Bleader | Chicago Reader

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A guitar transfigured into liquid cheese on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 12.12.18 at 06:00 AM


ARTIST: Ryan Duggan
SHOW: Ryley Walker, Ohmme, and Ben LaMar Gay at the Empty Bottle on Fri 12/28

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Buzzcocks front man Pete Shelley grappled with metaphysical questions as eloquently as he wrote about physical desire

Posted By on 12.11.18 at 11:20 AM

Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks in 2009 - ALTERNA2
  • Alterna2
  • Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks in 2009

I thought Pete Shelley was going to die the night Buzzcocks played the Double Door in May 2010. The temperature hadn't dropped much from its afternoon high of 90 degrees, and the club felt like a steam bath. Shelley's hair had thinned and he'd put on a ton of weight since I'd last seen the British punk legends seven years earlier. He seemed to be suffering badly under the lights, and as he sweated through the band's early punk-pop classics—"I Don't Mind," "Love You More," "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)"—I wondered how many times he'd sung them since they first hit stores in 1978, and where his mind went while his body was tearing through them at breakneck speed.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Agriculture offers a crop of style in the heart of Bronzeville

Posted By on 12.11.18 at 08:00 AM

  • Isa Giallorenzo

I watched my mom make clothes for the guys in the neighborhood and I could see the confidence it gave to them. I saw the way they acted when they dressed well," says Milton Latrell, 38, about the transformative power of a great outfit.

More than a decade ago, along with childhood friend Christopher Brackenridge, 39, he founded Agriculture, a shop nestled in a once bustling stretch of 43rd Street in Bronzeville. "Right here there used to be a series of black-owned businesses up and down the street," says Latrell, who grew up in one of the neighborhood projects—and like Brackenridge, learned how to sew at home. Inspired by Bronzeville's golden age in the 1920s, they try to evoke the style from the era with "classic and timeless" pieces: "There were real clean gentlemen who layered well and piled up on accessories like scarves, hats, and pocket squares. And they were creative—everybody had a sense of style. Even the milkman wore bow ties, suspenders, long socks, and capri shorts."

  • Isa Giallorenzo

Latrell affirms this aesthetic is "coming back tremendously" nowadays—and he strives to offer a wide array of quality products for the dapper chaps out there. "We don't make everything in the store, but we sell everything," he says. Besides bespoke suits made of wool, silk, or cashmere (starting at $750), they also produce button-down shirts (starting at $120), ties (starting at $35), pocket squares ($20), Italian leather shoes (starting at $350), and even a fragrance. Mulberry Silk ($55) gives off citrus, fresh jasmine, patchouli, and vanilla notes, with a floral, spicy heart. "It is fresh yet masculine," Latrell says. "Like the fabric it is named after, it is meant to be worn every season. We launched it two months ago and already sold over 150 bottles."

  • Isa Giallorenzo
Agriculture also carries other brands, such as footwear by Mezlan and Bacco Bucci and sturdy cardigans made of twined rope imported from Turkey ($90). For those in need of some guidance, Latrell prides himself in offering personalized service, in which he caters to his clients' unique needs: "We listen to what each person really wants and try to adapt our selection to their lifestyle—not the other way 'round." Besides custom tailoring, he and Brackenridge also do personal in-store styling sessions ($50) and wardrobe assessments ($185). "The main reason so many people support us is because we style them according to who they are," Latrell says. Celebrating 11 years in the business and cultivating famous customers like actor Mel Jackson and NBA players Luol Deng and Andrew Harrison, the Bronzeville natives really seem to be reaping what they sew.  v

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Chicago hat is definitely the best part of The Princess Switch

Posted By and on 12.11.18 at 06:00 AM

The Princess Switch
  • The Princess Switch
Welcome to Flopcorn, where Reader writers and contributors pay tribute to our very favorite bad movies. In this installment, social media editor Brianna Wellen and staff writer Leor Galil discuss the bizarre appeal of the Netflix holiday extravaganza The Princess Switch.

