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I OCTOBER 3, 2011

Chicago architecture opens up by Brian Dukerschein Assistant Arts & Culture Editor CHICAGOANS WILL soon be able to get a first-

hand look inside some of the city’s famous and obscure architectural treasures. The Chicago Architecture Foundation will be hosting its first “openhousechicago,” a celebration of Chicago neighborhoods, on Oct. 15–16. Modeled after similar events in London and other world capitals, OHC will give the public free access to 131 sites centered around five distinct neighborhoods: Downtown Chicago, Bronzeville, Garfield Park, Little Village and Rogers Park. Highlights include the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Emil Bach House, 7415 N. Sheridan Road; access to the two-acre rooftop garden at Lake Point Tower, 505 N. Lakeshore Drive; and a backstage tour of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph St. According to Justin Lyons, director of communications for CAF, visitors will be admitted to the participating sites on a first-come, first-serve basis. Visitors can proceed at their own pace or take part in the guided tours and lectures being offered at several locations. In order to help participants visit as many sites as possible, CAF will offer a free shuttle service in each of the five neighborhoods. Lyons said sites were selected to coincide with a theme of “community.” Teams of CAF docents partnered with community leaders in the five neighborhoods to identify many buildings that operate under most Chicago residents’ radar. “We wanted to go out into some of the diverse communities and open them up,”


The Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavillion, 201 E. Randolph St., has been the venue for hundreds of concerts, as well as a 2007 address from the Dalai Lama. On Oct. 15–16, visitors will be able to walk onstage and tour behind-the-scenes areas.

Lyons said. “From past experiences with [organizers] in New York and London, we learned 70 percent of the people who attend [these events] live in and around the city. We’re expecting many people to be subur-

We were looking for buildings that were important from either an architecture or design standpoint, or that they were significant contributors to communities from a cultural, economic or social perspective.” —Bastiaan Bouma


The Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave., was designed to fit inside the Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, one of two buildings to survive the Chicago Fire. The theater will be offering tours of its backstage areas for openhousechicago.

banites and Chicagoans who probably just an opportunity usually reserved for ticket haven’t gone into these different areas.” subscribers. John Morris, the architect who Bastiaan Bouma, OHC’s managing direc- designed the theater, will also be present to tor, said many factors played a role in answer questions. According to Bouma, the idea of opening choosing which sites to showcase. Organizers wanted to achieve a balance between significant architectural buildings to the new and historic buildings and highlight public originated in London 20 years ago, those featuring elements of sustainabil- and today approximately 15 global cities ity. Bouma said it was also important for hold such events. He said while city-wide the buildings to have something behind open houses in London and New York each the scenes that can be illuminated for drew 250,000 people this year, OHC organizthe public. ers are planning for 75,000 attendees. “Some sites are high on design, and Lyons said even though this event is new others are more vernacular,” Bouma said. to Chicago, building owners were eager “We were looking for buildings that were to participate despite the fact organizers important from either an architecture or were unable to tell them what to expect. design standpoint, “There’s been a or that they were tiny bit of a leap of significant contribufaith by many of the tors to communities buildings, but they from a cultural, eco[At] many of the sites, you’ll get really embraced the nomic or social perproject from day to see what you need to see in one,” Lyons said. “By spective.” a few minutes. We sometimes working with New Ac c o r d i n g to Bouma, several of refer to it as the architectural York and London and the locations in getting all their feedequivalent of speed dating.” Rogers Park are not back and support, it’s significant for their been a good process.” —Bastiaan Bouma architecture, but for Bouma said the “streetscape” OHC could have they create. He cited easily recruited the hundreds of two-story buildings along 250 buildings, but organizers thought it Devon Avenue that for decades have served wiser to limit the number of sites for the as a means of sustaining culture, and stood inaugural year. as a local economy for successive waves Bouma offered reassurance to those who of immigrants. Bouma said he feels the might already be intimidated at the prosbuildings are noteworthy for their sturdi- pect of having more than 100 places to visit. ness and adaptability as businesses come “[At] many of these sites, you’ll get to and go. see what you need to see in a few minThe adaptiveness of modern design utes,” he said. “We sometimes refer to to historic architecture can be seen at it as the architectural equivalent of Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave. speed dating.” The theatre company is housed inside the Openhousechicago will take place on Oct. 15 Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, which –16, with open hours determined by each locawas built in 1869 and was one of two public tion. For more information on the buildings buildings to survive the 1871 Chicago Fire. participating in openhousechicago and to plan According to Lookingglass’ marketing your itinerary, visit director Erik Schroeder, the theater will be offering tours of its backstage areas,



I OCTOBER 10, 2011

‘HEY, WHAT’S H-APP-ENING?’ New technology promises to help users connect with those around them by Brian Dukerschein Assistant Arts & Culture Editor FEELING LONELY? There’s an app for that.

The creators of Grindr, a popular locationbased mobile social network for gay and bisexual men, have launched Blendr, a version for all genders and sexual orientations. The free app, which is available for Apple mobile devices and Facebook, allows users to view profiles of those in close proximity and possibly make a connection based on mutual interests. “As we go about our daily lives, there’s dozens—if not hundreds—of people you don’t interact with, but you’re near them and you might have a lot in common,” said Joel Simkhai, founder and CEO of Blendr and Grindr LLCs. “With Blendr, you can now see who they are, learn a little about them, chat with them and hopefully meet them. The goal here is to bring people together to make the world a little friendlier.” Simkhai said most social networking sites work at keeping users connected to people they already know rather than enabling them to make new acquaintances. “It’s amazing to me that no one else has done this,” he said. “Nobody is making a concerted effort to help you connect with the people right around you.” Unlike Grindr, which allows men to

do little more than include a photo and a brief description of themselves or who they’re hoping to meet, Blendr allows users to choose from a list of interests and post these selections in their profile.The app also helps users decide where to go by allowing them to see who has checked in at restaurants, nightclubs and other venues. Simkhai said the changes were necessary in order to adapt the app for a broader range of users. “With Blendr, it was important for us to allow users to find people who share these interests and commonalities,” he said. “With the Grindr community, we saw it’s all based on really one commonality, and that’s being gay or bisexual.” According to Simkhai, Blendr comes with a variety of privacy protection features. While most social networking and dating sites require users to disclose personal information such as their name and email address,Simkhai said Blendr only asks for a date of birth to ensure everyone using it is over 18 years of age. Users can limit who can view their profile by restricting access to other users of a certain gender, sexual oriention or age range. It is also possible to adjust the accuracy with which the app maps your location. “Privacy was our [biggest] consideration for Blendr,” Simkhai said. “We understand privacy very well.” Courtesy BLENDR LLC Since Grindr’s launch Blendr helps users connect with other members based on shared in 2009, the app has interests and geographic proximity. The app’s privacy features allow users to determine who is able to view their profile and set the approximately three accuracy with which their location is displayed. million users in 192 coun-









tries, including more than 24,000 users in Chicago, according to Simkhai. He said an average of 600,000 members use the app for 90 minutes daily. Simkhai said although it was too early to reveal the number of people who have downloaded Blendr since it was released at the beginning of September, the company has seen rapid growth in metropolitan areas including Chicago, London and Sydney. It’s no secret that Grindr is sometimes used to arrange quick and convenient sexual encounters, despite having exten-

create informal connections, she questions their ability to form a serious partnership. “Because I look at relationships in the fullest sense of the term, I’m cautious about apps and using [them] to start a relationship, even if it is just for a hookup,” Krefman said. “There is no timing, there is no pacing—it’s immediate. It forecloses on any opportunity or chance to meet the person and see who you are dealing with.” Pamela Popielarz, an associate professor of sociology at University of Illinois at Chicago who specializes in gender studies and social networks, said she could see women being hesitant to use an app like Blendr because of the possible exposure to danger and violence. Popierlarz and Krefman both expressed uncertainties about the permanence of any connection based on a short list of shared interests.

What we’re doing is breaking the barriers. We’re breaking these invisible walls between people and allowing you to connect with them.” —Joel Simkhai

sive profile guidelines. Ever since the company announced it was working on a more all-inclusive version, there has been speculation as to how heterosexuals—especially women—would use the app. Karen Krefman, a licensed marriage and family therapist and senior vice president for Strategy and Advancement at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, said she believes most women are less apt to engage in casual sex than men. Unlike some men who are able to compartmentalize sex and emotion, she said, in her experience, many women are unable to separate the two. Humans are fundamentally social creatures who have a strong desire to connect with others, according to Krefman. She said while social networking media can help

“It may well lead to a lot of glancing contacts between people who are very different from one another,” Popielarz said. “On the other hand, you can’t get lasting contact without that first contact. It does open the door, but it doesn’t guarantee anything lasting is going to happen.” Simkhai said what he has accomplished with Grindr has revolutionized how gay men meet, and he’s providing the technology to do the same for the entire world. “What we’re doing is breaking the barriers,” he said. “We’re breaking these invisible walls between people and allowing you to connect with them. We’ve done it with Grindr, and we’ll do it with Blendr. We bring you a little closer to the people around you.”



