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Monday, March 30, 2015

How Joe Woodel of Husky Hog Bar-B-Que went from the south to the south side

Posted By on 03.30.15 at 09:30 AM

Joe Woodel of Husky Hog BBQ

A couple of months ago I wrote about the relocation of the only south-side African-American-style barbeque place on the white north side, Honey 1 Barbecue. (They're still there; the 43rd Street location hasn't opened yet.) Now here's the reverse: a north-side-style barbecue joint cooking barbecue in a Southern Pride smoker (the same kind used at places like Smoque), in a style pretty much straight out of Tennessee, with southern sides from collard greens to fried green tomatoes—half a mile from U.S. Cellular Field on the south side.

Nashville native Joe Woodel, who owns Husky Hog Bar-B-Que, is a big guy with a Southerner's gift for telling a long story well. He's been cooking professionally for only about a half dozen years, but as his story unreels you realize that he's packed a lot of life into that time, and a lot of barbecue culture that's taken him from competition barbecue to a food truck in Chicago to, finally, his own BBQ restaurant in Bridgeport. I had him pretty well pegged until he let something slip halfway through our conversation, something that totally upends everything I'd assumed about a guy from Tennessee tellin' me 'bout his 'cue—and it might explain why he can tell a story so well.

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Corrections and clarifications from Bob Fioretti*

Posted By on 03.30.15 at 09:00 AM

Alderman Bob Fioretti at the November city council meeting at which Mayor Emanuel's budget passed over his objection. Fioretti said then that the budget would
  • Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times
  • Alderman Bob Fioretti at the November City Council meeting at which Mayor Emanuel's budget passed over his objection. Fioretti said then that the budget would "further divide the haves and have-nots."
*Or how we imagine Fioretti might correct and clarify his endorsement of Rahm Emanuel

To my friends and supporters:

As you may have heard, yesterday I declared that the best person to help us recover from the disastrous policies of Mayor Rahm Emanuel is Rahm Emanuel.

My endorsement of the mayor for reelection has apparently confused some of you, so I wanted to clarify some of my previous statements about him.

On the eve of the February 24 election, I pledged to endorse "anybody but Rahm" if there were a runoff. The "anybody but" part was a slip of the tongue.

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Rahm Emanuel hates Illinois Nazis!

Posted By on 03.30.15 at 08:00 AM

In Marquette Park II, filmmakers Tom Palazzolo and Mark Rance caught a shirtless Rahm Emanuel demonstrating against a neo-Nazi march on the southwest side
  • Courtesy Tom Palazzolo
  • In Marquette Park II filmmakers Tom Palazzolo and Mark Rance caught a shirtless Rahm Emanuel demonstrating against a neo-Nazi march on the southwest side.

Like Jake Blues, Rahm Emanuel hates Illinois Nazis.

On July 9, 1978, a shirtless and sun-browned 18-year-old Rahm was among a group of Jewish people and other activists who gathered in Marquette Park on the city's southwest side to demonstrate against a city-sanctioned rally being held by members of the National Socialist Party of America.

Led by the Chicago-based group's founder Frank Collin, the neo-Nazis turned up at the park in full regalia (brown shirts, swastika armbands, jackboots) to preach a doctrine of intolerance, particularly with regard to blacks moving into predominantly white Chicago neighborhoods. An array of police—some in riot gear, others on horseback—circled the neo-Nazis, shielding them from the irate citizenry, including one young woman who leaned over a police sawhorse and screamed, "Death to the fuckin' Nazis!"

And in the middle of it all: the man who would, 33 years later, be inaugurated as Chicago's mayor.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Start with these five weird films by Chicago native Stuart Gordon

Posted By on 03.29.15 at 08:00 AM

  • Re-Animator
Stuart Gordon isn't among the most well-known or revered horror filmmakers around; in some circles, he's downright reviled. The Chicago native has drawn ire his whole career, even here in the pages of the Reader. None other than Dave Kehr, a measured and thoughtful critic even at his most vitriolic, called Gordon's breakthrough Re-Animator "ludicrous and inept," describing it as the "kind of flat-footed stuff that gives garbage a bad name." The director's next two films didn't fare much better, and somewhere along the line, the Reader essentially stopped reviewing his films altogether.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Wheel to Reel at Sportsman's Club makes audio geeks' analog dreams come true

Posted By on 03.28.15 at 08:00 AM

Scott McNiece of Uncanned Music calls the Akai GX-635D reel-to-reel deck at Sportsman's Club
  • Courtesy Uncanned Music
  • Scott McNiece of Uncanned Music calls the Akai GX-635D reel-to-reel deck at Sportsman's Club "an indeniably sexy machine."

Every so often we ask you to show us something. This week it's Sportsman's Club's reel-to-reel tape player.

"For the record," Scott McNiece says, "threading and maintaining a reel-to-reel machine is not that difficult, once you get the hang of it." McNiece has certainly gotten the hang of the vintage technology since he founded Uncanned Music, a music programming service and audio consultancy for the hospitality industry. Over the last three years, Uncanned has set up digital music programs at nearly 20 bars and restaurants, including Bavette's Bar & Boeuf, the Drifter, Formento's, Mott Street, Trenchermen, and Xoco. But at Au Cheval and Sportsman's Club, McNiece went old-school, installing reel-to-reel tape decks. In doing so, he also assumed the task of teaching staff members the idiosyncrasies of playing music off strips of magnetic tape. This was an adjustment for employees accustomed to setting an iPod to shuffle and not giving another thought to the soundtrack of their shifts. "The places that have succeeded with implementing the [reel-to-reel] programs," McNiece says, "are the ones that understand the necessity of going the extra mile to make service special."

