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

Monday, September 17, 2018

With Bill Daley running for mayor, it’s good to remember what happened the last time we turned Chicago over to the Daleys

Posted By on 09.17.18 at 01:09 AM

  • James Foster/Sun-Times
  • Bill Daley

Just when I thought the mayor's race couldn't get any weirder, into the fray jumps a Daley.

William M., to be exact. As opposed to—well, I'll get to the Daley clan in a bit.

There were already 11 announced candidates when, on September 4, Mayor Emanuel dropped a "Rahm-Shell," as the Sun-Times headline put it, announcing he wouldn't seek reelection.

Now 20 or so relatively high-profile pols—including Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza, and Jesus "Chuy" Garcia—are talking about running.

If this keeps up, the Tribune may have to rewrite its recent story about how tough it is to run Chicago. If being mayor is so "grueling," how come so many want to do it?

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Twin Peaks take a victory lap at Riot Fest

Posted By on 09.16.18 at 12:45 PM

Twin Peaks singer-guitarist Cadien Lake James - DANNY O'DONNELL
  • Danny O'Donnell
  • Twin Peaks singer-guitarist Cadien Lake James

Chicago garage-pop wonders Twin Peaks formed in 2010 and debuted at Riot Fest in 2013, the first year it took place entirely in Humboldt Park.  The fest was beginning its rapid expansion, and organizers booked plenty of well-established locals—as well as a few, including Twin Peaks, who were beginning their own rapid rise. At the time, the band's original members were all 19.

This year only 88 artists played Riot Fest, and as that total has dwindled over the past couple years, younger acts have fallen off disproportionately. David Anthony has argued in the Reader that the festival should make a bigger priority of engaging with where punk is going, and Twin Peaks helped make his case: their Saturday afternoon set was one of the strongest I witnessed all weekend, showcasing the new vitality they're injecting into old rock ideas.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pussy Riot use their Riot Fest set to demand justice for a fallen comrade—and for all the oppressed

Posted By on 09.15.18 at 12:06 PM

Nadya Tolokonnikova and Pussy Riot - DANNY O'DONNELL
  • Danny O'Donnell
  • Nadya Tolokonnikova and Pussy Riot

Nadya "Tolokno" Tolokonnikova and the rest of the 14-member Pussy Riot posse marched onstage Friday at Riot Fest wearing frilly white blouses, athletic pants, and DayGlo green balaclavas, holding up a huge sign demanding justice for a fallen comrade: "We will punish those who poisoned Peter Verzilov." Aside from the group's DJ, only Tolokonnikova wasn't wearing the signature Pussy Riot mask—hers sat on top of her head. As such you could call Tolokonnikova the face of the group, but its members clearly included different races, genders, body types, and levels of ability (one woman had come out in a wheelchair).

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Chicago rapper Noname opens all the doors on the new Room 25

Posted By on 09.14.18 at 02:26 PM

Noname at Pitchfork this summer - ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
  • Noname at Pitchfork this summer

Noname's fans consider her this generation's "woke" female rapper, but it's a notion that Noname herself rejects. In a recent interview with The Fader, the Chicago rapper otherwise known as Fatimah Warner insists that her music shouldn't be pigeonholed as "real hip-hop" (shorthand for old-school rap, usually invoked by the same people who think the four elements represent the only true hip-hop culture). "A lot of my fans . . . I think they like me because they think I'm the anti-Cardi B," she says. "I'm not. I'm just Fatimah." And with her debut album, the brand-new Room 25 (2016's Telefone was technically a mixtape), Noname achieves a healthy balance between the serious outlook of the conscious poet-rapper her fans have come to know and the sillier, funnier facets of her personality.

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Deadpool jumps from the silver screen to the silver ball thanks to Stern Pinball

Posted By on 09.14.18 at 12:12 PM

  • Stern Pinball

The comic-book hero Deadpool's constant metajokes don't just break the fourth wall—they slice it up and grind it to dust.

It's not exactly surprising, then, that the supermercenary's new pinball game, released this month by Chicago-area manufacturer Stern Pinball, follows suit. While you're busy flipping a silver ball around the playfield, for instance, a digitized Deadpool tries his hand at his own pinball machine on the machine's video display. Much of the rest of Stern's latest is full of that brand of self-referential humor, sometimes to the point of tediousness (I could do without Deadpool mocking me nearly every time I lose).