I SEPTEMBER 12, 2011

CHICAGO BLOGGERS UNITE by Brian Dukerschein Assistant Arts & Culture Editor AS THE former national marketing director

for Gen Art, an organization that promotes emerging creative talent by partnering artists with corporate sponsors, Kelly Ryan O’Brien knows how beneficial it is for new artists to have a prominent voice. After launching her own blog in 2009, currently named “Idols & Egos,” she became aware of the growing importance of social media and how it was being utilized by public relations and marketing companies to promote their clients. O’Brien’s desire to create more opportunities for local bloggers led her to pioneer the Chicago Blogger Network, an organiza-

tion that partners lifestyle, pop culture and fashion blogs with marketing and PR firms. “Blogging is such a new industry, and I think, in Chicago, it’s a newer concept in terms of [how companies] can actually work with bloggers as an advertiser or sponsor to support and promote their brands,” O’Brien said. “I want the network to be a place which every blogger will feel they benefit from, and should be part of the community.” According to O’Brien, she will work with corporate clients to identify their goals and suggest creative ways they can interact with the CBN. For example, if a client is hoping to promote the launch of a new product or event, O’Brien will reach out to bloggers who focus on that particular seg-

If I can help legitimize and give bloggers a bigger platform, then I feel that’s great. It’s really about taking the talent in Chicago and showing it off.” –Kelly Ryan O’Brien

ment, and they will choose whether or not to participate. O’Brien said the purpose of the CBN is to increase a blog’s general readership. When the network’s website is launched, bloggers will have their own individual pages describing their blogs and allowing curious readers to follow them on various social media platforms. “The advantage [for bloggers] is getting a higher level of visibility,” O’Brien said. “Anything they’re doing is going to be promoted through the network, and if you’re a blogger, that’s what you want. The more visibility you have and the more followers you have, the more you know what you’re doing is worth it.” Bloggers in the CBN are arranged in a tiered system determined by their number of readers. O’Brien said she wants the network to be inclusive and give smaller blogs opportunities they might not get on their own. “I truly think the blogging world is significant, and the talent and dedication we have is really fantastic,” she said. “If I can help legitimize and give bloggers a bigger platform, then I feel that’s great. It’s really about taking the talent in Chicago and showing it off.” This organization of the blogosphere is happening around the country, according to Amber Porter Cox, vice president

of digital marketing for Golin Harris— a global PR firm headquartered at 111 E. Wacker Drive—and an adjunct faculty member at Columbia in the Marketing Communication department. She said these networks are essentially “unionizing” bloggers into segments, which makes outreach much easier. “There’s a lot of noise, and that becomes challenging because what do you listen to?” Cox said, and compared the current state of blogging with the early days of the Internet. “We’re going to see these networks grow, and how people use them will evolve. There may be one or there may be many players, but that’s how search engines have evolved as well.” O’Brien said approximately 50 bloggers have already joined the CBN, including Dana Weiss. On her blog, “Possessionista,” Weiss tracks down the outfits celebrities wear on television shows and movies and tells her readers where they can buy them. Weiss said when she started her blog, it was difficult to reach out to retailers and publicists for information. “Three years into it, I have 100,000 visitors a week, so now it’s an easy sell,” Weiss said. “It’s very hard for bloggers to convince somebody of your credibility. It’s not like walking in and saying, ‘I’m a journalist from the New York Times.’”

We’re going to see these networks grow, and how people use them will evolve. There may be one or there may be many players, but that’s how search engines have evolved as well.” –Amber Porter Cox

Weiss said she believes the CBN will help legitimize blogs in Chicago as long as bloggers act professionally. “The one thing bloggers have that traditional media doesn’t is this ability to use their own voice,” Weiss said. “In a blog, you have to have a definitive voice while still being respectful. But I think, above all, put your hand back in your pocket. Don’t walk around with your hand out asking for free stuff. That’s the fastest way to lose credibility.” Cox acknowledged that paying bloggers or sending gifts and freebies in exchange for coverage is a moral gray area. “It’s a fine line you walk in a PR firm because you truly want people to talk about it from an ethical standpoint,” she said. “We try not to pay any of our bloggers. We want a real, natural, honest response.” O’Brien said she hopes the CBN becomes a trusted resource for both bloggers and companies working with them, and she is optimistic about the future of the medium. “I don’t see blogging going away. I see it creating its own role within the traditional media world,” O’Brien said. “I always say that blogging is still the Wild West of media. There aren’t any rules about what you can do.” For more information on the Chicago Blogger Network, visit the organization’s Facebook page or Heidi Unkefer THE CHRONICLE



I NOVEMBER 28, 2011

or many years, getting atattoo meant going to a parlor, flipping through pages of standardized designs and letting some guy named T-Bone stick a needle in your arm. Now it involves collaborating with an artist who may just hold a degree, contributing to what some are calling the “art school generation” of tattoo professionals. Lee Leahy, owner of the Family Tattoo parlor at 2125 W. Belmont Ave., said many rising tattoo artists have strong backgrounds or degrees in fine art. In his shop alone, two artists have degrees in printmaking and illustration from the School of the Art Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design. Together with his staff, Leahy, 33, organized an art show highlighting the increasing role and influence of fine art in tattooing featuring the work of more than 40 tattoo artists from Chicago and around the country. According to Leahy, the purpose of the show—which includes paintings, sculptures and mixed media—

art at the Maryland Institute College of Art and the University of Louisville, she moved to Chicago to finish her degree at SAIC. When she’s not tattooing at Metamorph Studios, 1456 N. Milwaukee Ave., Moody continues to paint and sculpt. Although clay is her preferred medium, she also learned metal foundry at SAIC. Drawing on her familiarity with traditional Japanese tattoo subject matter, she cast three Hannya masks used to represent the demon women of Japanese “noh” theatre. In keeping with the tradition of the masks being different colors to represent three recurring characters, Moody cast her masks in aluminum, bronze and iron—a process she said mirrored the theme of her work. “Iron is a beast of a material to pour,” Moody laughed. “If pouring bronze and aluminum is like a kitten, then pouring iron is like a demon hellcat.” Moody said she continues to draw on her schooling in fine art for her paintings and tattoos, and cites Lucian Freud and John Singer Sargent as two of her key inspirations. “I’ve had a very strict fine art back-


Artist: Cassandra Koch Tattoo Factory

is to bring together artists whose work outside the realm of tattooing is not often recognized. “A lot of the younger guys [in the industry] are coming in from art schools all over the country,” Leahy said. “Artists my age or a little older never had the money to go to school. But for the younger guys, their parents don’t think it’s so crazy to be a tattooer anymore.” Caroline Moody, 28, has been tattooing for nearly four years. An artist from an early age, she said she first started visiting tattoo shops when she was 18 and was impressed by how the tattoo artists were able to practice and use their art skills on a daily basis. She found an apprenticeship at a parlor in her native Louisville, Ky., and ever since has been tattooing in order to pay for art school. After studying fine

ground,” she said. “I’ve studied it, and it’s all in my head. I just try to remember what’s beautiful about everything those [artists] did and try to make it a bit more modern, or at least apply it to my life.” An art education has numerous advantages for a tattoo artist, including versatility and development of an individual style, said veteran tattoo artist Scott Fricke, 44. Fricke, who has worked in the industry for more than 18 years, said more young artists are looking at tattooing as a legitimate profession. “When I started out, there were less people from a fine arts background,” Fricke said. “It seems that in more recent years, with the growing popularity of tattooing, art students look at us and think, ‘Hey, these people are making artwork every day, and they’re getting paid for it.’

Artist: Rich Marafiot Family Tattoo

Artist: Rich Marafiot Family Tattoo


They look at it as a more viable option for what they can do as a career and be a successful artist.” Like Moody, Fricke said he was interested in tattoos and art from an early age.As a child, he imagined himself having tattoos and was even sent home from school for applying decals to his face. After taking numerous art courses in high school, he went on to study printmaking and painting at SAIC. It was there that a fellow stu-


mation at Columbia in 2009, moved back to his native Indianapolis in June to be a full-time tattoo artist. He said that tattooing is an ideal way for young artists to have a steady job and get paid for developing their own talent. “Custom tattooing really enables you to put your own twist on everything that comes through the door,” McQueen said. “It’s pretty awesome to be able to do that on a daily basis. But at the same students look at us and think, ‘Hey, these people are making artwork every day, and they’re getting paid for it.” –Scott Fricke

Design by: JONATHAN ALLEN Photography by Tiela Halpin

dent gave him his first tattoo, and by the time, tattooing is at a level now where time he was 25, Fricke knew he wanted to it’s so competitive and so advanced that be a professional. if you’re not on top of your game all the In addition to his work at Speakeasy time, if you’re not making art and pushing Custom Tattoo, 1935 1/2 W. North Ave., yourself, you’re going to plateau and get Fricke still does acrylic paintings and has swallowed up.” recently branched out to murals. A self-described heavy metal music fan, Fricke said the dark imagery of his paintings is heavily inspired by album art. He said he has had reasonable success with his art, although he thinks many galleries are not interested in his aesthetic. “For me, it’s always been about creating [a painting] rather than trying to sell it,” he said. “If it were about selling paintings, I would quit my tattoo job and concentrate solely on that, but I like it being my escape from what I do daily.” Fricke said the vast majority of his tattoos are custom designs that can take up to 10 hours to sketch, and like any Artist: Caroline Moody piece of commissioned Metamorph Studiost art, creative differences between a tattoo artist and a client sometimes arise. Despite the increasing competition, “It’s really about getting into the head Fricke said he can’t imagine any other of the person I’m about to tattoo,” Fricke life for himself. said. “Sometimes I have to be honest with “I watched people in my family them and say, ‘Maybe I’m not the person break their backs doing manual labor,” for this.’ Generally, I don’t want to turn Fricke said. “I did a fair share of that

I just try to remember what’s beautiful about everything those[artists] did and try to make it a bit more modern, or at least apply it to my life.” –Caroline Moody

Artist: Paul Nemchausky Native Rituals

away business, but I also don’t want my name attached to something that is not going to [accurately] represent what I do.” Creating a signature style is crucial for any tattoo artist, but especially for those just starting out, said Ben McQueen, 24. McQueen, who studied fine art and ani-

myself, and I feel pretty fortunate to be able to make my living with my artwork. I’m not rich by any stretch, but I’m a lot happier than I would be doing anything else.”



I NOVEMBER 7, 2011


hicago’s many museum and cultural artifacts, al to view numerous works rine and—for the slightly more spanking bench. The Leather Archives & Museu the only museum in the United S ture, sadomasochism and other Now celebrating its 20th anniver source for the leather communit glimpse into a world that for m mainstream society. According to Rick Storer, LAM’s um was founded in 1991 by Tony Renslow, a prominent figure in founder of the popular Internation Gold Coast, the city’s first leathe “Etienne” Orejudos, was an artis rals that moved with the bar to After Orejudos died from AIDS-re Renslow searched for an organiz paintings. When he was unsucces front gallery in Uptown, and the c

I’m waiting where you h inatrix livin Then I’ll kn over, and w rebels.”

Ting Shen THE CHRONICLE Above: The museum’s collection includes hundreds of buttons from leather clubs around the country and a metal head cage, which has been digitally altered here. Left: One of Dom “Etienne” Orejudos’ paintings, which is on display in the museum auditorium that bears his name.

