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Friday, December 15, 2017

Comedian Matt Braunger at Lincoln Hall, and more of the best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 12.15.17 at 04:08 PM

Local favorite Matt Braunger returns to Chicago, his stand-up training ground, on Sat 12/16. - COURTESY OF ARTIST
  • Courtesy of Artist
  • Local favorite Matt Braunger returns to Chicago, his stand-up training ground, on Sat 12/16.

There's plenty to do this weekend before the holidays hit. Here's some of what we recommend:

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Azazel Jacobs’s The Lovers is the most underrated American movie of 2017

Posted By on 12.15.17 at 03:21 PM

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts in The Lovers
  • Debra Winger and Tracy Letts in The Lovers
As I prepare my list of favorite Chicago releases of 2017, I've been looking at lists that other critics have started posting online. I've yet to find one that mentions Azazel Jacobs's The Lovers, which was one of the highlights of my moviegoing year. (If you missed the film in theaters, it's now available on DVD.) The Lovers exudes generosity and a delight in filmmaking in every scene—watching it just makes me feel good. Perhaps the film's modesty has kept it off year-end lists. The Lovers doesn't appear to be more than a relaxed character comedy about bland middle-class people, and the banal settings (suburban townhomes and office buildings) add to its unassuming veneer. Yet the movie conjures a certain wonderment regardless, depicting the transformative power of romantic love with a fittingly romantic style.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

J.B. Pritzker, Pat Quinn win top spots on March 2018 primary ballot, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 12.14.17 at 07:00 PM

Democratic gubernatorial primary front-runner J.B. Pritzker - ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
  • Democratic gubernatorial primary front-runner J.B. Pritzker


Welcome to the Reader's weekday news briefing. Have a great weekend!

  • J.B. Pritzker, Pat Quinn win top spots on March 2018 primary ballot

Democratic gubernatorial front-runner J.B. Pritzker and former governor Pat Quinn, now running for attorney general, will hold the top spots on the March 2018 Democratic ballot for their respective races. Pritzker and Quinn won lotteries to decide the coveted top spot after several candidates turned in their petitions when the Illinois State Board of Elections starting accepting them at 8 AM November 27. "I know that a lot of people do put a lot of time and energy into obtaining that first ballot position, so I would have to assume that there is something to it," Illinois director of election operations Brent Davis said. Pritzker is facing six opponents in the gubernatorial race and Quinn is facing seven opponents in the race for attorney general. [Sun-Times]

  • State senate to hold hearings on Quincy Veterans Home deaths

Illinois senator Tom Cullerton is planning to hold public hearings after the New Year on the 13 Legionnaires' disease deaths since 2015 at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. "We're going to bring all of the veterans' affairs department in front of us," Cullerton, who is also the chairman of the senate's Veterans' Affairs Committee, told Politico. "We'll get the families' take on [what happened]. And then I'm also asking for a full audit commission report on the veterans' home as well. On the Quincy Veterans home in particular—were there emergency purchases made? Who pushed forward how the money was spent?" Governor Bruce Rauner has come under fire for his administration's alleged lack of concern over the deaths. "If he can't manage a 200-acre veterans' home with 250 residents, how can he manage the state?," state representative Jeanne Ives, Rauner's sole Republican challenger in the gubernatorial race, said in a statement. "Governor Rauner isn't in charge, because he never took charge. And 13 veterans, or spouses of veterans, are now dead because of it." Rauner's office has denied any wrongdoing. [Illinois Politico Playbook] [State Journal-Register]

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One question for Ira Glass

Posted By on 12.14.17 at 02:11 PM

BILL HEALY
  • Bill Healy

After Ira Glass's address at this year's Third Coast International Audio Festival (which you can read all about here), I saw a window of opportunity to ask him a question. As he exited stage right and began to pack his gear into worn ziplock bags and cloth pouches, I racked my brain for a good question that wouldn't be met with a canned answer. In a couple of minutes the lights would come on and a line of admirers would surely form, bursting with questions he probably gets all the time. I closed the distance, introduced myself, and shot him my query.

"What's Terry Gross like?"

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A cozy evening at the Church of Andrew Bird

Posted By on 12.14.17 at 01:35 PM

Andrew Bird (left) and his Specimen Products horn speakers at Fourth Presbyterian Church - BEN BOWEN
  • Ben Bowen
  • Andrew Bird (left) and his Specimen Products horn speakers at Fourth Presbyterian Church

"Gezelligheid" is a Dutch word for a feeling of coziness, a sense of loving belonging. Singer-songwriter Andrew Bird has adopted it as the name of his annual hometown performance series—a rare opportunity to see the Chicago expat in an intimate setting. The low lighting in the beautiful Fourth Presbyterian Church on Chestnut, where he's held the shows for several years now, exudes an inviting warmth that blankets the tightly packed pews, which suddenly feel very far from the cold outside. The show I attended on Wednesday was like visiting family, and not just due to the uncomfortable proximity of other fans—the air buzzed with friendly conversation, and excited energy hovered above the well-dressed audience. Gezelligheid has grown into a special event all its own, a sold-out affair in an opulent but still welcoming hall.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Journalist Jamie Kalven won't be forced to identify his Laquan McDonald story sources, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 12.13.17 at 09:02 PM

The infamous dash-cam video showing Laquan McDonald, right, walking down the street moments before being fatally shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke - CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT VIA AP FILE
  • Chicago Police Department via AP File
  • The infamous dash-cam video showing Laquan McDonald, right, walking down the street moments before being fatally shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke

Welcome to the Reader's weekday news briefing.

