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Friday, May 30, 2014

Klute, Talk Radio, and other Reader-recommended movies to watch online this week

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 11:03 AM

Talk Radio
  • Talk Radio
Each Friday, we recommend seven Old Movies to Watch Now, all of which come recommended by one of our critics and can currently be screened online. Read the review, watch the movie, feel accomplished.

Orgasm, Inc., Liz Canner's film about female sexuality and the pharmaceutical industry.

Pi, Darren Aronofsky's debut feature.

The Fountainhead, King Vidor's Ayn Rand adaptation.

Klute, Alan Pakula's New Hollywood staple.

Mary Poppins, the Walt Disney classic.

Talk Radio, Oliver Stone's drama.

Tell No One, Guillaume Canet's smash thriller.

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Everybody knows the parking meter deal stinks—but is it legal?

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 09:32 AM

Attorney Clint Krislov argues that Chicagos parking meter privatization deal is unconstitutional.
  • Attorney Clint Krislov argues that Chicago's parking meter privatization deal is unconstitutional.
Five years after it was put into place, Chicago's parking meter privatization deal is widely seen as one of the great taxpayer rip-offs in the city's history. The open question is whether it's legal.

Lawyers argued the point once again before a three-judge panel of the Illinois Appellate Court on Thursday. It was the latest round of a lawsuit filed in 2009 by attorney Clint Krislov on behalf of the IVI-IPO, a public-interest group.

Krislov argued that when the city turned over control of the street parking system to Chicago Parking Meters LLC, it unconstitutionally gave up control of its "police powers"—that is, its ability to regulate traffic and parking. He stressed that every time the city changes meter locations or hours, or takes them out of commission for street repairs or neighborhood festivals, it has to compensate the private company. The tab for such "true-up" payments adds up to millions of dollars a year, which severely limits the city's ability to enact public policy, he maintained.

"The city can outsource buying a pencil rather than making one itself," Krislov said. "But it's an entirely different situation for the city to sell the public way and then have to pay every time they make a change. CPM now has a cash flow that the city is obligated to protect."

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Obama College Prep site in doubt

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 08:30 AM

27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at an el station in Logan Square in December. Burnett says the city is now examining other sites for Obama College Prep.
  • Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media
  • 27th Ward alderman Walter Burnett Jr. and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at an el station in Logan Square in December. Burnett says the city is now examining other sites for Obama College Prep.
Obama College Prep may not end up in Stanton Park, the site the city originally designated for its 11th selective enrollment high school, but it's still slated for the Near North Side.

Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. told me yesterday that the city and school board are seeking a better spot in the neighborhood, which is in his 27th Ward. "We're looking at several different sites to see if any of them are feasible," he said.

Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools announced plans for Obama Prep on April 24. The original proposed site—about a block north of Division and a block east of Halsted—has been roundly criticized for two reasons: because it would gobble up a park, and because another selective enrollment school, Payton College Prep, is nearby, and many low-income areas of the city have no selective enrollment high schools. (The Near North Side is one of Chicago's richest neighborhoods.)

The search for a different site is motivated by the park issue and not the equity complaints, Burnett said.

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Krzysztof Zanussi, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and the rest of this week's hard-to-spell screenings

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 07:35 AM

Heroes for Sale
  • Heroes for Sale
Through July 3 the Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the touring series "Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema"—including, this week, Krzysztof Zanussi's Camouflage (1977) and The Constant Factor (1980). Ben Sachs has the lowdown in our long review. We also recommend The Dance of Reality, the latest from cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, which also screens this week), and Heroes for Sale, a Depression-era drama from "Wild Bill" Wellman (The Public Enemy).

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Reader's Agenda Fri 5/30: Do-Division Street Fest, Festival Del Taco, and Bill Charlap Trio

Posted By on 05.30.14 at 06:12 AM

Oozing Wound
  • Jose Martinez Jr.
  • Oozing Wound
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

Summertime weekend festivals are off and running with Do-Division Street Fest, which starts today. Hosted in Wicker Park, the event features music, craft vendors, food, and family activities through Sunday. Tonight's performers include High On Fire, Oozing Wound, and Basic Cable.

Tacos aren’t reserved for Tuesdays at this year’s inaugural Festival Del Taco in Little Village. Starting today and running all weekend, food will be plentiful with vendors like Taqueria La Mexicana and La Ciudad providing tortas, tamales, and, of course, tacos. Tonight Grupo Orgullo Guerrerense and Los Chicos Montecarlo perform.

Jazz's elite Bill Charlap Trio plays at the University of Chicago tonight. The Reader's Peter Margasak writes, "These guys aren't pushing the envelope, but they inject the standard repertoire with charged vitality, irresistible swing, and melodic grace—traits in full bloom on their most recent album, 2007's Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note).” Dick Hyman—known for scoring Woody Allen's films, among many others—headlines with a solo set.