The LAM moved to its current 1 1999 to accommodate its growin ed by members of the leather an the building may have changed, S organization remains the same. “Our mission is to collect and where this community’s history a a building that is owned by the lea “Our first goal is to keep it safe. T is a little more important—is to pr Storer said the LAM is actually building houses a library with mo magazines, 100 journals and 5,00 kink. The museum’s collection o



NOVEMBER 7, 2011





sitive festival showcasing sex-po ineKink, a New York-based s, film e aries, shorts and featur and kink-friendly document o es & Museum for the Chicag will be at the Leather Archiv v. 18–19. leg of its national tour on No selected zer Lisa Vandever, the films According to CineKink organi March’s those screened during last for Chicago were culled from ion of assortment includes a select six-day festival. This year’s “Kink y: jur film s ined by CineKink’ award-winning shorts determ tional Mr. rna Inte about the histor y of the Crusaders,” a documentary ards for Aw ce tro,” which won the Audien Leather contest, and “Indie ly. t Narrative Feature, respective Best Documentary and Bes festival the to ted mit ber of films sub Vandever said while the num years ht eig d since CineKink was founde has only increased slightly . rease in their overall quality ago, she has seen a large inc [direcawareness of the festival and “I think there is more of an d. “I do ed specifically for it,” she sai tors] are creating films target are ple peo movement out there, and think there is a sex-positive learn more about it.” hungry to talk about sex and ing a full CineKink film festival, includ For more information on the . rmation, visit program listing and ticket info



ms contain countless historic llowing residents and visitors of art, a World War II submae daring—a custom-made red

um, 6418 N. Greenview Ave., is States devoted to leather culr alternative sexual practices. rsary, the LAM serves as a rety and gives visitors a unique many years was hidden from

s executive director, the musey DeBlase and Chuck Renslow. Chicago’s leather scene and nal Mr. Leather contest, opened er bar, in 1958. His lover, Dom st who painted large erotic mueach of its various locations. elated complications in 1991, zation that would display the ssful, he opened his own storeconcept for the LAM was born.

–Michael S.

10,000-square-foot location in ng collection of artifacts donatnd S&M community. Although Storer said the purpose of the

d preserve; to provide a place and culture can be preserved in ather community,” Storer said. The second goal—which I think rovide access to it.” y three institutions in one. The ore than 12,000 books, 13,000 00 films devoted to leather and of more than 8,000 contempo-

Ting Shen THE CHRONICLE The Leather Archives & Museum’s dungeon exhibit contains a red spanking bench originally commissioned in 1997 for a private BDSM party in Chicago.

rary and historic artworks and artifacts highlights aspects of leather and S&M culture, such as jackets, vests, patches and erotic toys. The archival collection contains unpublished records, letters and other documents used by scholars to do analysis on the leather community. According to Storer, LAM uses leather as an umbrella term for many sexual subcultures and fetishes, including rubber, furries (individuals who dress up as stuffed animals) and practitioners of bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism. Although leather culture is predominantly gay-oriented, Storer said the LAM strives to be inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations. Last year, the museum launched the Women’s Leather History Project to analyze and document women’s involvement in the leather community. Alex Warner, the project’s historian and creator of the museum’s “A Room of Her Own” exhibit, said female fetishists have a specific and unique history that grew out of gay leather clubs of the ’60s and ’70s. While many women’s groups during that time declared S&M to be anti-feminist, leather activists argued that their sexual practices were not incompatible of feminism. Documenting the history of the leather community is one of


g for the sitcom have the domng next door. now it’s really we’re no longer

the LAM’s primary objectives, according to Storer, and to date the museum has recorded the personal histories of approximately 100 leather enthusiasts around the country. “When you’re talking about sex, you’re talking about something very intimate [that] people hold as private,” he said. “There are a lot of facets of leather and BDSM sexuality for which there is no hard documentary evidence. We rely on oral histories to fill in those gaps, [and] to provide insight into places where photography and other documentary methods aren’t permitted.” Storer explained that the leather subculture developed when a large number of gay veterans returned from World War II and searched for a community where they could continue to socialize. They eventually adopted the traditions and practices of motorcycle clubs, including leather jackets, fraternal patches commemorating years of membership and achievements, and a hyper-masculine brotherhood. Leather clubs spread throughout the country, including several in Chicago. Michael S., 45, is the current president of the Chicago Leather Club, a traditional back patch organization that was started in 2001. According to Michael, the club has five full members who have gone through the pledging process and earned their patches, and has more than 20 associate members. He described the CLC’s mission as one of service to the community, education and outreach, unlike social sexual groups such as the Chicago Hellfire Club. CLC members hold monthly meetings, organize “munches,” or informal social gatherings often held at restaurants and participate in fundraising for leather organizations. Michael, who identifies himself as a leatherman, said he first learned of the BDSM and leather communities in the early ’90s through the Internet. His wife at the time did not share his growing interest in S&M, and the two soon divorced. He is now remarried and has a master/slave relationship with his current wife, Angie, who is also a CLC officer. Despite the fact that he is the president of the CLC, Michael said he is still uncomfortable being completely open about his sexual tastes and lifestyle. He is not “out” to coworkers, and most of his friends are within the leather and S&M community. Both Michael and Storer said they believe that mainstream society has become more tolerant and open to the leather lifestyle. Michael, however, commented that many long-term members of the community are upset regarding how many of the culture’s traditions, such as back patches, are being lost and that its meaning is becoming diluted. “It’s changing,” Michael said. “I’m waiting for the sitcom where you have the dominatrix living next door. Then I’ll know it’s really over, and we’re no longer rebels.” For more information on the Leather Archives & Museum, including gallery hours and admission rates, visit





I SEPTEMBER 26, 2011


Written b Photogr Designs

In Motion How a historic neighborhood is using art to pull itself back from the edge


t began with a cookbook. In January 2009, Rae Ann Cercle, an Edgewater real estate manager who sat on the boards of the neighborhood’s community council and Chamber of Commerce, was looking for a way to promote a recipe book written by the two organizations. After noticing several boarded-up and darkened storefronts, she approached one of the building owners about displaying the cookbook in the window. He agreed, and Cercle created a window display for the book with work from local artists. “The area looked so bad and so dark,” Cercle said. “It reminded me of people with their teeth out. There were these big holes, so to put in art and light the

windows, it just looked great.” Cercle posted a flier asking for additional art. Her phone began ringing, and she realized there were numerous artists in the neighborhood anxious to display their work. She began asking more building owners to allow her to create window displays for local artists in their vacated storefronts, and Edgewater Artists in Motion was born. Pop-up art galleries are nothing new. Since the start of the recession, artists and organizations around the country have been using vacant storefronts to display artwork and create temporary galleries. EAIM, however, has grown into a full-fledged movement, partnering with more than 100 artists and countless volunteers to organize street fairs, neighborhood art walks and a pop-up gallery, all with the goal of using art as a tool to improve the community. “The idea behind Artists in Motion is to really find a synergy between celebrating artists and art here in the neighborhood, while also encouraging people to spend more time out in the commercial areas to support the businesses,” said Jay Delaney, president and CEO of the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce. “Not only does it give people a reason to be out to areas they might not otherwise visit, but it also adds so much character to the neighborhood.” It was the desire to help the community that allowed EAIM to grow as quickly as it did, according to Cercle. By the end of 2009, she

and a group of volunteers had more than 50 artists displayed in 28 windows throughout the neighborhood, including several at the Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Thorndale and Granville stops of the Red Line. Cercle said having the windows lit up next to the train stations received a very positive response from the entire community and made a big difference in public safety. One of the building owners Cercle reached out to was Bill Platt, president and principal of the real estate development firm Access Group Chicago.The company had just finished construction on a new condo building at 1134 W. Granville Ave. and was having trouble finding tenants to fill its ground floor retail spaces. Platt said it was easy to see the benefits of the program. “Any aesthetically pleasing space is a bonus, just in terms of having a positive effect on pedestrians and traffic passing by instead of just looking at raw, vacant retail space,” Platt said. “Art was bringing a little life to a place that hadn’t had much activity.” He said he believes having art in the windows made the retail spaces easier to rent because it showed potential businesses the area has an active and supportive community. Artists in Motion first stepped out of the windows and onto the street in July 2010 when it hosted “Galeries de Granville,” a street fair featuring local artists, dancers and musical performers. According to Cercle, the festival was a “thank you” to the artists for allowing EAIM to display their work, which is not explicitly for sale while in the windows.


by Brian Dukerschein raphs by Sara Mays s by Heidi Unkefer EAIM and the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce will be holding their second EDGEArt Art Walk on Oct. 13, from 6 – 9 p.m. The event will start with free receptions at That Little Mexican Cafe, 1055 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., and Tango Che dance studio, 5602 N. Ridge Ave. At each location, participants can pick up fliers listing the venues showcasing artwork and offering refreshments and discounts. Many artists will be on hand to discuss their work. For more information on the EDGEArt Art Walk, including a list of participating businesses and artists, visit Edgewater. org/EdgeArt.