  • Jamie Kalven won't be forced to identify his Laquan McDonald story sources

Independent journalist Jamie Kalven will not be forced to reveal the sources behind his reporting on the 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. Cook County judge Vincent Gaughan rejected a subpoena of Kalven from accused murderer and Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke's legal team. "To uphold the subpoena of Jamie Kalven would be nothing more than a fishing expedition in search of information that the timeline of events, discovery documents and testimony suggest simply does not exist," Gaughan wrote. Kalven would have chosen jail over revealing his sources. "I think it's part of the job description to uphold a covenant with sources," he said. "The real hero in this case is a source within law enforcement who provided information . . . that enabled me and others to report on it. We have kind of a sacred trust with sources." [Tribune]

  • Judge bans Dennis Hastert from unsupervised contact with minors, porn

Former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert can no longer use sex chat lines, possess pornorgraphy, or have "any contact with minors except in the presence of an adult who is aware of his sexual abuse of boys decades ago," according to the Tribune. U.S. district judge Thomas Durkin imposed the new restrictions on Hastert, who has been undergoing sex offender evaluation, after a probation report was turned in Monday. [Tribune]

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Chicago’s only brewery-distillery gets into the bar business with Maplewood Lounge

Posted By on 12.13.17 at 07:04 PM

JULIA THIEL
  • Julia Thiel

We've been secretly distilling and nobody knew," Adam Smith says. He's mostly joking: Maplewood Brewery & Distillery hasn't exactly been hiding the distilling side of its operation. (It's right there in the name.) But in the nearly three years it has been making spirits, it hasn't released a single one. Aside from festivals where Maplewood has poured tastes of its whiskey, rum, and gin, the public has never had a chance to taste any of them. With the opening of Maplewood Lounge on December 15, that's about to change. "To show people what we've been doing—it's pretty exciting," says Smith, Maplewood's brand manager and one of its brewers.

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Ayako Kato's three-month movement workshop Art of Now III culminates with an experimental performance concert

Posted By on 12.13.17 at 06:48 PM

Corinne Imberski - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy the artist
  • Corinne Imberski

“The creative process can be lonely,” says Ayako Kato, facilitator of "Stuck Foot, Open Hand, Running Mouth," an evening of mostly solo works that have emerged through her three-month movement improvisation workshop, Art of Now III. “I wanted to offer an opportunity to overcome the loneliness of making experimental work.”

Founder and curator of the dance performance series Dance Union, Kato has frequently created situations for artists working in nontraditional forms to come together, perform, and respond to each other. While the workshops she has taught for several years have always culminated in informal showings, with the support of Hamlin Park and Chicago Moving Company, workshop participants now also have the opportunity to coproduce a performance—an important skill for anyone who, possessed by what Kato calls “this burning feeling of creation,” must confront the realities of limited resources. “By initiating and securing a place for them to show their work, they can focus on the task of creating,” she says.

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Chicago music-scene photographer Tim Nagle talks about his first book, Take It Outside

Posted By on 12.13.17 at 05:51 PM

Chris Bailoni of Grapetooth and Knox Fortune as they appear in Take It Outside - TIM NAGLE
  • Tim Nagle
  • Chris Bailoni of Grapetooth and Knox Fortune as they appear in Take It Outside

On Tuesday, December 19, Schubas hosts a release party for Take It Outside, the debut book by 24-year-old Chicago music-scene photographer Tim Nagle. Headlining the show is Phoelix, the talented multi-instrumentalist and singer who coproduced Noname's Telefone and Saba's Bucket List Project. Rookie opens, and throughout the night members of young rock bands (including Twin Peaks and the Orwells) spin records. The bill reflects the kinds of music Nagle follows: he spent most of his youth on Chicago's south side, devouring rap and rock, and he was a teenager when the Smith Westerns broke out. He didn't even consider the possibility of making a career as a photographer until relatively recently—he took his first photos with a professional camera in 2013. Today he makes money with his art, but not quite enough to support himself; he also works part-time for a bottled-water distributor.

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Dehd flowers on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 12.13.17 at 07:00 AM

https_2f_2fcdn.evbuc.com_2fimages_2f36672632_2f224195700680_2f1_2foriginal.jpg

ARTIST:
 Alexa Viscius
SHOW: Dehd, Deeper, and Glyders at Empty Bottle on Fri 12/15
MORE INFO: alexaviscius.com

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Breath, Boom Athenaeum Theatre
November 09
Performing Arts
Twelfth Night Lincoln Park Conservatory
November 30

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