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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Dystopian novels are dominating best-seller lists

Posted By on 01.31.17 at 06:10 PM

A placard in Lakeview's Unabridged Bookstore suggests a host of classic dystopian novels for this political moment. - COURTESY OF UNABRIDGED BOOKSTORE
  • Courtesy of Unabridged Bookstore
  • A placard in Lakeview's Unabridged Bookstore suggests a host of classic dystopian novels for this political moment.

There's summer reading, and then there's the reading we do in the depths of winter. The Amazon list of best-selling books was led Monday by George Orwell's totalitarian nightmare, 1984. A second Orwell novel, Animal Farm, a parable inspired by the Soviet revolution's betrayal of its idealists, was 46th. Several other novels that imagine tyrannies occupied spaces between: Sinclair Lewis's It Can’t Happen Here (sixth), Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (21st), Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale (24th), and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (32nd). (Hannah Arendt's nonfiction The Origins of Totalitarianism was 33rd.)

An Amazon subcategory, Kindle editions of "alternative history," was led by Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, imagining the U.S. after losing World War II. Seventh was the Kindle edition combining 1984 and Animal Farm, and eighth was Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, in which the America First movement takes over the country before the war and Charles Lindbergh becomes president.

Mentioning many of these titles, the New York Times's Francis X. Clines observed Monday that "dystopian classics have been racing up retailers' best-seller lists since Mr. Trump took over the White House"; he referred to them as "literary escapes."

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The viral #DeleteUber campaign began with a tweet from a Chicago journalist

Posted By on 01.31.17 at 03:24 PM

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Dan O'Sullivan admits that he had a "lame-ass excuse" for skipping the protests on January 28 at O'Hare International Airport over President Trump's executive order on immigration: household chores. But as he quietly folded laundry at his Chicago apartment, the journalist and self-described "idiot with a keyboard" sparked a viral #DeleteUber campaign on social media that doubled as a possible blueprint to those who want to resist Trump by putting pressure on corporations that associate with the president and his administration. (Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is on Trump's economic advisory board.)

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Blues pianist Little Brother Montgomery influenced legends as diverse as Skip James and Johnny Cash

Posted By on 01.31.17 at 01:26 PM


Since 2004 Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) has used the Secret History of Chicago Music to shine a light on worthy artists with Chicago ties who've been forgotten, underrated, or never noticed in the first place. Older strips are archived here.


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Illinois owes around $11 billion in unpaid bills (plus interest) after 18 months without a budget deal, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 01.31.17 at 06:00 AM

Illinois house speaker Michael Madigan listens as Governor Bruce Rauner delivers his State of the State address. - TED SCHURTER/THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER VIA AP
  • Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP
  • Illinois house speaker Michael Madigan listens as Governor Bruce Rauner delivers his State of the State address.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Tuesday, January 31, 2016.

  • Illinois's backlog of unpaid bills grows to approximately $11 billion plus interest

The ongoing state budget impasse has left the state with a backlog of approximately $11 billion in unpaid bills plus interest, according to the Tribune. One estimate of the interest owed for state employee health care     alone puts it at $370 million. "From a taxpayer standpoint, and from any kind of reasonably good government standpoint, you would not plan to incur penalties for failing to pay known bills every year," Civic Federation president Laurence Msall told the newspaper. "Illinois has become addicted to a bad habit." The state has not had a full budget agreement in 18 months, and the debt is expected to grow to $15 billion by summer if a deal is not reached. [Tribune]

  • Obama's first post-White House political move is to endorse an alderman

Former president Barack Obama made his first political move since leaving the White House January 20 by endorsing Fourth Ward alderman Sophia King in a special election. "Michelle and I have known Sophia many years as a leader dedicated to improving her community. Over the years, Sophia has worked to make neighborhood schools and communities better," Obama said in a statement. "Sophia is the type of leader Chicago and the 4th Ward need." King, who was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to replace former alderman Will Burns, faces four challengers in the February 28 special election. [DNAinfo Chicago]

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Monday, January 30, 2017

How to make a Nutella cocktail

Posted By on 01.30.17 at 04:36 PM

For a product that enjoys a reputation as a cult favorite, Nutella is surprisingly ubiquitous: it's sold in 75 countries at a rate of one jar every 2.5 seconds worldwide and its maker, Ferrero, buys a quarter of the world's hazelnut supply, producing enough jars of Nutella each year to cover the Great Wall of China eight times over. Plus World Nutella Day—which is essentially just an excuse to eat the chocolate-hazelnut spread—is coming up on February 5.

Not surprisingly, Watershed bartender Jacob Huelster was already quite familiar with Nutella when David McCabe of Osteria Langhe challenged him to create a cocktail with it. "At first I was a little worried," Huelster says. "It seemed a bit pedestrian. But when I started working with it, I found that it's actually pretty difficult." Huelster first consulted the book The Flavor Bible to see what it recommends pairing with hazelnut. Garlic was one suggestion. "Garlic does go well with hazelnuts, and it does not go great with chocolate, I found out. That was a dead end," Huelster says.

