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

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Black Panther’s identity politics give the superhero genre a fresh spin

Posted By today at 02.58 PM

The first black superhero in mainstream American comics, Marvel's Black Panther came with an African pedigree: in real life he's the ancestral king of a small, impoverished sub-Saharan nation that conceals a secret empire, the whole operation empowered by an asteroid from outer space.

That premise provides most of the fun in this big-screen adaptation, particularly in the form of the Dora Milaje, the king's security team, who are badass women with shaved heads, neck rings, and flaming-red uniforms. Chadwick Boseman is appropriately noble and dull as the title character, and director Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) brings along the compelling Michael B. Jordan, his frequent collaborator, to play the Panther's philosophical antagonist.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Statement from Sun-Times Media CEO on change in Chicago Reader leadership

Posted By on 02.17.18 at 07:15 PM

Sun-Times Media CEO Edwin Eisendrath released the following statement this evening:

"I am announcing today the departure of Mark Konkol from the Reader. Mark came to the publication bringing great hope for a new direction and a new life to a storied brand. Sometimes things don't work out as planned. A tumultuous ten days culminated in the publication of a Reader cover that we believe was not in line with either our vision for the Reader or that storied history. We wish Mark well.

"While controversy is sometimes seen as part and parcel of the alternative-weekly world, we believe it's necessary in this instance to apologize to anyone who was offended by this week's cover. The published cover in my view distracted from the publication as a whole.

"The reporters at the Reader work hard to be great journalists. They can and will take on the toughest stories—including issues of race, injustice, and people struggling to be heard.

"We will put in place interim leadership and plan for the future."

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Pow Wow is a wry documentary about Americans' distance from their own history

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 03:13 PM

Pow Wow
  • Pow Wow
Robinson Devor’s Pow Wow, which opens tonight at Facets for a weeklong run, is a compact and provocative documentary about Americans’ relationship to history. Running just 75 minutes, the film covers plenty of thematic ground, considering the legend of Chemehuevi-Paiute Indian "Willie Boy,” the transformation of California’s Coachella Valley into a suburban environment, the present-day experience of Khaweya Indians (who live on a reservation in the Valley), and the habits of well-to-do whites in the suburban community. Devor subtitled the film “Ethnographic Encounters With the People of the Desert Empire (2010–2015)” and divided it into short chapters with academic headers like “Rites and Rituals.” Pow Wow advances a curious, if somewhat detached perspective that befits an ethnographic study, whether Devor is looking at a Native American reservation, a golf course, or a car dealership. The insights are sometimes wry and sometimes saddening, but always compelling.

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Atomic’s Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Håvard Wiik explore folk hymns and elastic improvisation on their own albums

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 02:22 PM

  • Ziga Koritnik; Peter Gannushkin /
  • Ingebrigt Håker Flaten; Håvard Wiik

This weekend one Scandinavia's best jazz combos, Atomic, rolls into town for Friday and Saturday shows at Constellation. I wrote about the quintet's latest album in my concert preview, but its members all play in many other contexts—and recently bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and pianist Håvard Wiik released strong new records of their own.

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Music Frozen Dancing is the only festival where you can see Oh Sees in the snow

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 11:18 AM

Oh Sees headline Saturday's fifth annual Music Frozen Dancing. - JOHN DWYER
  • Oh Sees headline Saturday's fifth annual Music Frozen Dancing.

In theory, it's still a few months till festival season. In practice, that season never ends—the events just get smaller and usually move indoors. The key word there is "usually," because tomorrow the Empty Bottle hosts its fifth annual Music Frozen Dancing, which has succeeded despite the fact that it's clearly batshit to hold a free outdoor music festival in the middle of a Chicago winter. Apparently the Bottle's great reputation as a booker—and the absence of a cover charge—is enough to convince perfectly sane people to volunteer for possible frostbite watching bands playing in the street outside the venue.

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CSO's Chinese New Year concert and more of the best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 09:59 AM

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra holds a Chinese New Year Celebration concert on Sat 2/17.
  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra holds a Chinese New Year Celebration concert on Sat 2/17.

Welcome the Year of the Dog with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, plus more things to do in the city this weekend. Here's some more cool stuff we recommend:

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‘Convert them, co-opt them, or kill them‘: The ugly fight to pass the LGBTQ-inclusive Chicago Human Rights Ordinance

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 08:58 AM

  • Logan Javage

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.

This year, 2018, marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of the LGBT-inclusive Chicago Human Rights Ordinance—as I was reminded yesterday when I had the pleasure of running into Laurie Dittman on the bus. She was one of the leaders of Gay and Lesbian Town Meeting, the activist organization that led the campaign to pass the legislation protecting Chicago's LGBT community from discrimination in housing, jobs, and public accommodations. The ordinance was approved by the Chicago City Council on December 21, 1988, but only after 15 years of struggle—not only between the LGBT community and politicians but within the community itself.

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company adds two new ensemble members—but what does that mean?

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 08:12 AM

Celeste M. Cooper and Cliff Chamberlain - COURTESY STEPPENWOLF THEATRE
  • courtesy Steppenwolf Theatre
  • Celeste M. Cooper and Cliff Chamberlain

Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced today that actors Celeste M. Cooper and Cliff Chamberlain will join the nearly 50-member ensemble. Cooper made her Steppenwolf debut in BLKS and Chamberlain was recently featured in The Minutes by ensemble member Tracy Letts.

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This Week on Filmstruck: Jacques Demy

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 08:00 AM

Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac in Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort
  • Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac in Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort

One of cinema's great visual stylists, filmmaker Jacques Demy (1931-1990) was part of the other French New Wave—the Paris Left-Bank group of directors that included Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, and Demy's wife, Agnès Varda. As a complement to Varda's recent Oscar nomination and surge in celebrity, this week we're spotlighting five Demy films currently showing on Filmstruck. Varda's 1995 documentary The World of Jacques Demy is also showing in the Demy collection on the streaming channel.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Muslim blogger Hoda Katebi says WGN ‘didn’t trust her’ to do a follow-up interview

Posted By on 02.15.18 at 07:19 PM


Last week Iranian-American Muslim fashion blogger Hoda Katebi posted video of a five-minute interview she'd done on January 31 with WGN News. It had been pitched to her as a segment about her fashion book, Tehran Streetstyle, but turned into an interrogation of the 23-year-old's politics by anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten—and some of their questions and comments had Islamophobic overtones, including Baumgarten's suggestion that Katebi didn't "sound American."

Katebi claims she arranged a second interview with Potash and Baumgarten (scheduled to air tonight and Friday morning) about "what went wrong" in January. But she says WGN changed the terms of that interview because it "didn't trust her."

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
My Wonderful Birthday Suit! Chicago Children's Theatre, the Station
January 27
Performing Arts
The Light Den Theatre
January 11

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