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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Carpooling upstream to spawn on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 12.05.18 at 06:00 AM

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ARTIST: Jay Ryan
SHOWS: The solo living-room tour of Hum front man Matt Talbott, which included stops in Chicago and Skokie
MORE INFO: thebirdmachine.com

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sleep Out raises funds and awareness for homeless, trafficked, and at-risk youth

Posted By on 12.04.18 at 06:00 AM

Participants hold a candlelight vigil outside St. James Cathedral to honor youth who still face homelessness every night. - JULIA HALE
  • Julia Hale
  • Participants hold a candlelight vigil outside St. James Cathedral to honor youth who still face homelessness every night.

On November 15, Covenant House Illinois (CHIL) hosted its second annual Sleep Out at St. James Cathedral. Members of the community, celebrities, business leaders, and young professionals came together to raise funds and awareness for Chicago's homeless, trafficked, and at-risk youth by sleeping outside. "Sleepers" set personal fund-raising goals ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 that were met with the help of friends, family, and colleagues. Additionally, the sleepers shared a meal and participated in activities with CHIL staff, youth, and volunteers.

Covenant House, a national organization dedicated to providing housing and supportive services to homeless, trafficked, and at-risk youth ages 18-24, came to Chicago in February 2017. The first Chicago Sleep Out was held in November 2017.

A candlelight vigil outside the cathedral honored youth who still face homelessness every night. The vigil included speeches from CHIL Executive Director Cheryl Hamilton-Hill and a formerly homeless youth who found housing with CHIL's help; there was also a musical performance by another CHIL youth and a moment of silence for young people who have already been subjected to homelessness. According to Jenny Paveglio, the director of program implementation for Covenant House Illinois, sharing the stories and talents of youth is central to Covenant House events across the country.

"We'll have something about who our young people are, their journey," said Paveglio. "This one here had musical talent. Some of them will do spoken word."

While this is Paveglio's first Chicago Sleep Out, she's been with Covenant House for 25 years and has attended Sleep Outs in Georgia and New York. "Any time our young person gets up there and shares their story, gives us their talent, shows who they are, they're always spot-on brilliant," she said. "And that's every Covenant House event I've ever been to. When the youth steps up there and shares their life, it's just a magical moment."

Young people sharing their stories and talents, Paveglio suggests, "can help our community at large really understand what a young person goes through when they're experiencing homelessness, and help them distill some myths that they may have, because they're sitting at a table with someone who could be [their] daughter or son."

"The participants walk away with a deeper understanding of who our young people are, and that's really the point," she adds. "Hopefully they'll go away and say, 'We do need to stop this, because it isn't what I thought.'"

CHIL staff and youth participate in a painting activity hosted by the One Heart One Soul traveling art program. - JULIA HALE
  • Julia Hale
  • CHIL staff and youth participate in a painting activity hosted by the One Heart One Soul traveling art program.

Following the vigil, the sleepers entered the Episcopal church to share a meal and participate in breakout sessions in which they discussed with CHIL youth and staff what the word "home" really means to them. After the breakout sessions, awards were given to organizations and individuals who raised outstanding amounts of money. I talked to Jeff Berger, senior systems engineering manager at Cisco Systems and the recipient of one of those awards.

"We have 33 people that are going to be sleeping out as part of Cisco," said Berger. "The Chicago office is part of nine cities across the entire US that are participating in the Sleep Out tonight. We have 148 sleepers across Cisco . . . and we just hit the $100,000 mark about an hour ago." This isn't the first year that Cisco Systems has participated in a Sleep Out, either. "We had 12 people last year, and we went to 33 [this year]," he said. "So we had a huge increase here, and we went from $22,000 last year to $100,000 this year."

The increase in Cisco's contribution represents the major way that this year's Sleep Out differs from previous years: "It's bigger," said Nichole Lamorgese, a case manager and the longest-serving Covenant House Illinois staff member. "[Last year's Sleep Out] was more, like, in the whispers. It wasn't as well known. This feels like there's more of a community around it."

Janesta Hitchcock, a Chicago native from the Chatham area, is a Covenant House success story. A victim of domestic violence, she had just started staying at a shelter when she heard about Covenant House from other residents. "I was kind of skeptical about going," Janesta said Thursday. "[I didn't want to] hang around the wrong people, but they told me there were a lot of resources . . . so I started going."

"Some days when I would leave the shelter, if I didn't have work that day, I wouldn't have anywhere to go, so I would come to Covenant House," she said. "They would let me take a nap for a few hours, give me a shower, wash my clothes, feed me, let me watch some TV, and then get on the computer to look for a job if I wanted."

"[At first] I didn't wanna give them any information, I was just really closed-minded about the situation. But I soon realized this is a place where I could be myself, this is a few people that make me feel comfortable, they don't want anything from me, they're being honest with me, they're not looking to get me into any trouble or give out my information."

Giving CHIL her information ended up benefiting Janesta—within two months of going to Covenant House she had a home. "I found out about Covenant House in the middle of September [2017]," she said. "By this time last year, November 7th [2017], I was housed with my first apartment and I was out of the shelter."

