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

Friday, March 30, 2018

How are these seders different from all other seders?

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM

STEVE JACOBS
  • Steve Jacobs

A few years ago, some friends joined me in writing a Passover Haggadah that borrowed the tunes of Beatles songs. We named it "You Say Shalom, And I Say Shalom." None of us is particularly observant (we're more Jew-ish), but we longed for the days when matzo was a delicacy and grandpa chugged the glass of wine left out for Elijah—the prophet who is said to attend seders in spirit form, thirsty for that sweet, sweet Manischewitz—when nobody was looking. Plus, it was a fun way to include our non-Jewish friends and sing as if we were camping out around a proverbial burning bush.

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Check out the masterful documentary Bitter Money for an eye-opening lesson in modern Chinese economics

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM

Bitter Money
  • Bitter Money
I’ve seen only two films by Chinese documentary maker Wang Bing, but on the basis of ‘Til Madness Do Us Part (which played at Facets in 2016) and Bitter Money (which opens there today for a weeklong run), I’d aver that he’s one of the most exciting nonfiction filmmakers working today. Both movies deliver powerful lessons about injustice in contemporary China; they’re also immersive, formally challenging works that employ extended running times to make viewers think long and hard about what it’s like to live as the onscreen subjects do. Running nearly four hours, Madness took audiences into a run-down mental institution in the Yunnan province, forcing them to linger there alongside the inmates (many of whom are not mentally ill, but are in fact political prisoners). In Bitter Money, which runs a little under three hours, Wang considers the textile industry in the eastern city of Huzhou, where (according to a final title card) more than 300,000 laborers live. No less than Madness, it’s a film about confinement: the subjects here are trapped in a ruthless economic system.

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The first black leader of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, Heather Ireland Robinson, talks segregation and infrastructure

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM

Heather Ireland Robinson - PHOTO BY LAUREN DEUTSCH
  • Photo by Lauren Deutsch
  • Heather Ireland Robinson

Heather Ireland Robinson has been executive director of the Jazz Institute of Chicago for less than a month, having officially replaced the long-serving Lauren Deutsch on March 1. But she's been working as an arts administrator for 20 years, most recently lending her expertise to the Beverly Arts Center, where she served as executive director from 2014 to 2017. She previously worked for the South Side Community Art Center, Marwen, After School Matters, and Gallery 37, among other institutions—and from 2002 to 2004, she was the Jazz Institute's education and community coordinator, helping lay the foundation for its Jazz Links program. Ireland Robinson has now become the first black person (and thus first black woman) to lead the JIC.

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John Coletta's radicchio risotto is bloody good

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM

risottoandbeyond_p142.jpg

It's spring cookbook season, and there's a lot of noteworthy pulp by local authors out and about. You've already heard about the wonders of The Kefir Cookbook by Julie Smolyansky. In a week or two I'll take a look at Korean BBQ by Bill Kim and Plate magazine editor Chandra Ram. There's also Craft Coffee by Jessica Easto, which actually came out last year (I've been sleeping on it). But last weekend I spent some time with Risotto & Beyond by gentleman chef and fennel pollen maestro John Coletta of Quartino fame, along with Monica Kass Rogers and the late Nancy Ross Ryan.

Coletta already has one book under his belt, the dependable 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes, and he's one of the pioneers of the new charcuterie movement in Chicago, so I might've expected (hoped for?) something along those lines for a second book.

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Portland singer-songwriter Haley Heynderickx has the kind of smarts that creep up on you

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM

Haley Heynderickx - ALESSANDRA LEIMER
  • Alessandra Leimer
  • Haley Heynderickx

Sometimes the most effective songwriting doesn't attempt any artifice grander than capturing half a day in somebody's mental process. On this month's I Need to Start a Garden (Mama Bird), promising Portland singer-songwriter Haley Heynderickx sometimes sounds like she's simply thinking out loud. The strummy "Oom Sha La La" accelerates and decelerates in fits and starts, summoning the loose, squirrelly vibe of early Modern Lovers, and Heynderickx keeps repeating "The milk is sour," as though she's been holed up at home for too long and she's going stir-crazy.

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Can Captain Kirk deliver Amazon to Chicago? Please, no

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM

William Shatner - KRIS CONNOR
  • Kris Connor
  • William Shatner


As if he wanted to demonstrate just how much the Amazon deal will not benefit most of Chicago, Mayor Rahm sent in a crew of graffiti cleaners to freshen up some of the richest parts of town.

Then he brought in William Shatner—Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame—to narrate a promotional video for the deal.

Just another week on the Amazon beat. Man, it’s exhausting keeping up with the mayor’s propaganda machine.

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Remembering the most exclusive restaurant ever to grace a water intake crib

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM

The exterior of Crib - RICHARD C. DREW
  • Richard C. Drew
  • The exterior of Crib

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.

