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

Friday, March 16, 2018

The future is now in Duncan Jones's Mute

Posted By on 03.16.18 at 01:02 PM

  • Mute
As I wrote recently in a post about the horror film Winchester, I’m a fan of historical films that simply use the period as a backdrop to the story as opposed to using the story as a means of investigating the period. I find it encouraging to think that elements of human nature have remained the same over time—that there’s something I can feel that connects me with the people of the past. Too many movies set in the past treat their subjects as morally inferior to the people of the present, making it all too easy to judge them. (This would summarize my reservations with Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water.) How humbling, then, to encounter characters in a past era who are just as complex as we are (or, in the case of a recent example like André Téchiné’s Golden Years, even more mysterious), experiencing the same problems and satisfactions.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The two most-read Reader stories of all time both involve major disappointments

Posted By on 03.16.18 at 06:30 AM

This is not your friend. - TINA JOHANSSON
  • Tina Johansson
  • This is not your friend.

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.

The most-read Reader story of all time is a 2012 Savage Love column with the headline "My husband violated the ground rules I'd set for our threesome." For some reason, this regularly pops up on the weekly list of top ten most-read posts. The husband promised his wife he would not stick his penis into the other woman, but he did it anyway. Dan's response begins, "Please hand this column to your husband. My response is for him: You are one stupid motherfucker."

The second most-read Reader story of all time is the far less sexy "Health: Does Coffee Make You Sleepy?" Published in 1990, it was the only story Roger Downey would ever write for the Reader. Still, since the paper went digital and we started tracking these things, he's probably racked up more page views than other staffers have in their entire careers.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

Murder and Mayhem in Chicago and more of the best things to do this weekend

Posted By on 03.16.18 at 06:30 AM

The Condition of Femme, 3/16-3/18, explores the trauma women face in their lives. - CODY JOLLY PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Cody Jolly Photography
  • The Condition of Femme, 3/16-3/18, explores the trauma women face in their lives.

There are a lot of events this weekend—murder mysteries and sci-fi abound. Here are some recommendations for what we recommend:

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our antiweed governor better take note: downstate is also going to pot

Posted By on 03.16.18 at 06:00 AM

  • AP/Eric Riseberg; Rich Hein/Sun-Times
Governor Rauner made a royal ass of himself when he went on radio station WJPF in Carterville, "the voice of southern Illinois," earlier this week.

Shamelessly pandering to a Republican base that will probably never like or trust him, Rauner declared he was vetoing a perfectly sensible bill that would have required gun dealers to be licensed by the state.

But that's not what I want to write about.

Instead I want to write about the rest of the interview, which was lost in the furor over the veto.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This week on FilmStruck: Deep in the heart of Texas

Posted By on 03.16.18 at 06:00 AM

Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski in  Paris, Texas
  • Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski in Paris, Texas
Texas is the setting for a selection of films currently featured on FilmStruck—without even one proper western in sight. The films presented, and particularly the five we've spotlighted, provide a different look at the Lone Star state in which melodrama, neo-noir, hipster antics, and poignant character studies figure as heavily as Stetsons, Longhorn cattle, and John Wayne.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sublime new-music choir the Crossing makes its local debut

Posted By on 03.16.18 at 05:30 AM

The Crossing - BECKY OEHLERS
  • Becky Oehlers
  • The Crossing

For most of my life I've steered clear of choral music—I assumed it was antiquated, and my tastes in classical music leaned toward the contemporary (which usually means dissonance, unusual timbres, and odd structures). Of course, that assumption arose almost entirely out of ignorance. I'm still a novice when it comes to classical vocal music, but I'm coming around—not just because I've discovered the work of Baroque composers such as Henry Purcell but also because I've been programming contemporary music every week for nearly five years for my Frequency Series.

A few years ago I participated in a new-music conference at Northwestern University, and one of the speakers was Bienen School of Music professor Donald Nally. He talked about the Philadelphia choir he directs, the Crossing, which devotes itself to contemporary music but has the technique and knowledge to perform works from across the full spectrum of choral tradition.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Former FBI director James Comey headlines Chicago Humanities Fest on his big book tour

Posted By on 03.15.18 at 04:41 PM

  • Comey

It’s not exactly a run-of-the-mill book tour.

Former FBI director James Comey is headlining a Chicago Humanities Festival event on April 20—three days after the release of his forthcoming book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.

The former G-man will be speaking about his memoir, which examines "what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions," according to the release from publisher Flatiron Books.