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

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

On the case for reparations—and the National Review's response

Posted By on 05.29.14 at 04:07 PM

William F. Buckleys National Review reponds to the discussion about discussing reparations
  • Rober A. Reeder
  • William F. Buckley's National Review reponds to the discussion about discussing reparations.
What's so interesting about "The Case for Reparations," the cover story by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the June Atlantic, is how easily that case is made. Coates points out that everything awful (short of systematic genocide) that can be done by one people to another was done by white Americans to the blacks brought in chains to serve them. The blacks were bought, sold, whipped, executed, worked like beasts, and granted no rights whatsoever, not even to the company of their families. Once nominally freed from bondage, they lived harrowingly circumscribed lives (and not only in the deep south), victims of laws and customs concocted to confine, neuter, and exploit them. Focusing on Chicago as a case study, Coates recalls how blacks here were redlined out of mortgages—the FHA refused to insure them—and forced to buy their homes on contract. This meant forgoing equity, and dealing with panic-peddling sellers who bought low, sold high, and could take a home back if the buyer missed a single payment.

When I came to Chicago in 1970 one of the big ongoing local stories concerned the legal struggle against those sellers by the Contract Buyers League, which Coates tells us was made up of south-side and west-side blacks "all of whom had been locked into the same system of predation." When they lost in court in 1976, Coates writes, the jury foreman said he hoped the verdict would end "the mess Earl Warren made with Brown v. Board of Education and all that nonsense."

The first African slaves in America arrived in Jamestown in 1619. If that's ancient history, 2012 isn't, that being the year Wells Fargo paid $175 million to settle a suit alleging the bank was targeting blacks for predatory home loans. Slavery, says the intro to Coates's story, is a "deep wound that has never been healed or fully atoned for," that rather "has been deepened by years of discrimination, segregation, and racist housing policies that persist to this day." Coates doesn't go so far as to say who should pay whom, and how much. He wants America to confront its past. He wants a soul-searching conversation.

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The first Scored Silent Film Festival hits West Town on Saturday

Posted By on 05.29.14 at 03:14 PM

Jeremy Bessoffs Zoom In
  • Jeremy Bessoff's Zoom In
This Saturday at 8:30 PM local animation outfit BAWSY Animation will present the Scored Silent Film Festival at 755 N. Ashland. It's not really a festival so much as a single event, but it sounds interesting nonetheless. The program consists of new animated shorts—including work by such noted Chicago artists as Anne Beal and Jeremy Bessoff—with live soundtracks performed by local musicians. According to BAWSY's Facebook page, the event will also feature a marketplace where local visual artists will sell their wares. Admission is a mere $5 suggested donation.

As longtime accompanist David Drazin suggested to me earlier this year, the visual language of silent cinema can be so unlike that of contemporary sound films that audiences unfamiliar with the form might embrace it as something totally new. Saturday's event seems like a step in this process of cultural recovery, as it identifies common ground between silent movies and more recent forms of creative expression.

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Oozing Wound and Black Pus ready a split LP

Posted By on 05.29.14 at 02:00 PM

split.jpg
It's no secret that I love local trash-thrash three-piece Oozing Wound, so any news on an upcoming release of theirs is always going to be something that gets me excited. This time around the band is gearing to drop a split LP on Thrill Jockey with labelmate Black Pus—the super weird solo outing of Brain Chippendale, drummer for spazzy noise monsters Lightning Bolt. The projects shared a bill at the Empty Bottle about a year ago, and it was those paths crossing that ultimately lead to Oozing Wound's Thrill Jockey signing, so it was only natural for them to wind up on the same disc together. While preview tracks for Wound's side of the split are, unfortunately, not available yet, a few days ago we got to hear one of the Black Pus jams, and it's great. Possibly the most restrained and minimal song that Chippendale has ever made, "Blood Will Run," is a simple, driving one-two drum beat accompanied by dry, deadpan vocals. A far cry from the intense, indecipherable cacophony he usually creates with Black Pus and Lightning Bolt. Halfway through the song, a signature drum blitz and noise blast pops up, but it's not long before things return back to a simple drum march. You can hear the track below.

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Lifting the curse: Chef Kevin McMullen at the Brixton

Posted By on 05.29.14 at 01:30 PM

Kevin McMullen at The Brixton.

I had reason to stop by the Brixton and talk to Chef Kevin McMullen for something coming up in these pages/pixels—which you'll see in due course—but while I was there I chatted with him for a few minutes about the Andersonville bar-restaurant, which so far has succeeded in lifting what appeared to be a curse on its location.

The building, 5420 N. Clark, was home to the wine bar In Fine Spirits (see it in its old Key Ingredient video here) for a number of years, but then the owners reconcepted it as Premise under former Graham Elliot chef Brian Runge. Despite serving impressive and very interesting food, which might've have brought Andersonville a lot closer to Randolph Street and Logan Square than it has been before or since, Premise's fine dining feel was pretty much a mismatch with the space, which was unmistakably a bar, and it closed in only a few months.

Brasserie 54, an outpost of the LM Bistro group, followed but provoked little excitement. Meanwhile McMullen, who by then had left El Ideas, was working at Longman & Eagle and was set to be part of the team opening the same company's Dusek's. Then the space on Clark was taken over by Tim Casey and Ted Webler, who own the Drum and Monkey on Taylor Street.

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Hawks, night editors rise to test

Posted By on 05.29.14 at 12:35 PM

second.jpeg
A big win is only as good as the headlines.

In the Sun-Times: SECOND WIN

Which in its quiet way is really nifty. In the Tribune:

Old man winner

And the problem with that is this is late May.

Then again, the Trib came up with this one online:

Handzus stars in 'The Old Man and the See I Told Ya So'

It's a fiercely competitive art form.

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