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Friday, March 27, 2015

In the second runoff debate, Emanuel shows he still can dance

Posted By on 03.27.15 at 04:30 PM

Rahm Emanuel and Jesus Chuy Garcia at Thursdays mayoral runoff debate.
A mayor needs to be "clear, concise, and consistent," Rahm Emanuel asserted early in last night's debate. He says he's strikingly different in that way from his opponent, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, whom Emanuel has painted as vague and evasive.

With that in mind, I listened intently to the mayor's response when moderator Mike Flannery asked him about the declining number of Chicago police detectives.

Flannery referred to a WBEZ report this week by Chip Mitchell that showed that the number of detectives is down 19 percent since Emanuel became mayor; that the number of evidence technicians and forensic investigators has dropped even more during that period; and that detectives cleared only 29 percent of last year's homicides, near the lowest level in decades.

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Who's going to win the mayoral election?

Posted By on 03.27.15 at 04:00 PM

The Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel came by my job, still can't stand this muthafucka tho

A photo posted by Albert Griffith (@gqthateacha) on

For the last few days I've been sifting through the tea leaves, searching for clues to help me figure whether Chuy or Rahm will win this mayoral election.

I'm not exactly a disinterested party in this game of prognostication.

At our First Tuesdays show March 3 at the Hideout, I got a little carried away by the crowd and boldly predicted a victory for Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

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Resurrecting creme de cacao: Two DIY chocolate liqueurs

Posted By on 03.27.15 at 03:30 PM

Creme de cacao isn't just dated—it's all but defunct as a serious cocktail ingredient. Usually found on the bottom shelf, stuck between other sickly sweet liqueurs, it ranks right up there with Sour Apple Pucker and Boone's Farm in the hierarchy of respectable booze. I'm pretty sure I had it in college, where it featured in classics like the Peppermint Patty (creme de cacao with peppermint schnapps or creme de menthe). The site lists nearly 200 cocktails with creme de cacao, most with names like Almond Joy or Banana Cream Pie, featuring ingredients like amaretto, banana liqueur, Bailey's, blue curacao, butterscotch schnapps, and Kahlua. It seems to be one of those liqueurs aimed at people who want to get drunk but hate the taste of alcohol.

A couple months ago, though, I came across the Mixellany website, which has digital versions of lots of classic cocktail books (the collection is currently in the process of moving to a new site, and is temporarily unavailable). The first one I started flipping through was a Cuban book of cocktails from the 1930s, and as I started scanning recipes I realized that quite a few of them featured creme de cacao. I wasn't even sure what that was, so I looked it up and found that it's just chocolate, sugar, and alcohol (there's no dairy; the "creme" refers to the viscosity of the liqueur, which is created by lots and lots of sugar). I also came across an excellent article by Kenzi Wilbur in Punch exploring the history of creme de cacao.

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House music comes to Township

Posted By on 03.27.15 at 01:00 PM

Logan Square venue-slash-restaurant Township is on the slow grind to reestablish its intimate concert hall after it abruptly shut down in late November—the venue went dark after MP Shows leader Brian Peterson wound up selling his stake in Township to co-owner Tamiz Haiderali and a then-unnamed new partner. It turns out Haiderali's new partner is Mark "Max" Brumbach, the man behind Wicker Park BBQ spot Smoke Daddy who also fixed up Humboldt Park bar California Clipper in the late 90s. As Dave Hoekstra points out in an article about Township's facelift, Brumbach has ambitious plans for the space, which includes diversifying the bookings instead of focusing on rock shows.

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Two mayoral candidates, two Chicagos

Posted By on 03.27.15 at 12:38 PM

Which guy is really for Chicago? Like, all of Chicago.
  • Nam Y. Huh/AP
  • Which guy is really for Chicago? Like, all of Chicago.
I can say without much hyperbole that there's no colleague I esteem more than Michael Miner, the Reader's media critic/supplier of whimsical musings/bestower of the Golden BAT award. That didn't stop me from sharing the feelings of many commenters on a post of his a few weeks back, "Why aren't progressives ecstatic about the race for mayor?" It recounts a dinner-table discussion among various professionals, some of whom rub elbows with the mayor, all of whom are characterized as progressives. I've heard the piece summed up as "thoughts on the election from the wine-and-cheese set."

From the comments on the post:

J. Giola: "You get the idea that no one quoted in the article above regularly rides city buses, or finds transit fares too high, or sends kids to public schools on the south side, or will be treated to a trip to Homan Sq., or is greatly troubled by a downtown economy mainly geared to out-of-towners (who are, btw, bilked unmercifully by hotel, rental car, and sales taxes)."

Wilfredo Santana: "aldermanic candidate, doctor, and developer, While it is interesting to see what people like this are thinking in terms of the election I am not sure they are your typical progressives, at least I hope not. I am hopeful there are enough progressives among the people of Chicago's less affluent communities to elect Jesus García. And in what universe does Rahm Emanuel qualify as a progressive?"

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