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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Local Syrian-American doctors support Trump’s missile strikes, despite skepticism

Posted By on 04.27.17 at 08:00 AM

A video posted online April 18 by the media arm of the Islamic State group purports to shows destroyed houses following a U.S.-led coalition strike in the eastern Syrian town of Boukamal. - AAMAQ NEWS AGENCY VIA AP
  • Aamaq News Agency via AP
  • A video posted online April 18 by the media arm of the Islamic State group purports to shows destroyed houses following a U.S.-led coalition strike in the eastern Syrian town of Boukamal.

On a windy April night, nearly 100 people met at a candlelight vigil in Federal Plaza. Organized by the Women's March Illinois the Women for Syria vigil eulogized Syria's estimated 500,000 dead and demanded an increase in the United States' intake of Syrian refugees in the wake of President Trump's missile strikes in the country.

Among a group of mostly women—some with tightly-wrapped hijabs, others with floppy pink knitted hats—were several Syrian-American doctors cautiously hopeful that somehow the air strike would be the beginning of a shift towards greater U.S. engagement in Syria.

Syrian-American doctors interviewed at the vigil say peace in Syria can never be found with Assad in power, and oddly, this has driven them to a renewed hope in Trump, a man who ran on a promise to end Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States and whose son once referred to Syrian refugees as Skittles that "would kill you."

While Trump said his strike would end "the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria," Syrian-American doctors interviewed are deeply skeptical of the U.S.'s next steps to end a six-year war that has targeted health care workers and displaced half of Syria's population.

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Board votes to revoke Dennis Hastert's state lawmaker pension, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 04.27.17 at 06:00 AM

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse in 2015 for his arraignment on charges that he broke federal banking laws and lied about it when questioned by the FBI. - AP PHOTO/PAUL BEATY
  • AP Photo/Paul Beaty
  • Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse in 2015 for his arraignment on charges that he broke federal banking laws and lied about it when questioned by the FBI.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Thursday, April 27, 2017.

  • Board votes to revoke Dennis Hastert's state lawmaker pension

A board of current state legislators voted to revoke former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's $28,000-a-year pension from the six years he spent in the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday. Hastert is serving time in prison after pleading guilty to violating federal banking laws by making hush-money payments to cover up his alleged sexual abuse of students while a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School. The board oversees the General Assembly Retirement System, and "state law says pensions can be revoked when a person is convicted of a felony connected to their time in the General Assembly," according to the Tribune. "I would argue his political career is part and parcel with his career as a General Assembly member because his General Assembly career led to his congressional career," state representative Michael Zalewski said. Two members of the board voted against revoking the pension, arguing that Hastert's felony crime was unrelated to his time in the Illinois General Assembly. [Tribune]

  • City treasurer Kurt Summers decides against running for governor

Chicago city treasurer Kurt Summers won't run for governor in 2018 and is instead endorsing billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker in the crowded Democratic primary, he announced Wednesday. Summers would have taken some African-American votes away from Chris Kennedy, the son of former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, and by endorsing Pritzker he's "doing the next best thing for the billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune," according to the Sun-Times. [Sun-Times]

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mike Love and the Dizz on the rise and fall of WGCI’s Bad Boy Radio and the birth of the Birthday Line

Posted By on 04.26.17 at 04:14 PM

Bad Boy Radio hosts Victor “the Dizz” Blackful (far left) and Mike Love (in blue) with T.I. and Kanye West in 2003 - COURTESY OF MIKE LOVE
  • Courtesy of Mike Love
  • Bad Boy Radio hosts Victor “the Dizz” Blackful (far left) and Mike Love (in blue) with T.I. and Kanye West in 2003

In 1997 Mike Love and the Dizz, who'd begun hosting Bad Boy Radio on WGCI earlier that year, launched a segment where they asked any listeners who were celebrating a birthday to call in. It was the sort of thing DJs often did before corporate consolidation made community-oriented commercial radio an endangered species—the two men had no idea they were on the cusp of creating a pop-cultural phenomenon.

It's been ten years since the original Bad Boy Radio went off the air, but Mike Love and the Dizz's famous question to their callers—"Who's this on the birthday line?"—remains a defining artifact in the history of Chicago radio. Love has kept the Birthday Line alive, if only barely, with the occasional segment on the stations where he's worked since—first V100.7 in Milwaukee, then Soul 106.3 in Chicago, where he has a different show called Bad Boy Radio With Mike Love. (The Dizz, aka Victor Blackful, no longer works in radio and lives in Chicago only part-time.) But back in the day, the Birthday Line ran every Monday through Friday night, often enough to become the kind of fixture that people get nostalgic about. Chance the Rapper crystallized this nostalgia on Sunday, April 16, when he called WGCI and persuaded on-air personality Trey White to do the Birthday Line for his 24th.

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Teaching Chicagoans that in Rojava, resistance is life

Posted By on 04.26.17 at 03:20 PM

A Kurdish YPG fighter - KURDISHSTRUGGLE/FLICKR
  • Kurdishstruggle/Flickr
  • A Kurdish YPG fighter

There's an old adage: The Kurds have no friends but the mountains.

The Chicago Committee for Solidarity with Kurdistan and Rojava and local anarchist group Black Rose Chicago came together Saturday in the hopes of dispelling that notion at a Rojava-focused discussion.

Held at the Nightingale Cinema in Noble Square, the event was billed as liberation support for Rojava, a radical de facto autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria, and Kurdistan, the world's largest stateless nation, spread out among Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. The ten-city speaking tour—organized by Friends of Rojava, a coalition of Kurdish solidarity organizations in the United States—was arranged to educate the left in the West on this little-known revolution.

