The Bleader | Blog + Reader, the Chicago Reader's blog

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sorry Chicago, you can't use the Google selfie app to find your fine-art lookalike

Posted By today at 05.46 PM

Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz's fine art twin
  • Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz's fine art twin

As if Chicago doesn't already have enough of a chip on its shoulder, now we are, along with Texas, one of the only two states unable to access the museum-selfie app that's gone viral this week.

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Two gubernatorial candidates support repealing Illinois’s rent control ban

Posted By today at 05.06 PM

J.B. Pritzker and Daniel Biss are vying for the Democratic Party nomination to unseat governor Bruce Rauner. - BRIAN JACKSON, ASHLEE REZIN
  • Brian Jackson, Ashlee Rezin
  • J.B. Pritzker and Daniel Biss are vying for the Democratic Party nomination to unseat governor Bruce Rauner.

As the March gubernatorial primary approaches, two candidates have now expressed support for repealing Illinois's Rent Control Preemption Act—a 1997 law that prohibits municipalities from enacting any form of regulation on residential or commercial rent prices. This week state senator Daniel Biss and wealthy businessman J.B. Pritzker spoke in support of a house bill that would lift the ban and allow local governments to grapple with the issue of rent control. Biss has also committed to introducing a companion bill in the senate early in the upcoming legislative session. 

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In 1924 Maxwell Street regular Daddy Stovepipe became one of the first bluesmen ever recorded

Posted By today at 04.27 PM


Since 2004 Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) has used the Secret History of Chicago Music to shine a light on worthy artists with Chicago ties who've been forgotten, underrated, or never noticed in the first place. Older strips are archived here.

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The Commuter is the first great movie of 2018

Posted By today at 02.17 PM

Vera Farmiga and Liam Neeson in The Commuter
  • Vera Farmiga and Liam Neeson in The Commuter
The Commuter, which is now playing in general release, is top-shelf entertainment, with nail-biting suspense, captivating mystery, and loads of visual imagination. It confirms that Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop, Run All Night, The Shallows) is one of the best genre directors working today. The film features one inspired set piece after another; Collet-Serra takes great pleasure in moviemaking, and his enjoyment is infectious. That the story is wildly implausible doesn’t detract from the immense satisfaction it has to offer. Rather, the narrative operates under a certain dream logic that’s wholly cinematic, and Collet-Serra delivers it with such emotional conviction that one gets absorbed regardless of the obvious plot holes. I’d be delighted if a more purely enjoyable movie gets released this year.

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From the archive: When a Reader staffer dreamed of blue-faced superstardom

Posted By today at 10.14 AM

Members of the Blue Man Group perform in Italy last fall. - DANIEL DAL ZENNARO/ANSA VIA AP
  • Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP
  • Members of the Blue Man Group perform in Italy last fall.

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

You are probably feeling blue today. It is the Tuesday after a three-day weekend. It is January. There is snow.

But here is another, more entertaining form of blue-ness. In 2001, Philip Montoro tried out for the Blue Man Group and wrote about it. (Spoiler: he's currently the Reader music editor.)

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Durbin challenges Trump to prove he's not racist with a compromise on the ‘Dreamers,’ and other Chicago news

Posted By today at 01.35 AM

Senator Dick Durbin, President Donald Trump, and Maryland congressman Steny Hoyer at a meeting on immigration policy Tuesday, January 9 - AP PHOTO/EVAN VUCCI
  • AP Photo/Evan Vucci
  • Senator Dick Durbin, President Donald Trump, and Maryland congressman Steny Hoyer at a meeting on immigration policy Tuesday, January 9

Welcome to the Reader's weekday news briefing.

  • Durbin challenges Trump to prove he's not racist with a compromise on the "Dreamers"

Illinois senator Dick Durbin is challenging President Donald Trump to prove he's not racist by compromising with Democrats on a plan for the undocumented "Dreamers" who were brought to the U.S. as children and have been benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Durbin is also standing by his assertion that Trump referred to African countries as "shithole countries" in a closed-door meeting on immigration policy Thursday. "I know what happened. I stand behind every word that I said," Durbin told reporters at Gale Community Academy in Rogers Park. [Sun-Times]

  • Chicago police might be equipped with anti-texting-and-driving device

The Chicago Police Department might be the first in the U.S. " to arm its police officers with devices that will tell them immediately if motorists were texting when they got into a traffic accident," according to the Associated Press. The City Council's public safety committee voted in favor of a CPD study on "Textalyzer" devices. "The problem of distracted driving is only getting worse," alderman Ed Burke said. "This is a public health crisis." [Associated Press via the Detroit News]

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Chicago Moth StorySlam and more of the best things to do in Chicago this week

Posted By on 01.15.18 at 02:24 PM

You don't have to be a professional storyteller like Lena Dunham to get onstage at the Chicago Moth StorySlam Tuesday 1/16. - THE MOTH
  • The Moth
  • You don't have to be a professional storyteller like Lena Dunham to get onstage at the Chicago Moth StorySlam Tuesday 1/16.