EAIM’s interest in helping both the community and local artists was met with enthusiasm by Alderman Harry Osterman (48th Ward) after his February 2011 election, according to Cercle. She said Osterman was specifically concerned about safety in the neighborhood around Thorndale Avenue following a double homicide on Feb. 27 that left one police officer wounded by gunfire. EAIM, which already had a presence in the area with its series of painting and photography workshops led by local artists, partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to bring the Edgewater Arts Festival to Thorndale Avenue in an effort to revitalize the street. EAIM took its commitment one step further and launched “Le Gallery Thorndale,” a pop-up art gallery in a former deli at 1106 W. Thorndale Ave. sponsored by the Chamber and Osterman. According to Jessica Lucas, the gallery’s art director, EAIM had two weeks to put together a show in a building that had been vacant for two years. After applying many gallons of paint and reaching out to new talent, Lucas said the space has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood. “I think the community has been very happy to have us here,” she said. “Everyone who stops in has been thrilled to have the space occupied, to have something here. We’re adding something to the street. There were [negative] things happening on the sidewalk that

we’re preventing with our presence.” As is the nature of a popup, the Thorndale gallery will close on Sept. 30, although Cercle said EAIM will retain use of the space for artists and the community until the building is leased. Lucas said the 40 artists exhibiting at the gallery have benefited along with the community. “Things have changed,” Lucas said. “A lot of organizations have gone under, and a lot of galleries have closed. - Jay Delaney Having an organization like this has done tremendous things for the artists. There’s this physical support, but also the general support of people discovering [what’s] going on in their neighborhood.” Edgewater resident Courtney Gray discovered EAIM in October 2010 after spotting art in windows around the neighborhood. Gray, a photographer who had never publicly displayed her work, soon had 17 photographs on display on Granville Avenue. She said the decision had a swift and positive impact on her career. “I got some very positive reactions, and it snowballed from there,” Gray said. “I launched my own website and was an artist at the Edgewater Arts Festival. It’s definitely helped me get more opportunities now that people can see what my photography is. It’s been a great outlet to get my work out there.” Gray said she thinks EAIM’s efforts have created a stronger community

Certainly, we’d always like to see more of the empty spaces filled up, but on the whole, I think we’re doing really well.”

of artists in Edgewater and cited the many new businesses in the area as a sign the organization is having an impact. Delaney agreed. “I think we’re doing really well here in Edgewater when you look through the lens of knowing what the overall economy is like,” Delaney said. “Certainly, we’d always like to see more of the empty spaces filled up, but on the whole, I think we’re doing really well. I think it’s been a number of factors, but I do think Edgewater Artists in Motion is certainly one of them.” According to Cercle, many of the storefronts that once displayed art, including Platt’s on Granville Avenue, have been leased by new businesses. Although she is proud of everything the organization and its volunteers have accomplished, she said she wants to refocus on EAIM’s original purpose—beautifying the neighborhood with art in the windows. High on her list is reclaiming the storefronts outside the Bryn Mawr station, which have been papered over since a remodel earlier this year. “I’m really looking for the bigger picture, and that’s where we’re going now,” Cercle said. “Our mission is to help the businesses, which helps the residents and helps everyone here.”




FEBRUARY 13, 2012

L E T ’ S G E T K I N K Y. . . Can you handle it?

by Brian Dukerschein Copy Editor


here’s nothing wrong with exploring your kinky side, but it’s important to do so safely. If done improperly, many sex acts can have serious and long-term medical consequences. To find information on six sexual practices, The Chronicle spoke to William Bradley, psychotherapist and conductor of Columbia’s Human Sexuality Seminar and perused the stories on, a website where people around the world share their life experiences. We also consulted with Dr. Robert Noven, an internist at Michigan Avenue Immediate Care, 180 N. Michigan Ave., who discussed the medical risks associated with each sex act and precautions that can be taken to make them safer.

Sounds play THIS PRACTICE involves the insertion of a sound, a medical device used to treat urological ailments, into the penis to increase sexual stimulation. “Sounds have been around since the ancient Egyptians,” says Bradley. “They were used to treat blocked urethras and swollen prostates, so I have my suspicion that some people got turned on by that.”

Experience Project User: “I love the feeling of sounds and catheters going slowly into my penis. Especially love a foley going into my bladder and that special feeling as it slides past the prostate and makes bladder entry. Much fun to enjoy.”

Dr. Noven: The urethra is a fragile structure, and inserting objects into it repeatedly increases the likelihood of bacterial infection and developing urethritis, an inflammation of the urethra, says Noven. “My suggestion would be to use sterile techniques and be sure to use an adequate size catheter, and that you do adequate lubrication so you don’t traumatize the area,” he says.



FISTING IS the insertion of a hand or forearm into the rectum or vagina. According to Bradley, there are references to fisting dating back to ancient Greece, and he has seen photographic evidence of it in pornography from the 1930s. Although fisting is popularly associated with gay sexual culture, Bradley says that’s not always the case. “I’ve discovered in the last 10 years of working with couples in talking about sexual issues or sexual problems, gay and straight, a number of straight couples where wives or girlfriends have been working on anal pleasure and even fist-


Electronic stimulation LIKE SOUNDS play, e-stim began as a medical technique and eventually was used as a source of sexual stimulation, according to Bradley. Today, people often use TENS units, low-voltage medical devices used to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes, and violet wands, high-voltage devices more commonly used in BDSM. Some individuals have reportedly used household electronic devices, such as radios and kitchen appliances, to give themselves electric shocks.

Experience Project User: “The feeling of e-stim is so difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it … Except to say it’s completely

Breath Play amazing and I can’t get enough.”

Dr. Noven: Noven says a TENS unit is unlikely to carry enough voltage to cause any damage when used properly, but he cautions against using any nonmedical devices. “If you jerry-rig some device so you can get electrical stimulation to [an erogenous zone], you’re potentially going to increase your risk for electrical shock, which could create secondand third-degree burns and could create neurological deficits,” says Noven.

ASPHYXIAPHILIA IS the practice of cutting off the supply of oxygen to the brain to create a light-headed state called hypoxia. Enthusiasts use plastic bags, simulate hanging, wear specially designed hoods, or physically choke their partner. “It’s clearly a power issue,” says Bradley. “I’ve run into it with a few straight couples, but most of the breath play I’ve seen has been with gay men.”

Experience Project User: “My sessions can last even 3 hours. A good part is dedicated to relaxation. Before and after climax. The first sensation I feel when I am bagged is [relaxation], excitement, [happiness]. Every bad [thing] is wiped from my mind.”

Dr. Noven

“There really is no safe way to become hypoxic for a period of time,” Noven says. “I don’t see any safe way to do this where you don’t increase the risk for brain damage, arrhythmia or cardiac arrest.”

ing their boyfriends,” he says. “It’s certainly not limited to same-sex couples.”

Experience Project User: “A moment later, her hand was fully inside me, wrist-deep. When she moved her fingers, it was the most intense, strange, erotic experience I’d ever had. I never wanted it to end.”

Dr. Noven: Noven describes fisting as a dangerous activity that carries the risk of potentially damaging the rectum and sphincter. Fisting can also cause microtrauma to the rectum, leaving both parties at a higher risk of transmitting HIV and sexually transmitted infections if it is followed by unprotected sex. “I’m not sure if [fisting] can ever be done completely safely,” says Noven. “But if you’re really going to do it, lubricate properly and work towards it. Use some device that can dilate the rectum a little bit until you can actually get to the point where you can possibly do it safely just at the rectal area.”

Watersports ACCORDING TO Bradley, urine has been used throughout history for health care, beauty and dental care, so he is not surprised that it is also used erotically. “As far as the sexual aspect of it, you’re going to find some people peeing on each other, in each other, urine enemas, drinking it,” says Bradley. “While it was probably talked about more in the gay community, I’ve certainly—over the last four years—dealt with plenty of straight couples where this was part and parcel of their sexual behavior.”

Experience Project User: “It is a truly enjoyable experience for me also to open my mouth wide for someone to empty their bladder into … I love watching it leave him or her and flowing into my mouth. I love the taste, I love to swallow it. It is an overall awesome thing to be a toilet.”

Dr. Noven:

Blood play “THE BUSINESS with blood play is watching somebody bleed or using blood as a paint or sometimes sucking it, playing vampires and so on,” says Bradley. “I find it horrifying because it’s such an easy way to transmit hepatitis or HIV. I think it’s a behavior that’s really inappropriate. It’s one of the very few I’d be willing to say, ‘Uh uh, don’t do it.’”

Experience Project User: “Blood: the mere thought of it excites me … I enjoy the taste and smell of it. I have never used it in a sexual encounter, but it is def. a sexual stimulant for me. My partner is not into blood play (although I wish that he was into it).”

“[Safety] depends on a couple things,” says Noven. “If you’re talking about urinating on someone’s body, potentially that’s pretty low risk. If you’re talking about doing it in people’s mucosal membranes, like their eyes or their mouth, you could potentially increase some transmission [of STIs].” He adds that the risk of transmitting HIV through urine is low, but not impossible, and that anyone with active skin lesions or cuts should avoid the practice.

Dr. Noven:

“From a purely medical perspective, you’re talking about one of the potentially highest-risk [activities],” says Noven. “In terms of hepatitis, in terms of HIV, it’s really stupid.”



I OCTOBER 3, 2011

This old warehouse Bridgeport Art Center expands to accommodate growing community of artists by Brian Dukerschein Assistant Arts & Culture Editor A MASSIVE 100-year-old former warehouse

in the Bridgeport neighborhood is getting a new lease on life because of its growing role as a haven where local artists can work, collaborate and—eventually—live. The building, located at 1200 W. 35th St., recently got approval from the City Council to construct 108 live/work rental units, a special zoning category that allows artists to use up to half of their residence to produce, display and sell art. Since purchasing the 500,000-squarefoot building, which formerly housed the Spiegel catalog company warehouse, in 1999, owner Paul Levy has been steadily converting old storage and manufacturing space for artistic use. The portion of the building housing the Bridgeport Art Center is composed of artists’ studios, an 18,000-square-foot event space and a gallery. Levy said the idea to rezone the building came from the artists themselves.After being asked by several artists if they could live in their studios, Levy and his team submitted a proposal with encouragement from the community. “We had 20 or 30 letters of neighborhood support,” Levy said. “The Chamber of Commerce supported us. Some even wrote

letters to the chairman of the zoning commission. There was, literally, not one bit of opposition.” Levy said he wants to keep the residences as affordable as possible, and he’s still in the early stages of determining what the project will cost. One proposed plan has approximately 27 units per floor, with each 1,000-square-foot residence containing a work area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Two additional projects are also in the works at the BAC. First is the construction of a dedicated space for fashion designers that will include individual studios and a common work area, which Levy hopes to have completed within four months. He said he is also in the early stages of planning a similar space for ceramic artists. The growth of the BAC is indicative of the community becoming a destination for artists, according to Levy. He said in the last decade, many artists have been forced out of the Pilsen community and moved farther south because of the rising cost of rent. Luis DeLa Torre was the first artist to move into what was to become the BAC 11 years ago. Having lived in the community most of his life, he said many residents still lack an appreciation for the arts, although he’s seen many economic improvements to the neighborhood. “I think the South Side has always been a very hardworking [area],” DeLa

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Luis DeLa Torre stands inside his studio at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St. DeLa Torre, who creates murals, paintings and mosaics, was the first artist to move into one of the studios 11 years ago.

