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

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Eradicator is a squash man—and a punk band

Posted By on 12.22.17 at 06:00 AM

Andy Slania as the Eradicator - SARAH JOYCE
  • Sarah Joyce
  • Andy Slania as the Eradicator

Basing a punk band on an obscure character invented by a Canadian comedy troupe whose criminally underrated half-hour sketch show went off the air in the mid-90s seems like a bit of a stretch, to say the least. But Chicago guitarist Andy Slania went ahead with it anyway.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

E-mails about the veterans' home Legionnaires' crisis reveal what the state knew, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 12.21.17 at 08:39 PM

Contractors preparing to flush out a fire hydrant at the state veterans' home in Quincy in September 2015, when there was an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the facility. - AP PHOTO/ALAN SCHER ZAGIER
  • AP Photo/Alan Scher Zagier
  • Contractors preparing to flush out a fire hydrant at the state veterans' home in Quincy in September 2015, when there was an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the facility.

Welcome to the Reader's weekday news briefing. Happy Holidays!

  • Rauner e-mails about veterans' home Legionnaires' crisis reveal what the state knew

State public health officials "delayed informing the public for nearly a week about a deadly 2015 Legionnaires' disease outbreak at a state veterans' home in Quincy despite knowing the facility was facing 'the beginning of an epidemic,'" WBEZ reported Wednesday based on e-mails it obtained from Governor Bruce Rauner's office. And while state officials had previously announced that three people had died from Legionnaires' disease, WBEZ discovered from records that in fact six people at the Illinois Veterans' Home died of it this year. Waiting six days to inform the public about the advent of an outbreak is highly unusual and dangerous, say experts. "I think it's really inexcusable," Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the radio station. "It takes you six days from seeing an epidemic to tell people that you're seeing an epidemic? That's six days that you've allowed that disease to spread in a manner that probably wouldn't have happened if you would have known earlier because people would have been taking action. People would have been asking questions." [WBEZ]

  • Report: Taxpayers paying a price waiting for Joseph Berrios to start anti-patronage reforms

Cook County taxpayers are paying for county assessor Joseph Berrios vintage Chicago Machine-style politics, according to a new investigation by the Tribune and ProPublica Illinois. Reports from monitors "reveal a persistent pattern in Berrios' office of improper hiring and firing, arbitrary staffing decisions and resistance to change." Any reforms to happen in the assessor's office have been slow-paced, and Berrios does not seem enthusiastic to adapt, according to the report. "If you've got an office that practices patronage and disregards rules, I don't think we should be surprised that the outcomes we get, in terms of assessments, are shoddy," former head of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Cynthia Canary, said. "It's like garbage in, garbage out." [Tribune]

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Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker push back against winter’s bleakness with their second annual holiday party

Posted By on 12.21.17 at 01:37 PM

Let these two merry gentlemen ring in your holiday season. - MICHAEL VALLERA
  • Michael Vallera
  • Let these two merry gentlemen ring in your holiday season.

The state of the world is bleak, that's for sure—not just politically but also economically and environmentally. I know it, you know it, and Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker know it. That's why the Chicago guitarists decided to host a holiday party at the Hideout last year. "We just thought we all could use a lift," MacKay says. "So why not have a concert and emphasize the already joyous theme the holidays are supposed to embody?"

MacKay and Walker gathered a solid lineup of friends and put on a show. As MacKay puts it, they hoped to "kick out the jams, kick our energy up a notch again, get ourselves out of the mire and muck, and rise above the evil mojo." It was such a good time that they're hosting a second edition this Friday, December 22.

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Reader readers sound off about Chicago's worst things

Posted By on 12.21.17 at 12:23 PM

Some of the Worst of Chicago in a single illustration - RYAN SMITH
  • Ryan Smith
  • Some of the Worst of Chicago in a single illustration

For our year-end double issue, we flipped the script on our annual Best of Chicago edition with a Worst of Chicago issue, featuring dozens of essays about the worst people, places, and things in our fair city. On social media we asked you to kvetch about your own least favorite things.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls, Bears, and White Sox donate $1 million to combat gun violence, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 12.20.17 at 11:51 PM

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Tommy Wingels (57) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal. - AP PHOTO/NAM Y. HUH
  • AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
  • Chicago Blackhawks right wing Tommy Wingels (57) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal.

Welcome to the Reader's weekday news brief.

  • Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls, Bears, and White Sox donate $1 million to combat gun violence

The owners of the Chicago Bulls, Cubs, Blackhawks, Bears and White Sox are joining forces with the University of Chicago Crime Lab and donating $1 million to reduce gun violence in the city, according to the Sun-Times. The combined $1 million donated by the teams will go to the crime lab, a youth therapy program called Choose 2 Change, and training for Chicago Police technology centers. The donation was White Sox and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf's idea, according to Bears chairman George McCaskey. "We are all deeply saddened every day when we read a new headline about shootings and violence in Chicago," Reinsdorf said. [Sun-Times]

  • Governor Bruce Rauner won't say if he holds moral responsibility for veterans' home deaths

Governor Bruce Rauner says Illinois is taking "aggressive action" to keep Quincy Veterans' Home resident, "but he declined to say if he bears any moral responsibility after more cases of Legionnaires' disease were found at the facility following a 2015 outbreak that left a dozen people dead," according to the Tribune. He also refused to say whether he's spoken with the families of any of the victims. "It's heartbreaking that anyone should suffer a health challenge or be exposed to bacteria and we are taking every step we can, every step we can, to keep our veterans safe and reviewing every option and being as aggressive as possible with every expert from around the nation," he said. [Tribune]

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Two new guides to Chicago breweries try to get a handle on the thriving local craft beer scene

Posted By on 12.20.17 at 05:58 PM

beer_lovers_chicago-beermiscuous_field_guide-1.jpg

As craft beer has exploded in Chicago over the past ten years, so has coverage of the local craft beer scene. But despite hundreds of articles on the subject over the years, nobody has published a print guide dedicated entirely to breweries in Chicago and the suburbs. Now, suddenly, there are two. The Beermiscuous Field Guide, published in July by the self-described "coffee shop for beer" that loaned the book its name, is a pocket-size guide to Chicagoland taprooms and brewpubs, excluding breweries where you can't drink onsite. Karl Klockars's Beer Lover's Chicago, released in early December, is more comprehensive, including not only breweries but also bottle shops and beer-focused bars and restaurants.

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The activists and the aldermen: The #NoCopAcademy campaign’s crash course in Chicago civics

Posted By on 12.20.17 at 03:49 PM

Chance the Rapper scolded aldermen over their spending priorities at the November 8 City Council hearing. - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • Chance the Rapper scolded aldermen over their spending priorities at the November 8 City Council hearing.

In the weeks leading up to the November 8 City Council vote that approved the $10 million purchase of a parcel of land for a new police and firefighter training academy, the organizers behind the #NoCopAcademy campaign stayed busy. Teens and adults from the campaign's coalition of 50 groups have led a push to prevent the city from spending a total of $95 million on the new state-of-the-art facility, which is planned for West Garfield Park; they've been canvassing, calling aldermen, and showing up to ward nights. By November 8 they'd collected more than 1,800 signatures opposing the plan. A day before the vote, they reached out to Chance the Rapper for his support—to their surprise, he showed up at the hearing, and during the public comment period he pleaded with aldermen not to approve the land purchase.

Ultimately, the council voted 48 to 1 to approve the deal. The lone "no" came from 35th Ward alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. This may seem like a defeat for the #NoCopAcademy campaign, but its leaders nevertheless say they feel they "won the day." Their takeaway from the experience, as well as aldermen's reflections on that vote, testify to the polarized meaning-making that animates local politics.

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Ben Sachs’s favorite films of 2017

Posted By on 12.20.17 at 01:13 PM

Toni Erdmann
  • Toni Erdmann
A few caveats to this list. Since, according to Reader rules, I can include only movies that received their Chicago premieres in 2017, I'm unable to list two of my favorite films to have received local runs this year. Terence Davies's A Quiet Passion and Alain Guiraudie's Staying Vertical both premiered here at the 2016 Chicago International Film Festival, which makes them ineligible for inclusion here. I didn't see either one until this spring, however, and both made a substantial impact on my moviegoing year.

A Quiet Passion strikes me, after repeat viewings, as a masterpiece,  one of Davies's best films. More than a biopic of Emily Dickinson, Passion considers the misogyny of 19th-century American life through the perspective of a woman who managed, in certain ways, to rise above it. The movie is also a beautiful representation of the art of poetry, with Davies's graceful style providing a visual analogue to Dickinson's verse.

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Peter Margasak’s favorite jazz albums of 2017

Posted By on 12.20.17 at 12:26 PM

JD Allen's Radio Flyer
  • JD Allen's Radio Flyer
This morning NPR Music published the results of the annual Jazz Critics Poll organized by Francis Davis—it's been hosted by NPR Music for the past five years, but it started in 2006 at the Village Voice. Though only one album from my personal top ten landed in the upper echelons of the poll, I can heartily recommend all of the consensus picks, especially the new albums by Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, Nicole Mitchell, and Roscoe Mitchell. You can find the entire list here.

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The gig poster of the week high kicks into the New Year

Posted By on 12.20.17 at 07:00 AM

25442891_895960827235345_7047664079836924607_n.jpg

ARTIST: Josh Davis
SHOWS: Guided by Voices at the Empty Bottle on Sat 12/30 and Sun 12/31
MORE INFO: deadmeatdesign.com

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