Warm up this week at one of Chicago's many events. Here's some of what we recommend:

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Chicago is the best city for comedy, but men are fucking it up

Posted By on 01.15.18 at 02:13 PM

Beth Stelling is one of the female comics who has spoken out about abuse and assault. - ERIN NEKERVIS
  • Erin Nekervis
  • Beth Stelling is one of the female comics who has spoken out about abuse and assault.

Dear men of the Chicago comedy scene,

Chicago is the best city in the country to do comedy, and we are fucking it up.

Chicago’s strength has always been its lack of showbiz industry. Comedians have historically been free to take risks here and bomb spectacularly without ruining their chances at a career. In 2005, I witnessed Kumail Nanjiani perform at Weeds Tavern, where the stage was a pool table and you couldn’t hear unless you were standing right next to him. These unfortunate circumstances didn’t benefit his tepid set. Now he’s a dynamic stand-up comic who stars in Silicon Valley and The Big Sick, but before that, there were countless flops at DIY Chicago shows.

The city is a safe space artistically, but multiple women recently came forward with stories about how that space has never felt safe to them. Brian Posen, the creator of the annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (SketchFest) and former head of Second City’s training center, allegedly made countless lewd comments about the women in his classes and took photos of their butts and cleavage. Then Ex Fest, ostensibly an alternative to SketchFest, was abruptly canceled the day it was scheduled to begin due to sexual misconduct accusations against its founder Matthew Payne. Women in comedy have resorted to creating secret Facebook groups to discuss their disgust with men’s rape jokes and unwanted advances.

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From the archive: MLK Day

Posted By on 01.15.18 at 11:22 AM

King speaks at a news conference in Chicago on Jan. 7, 1966. - AP CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
  • AP Chicago Sun-Times
  • King speaks at a news conference in Chicago on Jan. 7, 1966.

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

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Last year, Renata Cherlise, creator of Black Vrchives, "a curated visual journey through history," teamed up with Danielle A. Scruggs, the Reader's former director of photography, to create this video composed of photos from the Sun-Times archive.

"Nearly 50 years [after King's march in Marquette Park]," they wrote, "Dr. King's dreams can still be heard echoing through the streets of Chicago in vigils, parades, protests, murals, and strolls along King Drive, formerly known as South Park Way."

But how much actually changed for black Chicagoans? In August 2013, the 50th anniversary of  "I have a dream" speech, Steve Bogira wrote that  King's dream mostly remained unrealized.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Patti Blagojevich slams Rauner's campaign ad using Blagojevich FBI wiretap, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 01.14.18 at 11:14 PM

Former governor Rod Blagojevich and his wife, Patti, in 2011 - AP PHOTO/PAUL BEATY
  • AP Photo/Paul Beaty
  • Former governor Rod Blagojevich and his wife, Patti, in 2011

Welcome to the Reader's weekday news briefing. 

  • Patti Blagojevich slams Rauner's anti-Pritzker campaign ad using Blagojevich FBI wiretap

Patti Blagojevich, the wife of former governor Rod Blagojevich, is slamming Governor Bruce Rauner and his campaign for using audio of a conversation between the former governor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker that was wiretapped by the FBI in 2008. The controversial ad features Blagojevich telling "Pritzker about a scenario in which Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan could become senator, and Pritzker could become the attorney general," according to the Sun-Times. "There is a federal court order not allowing these tapes to see the light of day," Patti Blagojevich said in an interview with Fox Chicago Friday. "We fought so hard in court to try to get tapes just like this." [Sun-Times]

  • Spokesman: Durbin has credibility, GOP senator Perdue does not

Ben Marter, a spokesman for Senator Dick Durbin, attacked Republican senator David Perdue for saying that he did not hear President Donald Trump refer to African countries as "shithole countries" in a closed-door meeting on immigration Thursday. "Credibility is something that's built by being consistently honest over time. Senator Durbin has it. Senator Perdue does not. Ask anyone who's dealt with both," Marter tweeted about the Georgia senator Sunday morning. Durbin, who was in the meeting, publicly stated that Trump made the "shithole countries" comment in the meeting and that Republican senator Lindsey Graham directly confronted Trump about it. But Perdue and Republican senator Tom Cotton "do not recall the president saying those comments specifically," according to a statement. [Sun-Times]

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