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Friday, April 28, 2017

Evanston's Cranky Librarian slapped with 15-day suspension

Posted By on 04.28.17 at 03:36 PM

"Cranky Librarian" Lesley Williams - BRIAN BENSON
  • Brian Benson
  • "Cranky Librarian" Lesley Williams
It’s probably best to get this out of the way right up front: the Internet handle for Lesley Williams, Evanston Public Library’s beleaguered director of adult services, is “Cranky Librarian.”

It’s a joke, but also a clue: this bookworm is no milquetoast.

Williams has worked at the library for 21 years. An innovative programmer (with a master's degree in library science) and outspoken activist, she lives in Evanston and is firmly connected to the community there. She's also the only full-time black librarian employed by this first-rate suburban system, in a city that is 20 percent black.

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Sun Ra sideman Pat Patrick recorded an obscure album with a baritone saxophone orchestra

Posted By on 04.28.17 at 02:00 PM

The Art Yard reissue of Sound Advice
  • The Art Yard reissue of Sound Advice

Before I lugged my ass to the Chicago Reader in 1993, I spent quite a few years at Jazz Record Mart, and the other day one of my former JRM coworkers, Steve Dawson of Dolly Varden, posted on Facebook about the famous folks (well, "famous" is a relative term) who shopped at the store on his watch. His list reminded me of of meeting wonderful saxophonist Pat Patrick at JRM—a longtime member of Sun Ra's Arkestra, he's now better known as the father of former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. He popped into the store a couple of times during my stint, and once he sold some cassettes of his own music.

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Obama’s first post-presidency speech and the March for Science were nonpartisan to a fault

Posted By on 04.28.17 at 01:54 PM

Obama didn't mention Donald Trump in his conversation on civic engagement and community organizing at the University of Chicago on April 24. - CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/AP
  • Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
  • Obama didn't mention Donald Trump in his conversation on civic engagement and community organizing at the University of Chicago on April 24.

Though Barack Obama's first post-presidency speech on April 24 and the March for Science on April 22 were at least partially born out of a need to address dangers presented by the agenda of President Donald Trump and a reinvigorated GOP, both only winked at Trump while embracing a kind of bloodless nonpartisanship.

Held just a few miles apart, the two highly publicized events kept Trump and his agenda in the margins. The 44th president danced around his predecessor's name as if Trump were Voldemort. And while many pro-science marchers carried signs that attacked and mocked Trump, the speakers at the rally were careful not mention his name—part of an effort by the organizers to somehow keep the demonstration apolitical.

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Chicago Humanities Fest, Zombie Pub Crawl, and more things to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 04.28.17 at 11:59 AM

Kimberly Drew, the social media manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discusses curating art in a digital world during the Chicago Humanities Fest. - MIA FERMINDOZA
  • Mia Fermindoza
  • Kimberly Drew, the social media manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discusses curating art in a digital world during the Chicago Humanities Fest.

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

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Works by artist Candida Alvarez make an appearance at Comme des Garçons—and at the Cultural Center

Posted By on 04.28.17 at 09:03 AM

click image Fall 2017 Comme de Garçons "Shirt" collection, featuring prints made with images by painter and School of the Art Institute professor Candida Alvarez - PHOTOS COURTESY OF VOGUE.COM
  • Photos courtesy of vogue.com
  • Fall 2017 Comme de Garçons "Shirt" collection, featuring prints made with images by painter and School of the Art Institute professor Candida Alvarez

“Vibrant camouflage” might sound like a oxymoron, but the concept has recently catapulted Candida Alvarez’s paintings into Paris Fashion Week. The School of the Art Institute professor was one of the artists chosen to collaborate with Comme des Garçons on its Fall 2017 “Shirt” and “Homme Plus” collections—no small feat considering the iconic status of the Japanese brand founded by Rei Kawakubo, who herself picked six of Alvarez's works after seeing them online. Her paintings and drawings are mixed with other fabrics, creating an effect Comme des Garçons is calling "new camouflage."

But Alvarez's images themselves often resemble camouflage patterns. "I am engaged in finding reproduced or original images, which I overlay with conceptual strategies to keep the process interesting," the artist says. "It is this process that turns them into a form of camouflage, burying their true identity. Rei Kawakubo saw that, was excited by that and used it to build on it as the designer. She understood the work."

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How museum curators deal with the issue of race

Posted By on 04.28.17 at 08:00 AM

The Neighborhood/El Barrio by Bianca Diaz at the Museum of Mexican Art - SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Sun-Times Media
  • The Neighborhood/El Barrio by Bianca Diaz at the Museum of Mexican Art

"Museums are conservative institutions," says Carlos Tortolero, founder and president of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. "They come from the same tradition, sometimes started by people who had money, sometimes by the government. Historically, they've been elite institutions. If you want to change it, first you have to admit you have a problem."

Tortolero will be appearing on a Chicago Humanities Fest panel this weekend with Chip Colwell, senior curator of anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and David Pilgrim, founder and director of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, to discuss one very big problem facing museums today: the problem of institutional racism.

