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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Former Buddy Guy’s Legends manager opens a blues bar in Little Italy

Posted By on 05.31.18 at 04:41 PM

Taylor Street Tap owners Dylan MacWilliams and Brian Fadden outside their bar - IMAGE FROM THE TAYLOR STREET TAP FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Image from the Taylor Street Tap Facebook page
  • Taylor Street Tap owners Dylan MacWilliams and Brian Fadden outside their bar


With the Chicago Blues Festival right around the corner, the two owners of Taylor Street Tap saw no better time to bring their dreams of opening their own blues bar to fruition. The doors to the club—which owner Brian Fadden says will play "host to the best blues talent in the city"—officially opened on May 15. A statement like that might make Fadden sound like a greenhorn business owner suffering from delusions of grandeur—this is in fact his first business—but he and co-owner Dylan MacWilliams have the resumés to make this work.

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How Dems in red states can fight off Trump’s vicious attacks

Posted By on 05.31.18 at 02:06 PM

Trump is going after Democratic senators in red states. - SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO
  • Sun-Times file photo
  • Trump is going after Democratic senators in red states.

With President Trump primed to go after vulnerable Democratic senators in red states, it's clear the country's future hinges on the credibility of what political scientists call the Rich Miller Theorem.

Actually, I may be the only person who calls it that. But I'm hoping the name catches on, if only because I could use the royalties.

Named for Miller, the downstate journalist who publishes the political newsletter Capitol Fax, it posits that loyalty begets loyalty. That is, voters remain loyal to politicians who are loyal to them, even in the face of withering opposition from party bosses.

Like, to name one, our president, who recently announced he'll spend the summer traveling the country, blasting Democratic incumbents in Senate races in North Dakota, Indiana, Montana, Missouri, and West Virginia.

The Dems have to hold on to all of these seats to have any chance of taking the Senate from the Republicans in November.

Trump plans to fly in and out of these states to hold boisterous rallies.

He'll slap the Democrats with mocking nicknames while trying to tie them to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, black football players who don't stand for the national anthem, the ABC executive who fired Roseanne Barr, and other enemies of his nation.

"He [Trump] is the definer in chief," Rob Collins, a Republican strategist, told the New York Times. "He comes in, defines the opponent in a way that's unconventional and unorthodox, but it sticks. He has this gift where he can penetrate armor and sense weakness that then defines the candidate."

Just reading that gives me heartburn. As an antidote, consider the Rich Miller Theorem.

Miller concocted his theorem to explain why state rep Ken Dunkin, a Democrat, got whupped while state senator Sam McCann, a Republican, was reelected in the March 2016 primaries.

For years, Dunkin represented the Fifth, a long narrow district that runs along the lakefront. He'd probably still be in office, but he broke from Democratic house speaker Michael Madigan (and siding with Governor Bruce Rauner) on legislation having to do with child-care assistance and union issues.

In the primary, his opponent, Juliana Stratton, walloped Dunkin, winning roughly 67 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, Sam McCann was running for reelection in his downstate district against Bryce Benton, who was backed by Rauner, the Republican Party boss.

Upset that McCann didn't fully support his anti-union agenda, Rauner and his allies contributed more than $1 million to Benton's campaign—lots of money for a downstate district.

Yet McCann beat Benton with almost 53 percent of the vote.

Why did one incumbent win and the other lose in the face of party opposition?

Well, as Miller explained, McGann defied a political boss to stand with his people. Namely union members who live in his district.

In contrast, Dunkin broke from one boss (Madigan) to stand with another boss (Rauner), who wanted to make life harder for working people to have child-care assistance.

In short, he was fighting against something his voters wanted.

"The real lesson here is you can get away with breaking from your party only if you're standing with the people back home," Miller wrote in a postelection column for Crain's. "McCann did, Dunkin didn't."

I saw a similar syndrome in the 90s with Uptown voters and Alderman Helen Shiller. Back then Shiller was a thorn in the side of Mayor Daley—speaking of party bosses—frequently voting against his budgets.

Come Election Day, Daley dispatched a hulking army of payrollers to try and intimidate Uptown residents into voting for someone—anyone—other than Shiller.

To no avail—as each time Shiller eked out a victory, in part because she convinced enough voters she was willing to defy the boss to stand up for their interests.

Eventually, Shiller and Daley made their peace around the Wilson Yards, a TIF-funded housing/retail project at Montrose and Broadway. Thus, proving the Ben Joravsky Theorem of Chicago politics—there's no difference so great it can't be settled with some good old Chicago slush.

Obviously, the embattled Democratic senators up for reelection in November aren't from Trump's party. But they're the sort of nonideological, bring-home-the-bacon Democrats who have been able to appeal to Republican voters. Apparently, their greatest sin is they don't bow at Trump's feet—which, come to think of it, is no sin at all.