Brianna Wellen: I first clicked on The Princess Switch on Netflix because I have an undying love for cheesy holiday rom-coms. My mother introduced me to the made-for-TV snow-globe genre of movies because she genuinely loves them, sappy unbelievable plots and all, and as I've gotten older I've grown to love them in my own way because the plots are ridiculous, the acting is over-the-top, and it somehow still makes me feel emotional by the end. So I know why I watched this movie: it's in my blood. But Leor, why did you watch this movie?

Leor Galil: I'm still trying to figure out why I watched this movie. It is not my brand, it is far from the list of things Netflix would suggest I watch, even with the amount of time I spend trying to throw Netflix off my scent. But I've got a close group of friends with whom I enjoy viewing quote-unquote bad movies, and I get a lot of cheer from the experience. For our most recent film-watching hangout, we wanted that cheer to be holiday themed, so we turned to Netflix's latest entertainment gruel, The Princess Switch. And it was . . . memorable, partially because it didn't reflect our normal movie choices. I was mostly shocked by how thin the whole enterprise was, and I'm told it's similar to Hallmark's battery of entertainment. How does The Princess Switch fit into this "holiday" (cough cough Christmas) special spectacle?

BW: The Princess Switch was an obvious attempt to build on the success of last year's sensation A Christmas Prince, which apart from a complete misunderstanding of the field of journalism (but no one ever quite gets that right) was a truly enjoyable movie that in my opinion is better than similar Hallmark films. As far as the normal holiday fare goes, so far Netflix's attempts are actually slightly less schmaltzy and provide a welcome change of scenery thanks to what I'm assuming is a much larger budget. Almost every Hallmark movie takes place in some small Connecticut town with little spectacle to speak of. The sparks that fly between the big-city lawyer and the down-to-earth carpenter (the careers can be interchangeable, of course) are all we get. And Hallmark rarely challenges its leads to play multiple characters, as is the case with The Princess Switch.

LG: Can we actually describe what Vanessa Hudgens did as "playing multiple characters"? I realize she was given two roles, and one role required her to speak with an accent that suggests she'd spent a weekend in the UK, but she didn't have much to work with, really, for either character. One is a princess and has shorter hair, the other is a baker who's allegedly from Chicago, which we can only confirm because she wears a baseball hat that says "Chicago." (Editor's note: Technically she is a duchess and won't become a princess until she marries the prince, even though the movie is called The Princess Switch. This is not confusing at all!)

The Hat
  • The Hat

Well, Leor, let's consider that she had to play both of those characters on their own plus each of those characters pretending to be the other character, which some might describe as four roles.

LG: I'm surprised both her characters managed to convince every adult that they hadn't unexpectedly run into their body doubles and decided to switch places!

BW: Hudgens not only spoke with a somewhat-British accent, but with a faked British accent and a somewhat-British-accent-trying-to-sound-like-an-American-but-not-really-Chicago accent.

LG: I'm . . . a little surprised her foreign princess character didn't try to speak in a southern accent while pretending to be an American

BW: Maybe we should briefly describe the plot for anyone we've lost so far.

LG: Wait, you're telling me there's a plot?!

BW: Actually, it seemed like there were several plots that just kind of got lost in the shuffle. A baker who lives in Chicago is invited to compete in a world-renowned baking competition in the fictional European country of Belgravia. The competition is taking place at the same time that the duchess of another fictional country, Montenaro, arrives to marry the prince of Belgravia. The baker and the duchess pull a Prince and the Pauper-esque switcheroo for reasons that I'm still unsure of, and fall in love with the respective men that the other person just happened to be spending that weekend with. Is that pretty much it? (Editor's note: The duchess wanted to experience life like a "normal person" before she got married. For reasons.)

LG: I realize you just typed a lot of words to describe what happens during the course of a movie that apparently is more than an hour long but began to feel like three hours in the last act, but I was a little surprised anyone still makes movies this . . . thin. We shouldn't struggle to figure out the princess's main motivation when the people who made the movie didn't bother to do the basic research of creating a world that feels a little more—maybe not realistic, but certainly more developed.

