The Bleader | Blog + Reader, the Chicago Reader's blog

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey meets the 2012 Chicago teachers' strike in a new erotic novel

Posted By on 07.31.15 at 03:43 PM

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The heat generated during tense contract negotiations isn't something you'd typically equate with the burning passion of young lust, but that’s the theme behind The Teacher’s Strike, a new erotic “spanking novel” out this week on Amazon Kindle.

The book is billed as the first historical fiction about the eight-day Chicago Teachers Union strike in September 2012. A press release calls it “Selma meets 50 Shades of Grey,” a “political thrill ride about a tumultuous love affair between a young high school teacher/union activist and her student as the two star-crossed lovers navigate the unpredictable waters of a citywide labor strike.” The cover features a woman in a low-cut red shirt bearing the CTU logo.

Why use the Chicago teachers’ strike as a backdrop for an X-rated story? "I was living in Chicago at the time when the strike was huge news," says the book's author, a man who uses the pen name Gabby Matthews. (He spoke on the condition of anonymity due to his role as a political activist.) "I’m a lover of double entendres, so I thought a teachers' strike would be a good hit for a spanking book.” (Notice the title's strategic placement of the apostrophe before "strike.")

"The publisher asked what it would be rated if it were a movie, and I said triple X," the author says. "There’s straight-up sex scenes in there—anatomical details."

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Vu Tran's Dragonfish revisits the ghosts of Vietnam

Posted By on 07.31.15 at 03:15 PM

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The Asian arowana, or dragonfish, the creature that gives its title to U. of C. prof Vu Tran's first novel, looks like a golden Chinese dragon and is supposed to bring good luck. But the book itself more closely resembles a hermit crab: a literary novel that borrows the snail shell of noir to give itself a form and structure. The soft underbelly is the story of Hong Thi Pham, a woman who, with her daughter, flees Vietnam by boat after the fall of Saigon and lands in a ghost-filled Malaysian internment camp. The hard shell is what happens more than 20 years later when she flees her violent gangster husband—who has a small sideline in the underground dragonfish trade—with a suitcase full of cash.

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Where to eat and drink near Lollapalooza and Grant Park

Posted By on 07.31.15 at 02:45 PM

George's Cocktail Lounge
  • George's Cocktail Lounge


If you're headed to Lollapalooza, you've committed to a weekend's worth of braving quarter-mile bathroom lines and dodging sweaty adolescents who look like they were bussed through time from a high school in 1992. If you're older than 21, you're gonna need a drink. And something to eat too since you're a responsible(ish) grownup (unlike some people). Whether you're looking to pregame or postgame, Grant Park is situated near plenty of watering holes and places to grab a bite. We've chosen some of the best bars and restaurants in the vicinity of the park, so you can match the booze to your mood and escape the flower-crowned masses.

"I want as big a vessel for my alcohol as possible."

The Berghoff
This revamped Loop institution complements its pricey German fare with some of the better happy hour deals in the area. House beer is served by the stein, and the express bar sandwich menu (Mon-Fri 11 AM-2 PM) includes hearty prefest options like roast beef, rahmschnitzel, and bratwurst. Might be the place if you don't want to be tempted by the overpriced fare in Grant Park.
17 W. Adams, Fri 11 AM-9 PM, Sat 11:30 AM-9 PM, Closed Sun


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Did you read about Scott Walker, the California drought, and liquor gardening?

Posted By on 07.31.15 at 12:31 PM

Scott Walker is looking for that Ricketts bump
Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, alarm, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

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Alt-rock revivalists Post Child brings more 90s nostalgia to town this weekend

Posted By on 07.31.15 at 12:00 PM

Brain in Two
  • "Brain in Two"
If you survive Lollapalooza this weekend, there's a whole other dose of 90s nostalgia to take in on Sunday night. Local four-piece Post Child, who deliver a massive blast of throwback alt-rock, play in the basement of the Double Door at 8 PM. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is their new single, "Brain in Two," which showcases their knack for radio-ready, 90s slacker-rock perfection. The catchy jam brims with slick guitar leads and bummed-out, hypermelodic hooks; the group tip their hats to hit-machine monsters Weezer. No band in town right now sounds anything like Post Child, and that's part of what makes them so great. Check out "Brain in Two" below.

