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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill is at war with American exceptionalism and imperialism

Posted By on 10.03.18 at 05:59 AM

  • Kholood Eid for The Intercept
  • Jeremy Scahill

There was no obvious moment when the torch passed during host Jeremy Scahill's interview with Seymour Hersh on a recent live episode of Intercepted, but it wasn't difficult to imagine one.

Like Hersh, Scahill was born on the south side of Chicago, and his worldview was partially shaped by his family's experience in the city he calls "this amazing place filled with contradictions."

The 43-year-old investigative journalist and cofounding editor of online news site the Intercept is also following in the formidable footsteps of his Pulitzer Prize-winning forebear in his choice of career. Both men have made their marks unmasking corruption and abuses of power at the highest level of the U.S. government—especially in the domains of wars and foreign policy. For Hersh, it was exposing the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and the CIA's secret surveillance programs. Scahill's reporting helped uncover ugly truths behind Blackwater, the private mercenary army employed by the Bush administration during the Iraq war, and shone a light on the U.S. military's bloody covert operations and drone assassinations during the Obama years.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Chicago chefs, restaurants lose out at James Beard Foundation Awards

Posted By on 05.07.18 at 10:17 PM

Abe Conlon and Adrienne Lo of Fat Rice. Conlon won for Best Chef Great Lakes. - SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Sun-Times Media
  • Abe Conlon and Adrienne Lo of Fat Rice. Conlon won for Best Chef Great Lakes.

First Greg Wade of Publican Quality Bread lost out for Outstanding  Baker. Then Sarah Rinkavage of Marisol went down for Rising Star Chef of the Year. And then Meg Galus of the Boka group lost for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

Chicago's first win tonight at the James Beard Foundation chef and restaurant awards, held at the Lyric Opera House, was Abe Conlon of Fat Rice for Best Chef Great Lakes. Conlon beat out four other Chicago entrants: Andrew Brochu of Roister, Beverly Kim and  Johnny Clark of Parachute, David Posey and Anna Posey of Elske, and Lee Wolen of Boka.

There were high hopes for Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of Boka Restaurant Group (latest restaurants Somerset and Bellemore, their 14th and 15th) for Best Restaurateur, but that didn't work out either, nor did their flagship, Boka, win for Outstanding Service.

At least Sun Wah's preordained Lifetime Achievement Award just goes to show that no matter how much the city loves to shut you down, people can still love you.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Stunning ‘Dragon Lights’ illuminate lakefront this week [PHOTOS]

Posted By on 04.30.18 at 09:15 AM

Nearly 40 artisan-made light displays from Sichuan, China, have been set up on the lakefront this week as part of the "Dragon Lights" festival.

The city of Zigong, where the artisans who made the lanterns hail from, is "China's cultural capital for the ancient art of lantern making," organizers said.

The lights will be set up through Sunday. The 39 larger displays were handmade on-site in Chicago. One of the larger dragons is 200 feet long and two stories high. There are thousands of smaller lanterns as well, along with performances by acrobats and other entertainers.

"Dragon Lights." Through 5/6. Mon-Thu 5:30-10 PM, Sat-Sun 5:30-11 PM, South Parking Lot, Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus,, $13-$20.

Check out some of the displays below:

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Remembering Chicago Craigslist Personals, the Wild West of Internet dating

Posted By on 03.23.18 at 04:43 PM


RIP Chicago Craigslist Personals.

They're a victim of the Senate's overwhelming 97-2 vote on Thursday to pass the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The bill makes a change to a key part of the Communications Decency Act that makes it easier for victims of sex trafficking and prosecutors to take legal action against companies that fail to keep exploitative content off their websites.

Note the irony: Congress refuses to make gun companies or retailers liable for the shooting deaths of its users, but it has made websites liable for hosting sex trafficking content created by third parties (its users).

