Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Street View 221: African beauty at the Bean

Posted By on 09.30.14 at 03:30 PM

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

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I'm just so crazy about African textiles! I wish I found more garments with such exuberant patterns. Which reminds me of Modahnik's Kahindo Mateene, a Congolese designer I first saw at the 2011 Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy's. Her creations mix current shapes and traditional African fabrics (see an example—on sale!—here).

So when I spotted Muminah in Millennium Park I was instantly drawn to her outfit's vibrant colors, echoed in her reflection in Anish Kapoor's iconic sculpture. She went for a more classic approach, but still achieved striking results. Her styling is impeccable and coherent—her necklace, earrings, and headscarf perfectly complement her ethnic dress. And then there are those emerald green eyes . . . see them up close below.

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Tonight: Lyric Opera's Don Giovanni

Posted By on 09.30.14 at 01:30 PM

As Giovanni, Don Mariusz Kwiecien woos soprano Andriana Chuchman
  • Michael Brosilow
  • As Giovanni, Don Mariusz Kwiecien woos soprano Andriana Chuchman
The announcement that Robert Falls would be directing Don Giovanni , the opener for Lyric Opera's 60th season, was reason to hope that this 18th-century staple of the repertoire would get a shakeup that would really make it click with a 21st-century audience.

That didn't happen. Falls does give it a nudge, however. He's pushed the Spanish setting to the 1920s. And he's introduced so much coke snorting and erotic pawing you might think you're at Chicago Opera Theater. But that's the easy stuff. It would take a more revolutionary treatment to keep this farcical/gothic morality play of a libretto, by Lorenzo Da Ponte, and its repetitive musical format from the occasional dip into tedium.The kind of treatment that would have purists up in arms.

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The Siskel Center revisits a transformative era in the career of Japanese director Nagisa Oshima

Posted By on 09.30.14 at 01:00 PM

In the Realm of the Senses
  • In the Realm of the Senses
Chris Marker's Level Five (which screens again tomorrow at 6:30 PM at Columbia College) features a cameo by director Nagisa Oshima, who shows up to share his critical view of postwar Japan. Seen here in his 60s, Oshima comes off as an authoritative figure, delivering years of political thought in measured, lucid terms. This image of Oshima contrasts sharply with the one he projected in his 30s, when he was attacking the hypocrisy and conformism of Japanese society with one explosive film after another. How did he transform from a young upstart to an elder statesman?

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Don't overlook Shabazz Palaces' Lese Majesty

Posted By on 09.30.14 at 12:00 PM

It took me a while to get around to listening to Shabazz Palaces' Lese Majesty, this year's follow-up to 2011's Black Up. I'm not sure why: Black Up was my favorite album of that year, and I've been a fan of MC Ishmael Butler (the group is a duo consisting of Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire) since his days in Digable Planets. My guess is it's because the first track to leak off the album, "They Come in Gold," struck me as unexciting and hazy in comparison to the more sharp and energetic material that was on Black Up. But after playing Lese Majesty on repeat over the past week I've come to enjoy the album and even "They Come in Gold," which makes more sense when listened to within the album's arc. A spacier and looser album than Black Up, Lese Majesty retains cohesion by apportioning the separate tracks into "suites" that work well as discrete parts or within the album's sequencing. Lese Majesty is not as immediately satisfying as Black Up, but over time its virtues become more identifiable. I'm not sure if I prefer it to its predecessor, but it makes for another entertaining chapter in the career of one of contemporary hip-hop's (or any other music, for that matter) most idiosyncratic and compelling artists. For today's 12 O'Clock Track I've gone with "Forerunner Foray," which is closer to a single than most of the cuts on the album. Granted, it's not hitting pop radio any time soon, but with its dubby keyboard twinkles, Aquemini-era drum beats, spoken-word samples, and elegiac echoing piano chords, it's possibly the warmest and fleshiest track on an otherwise phantasmal and nonlinear album.

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Did you read about White House security lapses, Sheldon Patinkin, and Bugsy Siegel?

Posted By on 09.30.14 at 11:39 AM

Bugsy Siegels mugshot
  • New York Police Department/Wikimedia Commons
  • Bugsy Siegel's mug shot

Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

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Family Guy/Simpsons crossover is a TV 'd'oh!n't'

Posted By on 09.30.14 at 07:30 AM

Havent you always dreamed of this moment? No?
  • Fox
  • Haven't you always dreamt of this moment? No?
I'd like to know exactly who was clamoring for the Family Guy/The Simpsons crossover that Fox aired on Sunday night. By all accounts (my social-media feeds), there isn't a ton of overlap in their current audiences: if you are still into either show's shtick, you hate the other show's shtick. That is, you are either "over" The Simpsons or you never got into Family Guy.

