving a lot of things non-Thais used to have to ferret out on so-called secret menus; things like Isan sausage, spicy raw shrimp with fish sauce (goong chae nam pla), and four varieties of papaya salad (with dried shrimp, raw blue crab, salted crab, or pickled fish).

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City Council to Mayor Rahm: I'm your puppet!

Posted By on 11.29.13 at 03:04 PM

When it came to voting on a proposal to hire more cops, the aldermen sang an old song to Mayor Rahm: Make me do right or make me do wrong—Im your puppet!
  • Michael Jarecki/Sun-Times Media
  • When it came to voting on a proposal to hire more cops, the aldermen sang an old song to Mayor Rahm: 'Make me do right or make me do wrong—I'm your puppet!'

One of my favorite songs from the 1960s is "I'm Your Puppet," by James & Bobby Purify, the great soul-singing duo of cousins from Florida.

It's the one that goes, "Pull the string and I'll wink at you, I'm your puppet . . ."

And then it goes, "I'll do funny things, if you want me to, I'm your puppet . . ."

Man, I could sing that song all day.

James & Bobby were, of course, singing about some beautiful woman who controlled their heartstrings.

But they just might as well have been singing about all those aldermen who dance at the end of Mayor Emanuel's string.

You know, like the song says, "Snap your fingers and I'll turn you some flips, I'm your puppet . . ."

Just consider this exercise in puppetry from Monday's budget committee hearing over the issue of hiring more police.

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Beer, brick-oven pizza, and rafters at Iron Horse Ale House

Posted By on 11.29.13 at 02:37 PM

Iron Horse Ale House's logo is a hybrid of a locomotive and a beer tap. It's pretty manly, pretty turn-of-the-century. Stamped on the doorway of Norwood Park's new brick fortress—just to the right of the banner advertising a Miller Lite bucket special—it exudes a burly, industrial aesthetic similar to that at Revolution Brewing, which brands its own logo with a triumphant fist that also serves as a handle for each beer tap and a pillar for the bar. Iron Horse's interior is impressive, actually, crossing a factorylike setting with that of a swashbuckling saloon, grandiose rafters and plenty of TVs with sports included.

The fare is typical brewpub grub, though Iron Horse Ale House absolutely does not brew its own beer (it's an ale house, mind you). The draft selection is relatively pedestrian, not for lack of solid options, just for lack of adventurous ones—Dogfish Head, Half Acre, Great Divide, and other trustworthy beers are all on tap, so you'll be pleased, but you'll probably have had it before. The food menu leans heavily on brick-oven pizzas and fancified bar cuisine. So, for example, there's the Bocconcini Fritto, which is a gussied-up way of saying fried cheese. And no two ways about it, fried cheese is fried cheese, and fried cheese is delicious, regardless of the shape into which it's molded and sauce it's paired with. This appetizer was followed by a promising bowl of spinach with goat cheese, beets, mandarin oranges . . . the works. But there was a catch: the shareable salad (which, for the love of God, needed serving tongs or something) was hosed down in a bland raspberry vinaigrette—there was a veritable pool of it sloshing around once we hit the bottom of the bowl. It was messy and oily and turned what had once seemed fresh, sharp spinach into a drowned mess.

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Mattias Ståhl reps the vibe for Europe

Posted By on 11.29.13 at 02:00 PM

The vibraphone remains a staple in jazz music, yet within the genre it's ultimately not a particularly popular instrument. Chicago, for instance, can only boast a handful of serious full-time players—Jason Adasiewicz, Justin Thomas, and Jim Cooper are the ones that spring to mind, and Cooper hasn't lived in town since the late 90s. Plenty of percussionists include the instrument within their arsenal, but it's only a part, not the main battery; Adasiewicz and Thomas are part of a relatively recent wave of new voices on the instrument that also includes Chris Dingman, Matt Moran, Warren Wolf, and James Westfall. Europe seems to have an even more serious drought in terms of youngish vibists, which makes the work of Swedish mallet master Mattias Ståhl all the more special. To these ears, he's as good as any of his American counterparts, and only Adasiewicz—with his aggressive, supersaturated style—can top him in terms of forging new aesthetic models. Ståhl's tone and style hark back to lesser-known geniuses on the instrument like Teddy Charles and Walt Dickerson, eschewing the wide-open vibrato of Milt Jackson, but his melodic shapes, sense of dynamics, and group interactions are thoroughly modern.