BW: Part of what makes the conceit of these switch-em-up movies fun (think The Parent Trap) is that we're just waiting for one of the characters to get caught by someone who knows them well doing something completely out of character and seeing how they wiggle their way out of it. In this instance, the duchess-as-baker is found out almost immediately by her sous chef's daughter, and no one seems to have met the duchess before, so everyone thinks she's just a little quirky. There are no stakes.

Stakes are introduced in the baking competition, however, which could have been one of the most dramatic scenes in the movie! A too-shortly-onscreen baking rival cuts the cord to our heroine's mixer, but it ends up being not a big deal at all.


I mostly forgot about the baking competition, even though that's the very event that brings our Chicago crew to Belgravia in the first place. And no one besides the rival appears to care much about it either. But perhaps that's because the baker, the sous chef, and the sous chef's daughter were more invested in the baker's love life than the thing that allows them all to survive?

BW: In the movie's opening scene they all definitely seemed more concerned with the baker getting over her ex than the long line of customers begging for one of their famous . . . cakes? Cookies? I'm not even sure what they're known for baking.

LG: I couldn't even see a kitchen! Their bakery looked more like a jewelry store than a place to purchase . . . cakes?

BW: The only other store shown on the hustling and bustling streets of "Chicago" is a shop that just says "Christmas Store" on the window.

LG: Chicago, famous for its glistening bakeries and Christmas Store!

BW: And don't forget, the hat!

LG: Who could forget the hat? It's the only memorable part of the movie! I forgot the names of all the characters!

BW: The Chicago hat has somehow become the biggest star of this movie, even more than the mysterious old man who pops up every now and again to talk to our characters about love for no discernible reason.

I feel like a lot of the descriptions of things that happen in this movie can be tagged with "for no discernible reason."

LG: Which is what I found both frustrating and fascinating in this movie. Netflix, which throws an unknown but large amount of money at a finite but large number of projects, invested in a holiday rom-com that wasn't romantic or all that funny, made by people who don't appear to understand how societies and humans function.

BW: This reminded me of one of the most baffling scenes, when the baker-as-duchess attends a fund-raising gala with the royal family and is asked to play the piano. She sits down at the piano, looks a little flustered, then the prince comes over and leads her in the MOST BASIC, one-finger-at-a-time rendition of "Carol of the Bells" ever. Keyboard cat would have hit more notes. And the room erupts in applause.

LG: To be fair, I've never seen anyone who has no basic piano training and is also pretending to be a princess actually pull that off. But also no one at that ball knew all of that background information or pretended to notice that a princess who allegedly is quite skilled at the piano had trouble playing it. Or is Belgravian society so misogynistic that the performance exceeded their expectations? We don't know! All we know about Belgravia is that its denizens speak with British accents!

BW: And that they apparently have the best children's dance school in the world! Another shoehorned plot point.

The Princess Switch makes no sense, features terrible accents, and feels like it lasts forever. So why do we like it so much?

LG: I don't know if "like" is the correct word, I'm just fascinated that it exists. It's B-grade fare that manages to be comfortably innocuous. It's produced and distributed by an entertainment giant. And it is just "off" enough to feel anomalous. There are a lot of variations of "bad" movies out there, but this hits an unusual combination that I didn't think could be possible in 2018.

BW: It's a movie that I genuinely enjoyed being perplexed by with a friend, and would watch in a group again if only to throw my hands up and yell "WHY IS SHE WEARING A CHICAGO HAT?" over and over again.

I can't help but wonder if Vanessa Hudgens and the director and everyone involved went into this with a genuine love for the material or if they knew it would hit the so-bad-it's-good sweet spot. In an era where bad movies are celebrated more than ever, it seems impossible to not be self-aware of the possibility.

LG: The only moment that struck me as self-aware was when two of the characters settled down to watch a holiday movie and they selected . . . A Christmas Prince. That broke my brain. This movie broke my brain. And I need that Chicago hat to keep it together.