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Myron Mixon’s Smoke Show BBQ vs. Rylon’s Smokehouse is a no-contest barbecue showdown

Posted By on 01.30.17 at 03:31 PM

The Pick Three at Myron Mixon's Smoke Show BBQ - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • The Pick Three at Myron Mixon's Smoke Show BBQ

Over the last three years or so, I've written about nearly 20 new barbecue restaurants. That's more than the steak houses, Italian joints, ramen-ya, boutique taquerias, and all the other overplayed restaurant trends of the moment. Reiterating the common flaws inherent to most of these barbecue spots has become just as exhausting and formulaic as they are.

And yet here we are again.

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Lawyers to immigrants: Know your rights

Posted By on 01.30.17 at 02:27 PM

The audience at the Know Your Rights workshop at Sullivan High School on Sunday afternoon - COURTESY ALDERMAN JOE MOORE
  • courtesy Alderman Joe Moore
  • The audience at the Know Your Rights workshop at Sullivan High School on Sunday afternoon

"We recommend that lawful permanent residents from countries affected by [President Trump's] executive order don't travel outside the United States," Irakere Picon, a staff attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center, told an anxious audience on Sunday afternoon at a workshop at Sullivan High School in Rogers Park that was intended to inform immigrants of their rights.

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A Langston Hughes birthday celebration, Chicago Voices, and more things to do in Chicago this week

Posted By on 01.30.17 at 02:06 PM

City Winery hosts a celebration of author and activist Langston Hughes on what would have been his 115th birthday. - SUN-TIMES PRINT COLLECTION
  • SUN-TIMES PRINT COLLECTION
  • City Winery hosts a celebration of author and activist Langston Hughes on what would have been his 115th birthday.

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

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Forty shocking things we weren’t surprised to learn from the DOJ report on CPD

Posted By on 01.30.17 at 01:50 PM

CPD superintendent Eddie Johnson, center, with former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch, right, announcing the findings of the Department of Justice report - ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
  • CPD superintendent Eddie Johnson, center, with former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch, right, announcing the findings of the Department of Justice report

It took us a while, but we finally read every word of the 164-page U.S. Department of Justice report on the Chicago Police Department, which was released January 13. For an overview of its main findings, you can read our prior story. But here, we'd like to present a list of findings and anecdotes included in the report that were particularly interesting, surprising, or disturbing, some which have been overlooked by reporting elsewhere.

It's important to note that most of the horrifying details you'll read below are anecdotes, and don't necessarily describe the actions and/or attitudes of Chicago's entire 12,000-plus-member police force. However, taken together, this patchwork of stories confirms details that many police reform advocates have been talking about for decades—a mosaic of behavior that can't be written off as "one-off" or isolated events that don't say anything about the culture of the department as a whole.

Though the DOJ report also highlights and commends instances of levelheaded professionalism and heroism, and says that this ethos is more representative of the vast majority of Chicago cops, these disturbing anecdotes paint a portrait of many Chicago police officers as violent, often racist cowboys prepared to beat even children and the mentally ill; of a department that inadequately trains, supervises, and disciplines them; and of an Independent Police Review Authority that allows this aggressive culture to flourish unchecked.

All incidents described below are according to the DOJ report.

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Rahm stops by O'Hare in solidarity with immigration ban protesters, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 01.30.17 at 10:30 AM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking at a press conference in January - PHOTO BY SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
  • Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking at a press conference in January

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Monday, January 30, 2016.

  • Rahm encourages Chicagoans to host refugees, immigrants in their homes in protest of Trump immigration ban

Thousands of protestors and dozens of volunteer lawyers flooded into O'Hare International Airport over the weekend after President Donald Trump issued an executive order that temporarily banned immigrants and refugees from seven different Middle Eastern and African countries. Mayor Rahm Emanuel stopped by the airport Sunday evening to show his support for the protesters. "I want to thank all the lawyers here who are assuring people that when they come, what they're met with is support, security and safety," he said. "That's who we are, and that is what we're doing." He also encouraged Chicagoans to host refugees and immigrants from around the world. "My family and I will host DREAMers attending Chicago Public Schools and Chicago City Colleges for a meal, a conversation, and a recognition and celebration of all that unites us, rather than what divides us," Emanuel said in a statement.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, also slammed Trump's controversial immigration ban. "The world is watching as we abandon our commitments to American values," Cupich said in a statement released Sunday. "These actions give aid and comfort to those who would destroy our way of life. They lower our estimation in the eyes of the many peoples who want to know America as a defender of human rights and religious liberty, not a nation that targets religious populations and then shuts its doors on them." [Sun-Times] [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Top cop Eddie Johnson waits for kidney transplant after nearly fainting during news conference

Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson revealed that he's waiting for a kidney transplant after he almost passed out at a news conference Friday. Johnson has suffered from kidney issues for many years, and many fellow cops and Chicagoans have expressed interest in being a living donor for the police chief. [Associated Press via ABC News]

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