My Opinion | Chicago Reader

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Re: “Things the Winchester learned in the fire

Michael, I suspect "when's the last time you ate at Old Lviv?" is meant as some clever riposte, but it's deeper criticism of yourself. When is the last time you wrote about Old Lviv? Never. When has the Reader mentioned it, ever? One paragraph in 2009. No fancy video or fawning profile.

You've spent more time and space to defending fellow white people using racially the loaded term ethnic (making an argument which boils down to "actually, a woman of color who criticizes white people and dares to mention upscale places is the REAL voice of discrimination/elitism")

And honestly, dude, I've noticed that when people bring up Chicago's intense racial inequality you are always eager to say, "well maybe, BUT" like in that taco article.

It would be nice if even once you could acknowledge one can both like tasty, cool places (particularly if that's how you get paid) and acknowledge Chicago's economical and racial divisions which are getting increasingly ugly yet hidden by that same coolness. That it's possible to delight in Logan Square yet get a sick lurch knowing that these quaint enclaves exist in part at the cost of other people living increasingly desperate, violent lives? That maybe, just maybe, you could be responsible about addressing such issues instead of reflexively accusing those who bring them up of being The Real Elitist or trolling/clickbait and other forms of denial. That you won't lose anything if you say, "yeah, I can see why you might feel that way" and don't add a "but" or trying to attack the source as somehow inauthentic ("I'll bet you've never been to this other restaurant").

Old Lviv has fascinating owners, some decor items that foodie places use in their polished designs - lots of polished wood (including hanging decorations), chalkboard menu - and I can totally see this getting pushed out and replaced with an homage that serves up perogi "with a twist" for $5 to $10 more. And it is in part because the tone of the current culture treats some places as worthy winners and others as just there till they aren't.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by My Opinion on 08/06/2015 at 12:02 PM

Re: “If a joke helps you vent politically, does it matter if it makes sense?

I find it very odd that Miner does an entire essay about a racist, xenophobic joke and never acknowledges it as such.

I assume this is mostly ironic understatement, that "obviously traveled on a wavelength I could not tune in" contains an implied "because it's racist".

As a entire essay, however, the coy avoidance seems to be genuine equivocation and reluctance to discuss the hate expressed by this joke.

Particularly this sentence: "Not because it was offensive—a joke that isn't offensive is hardly worth telling—but because it didn't make sense. " - this says the discrimination and violence behind such rhetoric doesn't matter, just if it's logically consistent.

As a white guy, Miner can avoid admitting his friends are bigots and be blase about offensive jokes. The people who suffer the consequence of such bigotry don't get that luxury.

If this joke was antisemitic, would Miner write an entire post in which never mentions that? Would he write "This joke is popular on sites which hold the Israeli government in low esteem.", without addressing the past and present problems of such jokes?

I also question: "the Mexican wouldn't be on the street either because he'd be holding down a second minimum-wage job in somebody's factory or kitchen... being here without papers, he'd never talk to a stranger." Rather than showing how Miner is above stereotypes it merely indulges another, "logical" stereotype.

Miner doesn't appear to grasp how this generalization might be a problem in a city with thousands of legal Mexican immigrants with middle and working class jobs?

It's a problem that the Reader's writing and editorial staff is almost entirely (if not completely) white. A more diverse staff might have prodded Miner into a better essay than one which tries very hard to be clever and ends up kind of unpleasant.

If there are any replies to this comment, I hope they aren't just bitter denunciations of oversensitive political correctness. Someone can mean well and try to be subtle and still end up being part of the problem. Not because they are evil, but because part of the problem is racism allows those with power to not think things through.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by My Opinion on 10/01/2014 at 12:51 PM

Re: “Still hoping for change

The Chicago reader responded to Obama's election with a snarky cover saying""Don't Screw This Up." On the eve of the election it presents another cover with an unflattering photo of Obama, eyes closed and frowning in defeat or exhaustion.

The Reader's response to criticism is "the media's role isn't to cheerlead for elected officials". Somewhat true but utterly dishonest about this particular editorial decision and reader reactions.

Covers aren't driven by journalistic integrity but readership numbers, and both of these are troll the reader with a potshot at a presumed sacred cow. The implication being only an Obama cheerleader would be bothered by this.

Critics don't expect the Reader to cheerlead - one expects authority to be questioned.

The issue is that a very white publication in a racially divided city responds to a black president with two significantly timed trolling covers (I may be wrong but the only other front page on Obama was in 1995). One doesn't have to like the guy to find this unsettling.

The introduction to this article is also a bit myopic, not recognizing how most people could separate the hope and joy over the election of a black president with an assessment of the politician himself (not to mention how the joy was amplified by the end of the Bush years). Crying with joy over the historic moment is not the same as expecting everything to go perfect. People were aware that the economy was wrecked and might stay that way for a long time.

