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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hustled by Freddy 'the Beard' Bentivegna

Posted By on 04.30.14 at 12:30 PM

The Beard regales Ben with stories before setting him up for defeat.
  • Nick Murway
  • The Beard regales Ben with stories before setting him up for defeat.
As part of my ongoing education in the psyche of Chicago voters, I agreed to play pool against the legendary Freddy "the Beard" Bentivegna, one of the great hustlers of our time.

There's a connection—just bear with me.

Apparently the Reader needed a mark to get hustled, as part of a video that accompanies a profile of the Beard by staff writer Aimee Levitt .

So on a bright and sunny Friday morning, I headed over to Chris's Billiards, 4637 N. Milwaukee, which, of course, is dark, dank, and dingy. As pool halls tend to be.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The funniest, weirdest, and angriest Best of Chicago reader votes

Posted By on 06.19.13 at 02:45 PM

Barack Obama, circa 08.
When it comes to our annual Best of Chicago issue, we at the Reader strive to be as democratic as possible. That's why we give you, the readers of the Reader, free rein to voice your opinions on everything from Best Alderman to Best Bike Shop, by way of a wide-open write-in ballot. This might not be the most convenient of methods—there's quite a bit of tedious tallying required—but damn if it isn't the most entertaining. This year's results were, per usual, quite revealing. Here's a quick rundown of some notable responses.

Unsurprisingly, many of you took the opportunity to get a bit cheeky with your selections. Take, for example, the person who voted Goodwill the Best Boutique for Men. Kudos to the person who considers the Best View of the City to be My apartment . . . Ladies? And a shout-out to the dollar-menu-naire who voted McDonald's the Best Fancy Restaurant—I'm sure you keep those Snack Wraps on lock. (By the way, you need to link up with whoever wrote in I'm too poor to eat at fancy restaurants—give 'em a taste of the good life.) My personal favorite vote for Best Gay Bar: Wrigley Field.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What are you waiting for? Today's the last day to vote for Best of Chicago!

Posted By on 05.22.13 at 01:49 PM

Last time, we told you that "May 22 will be here sooner than you think." Well—it's here: the last day voting is open in our annual Best of Chicago poll! The deadline is midnight tonight, so start filling out your ballots if you haven't already. At our Best of Chicago ballot you can vote on Best Underground Art Space, Best Place for a New El Stop, and Best Place to Get Married. At any point you can stop, save your ballot from your phone or computer, and sign back in later wherever you left off. We figure that with 264 categories—from Best Suburb to Best Sex Shop—you might need to make several trips (and perhaps rethink certain choices if, say, you encounter a taco even more transcendent than the one you thought couldn't be topped). But make sure to do all your thinking and rethinking soon, before the polls close.

There's one category you won't find on the ballot. Like last year, we're asking you to vote for Chicago's Best Chicagoan to Follow on Twitter . . . on Twitter. Tweet your suggestions using the hashtag #boctwitterer. The deadline for that category is the same as the ballot, so tweet away!

Apropos of nothing, here's a 14-year-old girl owning Eddie Van Halen's solo on "Eruption."

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Friday, May 17, 2013

An interview with Dan Sallitt, director of The Unspeakable Act

Posted By on 05.17.13 at 01:05 PM

The Unspeakable Act
  • The Unspeakable Act
The Unspeakable Act, which screens this week at the Gene Siskel Film Center (and with writer-director Dan Sallitt in attendance tonight and tomorrow afternoon), is an opaque independent drama about family ties. The title refers to incest, although the movie isn't concerned with shock value or sex. Drew Hunt notes in this week's issue, "In the grand tradition of French director Eric Rohmer, The Unspeakable Act is a story in which transgression is considered but never acted upon." Teenage siblings Jackie and Matthew—bookish, introspective types who sometimes recall J.D. Salinger characters—have an extremely close relationship, but neither seems so impulsive as to push it into the realm of taboo. The movie is a mystery of sorts, inviting viewers to ponder the unspoken motivations behind peculiar behavior. Last week I spoke with Sallitt about his influences, his experience as an employee of the Reader in the early 1980s, and his particular filmmaking methods. Like his other three features, Unspeakable Act was entirely self-financed, with Sallitt doing most of the leg work in preproduction—the intimate nature of his approach, I think, has a direct impact on the artisanal quality of his finished product.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Hey, the Reader won some awards this past weekend

Posted By on 05.06.13 at 01:57 PM

  • George Doyle/
We were already celebrating at our first-ever Key Ingredient Cook-Off on Friday evening when, virtually all at once, we discovered that a number of Reader pieces had won major journalism awards. In recognition—and in case you missed the winning entries the first time around—here they are:

Mike Sula's squirrel-chomping extravaganza "Chicken of the Trees" won the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation.

