Bleader | Chicago Reader

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Rauner delivers his final State of the State address with an eye to November elections, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 01.31.18 at 08:39 PM

Governor Bruce Rauner delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. - RICH SAAL/THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER VIA AP
  • Rich Saal/The State Journal-Register via AP
  • Governor Bruce Rauner delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday.

Welcome to the Reader's weekday news briefing.

  • Rauner tries a positive, bipartisan tone in State of the State address

Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his final State of the State address Wednesday, touching on "controversies that have been brewing in his administration and at the Capitol [and] striking a largely bipartisan note in the midst of a challenging re-election campaign," according to the Tribune. Rauner faces a primary challenge in March and a tough reelection battle in November, and he took the opportunity of the speech to plug his bid. "The state of our state today is one of readiness: readiness born of unprecedented frustration with our political culture, along with the firm belief that we have tremendous, but as-yet unrealized, economic potential," Rauner said. His Democratic challengers in the governor's race criticized his conciliatory efforts and promise to submit a balanced budget as too little, too late. [Tribune]

  • Poll shows that more than a third of likely Democratic gubernatorial primary voters are undecided

Democratic gubernatorial front-runner J.B. Pritzker still has the most support among his rivals, according to a new poll from We Ask America. Of 811 likely Democratic voters sampled between January 29 and 30, 29.79 percent support Pritzker, 17.43 percent support state senator Daniel Biss, and 11.5 percent support Chris Kennedy, the Sun-Times reports, with the rest of the candidates polling at less than 2 percent. But more than a third of voters, 37.95 percent, are still undecided with six weeks left until Election Day. Kennedy, a businessman, is the most popular candidate downstate, according to the poll. [Sun-Times

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Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts to replace a Republican casino tycoon accused of sexual misconduct. No, not Trump. Another one.

Posted By on 01.31.18 at 06:04 PM

Donald Trump and Todd Ricketts in 2017
  • Donald Trump and Todd Ricketts in 2017
Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts is replacing an elderly casino magnate accused of sexual misconduct in a high-ranking position in the Republican Party—but relax, it’s not the one you’re probably thinking of.

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Now you, too, can experience Stuart V. Goldberg's The Snake Charmer

Posted By on 01.31.18 at 05:28 PM


Buoyed by the interest and attention brought on by the Reader's feature, Chicago criminal defense attorney Stuart V. Goldberg decided to finally release his autobiographical novel The Snake Charmer.

A product of more than 20 years of labor, the book is a 90-chapter exploration of the life of a criminal lawyer on the make amid the corruption of Chicago's criminal justice system in the 1970s and 80s, during the federal government's Operation Greylord. What it may lack in writerly nuance, it makes up for in dramatic plot points and the atmospheric flavor of a Chicago long gone, when Rush Street was still the place to party, people still used the Club as an auto-theft deterrent, and pastels were still reigning in interior design. Consider it also a dive into Goldberg's psyche.

The book is self-published, but Goldberg had an editor, Dagny Kight—though she wasn't allowed to change much beyond the punctuation. She had to work to convince him to let her do even that.

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In praise of the acting in Paddington 2

Posted By on 01.31.18 at 04:20 PM

Paddington 2
  • Paddington 2
Sally Hawkins may be winning accolades for her performance in The Shape of Water, though I imagine her work in Paddington 2 (which is also currently playing in wide release) was no less challenging. In both films, Hawkins is called upon to convey an intimate, loving relationship with a nonhuman character and sustain the illusion that an imaginary creation exists in the real world. It’s even possible that the challenge of acting in Paddington 2 was greater than that of acting in Water: whereas the Amphibian Man of the later film was played by an actor in a costume—thereby giving Hawkins someone to act with and react to on set—the title character of Paddington 2 was created largely in post-production with digital effects. (There may have been an actor on set to fill in for Paddington, but I can assume that he looked nothing like the little bear that audiences know and love.) Hawkins and her costars not only sustain the illusion of making Paddington seem real, they make it look easy. In nearly every scene he’s in, the talking bear makes an emotional impact on the human characters around him, and the cast succeeds in making that impact relatable.

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Pulitzer winner Mark Konkol to lead Chicago Reader

Posted on 01.31.18 at 10:51 AM

Mark Konkol
  • Mark Konkol

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Emmy-nominated producer is being named executive editor of the Chicago Reader, the alt-weekly's parent company, Sun-Times Media LLC, announced today.

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New report spotlights debt afflicting women in low-income black and Latino communities

Posted By on 01.31.18 at 10:20 AM

  • COFI/POWER-PAC Illinois

A new report conducted by Parents Organized to Win, Educate and Renew-Policy Action Council (POWER-PAC Illinois) focuses on the kinds of debt crippling parents face in very low-income communities in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. The report, called "Stopping the Debt Spiral," is based on surveys conducted by POWER-PAC members—themselves mostly low-income women of color—throughout 2016, and includes policy recommendations and information on campaigns already in the works to resolve some of the inequities discovered in the surveys.