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Alex Barnett plays tonight, gets ready to drop brand-new LP

Posted By on 11.29.13 at 12:30 PM

  • Retrieval
As reported in this week's Gossip Wolf, local synth guy Alex Barnett is about to release his new LP, Retrieval, a collaboration with Faith Coloccia (who also plays in Mamiffer with Aaron Turner from Isis), and is readying its release tonight with a set at Empty Bottle, opening up for proggy duo Zombi. Barnett spent years playing in the eerie, droney band Oakeater alongside Seth Sher and Jeremiah Fisher before he started performing and releasing material on his own. His solo work is quite a departure from the bad vibes of Oakeater, taking more of a Tangerine Dream route and focusing on bright, pretty synth oscillations rather than horror-movie creepiness. On Retrieval, however, Barnett proves that he still shines when he's getting dark—on what I've heard from the record, he and Coloccia create a bleak, glacially paced soundcape that channels the feel of his Oakeater music. You can hear a sample track from the LP after the jump.

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12 O'Clock Track: Warm up with the Light Touch Band's "Chi-Ca-Go (It's My Chicago)"

Posted By on 11.29.13 at 12:00 PM

So it got cold out really fast this week. It happens every year, and still, every time it does, everyone takes to their social media to unleash countless "OMG IT'S SO COLD WHY DO I LIVE IN CHICAGO?" updates. I get it, this weather is a total bummer, but don't hate Chicago for it. Here, take a listen to today's 12 O'Clock Track, "Chi-Ca-Go (It's My Chicago)," by the obviously local Light Touch Band. This record came out in 1982, appearing to be the only thing these guys ever released, and it is eight minutes of sheer brilliance. An upbeat funk number driven by a catchy slap-bass line and a schoolyard-chant chorus, it's a love letter rapped to the dear city we call home. This song boosted my Chicago pride, frigid weather and all, and I couldn't imagine anyone feeling anything else after hearing it.

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Did you read about marijuana legalization, David Zwirner, and Barenaked Ladies?

Posted By on 11.29.13 at 11:24 AM

Alcohol, beware!
  • AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
  • Alcohol, beware!
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

• About how the legalization of marijuana could affect the alcohol industry? Brianna Wellen

• Nick Paumgarten on David Zwirner and how money courses through the art world? Tal Rosenberg

• This guide to shopping on Black Friday that should make you skip it altogether? Tony Adler

• About the Winter Overnight Parking Ban, which starts Sunday? Tal Rosenberg

• About Boswell the boozer? (One particularly prodigious night came after he lost a bet that he wouldn't get clap while while on a trip to Europe.) Kate Schmidt

• That conductor Michael Tilson Thomas lobbed cough drops at the audience between movements of Mahler's Ninth at the CSO last week? Deanna Isaacs

• About why Skeletonwitch's bass player, Evan Linger, can't stand the Barenaked Ladies' hit "One Week"? Kevin Warwick

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Poor Richard's sister: Jane Franklin's Book of Ages

Posted By on 11.29.13 at 10:01 AM

  • Random House
John Adams declined to attempt to write a biography of his fellow revolutionary Benjamin Franklin.

"To develop that complication of causes, which conspired to produce so singular a phenomenon, is far beyond my means or forces," he wrote. "Perhaps it can never be done without a complete history of the philosophy and politics of the eighteenth century. Such a work would be one of the most important that ever was written; much more interesting to this and future ages than the 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.'"

Unlike Adams, or Jefferson, or Washington, Franklin was born without material advantages. "I am the youngest Son of the youngest Son of the youngest Son of the youngest son for five Generations," he wrote, "whereby I find that had there originally been any Estate in the Family none could have stood a worse Chance for it." As it happened, there was no estate anyway. Franklin's father was a Boston chandler, a maker of candles and soap. He had 17 children, seven from his first marriage, ten from his second. Thirteen survived past infancy. Franklin went to school and learned to read and write. At age ten he went to work, first as an apprentice to his father, then to his brother, a printer. When he was 18, he ran away to Philadelphia and became the great sage and patriot we all know and love and, incidentally, a very wealthy men. (Is that why he shows up on the $100 bill?) Adams was right: his life, which spanned most of the 18th century, was intertwined with its philosophy and politics, and much has been written about it. Whether it's more interesting than the Decline and Fall probably remains a matter of opinion.

Much less has been written about Franklin's younger and favorite sister, Jane, born with all the same disadvantages, and further hampered by contemporary beliefs that women should neither be educated nor have the means of earning their own living. Like a stereotypical good woman of her time, she was modest and humble and would probably be extremely puzzled that the great Jill Lepore should bother to tell her story in Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.

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