That’s all well and good from the man who could not stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails before the 2016 election and who signed off on waterboarding at Abu Ghraib, warrantless wiretapping, and indefinite detention during his time as the U.S. deputy attorney general in the Bush administration. But what everyone wants to know is—what the hell is Comey going to say about his more recent boss?

President Donald Trump fired Comey in May 2017 while the FBI director was heading up the investigation into alleged Russian meddling during the presidential election. Trump later told NBC News he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he axed Comey.

Other than his testimony before Congress, Comey has remained quiet about the specifics of his dealings with Trump and developments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Flatiron Books is making sure no revelations detailing Comey’s interactions with Trump leak before the book’s release by instituting FBI-level measures of secrecy.

According to Politico, the publisher reportedly locked the book behind a password-protected electronic system, stored it under a code name, and asked warehouse workers to sign nondisclosure agreements. The strategy is working well for Comey and the publisher: the memoir is Amazon’s number one best seller in three categories: politics and social sciences, law, and biography.

"James Comey is without a doubt one of the most interesting and key figures in the transformation of our political landscape over the past year," said Chicago Humanities Festival artistic director Alison Cuddy in a press release. "I’m eager to hear what he has to say."

Comey’s Chicago appearance will be the third stop on his tour following back-to-back New York City dates on April 18 and 19. Tickets for the event, scheduled for 7 PM on April 20 at the Harris Theater, go on sale to CHF members March 22 and to the general public on March 28. Tickets will be available at the CHF website.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Elon Musk hires six staffers from the Onion for his ‘new intergalactic media empire’ called Thud!

Posted By on 03.15.18 at 01:38 PM


It's like an Onion headline come to life: With Nothing More to Accomplish, Billionaire Tech Mogul Who Just Shot a Car Into Space Starts Satirical Newspaper.

Elon Musk—the man who launched an electric car to Mars last month and plans to build a high-speed electric pod-based underground mass transit system—poached six staffers from the Chicago-based media company the Onion with plans to create a comedy project of some kind.

"It's pretty obvious that comedy is the next frontier after electric vehicles, space exploration, and brain-computer interfaces," Musk told the Daily Beast. "Don't know how anyone's not seeing this."

On Wednesday, Musk tweeted that the name of what he called his new intergalactic media empire would be Thud! ("exclamation mark optional" he clarified later). That's if you can take what the Tesla and Space X CEO says on Twitter seriously. Last year, he also tweeted a joke about how chemtrails were actually "a message from time-traveling aliens describing the secret of teleportation."

Musk initially wanted to buy the Onion back in 2014 according to a report published on Tuesday by the Daily Beast, but the deal fell through—potentially because Musk wasn't interested in the A.V. Club, the Onion's pop-culture-obsessed sister site (disclosure: I was a regular freelancer for the A.V. Club). The Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications ended up buying the entire company in early 2016—including the Onion, the A.V. Club, the satirical website ClickHole, and various book and video projects.

But Musk was still determined to enter the comedy world—even while setting his sights on, well, Mars colonization. Last last year, he hired former Onion editor in chief Cole Bolton and executive editor Ben Berkley as well as two senior writers, a copy editor, and one additional staff writer, according to a source at the Onion who asked to remain anonymous. The source noted that all the staffers hired were "married to the idea of the print edition of the Onion," which may indicate that there will be a print component to Musk's project.

In the meantime, the Onion is having some fun with all of the headlines involving it and Musk. It published a fake editorial from Musk in Clickhole entitled "I Did Everything I Could To Buy ClickHole, But Their Editorial Integrity Won Out Over My Billion-Dollar Offers, And I Respect Them Even More For That (By Elon Musk)."

UPDATE: The Onion published a story this afternoon with the headline: "Elon Musk Embarrassed After Realizing He Proposing Idea For A Thing That Already Exists." Musk quickly responded on Twitter with "Oh you guys. Your cruel taunts cut me deep. Deep. But, I love you."

If Musk is right and we're all living in a computer simulation, maybe this could be proof.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Exploring the long-lost Wesley Willis collection at Quenchers Saloon

Posted By on 03.15.18 at 10:56 AM

Quenchers owner Earle Johnson unearths his collection of Wesley Willis drawings. - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Jamie Ramsay
  • Quenchers owner Earle Johnson unearths his collection of Wesley Willis drawings.

Last month word got out that Quenchers Saloon, a beer-lover's pub that straddles the border of Logan Square and Bucktown, was up for sale. Owner Earle Johnson, 75, put the building on the market in November, but word didn't spread widely till after he placed a big sign above the door. Johnson has owned the place for nearly four decades, and as he recently told Tribune reporter Josh Noel, he doesn't have the energy to run a bar anymore.

