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Friday, June 30, 2017

Filmfront brings a passion for cinema studies to Pilsen

Posted By on 06.30.17 at 03:58 PM

A view outside Filmfront - MALIA HAINES-STEWART
  • Malia Haines-Stewart
  • A view outside Filmfront
This July marks the two-year anniversary of Filmfront, a cine club and artists’ studio in Pilsen. Located at 1740 W. 18th (just a block and a half from the 18th Street Pink Line station), the space offers free screenings, reading groups, and art exhibitions. Filmfront will commemorate its second birthday with the release of a 24-page monograph called Film Food Footnotes. The book, according to cofounder and programmer Malia Haines-Stewart, combines production stills, research notes, and excerpts of film dialogue that relate to instances in movies where people discuss food. Over the course of the month Filmfront will host screenings of three films discussed in the monograph: Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet’s Sicilia! (1999), Jia Zhang-ke’s Still Life (2006), and Alexander Dovzhenko’s Earth (1930). As usual for the space, the screenings will be followed by audience discussions.

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A David Bowie dance opera, Coco Picard chats, the Sugar Ball, and more things to do this weekend

Posted By on 06.30.17 at 03:00 PM

The sci-fi tap dance opera Changes is a fitting tribute to David Bowie. - RALPH GATTI
  • Ralph Gatti
  • The sci-fi tap dance opera Changes is a fitting tribute to David Bowie.

Whether you want to unwind with wine and jazz or escape from political turmoil with political comedy, there's tons to do in Chicago this July Fourth weekend:

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Illinois senate Republican leader Christine Radogno to resign as budget deadline looms, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 06.30.17 at 06:00 AM

Illinois senate GOP leader Christine Radogno speaks to the media in 2016. - AP PHOTO/SETH PERLMAN, FILE
  • AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File
  • Illinois senate GOP leader Christine Radogno speaks to the media in 2016.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, June 30, 2017. Have a great weekend!

  • Illinois senate Republican leader Christine Radogno to resign after state budget deadline

Illinois senate Republican leader Christine Radogno will resign from her senate seat and her leadership position, effective Saturday. The deadline for a state budget deal is Friday, the end of the 2017 fiscal year. "I have done everything I can do to resolve the state's budget crisis," Radogno said in a statement. "I will continue to do so for the coming days. But if the solution will not come on my watch, I hope and pray that the Governor, other legislative leaders, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House can find a path to solve the state's problems." She and Democratic senate president had negotiated a "grand bargain" to end the nearly two-year-long state budget impasse, but it was shot down in March when Governor Bruce Rauner said the deal did not go far enough. She was the first woman to lead one of the Illinois General Assembly's four legislative caucuses. [Sun-Times] [Tribune]

  • Chicago's minimum wage goes up to $11 an hour on July 1

The minimum wage will increase by 50 cents to $11 per hour in Chicago Saturday. The city's approximately 270,000 minimum-wage employees have seen it rise by a third since 2014, when it was $8.25 per hour. After that, it will continue to rise, moving up to $12 on July 1, 2018, then to $13 on July 1, 2019, after which any additional hikes will be based on cost-of-living increases as determined by federal officials. "If you work full-time, you shouldn't have to live in poverty," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday. But workers' groups such as the Fight for $15 movement continue to press for a $15 per hour minimum—and both houses of the General Assembly have passed bills approving gradual increases toward that goal over the course of five years. Governor Rauner earlier this month called such measures "extreme." [DNAinfo Chicago] [State-Journal Register] [Tribune]

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lesley Williams checks herself out of Evanston Public Library, for good

Posted By on 06.29.17 at 01:19 PM

Lesley Williams is leaving Evanston Public Library. - BRIAN BENSON
  • Brian Benson
  • Lesley Williams is leaving Evanston Public Library.

Evanston Public Library's controversial "cranky librarian," Lesley Williams, announced today that she is resigning from her job as head of adult services, and will leave the library after more than 20 years of service.

Williams, a popular figure in the community, and the library's only full-time black librarian, has been at the center of controversy since a disciplinary suspension in the spring that was the subject of public protest.