Nearly 80 percent of 304 people surveyed were women. Nearly 60 percent said they lived on a household income of less than $15,000 per year, and two-thirds said they had no savings. Most respondents were between the ages of 31 and 60; half were single, 53 percent were black, and 37 percent were Latino. Almost 60 percent were Chicagoans, but POWER-PAC also surveyed parents in East Saint Louis, Elgin, and other communities. Most respondents felt trapped by credit card debt, car payments, and student loans, but those with the lowest incomes were also significantly burdened by past-due utility bills and city tickets.

Rosazlia Grillier a POWER-PAC member for more than ten years, says it was important that the survey was conducted by people who were themselves familiar with the problems it was trying to quantify. "Families that we work with and are part of our organization were being negatively impacted the most," she says. "We hosted a number of forums where we went through the actual survey with folks. We also took it to the street, we knocked on doors in our own community to build those relationships, so [respondents] could feel comfortable with giving honest answers." POWER-PAC emerged out of Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), a nonprofit that trains low-income parents for civic and political participation and community organizing.

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The time Ben Joravsky got Bill Ayers to admit he was an asshole

Posted By on 01.31.18 at 09:00 AM

Bill Ayers's mugshot after one of his arrests at the Democratic National Convention in August, 1968 - CHICAGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
  • Chicago Historical Society
  • Bill Ayers's mugshot after one of his arrests at the Democratic National Convention in August, 1968

The Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

Like Walt Whitman, we are all large, we all contain multitudes, but Bill Ayers seems to contain more than most. He has been a jock, a frat boy, a college dropout, a campus radical, a terrorist, a fugitive, a laborer, a nursery school teacher, a professor of education, a revolutionary, and a self-admitted beneficiary of white privilege.

Back in 1990, Ben Joravsky tried to put all the pieces together in some way that made sense. For his profile, "The Long, Strange Trip of Bill Ayers," he spent many hours with Ayers, talking about matters large (Ayers's criminal past as a member of the Weathermen) and small (the pleasures of listening to Cubs games on the radio). He sat in on Ayers's classes at UIC and talked to Ayers's family and current associates about his talents as a teacher and his contributions to educational reform in Chicago. Despite himself, Joravsky was charmed.

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Fumigate your third eye with the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 01.31.18 at 07:00 AM

How do you inhale with no lips?
  • How do you inhale with no lips?

Josh Davis
SHOW: Oh Sees and Rash at the Empty Bottle on Sun 2/18

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Chinese billionaire puts the Vista Tower up for sale, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 01.30.18 at 10:30 PM

Rendering of the Studio Gang-designed Vista Tower, center - MAGELLAN DEVELOPMENT
  • Magellan Development
  • Rendering of the Studio Gang-designed Vista Tower, center

Welcome to the Reader's weekday news briefing.

  • Chinese billionaire puts the Vista Tower up for sale

The Dalian Wanda Group Company, owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, has put its $900 million Vista Tower up for sale under increased scrutiny from the Chinese government, according to the Tribune. If completed as currently planned in 2020, the Jeanne Gang-designed skyscraper at 363 E. Wacker will be the third tallest in the city. The Wanda Group has also put a $1.2 billion development in Beverly Hills, California, up for sale but hasn't yet made a final decision on selling either project. [Tribune]

  • Afghan war veteran Miguel Perez Jr. could be deported this week

Miguel Perez Jr., a U.S. Army veteran of the Afghan war and a green card holder, is in danger of being deported as soon as this week, according to the Tribune. A federal court denied Perez's appeal to stay in the U.S. after he finished a prison term for a drug conviction. Perez, who came to the U.S. when he was an eight-year-old and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, is worried about his safety after a deportation to Mexico. His family and supporters say it's hypocritical to deport a veteran legally living in the U.S. "If you're going to put your hand on your hearts every time at a game, you're going to say thank you for your service and wear American flag lapel pins and you're going to criticize football players for taking a knee during the national anthem, it seems that's all superficial and false patriotism if you're not caring about an actual military veteran," Perez's attorney Chris Bergin said. [Tribune]

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At the Eclipsing Festival, Amina Ross wants you to find the light in darkness

Posted By on 01.30.18 at 02:25 PM

Patricia Nguyen will perform at the Eclipsing Festival - JOHN LEE
  • John Lee
  • Patricia Nguyen will perform at the Eclipsing Festival

Amina Ross, the curator of Links Hall’s new Eclipsing Festival, doesn’t want you to be afraid of the dark. Instead, she and a team of multimedia artists want to shatter socially reinforced associations surrounding light and darkness.

“The connotations around darkness are almost wholly negative,” says Ross. Although the connection between racial injustice and language can seem abstract, she believes that connection is really tangible. “If we’re taught from the most basic ages that to be dark or to be black is bad,” she says, “how can we expand our imagination around people who are called by the same name?”

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