Given the rapid gentrification of Logan Square, neighbors quickly expressed concerns online about the future of Quenchers. Johnson's current asking price is $1.65 million, and many folks are worried that an opportunistic developer will come up with the money before anyone with their heart set on keeping the character of the place intact. But Johnson says he wants to sell Quenchers to someone who understands its role in the community. "We've got a number of people that would want to keep it very close to what it is, as far as what's here," he says. That said, one of my favorite things about Quenchers will leave with Johnson: an original drawing of Quenchers by cult musician and outsider artist Wesley Willis, which hangs in a corner between the restrooms and the cabinet-size sound booth.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

19 more women accuse Northwestern professor Alec Klein of misconduct, group says

Posted By on 03.15.18 at 08:03 AM

Since ten women came forward last month to accuse Northwestern journalism professor Alec Klein of misconduct ranging from sexual comments to unwanted kissing, 19 more women have reached out to them with their stories. In a new open letter released Thursday, the Medill Me Too group has published new allegations about Klein from the new accusers, including diary entries some of the women provided.

The accounts quoted in the letter include "disturbing patterns," the letter states, and include "sexually suggestive comments," "inappropriate touching" such as shoulder and neck massages and other improper behavior. Some women say they did not pursue journalism as a career as a result of Klein's behavior.

Klein, an award-winning journalist who headed up the Medill Justice Project and Northwestern's School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications, took a leave of absence shortly after the first group of accusers sent its open letter.

Although the initial letter included the names of all ten accusers, the 19 new women are not named in the new open letter, which says that some of them remain "afraid" to come forward openly. But Medill Me Too member Alison Flowers says some of the women who contacted them are willing to participate in the Title IX investigation Northwestern University officials launched in response to the group's first letter.

"We're encouraged thus far by Northwestern's broad investigation into Alec Klein's behavior," Flowers says. "We hope the university continues to take seriously the breadth of the complaints and chooses to collectively believe these women over the word of one professor in a powerful position."

A university spokesman said he hadn't seen the letter and couldn't comment. Klein's attorney, Andrew Miltenberg, released a statement decrying the new letter later Thursday. “Through innuendo, implication, conflated half-truths and even some outright lies, a group of individuals at Northwestern University continue their wholesale butchery of the life of Prof. Alec Klein," Miltenberg wrote. "The #MeToo movement is undoubtedly important as it gives voice to those who have been victims of sexual abuse and harassment. Still, it is not meant to be, nor can we let it become, judge, jury, and executioner."

Klein has denied the allegations put forth by the previous women. In his denial, he said some of the previous allegations had been investigated by the university previously and determined to be "completely unfounded."

"The bulk of the other allegations were brought to the attention of Northwestern's office of Equal Opportunity and Access, and no violations were found," he wrote. 

Below is the text of the new letter in full, addressed, as last time, to the dean of the university's journalism school:

March 15, 2018

Bradley J. Hamm
Office of the Dean
The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
Northwestern University

cc: Jonathan Holloway
Office of the Provost
Northwestern University

Dear Dean Hamm:

Nineteen more women.

Since our letter to you on February 7, 2018, where 10 of us came forward with accounts of bullying and harassment, 19 new women — Northwestern University students, alumni and staff — have reached out to us with statements about Alec Klein’s behavior.

Disturbing patterns continue to emerge in the allegations:

  • Extended closed door meetings
  • Sexually suggestive comments
  • Talking about his sex life
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Commentary on bodies and appearances
  • Asking about personal lives
  • Requesting hugs in exchange for leaving work early
  • Verbal abuse
  • Hostile, discriminatory work environment

Several of these women have chosen to participate in Northwestern’s ongoing investigation of Alec Klein. But others are too afraid to speak out further.

Their voices should still be heard. Collectively, the women quoted below have decided to share portions of their unaltered messages to us, and where noted, their diary entries:

“I thought I was the only one. I thought there was something wrong with me, because the way he acted made me feel so horribly uncomfortable...that I just needed to toughen up and brush it off. When I stopped working for him, I accepted the futility of pursuing a journalism career. For three years I was afraid even to enter Fisk, to speak with other professors about recommendations or finding a new advisor, terrified I might run into Alec. I skipped Medill’s graduation ceremony so I wouldn’t have to see him.”

“He gave unwanted neck and shoulder massages while I tried to work at that table. While I worked, he would pace and wax poetic about his sex life, and complain about his wife in ways that made me feel like crying. He would tell me very personal things about her. I remember feeling this terrible empathy, like I couldn’t believe another woman out there was being treated this way, and wondering if she had anyone to tell. That is, in many ways, the most painful part: the knowing about other women who are hurt, but not knowing them. Even worse is knowing she may have been in the dark about him.”