Torre said. “I think since we don’t have the luxury of having the time to appreciate art and we’re not directed toward it, we lose appreciation for the finer aspects of our culture. I think that’s one of the major blocks in our community.” DeLa Torre brought in many of the artists who initially occupied the studios. As word spread and more studios became filled, the artists created their own organization three years ago, Artists of EastBank. Today, the group includes painters, sculptors, metalworkers and woodworkers. “There are so many people here [from] so many different backgrounds,” said Pam Hamilton, a painter who rents a studio and also serves as gallery director for AOE. “That’s one of the reasons I love this place. There’s so much diversity here. I think I

learn something different from everybody.” DeLa Torre said he appreciates the flexibility and freedom AOE gives its members, and the vibrant artistic community around him, but he also has adequate space to delve into his own projects. “Being isolated is like working in a vacuum,” DeLa Torre said. “When you start having a community of artists [and] when you start talking to people, you’re affected by everyone else’s approach to their own work. It helps you work differently. I’ve been very grateful for that.” For more information on the Bridgeport Art Center, including its upcoming open studio night and other Chicago Artists Month events, visit



I SEPTEMBER 12, 2011

Polishing the silver screen by Brian Dukerschein Assistant Arts & Culture Editor CHICAGO CINEPHILES have the rare opportu-

nity to view 14 classic films nearly lost to history with the return of the University of California at Los Angeles’ Festival of Preservation at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St. The festival showcases the work of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s preservation and restoration program, which has been restoring worn and damaged films since 1977. The archive launched the biannual Festival of Preservation in 1988 in order to screen its films for the public.The festival began touring the U.S. in 2009 and will make stops in eight cities across North America this year. Films being screened in Chicago include Alan Schneider’s 1961 television adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” Douglas Sirk’s film noir “Sleep, My Love” and two silent Rex Ingram pictures featuring live musical accompaniment. According to Marty Rubin, associate director of programming for the Gene Siskel Film Center, each venue is allowed to choose which films it will show from a list provided by UCLA. He said his selection for Chicago was based on the quality, rarity and historical importance of each film. Historical importance is just one of the factors in determining which films undergo restoration, said Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the Film & Television Archive. The physical quality of the film stock,

requests from donors and academicians, and curatorial discretion all play a role in deciding if a film will be restored. Experts in the film industry believe nearly 90 percent of all silent films and 50 percent of sound films produced prior to 1950 have been lost. This is because studios were not concerned about protecting the films of the past until recently, according to Zoran Samardzija, assistant professor of Cinema Studies at Columbia. “The thing to remember is—especially in the silent days [of film production] and even up through the modern sound era—studios weren’t too serious about archiving their films. There are all kinds of crazy horror stories,” Samardzija said, and cited the case of Orson Welles’ second film, “The Magnificent Ambersons,” in which footage left on the editing room floor was burned. According to Horak, another reason for the disappearance of classic films is the fragility of the material they were printed on. He said most films made before 1950 were shot on nitrate-based film stock that degrades easily if not kept in proper environmental conditions. A large part of the restoration process is transferring the nitrate prints to a polyester film stock that can last up to 1,000 years if stored properly, he said. Horak said the archive’s goal is to restore a damaged or deteriorated print to its original condition without changing the filmmaker’s vision. “We’re trying to be historically accurate, to preserve the historical object as much as


A still from the film “Wanda,” screening on Sept. 24 and 28. The film cost $125,000 to restore.

possible,” Horak said. “We’re doing better work simply because we have better film stocks. Having said that, you don’t want to over-restore to the point that the technology completely changes [the film].” The archive already holds more than 220,000 titles, second to the Library of Congress, but Horak said it also owns more than 90 million feet of nitrate film that still need to be transferred to polyester stock. As a nonprofit organization, the archive is reliant upon donations from public and private sponsors. Preservation is an expensive process. “Wanda,” one of the films playing in Chicago, cost $125,000 to restore, Horak said. Although many of the films, directors and actors spotlighted at the festival might

only be recognizable to the most scholarly cinema lovers, Samardzija said the films’ importance transcends commercial appeal. “Preservation of film history is also an archive of history at large,” Samardzija said. “We can’t just let history be understood by marketing. These films, whether people know them artistically or not, are going to be of great sociological and historical value.” The Festival of Preservation runs through Oct. 5 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St. For a complete list of films and showtimes, visit Tickets are $11 for general admission and $7 for students with valid ID.



I SEPTEMBER 19, 2011

‘Knot’ your average art Pilsen gallery to showcase wooden sculptures from new and well-known artists by Brian Dukerschein Assistant Arts & Culture Editor ALTHOUGH WOOD is one of nature’s most

beautiful and versatile materials, in art it is more likely to be cast in the supporting role of a gilded frame than an object of creative expression. The Chicago Urban Arts Society, a nonprofit art gallery and creative center located at 2229 S. Halsted St., hopes to change that perception with the opening of “Wood Worked,” an exhibition featuring wooden sculptures from local artists. “Wood is this material we feel artists are using in very intriguing ways, specifically in Chicago,” said Kevin Wilson, co-curator of the exhibit. “Chicago is a DIY [do-ityourself] city, which relates to the bluecollar mentality I feel a lot of artists in the Midwest have.” The gallery will feature approximately 30 freestanding and hanging sculptural works from both new and veteran Chicago artists. While pieces vary widely in size and cost, Wilson said there will be artwork accessibly priced for the general public. “One of the goals of the Chicago Urban Arts Society is to have group shows that are very diversified and mingle younger and more established artists,” Wilson said. “It’s a mix of recent graduates—people fresh from school—and artists like Steve Reber, who has a show at the Chicago Cultural

Center, [78 E. Washington St.].” Wilson said the gallery is excited to be displaying the work of Juan Angel Chavez, a School of the Art Institute of Chicago faculty member who is internationally renowned for his public art and massive sculptures. According to Wilson, the exhibit will feature rarely-seen dioramas of Chavez’s large-scale pieces. Despite featuring work from diverse artists, Wilson said he and fellow curator Peter Kepha have found common themes in the sculptures. “A lot of what we’re noticing is this connection to memory and the home,” Wilson said. “[Wood] is a material we’re more or less surrounded by. Most homes, especially in the Midwest, are built out of this material.A lot of the pieces artists are bringing in have connections to these spaces.” The memory of what “home” used to mean served as the inspiration for featured artist Montgomery Kim’s “Vague Recollections,” a sculptural house that explores the relationship between traditional Korean and modern American cultures. According to Kim, Korean homes were craft-oriented, and the artistry with which they were built dictated a person’s place in the social hierarchy prior to the 1970s. By replicating a traditional Korean home in Western materials, Kim said he is making a statement about cultural displacement and mass production. “It’s a kind of ironic situation where tradition is being replicated by novel means,” Kim said when describing his piece. “Instead of using rice paper for the win-

dows, I used drywall. For the foundations and walls, I used pine studs and the cheapest plywood I could find—really garbage materials for something that traditionally was much more sacred and important.” Mass production is the idea behind Matthew Hoffman’s “ITSOK” project, which will have pieces featured at the exhibition. Since 2007, the artist has been hand-cutting wooden signs bearing a simple message: “Its ok.” To date, he has made more than 5,000 with a goal of producing 1 million in his lifetime. Hoffman said the idea for the project came to him when he observed an increasing number of artists and commercial manufacturers releasing limited edition products. He thought it would be amusing

to come out with a mass-produced edition in response. He admitted the project is not taking off as quickly as he had originally hoped. He is involved in several other creative projects, and said it is difficult to find the time to individually cut each sign with a scroll saw. The artist said he has a plan for making sure “ITSOK” gets completed. “I have a 3-year-old son who doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll carry on [the project] if I can’t,” Hoffman said. “Wood Worked” runs from Sept. 23–Oct. 22 at the Chicago Urban Arts Society, 2229 S. Halsted St. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday 6 – 9 p.m. and Saturday 1 – 6 p.m.


Montgomery Kim’s work explores the relationship between practicality and luxury and how cultures adapt to globalization.

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Have a wacky, tacky Christmas by Brian Dukerschein Assistant Arts & Culture Editor MAYBE YOUR grandmother has been on to

something all along. The tacky Christmas sweater, once a holiday punch line as familiar as fruitcake, has become an ironic Yuletide staple fostered by an increasing number of themed parties and specialty retailers servicing the demand for this oft-maligned garment. “I think that around the holidays, people are just looking to have a good time,” said Clarissa Trujillo, owner of the Chicagobased retail website, “Why not look goofy in the process?” Trujillo, who works in public relations, founded her online business in 2008 after she and her husband had difficulty finding an adequately ugly sweater for his company’s Christmas party. “It just dawned on me that there might be an untapped market for ugly sweaters online,” Trujillo said. “We began by doing our own scouring of thrift stores and also taking plenty of donations from aunts, grandmas and friends. Now, luckily, we’ve found some wholesale distributors, which definitely helps save time and allows us to have a larger quantity of [merchandise].” Trujillo said her website sold approximately 200 sweaters in its first year of operation and more than 1,000 last year. This season, she hopes to sell more than 2,000 pieces, including sweaters, cardigans and vests priced from $14–$38. Most people are seeking out sweaters festooned with Santas, snowflakes and reindeer to wear to holiday parties,Trujillo said. A growing number of businesses and individuals in Chicago are hosting such parties as a means of celebrating the season. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Chicago Sport and Social Club’s Ugly Sweater Holiday Party. According to marketing and event manager Gailin Kristofek, the event has become popular with club members, many of whom take the act of dressing up very seriously. “The first year we did [this party], people would just wear a sweatshirt and jeans; it wasn’t quite as costumed,” Kristofek

said. “Now, people wear crazy tights or whole outfits,” such as one man who, in 2010, created a custom suit outfitted with Christmas lights. The CSSC uses the event to support a local charity, something Kristofek said is done by nearly all organizations that hold similar parties. This year, the group is holding a toy drive for the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. “The first thing I plan every year when organizing this event is what charity to support,” Kristofek said. While both Kristofek and Trujillo said they see the sweaters as a fun means of expressing holiday merriment, Andrew Causey, associate professor of cultural anthropology at Columbia, sees a deeper meaning behind the trend. “I think with a lot of things people reappropriate—the corny, tacky and all that stuff—there is a side of it [that] is tongueand-cheek, but I think there’s also a side of it, which is a real craving for authenticity,” Casey said. He said he sees a correlation between the resurgence of the proverbial ugly Christmas sweater and the more recent do-it-yourself and Occupy movements, all of which he said represent a cultural shift away from corporatization. A generation adopting certain cultural references of its ancestors is nothing new, but what sets this trend apart is its reliance on irony, Causey said. “When I was college-age, everybody was going back to the ’50s and we were taking on ’50s style, but we were taking it on as it was,” he said. “It wasn’t ironic, and we weren’t taking on the ugly aspects, but the cool aspects.” Causey said he believes the current taste for irony and nostalgia is a reaction by younger people who are grappling with the hypocrisy of politicians and other social leaders. “We live in such cynical times,” he said. “So to go back to something like a friendly grandma sweater from a time that seems like it wasn’t so mean—I think there’s something to that.”