"[Covenant House is] all good energy," said Janesta. "A 'safe space,' as they would call it."  v

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Folk genius Dwain Story died a legend to the few who still knew his music

Posted By on 12.04.18 at 06:00 AM


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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Marvell Wesley and his mini-me stroll in style on 95th Street

Posted By on 12.04.18 at 06:00 AM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.
ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Singer-guitarist Haley Fohr hunts for a path forward with a colorful Hideout residency

Posted By on 12.03.18 at 03:13 PM

Haley Fohr - PHOTO BY MICHAEL VALLERA
  • Photo by Michael Vallera
  • Haley Fohr

Since fall 2017, Haley Fohr has been on the road playing songs from Reaching for Indigo (Drag City), the sixth full-length by her primary musical project, Circuit des Yeux. The singer-guitarist is finishing the tour and the year with a three-night weekly residency at the Hideout entitled Intentions of Sociable Creativity Through Light & Sound, which will retire the album's material, celebrate Fohr's relationship to Chicago's experimental- and improvised-music communities, and point toward the music she'll make in 2019.

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Archive dive: Revisiting the canal that made Chicago what it is today

Posted By on 12.03.18 at 01:32 PM

U.S. NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
  • U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

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

On July 4, 1836, while the United States was celebrating 60 years of independence, Chicagoans were preparing to dig a ditch that would change the course of the city forever. In 1987, Peter Friederici looked back on that day in his piece "The ditch that made Chicago happen."

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Tavi Gevinson says goodbye to Rookie

Posted By on 12.03.18 at 06:00 AM

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There were few publications that defined girlhood in the 2010s as distinctly as the online magazine Rookie. Rookie felt like the public diary of a whole generation, taking the stories and artwork of thousands of teens across the world and consolidating them into what now feels like a time capsule of an era I hadn’t quite realized had ended.

Last Friday morning, Tavi Gevinson, the founder and editor in chief of the online magazine, published a six-page editor’s letter that announced sad news: that letter would be the last post on the site. The magazine “in its current form is no longer financially sustainable,” Gevinson wrote, and the website would be shut down in a few months, marking the end of an era for many readers.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Chance the Rapper offers a video preview of the new Chicagoist

Posted By on 11.30.18 at 05:06 PM

Chance says his vision for Chicagoist is to "allow more people to have voices, to give a bigger platform for Chicago voices to speak." - KAREN HAWKINS
  • Karen Hawkins
  • Chance says his vision for Chicagoist is to "allow more people to have voices, to give a bigger platform for Chicago voices to speak."

When Chance the Rapper announced via a single in July that he was buying Chicagoist—the hyperlocal news site closed by billionaire owner Joe Ricketts the previous November—there was a ton of speculation about what he'd do with it. At an invitation-only event Friday morning, a collection of journalists, young aldermanic candidates, professors, and supporters got a first glimpse of the goods.

The whole event was shrouded in mystery, and the few folks I spoke to as we waited at Northeastern Illinois University's Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies in Bronzeville were as excitedly baffled as I was about what exactly we were in for.

That turned out to be a video, but before it rolled, retired Northeastern Professor Conrad Worrill (a longtime friend of Chance's dad) set the scene by telling us that some of history's greatest black intellectuals and artists had once graced the same stage, among them W.E.B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes.

Then the video began: puppet news anchors—that's right, I said puppet—introduce a Chicagoist investigation by "Champ" the reporter, played by young Chance in a beige throwback suit and a taped-on mustache he keeps pressing back into place as he talks.
Chance as Chicagoist TV reporter Champ Bennett - KAREN HAWKINS
  • Karen Hawkins
  • Chance as Chicagoist TV reporter Champ Bennett

Champ/Chance then delivers a 101-level lesson in Chicago politics, set to music with what Sun-Times journalist Kathy Chaney astutely described as a Schoolhouse Rock vibe.

People-on-the-street interviews demonstrate just how little people on the street know about how their city runs. (What does an alderman do? What's the City Council? How many wards does Chicago have? No one knows.) More formal interviews with local reporters and aldermanic hopefuls, many of them people of color (and many of them in the audience watching the video with us), explore the challenges faced by candidates who lack clout, connections, and resources. A bewigged Hannibal Buress hams it up in the role of fictitious 51st ward alderman Al Durhman, who proudly proclaims that he just votes "yes" to everything and has been re-elected for years after inheriting the seat from his daddy.


During a Q&A after the video, Chance said it would be posted on his YouTube channel but not on Chicagoist, which he noted is still under construction.

Chance said he was inspired to do the piece by the realization that he'd only learned that the City Council is made up of aldermen when he visited one of its meetings last year—and that this kind of knowledge gap keeps people from being engaged in government and electoral politics. The new Chicagoist has a chance to fix that, and Chance said he hopes to get the video included in the curriculum at CPS.

He offered few details about what else Chicagoist is up to, but he promised that it would be "grand"—and that it would offer its audience more context for the news of the day.

"The overall idea is to allow more people to have voices, to give a bigger platform for Chicago voices to speak," Chance said—not just in the realm of hyperlocal journalism but also in the world at large (including, of course, in music). "I'm not trying to say too much, but it's cool, though—it's a cool thing."

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How Logan Arcade got its Misfits-playing robot dogs

Posted By on 11.28.18 at 05:45 PM

The Biscuits at Logan Arcade - JAMES ZESPY
  • James Zespy
  • The Biscuits at Logan Arcade

New to Chicago's hyper-niche scene of barcade robot punk bands are the Biscuits—Logan Arcade's very own Misfits cover act, comprising four animatronic dogs named Glenn Dogzig, Jerry Bonely, Doyle Von Frankenbone, and . . . Robo.

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A highly unprofessional trepanation on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 11.28.18 at 06:00 AM

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ARTIST: Bill Connors
SHOWS: Oozing Wound, Conduit, Rectal Hygienics, and Bruges at Sleeping Village on Fri 12/14
MORE INFO: instagram.com/billconnors

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20
Music
The Internet, Moonchild House of Blues
December 10

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