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Kim Foxx drafts legislation allowing a second review of fatal police shootings, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 04.28.17 at 06:00 AM

Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx at a press conference in March - MAX HERMAN/FOR THE SUN-TIMES
  • Max Herman/For the Sun-Times
  • Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx at a press conference in March

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, April 28, 2017.

  • Kim Foxx's office drafts legislation allowing a second review of fatal police shootings

Cook County state's attorney Kim Foxx's office has "drafted legislation to allow the state's appellate prosecutor's office to do a second review" of police-involved fatal shootings, according to the Sun-Times. Under the current Special Prosecutor Act, Cook County is prohibited from designating the Office of the State Appellate Prosecutor as special prosecutor in cases where a police officer fatally shoots a civilian. Foxx's measure would change this "in an effort to another layer of accountablity to the handling of police shootings" after the Laquan McDonald case. Under the proposed legislation, if the "state's attorney's office decides not to charge an officer criminally, the State Appellate Prosecutor would be tasked with reviewing that investigation and making its own recommendation about whether charges were appropriate," the newspaper reported. [Sun-Times]

  • Rahm slams Trump's corporate and personal tax-cut plan

Mayor Rahm Emanuel slammed President Donald Trump's new plan to cut corporate and personal taxes. "Part of what is in that proposal is the elimination of the deduction of state and local taxes," Emanuel, a former member of the House Ways and Means committee, said. "And that would penalize Illinois and Chicago residents dramatically. So on that level, I'm opposed to it." But despite his criticism, the mayor discounted taxes as a principal factor in the decisions of people and corporations about whether to locate in Chicago. The city's strengths, he said, are instead "the best-trained, educated workforce with a university and higher-education system to back that up, one of the best transportation systems and an aviation system that allows every one of the sales reps and operations people to get on a plane and get to where they need to go that day." [Sun-Times]

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chicago rapper Valee ends his catchy songs so early you’ll want to imagine where they might’ve led

Posted By on 04.27.17 at 05:05 PM

Valee in the "Shell" video
  • Valee in the "Shell" video

What makes a rapper distinctively local? Rap journalist Jeff Weiss brought this question up for me with his latest column for LA Weekly, "Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. Confirms It: This Is the Golden Age for L.A. Hip-Hop." Among the LA rappers Weiss uses as examples are two I've always thought of as midwestern: Freddie Gibbs, originally from Gary, Indiana, and Open Mike Eagle, who grew up in Hyde Park. On Twitter, Atlanta rapper Indio Prather asked Weiss if Eagle weren't really from Chicago. Weiss replied by listing legendary LA rappers born elsewhere: "Kurupt was from Philly, Ice T from Jersey, Domino from St. Louis. DOC from Dallas. Where you blow up and live is where you're from."

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Former Sun-Times publisher returns to Chicago—to represent Canada

Posted By on 04.27.17 at 11:04 AM

Former Chicago Sun-Times publisher John Cruickshank, shown here in 2004, holds up a copy of the first edition of the Chicago Sun newspaper, dated December 4, 1941. - JOHN J. KIM/SUN-TIMES
  • John J. Kim/Sun-Times
  • Former Chicago Sun-Times publisher John Cruickshank, shown here in 2004, holds up a copy of the first edition of the Chicago Sun newspaper, dated December 4, 1941.
President Trump slapped a 20 percent tariff on softwood imports from Canada Tuesday, and John Cruickshank's phone started ringing.

"This is essentially a billion-dollar tax on American home buyers," Canada's new consul general in Chicago tells me, as he told callers who wanted to know what to make of the tariff. "This is the Trump lumber tax. He's raised a tax without saying he's raising taxes." Jobs will be lost, Cruickshank says—lumbering jobs in Canada and construction jobs in the U.S.

But Cruickshank doesn't sound all that excited. Canada and the U.S. do $2 billion worth of trade every day, he tells me. Issues arise. Softwood prices have been a bone of contention between the two countries for decades.

"I was writing about softwood lumber for the Globe and Mail back in the 1980s," he says.

Tht's because before he was a Canadian diplomat, Cruickshank was a newspaperman.

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How many indie bookstores can you visit in one day?

Posted By on 04.27.17 at 09:00 AM

The front window of Women & Children First - AIMEE LEVITT
  • Aimee Levitt
  • The front window of Women & Children First

That's what Chicago's independent booksellers wants to know. The day is Saturday, Independent Bookstore Day. You have 24 bookstores to choose from in both the city and suburbs.

If you've been keeping track, this is twice as many Indie Bookstore Day participants as last year. This is in part due to Amazon, decidedly not an indie bookstore, whose announcement last August that it planned to open a location on Southport inspired the creation of the Chicago Independent Bookstore Alliance. There have been similar groups in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Saint Louis, but this is the first time booksellers in Chicago have united on such a scale.

Indie Bookstore Day is the first big event they've planned together. "It's a great debut of that camaraderie and what you can expect from us in the future," says Rebecca George, owner of Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park.

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