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I DECEMBER 12, 2011





Zach and Elspeth Harris of Zachary Gunn & The Local Historians. The married couple perform together on the group’s debut album, “Apartment Sessions I.”

New age for Local Historians by Brian Dukerschein


Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

ZH: Oh boy, oh man, I don’t know. Something involving indie folk with a campfire senior Zach Harris, 22, knows how to make sort of improvisation. music with limited resources. In 2009 and 2010, he used borrowed microphones and The Chronicle: Your songs are very lyrihis laptop to record two self-penned albums cally driven. What is your process? in his bedroom under the moniker Birds and Kings. In 2011, Harris released his third ZH: I’m always writing words down, whethalbum, “Apartment Sessions I,” as Zachary er I’m on the train, in class or in church. I’m Gunn & the Local Historians, which fea- always doodling ideas for imagery. Imagery tures his new wife and Columbia alumna, is huge, and I’ll often just have a huge page Elspeth Ryan, who now goes by Harris. full of random images or maybe something The Chronicle sat down with the inter- a little more structured. Then, I’ll take time disciplinary major to discuss his new cre- and sit at home and just play chords and ative name, the creative process and the figure out something that would work, to direction his music career is headed in. find a melody for those words.


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Who You Are • Jessie J

We Found Love • Rihanna

(3) 2 4

(4) 5

Spain Ai Se Eu Te Pego • Michel Telo

(1) 1

We Found Love • Rihanna

(4) 3

Someone Like You • Adele Christmas Michael Buble

Rolling in the Deep • Adele

No Sigue Modas • Juan Magan Source: iTunes

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the style of your music?

(3) 2 (2) 4 5

© 2011 MCT

The Chronicle: Where did your first name, The Chronicle: Have you performed live? Birds and Kings, originate? ZH: Yeah, several times. Not as much as I Zach Harris: That’s a funny question would love to, just with still being in school. because I don’t remember for sure. I remem- I’m still trying to get out there more. But ber I have it written down in a notebook I’ve done a few underground shows, a from high school, but I have no idea where couple house shows and open mic nights. the two words came from. But it has kind of evolved into a creative identity to work The Chronicle: Have you noticed your from, with the idea of freedom coming from music evolving in the course of your the birds and authority, or a sort of struc- three albums? ture coming from the king, and working from the conflict between the two. ZH: It’s hard for me to summarize how, because I don’t spend as much time The Chronicle: What prompted you to reflecting on my own stuff as I do making change the name? it. But it’s definitely shifted, and I hope it has gotten better, or at least found more ZH: I guess I’m trying to focus the work and of a structure and become more refined also get a little more collaborative. Initially, as I’ve learned new recording techniques, the “Zachary Gunn” came from my wife’s [become] a stronger guitar player and middle name, and so that’s kind of a frame- learned to vocalize better. work to work with her.Then “The Local Historians” is kind of something bigger, and The Chronicle: How far do you want to I’ve started doing more exciting stuff with go, musically? that by working with a couple other musicians to collaborate with and write totally ZH: It’s not something that I’m pressuring new music that isn’t just my own work. myself to do too much. It’s something that comes naturally rather than [my] seeking The Chronicle: What led you to start a career within music in and of itself. I making albums? want to go as far as it will take me, and that just matters as far as what people think ZH: It’s a creative impulse, I suppose. I of it—how it’s received and where the colguess I’ve always been a mixed media sort laborations go. Because no matter how it of artist, whether in my major or otherwise. is received, I’m going to keep doing it and There’s something about constructing a keep trying to construct the perfect song. song from layered parts that just sort of To hear music from Birds and Kings and came naturally. I had always been [a writer], Zachary Gunn & the Local Historians, visit and songwriting became the very focused and way to tell a story. The Chronicle: How would you describe







Singer-songwriter Hawley Shoffner has just released her first full-length album and has an upcoming performance at Debonair Social Club, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Just folkin’ around


by Brian Dukerschein


Assistant Arts & Culture Editor IN A crowded field of musical acts, it seems

Week ending Sept. 13, 2011

#1 Album

Top tracks

( ) Last week’s ranking in top five

United States Someone Like You • Adele

Moves Like Jagger • Maroon 5 1 The Beatles

Pumped Up Kicks • Foster the People Mr. Know It All • Kelly Clarkson You and I • Lady GaGa

(1) 1 (2) 2 3 4

(3) 5

United Kingdom All About Tonight • Pixie Lott

(5) 1

All Fired Up • The Saturdays

(2) 3

Moves Like Jagger • Maroon 5 1 The Beatles

Collide • Leona Lewis, Avicii

Heart Skips a Beat • Olly Murs

(1) 2 4

(3) 5

Spain Give Me Everything • Pitbull

Moves Like Jagger • Maroon 5 1 The Beatles

Rain Over Me • Pitbull

Bailando Por Ahi • Juan Magan Rolling In the Deep • Adele Source: iTunes

(1) 1 (3) 2 3 4

(2) 5

© 2011 MCT

The Chronicle: Are you still a solo artist?

Hawley Shoffner, 24, can’t help but stand out. For her third performance as a solo artist, the singer-songwriter won the 2008 Farmer’s Ball, a battle of the bands competition in her native Wichita, Kan. After moving to Chicago in 2010, Shoffner found a job crafting clever puns as a staff writer for Groupon. While performing at numerous venues around the city, she met Alex and Austin Ward of the band The Noise FM, who performed on and helped produce her eponymous debut album, which launched on Aug. 19. The Chronicle sat down with Shoffner for a cup of tea to discuss her new album and her growth as a musician.

HS: Every once in a while I play a show by myself, but right now it makes more sense to have Austin and Alex, especially with how the album sounds when performed live.

HS: Basically, I went through a big Bob Dylan phase. I bought a harmonica holder because I wanted to look like Dylan. I knew I couldn’t play the harmonica so I just bought a kazoo and put it in there. I would just walk around with my ukulele and kazoo and play little songs.

The Chronicle: What is your favorite song on the album?

The Chronicle: Which is more important to you, lyrics or melody?

HS: The lyrics are what I’m the most proud of. I guess I’m not as concerned about the way a song sounds unless you’re playing a venue where no one can hear you. Then you’re like, “Man, I wish I spent more time on the melody!” When you’re playing the ukulele, nobody gets confused about what you’re saying. Now that I’m playing the electric guitar, I feel I need to step it up as The Chronicle: So you play the piano, far as harmonies go. accordion, ukulele and kazoo. What led you to choose those instruments? The Chronicle: How did the idea for your album evolve? Hawley Shoffner: I’ve played the piano for forever. I tried to play guitar for a little HS: I started recording the ukulele songs in while, but my heart wasn’t in it. I switched Kansas. Once I moved here, I started writto ukulele because it’s more fun and easier ing more guitar songs, and it became hard to learn. Any weird instrument I could find to decide what would go on the album. We was fun, especially with solo stuff. When recorded it all in our basement, and that I moved to Chicago, I started playing the honestly didn’t take too long. Alex was electric guitar, and that’s my new favorite very dedicated to getting the album out instrument. on time, and it actually went by pretty fast when we finally got down exactly what The Chronicle: And the kazoo? That we were doing. It was a really comfortable seems like an unusual choice. recording experience.

The Chronicle: You’re often described as a folk musician. Is that a label you agree with?

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those very basic chord progressions.

HS: Deep down I’m a folk musician, but I’m trying to branch out. A lot of my songs are pretty folksy because that’s what I grew up listening to. I’m kind of drifting away from that, but I WEB EXCLUSIVE can tell when I To hear a track from write songs they Shoffner’s album, visit: are still based on

HS: I’d say “Suzannah.” Right after I moved to Chicago, I was really bummed out and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I’d just graduated from college and couldn’t even get coffee shops to hire me. Things were really rough. I wrote it as a kind of “cheer up” song about how it’s all going to be OK. It still makes me feel better when I play it. Hawley Shoffner will perform at Debonair Social Club, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave., at 10 p.m. on Oct. 6. To avoid a $5 cover charge for the 21+ show, RSVP at For more information on Shoffner and how to purchase her album, visit



Students need safe passage to school “It’s a great start, but more needs to be accomplished before every student in Chicago feels safe traveling to school.”

by Matt Watson Commentary Editor BOARDED UP houses loom over large

swaths of Chicago, standing as dismal reminders of the recession. These eyesores serve as havens for gangs, drug dealers and squatters, creating dangerous areas in already troubled neighborhoods. It isn’t uncommon for dead pit bulls, the casualties of ruthless dog fights, to be found in abandoned homes. With more than 10,500 foreclosures in the city in 2010, the problem shows no sign of abating. Foreclosed and abandoned homes spawn more than just a problem of blighted real estate. The foreclosure mess may have caused the economic downturn, but it’s now creating an unsafe environment for students who walk to school. The terrible situation


The average amount, in dollars, that Americans spent per day in September, according to a Gallup poll conducted from Sept. 1–30. This number is down from $68 per day in August and $74 in July. The numbers demonstrate how consumer spending has fallen during the summer.