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Chicago rapper Roy French paints more vividly with fewer colors on ‘Tommy Pickles’

Posted By on 04.26.17 at 12:00 PM

Roy French - IMAGE VIA ROY FRENCH'S FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Image via Roy French's Facebook page
  • Roy French

Local rapper Roy French first caught my eye and ear with 2014's Face God, which I liked for its vivid artwork and psychedelic flair. Yesterday French dropped a mixtape called Vroom, and he seems to have figured out how to use the colors on his palette with more precision and restraint—he's at his best when he goes monochromatic. On "Tommy Pickles," whose pared-down instrumental is dominated by echoing, bell-like synths, he spends half the time rapping in a calm monotone; when he changes gears to half-sing the song's hook, the track's minimalism makes the subtle shift feel huge, as though he's suddenly dropping his defenses.

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Scott Herring says our problem with hoarders isn't them—it's us

Posted By on 04.26.17 at 09:09 AM

A police inspector examines the Collyer brothers' brownstone in 1947. - THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • The New York Times
  • A police inspector examines the Collyer brothers' brownstone in 1947.

Scott Herring is not a hoarder. He watches shows like Hoarders with the same appalled fascination as the rest of us. But Herring is also an English professor who specializes in American cultural studies, which means it's his job to think about why shows like Hoarders appall and fascinate Americans to the degree that they do, and how hoarding has become transformed in the eyes of the public from an eccentricity to a mental disorder. His 2014 book The Hoarders: Material Deviance in Modern American Culture, which he'll discuss this weekend at the Chicago Humanities Spring Festival, is a history not of hoarding, but of other people's reactions to hoarders.

"I see hoarding as a cultural rather than a biochemical phenomenon," Herring says. "Some have argued that it’s something about chromosome 14. I was unsure of that claim. I wanted to look at the cultural specifics of it. I wanted to not draw a pro or a con line. I did not want to cheapen the distress of anyone who lives with a hoarder. There are links to grief and suffering, but do not believe that that hoarding makes one mentally ill. I wanted to understand the history."

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Unforgettable revives a worthy subgenre but adds nothing to it

Posted By on 04.26.17 at 08:00 AM

Rosario Dawson (left) in Unforgettable
  • Rosario Dawson (left) in Unforgettable
This spring Chicago is offering lots of great opportunities to see movies directed by women. The Gene Siskel Film Center is almost done with its series devoted to pioneering American filmmaker Lois Weber, and next month it’ll present a retrospective of films by Lina Wertmuller; Block Cinema wraps up a Chantal Akerman series this week with a screening of From the Other Side on Thursday and a symposium about the director’s work on Friday; Doc Films is in the middle of a series called “Women by Women: Portraits by Contemporary Directors,” which has included such great films as Vagabond, Madeinusa, and Wendy and Lucy; and at the Chicago Latino Film Festival (which started last weekend at the AMC River East), almost a quarter of the narrative features showing were directed or codirected by women. As film culture has traditionally been—and in many respects remains—dominated by men, these local efforts to spotlight female perspectives are encouraging.

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Spektral Quartet hustles to close its Chicago season on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 04.26.17 at 07:00 AM

unnamed.jpg

ARTIST: Ryan Duggan
SHOW: Spektral Quartet at Constellation on Fri 5/12
MORE INFO: ryanduggan.com

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More than 1,000 people have been shot in Chicago in 2017, and other news

Posted By on 04.26.17 at 06:00 AM

Montrell Davis, 10, breaks down in tears as he talks about Chicago gun violence. Davis and hundreds of people joined Cardinal Blase Cupich in Englewood earlier this month. - ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
  • Montrell Davis, 10, breaks down in tears as he talks about Chicago gun violence. Davis and hundreds of people joined Cardinal Blase Cupich in Englewood earlier this month.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

  • More than 1,000 people have been shot in Chicago in 2017

At least 1,008 people had been shot in Chicago in 2017 as of Tuesday morning, according to the Tribune. The city reached the 1,000 gunshot victims milestone Monday, just four days later than the city reached that number in 2016. The weekend violence (seven people were killed and 31 were wounded in shootings) continued into Monday and early Tuesday when three people were killed and 13 were wounded in shootings. [Tribune] [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Federal judge in San Francisco blocks Trump's sanctuary cities funding order

    A federal judge in San Francisco blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to stop funding sanctuary cities, including Chicago, that don't share information on a person's immigration status with federal agencies. San Francisco and nearby Santa Clara County started the legal action against the executive order, arguing that it violated the Constitution, and won the preliminary injunctions Tuesday. The federal government could still ask the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling, according to Bloomberg. [Bloomberg[

  • Northside College Prep, Walter Payton College Prep named among the top 100 high schools in the country

Seven Chicago high schools made U.S. News and World Report's annual ranking of the best high schools in Illinois: Northside College Preparatory High School, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Jones College Prep High School, Whitney Young Magnet High School, Lane Tech High School, Lincoln Park High School, and Brooks College Prep Academy High School. Northside and Payton high schools were named in the top 100 in the nation, with Northside at #40 and Payton at #64. [DNAinfo Chicago]

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Former Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey dies

Posted By on 04.25.17 at 04:25 PM

Martha Lavey - STEPPENWOLF THEATRE
  • Steppenwolf Theatre
  • Martha Lavey

Longtime former artistic director Martha Lavey died today, after a stroke suffered earlier this month. Steppenwolf Theatre announced the news via press release.

Lavey had suffered a previous, more serious stroke in 2015, shortly after she'd left her job at Steppenwolf, where she'd been artistic director for 20 years. She was replaced by current artistic director Anna Shapiro.

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