Bleader | Chicago Reader

Friday, March 31, 2017

How to make a beer cocktail

Posted By on 03.31.17 at 03:43 PM

"I'm a big beer dork, so I've had my fair share of Troublesome," says Nicole Brudd, a bartender at Wicker Park's Revel Room. She's referring to Off Color Brewing's Troublesome, the beer with which Paul "PK" Kim of Cafe Marie-Jeanne challenged her to create a cocktail. "Troublesome is a gose, so it's a salted wheat beer with lactobacillus—you get a lot of lemon, sourness, saltiness," she says.

Brudd made a simple syrup with the beer, reducing it over heat to concentrate the flavor before adding sugar and water. She imagined pairing the syrup with tequila and celery bitters for a simple, savory cocktail, and experimented with the combination several ways: stirred, shaken, and up. "I was really confident, but [the drinks] were garbage," she says.

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Guitarist Stephane Wrembel plays Django and himself at the Green Mill

Posted By on 03.31.17 at 12:00 PM

Stephane Wrembel, left, and his band - IRENE YPENBURG
  • Irene Ypenburg
  • Stephane Wrembel, left, and his band

Practitioners of what's known as jazz manouche, gypsy jazz, or hot jazz are a peculiar breed: the style is pretty much an ongoing homage to prodigious Belgian-born French guitarist Django Reinhardt, who developed a distinctive and influential sound during a career cut short by a brain hemorrhage in 1953, when he was 43. The music he developed with violinist Stephane Grappelli is thrilling and fast-paced, propelled by joy, technical derring-do, and nonchalant bravado. Jazz artists are usually judged by their originality, but for Django adherents the object is usually to replicate the master's playing as closely as possible. A few practitioners of jazz manouche do try to bend that classic sound, though, among them French-born, New York-based guitarist Stephane Wrembel, who brings his band to the Green Mill this weekend.

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Baconfest, stencil art at Vertical Gallery, and more things to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 03.31.17 at 10:14 AM

Vertical Gallery celebrates its fourth anniversary with work by Blek Le Rat.
  • Vertical Gallery celebrates its fourth anniversary with work by Blek Le Rat.

There's plenty to do this weekend (and that ain't no April Fools' Day joke). Here's some of what we recommend:

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Food trucks could be coming to O'Hare and Midway, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 03.31.17 at 06:00 AM

Food trucks parked on Clark between Monroe and Adams in 2016 - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • Food trucks parked on Clark between Monroe and Adams in 2016

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, March 31, 2017. Have a great weekend! 

  • Food trucks could be coming to O'Hare, Midway if Rahm gets his way

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing bringing food trucks to O'Hare and Midway International Airports. On Wednesday the mayor "introduced an ordinance that authorizes aviation commissioner Ginger Evans to establish areas at O'Hare and Midway where food trucks could remain without having to move every two hours, as is required on Chicago streets," according to the Sun-Times. A legal battle over the city's food truck laws has been going on for months (see the Reader's cover story this week), and alderman Proco Joe Moreno has already proposed an ordinance that would allow trucks to stay in the same location for six hours, tripling the current limit. [Sun-Times]

  • Judges are keeping the state running during the never-ending budget impasse

Illinois hasn't had a budget deal since the summer 2015, but the state hasn't entirely shut down. Judges' orders have kept open Illinois secretary of state facilities and other state-run operations during the budget impasse, according to WBEZ. The story has an interesting rundown of the specific legal actions to keep funding going for Medicaid, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and more. [WBEZ]

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Confessions of a sniveling collectivist

Posted By on 03.30.17 at 06:08 PM

The fictional Ellsworth Toohey, left, and Howard Roark, right, in the 1949 film adaptation of The Fountainhead.
  • The fictional Ellsworth Toohey, left, and Howard Roark, right, in the 1949 film adaptation of The Fountainhead.
On Thursday morning conservative political operative and media owner Dan Proft responded to my recent Bleader post criticizing his string of community newspapers with this blistering tweet:


He sure told me—but I doubt if he told anyone unversed in the scripture that Proft and his circle hold dear.

Ayn Rand wrote two texts sacred to conservatives midway through the last century, and in both Ellsworth Toohey is a major figure—the embodiment of everything she despised. In Rand's 1943 novel The Fountainhead and 1957's Atlas Shrugged, Toohey is an art critic, conniver, slick, and sleazy piece of work.

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Landlords are almost twice as likely to prevail in Cook County eviction court

Posted By on 03.30.17 at 05:43 PM

  • AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

In the past, concrete data on Cook County's eviction courts has been hard to come by. Proceedings aren't recorded, and data on the number of cases filed and their outcomes isn't reported by any county agency. For years, however, tenants' advocates and attorneys have been sounding the alarm about the speed at which cases proceed—decisions are made in a matter of minutes—as well as the shortage of court interpreters and other resources, and tenants' lack of legal representation. 

Last week we published recently-acquired data from the clerk of the Circuit Court that shows that over the last ten years the number of eviction filings has dropped in Chicago but has grown in suburban Cook County. This week, we're taking a look at the outcomes of these cases, and how frequently landlords or tenants come out on top.

Of the nearly 33,000 cases filed in County County eviction courts in 2016, some 4,500 are still pending. But data obtained from the clerk's office reveals that of the ones that have been resolved, plaintiffs—nearly all of which are landlords—won their cases 62 percent of the time. Meanwhile 37 percent of cases ended in dismissals, which tenant advocates consider to be a good outcome for renters. Outcomes of the remaining one percent of cases adjudicated last year aren't clear.