was highlighted in 2009 with the beating death of Fenger High School student Derrion Albert. On Oct. 5, members of the City Council introduced an ordinance that holds owners of vacant properties accountable for the safety hazards such buildings create. The ordinance would require owners of five or more buildings to post a daytime guard at any vacant property within 1,000 yards of a public school between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., as well as place metal plates over doors and windows where the plywood has been torn off. Violators would be charged a $1,000 fine. The city has long grappled with the problem of how to deal with the huge amount of vacant buildings scattered across the city, especially on the South and West sides. When a home goes into foreclosure, the bank repossesses it, but the process can take up to two years and banks rarely care to maintain such properties. The properties then sit in a state of limbo, leaving them to be used as drug dens and dog-fighting arenas. This ordinance offers the only viable solution to the problem. The large financial institutions that own the majority of these vacant buildings don’t want to pay for the security and upkeep, yet they’re

the ones responsible for giving out risky loans and should be held responsible. With the city and Chicago Public Schools’ budgetary problems, they are in no position to pay for such measures. CPS students already encounter too many hurdles to getting a good education—they don’t need to worry about their safety on top of that. No student should be afraid to walk to school; this only creates a more stressful learning environment. The school district is spending $10 million to add security camera systems to 14 more schools. The program, called Safe Passage, has helped reduce crime at schools by 22 percent in the past two years, according to CPS. It’s a great start, but more needs to be accomplished before every student in Chicago feels safe traveling to school. Banks created this mess, and now it’s time for them to lend a hand. Bank of America, Chase and other large financial institutions love to advertise how much they help out communities. Supporting this ordinance would prove such claims. The proposal doesn’t hit mom-andpop landlords because it exempts owners of less than five buildings from the ordinance. Yet it holds the enormous banks who received billions in public bailout funds responsible. There should

The number of middle and senior managers Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he will be cutting from the city payroll, according to the Chicago Tribune. The cuts come as Emanuel grapples with balancing the city’s budget. The cuts would lead to $25 million in savings.

The number of stories a police dog fell on Oct. 6 in downtown Bloomington, Ill., according to the Chicago Tribune. The dog hit the roof and windshield of a Kia and survived with only minor bruises.



have been a provision in the Troubled Asset Relief Fund stating that banks who receive money need to maintain foreclosed homes, but that didn’t happen, and the past is the past. What we can look forward to, though, is the future. If this ordinance passes, thousands of these vacant buildings will be cleared of crime. Drug dealers and gangs won’t disappear, but they’ll be moved away from public schools and away from a large portion of their market. Fully eliminating these two groups won’t happen overnight, but keeping them away from students is a step in the right direction. In the past, banks have countered that such an ordinance would scare financial institutions away from giving out loans. I doubt that—loans are how they make money, and home loans are by far the most profitable kind. The City Council and mayor need to call their bluff and pass this ordinance. It was their greed in handing out more of these loans to people who couldn’t afford it that caused this mess, so even if their threat is real, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. For more information on the ordinance, see “Securing Students’ Safety at School,” Pg. 35.

The percentage of Americans who believe the government should promote traditional values, according to a Gallup poll conducted from Sept. 8–11. That’s opposed to 46 percent who think the government has no place in imposing moral values.


‘Thinspiration’ not just women’s disease

global condemnation Zimmer was receiving, I couldn’t help but think of a man I had read about some time ago. Model Jeremy Gillitzer battled anorexia and bulimia for most of his adult life. Through a regime of chronic starvation, self-induced vomiting and relentless exercise, he whittled his body down to practically nothing. When he died in 2010 at the age of 38, he weighed 66 pounds. Although Gillitzer’s case is extreme, it by Brian Dukerschein serves as a reminder that eating disorders Assistant Arts & Culture Editor are not just battled by women. We live in an age in which men are increasingly ON THE crowded catwalks of Milan bombarded with images of what constiFashion Week, one model in particular tutes a physical ideal. While the images captured attention for the wrong reasons. vary among different groups in our After appearing on the runway wearing culture—buff fraternity brothers higha plunging Gianfranco Ferré dress, Canafiving each other on the side of an Aberdian model Alana Zimmer was criticized crombie & Fitch shopping bag, an Armani around the world for being too thin. Since Exchange billboard full of lean muscles 2006, Milan Fashion Week organizers have frolicking on the beach or the pale, waifmade an effort to promote a healthier like faces staring back at you from a Burbbody image and banned female models erry advertisement—the message is the with a body mass index under 18.5. A same: We must all aspire to perfection. 5-foot-10-inch model would need to weigh Men are not immune to media’s powerat least 129 pounds to walk on a runway. ful influence over body image. According It was thought the ban would protect to Caring Online, a Web-based resource female models and send the message that for those battling eating disorders, anorexia would not be condoned. between 10 and 15 percent of patients Unfortunately, female models are not treated for eating disorders are men. the only ones who need protection from This year, the U.K.’s National Health Sereating disorders. While witnessing the vice announced it has seen a 66 percent

“We live in an age in which men are increasingly bombarded with images of what constitutes a physical ideal.”

increase in the number of men hospitalized with anorexia and bulimia in the last decade. Experts in both countries believe hundreds of thousands of men remain undiagnosed and refuse to seek treatment because of the shame of having what is traditionally believed to be a “girl disease.” Eating disorders in men can take many forms. Although male anorexia and bulimia are not uncommon, men are more likely to become preoccupied with having a more muscular physical shape, according to Dr. Theodore Weltzin, medical director of eating disorder services at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wis. Male eating disorders often begin with compulsive exercise combined with rigorous dieting in an attempt to reach an athletic ideal. For other men, the disorder is very much about the glamorization of being thin. A YouTube search for “male thinspiration” yields more than 100 videos featuring montages of emaciated models, musicians and adolescent boys with concave chests and protruding hipbones. The videos serve as motivation to maintain one’s anorexia. “Stay strong and starve on,” read one description. It is easy to believe male eating disorders are limited to the purview of gay men. After all, it could be argued gay culture places even more of an emphasis

on fitness than straight culture. However, while studies have indicated homosexuals account for a significant percentage of male anorexics, straight men are just as likely to develop an eating disorder. In fact, many experts point to high rates of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating among high school and college athletes participating in sports that stress appearance and weight control, including wrestling, running and swimming. I remember being in high school and seeing members of the wrestling team walking around carrying paper cups to spit in, hoping to make weight. After stepping down from the scale hours later, they would binge to the point of vomiting. I don’t recall anyone at the time suggesting this behavior was at all odd or unhealthy. Since high school, I’ve had several friends—men and women—struggle with eating disorders. Some received treatment while others suffered in silence. Men with eating disorders are too often overlooked and dismissed. It is time for everyone to recognize we are all susceptible to the intense pressures and unrealistic expectations of our society, and no one should feel ashamed about reaching out for help.



Most fans won’t trade CDs with Amazon Gabrielle Rosas Commentary Editor THE DAYS of the Walkman are nothing but a hazy, distant memory. The gunmetal blue portable CD player I carried around with me in my angsty teenage years is sitting in a box at my mom’s house, along with 33 battered Barbie dolls and my dad’s cassettes from the ’80s. When I moved to Chicago for school, I left my exorbitant CD collection at home. I couldn’t think of one reason to bring my CDs with me because I knew I had become a 21st century music listener, i.e. skipping from one song to the next, barely able to catch the nuances of an entire album. Now I am kicking myself for the first time since leaving my CD collection 2,000 miles away. Online retail giant Amazon has initiated a new service that allows music freaks to trade in old CDs for store credit. Amazon has let customers swap other products such as DVDs and books since launching its trade-in program, but the company announced April 11 that it would begin accepting CDs. CD trade-in is not a new business venture. Many other websites, such as, started trading CDs long before Amazon thought of the idea.

But Amazon is the only big-name retailer today with such a program. Although I can’t wait to send my CDs into Amazon for store credit, others won’t part with them so easily, and customers may be disappointed with their CDs’ resale value. Only music fans who converted from indulging in entire albums to picking a few select tracks for a playlist will really want to utilize a CD trade-in program, especially if they aren’t receiving the amount of money they believe their collections are worth. One customer claimed on Amazon’s Customer Discussions forum to have traded in a CD collection worth $135 for which he received only $2.20 in store credit. While this claim can’t be validated, it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s true. In other industries where trade-in programs are routine, customers usually don’t receive more than one-fourth of the item’s original selling price. At Crossroads Trading Company, a fashion retailer that sells, trades and buys used clothing, customers receive 35 percent of the resale price, according to the company’s website. So for that casual listener whose entire CD collection is composed of 10 albums, Amazon’s trade-in program may not rake in the cash. But those of us who can’t seem to find a place to store our massive collections could experience the opposite. My personal CD collection is composed of hundreds of EPs, LPs, studio and live albums and burned mixes I made in middle school when it was “cool” to burn CDs. And although Amazon’s trade-in program may not please every music fan, I can’t help but think of my time as an awkward preteen and a particular inci-


dent that was infuriatingly upsetting. One day I brought my giant, purple CD case to school, showing it off to anyone who asked what was inside. By the end of the day, my collection was gone. No doubt one of my newfound friends had taken it. Looking back on that, it’s easy to see the appeal of trading in CDs for credit. However, most fans who kept their CD collections this far into the 21st century are probably nostalgic music fanatics who

long for the good ol’ days. These crotchety old listeners are less likely to give up their precious collections for fear of disconnecting from a sunnier past and more profitable music industry. Those who are fighting the inevitable death of the compact disc are simply too stubborn to see the reality. CDs will very soon be obsolete as a practical way to listen to music.

