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Monday, December 29, 2014

Meet Danny Solis's challengers in the 25th Ward

Posted By on 12.29.14 at 01:00 PM

Alderman Danny Solis has some competition in the 25th Ward

Historically, the 25th Ward has consisted of mostly Hispanic Pilsen, with chunks of Chinatown and Little Italy. Since the 2012 remap, the ward now also includes slivers of the Near West Side and McKinley Park.

Danny Solis has served as alderman of the 25th Ward since 1996, when he was appointed by former mayor Richard M. Daley. In the past, he's been criticized for his ties to charter network UNO, his lack of transparency, and—more recently—his support for a proposed $30 million metal shredder across from Benito Juarez High School in Pilsen.

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Make sure to catch the Cell Phones at the first night of Ian's Party

Posted By on 12.29.14 at 12:00 PM

New Year's Eve offers up a ridiculous number of shows, so many in fact that I've been having a hard time picking just one I want to see. Though the number of stellar concerts falls off on the first night of 2015, Ian's Party kicks off January 1, and the first night features one of the best bands on the bill for the four-day minifest: local grind-pop trio the Cell Phones. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is the knotty "Lyrical," which captures the ferociousness of the Cell Phones' live set and Lindsey Charles' powerful, dynamic vocals. Give it a spin below and plan to see them at Quenchers on Thursday; Nervous Passenger, Sean Eldon, and the Gunshy also perform.

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Did you read about Facebook's Year in Review, the Bears, and Urge Overkill?

Posted By on 12.29.14 at 11:36 AM

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

Hey, did you read:

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Building Stories vs. Working: Greatest Chicago Book Tournament, round one

Posted By on 12.29.14 at 07:30 AM

  • Sue Kwong
This winter, the Reader has set a humble goal for itself: to determine the Greatest Chicago Book Ever Written. We chose 16 books that reflected the wide range of books that have come out of Chicago and the wide range of people who live here and assembled them into an NCAA-style bracket. Then we recruited a crack team of writers, editors, booksellers, and scholars as well as a few Reader staffers to judge each bout. The results of each contest will be published every Monday, along with an essay by each judge explaining his or her choice. The Reader reader who best predicts the judges' rulings will win a trip to Mexico.

In this week's contest, round one, bout six, Jake Austen, a journalist, editor of Roctober, host of Chic-A-Go-Go, and coauthor of Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop, has to decide between two heavyweights: Chris Ware's Building Stories, a work so enormous it cannot be contained by mere binding, and Studs Terkel's massive Working. To see the results of previous bouts, look here.

When diving into a contest as subjective, meaningless, and silly as a book battle it's important to define terms. Most significant in this particular skirmish is deciding if we are we making a determination of the Greatest Ever Chicago Book or the Greatest Ever Chicago Book. Are these head-to-head scuffles settled upon which Chicago-associated volume is a greater work, or which great work is the most Chicago-ish? In this heavyweight bout (pardon the mixed sports metaphor, Final Four fans) between Studs Terkel's 590 pages of Working and Building Stories, Chris Ware's bookshelf-challenging box of goodies, depending on which rules you play by, very different books could hoist the trophy.

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The late news from 2014: Lucas Museum, Vivian Maier, Steven Salaita, and more

Posted By on 12.29.14 at 07:00 AM

  • Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

In its latter months and days, 2014 kicked out a few surprises. Besides Cosby, Cuba, and North Korea’s near conquest of Sony Pictures, at the end of the year:

The Lucas Museum looks worse now that we’ve seen it. Never mind the lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks to keep the Lucas project off those lakefront parking lots (next court date: February 26), the proposed big white zit design for the building, by Beijing-based architect Ma Yansong, looks like it could sink the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art all by itself.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Learning to appreciate Christmas movies

Posted By on 12.27.14 at 09:00 AM

Christmas Vacation
  • Christmas Vacation
What Christmas carols are to pop music, Christmas movies are to cinema. You don't see hide nor hair of them outside of the holiday season, and, much like Christmas itself, they're so ubiquitous and unavoidable that even if you've never seen all of, say, A Christmas Story, or It's a Wonderful Life, or Miracle on 34th Street, chances are you've caught enough on cable TV and in department store windows to piece them together. (I've never actually sat down and listened to "Jingle Bell Rock" or "I'll Be Home for Christmas," but I can sing both of them word for word.) If you grew up in a Christmas-obsessed family like mine, though, these films are forever burned into your memory, and it's sort of awful. This is mostly due to the stringent nature of the Christmas movie canon: There are probably thousands of Christmas movies out there, but only a dozen or so seem to get any significant play, and very few contemporary efforts make their way into the upper tier (the most recent of which being, for whatever reason, Elf), so as much as people love watching Christmas movies on Christmas, or in the weeks leading up to Christmas, or even the weeks following Christmas, they are—quite stubbornly—picking from an extremely limited bunch.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

More of the best books I read this year

Posted By on 12.26.14 at 03:30 PM

There are books I read because I think Reader readers would find them interesting, and there are books I read because they fulfill some sort of personal need or curiosity. Sometimes the two categories overlap. Here, in no particular order, are a few books I read or reread in 2014 that particularly resonated with me (though only a few were actually published in 2014).

How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis (out in the U.S. in February, 2015) because some of us measure our lives by the books we read.

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead because some of us also measure our lives by reading the same book over and over.

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The Real World in Chicago: Then and now

Posted By on 12.26.14 at 03:00 PM

Same city, different haircuts.

I wasn't around the last time The Real World filmed in Chicago. In fact, I didn't even watch that season when it was on television because I was in middle school, and my parents wouldn't let me watch MTV. So I definitely wasn't aware of the massive protests that took place in Wicker Park in 2001. Thank goodness for YouTube and the Reader archive; 13 years later I was able to relive the moments when people stopped being polite and started getting real.

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The mysterious pregnancies of Bosnian teens and the mysterious absence of editors

Posted By on 12.26.14 at 02:30 PM

Is anyone left in the newsroom who's in charge of asking if anything makes sense?

Internet headline: "7 Teens Go on a School Trip, Come Home Pregnant."

Subhead: "It might be time for same sex-ed."

Sadly, the headline's promise of a bizarre tale of gay adolescent parthenogenesis wasn't supported by the story. The subhead was simply a typo. Furthermore, the headline was immediately contradicted by the lead, which, as of Wednesday, said: "Seven Bosnian teenagers, ages 13 and 14, went on a five-day school trip to Sarajevo, and a quarter of them came home pregnant, the Daily News reports."

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Beer and Metal's best of 2014, chosen by you

Posted By on 12.26.14 at 02:00 PM

I didnt review all that many packaged beers this year. These are most of them, in fact.
  • I didn't review all that many packaged beers this year. These are most of them, in fact.

I wrote 32 Beer and Metal posts in 2014, down from 42 last year, but the Chicago craft community was busier than ever. Though I like to think I made up for the drop in quantity with an increase in quality (and I did break a few stories, in my own way), I definitely overlooked some solid breweries. When I finally meet Clint Bautz from Lake Effect, I'm going to feel like apologizing to the guy.

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