This Sunday, April 1, marks the tenth anniversary of the opening of Crib, the most exclusive restaurant that ever existed in Chicago. Located in the Carter H. Harrison Water Intake Crib two miles off the Oak Street Beach, Crib had just 26 seats, and when restaurant critic Mike Sula paid a visit the week before opening, it was already booked for the next two months. Owner-chef Albert D'Angelo refused to take any calls from a local area code.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Post-Disappears trio Facs celebrate a stark new album with a new lineup

Posted By on 03.29.18 at 03:09 PM

Facs: Brian Case, Alianna Kalaba, Noah Leger - ZORAN ORLIC
  • Zoran Orlic
  • Facs: Brian Case, Alianna Kalaba, Noah Leger

Tomorrow night local trio Facs celebrate the release of their stark debut album, Negative Houses (Trouble in Mind), with a headlining set at the Empty Bottle. As regular readers of Gossip Wolf already know, the band made their live debut in early 2017, emerging during a hiatus by Disappears, the long-running band fronted by Facs singer and guitarist Brian Case. (Disappears bassist Damon Carruesco had left, and at this point the hiatus looks to be permanent.) Case soldiered on with two Disappears bandmates, drummer Noah Leger and guitarist Jonathan van Herik, becoming a new entity that pushed the minimalist drone of Disappears toward a more explicitly postpunk austerity. For me at least, it's a potent reminder that Chicago used to embrace British postpunk like a long-lost relative. When I moved here in 1984, it seemed like the late, lamented Bauhaus were somehow the most popular band in town—and their dark, harrowing sound blazes from the taut grooves and monochromatic timbres of Facs.

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Not-so-happy meals: animal rights group takes on McDonald's in Chicago streets

Posted By on 03.29.18 at 01:19 PM

Demonstrators protested outside a McDonald's in the South Loop on Wednesday.
  • Demonstrators protested outside a McDonald's in the South Loop on Wednesday.

The Humane League isn't lovin' McDonald's treatment of chickens.

Citing "outrageous" animal cruelty, the international (with a local Chicago office) nonprofit launched a public campaign this week that targets the fast-food giant in its own backyard.

"Chicago is McDonald's home city, so we want people here to know what they're up to," says David Coman-Hidy, the Humane League's president.

The campaign began Tuesday with the purchase of dozens of colorful anti-McDonald's ads—slogans include "There's nothing happy about McDonald's Happy Meals"—on benches, buildings, and billboards and in newspapers, among them the New York Times and the Reader. Meanwhile, a truck hauling a supersize six-by-12-foot-high Happy Meal with a diseased chicken's legs sticking out of the packaging was spotted driving around the city.

On Wednesday morning, members of the the Humane League—including a man dressed as Ronald McDonald and a person in a disfigured chicken suit—protested outside the McDonald's in the Loop at 23 S. Clark. The group is busy Thursday with a "virtual reality and 3-D tabling event" in Wicker Park, followed by a "community launch party" at Revolution Brewing (3340 N. Kedzie) later tonight.

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The idea behind the campaign, says Coman-Hidy, is to grab people's attention and pressure McDonald's into "doing the right thing" by implementing higher animal welfare standards for its chicken supply chain.

In October, the Oak Brook-based corporation agreed to new welfare standards for raising and slaughtering the chickens served in its restaurants in the form of food such as McNuggets and McChicken sandwiches. According to Reuters, those guidelines dictate that by 2024 suppliers must improve the amount and brightness of light in chicken houses, provide birds with access to perches that promote natural behavior, and test the well-being of different chicken breeds. But animal activists and organizations like the Humane League say those mandates fall short of commitments made by 100 other restaurants and companies such as Burger King, Sonic, and Subway, and fails to address their biggest concern about chicken production: birds bred to quickly grow to abnormal sizes.

"The most important thing is the the genetics of these birds," says Coman-Hidy. "They've been selectively bred for generations, and they grow unnaturally large at a rapid rate, approximately six times faster than normal chickens. They're killed when they're babies, and they suffer greatly until then. It'd be like a human toddler weighing 660 pounds."

In an e-mailed statement, a McDonald's spokesperson said: "We're committed to sourcing our food and packaging sustainably, including the welfare of the animals in our global supply chain. We believe that our outcome-based approach provides the most comprehensive way forward to measurably improve chicken welfare. We recently announced a Global Chicken Sustainability Advisory Council, a multi-stakeholder group including leading academics and animal health and welfare experts, global suppliers, and NGOs. This group will provide deep expertise, diverse perspectives, and provide recommendations for evolving our chicken welfare and sustainability strategy."

If the campaign is bothering McDonald's, there's no sign of it publicly. The company is asking the media to attend a public ribbon-cutting event at a new upscale location in Wrigleyville on Monday.

McDonald's plans to move into a new $250 million headquarters in the West Loop this year.

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Justin Hayford's apology for his Guess Who's Coming to Dinner review

Posted By on 03.29.18 at 01:01 PM

I included the N-word in my review of Court Theatre’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. A lot of people let me know I shouldn't have.

You’re right. I agree. I apologize.

First, I did not accurately quote the dialogue in question.

Second, although the character in the play uses the N-word, I could have conveyed the horror of the stage moment without quoting the word at all, as many of you rightly pointed out. I might have used "vile racial epithet" instead. I clearly underestimated the hateful and hurtful nature of that word’s appearance in print, even when citing a character's use of it.

I felt it was important to hear out as many of you as I could before responding. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for helping me better understand the injurious effects seeing that word in print can produce. It won’t happen again.

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