I’m an atheist, but I won’t rob you

brought up with religion, nothing more. The two most common—and frustrating—questions I get from people are, “How can you have any morality if you don’t believe in God?” and “What do you think happens when you die?” I’ll now take the liberty of answering these questions one at a time. First of all, I don’t need a burning bush to tell me that murdering someone is wrong. While it is debatable whether Brian Dukerschein everyone is born with this belief, I cerCopy Editor tainly didn’t need to see it listed in the 10 I WAS raised to be a good Lutheran boy. I Commandments to know that stabbing a was baptized shortly after my birth. My coworker probably isn’t the best idea. family and I went to church every Sunday, Faith does not necessarily equate with after which I attended Sunday school. morality. According to the most recent Summers were spent at Bible school, information released by the Federal where I made a Noah’s ark out of popsicle Bureau of Prisons, most religions are repsticks and drank copious amounts of Kool- resented in prisons in direct proportion to Aid. When I got older, I even helped teach the general population. Bible school for two years. Atheists, on the other hand, make up After I entered junior high, I started 8–16 percent of the population and only Confirmation, the adolescent affirmation .21 percent of inmates, according to the of my baptism. The process culminated Federal Bureau of Prisons. with my standing in front of the entire While I’m on the subject of the Comchurch and saying I recognized that Jesus mandments, has anyone taken a step back was my savior and I was committed to and looked at this list objectively? “Thou living my life by his teachings. shall have no other gods before me.” AbsoThen something happened shortly lutely. That totally makes sense from a thereafter: I realized I was an atheist. religious standpoint. “Thou shall rememNaturally, this came as quite a shock to ber the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Yes, that my parents, who questioned what seemed sounds appropriate, although I’m sure like a complete about-face on my part. even the most ardent Catholics take a But I remember looking back at my life, Sunday off now and then. “Thou shall not even at that young age, and realizing I commit adultery.” Sure, although I quesnever actually had any faith. I was simply tion the sanctity of a union that histori-

cally was often little more than a financial arrangement between two fathers. “Thou shall not steal.” Now here’s where you lose me. Why would the god who created the entire universe and all of its wonders care if someone broke into your car and jacked your radio? “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” OK, this list is starting to sound a lot less divine and a lot more like Human Law 101.

I’m not saying science has all the answers, but it’s the side I’m willing to put my faith in. In regard to the afterlife, I believe that when you die, you’re dead. Your life is over and you no longer exist. Yes, it’s as simple as that. Now, I will totally grant you that the idea of heaven is very appealing. Who wouldn’t want to walk through pearly gates onto streets paved with gold and be bathed in eternal light and warmth? Plus, you get to “live” forever, which is definitely a bonus. But unfortunately, I cannot accept it. In my opinion, belief in heaven or any sort of afterlife is the result of an arrogant species that cannot accept its own mortality. I imagine our collective egos crying out, “No! Death cannot be it! We’re far too remarkable!”And let me stop you before

you bring up the whole “tunnel of bright light” business. Air Force researchers tested pilots in the late ’70s and early ’80s to see how they would react to extreme G-forces. The pilots would often pass out from the lack of blood flow to the brain. Upon awakening, they would sometimes describe seeing a tunnel of light. According to David Hovda, director of the University of California at Los Angeles Brain Injury Research Center, when the brain gets closer to death, it begins firing nerves in close to the brain stem that are areas basic for survival. The visual cortex and the superior colliculus, which receives sensory input from the eyes, are connected to the brain stem, meaning they are also stimulated. Hovda said perceiving a bright light would be the result of such stimulation. I’m not saying science has all the answers, but it’s the side I’m willing to put my faith in. I have no issue with religion in general. Several of my close friends have strong faiths and we get along just fine. My parents remain very involved in their church, and while sometimes we ultimately have to agree to disagree on certain topics, we respect each other’s opinion. I am very happy with my life and the direction it is going, and I don’t see myself murdering anyone in the near future. I hope I’ve answered your questions.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2012



Emanuel quits second job to focus on governing city

by Tyler Davis

Commentary Editor THE CHICAGO TEACHERS strike

was both the talk of the town and the nation. What was a local dispute between union leaders and city government became a national debate about education. In response to the Chicago teachers strike, one prominent politician had this to say: “I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education.” This is not a quote from a Chicagoan but a statement made Sept. 10 by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. President Obama has avoided the issue, but numerous articles asked if the strike would hurt Obama’s campaign or insinuated that the strike

presented a conflict of interest. Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the issue was not “representative of the national debate we’re having about education.” She’s right. This was a Chicago issue, although you wouldn’t know it from all the national coverage it got. The New York Times ran numerous editorials and op-eds condemning the strike, and many non- Chicago journalists were curious to hear Obama’s thoughts on the dispute. On Sept. 14, the eve of what seemed like a resolution to the labor dispute, Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz speculated that Obama had secretly stepped in to resolve the issue and protect his campaign. After all, that was the big issue: Will the strike hurt Obama’s chance at re-election? This is hardly a new phenomenon. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s presence in Chicago has been transforming city issues into national political battles long before the teachers went on strike. Chicago’s increasing homicide rate made national news this year and not simply because it is 30 percent higher than 2010. “Chicago crime wave hits even Obama’s neighborhood,” read a Sept. 1 New York Daily News headline. The media continue to politicize Chicago’s affairs. The question is always this: How will this Chicago issue affect the Obama campaign? “In Barack Obama’s liberal cita-

Everyone needs some alone time

by Brian Dukerschein Copy Chief

everywhere can respond to you at any time. We’re plugged in to the world 24-7, and things just couldn’t be better. I have to go on record, though, that none of this appeals to me, and I no longer use any of the social media I just mentioned. I don’t even have a smartphone. Call me old-fashioned, but I have absolutely no desire to be hyper-connected to the world and those in it. I would go so far to argue that one needs to tune out this global chatter in order to appreciate life more.

I DON’T MEAN to alarm you, but

there are zombies among us. You see them everywhere—on the train, in the streets and climbing the stairs, albeit slowly. They are silent, plodding and oblivious to the world around them. I’m not talking about zombies of the brain-munching variety but people who have permanently attached themselves to their smartphones. It seems the iPhone and its ilk are the next step in our evolution. They are new appendages that allegedly bring us together but in reality lead to detachment. Smartphones aren’t entirely to blame for this epidemic. They are merely the conduit. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare and Tumblr all exist to connect us to our fellow man. RSS feeds and Google news alerts ensure we’re up to date on every global event. Google Talk, mobile email and texting mean everyone,

Social media have changed the way we interact, and not necessarily for the better. It disturbs me that so many relationships are now based on text messages and Facebook wall posts, and that people are increasingly interacting with the world through the glow of a touch-sensitive screen. Whatever happened to sitting down with a friend and having a conversation uninterrupted by a vibrating phone? When did it become necessary to share every mundane and profane detail of your life with a global audience? And on a similar note, why the hell

del of Chicago, there’s little hope that anything will change anytime soon,” read an editorial from Investor’s Business Daily referring to the recent homicide numbers. Obama doesn’t live or govern in this “liberal citadel,” however. He has a house in Hyde Park that is likely gathering cobwebs. This city is not what Fox News and numerous blogs like to call “Obama’s Chicago.” Emanuel left the White House almost two years ago, and Obama left Chicago to become a senator almost eight years ago. Yes, Obama is from Chicago. Yes, Chicago’s mayor worked in the Obama White House. But that’s all in the past. It’s time to get over it.

MCT Newswire

Although Mayor Rahm Emanuel left the White House in 2010, many in the media are still focusing on his relationship with President Barack Obama.

But our mayor hasn’t gotten over it. He intended to spend an entire week out of the city at the Democratic National Convention. He left early, possibly because of media accusations that he was abandoning the teacher negotiations or pressure from the Obama campaign to avoid more bad press. Emanuel was even a co-chair of the Obama

campaign until Sept. 5 when he left to take a job as a fundraiser for an Obama-aligned super PAC. He stepped down once the strike officially started, but in the absence of this crisis, Emanuel would have been spending a considerable amount of time schmoozing for Obama instead of governing his city. Imagine his disappointment when he was told he would have to deal with a strike rather than fundraising events. Then there’s the gossip that Emanuel is positioning himself for the presidency. While the mayor was in Charlotte, N.C. for the DNC, Illinois House Speaker and influential Democrat Mike Madigan said to ABC, “I think clearly that Rahm Emanuel has the potential to be the president of the United States.” Emanuel is quick to deny that he wants to move to the White House, saying he loves his job. It’s easy to see how Emanuel

could get distracted by constant speculation about a presidential bid and a fundraising gig, but if he really loves “working for the tax payers,” as he told NBC Chicago, he ought to spend less time helping Obama’s campaign and more time dealing with city violence or negotiating with teachers, a process that he was involved with on a mostly indirect basis. Maybe Emanuel wants to be president someday. Maybe he and Obama chat on the phone all day long. Regardless, the citizens of Chicago elected Emanuel to be the mayor and nothing more. Thankfully, the mayor appears to be taking a break from being a national political operative. If we can all stop asking about Obama’s assessment of Emanuel’s performance or the mayor’s 2016 plans, maybe he can get back to work.

should I care that you “checked in” at Dairy Queen? It seems that the majority of social media and mobile technology exists to combat people’s pathological fear of silence and loneliness. After all, it’s hard to feel lonely walking down the street with earbuds blaring music exclusively for you while tweeting about the latest addition to your Pinterest board. You think you’re the bright, shining center of the universe, but take a step back and look at yourself. You, my friend, are in a self-made bubble. An airplane could be going down right over your head, and you wouldn’t know it. In “The Tempest,” Shakespeare writes, “Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices that, if I then had waked after long sleep, will make me sleep again.” This quote often comes to

mind when I see people completely absorbed in their smartphones, allaying themselves from the specter of silence with the reassuring din of constant digital interaction. Are we, as a society, afraid to sit alone with ourselves and our thoughts? What do we think would happen if we stepped away from social media? I had a Facebook page for a number of years. I was tardy to the party compared to most people my age, and I could never get fully on board with the concept of broadcasting my activities and thoughts. I did my best to be clever for my highly edited list of friends, but my own interest in what I was saying, not to mention the photos of parties I wasn’t invited to, soon dropped. My Facebook page was officially laid to rest two weeks ago, and there have been a number of benefits. First of all, I have a lot more free time. While I never devoted

too much of my day to reading about my ex’s summer vacation or commenting on an Instagram photo of someone’s lunch, it’s amazing how easy it is to get sucked into a Facebook time vortex. Secondly, friends now have to resort to more direct means of communicating with me. I have to say I’m enjoying actually using some of these Verizon “anytime minutes” I’ve been paying for. I relish the fact that I’m able to come home, leave my bag at the door with my 3-year-old flip phone inside, sit on my couch and read a magazine—no breaking news alerts, no Twitter feeds to monitor and no Facebook photos to “like.” You may say this makes me sound like a jaded old man, but I say the world would be better off if everyone tuned out social media rather than the world.

National politics have been distracting Mayor Emanuel from key issues.

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Clips of Brian Dukerschein's work while at The Columbia Chronicle, the student newspaper of Columbia College Chicago

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