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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

For 71 years, Johnson Publishing has been a family affair

Posted By on 06.28.16 at 02:00 PM

Vintage copies of JET magazine are displayed in the offices of Johnson Publishing Company on June 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. - SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
  • Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Vintage copies of JET magazine are displayed in the offices of Johnson Publishing Company on June 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
Born in Arkansas in 1918, John H. Johnson relocated to Chicago with his mother, Gertrude, to further his education after his father, Leroy, was killed in a sawmill accident when Johnson was just six years old. After graduating from DuSable High School and the University of Chicago in 1942, Johnson took out a $500 loan using his mother’s furniture as collateral to open the doors of Johnson Publishing Company.

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Let’s celebrate the loss of the Lucas Museum

Posted By on 06.28.16 at 01:24 PM

ILLUSTRATION: PAUL HIGGINS
  • Illustration: Paul Higgins

The more I read about the departure of George Lucas's neofuturist storage unit, that unsightly blob of a building meant to house his movie posters and Yoda holograms, the sorrier I felt for the guy. He's 72 and he just wants a museum. "A legacy piece." Billionaires need their trap houses, too. This is America.

But by op-ed and column No. 100—each, by the way, with their own sophomoric Star Wars lead ("What was he trying to build over there, the Death Star?")—the happier I found myself.

First, that people actually preferred a vaguely lunar parking lot to a movie mogul's spaceship should, at the very least, make us all laugh. Rahm Emanuel and George Lucas were beaten by a group that calls itself "Friends of the Parks" fighting to protect a parking lot. This sounds like a real Chicago story, or in Star Wars vernacular, a saga. But it's really a postmodern political power play, a rollicking side-plot in a Pynchon novel come to life.

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Sarah Louise paints pictures of nature with her 12-string guitar

Posted By on 06.28.16 at 12:00 PM

Sarah Louise - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • courtesy of the artist
  • Sarah Louise

Acoustic guitar music has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance over the past decade or so, thanks to an ever-expanding armada of emerging fingerstyle players. To my mind, this activity stems from the late-90s comeback of guitarist John Fahey. He'd managed to overcome serious health issues and briefly began touring and making records again, though he largely turned his back on the American Primitive sound he invented in the late 50s and 60s. But interest in Fahey exposed loads of musicians to his early work. These days it's hard to keep up with all the guitarists pushing the instrument in new directions, and when you dig a little into their influences, you'll often find Fahey at the root—even when they sound nothing like him.

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Phish make a splash at Wrigley Field

Posted By and on 06.28.16 at 09:00 AM

click image Phish guitarist and front man Trey Anastasio is famous for his improvisational prowess. - BECKY FRASS
  • Becky Frass
  • Phish guitarist and front man Trey Anastasio is famous for his improvisational prowess.

On Friday and Saturday, Phish played at Wrigley Field for the first time in the jam band's three-decade career. The two sold-out concerts were packed with "phans."

Freelance photographer Becky Frass was on hand to capture the joyous atmosphere; check out her photos in the slideshow below.

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Bitter Lemons editor blames Profiles Theatre victims, loses job

Posted By on 06.28.16 at 08:00 AM

Actors plastered Profiles Theatre with copies of the Reader following the June 9 story. - EILEEN TULL
  • Eileen Tull
  • Actors plastered Profiles Theatre with copies of the Reader following the June 9 story.
The Reader's exposé of Profiles Theatre triggered something in Chicago that one theater-world friend calls "incredibly important"—an overdue acknowledgement and fierce repudiation of abuses to which the theater world had remained willfully blind. 

And the waves have spread far beyond our city. They washed onto a Los Angeles website as a tangle of provocations and financial crisis. I also think I see a spot of censorship. 

Bitter Lemons is a site dedicated to overseeing and critiquing LA theater, and it's never had a problem with stirring up controversy. It promises "to help shape the conversation between artist and reviewer," and it guarantees a review by a "trusted, highly experienced, highly credited, well established theater critic"—though the producer will have to pay Bitter Lemons $150 for the privilege. 

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Rahm on Lucas Museum loss: 'Welcome to the most important parking lot in the country,' and other Chicago news

Posted By on 06.28.16 at 06:00 AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his family march in the 47th annual Chicago Pride Parade, which kicked off at Montrose and Broadway Sunday. - ASHLEE REZIN/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES VIA AP
  • Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his family march in the 47th annual Chicago Pride Parade, which kicked off at Montrose and Broadway Sunday.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Tuesday, June 28, 2016.

