Michael Gebert | Chicago Reader

Recent Reviews

Re: “A Town Called Panic

The audience I saw this with laughed steadily through it, and clearly enjoyed the goofy humor and giddy inventiveness at a pace that makes Airplane! look like Carl Dreyer. I doubted I could sit through that long a stretch of toy characters without expressions, but this movie is so full of energy and silliness that I came home ready to watch YouTube clips of the TV series. If you don't respond to comedy like this, you're already dead.

Posted by Michael Gebert on 01/18/2010 at 1:58 AM

Recent Comments

Re: “Hungary for you: Going for it at the Gulyas Festival

Epicurean is closed.

Posted by Michael Gebert on 07/14/2014 at 9:27 PM

Re: “I'm being haunted by the ghost of Wilson Mizner!

One of life's important lessons is to watch any movie from the first half of the 30s with Warren William in it. Employee's Entrance, The Match King, Beauty And the Boss, Skyscraper Souls, Dark Horse, Lady For a Day...

Another is a quote from Wilson Mizner: "Be nice to people on the way up, you'll be meeting them again on the way down."

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Michael Gebert on 07/14/2014 at 1:07 PM

Re: “By the pie: good stuff in central Indiana

MIne in Indiana would be the Village Inn in Middlebury. Had very fine pie there, and heard of a rare regional specialty-- Bob Andy pie. Closer to home, the pie at Miner-Dunn Hamburgers in Dyer (I think) is pretty good.

What you really need, though, is a copy of Cafe Indiana by Joanne Stuttgen.

Posted by Michael Gebert on 05/30/2012 at 10:51 PM

Re: “Sky Full of Bacon on Chicago barbecue

You may well be right, but considering he started serving it in 1950 and had trademarked it within a few years, that certainly doesn't prove he couldn't have been the influence on "an African American owned chicken wing restaurant in the 50s-60s." (Do you have a name for this place?) And as I acknowledged, "mumbo sauce" could well have been a commonly used term before he started using it in 1950 (it has a Fats Wallerish ring to it, I think) but I've never seen anyone produce an earlier citation for it. (Somebody would need to be closer to 70 to have memories that definitively predated Argia B.'s place.)

I really don't have a dog in this fight, I'm happy to believe evidence in either direction, but civic pride alone isn't evidence.

Posted by Michael Gebert on 09/21/2011 at 1:26 PM

Re: “Sky Full of Bacon on Chicago barbecue

I think it's an open question whether DC mumbo sauce and Argia B. Collins' Mumbo Sauce have any direct relationship. The first question is, did the term "mumbo sauce" exist out there in the ether before Argia B. Collins named his that and trademarked it? I don't know. What I do know is that 1) he was the first one to commercialize it, back in the 1950s, which is before most people think that mumbo sauce on chicken wings became a DC thing, and 2) Allison Collins says they have accounts in the DC area that date back to the 1960s (as well as sales throughout the South back in that era). She also says that the Collins' family's BBQ joints were a common stop for traveling African-Americans (as, say, Arthur Bryant's would be in Kansas City), and some of them were no doubt from DC. So SOME mumbo sauce in DC is their mumbo sauce. But much of it, probably most of it, definitely is not and is sweeter and, frankly, more Chinese sweet and sourish.

The theory, then, is that Asian restaurants popping up starting in the 1970s adopted this use of mumbo sauce and popularized it, but radically adapted mumbo sauce, making it, frankly, more Asian, more like sweet and sour or other Asian hot sauces. In that case, the evolutionary tree does start in Chicago but changes significantly in DC.

Some, however claim that there used to be a very different style of mumbo sauce-- at some point, largely unspecified, before the Asian influx of the 60s and 70s. If that's the case then maybe mumbo sauce goes back much further in DC, but interestingly, if it does, back then it was much more like BBQ sauce than it is now. See here: http://wapo.st/rv12dz

Now, the interesting thing about this to me is that while what's described there sounds like BBQ sauce, it sure doesn't sound like the kind of BBQ sauce you find near DC, say, in the Carolinas. It sounds much more like the tomatoey sauce you find in the midwest, which supports the Argia B's-migrated-to-DC theory. But until someone can authentically date when mumbo sauce first appeared on DC menus, and shows that it was before 1950, there's a reasonable case to be made that Argia B's has something, or more than something, to do with DC mumbo sauce, even if most "mumbo sauce" is no longer like his. In any case, as the length of this comment suggests, sometimes these things are hard to get into in a video...

Posted by Michael Gebert on 09/20/2011 at 8:01 PM

Re: “Liberals, conservatives, and personality traits

Yeah, I'm not buying version #2,174 of the study which finds that, surprise, the political type that the people doing the study belong to is better. I'm not at all convinced that "liberal" and "conservative" have a fixed meaning that you can hold onto; too many aspects of our politics have traveled back and forth between parties and factions (a half century ago isolationism was Republicans opposed to the adventurist foreign policy of Democratic presidents, now it's almost exactly the reverse... except, as IAC notes, it's found on both the left and the Ron Paul end of the right). And at the moment, a conservative seems to be someone who wants to shake everything up (slash the budget, overthrow middle eastern dictators, vouchers for public schools, etc.) while a liberal seems to be someone determined to preserve the status quo of 40 years ago (unions, bureaucracies, big auto companies). While a libertarian would look at both of them as hopelessly hidebound on many issues. So identifying the views that neatly define "left" or "right" and then declaring either to be notably "open" or "closed" seems naive or simplistic at best.

4 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Michael Gebert on 08/19/2011 at 9:04 AM

Re: “Infiltrating Hollywood

"Only in 2004 did the film emerge again..." well, not exactly. When I first moved here in the mid-80s, the Film Center showed this movie (I guess at least one first-run print was still around) and peddled this tale of a movie about black revolution being suppressed by The Man... complete with Sam Greenlee in attendance, hinting at spooky conspiracies but never really providing any details. I wonder if the story has gotten any more solid since then.

The movie's okay-- frankly, none of the famous 70s blaxploitation movies is all that good, but it does have a few sharp lines (the best being when the lead disguises his saboteurs in janitor's uniforms, figuring "A black man with a broom can go anywhere in this country.")

Posted by Michael Gebert on 08/18/2011 at 5:08 PM

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