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Thursday, May 28, 2015

George McCaskey's handling of the Ray McDonald affair offers a lesson to the press

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 03:30 PM

George McCaskey
  • AP Photo/Matt Marton
  • George McCaskey

People say things every day that make us cringe, but nothing lately has hit me in the pit of my stomach like George McCaskey's explanation of why the Bears took a flyer on Ray McDonald. San Francisco had cut the defensive end because his "pattern of poor decision-making" could "no longer be tolerated." McCaskey had his own doubts; but the Bears need a few decent football players, and when McDonald's own mother and his college coach, not to mention McDonald himself, pleaded his case, McCaskey's heart melted.

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A day inside the ever-changing Gabriel Sierra installation at the Renaissance Society

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 03:00 PM

Gabriel Sierra, installation view, 2015
  • Courtesy of Tom Van Eynde
  • Gabriel Sierra, installation view, 2015
Gabriel Sierra's first solo show in the United States, currently at the Renaissance Society, is a site-specific installation that comprises 14 pieces with corresponding instructions that encourage audience interaction. The exhibition, which holds no static title, changes names each hour of the day that it is open. This constant change gives the audience a chance to view the exhibition through several different lenses and stay with the work longer than the typical ten-minute glance over. The instructions are a little strange, but I decided to spend the day in the minimalistic exhibition following them as accurately as possible, despite inquiring glances from fellow patrons. The list of instructions for the exhibition were written by the artist himself, and the full brochure with corresponding cartoons can be found here.

10:00 AM "Monday Impressions."

I missed this hour of the exhibition due to a CTA mistransfer to Hyde Park. I figured I had a case of the Mondays (on a Friday).

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Rain or shine, a tale of two festivals: Beer Under Glass and the Welles Park Craft Beer Fest

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 02:30 PM

Welles Park Craft Beer Fest
When the weather is nice, an outdoor beer festival is a magical place to be. When a steady, cold drizzle falls continually—as it did at Beer Under Glass, the May 14 kick-off event for Chicago Craft Beer Week—it's a little less appealing. Fortunately, some of the beer was actually being served under glass this year, so it was possible to take shelter in the Garfield Park Conservatory and continue drinking (unlike last year, when ongoing repairs to the conservatory meant many breweries had to set up on the waterlogged lawn, earning the event the nickname "Beer in the Mud"). And the rain did keep the lines down at the outdoor beer tents. It didn't seem to dim anyone's spirits much, at any rate.

Weather-wise, though, Chicago Craft Beer Week's closing event last Saturday—the Welles Park Craft Beer Fest—had all the luck that BUG didn't. Abundant sunshine and a cool breeze made the day warm but not too hot, tailor-made for sitting in the grass and drinking beer. The event isn't exactly new, but this is the first year it's been in Welles Park; aside from some initial confusion about where the entrance was, things seemed to go smoothly.

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Local duo Tinkerbelles will try to play 40 sets in ten days across seven states

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 02:00 PM

  • Courtesy the artist
  • Tinkerbelles
Next month, local postpunk duo Tinkerbelles are setting out on a tour that comes with an ambitious goal: to earn a spot in The Guinness Book of World Records as the band who's played the most shows on the shortest tour. On Friday, June 19, the band plays three shows in Chicago and one in Evanston before heading out for nine more days jam-packed with nonstop shows—they're aiming for a final count of 40 full sets played across seven states. While other bands have pulled off similar feats—a few years ago the Flaming Lips beat Jay-Z's record of the most shows played in 24 hours, and sludge-metal icons the Melvins once set out to play all 50 states in 50 days—this will be the first time this specific world record will be attempted.

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Let's talk about pierogi (part two): Alexandra's Pierogi

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 01:30 PM

Pierogi in the pan.

When I wrote up a short piece about the pierogi from Pierogi Street on Tuesday, I encouraged readers to start a raucous Internet discussion on the subject—but I knew that it was unlikely; soft, fluffy pierogi are just too comfy to incite fervor. I was right so far as that went, but if pierogi don't prompt heated feelings, there seems to be a deep love for them all the same—or so I conclude from the post winding up with over 1,500 Facebook shares, making it one of the most popular things I've ever written here. Well, if you love your pierogi journalism, I'll oblige: today's pierogi post is about Alexandra's, the northwest side's favorite pierogi maker.

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Psych band Crown Larks return home to kick off Do Division

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 01:00 PM

Crown Larks
  • Karina Natis
  • Crown Larks
On its recent full-length debut, Blood Dancer (Space Lung/Land Breathing), the hard-working, young Chicago combo Crown Larks demonstrates a learned appreciation for the city's recent underground musical history (particularly the ongoing collisions between improvised music and art-rock, which has marked the scene for more than two decades). The material is rooted in a hazy strain of expansive psychedelia, with loose grooves that suggest a Krautrock band wrecked on some strong weed: together guitarist Jack Bouboushian and keyboardist Lorraine Bailey sketch out tentative licks and patterns that flicker, ring, and crash over Bill Miller's drumming.

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The Dø play Chicago for the first time since releasing Victoires de la Musique winner Shake Shook Shaken

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 12:00 PM

The Dø, moments before testing that engines bird-strike countermeasures
  • Arthur Le Fol
  • The Dø, moments before testing that engine's bird-strike countermeasures

If you pay any attention at all to bylines around here, you know I tend to write about metal. Even my beer column is, at least nominally, partly about metal. But if anything, that should lend more weight to my recommendation of Franco-Finnish electro-pop duo the Dø, right? If music this shiny, bouncy, and accessible can win over a head-banging heathen like me, it must be really special.

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Did you read about CPS, MDMA, and Tribune Publishing?

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 11:25 AM

Under the weather?
  • Courtesy Thinkstock
  • Under the weather?
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, alarm, amuse, or inspire us.

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Thanking Chicago's school children for their sacrifice

Posted By on 05.28.15 at 07:30 AM

Nice building—but its no toilet paper.
On behalf of all the movers and shakers in this town, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the public school children of Chicago for their generosity in making this a banner year for Willis Tower and other downtown properties.

Admittedly, I'm probably not the best representative for this task, as I'm not—nor have I ever been—a mover or a shaker.

But it's already been roughly two months since word broke that the Blackstone Group—a private equity firm out of New York City—was looking to pay $1.3 billion for Willis Tower, and still no one's gotten around to thanking the kids.

Hell, someone's got to do it.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Here's the Riot Fest 2015 lineup

Posted By on 05.27.15 at 08:00 PM

Last week Riot Fest organizers announced they were moving their annual multiday punk blowout from Humboldt Park to Douglas Park in North Lawndale, and tonight the festival has released a large portion of the lineup. The big names playing Douglas Park in September include 90s hitmakers No Doubt, indie kings Modest Mouse, and unclassifiable heavyweights Faith No More. Exciting, sure, but many of the names that have caught my eye are further down the bill, mixed in among perennial favorites (Gwar, Andrew W.K.) and bands I forgot existed (Airborne Toxic Event). At the top of my list are a smattering of reunited 90s acts—including Drive Like Jehu, L7, and Babes in Toyland. The lineup also has taken in plenty of big-name reggae acts such as Jimmy Cliff, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley. The hip-hop acts are some of the strongest bookings: two of the biggest names on the bill, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube, will perform a couple stone-cold classics in full—Doggystyle and a remix of Straight Outta Compton, respectively.

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