For the sake of everything from a cleaner environment to a fair-minded Supreme Court, here's hoping that voters from North Dakota to West Virginia realize the senators, not our president, have their best interests in mind. v

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Riot Fest announces its first wave of acts for 2018

Posted By on 05.30.18 at 08:00 PM

"What's My Age Again?" Blink-182 are collectively 130 years old, which makes them a little young to be so high on the bill at Riot Fest. - IMAGE VIA THE BLINK-182 FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Image via the Blink-182 Facebook page
  • "What's My Age Again?" Blink-182 are collectively 130 years old, which makes them a little young to be so high on the bill at Riot Fest.

Today Riot Fest made its first lineup announcement for 2018, and the 82 acts in this wave include Blink-182, Cypress Hill, Blondie, Pussy Riot, the Jesus Lizard, Atmosphere, and Beck—as well as the Killer himself, Jerry Lee Lewis, the only artist at the fest who was putting out records way back in the 1950s.

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Taralie Peterson of Spires That in the Sunset Rise and Chicago noise veteran Andy Ortmann celebrate new albums

Posted By on 05.30.18 at 05:51 PM

Andy Ortmann (left) and Taralie Peterson - BOTH IMAGES COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Both images courtesy the artist
  • Andy Ortmann (left) and Taralie Peterson

It's been four years since Ka Baird of Spires That in the Sunset Rise moved from Madison to New York, and while she continues to work with bandmate Taralie Peterson (who's still in Madison), by necessity they've devoted more energy to solo projects lately. Tomorrow night they're both in Chicago (where Spires came into their own in the aughts as an engagingly odd psych-folk combo) for a concert at the Owl, but they're not actually performing together. Baird will play in the duo Body Love with percussionist Michael Zerang, who's made a couple fascinating albums with Spires in the past few years. Peterson will perform under the name Louise Bock, which she also uses on the strong new solo album she's celebrating at this show, Repetitives in Illocality (Feeding Tube).

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Empower promises to bring the real south side to the Lyric Opera stage

Posted By on 05.30.18 at 06:00 AM

The cover of the program for Empower - ELIJAH HUFF
  • Elijah Huff
  • The cover of the program for Empower

I can't say I love everything I've heard about the premise of the new musical that'll premiere at Lyric Opera this week: it sounds like a journalist is the major villain in the piece.

But I'm eager to see it.

Empower, with a cast that includes the 31 Chicago high school students who helped create it and two professional opera singers—soprano Angela Brown (who's sung the title role in Aida at the Met) and baritone Will Liverman (Dizzy Gillespie in Lyric's 2017 Yardbird)—is the result of a collaboration between Lyric Opera and the Chicago Urban League. The kids have been working on it in weekly after-school meetings since October, their ideas and stories fueling some impressive creative talent:  Empower has a libretto by playwright Ike Holter and a score by composer Damien Sneed.

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Discover the work of noted Japanese genre director Umetsugu Inoue

Posted By on 05.30.18 at 06:00 AM

The Eagle and the Hawk plays in the Film Center's Inoue series on June 8 and 9.
  • The Eagle and the Hawk plays in the Film Center's Inoue series on June 8 and 9.
The four films playing this month in the Gene Siskel Film Center's Umetsugu Inoue series represent only a fraction of the Japanese director’s work. Inoue, who died in 2010 at age 86, directed more than 100 theatrical features and 300 television productions. Yet the series does spotlight his prolificness—three of the four selections were made in 1957—as well as his versatility. The films include a backstage melodrama (The Stormy Man), a boxing picture (The Winner), a nautical adventure (The Eagle and the Hawk), and a family musical (The Green Music Box). These selections reveal Inoue to have been a consummate studio director: not only could he move easily from one genre to another, he also elicited charismatic performances from all his stars. For these reasons Inoue was consistently in demand in the 1950s and 60s; in fact he was one of the few directors to have worked for all six of the major Japanese movie studios.

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A black star warps the fabric of reality on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 05.30.18 at 06:00 AM

32170041_10155439261813244_7122228874070458368_n.jpg

ARTIST: Bill Connors
SHOW: Martin Rev with Divine Enfant, Wolf Eyes, Mystic Ruler with Bentley Anderson, and DJ Eye Vybe at Empty Bottle on Fri 6/1
MORE INFO: instagram.com/billconnors

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Five literary biopics whose pictures are worth a thousand words

Posted By on 05.30.18 at 06:00 AM

Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table
  • Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table
The biopic has been a staple in filmmaking since the sound era began, though over the years literary figures seem to have gotten fewer screen treatments than other notables. On Friday, Gene Siskel Film Center opens Haifaa al-Mansou's 2017 film Mary Shelley, starring Elle Fanning, and next Tuesday, Chicago Film Society screens Charles Vidor's 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen, starring Danny Kaye. Taking a page from these, we've selected five additional biopics about writers, ones that don't just rest on words but also offer up some visual artistry.

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Move over, T. rex: Field Museum shows off the diversity of dinos from outside America

Posted By on 05.30.18 at 05:00 AM

When you think "dinosaur" you're probably thinking of one from North America like the T. rex. - RYAN SMITH
  • Ryan Smith
  • When you think "dinosaur" you're probably thinking of one from North America like the T. rex.