It would have been nice if the Reader had been more inclined to note and thus ask more about the issue of race. One the most depressing things about the Obama era isn't the man himself, but the increasingly open racial rhetoric of angry whites. This doesn't mean the issues aren't valid, but how racial divide in the city has gotten more violent and extreme seems important.

As far as I can tell, the Reader currently has no African Americans on its full time or contributing editorial and reporting staff. In four decades, the total number of people of color in editorial has been astoundingly tiny, especially during the Obama years.

When I used to stop by the Reader offices on Illinois, it struck me the most black faces were the administrative staff.

The Reader does publish writers of color at times, but in a city which has been been less than 50% white for at least a decade it's striking this "alternative" paper remains mostly whites reporting on other groups rather than letting them speak for themselves.

This is why it was so telling when Alison True wrote "We were addressing Obama as the person -- not the black person" it rang so hollow. Because how would she know? Did any person of color participate in that decision? Similarly when the Reader published a story about the anniversary of Disco Demolition which didn't mention racial politics at all, one can't help but wonder if a minority staff member might have questioned this

I'm not saying the Reader is some horribly bigoted paper, but when it comes to race it offers very little alternative to the mainstream dynamic, and this has an impact.

One would hope that after Obama's election, the Reader might try to remedy this just a bit. It has published frank articles about the racial divide, but when it comes to itself it got defensive and did more of the same, perhaps even less. Much like most of white America.

11 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by My Opinion on 10/26/2012 at 4:07 PM

Re: “The days of cocaine funk

This is a "live" performance from a German variety show, not the music video.

It's better than the music video, which aired on the first day of Mtv. That had Palmer in jeans and ugly white boots, bad chromakey effects and dumb literalism: In one shot, he sings, "Every time I pick up the paper" and picks up a paper.

This video's visual language isn't all that different from the Bats For Lashes bike video or most Flaming Lips concerts. Aside from the awful freeze frame effect, if this was an unknown artist it might be hard to determine the era and intent. Or is a suit and a cheap animal mask is always code for blow?

Like Kylie Minogue or Robbie Williams, Palmer was part of European pop, where covers and trend following are the norm and "authenticity" is ambiguous (even David Bowie came out of this).

Palmer worked with Gary Neumann on the Clues album, and it was one of is most successful albums. The title song was a hit and "Johnny and Mary" which persisted in various versions for years. Not quite a hidden nook.

At the time Palmer reflected the certain workmanlike banality of third tier pop As one of his obituaries put it: "Palmer had an encyclopedic knowledge of musical history. For his live performances he shunned gimmicks, and dressed, as always, in a suit...he occasionally looked a little uncomfortable, "like a managing director trying to join in the fun at the office party"...Palmer was a workaholic and a perfectionist; he refused to take days off when he was on the road (he once played 69 nights in a row) and said that while on tour he preferred playing scrabble and doing crosswords to rock'n'roll excesses."

While "cocaine funk" is an amusing generalization - and true in some cases - it can also be a heap of lazy assumptions. At least bother to read the notes on the video you posted, if not spend a few more seconds reading Wikipedia. It's certainly not the "expert knowledge" of your pal.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by My Opinion on 06/19/2011 at 12:01 PM

Re: “Introducing your new Chicago Reader

Looks good. Maybe you could reinstate movie times in the print edition? Even if not all showtimes are available at press time, many theaters plan far enough in advance for it to be useful. Just one page, tiny type, would be great.

Posted by My Opinion on 04/28/2011 at 11:56 AM

Re: “The Bad News About GOOD Fridays

While I also thin free music isn't free and might not profit artists as much as claimed, I still have trouble taking anything Nick "Do You Fake Girls Want To Kiss Me?" Sylvester writes seriously.

First, Nick is kind of doing a hipster version of "off my lawn" crankiness: "I like albums, not artists" and whining there's too much music coming out. Plus the idea that writing good tweets means one isn't paying attention to quality. Yes, and The Beatles are spending way too much time on their haircuts.

Second, the hilarious contradiction of someone bemoaning the impact of modern social media by a guy who has made his living blogging.

Posted by My Opinion on 09/28/2010 at 3:23 PM

Re: “The Bad News About GOOD Fridays

The costs of "free" music aren't exactly hidden - the technology needed to access and listen to this music.

When portable tape and CD players hit the level of market saturation mp3 plays have now, there were models available for under 20, even 10 bucks. Even the majors dropped prices lower on a regular. Meanwhile Apple continues to charge $49 and up for its devices, and issued a new version of the Nano with fewer features. It's helped in part by proprietary software/devices which dominate due to apparent or actual quality and ease of use.

Then there's the cost of a network connection, the connection device and even the electricity needed to run it all. There are a lot of big corporations which profit from our eagerness to acquire and hear this alllegedly free product. The content producer, however, must find other revenue streams.

Then there's the cost of access, be it by cell phone network, cable or whatever, the monthly fee for access does not add up to a small number for most people.

Posted by My Opinion on 09/28/2010 at 3:07 PM

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