  • Weather: Cooler, with sunshine

It will cool down considerably Tuesday, with a high of 71 and a low of 60. It will be sunny, with a bit of breeze. [AccuWeather]

  • Rahm still thinks the Lucas Museum was a good deal for Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke out about the stinging loss of the Lucas Museum to San Francisco or Los Angeles at a news conference Monday. He slammed Friends of the Parks for preventing a parking lot on the Museum Campus from becoming what he described as a $1 billion investment in the city. "Welcome to the most important parking lot in the country," he said. The museum is the latest in a series of major political losses for the mayor including Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez's primary defeat and the discovery of lead in the water supply at numerous Chicago public schools. [Sun-Times] [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Hillary Clinton address Chicago's gun violence problem, slams Trump at Rainbow PUSH luncheon

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Chicago Monday to campaign and headline the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's annual women's luncheon. While in Bronzeville, she addressed the city and the nation's gun violence epidemic and called for "common sense gun safety reform." She referred to gun violence as a "civil rights issue right now" and spoke about 16-year-old CPS student Blair Holt, who was shot to death on a CTA bus. She also took the opportunity to slam her GOP opponent, Donald Trump, saying he wants to "get rid of gun-free zones around schools." [Sun-Times]

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Police watchdog Mary Powers dies

Posted By on 06.27.16 at 07:35 PM

Mary Powers, left, with members of Alliance to End Repression and Citizens Alert in 1977 - SUN-TIMES PRINT COLLECTION
  • SUN-TIMES PRINT COLLECTION
  • Mary Powers, left, with members of Alliance to End Repression and Citizens Alert in 1977
Years before there was the Invisible Institute suing Chicago's police department in hopes of cleaning it up, there was Citizens Alert, doing the same thing. And by years, I mean decades. In 1970, three years after it was founded to monitor the police, Citizens Alert filed a suit charging the city with racial discrimination in the hiring of recruits. 

Citizens Alert became such a thorn in the city's side that the police department infiltrated it. Mary Powers, the soft-spoken North Shore woman who ran the organization, recalled figuring out that the CPD's Red Squad had planted agents in CA's midst. "For a long time we had no idea these people were spying on us," she told the Reader's Bob McClory for a 1992 profile. "Maybe we should have. They were the best volunteers we had. They'd come out at any time of day or night and do any kind of work, from sweeping floors to leading a demonstration."

But when David Cushing, a police recruit who'd said he was a truck driver, graduated from the police academy, Powers and other CA leaders attended his graduation. "We got all dressed up in hats, veils, and gloves," she told McClory, "and after the ceremony we rushed up to Cushing and offered our congratulations. He just stood there and looked stunned."

Cushing didn't come around again. 

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Dirty Dancing, Edward Scissorhands, and more outdoor film screenings in Chicago this week

Posted By on 06.27.16 at 04:15 PM

Dirty Dancing screens at Montgomery Ward Park on Tue 6/28.
  • Dirty Dancing screens at Montgomery Ward Park on Tue 6/28.

Summer is in full swing, bringing with it a season of alfresco entertainment. To help you keep track of the plethora of outdoor film screenings, here's a roundup of 19 free movies to see this week:


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A Prince and Bowie Tribute, The SpongeBob Musical, and more things to do this week in Chicago

Posted By on 06.27.16 at 03:51 PM

Pay tribute to David Bowie and Prince at Schubas on Wed 6/29. - SUN TIMES MEDIA/BPI
  • Sun Times Media/BPI
  • Pay tribute to David Bowie and Prince at Schubas on Wed 6/29.

There's plenty to do this week. Here's some of what we recommend:

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Trump fumbles on Brexit

Posted By on 06.27.16 at 11:18 AM

AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS
  • AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS
Here are two ways of looking at Thursday's Brexit vote, if you're wondering what the British people's unexpected decision to pull out of the European Union augurs for Donald Trump here in America.

As the New Yorker's Anthony Lane wrote Friday:

"The gods of disorder and upheaval, in short, enjoyed a busy night. But they were not yet done. In fact, they were just getting started." Trump is counting on those gods, so the vote is good news for him. Trump happened to be in Scotland Friday touring one of his golf courses, and he was asked about Brexit. It's a "great thing," he said. The Brits have "taken back their country."

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Performing Arts
Frankenstein Theater Wit
October 24
Performing Arts
The Better Half Steppenwolf Theatre, 1700 Theatre
November 08

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