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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

National museum group head slams Friends of the Parks

Posted By on 05.31.16 at 06:01 PM

LUCAS MUSEUM OF NARRATIVE ART
  • Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The pressure to keep the force in Chicago is mounting.

Last week it was announced that former secretary of education Arne Duncan has joined the Lucas Museum board of directors. That's not a huge surprise, since Duncan (also a former head of Chicago Public Schools) once headed up the Ariel Education Initiative. The initiative is a project of John W. Roger's Ariel Investments, the firm headed by Lucas's spouse, Mellody Hobson.

But now, Laura Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums (formerly the American Association of Museums), the major national museum trade and advocacy organization, is chastising Chicago and Friends of the Parks for turning down a chance to put the Lucas Museum on the lakefront.

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In Rebecca Gilman’s new play, everyone is a community organizer

Posted By on 05.31.16 at 03:35 PM

Playwright Rebecca Gilman in rehearsal for Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976. - LIZ LAUREN
  • Liz Lauren
  • Playwright Rebecca Gilman in rehearsal for Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976.

As its title implies, Rebecca Gilman's new play, Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976, is set during the American bicentennial—but its roots are very much in the present day, notably the 2011 protests in Madison, Wisconsin, after Governor Scott Walker proposed eliminating collective bargaining for public sector unions in order to alleviate the state's budget crisis.

Gilman has never belonged to a union herself—as a playwright, she's considered an independent contractor. But growing up in Birmingham, Alabama—at the time home to a Purina plant and a company that made fire extinguishers—she saw how a town could depend on a plant and how unions could prevent communities from coming apart. She also saw how, at least in the 70s, the union workers in those plants were still part of the middle class, a group that is now rapidly being squeezed out of existence.

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A sword fight with Rahm Emanuel, Tracy Morgan, and more to do this week

Posted By on 05.31.16 at 01:46 PM

Rahm Emanuel was invited to take a swing at the Bean on Tue 5/31—we'll see if he shows up. - SUNSHINE TUCKER ILLUSTRATION (GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO AND SUN-TIMES MEDIA)
  • Sunshine Tucker illustration (Getty Images/iStockphoto and Sun-Times Media)
  • Rahm Emanuel was invited to take a swing at the Bean on Tue 5/31—we'll see if he shows up.

Memorial Day is over, but there's still plenty to do in this short, unofficial first week of summer. Here's some of what we recommend: 

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Naperville native Eric Johnson revives his band Fruit Bats

Posted By on 05.31.16 at 12:00 PM

Eric Johnson aka Fruit Bats - ANNIE BEEDY
  • Annie Beedy
  • Eric Johnson aka Fruit Bats

A couple years ago, Naperville native Eric Johnson retired his long-running pop band, the Fruit Bats, opting to release an album under the name EDJ. At the time I found his decision a little odd, because Fruit Bats' lineup had been shifting constantly from the beginning, both in their original Chicago incarnation and later in Portland, Oregon—how can you break up a band that doesn't really exist? Earlier this year, when Johnson announced that Fruit Bats were returning—they dropped a new album called Absolute Loser (Easy Sound) last month—I was likewise at a loss to explain why. But reading up on what he's been through over the past few years made sense of it all.

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Gathering storms—in Chicago and America

Posted By on 05.31.16 at 11:30 AM

Chicago Police investigate in the 6400 block of North Rockwell late Memorial Day, after a 25-year-old suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the neck - ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
  • Chicago Police investigate in the 6400 block of North Rockwell late Memorial Day, after a 25-year-old suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the neck
Whirlwinds rise on the horizon, brutal storms it isn't possible to ignore. A page-wide headline in the Sunday New York Times announces, "Pleading for Peace in Chicago Amid Fear That a Bloody Summer Awaits."

"It's almost like everyone's saying a hurricane is coming," says Father Pfleger. A west-side pastor tells the Times, "People think that to get justice, they have to take the law into their own hands."

If you live in Chicago you know how bad it is, though it's been possible—and remains barely possible, if you put your mind to it, and depending on where you live—to tell yourself it's all taking place in other parts of Chicago and where you live it's fine. Now you're telling that to your out-of-town friends too, because the mayhem in our city is a national story.

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Analyzing Chicago's violence problem and other news

Posted By on 05.31.16 at 10:55 AM

Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson speaking to the media Thursday about the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. - LOU FOGLIA/SUN-TIMES
  • Lou Foglia/Sun-Times
  • Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson speaking to the media Thursday about the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Welcome back to the work week after Memorial Day weekend. 