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Frankie Knuckles tribute wall in Logan Square is being buffed

Posted By on 07.31.15 at 11:09 AM

DARRYL HOLLIDAY
  • Darryl Holliday

A wall dedicated to the late Chicago house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles lasted 415 days in Logan Square. The tribute wall was easily seen from the Blue Line between the California and Logan Square stations—until last night, when half of Knuckles’s spray painted face was covered.

"They came around with buffs and buffed the Frankie Knuckles wall," said longtime Logan Square graffiti artist FLASH ABC of the Artistic Bombing Crew, whose Project Logan site chronicles graffiti projects in the neighborhood. "I saw brown [paint] on the wall . . . . It was city brown."

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My way or the Hemingway, plus more new reviews and notable screenings

Posted By on 07.31.15 at 07:33 AM

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

The Killers
  • The Killers
  • Samba
    • Samba
In this week's long review I consider the latest Blu-Ray release from the Criterion Collection: a two-disc set collecting three screen adaptations of Ernest Hemingway's classic short story "The Killers" (directed by Robert Siodmak in 1946, Andrei Tarkovsky in 1956, and Don Siegel in 1964). And Ben Sachs takes a look at Samba, the latest interracial drama by French writer-directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano (The Intouchables).

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

A former Reader writer really didn't like Lollapalooza '92

Posted By on 07.30.15 at 03:30 PM

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You could probably assume as much by the review's disdainful headline, but Bill Wyman was not enamored with Lollapalooza '92. Never one to mince words, the former Reader writer, now a culture critic at Al Jazeera America, wrote a scathing critique of the second Lollapalooza to hit the Chicago area 23 years ago at Tinley Park's World Music Theater (now Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre), which you can read here.

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Mayor Rahm keeps us waiting for an overdue TIF report

Posted By on 07.30.15 at 03:00 PM

You'd almost think he has something to hide. - BRIAN JACKSON/SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Brian Jackson/Sun-Times Media
  • You'd almost think he has something to hide.

For the last few weeks, a fellow named Bill Bergman and I have been in heated competition to see which one of us could get better terrible service from the Emanuel administration, to which we so generously pay our taxes.

Think of it as like a summer contest for budget geeks—anything to keep us out of trouble.

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Pick up the redesigned Chicago Reader on newsstands today

Posted By on 07.30.15 at 01:45 PM

PHOTO BY ALEX FRIEDLAND; DESIGN BY PAUL JOHN HIGGINS
  • Photo by Alex Friedland; design by Paul John Higgins


Reaching into one of the Reader's bestickered yellow boxes this morning, you may have noticed something different about this week's issue: the paper has been redesigned. 

Every few years, the Reader gets an itch to freshen up what we present every week to you, our dear readers. In 2004, the paper had its Wizard of Oz moment, transitioning to color after three decades in black and white. In 2007, the four-section broadsheet became a tabloid. And in 2011 came the introduction of the B Side "flip."

This week we've scratched the latest itch. The new presentation most conspicuously welcomes the Music section back into the fold—no more pesky flipping required! You'll also notice some other tweaks to the arrangement. Reviews and write-ups of recommended and notable arts and culture happenings—plays, films, exhibits, comedy shows—are now front and center in Agenda. City Life offers dispatches from around town, including favorites like Space and Chicagoans, as well as a best-bet event for every day of the week. As you go deeper, there's more in-depth coverage: political columns, longer pieces on the arts, stories about the city's changing face. The no-longer-segregated Music section, dominated this week by Lollapalooza coverage, is followed by a Food & Drink section that, frankly, has never looked so appetizing. And like any great meal, the paper finishes with dessert: everyone's favorite must-reads—Savage Love, Straight Dope, and Early Warnings—collected toward the back.

Consider this redesign more a makeover than reconstructive surgery. The old advertising slogan holds true in this case: "New look, same great taste." 

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Agenda Teaser

Music
Drake, Migos United Center
August 17
Performing Arts
Bus Stop Athenaeum Theatre
July 19

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