Another, more recent suspension, with threat of firing (over a Facebook post that was critical of the library's record on inclusiveness) blew up on the library's board and director, Karen Danczak Lyons, when e-mails were released that revealed that board members and Danczak Lyons had been talking about getting rid of Williams for several years.

Did they pay her to go away now?  No one's saying, but Williams won't have to rush into another job.

"I am in a position to not need to look for a new job immediately, so I am continuing my work advocating for a meaningful equity audit (or "assessment" if you prefer) of library services, as well as continuing to volunteer with Open Communities, Jewish Voice for Peace and other progressive nonprofits," was how she put it, in an e-mail.

Here's Williams's full public statement:  

After lengthy discussions with the City of Evanston, I have decided to resign from my position as Head of Adult Services at the Evanston Public Library. The current hostile atmosphere and mistrust would make it impossible for me to continue to be effective.

I take this step with deep regret and sorrow. I have treasured my 20 years at EPL, and the many friendships and collegial relationships formed there. I am proud of my achievements: creating the Community Engagement and Latino Outreach positions, the 11 Months of African American History program series, the Mission Impossible reading series, the Muslim Journeys series, the Latino 500 series, and the African American Literature discussion group. None of these would have been possible without the creativity and support of many beloved colleagues.

I am grateful and appreciative for partnerships with many Evanston organizations: Piven Theatre, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, The Block Gallery, Muse of Fire, Etc Music School, The Frances Willard House and Museum, Northwestern's Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, SOUL Creations, the Evanston Literary Festival, the Bienen School of Music, Dance Center Evanston, Bookends and Beginnings, St James Armenian Church, Neighbors for Peace, Comix Revolution, Lake Street Church, Open Communities, Evanston Art Center, Evanston Republican Club, League of Women Voters, Evanston History Museum, Evanston NorthShore YWCA, Northwestern University Archives, Shorefront Legacy Center, Second Baptist Church, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, and the Office of State Representative Robyn Gabel. I have also been fortunate to work with outstanding cultural organizations from the wider Chicago area: Goodman Theatre, Chicago Folks Operetta, Northlight Theatre, Lyric Opera Society, and Silk Road Rising. Thank you all for your multi-faceted contributions to the cultural life of Evanston through your work with the library.

Although I will no longer be employed by the Evanston Public Library, as an Evanston resident and an advocate for social justice and intellectual freedom, I will continue to work with community members determined to push for full racial equity in library services, collections, hiring, and locations. These are critical concerns which go far beyond a mere "personnel dispute". I hope that by removing my individual status from the debate, Evanston will be able to focus on the injustice of a publicly funded government institution which continues to resist confronting the inequitable service it provides to lower income, African American and Latinx residents.

To all the friends, library patrons and organizations that have written, called, Facebooked and tweeted their support: you have my undying gratitude. Let us continue to work for justice, equity and intellectual freedom in our beloved community.


Lesley Williams

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In Young Radicals Jeremy McCarter ponders the similarities between 1917 and 2017

Posted By on 06.29.17 at 08:00 AM


One of the strange and wonderful things about history is how the same basic facts can take on an entirely different meaning depending on when you happen to be examining them. As a case in point, Jeremy McCarter began writing his new book Young Radicals, the story of five activists who spent most of the 1910s advocating and often agitating for dramatic social change, back in 2011, in the middle of the hope-and-change Obama era. He finished last fall. On the morning of November 9, he realized that he would have to rewrite his entire introduction to reflect the outcome of the presidential election.

"Had Hillary won," he says, "this book would be an account of a moment of great promise in American life. It would be a way to recapture some of the optimism of those exciting years right before World War I. It certainly looks different now, even though the core narrative of the book didn’t change."

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Trump shades Cubs during White House visit: ‘Your team’s doing OK,’ and other Chicago news

Posted By on 06.29.17 at 06:00 AM

Donald Trump, the 45th president, holds up a Chicago Cubs jersey alongside Kris Bryant as the 2016 World Series champions visit the White House a second time. - AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH
  • AP Photo/Susan Walsh
  • Donald Trump, the 45th president, holds up a Chicago Cubs jersey alongside Kris Bryant as the 2016 World Series champions visit the White House a second time.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Thursday, June 29, 2017.

  • Trump to the Cubs during White House visit: "Your team's doing OK. But you're going to do great starting now, right?"