Think "dinosaur" and your brain is likely to default to a Tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops, stegosaurus, velociraptor—all the superstar fauna of the Mesozoic era.

Beyond guest appearances in the Jurassic Park movies, the tie that binds these popular prehistoric creatures is their place of birth: they're all found in the U.S. or Canada. But where's the love for Giraffatitan, the giraffelike African sauropod, or Glacialisaurus, the beefy beast whose bones were discovered in an antarctic glacier?

We're too focused on the northern hemisphere when it comes to the dinosaur world, a diversity problem the Field Museum is trying to help rectify this spring. Last week, the natural history museum installed a fiberglass cast of a titanosaur skeleton from Argentina in Stanley Field Hall, and it's also putting the finishing touches on a new exhibit featuring the dinosaurs of Antarctica.

"We want to show that there's more to dinosaurs than T. rexes and all of the very familiar North American species," says Eric Gorscak, a postdoc research scientist at the Field.

Máximo, the 122-foot-long titanosaur, has invaded the Field Museum.
  • Máximo, the 122-foot-long titanosaur, has invaded the Field Museum.

Step one in diversifying the Field's dinos: moving Sue out of the museum's vast white-marbled main room after 18 years. The T. rex skeleton was taken down and rebuilt in a new suite on the second floor earlier this year to make way for Máximo—a massive herbivore native to South America.

The 70-ton titanosaur was initially discovered in 2010 at the Mayo family farm in the Patagonia region of Argentina (hence the name chosen for the species: Patagotitan mayorum). On Friday, crews needed a crane to attach its skull—the final piece of the dinosaur's frame. In its finished state, Máximo measures 122 feet long from head to tail, four-fifths the height of the Chicago Water Tower. At 28 feet tall, the dinosaur's fearsome-looking skull is at eye level with visitors standing on the museum's second-floor balcony.

"If you're going to move Sue, the biggest and baddest T. rex around, you have to go with something equally impressive, and we've got that in Máximo—the biggest dinosaur that's ever walked the earth," says Hilary Hansen, the museum's senior exhibitions project manager.

The titanosaur's rust-colored bones reflect the claylike soil common in South America, and its name was an intentional nod to the dinosaur's regional roots, Hansen noted. "It's also a nice play on words because it means 'maximum' in Spanish," she said.

Crews finished construction of Máximo last week. - RYAN SMITH
  • Ryan Smith
  • Crews finished construction of Máximo last week.

There are also other creatures in the 12-week "Antarctic Dinosaurs" exhibit that aren't as physically spectacular as Máximo, but they're likely to be just as unfamiliar to the public. That's partly because they're fairly new discoveries, including fossils dug up in 2010 and 2011 by a team of scientists encamped at Shackleton Glacier that included Field Museum paleontologists Pete Makovicky and Nate Smith.

The exhibition—which opens at the Field Museum on June 15—will include about 40 species from the icy continent from a time 200 million years ago when it was part of a bigger supercontinent called Gondwana. Then Antarctica was a wooded, lush habitat with a temperate climate that contained a number of dinosaurs—many of whom were covered with feathers.

A mock-up of the Antarctic Dinosaurs exhibit includes the Cryolophosaurus AKA "Elvisaurus" - FIELD MUSEUM
  • Field Museum
  • A mock-up of the Antarctic Dinosaurs exhibit includes the Cryolophosaurus AKA "Elvisaurus"

"The climate was similar to northern Alaska, where you have high latitude but you still have seasonality. So you had a lot of feathered dinosaurs running around in Antartica," says Gorscak.

Arguably the most famous Antarctic dino is the unique-looking Cryolophosaurus. Unearthed in 1991 and named in 1994, the meat-eating monster has been nicknamed "Elvisaurus" because of the curved forward-facing crest on its head that vaguely resembles young Elvis Presley's pompadour haircut.

With the Field Museum's help, maybe Elvisaurus or Máximo will get their own cameos in the next Jurassic World sequel, but Gorscak will settle for exposing people to new dinosaurs from places far from America.

"There are so many cool dinosaurs from different parts of the world and we're excited to open the public's minds to them."

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

'Those People' use art to share their stories at Weinberg/Newton Gallery

Posted By on 05.29.18 at 01:00 PM

JOSÉ "CHE" GONZALES
  • José "Che" Gonzales

A group of resident artists from the Mercy Housing Lakefront art therapy program are sharing work based on their life experiences in "Those People," a special exhibition at the Weinberg/Newton Gallery.

The exhibition was conceived by Mercy Housing resident Eddie Corbani, who asked his group mates in art therapy to create work in response to being seen as "those people," people who are looked down by the rest of society on or set apart as "other" due to experiences beyond their control. Members of the Mercy Housing art therapy program brought it to the attention of the gallery. All proceeds from the exhibition will go to the artists and the art therapy program.

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