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Friday, March 25, 2016

John Corbett guides you into the netherworld of free improvisation

Posted By on 03.25.16 at 02:00 PM

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Last fall I wrote about Microgroove, the first book from gallerist and occasional Reader contributor John Corbett in 21 years. Now, just six months later, he's back with another new book, though it's much smaller, both in page count and in it physical dimensions. A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press) is designed and organized like a beginner's field guide, and at a mere four inches across, the 172-page volume can easily fit into the back pocket of your jeans. On the back cover there's a blurb from Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche that says, "I wish I had this book twenty-five years ago!" I could say the same thing—I would've loved to have had such guidance back in 1987, when I had my first real encounter with free improvisation at a concert by guitarist Derek Bailey at Links Hall. The Brit was one of the most important progenitors of the discipline, but his performance left me confused and lost. I didn't get it.

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In defense of Hitler's 'deformed' penis

Posted By on 03.25.16 at 01:15 PM

You could say Hitler lost the Battle of the Bulge twice. - SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO
  • Sun-Times File Photo
  • You could say Hitler lost the Battle of the Bulge twice.

Late last month, a number of headlines carried news of Adolf Hitler’s genitalia: "Medical Records Reveal Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler Had Deformed Micropenis."

Hitler's schvantz, as stunted as his art career—it made perfect sense. What else could've created such an evil monster besides a disfigured groin nubbin?

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No Delusions documents the sprawling history of Chicago hardcore

Posted By on 03.25.16 at 01:00 PM

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A couple weeks ago, when I spoke with director Steven Cergizan about his documentary on Chicago hardcore, No Delusions, he told me that what motivated him to make it was the desire "to contribute something to the scene." Cergizan didn't start going to local hardcore shows till the early 2000s, but his desire to give back connects him to the young musicians in the 1980s who planted the seeds for the jumbled, expansive, multigenerational community he explores in No Delusions. The film premieres tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center and tomorrow at the Beat Kitchen, where Los Crudos close out the festivities with two sold-out shows. (Front man Martin Sorrondeguy appears on the cover of this week's Reader as part of my feature on Los Crudos, the defunct venues they played in the 90s, and Chicago's gentrified present.) Los Crudos and openers MK Ultra are among the dozens of acts to appear in No Delusions, which Cergizan began working on in 2010—interviewing scene veterans, compiling archival performance footage, and collecting old photos and zines.

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Powerviolence monsters Weekend Nachos release the first song from their final record

Posted By on 03.25.16 at 12:00 PM

Weekend Nachos - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • courtesy the artist
  • Weekend Nachos

Back in January, Chicago powerviolence monsters Weekend Nachos announced that they'd call it a day at the end of this year. Before ending their run, though, they'd tour the world and release one final record—and yesterday, the first track from that record saw the light of day. It's called "Writhe," and it's today's 12 O'Clock Track—a classic Nachos explosion where they sound meaner and more frenzied than ever. The band's final album, Apology, will come out via Relapse on May 20, and the punishing brutality of "Writhe"—even though it lasts only a minute and 45 seconds—will have Nachos fans itching for that day to come faster. It sounds like Chicago's heaviest crew will go out on a high note—they've packed this song with enough grinds, blasts, dirges, and D-beats to rattle your brain loose. You can listen below.

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March Madness takes over the United Center, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 03.25.16 at 06:00 AM

Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon warms up with his teammates during basketball practice in Chicago Thursday. Virginia plays against Iowa State in a regional semifinal game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. - AP PHOTO/NAM Y. HUH
  • AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
  • Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon warms up with his teammates during basketball practice in Chicago Thursday. Virginia plays against Iowa State in a regional semifinal game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, March 25, 2016. Have a great weekend!

  • Weather: Dry, sunny, and cold

The sun will be out and there won't be any rain, but it will remain cold, with a high of 43 and a low of 35. It will warm up a bit Saturday, but the rain is supposed to return Sunday. [AccuWeather]

  • NCAA Tournament excitement arrives at the United Center

Everyone's March Madness bracket is busted at this point, but that won't stop fans from attending the midwest regionals at United Center Friday. The Iowa State Cyclones, Virginia Cavaliers, Syracuse Orange, and Gonzaga Bulldogs will all be fighting to advance to the Final Four in Houston. Get excited, even if none of the teams are from the Chicago area. [WGN]

  • Independent Police Review Authority taps law firm to review shootings

The Independent Police Review Authority is trying to shed its pro-police image by hiring an outside law firm, McQuireWoods LLP, to review past police-involved shootings. The firm will review IPRA's past processes and policies, then assess how reforms can be made. "We know this is going to take time," new IPRA chief administrator Sharon Fairley said, "and that in order to prove ourselves, we're going to have to be much more transparent about what we do and how we do it." [New York Times]

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hey, Mayor Rahm—join the Chicago teachers' strike!