Advocates of free speech and a free Internet say that the bill, if signed into law—and President Trump is expected to sign it—will cause a chilling effect that hurts consenting sex workers who use the Web or—as is the case with Craigslist—just two strangers looking for a date.

Craigslist preemptively reacted by taking down its personals on Friday. When you go to the site now, it sends you to a message that says:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, "FOSTA", seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.
Any tool or service can be misused. We can't take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.

It's not as if the website used to desperately seek out a "FWB" (that's friends with benefits) in the Casual Encounters section or a Missed Connection with that attractive person you eyed on the Blue Line was some kind of utopian paradise of human relationships. Still, it's a little sad to know that it's no longer an option. 

There was a brief era in which if you wanted to meet a random stranger for friendship, love, or sex—and let’s face it, there was a lot of sex—you’d go to Chicago Craigslist’s Personals section. Its usage peaked about a decade ago, when it bridged the gap between the clunky pay-for-play print personal ads era of the 90s and early 2000s (like the ones in the Reader, remember?) and the effortless swipe-a-thons of Tinder, Grindr, Bumble or whatever apps the kids are staring at on their phones all day.

The ads were like the Wild West of dating—full of spammers, weirdos trying to collect photos of strangers, and horny jerks eager to e-mail you dick pics—but they were often incredibly entertaining reading. The Missed Connections section was especially good browsing material—many posts read like personal diary entries full of internal psychodrama or the plots of Woody Allen films.


You can still read some of the final ads if you do a Google search for "Craigslist Missed Connections," and it's a wistful reminder of what the Internet was like pre-Zuckerberg—weird, awkward, hilarious. Here's a random sampling of posts from the past 24 hours:

  • Handsome, swarthy buff guy in steam early a.m. - m4m (XSport)
  • Beautiful curly red haired lady searching for pasta (Southport Jewel) ("I was in the pasta aisle at the Jewel on Southport when I turned, saw you, and was immediately struck by how gorgeous you are.")
  • Pilsen college girl? You gave me a golden shower - Older WM - m4w ("I met you at your place while your roommates were out, one Sunday afternoon, a few weeks ago. You gave me a golden shower, and if you are up for it, I would love another.")
  • Cute McDonald's manager - m4w
  • girl at dunkin donuts ("I was at dunkin donuts in Bloomingdale a couple months ago. I was wearing skin tight compression pants because I was going to the gym. You were checking out my bulge.i wanted to talk to you. I'm very fit.")
  • Tresure island in gold coast. - m4w ("We were stuck behind a woman with days worth of produce and coupons that were just not working. You were very cute and had what looked the makings of a tasty salad.")

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Toastamania: Halloween Havok collides rowdy bands and gonzo wrestling for the wildest show of the season

Posted By on 10.26.17 at 05:51 PM

Some of the folks you'll see at this weekend's Toastamania, including members of Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre, Death of Self, and XEUTHANIZEDX - PHOTOS BY LEAP PHOTOGRAPHY AND GLEGOZ PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photos by Leap Photography and Glegoz Photography
  • Some of the folks you'll see at this weekend's Toastamania, including members of Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre, Death of Self, and XEUTHANIZEDX

For three years, Chicago thrash band Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre have been booking DIY shows that combine sets from up-and-coming local metal, hardcore, and punk bands with body-slamming, table-trashing brawls. On Saturday, October 28, at a Pilsen DIY venue whose name I can't share here ("Ask a punk," as they say), TTCM present the 11th installment in their Toastamania series, named in tribute to the WrestleMania ladder matches that helped inspire it. Sometimes they actually do use a ladder, but they're just as likely to whomp one another with foil steam-table pans, bust up hollow-core doors, or dive through folding tables. Somebody in TTCM might wear the championship belt, basically daring a challenger to remove it somehow, but sometimes the band will just throw it into the crowd and set off a free-for-all.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Nocturama is the most important new movie to play in Chicago this year

Posted By on 09.12.17 at 02:48 PM

  • Nocturama

Anyone who cares about the evolution of cinema should rush to see Bertrand Bonello's Nocturama, which is screening all week at Facets. The film marks a breakthrough for Bonello, a highly original writer-director who's long displayed a mastery of mood but whose movies (among them On War, House of Pleasures, and Saint Laurent) can be a little too obscure for their own good. In Nocturama, all his eccentricities—even his tendency for obfuscation—are organized around a palpable concept, which is nothing less than the precarious state of Western civilization. It's supremely timely, capturing the zeitgeist better than any other movie I've seen. At the same time, Nocturam isn't a diagnostic work—Bonello isn’t out to analyze the zeitgeist but rather create an aesthetic that reflects its mysteries and contradictions.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

A pair of local film-industry veterans are coming to Destroy Your Art

Posted By on 08.07.17 at 11:15 AM

  • Photo courtesy Lisa Trifone at 11th Street Lot
  • Rebecca Fons and Jack Newell

At 8 PM on Friday, August 25, the Goose Island design studio Lost Arts will host a new screening project called Destroy Your Art, in which five local filmmakers will present new short films, then destroy the hard drives on which they were recorded immediately after screening them. Organized by the husband-and-wife team of local filmmaker Jack Newell and entrepreneur Rebecca Fons, Destroy Your Art represents a rebuke to the individualized nature through which people regard films today. "So much of the film industry is built around DVD, Blu-Ray, and video on demand," Newell explains. "When you're making films, you have to think about how many units can you sell and how well [the film] will last over repeat viewings. What we're suggesting with this project is antithetical to how filmmakers work now."

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dunkirk and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are alive with the sound of money

Posted By on 07.26.17 at 12:18 PM

  • Dunkirk
In a famous put-down, Pauline Kael once referred to The Sound of Music as "The Sound of Money," implying that the film's expensive production values distracted from any of its virtues. I was reminded of her line when I watched a couple of recent releases, Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk and Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. These are handsome, rousing movies that provide the biggest sense of spectacle that money can buy, and neither lets you forget how much was spent in the service of its spectacle. Dunkirk is a serious WWII film while Valerian is an unserious space opera, yet both encourage viewers to ooh and ah at the detailed, large-scale imagery, with characterization getting lost in the fray.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Farewell to the Reader wizard behind the curtain

Posted By on 05.10.17 at 01:55 PM

Paul John Higgins, the Reader's creative director since 2009, is leaving this week to assume the position of art director at Milwaukee magazine. Announcing his departure, editor Jake Malooley wrote, "In far too many ways to count, he's been the wizard behind the curtain at the Reader," and that pretty much hits the nail on the head as far as we're all concerned. In tribute to Paul and his talent as a conceptualizer, illustrator, and designer, I put together a slide show of some of my favorite covers from over the years. And there are many, many more you can scroll through in the Reader's issue archives here.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

White Mystery share the first track from their latest reason to look forward to spring

Posted By on 03.10.17 at 11:00 AM

Francis and Alex White, aka White Mystery - DIANE ALEXANDER WHITE
  • Diane Alexander White
  • Francis and Alex White, aka White Mystery

Even when the weather doesn't behave, Chicago rock fans can always tell that spring has sprung when a new album arrives from Gossip Wolf's favorite flame-haired sibling garage duo, White Mystery. When Alex and Francis White drop the new F.Y.M.S. (aka Fuck Your Mouth Shut), it'll make 2017 the eighth year in a row they've put out a record (or in one case a movie soundtrack) on April 20. (That's 4/20—as in pot o'clock—for all you nonjokers, nonsmokers, and non-midnight tokers out there.) The Whites have decided to introduce the album to the world by sharing its raging title track a few weeks early, and as usual this wolf is super down with the band's blistering chops and thundering rhythms—and on this particular jammer, Alex switches from Greek to potty-mouthed English at the drop of a chorus! Sophocles would be impressed!

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Performing Arts
February 22
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February 08

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