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75-year old folkie Michael Hurley rises to the top at Big Ears

Posted By on 03.30.17 at 05:02 PM

Michael Hurley - DAVID SIMCHOCK
  • David Simchock
  • Michael Hurley
Last weekend I made the trek down to Knoxville, Tennessee, to take in some of the abundant offerings presented at the Big Ears Festival, arguably the most eclectic and interesting large-scale music fest in the U.S. Few other events juggle such a wide range of approaches—folk, contemporary classical, international, experimental, noise, rock, jazz, electronic, and any number of hybrids. I've attended the event three years running, and the sprawl tends to be overwhelming, with concerts stacked up against one another. A listener either needs to bounce around, catching parts of a given set, or settle in to catch a full performance, which means missing others. My natural preference is for the latter, which means there were plenty of things I missed because I was busy elsewhere. And since I needed to get back to Chicago on Sunday, I also missed a bunch of stuff happening then, including Henry Threadgill's Zooid, Rangda, Deathprod (aka Supersilent's Helge Sten), and Gavin Bryars's The Sinking of the Titanic, among others.

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Being There: Still funny, but newly grim and topical

Posted By on 03.30.17 at 02:30 PM

Peter Sellers in Being There
  • Peter Sellers in Being There

The 1979 film Being There—which received a superb new Blu-Ray release last week from the Criterion Collection—feels more funereal than virtually any other movie comedy I know. Set during winter and shot with clear, chilly precision by Caleb Deschanel, it generally looks like an Ingmar Bergman psychodrama; the jokes, albeit funny and perfectly timed, seem oddly out of place. The film is also structured around death: it begins with the death of one character and ends at the burial of another, whose rapid demise influences much of the onscreen behavior in the second half. Peter Sellers, who gave his last great performance in Being There, died about a year after it was released. Moreover, the movie marked the end of a seven-film winning streak for Hal Ashby (director of such New Hollywood classics as Harold and Maude and The Last Detail), who would never again make another commercial or critical success before his death in 1988 at age 59. Not just the swan song for a number of talented filmmakers, Being There might be considered the death knell for New Hollywood itself.

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Taking on my college town’s bar scene taught me that protest is a form of self-care

Posted By on 03.30.17 at 02:00 PM

The author, sporting a ski mask, during a post-protest interview with Iowa City's CBS affiliate KGAN.
  • The author, sporting a ski mask, during a post-protest interview with Iowa City's CBS affiliate KGAN.

Picture it: Iowa City, March 2014. Laughter fills the women's bathroom at Brothers, a huge sports bar that squats next to the University of Iowa. As undergrads line the mirror, fiddling with their lipstick and offering each other sloppy affirmations, my friend Annie and I stand in a stall, pulling ski masks over our faces.

"Ready?" she asks.

"Ready," I reply.

We pop open the door and march towards the sinks, tossing stacks of fliers that read, "THIS BAR SUPPORTS A RAPE CULTURE." I unravel a larger poster with matching text, and the undergraduate drinkers—who've by now realized that we aren't terrorists—read our fliers and applaud as we bolt out to the bar.

I think it's perfectly fine to spend hours sniffing bath bombs at Lush, and most folks I know could benefit from some solo time with a coloring book. But these calls for self-care are often actually calls for women in particular to buy something. We could all use a little extra self-care right about now, but glossy magazines have essentially medicalized what my mother used to call "retail therapy," and now treat it as a salve to systemic oppression. Plus, bubble baths and meditation are typically acts of domesticity and solitude, leaving little room to publicly express anger or offer solidarity.

With this in mind, I'd like to offer an alternative: protest. Based on my experiences as an organizer and participant, protest is also a form of self-care. The act of gathering with folks who share your experiences is a healing thing.

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Little Village and other neighborhoods are setting up ‘defense networks’ for undocumented immigrants

Posted By on 03.30.17 at 01:43 PM

An estimated 183,000 undocumented immigrants live in Chicago, including activist Elvira Arellano, rear, who has been threatened with deportation. Her son Saul is a U.S. citizen. - AP PHOTO/JULIO CORTEZ
  • AP Photo/Julio Cortez
  • An estimated 183,000 undocumented immigrants live in Chicago, including activist Elvira Arellano, rear, who has been threatened with deportation. Her son Saul is a U.S. citizen.

On a cloudy Saturday earlier this month, a group of about 30 people spent the afternoon gathered in the basement of Christ Lutheran Church in Albany Park. This group, a mix of undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens who live in the area, were there for a workshop aimed at educating the neighborhood on what to do if federal immigration agents show up and start knocking on people's doors.

Fear of immigration raids by federal agents has increased since Donald Trump's election. As a response, Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), a group led by undocumented immigrants, has mobilized to start neighborhood-level defense networks aimed at protecting Chicago's undocumented residents.

These networks function like neighborhood watch programs—only instead of organizing to discourage crime in a community, their goal is to get undocumented and U.S. citizen residents working together to hold immigration officials accountable. Such networks might ask neighbors born in the U.S. to approach ICE agents entering their community to ask why they're there, for example, or to record ICE's interactions with neighbors on a cell phone.

"We really need to start thinking locally and within neighborhoods, so that a neighborhood block can organize and know what kind of response it will have if the police or immigration agents come to an apartment building or to a house," says Antonio Gutierrez, an undocumented immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico. He works as a program administrator at Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) and as a family liaison at OCAD. "We understand that whenever there are immigration raids, people may feel intimidated if they don't know how to respond."

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