Posted By on 03.24.16 at 07:19 PM

Emanuel might not take the idea seriously, but maybe he should. - BRIAN JACKSON / SUN-TIMES
  • Brian Jackson / Sun-Times
  • Emanuel might not take the idea seriously, but maybe he should.

In light of the Chicago Teachers Union's recent vote to walk out for a one-day strike on April 1, I have a suggestion for Mayor Emanuel to help boost his wretched standing with the citizenry and maybe even help with the school-funding crisis.

Join the teachers' strike.  

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A Chicago artist painted Donald Trump's face on a toilet filled with poop, and it's awesome

Posted By on 03.24.16 at 05:27 PM

COURTESY JACOB THOMAS
  • Courtesy Jacob Thomas

Donald Trump is full of shit.

At least that's how the Republican front-runner is depicted in one of Jacob Thomas's latest works. The Chicago artist painted a portrait of Trump on a toilet in such a way that the the bowl is the GOP candidate's mouth, inside of which sits an anthropomorphized dollop of poop that has the Donald's distinctive puckered lips.  

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Jamie Kalven honored for journalistic valor

Posted By on 03.24.16 at 02:37 PM

Kalven was recognized for his role breaking the Laquan McDonald story and for helping launch an interactive database of complaints against Chicago police officers. - VIA CITIZENS POLICE DATA PROJECT
  • Via Citizens Police Data Project
  • Kalven was recognized for his role breaking the Laquan McDonald story and for helping launch an interactive database of complaints against Chicago police officers.

I hadn't known there was a courage award for journalists, though it's an attractive idea—many journalists excel mostly because they've got plenty of it. 

But Jamie Kalven, founder and executive director of Chicago's Invisible Institute, has just been named the winner of this year's Ridenhour Courage Prize. He was cited for his "central role" in breaking the story of the death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago police. "In reporting that appeared ten months before the fateful release of the video footage," says the citation, "he challenged the official account of the shooting by police, having secured the autopsy report that revealed the 17-year-old had been shot sixteen times and located a civilian eyewitness."

The citation goes on to hail Kalven for launching the Citizens Police Data Project, "an interactive database housing 56,000 civilian complaints against 8,500 Chicago police officers—information he secured after a lengthy court battle."

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Civil disobedience isn't the right way to take down Donald Trump

Posted By on 03.24.16 at 02:00 PM

An protestor demonstrates against Donald Trump outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C. Monday. - GABRIELLA DEMCZUK/GETTY IMAGES
  • Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images
  • An protestor demonstrates against Donald Trump outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C. Monday.

I have one more thing to say about Donald Trump and the partisans who come to his rallies to cheer or to silence him. (I posted on the subject last week and Monday.)

We're at a moment in American history, all right, but I think some of Trump's enemies are romantically deluded about the nature of it. On the Occupy Democrats page on Facebook I found a video taken at the UIC Pavilion a couple weekends ago, with the headline "Bernie Sanders Fans Shut Down Trump Rally." And under the video I found this comment: "YES!!! Trump's rhetoric is so dangerous that civil disobedience is FULLY warranted." 

The Nation's Bruce Shapiro conceded Trump his right to a microphone. But he went on: "When the microphone is employed to incite fistfights and pogroms, the First Amendment leaves ample room for interruption, shouting back, and nonviolent civil disobedience."

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New-music pianist Mabel Kwan reinvents the ancient clavichord

Posted By on 03.24.16 at 12:00 PM

Mabel Kwan - ALEKSANDR KARJAKA
  • Aleksandr Karjaka
  • Mabel Kwan

The clavichord is an odd little keyboard popular in Europe from the 16th till the 18th century. It was designed as a practice instrument, and it didn't produce enough volume for the typical concert experience. Its sound isn't far from that of a harpsichord: little metal blades called tangents strike strings of either brass or iron. Most folks have heard a modern iteration of the clavichord called the Clavinet, popular in 70s pop music, that used a magnetic pickup to amplify the sounds. Stevie Wonder has probably been that instrument's most important adherent.

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Performing Arts
Blue Man Group Briar Street Theatre
August 14
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Lucifer, Spell, Black Road Reggie's Rock Club
March 21

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