  • Weather: Beautiful day with an afternoon storm possible

After a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend, the summer weather continues Tuesday with a high of 81 and a low of 63. The only downside is possible rain or a thunderstorm in the afternoon. [AccuWeather]

  • Understanding the murder problem from the causes to the solutions

Memorial Day weekend is notoriously violent—and this year was no exception—so the New York Times reported from the city over the weekend to analyze the city's gun violence on a deeper level. There are many factors that make Chicago more violent than New York City, from gang wars to the city's rampant racial segregation to differences in gun laws and policing. Some community leaders argue that the real way to stop the senseless killings is to make educational and job opportunities available instead of just adding more police on patrol. "When you don't have much going for yourself, whether it be work, whether it be school, your options are on the block," Black Youth Project 100's Janaé Bonsu told the newspaper. [New York Times] [New York Times]

  • Rahm scores big victory over Rauner as legislature overrides governor's veto of police and fire pension bill

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has won a major victory over former ally Governor Bruce Rauner. The Illinois General Assembly overrode Rauner's veto of the controversial Chicago fire and police pension bill Monday. The governor called the bill irresponsible for delaying the city's payments to the underfunded pension funds. [Sun-Times]

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What the Obama administration’s transgender policy means for bathroom bills in Illinois

Posted By on 05.31.16 at 06:00 AM

A gender-neutral bathroom in Durham, North Carolina. - SARA D. DAVIS/GETTY IMAGES
  • Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
  • A gender-neutral bathroom in Durham, North Carolina.

When the Obama administration announced May 13 that it would be taking groundbreaking steps toward transgender equality, the decision may have signaled the end of a controversial bill in Illinois.

House Bill 4474, drafted by Republican state rep Thomas Morrison, would limit the bathroom access of transgender students on the basis of biologically defined gender. According to the legislation, gender would be "determined by an individual's chromosomes and identified at birth by that individual's anatomy."

The bill, introduced in the General Assembly in January, made Illinois one of nine states—including Missouri, South Carolina, and Kansas—considering legislation that would bring the national bathroom debate to their state.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

City treasurer Kurt Summers joins the anti-interest-rate-swap party

Posted By on 05.27.16 at 03:14 PM

Kurt Summers - BRIAN JACKSON/SUN-TIMES, FILE
  • Brian Jackson/Sun-Times, File
  • Kurt Summers
When I saw the press release from the Chicago Teachers Union announcing that city treasurer Kurt Summer had endorsed their litigation against big banks and interest-rate swaps, I thought it was a joke.

Such lawsuits are the bane of existence to Mayor Rahm and pretty much everyone in his political orbit.

That would include Summers, a former investment banker, appointed by Emanuel in 2014.

What's next—planning commissioner David Reifman, a former zoning lawyer, joining Tom Tresser's anti-TIF crusade?

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German saxophonist Angelika Niescier catches up with her New York friends

Posted By on 05.27.16 at 02:00 PM

Angelika Niescier and a fellow German, pianist Florian Weber - ARNE REIMER
  • Arne Reimer
  • Angelika Niescier and a fellow German, pianist Florian Weber

A couple weeks ago I was in Germany, and the end of my trip included a visit to the Moers Festival, whose reputation had been impressed upon me long ago by a series of superb live recordings made at the event (and released by its label) in the late 70s and early 80s by the likes of Fred Anderson, Philip Wilson, John Carter, Anthony Braxton, Phalanx, and Wadada Leo Smith. These days the fest isn't as thoroughly devoted to free jazz as it was when it began in 1972, but in general it does present adventurous sounds. A few years ago Moers built a permanent festival hall, which eliminated the annual expense of constructing a massive tent on the grounds, and most of the concerts are there. But one of the best things I saw during my two days happened in a nearby school as part of the event's Morning Sessions series, each of which was an ad hoc grouping intended to be a surprise to the audience.

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The best things to do in Chicago during Memorial Day 2016 weekend

Posted By on 05.27.16 at 12:36 PM

Bow to Queen Bey on Fri 5/27 and Sat 5/28 at Soldier Field. - COURTESY OF PARKWOOD ENTERTAINMENT
  • Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment
  • Bow to Queen Bey on Fri 5/27 and Sat 5/28 at Soldier Field.

If you can brave the thunderstorms, there's plenty of happenings to fill the three-day holiday weekend. Here's what we recommend:

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Agenda Teaser

Music
The Internet, Moonchild House of Blues
December 10
Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20

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