Well, it turns out that notion of mutual exclusivity isn't entirely accurate—at least, according to the shows' executive producers. Apparently there are FG/TS fans, and they wanted to see Homer Simpson at the Drunken Clam or Peter Griffin at the Kwik-E-Mart. And so we got the hour-long abomination that was the Family Guy season 13 (that's not ominous at all) premiere, "The Simpsons Guy." There isn't much of a plot to recap: a typical FG opening setup—as a misogynistic cartoonist, Peter offends the "shrill, humorless" women of Quahog—sends the Griffins on the run and into Springfield. The two patriarchs meet cute, then join forces (to find the Griffins' stolen car), then clash like titans.

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If a joke helps you vent politically, does it matter if it makes sense?

Posted By on 09.30.14 at 07:00 AM

Would you be happy if your daughter or son ended up with--or like--a man like this? Not if youre a Democrat. But you might find him funny.
  • J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photos
  • Would you be happy if your daughter or son ended up with—or like—a man like this? Not if you're a Democrat. But you might find him funny.
A few decades ago, Americans were a lot more careless about the company they kept. Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, writing for Bloomberg, recalled the other day that back in 1960, just "5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said they would feel 'displeased' if their son or daughter married outside their political party."

If you weren't around then, you probably can't imagine such promiscuity. But take it from me . . . I remember well that year's presidential race.

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Reader's Agenda Tue 9/30: Fall Dinner Crawl, Il Sogno del Marinaio, and Don Giovanni

Posted By on 09.30.14 at 06:00 AM

Il Sogno del Marinaio
  • Courtesy the artist
  • Il Sogno del Marinaio
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

Most organized crawls are of the pub or bar variety, but not the Fall Dinner Crawl. The Wicker Park and Bucktown Chamber of Commerce guides three separate treks—the "Fork," the "Knife," and the "Spoon"—to standout restaurants including Antique Taco, Trencherman, and the recently opened Umami Burger. No risk of passing out here, unless it's from a food coma. Registration required.

"Il Sogno del Marinaio—guitarist Stefano Pilia, drummer Andrea Belfi, and bassist Mike Watt—is Watt's first sustained collective since Firehose in the mid-90s, as well as one of his edgiest, most artful bands since the Minutemen," writes Peter Margasak in Soundboard. "Watt's nimble, muscular bass dominates, and his cohorts clearly appreciate the Minutemen." See the band tonight at Schubas.

Lyric Opera returns to the well tonight with a new staging of Mozart's Don Giovanni, the same opera they performed for their inaugural production back in 1954. Our Deanna Isaacs recommends checking it out, writing "Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls, moonlighting in the Lyric director's chair, has moved the story forward in time, setting it in 1920s Spain to better explore what he sees as the darkly modern psychology of its antihero."

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

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Scandal returns with the perfect amount of wine and melodrama

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 03:00 PM

Olivia Pope is most forlorn when theres no red wine in sight.
  • ABC
  • Olivia Pope is most forlorn when there's no red wine in sight.

Scandal flew below my radar for its first three seasons. When the show's popularity really hit, I was all caught up in Breaking Bad and Mad Men and turned up my nose at any network drama like some pretentious jerk. To quiet the pleas of a fellow television lover, I finally gave it a chance and I was hooked. As my new favorite Clickhole article so eloquently says, "Not every show needs to be fucking Mad Men."

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The time David Bowie called Chicago home

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 02:27 PM

Bowie at Neo in August 1980 with Noni Martin and Noah Beadreaux
  • Photo Courtesy of Ken Ellis, Taken by Gavin Morrison
  • Bowie at Neo in August 1980 with Noni Martin and Noe Boudreau

As much as David Bowie exuded his own charisma, he understood how fashion could be harnessed to magnify his power and presence: an Alexander McQueen Union Jack coat, faux-punk finery dotted with cigarette burns; or a black jumpsuit by Kansai Yamamoto sporting flared legs and thick grooves, making the wearer appear like some kind of anthropomorphic vinyl record. Amid the costumes and sensory overload of "David Bowie Is", the retrospective at the MCA, it's understandable if visitors blithely pass by a lowly white loincloth, a literal undergarment included in one of rock's most eccentric and influential wardrobes.

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