Mick Dumke won a Peter Lisagor award for his five-part series "The shot that brought the projects down," which ran on the Bleader over five days this past October. Mick also won a Lisagor for his posts "Here comes another city privatization deal forged behind closed doors," "G8 moving to Camp David = one less summit to protest," and "UNO's Juan Rangel does a damn good Chris Christie impression."

• And finally, contributor Elly Fishman won a Lisagor for her cover story "Pariahs Amid the Rainbow," about homeless queer youth.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Win a date with the Reader's Leor Galil to see The Book of Mormon on Valentine's Day

Posted By on 02.07.13 at 03:28 PM

The actual tickets
  • The actual tickets
Valentine's Day is one week from today. Of course, many of you couldn't care less about the expensive prix fixe dinners and lovey-dovey pink shit everywhere, and we here at the Reader don't blame you—we did just drop an issue titled "Romance Is for Suckers," after all. But we also figure some of our readers want to get out of the house that day, regardless of their relationship status. Well, we may have you covered.

Reader music writer Leor Galil (this guy right here) wants to take you out this Valentine's Day. Maybe not you specifically, but you know, you as it pertains to the female readers of this post. He recently obtained a pair of sought-after tickets to the play The Book of Mormon at the Bank of America Theatre. There's no reason to get into the specifics of how or why he obtained a free pair of $75 tickets to the wildly successful and usually sold out musical created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park. He just has them, OK? And he wants some company.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reader fiction, past and future

Posted By on 12.15.12 at 10:00 AM

A poster of the December 2000 Pure Fiction Issue cover
  • A poster announcing the Reader's first fiction issue, December 2000

With our annual Pure Fiction Issue upcoming, I thought it would be an opportune time to go back through the Reader's Pure Fiction archives and revisit some personal favorites. Enterprising publishers take note: these have yet to be compiled into a book.


"West Side Lullaby" by Jack Clark (More on Clark, the original cabdriver-writer.)

"Moving Day" by Philip Montoro (Montoro is currently the Reader's music editor; he also writes a lot about beer.)

"Hole" by Gina Frangello (Frangello is the executive editor of Other Voices Books and author of Slut Lullabies.)

"Credit and Agency" by Zoe Zolbrod (Zolbrod is the author of the novel Currency.)

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Jack Clark, the original cabdriver-writer

Posted By on 12.09.12 at 10:00 AM

Before there was cabdriver-writer Dmitry Samarov, there was cabdriver-writer Jack Clark.

Clark started writing for the Reader in 1975 and "served a brief stint on the staff, during which he developed an aversion to deadlines," Deanna Isaacs wrote in "A Cabbie's Tale" in the Reader in July 2010.

The story goes on:

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Harold Washington, Chicago politics, and the roots of the Obama presidency

Posted By on 11.25.12 at 10:00 AM

Judge Charles E. Freeman swears in Harold Washington as Chicago mayor on April 29, 1983. Outgoing mayor Jane Byrne is at right.
  • Keith Hale/Sun Times Media
  • Judge Charles E. Freeman swears in Harold Washington as Chicago mayor on April 29, 1983. Outgoing mayor Jane Byrne is at right.
In 1992, Gary Rivlin published Fire on the Prairie, an engrossing account of the seamy side of Chicago politics (if there's another side to Chicago politics, not even Ben Joravsky has found it) and the election of Harold Washington as the city's first black mayor. On November 29 Temple University Press releases an updated, revised edition: Fire on the Prairie: Harold Washington, Chicago Politics, and the Roots of the Obama Presidency. It's the best book ever on Harold Washington.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

But what if Romney had won the election?

Posted By on 11.07.12 at 02:41 PM

This is the cover we'd have run if UnSkewed Polls had been right all along. (Ha.)

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