President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed Chicago Cubs players, coaches, and team executives for a second World Series championship celebration at the White House (Barack Obama hosted the champs in January prior to Trump's inauguration). "This is a great team," Trump said. "They were actually here [at the White House previously], but they wanted to be here with Trump." The president, however, wasn't entirely positive about the somewhat struggling Cubs, who were in D.C. for a four-game series with the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. "Your team's doing OK," he said. "But you're going to do great starting now, right?" [Tribune]

  • Jason Van Dyke testifies about the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald shooting in pretrial hearing

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke testified Wednesday about the events that occurred after he shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death in 2014. Van Dyke, who is charged with first-degree murder, official misconduct, and 16 counts of aggravated battery, testified for approximately half an hour about statements he made to his superiors and other officers after the shooting. At the request of Van Dyke's attorney Daniel Herbert, videotaping of the hearing was prohibited, but reporters were allowed to record audio. One of the points at issue is whether Van Dyke's statements were "compelled"—meaning that he was required to make them at risk of losing his job—in which case, based on a 1967 Supreme Court ruling, they might be ruled inadmissible in a criminal trial. "It was my understanding that you had to speak to the [highest-ranking officer] about what happened—otherwise I would be fired," Van Dyke maintained. [DNAinfo Chicago]

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

So long, Peerless Potato Chips

Posted By on 06.28.17 at 05:41 PM

The Times of Northwest Indiana broke the news on Monday that Gary's 89-year-old potato chip company Peerless Potato Chips is going under.

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The Portuguese movie The Ornithologist is a strange and beautiful journey into the unknown

Posted By on 06.28.17 at 02:15 PM

The Ornithologist
  • The Ornithologist
Easier to admire than it is to describe, João Pedro Rodrigues's The Ornithologist (which opens Friday at the Music Box) dances around motifs of faith, death, and transfiguration without quite asserting what it's all about. The film recognizes its ambiguity, however, and has fun with it, shifting its shape whenever it seems like it's about to settle on a particular message.

It's a wry work. Rodrigues toys with his audience with the deadpan playfulness of Luis Buñuel, whose films The Ornithologist sometimes recalls in its tricky approach to religious themes. It's also full of incidental pleasures, featuring a dense soundtrack (rich in sounds like birdsong, wind, and animal bleating) and beautiful images of the mountains and forests of western Portugal. In fact the movie renders its natural setting so vividly that it practically feels like a character, and this anthropomorphic quality adds to the overall sense of mystery. This is a feature one can get lost in, which is appropriate, as the main character is lost for most of the running time.

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Fourth of July 2017 fireworks and events in Chicago

Posted By on 06.28.17 at 01:44 PM

Mercury Skyline Cruiseline hosts Fourth of July 3-D Fireworks Extravaganza on Tuesday 7/4. - COURTESY OF MERCURY SKYLINE CRUISELINE
  • Courtesy of Mercury Skyline Cruiseline
  • Mercury Skyline Cruiseline hosts Fourth of July 3-D Fireworks Extravaganza on Tuesday 7/4.

Whether you call them fireworks, sky candy, rocket dust, rainbow suspenders, dragon ball-see, or BOOM, you'll get a great view (and ribs) at these all-American Fourth of July parties.

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Books we can’t wait to read in the rest of 2017

Posted By on 06.28.17 at 11:09 AM

The Wall of Respect in Bronzeville, subject of a new book from Northwestern University Press - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • The Wall of Respect in Bronzeville, subject of a new book from Northwestern University Press

The days are—imperceptibly—getting shorter. We are officially sliding into the second half of 2017, which means it's time for our second list of books we can't wait to read. While I was compiling this list, I happened across an essay by the wise and wonderful Linda Holmes on NPR's Monkey See blog about how there's no possible way anyone will be able to read all the books they want to read, let alone watch all the TV shows, listen to all the podcasts, etc. And there will undoubtedly be great books that I'll be kicking myself for failing to mention here (I'm still bruised for my failure to include We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby on the last edition of this roundup), but here are 48 upcoming titles that look like they could be a worthwhile way to spend a few hours or days.

Important notes: There is still no ETA on the new George R.R. Martin book. And the new John Grisham has no title.

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