Luckily the game itself is more than good enough to make up for the minor annoyances. I became addicted after playing five rounds of it early this week at Logan Arcade, which hosts the premiere party for the new game tonight. For the casual player like me, it's relatively easy to unlock the frantic multiball mechanic and send a ball careening down the katana-shaped ramp. But there's plenty for more hard-core players to attempt—for example, they can take on virtual X-Men villains like Juggernaut and Mystique. 

The pinball game favors the comic-book version of Deadpool over Ryan Reynolds and the silver-screen version of the "Merc With the Mouth," as the character's called, and the cartoonish art—hand-drawn by a freelance artist who goes by the moniker Zombie Yeti—appropriately feels like it's ripped from a graphic novel. My favorite little touch is a guest appearance by Dazzler, the much-derided but beloved disco-themed superheroine.

If you manage to get your hands on the premium and limited editions of the machines, they feature a mini disco ball with illumination effects. To get your own, you might need Ryan Reynolds's salary—the premium costs $7,599, and the limited edition is $8,999. Personally, I'll be sticking to Logan Arcade to play.

Deadpool Pinball Launch Party Fri 9/14, 7-10 PM, Logan Arcade, 2410 W. Fullerton, free

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Riot Fest and more of the best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 09.14.18 at 06:00 AM

Atmosphere plays the Radicals Stage 9/13 at 6:45 PM. - COURTESY OF ARTIST
  • courtesy of artist
  • Atmosphere plays the Radicals Stage 9/13 at 6:45 PM.

There are plenty of shows, films, and concerts happening this week. Here's some of what we recommend:

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Warped for life by Fanny and Alexander

Posted By on 09.14.18 at 06:00 AM


My parents took me to see Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander when it was released in the United States in 1983, and it warped me forever. I don’t recall what month we went to see it, but I was either about to turn 13, or had just turned 13. I do remember that we saw it at the Nickelodeon Cinema, just off Commonwealth Avenue, located in between buildings belonging to Boston University. That movie theater is long gone, as are many other landmarks of my Boston youth, but memories from those years linger and are reactivated often. Especially when I revisit a movie or book from long ago. The Siskel Film Center's celebration of Bergman has provided a great opportunity to plunge into my own past.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

How women came together to take down the Orwells

Posted By on 09.13.18 at 03:56 PM

  • Sue Kwong/original photo by Kelly Puleio
  • The Orwells

Content warning: sexual assault

For years, women in Chicago had been warning each other to steer clear of the Orwells. Ugly rumors about the local garage band traveled mostly along back channels, fueled by whispers at DIY shows and graffiti in the women’s room at Cole’s. On August 26, private talk finally led to concerted public action when former Orwells fan Riley Kmet, who now lives in Ohio, created a Google Doc where she and several other women collected and posted specific but anonymized allegations of sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape, misogyny, homophobia and violent behavior against three of the five members of the Orwells: front man Mario Cuomo, drummer Henry Brinner, and bassist Grant Brinner.

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Pro tip for mayoral hopefuls: Don't govern by press release, do sweat the small stuff

Posted By on 09.13.18 at 06:00 AM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking about gun violence in Washington, D.C., 2013 - SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
  • Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking about gun violence in Washington, D.C., 2013

This story was originally published by ProPublica Illinois.

The day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel rocked the city's political establishment by announcing he wasn't running for reelection, Chicago police officer Ray Tracy opened the September community meeting for police beats 815 and 821 the way he does every month, by going over the good news and bad news in the area's recent crime statistics.

It was just hours after jury selection began in the first murder trial of a Chicago police officer in decades. Although neither of those topics came up at the meeting, it was held not far from where CPD officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed teenager Laquan McDonald four years ago—a case that continues to roil Chicago and surely contributed to Emanuel's decision.

Tracy noted that crime in the two beats, which make up much of the Archer Heights and Brighton Park neighborhoods on the city's southwest side, remains relatively low.

But the totals had ticked up in a number of areas, Tracy told the 20 residents gathered in a Catholic school classroom, many sitting in kid-size chairs. Several garages had been burglarized. And in the second half of August, there had been three shooting—none fatal, though still troubling.

"We're on it," he said.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

See the world’s largest Pez sculpture on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 09.12.18 at 06:00 AM


ARTIST: Trek Matthews
SHOW: Andrew Bernstein, Timeghost & John Bender, and Kohl/Long/Clinkman at the Hideout on Wed 9/12

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Agenda Teaser

September 23
Performing Arts
Monger: The Awakening of J.B. Benton Greenhouse Theater Center
September 20

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