(From one woman’s 2013 diary entries describing her interactions with Klein at a university event and a lunch):
“One thing was really weird tonight, though, and that was that it almost seemed like Alec Klein was hitting on me. Maybe ‘hitting on me’ is the wrong term, but it definitely seemed like he was trying to cozy up to me with a definite goal in mind, and he showered me with compliments all night long.”

“When he first saw me, he said that I looked great, and that he thought I should dress up every day. He told me that I looked like I should be at the Academy Awards accepting an Oscar.”

“Multiple times, [he] said I was a ‘delicate flower.’ … He told me that I shouldn’t bother with dating college boys. He swept his arm around the room to indicate all of the male students and was like, ‘You see all of them? They’re all ten years behind you.’”

“He asked me whether I’d ever been in love... He asked me about my past relationships, which I also thought was inappropriate... Constantly, throughout our conversation, he said stuff like, ‘Across the board, looking at everything, you are nearly perfect.’ He said I was the kind of girl that guys would keep, and said that he bet there were lots of boys who secretly liked me right now. He asked if I thought I would be good at interpreting their feelings if that were the case.”

(From another woman’s 2015 diary entry describing an extended interview for an internship):
“I am being groomed. How do I know? The special attention, the flattery, the long hours of very personal conversation spent trying to earn my trust. He’s a textbook predator, accomplished and awarded, but with failed relationships due to emotional immaturity, leaving him sexually frustrated. I’m not falling for this.”

“He repeatedly commented on my appearance. Especially my hair and my figure. Once he asked me to “look into his eyes” as he tried to ‘figure out what color they were.’

“I worked as an intern at the Medill Justice Project and while Alec never made a pass at me I remember saying to my mother ‘my new boss acts like he wants to hook up with me’. My colleagues and I wrote off his actions as weird and called him socially awkward. We said it was creepy that he only hired attractive women to work at the MJP and found his quiet demeanor off-putting.”

“I remember Klein would close the door when we were alone in his office. On multiple occasions, he asked me about my boyfriend, who attended a different school. Even at the time I recall feeling uncomfortable. I don't really remember any substantial work ever getting done, even though I was supposed to be helping him on his work projects. He mostly talked and asked me questions, oftentimes, about my personal and social life.

At one point, I told Klein I wanted to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. ‘So what are you going to do about that THAT?’ he said, motioning to my face. When I asked what he meant, he said: ‘Don't you need to be physically attractive to be on TV?’...That conversation crushed me.”

“He verbally abused me over a trivial matter in a meeting he requested that left me in tears nearly a decade ago. At the time, I complained to Medill about Mr. Klein's behavior because I was concerned he would treat other students that way in the future. But Medill took no action."

“He made other unwarranted physical contact, such as grabbing my hand and holding it. Once, while going over a report I had written (which I now strongly suspect was not intended to be used anywhere, just an excuse to have me work in his office), he asked me to sit in his desk chair while he leaned over me and whispered his comments in my ear. I explicitly suggested he could do track changes and we could conference after, but he said this was faster.

When he made edits to written work that directly contradicted things he had told me to do in previous conversations, and I spoke up to ask him why or explain my writing choices, he would repeatedly interrupt me. It offended me so much that when I spoke up to ask him to stop interrupting me and let me finish a sentence, he essentially threw an adult tantrum. There is no other way to describe it. He sent me out of his office, without my coat or belongings, where I waited for 30 minutes. I knocked two separate times during that time, was met with silence, and on my third attempt he opened the door, wordless. I immediately grabbed everything and left.”

“I would see him at dining halls on campus and we would sometimes eat lunch together. It was usually during or after these lunches when he would comment on my body. What ‘great shape’ I was in. Or how nice I looked. Often surveying my body. I distinctly remember what I was wearing (beige sweater, black Under Armour leggings) when he made one of these comments while admiring my legs.”

We urge you, Dean Hamm: Believe these women. As the university concludes its investigation and reports to you its findings, we implore you to hold Alec Klein accountable for his actions.

Medill Me Too

Since the publication of the first letter, a group of Northwestern professors has also issued a public response supportive of the women who have come forward with their stories about Klein.

Before it launched its most recent probe, Northwestern said it had investigated one of the allegations years ago and said it was not substantiated.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery Water Tower Place
June 16
Performing Arts
Faust Lyric Opera House
March 03

Tabbed Event Search

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories