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Origins Week

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thing I hate: Lying about being from Chicago

Posted By on 05.11.12 at 06:33 AM

Are you from here? Maybe not.
  • amtrak_russ
  • Are you from here? Maybe not.
When I was around 13 or 14, my friends and I headed up to Milwaukee to watch the Brewers play the Cubs. My memory’s a little foggy on the details, but either one of us or all of us didn’t have tickets, so we had to buy them off a scalper at the front of the stadium. Within minutes we walked by a portly fellow in full Cubs regalia—striped jersey, blue hat with red 'C' insignia, and Oakley sunglasses (then all the rage). His tickets were very reasonably priced, and as we made the exchange he asked us, "You guys from Chicago?"

"Yes," my friend responded.

"Nice. Where in Chicago are you from?"

"All over, Near North Side over here, Rogers Park over here. How about yourself?"


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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The origins of the striptease and burlesque

Posted By on 05.10.12 at 12:12 PM

It only took a few weeks before 23-year-old music and entertainment entrepreneur Sol Bloom was making a weekly stipend equal to the president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. Bloom was in charge of the Midway Plaisance at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The Midway Plaisance was home to the mysterious, naughty, and "oriental" fair attractions. According to Rachel Shteir, author of Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show (which—speaking of origins—my dad reviewed in the Reader in 2001), much of Bloom's success stemmed from the dance, the exotic belly dance routine known at the hoochie coochie.

The hoochie coochie was performed inside the fair's Algerian Village—one the many "ethnic" villages along the Midway Plaisance. Thousands migrated toward the Algerian Village to see the dance performed by the infamous Little Egypt. The audiences grew so large that Bloom claimed he was making $1,000 per week.

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My theory on President Obama's evolution on gay marriage

Posted By on 05.10.12 at 10:11 AM

Barack Obama, evolving
  • Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Commons
  • Barack Obama, evolving
In honor of Origins Week at the Reader, I was going to write a post about one of my favorite books: On the Origin of Species.

But then I thought—ah, forget that. I want to write about a different evolutionary process: President Obama's long and steady attitude on the issue of gay marriage.

As you all know by now, the president went on national TV yesterday to announce that after years of intense soul-searching he'd come to the conclusion that he now favored gay marriage.

'Cause it was the right stance to take.

Well, with all due respect to the president—who I voted for twice—I don't believe one word of it. The soul-searching part of it, that is.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

That's older than me!

Posted By on 05.08.12 at 12:52 PM

Chicolini, when were you born? I dont remember. I was just a little baby.
  • "Chicolini, when were you born?" "I don't remember. I was just a little baby."
When I was working with developmentally disabled adults, there was one man, whose intellectual level was around that of a five-year-old, who had trouble believing that anyone had been born before him. Last I saw him, he was 39, and the oldest he’d accept anyone else being was 32 or 33 (if you’d lived past that age, he’d give you a new one; most often it was 27). There was one instance, though, when he conceded to the facts. “My mom’s gonna be 81 this weekend,” he announced one day, his eyes as wide as if he’d witnessed a miracle. “That’s older than me!”

He made me realize that a big step in mental development is recognizing that your life has a starting point. The notion doesn’t come to us naturally: for a good stretch of childhood it’s as ungraspable as death.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

The origins of Ludwig drums

Posted By on 05.07.12 at 02:51 PM

Ringo pounding on Ludwigs
  • Ringo pounding on Ludwigs
The Ludwig family (no relation, as far as I know) emigrated from Germany to Chicago in 1897, moving into a small home on the west side. The father was a professional musician who played trombone and baritone saxophone. At the age of eight, his son William F. Ludwig Jr. watched a neighborhood parade headed by the drum corps of the First Regiment Illinois National Guard. William Jr. would recall later: “The corps made an impression that decided my future then and there!” Good-bye, violin lessons.

William Jr. eventually did become a professional drummer, playing with circuses and touring vaudeville shows, along with the occasional skating-rink gig. But work was irregular, so in 1909 William and his brother, Theobald, opened a drum shop in Chicago; they called it Ludwig & Ludwig.

The business started to prosper in the 1920s. Located then at 1611 N. Lincoln, the shop became a key source in providing drums for silent movie orchestras. By 1923 the Ludwig factory employed 240 workers; it was the largest drum manufacturer in the world.

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This Week on the Bleader: How original!

Posted By on 05.07.12 at 06:10 AM

Don Draper says, Im excited about Origins Week. Now, wheres my scotch?
  • Don Draper says, "I'm excited about Origins Week. Now, where's my scotch?"
In the Season Four finale of Mad Men, Faye Miller angrily tells Don Draper, "You only like the beginnings of things." Well, so do we! And like the show, we have a dashing man working in our advertising department who is living under a false identity. Just kidding (as far as we know).

Last week's B Side feature went deep inside the history of the second wave of Chicago house music. Since house music is often said to have originated in Chicago, we've decided to make this Origins Week on the Bleader.

In case you missed it, here's Drugs Week, last week's Variations on a Theme.

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Galleries & Museums
Bisa Butler: Portraits Art Institute of Chicago
November 16

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