1999 | Chicago Reader at Forty | Chicago Reader


The year in Chicago history via the pages of the Reader

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What's the point, unless you plan on a future in animal husbandry? Chicago is a great city, and it doesn't need six-foot plastic tchotchkes to bring in tourists.

—Tony Fitzpatrick to Culture Club's Lewis Lazare on Chicago's upcoming "Cows on Parade." It was a minority view.

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The Reader rocks

"Prove It All Night" by J.R. Jones wondered, "When fame and fortune are out of the question, what keeps a band onstage?"

Since he was a teenager Larry has never wanted to do much more than play guitar in a rock 'n' roll band. For the last five years he's been working at the Lakeview Lounge, a dank honky-tonk on Broadway just north of Argyle, playing three nights a week, six or seven hours a night, 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off. The Lakeview is the sort of drinking establishment even the most charitable person would have to call a dive: A sign on the inside door warns THIS IS NOT A PAWNSHOP! but more than once I've been approached there by someone trying to sell me a tuxedo or an overcoat. One Friday night an old man keeled over backward off his bar stool. The band quit playing and a few patrons gathered around, but after a few moments he pulled himself off the floor and dusted himself off. Larry ended the uncomfortable episode by launching into "Blue Moon," and after a while the fellow staggered home.

In 2000 Da Capo Press launched its annual Best Music Writing series and included Jones's piece in the first edition. Over the years, the Reader has remained a steady provider. Da Capo has anthologized three Reader pieces by Monica Kendrick, three by Jessica Hopper, and others by Sasha Frere-Jones and Noah Berlatsky. A Reader anthology might be in order. Jones is now the Reader's movie critic.

The madness of Del Close

Close died in March 1999. His friends from Second City tried to describe him to Jack Helbig.

Larry Hanakin: Me and him did one improv that stayed with me the rest of my life. It was called "Something Just Happened." What you had to do is stand onstage and something major has happened. And the two of you agree to what has happened. And all you do is stand onstage. No talking. Just stand there and think about what happened. And what the class has to do is guess what happened by your body language. What Del did was just stand there. It was his thing that had happened. And I was a friend of his. He stood and stared, and I just stood and stared, and that was it. And what happened—and this is true—his father invited him into the kitchen to watch something. Del sat at the kitchen table and watched his dad while his father stood at the kitchen sink and drank a glass full of battery acid and committed suicide in front of him. The improv was he had just come over and told me about it. He said he was like six or seven when that happened.

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