BW: Well, A Christmas Prince got a sequel this year. We can only hope that in 2019 the Princess Switch Chicago hat will get its own spin-off.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

See it now: 'The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold'

Posted By on 12.11.18 at 06:00 AM

  • DePaul Art Museum, with permission from The Pauls Foundation
  • Ralph Arnold, Who You/Yeah Baby, 1968

There’s still time to catch "The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold: Art, Identity & Politics" at Columbia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography. But not a lot of time: the show of seldom-seen work by this black gay artist and educator whose collages captured the social upheavals of the 1960s and ’70s closes December 21.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, December 10, 2018

Reader announces Sujay Kumar as print managing editor

Posted on 12.10.18 at 04:35 PM


Previously of the Daily Beast and Fusion, culture and investigative reporter Sujay Kumar has been hired as managing editor for the print edition of the Reader.

"The Reader has a rich history of doing two things I love: investigative work and culture reporting," Kumar said. "I can’t wait to join the staff in Bronzeville and build on that legacy. Also, I like how the paper smells."

Recently, he’s been reporting an investigative magazine feature in Carbondale and fact checking books for Columbia Global Reports. He has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. He is a Chicagoan by way of Saskatchewan.

"Sujay brings to the Reader a thoughtful demeanor and a dedication to Chicago-based investigative work that will prove central to expanding the ways in which we can engage directly with the people of this city," said editor in chief Anne Elizabeth Moore. "I'm thrilled to bring him on board as we reinvigorate the alternative newsweekly model at this vital moment."

An agreement has been signed between Sun-Times Media, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times as well as the Chicago Reader, and a private investment group that has formed an L3C to purchase the Reader to ensure it remains a vital voice in the local media landscape. The paper will continue to publish every week.

A new leadership team took over publishing duties of the Reader on October 1, 2018. Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader and its sister publication, the Gary Crusader, is chairman of the Reader board of directors. Board treasurer is Eileen Rhodes, president of East Lake Management Group, and secretary is Jessica Stites, executive editor of In These Times.

The major investors behind the Reader purchase are longtime business leader Elzie Higginbottom and criminal defense attorney Leonard Goodman. A public fund-raising campaign and membership drive launched December 6, and supports the paper’s re-establishment as an independently owned newspaper.

The Reader, founded in 1971, is among the most robust of the alternative newsweeklies to emerge from the 1960s and 1970s counterculture movements. The new owners will continue the strong tradition of cultural coverage and investigative reporting, focusing on both print and digital distribution channels.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Archive dive: How Soul Train, the show that put black music on TVs across America, got its start in Chicago

Posted By on 12.10.18 at 01:37 PM

  • courtesy WCIU-TV

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

It's been nearly 13 years since the final episode of Soul Train aired, and right around the time the long-running series ended, Chris Lehman published A Critical History of Soul Train on Television. Among other things, the book looks at Soul Train's Chicago roots, including a local version of the show that continued to exist after it hit big in Los Angeles.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Carpooling upstream to spawn on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 12.05.18 at 06:00 AM


ARTIST: Jay Ryan
SHOWS: The solo living-room tour of Hum front man Matt Talbott, which included stops in Chicago and Skokie

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sleep Out raises funds and awareness for homeless, trafficked, and at-risk youth

Posted By on 12.04.18 at 06:00 AM

Participants hold a candlelight vigil outside St. James Cathedral to honor youth who still face homelessness every night. - JULIA HALE
  • Julia Hale
  • Participants hold a candlelight vigil outside St. James Cathedral to honor youth who still face homelessness every night.

On November 15, Covenant House Illinois (CHIL) hosted its second annual Sleep Out at St. James Cathedral. Members of the community, celebrities, business leaders, and young professionals came together to raise funds and awareness for Chicago's homeless, trafficked, and at-risk youth by sleeping outside. "Sleepers" set personal fund-raising goals ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 that were met with the help of friends, family, and colleagues. Additionally, the sleepers shared a meal and participated in activities with CHIL staff, youth, and volunteers.

Covenant House, a national organization dedicated to providing housing and supportive services to homeless, trafficked, and at-risk youth ages 18-24, came to Chicago in February 2017. The first Chicago Sleep Out was held in November 2017.

A candlelight vigil outside the cathedral honored youth who still face homelessness every night. The vigil included speeches from CHIL Executive Director Cheryl Hamilton-Hill and a formerly homeless youth who found housing with CHIL's help; there was also a musical performance by another CHIL youth and a moment of silence for young people who have already been subjected to homelessness. According to Jenny Paveglio, the director of program implementation for Covenant House Illinois, sharing the stories and talents of youth is central to Covenant House events across the country.

"We'll have something about who our young people are, their journey," said Paveglio. "This one here had musical talent. Some of them will do spoken word."

While this is Paveglio's first Chicago Sleep Out, she's been with Covenant House for 25 years and has attended Sleep Outs in Georgia and New York. "Any time our young person gets up there and shares their story, gives us their talent, shows who they are, they're always spot-on brilliant," she said. "And that's every Covenant House event I've ever been to. When the youth steps up there and shares their life, it's just a magical moment."

Young people sharing their stories and talents, Paveglio suggests, "can help our community at large really understand what a young person goes through when they're experiencing homelessness, and help them distill some myths that they may have, because they're sitting at a table with someone who could be [their] daughter or son."

"The participants walk away with a deeper understanding of who our young people are, and that's really the point," she adds. "Hopefully they'll go away and say, 'We do need to stop this, because it isn't what I thought.'"

CHIL staff and youth participate in a painting activity hosted by the One Heart One Soul traveling art program. - JULIA HALE
  • Julia Hale
  • CHIL staff and youth participate in a painting activity hosted by the One Heart One Soul traveling art program.

Following the vigil, the sleepers entered the Episcopal church to share a meal and participate in breakout sessions in which they discussed with CHIL youth and staff what the word "home" really means to them. After the breakout sessions, awards were given to organizations and individuals who raised outstanding amounts of money. I talked to Jeff Berger, senior systems engineering manager at Cisco Systems and the recipient of one of those awards.

"We have 33 people that are going to be sleeping out as part of Cisco," said Berger. "The Chicago office is part of nine cities across the entire US that are participating in the Sleep Out tonight. We have 148 sleepers across Cisco . . . and we just hit the $100,000 mark about an hour ago." This isn't the first year that Cisco Systems has participated in a Sleep Out, either. "We had 12 people last year, and we went to 33 [this year]," he said. "So we had a huge increase here, and we went from $22,000 last year to $100,000 this year."

The increase in Cisco's contribution represents the major way that this year's Sleep Out differs from previous years: "It's bigger," said Nichole Lamorgese, a case manager and the longest-serving Covenant House Illinois staff member. "[Last year's Sleep Out] was more, like, in the whispers. It wasn't as well known. This feels like there's more of a community around it."

Janesta Hitchcock, a Chicago native from the Chatham area, is a Covenant House success story. A victim of domestic violence, she had just started staying at a shelter when she heard about Covenant House from other residents. "I was kind of skeptical about going," Janesta said Thursday. "[I didn't want to] hang around the wrong people, but they told me there were a lot of resources . . . so I started going."

"Some days when I would leave the shelter, if I didn't have work that day, I wouldn't have anywhere to go, so I would come to Covenant House," she said. "They would let me take a nap for a few hours, give me a shower, wash my clothes, feed me, let me watch some TV, and then get on the computer to look for a job if I wanted."

"[At first] I didn't wanna give them any information, I was just really closed-minded about the situation. But I soon realized this is a place where I could be myself, this is a few people that make me feel comfortable, they don't want anything from me, they're being honest with me, they're not looking to get me into any trouble or give out my information."

Giving CHIL her information ended up benefiting Janesta—within two months of going to Covenant House she had a home. "I found out about Covenant House in the middle of September [2017]," she said. "By this time last year, November 7th [2017], I was housed with my first apartment and I was out of the shelter."

"[Covenant House is] all good energy," said Janesta. "A 'safe space,' as they would call it."  v

Tags: , , , , , ,

Marvell Wesley and his mini-me stroll in style on 95th Street

Posted By on 12.04.18 at 06:00 AM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.
  • Isa Giallorenzo

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Tabbed Event Search

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories