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C H I C A G O ’ S F R E E W E E K LY | K I C K I N G A S S S I N C E 1 9 7 1 | D E C E M B E R 2 1 , 2 0 1 7— J A N U A R Y 4 , 2 0 1 8



ISSUE An end-of-year accounting of the city’s most annoying, alarming, and appalling people, places, and things 1 2

With running commentary from one of Chicago’s best, comedian Hannibal Buress





C H I C A G O R E A D E R | D E C E M B E R 2 1 , 2 0 1 7– J A N U A R Y 4 , 2 0 1 8 | V O L U M E 4 7, N U M B E R 1 2




---------------------------------------------------------------READER (ISSN 1096-6919) IS PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY STM READER, LLC 30 N. RACINE, SUITE 300 CHICAGO, IL 60607. COPYRIGHT © 2017 CHICAGO READER. PERIODICAL POSTAGE PAID AT CHICAGO, IL.


37 Visual Art When contemporary art gets flipped, who should profit? 39 Movies Film editor J.R. Jones picks his best films of 2017



WORST OF CHICAGO An end-of-year accounting of the city’s most annoying, alarming, and appalling people, places, and things 12



Hannibal Buress is bringing it all back home ON THE COVER: PHOTO BY LISA PREDKO. FOR MORE OF HER WORK, GO TO LISAPREDKO.COM.

4 Agenda The Lincoln Lodge’s Christmas Feztacular, the film All the Money in the World, our picks for the best things to do on New Year’s Eve, and more goings-on about town 8 Chicagoans A video designer dreams up social-impact games like Baby Town and Caduceus Quest. 9 Joravsky | Politics For every lump dispensed by Trump and Rauner there’s a reason for hope. 10 Transportation A CDOT project to rehab Milwaukee Avenue could bring bold changes to the Logan Square traffic circle.






E Watch Hanni bal Buress give his thou ghts on Trum p Tower, Joe Ri cketts, Rahm Emanuel, an d chicagoreade more at r.com/worst .

With his return to Chicago, the comedian is reconnecting to his roots on the west side. BY STEVE HEISLER 35

41 Shows of note Taylor Bennett, Macabre’s 20th annual Holiday of Horror, Sun Ra Arkestra, and more of the week’s best 43 The Secret History of Chicago Music Blues guitarist Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis learned his raw, propulsive style from John Lee Hooker.


47 Restaurants Mike Sula’s picks for year’s best new additions to Chicago’s dining scene 49 Bar review: Prairie School Prairie style makes the Heisler Hospitality spot a visual feast.


50 Jobs 50 Apartments & Spaces 51 Marketplace 52 Straight Dope What’s the deal with Hells Angels and ball-peen hammers? 53 Savage Love “Why do I always fall in love with lesbians?” 54 Early Warnings Vic Mensa, Beth Ditto, Charlie Puth, Cam’ron, and more upcoming shows 54 Gossip Wolf Kstarke Records, the Ukrainian Village shop run by veteran DJ Kevin Starke, closed for good last month, and other music news.




P Send your events to agenda@chicagoreader.com


F Rd., Schaumburg, 847-240-0386, laughoutloudtheater.com. Christmas Feztacular The R Lincoln Lodge, one of Chicago’s finest independent stand-up collectives,

ho-ho-hosts three evenings of cheery comics, yuletide tunes, and holiday-inspired dance numbers. On Thursday and Friday nights, stick around afterward for music and more holiday happiness. Thu 12/21-Sat 12/23, 8 PM, Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 773-270-3440, undertheguntheater.com, $25.

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Sammy: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.

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The Holidays Unwrapped Historically, Erasing the Distance’s exquisite documentary theater pieces (actors performing transcribed interviews of people experiencing mental illness) have taken audience members to places most probably haven’t been: into the heart of severe depression, profound substance abuse, active psychosis, etc. The group’s new show does the opposite, chronicling mostly prototypical middle-class holiday experiences, largely revolving around family joys and annoyances, and barely touching on mental health issues (two characters briefly describe serious depression late in the piece). With the exception of a former prisoner’s recollections of Christmas behind bars, it’s an hour of mostly low-stakes reminiscences cocreators Steve O’Connell, Katie Relkin and Amy Sarno (who also directs) intercut into such short snippets that most everything feels abbreviated. Only the subtle, engaging performances typify this company’s work. —JUSTIN HAYFORD Wed 12/20, 8 PM, the Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway, 773-769-9112, erasingthedistance.org, $20, $17 students. Sammy: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. Two things happen at the start of Black Ensemble Theater’s tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. that tell us everything we need to know about the rest of it. First, Davis is tagged “the greatest entertainer who ever lived.” Second, the dozen cast members, male and female, have a mock argument over which of them can best embody their iconic subject, ultimately deciding that “we’re all Sammy.” The “greatest” line makes it clear that writer-director Daryl D. Brooks is more

interested in hagiography than biography. The argument amounts to a tacit admission that nobody onstage can convincingly portray the singer/dancer/ actor/personality. Sure enough, Sammy mentions Davis’s highs and lows without coming to terms with them, and its cast offer serviceable vocal and tap performances that never communicate his charisma. Only Kenny Davis manages to put a touch of the master’s timbre in his voice. As it turns out, the title artist is less the focus here than an occasion for a pleasant, only mildly informative two hours. —TONY ADLER Through 1/21: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark, 773-769-4451, blackensembletheater.org, $55-$65.

HSIAO Through 12/30: Thu-Fri 7 PM, SatSun 2 and 7 PM (2 PM only Sat 12/30), Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, 800-982-2787, joffrey.org, $35-$165.

COMEDY Booze Your Own Adventure Inspired by a tale from a brave audience member, the cast of this weekly late-night show re-creates a comedic version of the story, drinking heavily the entire time. In fact, the protagonist plays Edward Fortyhands and tapes beers to his or her hands. Open run: Sat 11 PM, Laugh Out Loud Theater, 601 N. Martingale

DANKS The acronym stands for “dope ass new kids, sketches,” but based on the opening night performance, I’d say the “dope ass” part is a very, very big stretch. The group already seem to have been defeated by the demands of their premise, which is to present an allnew revue each week. The 45 minutes worth of sketches they led off with were chaotically conceived and raggedly executed. Comedians in the first piece were reading from scripts, those in others frequently lost their way, and even a promising bit about a driverless Uber with attitude fell into confusion before it was over. Maybe we’d all be better off if the new kids gave themselves more opportunity to refine their work before presenting it. —TONY ADLER Through 1/25: Thu 8 PM, Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 773-697-9693, theannoyance.com, $12. Kevin McCaffrey McCaffrey, a Chicago-based comic who politely pokes fun at his moments of incompetence, records his first album tonight. Adam Burke opens. Sat 12/23, 7 and 9 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027, zanies.com/chicago, $25 plus two-item minimum. Smut The performers at this R monthly show stick to their sex material. Expect a wide variety of views,

DANCE The Nutcracker The Joffrey’s $4 million commission of The Nutcracker from director-choreographer Christopher Wheeldon returns to the Auditorium for a second season, and as spectacle, there’s surely no more lavish rendition of the holiday classic. Set in Chicago around the time of the Columbian Exposition, the production includes Polish folk dances to a thinned-out, brassier arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s score in act one and resets the national dances of the Kingdom of the Sweets in the fair pavilions in act two. Yet Wheeldon’s choreography feels overpressured by a desire to innovate, with unshapely lifts in the pas de deux and gratuitous deviations such as butt spins on the floor in a static and angular snow scene. Two inspired moments include transforming the Russian variation to a lasso-wielding Buffalo Bill and giving Mother Ginger a passel of cheeky nuts for kids. —IRENE

Christmas Feztacular



Best bets, recommendations, and notable arts and culture events for the weeks of December 21 and 28

of sentiment from the fraternal reunion, though the film ends on a somber note when the mother refuses to divulge her painful wartime experience. In English and subtitled Hebrew. —BEN SACHS 96 min. Opens Friday, December 29. Music Box.


Kevin McCaffrey as Smut’s lineup is curated by comics Alex Seligsohn and Clare Austen-Smith to include stand-ups across the sexuality spectrum. Open run: Fri 11:30 PM, Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-327-3175, laughfactory.com, $17 plus two-item minimum.

LIT & LECTURES OUTspoken! Monthly lit showR case featuring LGBTQ storytellers, curated by Acorn Theatre’s David Fink. Ongoing: Tue 7 PM, Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted, 773-477-9189, outspokenchicago.com.

Tuesday Funk Each month, poets, authors, essayists, and all manner of wordsmiths convene at vaunted beer haven the Hopleaf for this reading series. Tue 1/2, 7:30 PM, Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark, 773-334-9851, hopleaf.com.

VISUAL ART Re-picture Peter Drake captures stills from TV’s idyllic portrayals of suburban life in the 1950s (Leave It to Beaver and such) through “subtractive” paintings in both color and black and white. Through 1/13: Tue-Sat 11 AM-5 PM, Linda Warren Gallery, 327 N. Aberdeen, 312-432-9500, lindawarrengallery.com.

All the Money in the World Ridley Scott’s tony thriller about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, grandson of the imperious oil billionaire, was already primed for release when sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey, who played the old man, forced Scott to reshoot all his scenes with another actor, Christopher Plummer. The latter is equally adept at playing powerful men with ice in their veins, though at age 88 he has trouble with the flashback scenes showing Getty in the 1950s and ’60s. No matter: the story of young Getty’s abduction in Rome by an organized crime ring, and his grandfather’s refusal to pay the $17 million ransom, is inherently compelling. Scott brings the ancient city’s grandeur to bear on a story about the corrupting power of wealth, drawing fine performances from Mark Wahlberg as the security specialist whom Getty senior taps to handle the negotiations and Michelle Williams as the billionaire’s ex-daughter-in-law, who rues the day she ever got involved with the Getty fortune. —J.R. JONES R, 132 min. For listings visit chicagoreader.com/movies. Downsizing Alexander Payne—celebrated for such seriocomic journeys as About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004), and Nebraska (2013)—turns to high-concept satire with this leaden effort about a radical new technology that reduces people to five inches in height. The characters may be small, but the logical gaps are enormous: the middle-class

hero (Matt Damon) moves to a miniature community where even his modest assets buy him a tiny McMansion, though Payne never explains how these little Shangri-las sustain themselves economically (a scene of the hero working in a little call center hardly suffices) or defend themselves against predation by big folks (where are all the sadistic kids with magnifying glasses?). As the movie grinds on, Payne tries to steer it into a parable about climate change and the refugee crisis, issues that sit heavily on its flimsy, jokey premise. With Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, and Kristen Wiig. —J.R. JONES 135 min. ArcLight, Cicero Showplace 14, City North 14, Crown Village 18, Ford City, River East 21, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings. The Greatest Showman The 19th-century circus mogul P.T. Barnum crassly exploited the disfigured and disabled people in his sideshows, but the man played by Hugh Jackman in this sanitized musical biopic is an idealist who wants only to bring joy to the world. Screenwriters Jenny Bicks (HBO’s Sex and the City) and Bill Condon (Kinsey, Gods and Monsters) whitewash history at every turn, making Barnum a warm, paternal figure beloved by his sideshow performers, wife, and children. Jackman is charismatic in the lead but no match for the movie’s slickness and sentimentality, and the songs are generic Top 40 pop. Michael Gracey directed; with Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and singer Zendaya. —BEN SACHS PG, 105 min. ArcLight, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14, City North 14, Crown Village 18, Davis, Ford City, River East 21, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings, Webster Place. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle This sequel to the children’s fantasy Jumanji

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For more of the best things to do every day of the week, go to chicagoreader. com/agenda.

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(1995) offers none of the pathos Robin Williams brought to the original, but it does have lots of action, some good gags, and better CGI. Four high school students stumble upon an old video game console that pulls them into an alternative reality, and they assume the forms of adult avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan) to battle a jungle overlord for a mystical jewel. Like a video game, the narrative lacks any character development, relying on obstacles, chases, and the threat of elimination. Hart delivers his one-liners with precision and verve, and Johnson is sweetly funny as the muscular incarnation of a gawky nerd. Directed by Jake Kasdan; with Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas, and Colin Hanks. —ANDREA GRONVALL PG-13, 119 min. ArcLight, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14, City North 14, Crown Village 18, Ford City, New 400, River East 21, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings.

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Molly’s Game Aaron Sorkin, the veteran TV producer (The West Wing) and screenwriter (Moneyball, The Social Network), makes his feature directing debut with this engaging adaptation of Molly Bloom’s memoir about her career running high-stakes underground poker games in New York and Hollywood. A TV writer at heart, Sorkin is a master of the chatterbox soliloquy, and the movie opens with an aggressively expository voice-over from Bloom (Jessica Chastain) recounting her formative years as an Olympic skier. Yet Sorkin’s hectoring narration and µ

MOVIES More at chicagoreader.com/movies NEW REVIEWS Aida’s Secrets Alon and Shaul Schwarz directed this intimate Israeli documentary centered on their uncle, Izak Szewelwicz, and his knotty relationship with his biological family. Born in a German displaced persons camp in 1945, Szewelwicz was adopted by an Israeli family when he was a baby, but he kept in touch with his Polish mother, who had emigrated to Canada. Only in his late 60s did he learn that his mother had a second son, who had also emigrated to Canada. Over the course of the documentary, Szewelwicz meets his brother and they confront their mother in hope of learning more about their family history. The directors mine plenty

All the Money in the World



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™B overly pointed dialogue are gradually neutralized by his generous 140-minute running time; this is that rare instance of a filmmaker benefiting from his own self-indulgence. The strong cast includes Idris Elba (as Bloom’s attorney), Kevin Costner (as her demanding father), and Michael Cera (as the heartless Player X, a stand-in for the movie stars who frequented Bloom’s west-coast games). —J.R. JONES R, 141 min.




Call Me by Your Name A R modern-day Visconti, Italian director Luca Guadagnino (I Am

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Love) grants us entry into a world not only of wealth but of culture, which can be just as liberating. This richly textured gay romance, adapted by James Ivory (of Merchant-Ivory fame) from a novel by André Aciman, unfolds over the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, where a prominent historian (Michael Stuhlbarg) welcomes his tall, lanky research assistant (Armie Hammer) for an extended visit at his 17th-century villa. Sparks fly between the vibrant young man and the scholar’s razor-sharp teenage son (Timothée Chalamet) while the two of them pretend to chase girls, the ups and downs of their secret love unfolding against an effortlessly authentic milieu in which the proper piano interpretation of a Bach cantata ranks in importance alongside the joy of dancing to the Psychedelic Furs. In English and subtitled French, Italian, and German. —J.R. JONES R, 132 min. ArcLight, Century 12 and CineArts


Strange Days Giving new meaning to the word punchy, this violent, hyperventilating 1995 thriller by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) is set in LA on the eve of the new millennium and has something to do with snuff tapes (with nods to Peeping Tom), racial violence, and police corruption. Screenwriters James Cameron and Jay Cocks often seem to have worked these matters into the script as fashionable teasers rather than subjects they have much to say about. Ralph Fiennes stars as a black marketeer who traffics in virtual-reality tapes, and one wonders if surviving fragments of four or five different script drafts are responsible for his change in personality every half hour or so. I wasn’t bored at all by this, and Angela Bassett’s action-hero charisma often blew me away, but fans of Bigelow at her best (e.g., Near Dark) may be put off by the movie’s calculation, which doesn’t always fit with its intellectual pretensions. With Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, Glenn Plummer, and Richard Edson. —JONATHAN ROSENBAUM R, 145 min. 35mm. Fri 12/29-Sat 12/30, midnight. Music Box.

Fiddler on the Roof An earthbound but not-bad screen adaptation (1971) of the long-running musical, set in a Russian shtetl circa 1905, about a tradition-minded milkman and his marriage-minded daughters. Norman Jewison’s literal-mindedness actually helps squeeze some of the goo from the material. With Topol, Molly Picon, Norma Crane, and Leonard Frey. —DAVE KEHR 181 min. Mon 12/25, 7 PM. Music Box.

A Tribute to Studio Ghibli A twoweek retrospective of films from the Japanese animation studio, all directed by cofounder Hayao Miyazaki: Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Tortoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Porco Rosso (1992), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), and Ponyo (2008). For showtimes visit chicagoreader.com/movies. Tue 12/26-Thu 1/4. Music Box. v

6, Landmark’s Century Centre, River East 21, Webster Place. Father Figures Twin brothers Owen Wilson and Ed Helms set off in search of their father, whom they believed was long dead. Lawrence Sher directed this comedy; with Christopher Walken, J.K. Simmons, Glenn Close, and Ving Rhames. R, 113 min. Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14. I, Tonya Margot Robbie stars as Tonya Harding in this biopic of the celebrated, and then reviled, ice skater. Craig Gillespie directed; with Allison Janney. R, 121 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre. Pitch Perfect 3 The a cappella songbirds of the 2012 hit Pitch Perfect reunite for a USO competition. Trish Sie directed; with Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, and Hailee Steinfeld. PG-13, 93 min. ArcLight, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14, Crown Village 18, Ford City, New 400, River East 21, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings.



AGENDA Our picks for the best events on New Year’s Eve By STEVE HEISLER

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Burning Bluebeard


Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers Power into the New Year fueled by tacos and 3 Floyds beer. DJs spin not only hell rock, but oldies by the likes of Hank Williams. Knock back a shot of bourbon at midnight, because champagne is for the weak. Sun 12/31, 6 PM, Big Star, 1531 N. Damen, 773-235-4039, bigstarchicago.com.


Burning Bluebeard and The Infinite Wrench Two great tastes that taste great together. The Neo-Futurists end their limited run of Burning Bluebeard, about the tribulations of six clowns emerging from the smoldering rubble of the fire that took down Chicago’s Iroquois Theatre in 1903. A New Year’s performance of the Neo-Futurists’ tentpole show, The Infinite Wrench, follows. Sun 12/31, 7:30 PM, Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland, 773-275-5255, neofuturists.org, $75.


Funny and Famous Chi Town Comedy Countdown Lil Rel Howery—who cut his chops at the former Jokes and Notes comedy club—headlines a packed evening of stand-up featuring DeRay Davis, Tiffany Haddish,

Michael Blackson, Lil Duval, and other exciting guests TBD. Sun 12/31, 10 PM-1 AM, Arie Crown Theater, McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore, 312-791-6000, ariecrown.com, $75-$285. New Year’s Eve Dance R Party DJ My Boy Elroy herds drunks onto the dance floor while others scarf down food from a prix fixe menu that includes apple-andpear brioche bread pudding and brown-sugar balsamic-braised short ribs. Sun 12/31, 5 PM, Uncommon Ground, 3800 N. Clark, 773-9293680, uncommonground.com, $35 music and drink, $45 music, drink, and food.

A Night of Witchcraft and R Wizardry It may seem sacrilegious to open an umbrella over sci-

ence and magic, but in the spirit of the New Year, the two have become best friends. This party begins by sorting attendees into “houses” a la Harry Potter, which then compete with each other using the magic of science! Watch out for explosions other than the midnight fireworks outside. Sun 12/31, 6:45 PM, the Laboratory, 2349 W. North, 312-953-2996, thelaboratorychi.org, $40.

Noname Rising hip-hop star R Noname, whom Reader music critic Leor Galil calls “a distinctive,

thoughtful talent capable of balancing intellect and intimacy,” leads the lyrical charge into the New Year. Sun 12/31, 10 PM-1 AM, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln, 773-525-2501, lh-st.com, $40 in advance, $45 at the door.

Get solutions with

Sun Ra Arkestra ExperiR mental noise musician and jazz pianist Sun Ra passed in

1993, but his music lives on through his band, which specializes in the cacophonous buzz he adored. Oh, he also thought he was from Saturn, so this is somewhat of an intergalactic show. For more see Pick of the Week, page 43. Sun 12/31, 8:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, constellation-chicago.com, $30.


Voyager Ring in the New Year with a cacophony of music plus DJs, visual art, and the echo inside the yet-tobe-announced industrial space where the Voyager party will take place. Keep an eye on voyagernewyears.com for updates. Sun 12/31, time and location TBA, $100. v

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CITY LIFE Chicagoans

The game designer


Ashlyn Sparrow, 29

FOR MY BIRTHDAY one year, my dad bought me a PlayStation. There were ending credits in the games, so I knew someone was making them, and I remember saying, “I want to do that.” I thought I had to learn to draw, since that’s the first thing you see in a game, so my mom got me an art teacher. After a couple months, I realized, “Oh crap, I’m actually not into art.” That was the moment I realized the thing I am passionate about is computers. I got my master’s in entertainment technology at Carnegie Mellon. Every year the students would go on a west-coast trip to visit game companies and talk to industry veterans, who were from a completely different time period, when people who didn’t even have a college degree were like, “I want to make this game. Are you interested?,” and that’s how


they got into these companies. That is not the way the world works right now. For me, it was like, “Let me join this game design club. Let me take some programming classes. Let me get my master’s. Maybe that’ll get me closer.” After I graduated, I did a lot of interviews with companies, but something felt stagnant with their games. There wasn’t enough diversity in terms of the characters and the stories and even the mechanics of the game. One of my professors was like, “Hey, there’s a job at the University of Chicago. They’re looking for designers to do social-impact games.” This was after, like, my 20th application, and I was like, “Well, I’m here for games. Always here for games. Maybe this is a place where we can start bringing out some diversity. Whatever, I’ll apply, they’ll say no.” And then they didn’t.

They hired me. So we’re the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab, and we’re focused on creating games around health. We are trying to see if these games can change people’s attitudes. And we’re trying to see what games actually do, beyond the question “Do violent video games make people more violent?” I grew up playing violent video games and I’ve never punched anyone in the face just walking down the street, so I think we should move beyond that question. We have a game called Caduceus Quest, where you play as a medical intern who’s trying to solve the mystery of a disease that’s broken out in her town. The only reason she’s able to do this is that she grew up there and knows how to talk to her community members. We have a game called Prognosis, where you’re the

director of health in a city and you’re looking at different neighborhoods, trying to balance their resources. We also have a game called Bystander, about sexual assault intervention. Probably one of my favorite games is Baby Town, where your character can become a teen parent. But unlike other scenarios, where it seems like teens are told “If you have a baby, your life is over. You just disappear from the planet,” this game continues. You don’t automatically lose if you have a baby. You get a new goal card, and you have to satisfy your baby’s needs before you can satisfy your own. Yes, this game is going to be hard, because being a parent at a very early age is hard. You can do it, but the real question is, After you experience this game, do you really want to? —AS TOLD TO ANNE FORD



Read Ben Joravsky’s columns throughout the week at chicagoreader.com.

CITY LIFE A Doug Jones supporter at an election-night party in Birmingham ò JOHN BAZEMORE/AP


The year in gifts and coal

For every lump dispensed by Trump and Rauner there’s a reason for hope. By BEN JORAVSKY


ith Christmas and the New Year right around the corner, it’s time to write about the good things in life, not just the bad—the presents under the tree, if you will, as opposed to the coals in the stockings. A year ago, in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, it seemed unimaginable to have anything good to say about politics. Well, I’m happy to say that the mood’s a little cheerier this year. At the very least, for every lump of coal there’s a present. For instance, there’s the giant lump of coal that is the pending Republican tax bill—which probably will have passed by the time you read this. Not all the dreadfully redistributive details have been revealed, so it’s hard to take a deep dive. Suffice it to say that limiting the deduction for state and local taxes to $10,000 will have a devastating impact on Chicago and Illinois. So un-thank you very much, Republican

congressman Peter Roskam of DuPage County, for using your influence to help write a bill that will lead to higher taxes or social service cuts or both for your constituents. Here’s hoping that the good people of the sixth district oust you in next year’s election—now that would be a present worth unwrapping. I mean, it’s hard enough to get Republicans around here to sign on to any new taxes. It will be even harder to put together a coalition for a progressive income tax once voters learn they’ll no longer be able deduct all their state and local taxes from the amount they owe in federal taxes. The Trump and Rauner attack on progressive taxation is part of a larger Republican strategy to kill government by starving it of the money it needs to function. Or as Grover Norquist, the Republican strategist, once put it, the “goal is to . . . get government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” If this keeps up on federal level, Republicans will be pushing for cuts in social security,

Medicare, Medicaid, and so forth. At the local level, we’ll be right back where we were before the Democrats passed this year’s tax bill—struggling to pay basic school bills. On the good news front there is . . . Alabama! Thanks to close to 100 percent of the black vote going to Doug Jones, the Democrats managed to eke out a victory over Roy Moore, the Republican pedophile. I mean, accused pedophile. Of course, over 70 percent of the white people in Alabama—including a whole lot of women—voted for the pedophile. But I’m trying to be optimistic, so let’s ignore that for the moment. The vote in Alabama illustrates what Jesse Jackson’s been trying to tell white liberals for years: good things happen when black people vote. As black voters tend to elect officials who support gay rights, reproductive rights, sane environmental safeguards, and other things white liberals care so much about. So how about a little reciprocity in the coming year? All you white liberals should demand that Mayor Emanuel drop his proposal to give $2.2 billion to Amazon to bring its second headquarters to Chicago and instead spend it on the west and south sides. So he’s opening schools and clinics for once, as opposed to closing them. Do it out of appreciation for Alabama’s black voters who saved us from Moore.

My larger point is that there’s now renewed hope for Democratic victories. If the Democrats can win a red state like Alabama, they should be able to regain ground in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and the other firewall states that crumbled back in 2016. What else? Well, it’s hard to remain optimistic with wildfires raging all over California, no doubt a result of global warming. We all know that President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accords and issued executive orders intended to free up wetlands and sell off millions of acres of public land for development. Now it turns out that his appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency are investigating departmental employees who dare to speak up against these policies. Apparently, under Trump, the right to free expression applies to Anne Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, and the torch-bearing Nazis who marched through Charlottesville but not to scientists, lawyers, and career civil servants. On the other hand, employees in the EPA’s Chicago office are continuing to speak up. So far they’re being protected by a union contract that keeps Trump and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt from firing them. That union protection is something you liberals should consider as you watch Rauner and Trump tag-team to gut public workers’ unions with lawsuits like the infamous Janus case that will be decided in the coming year. That’s the case initiated by Rauner right here in Illinois in order to cripple unions by not requiring members to pay dues. If Rauner wins, public unions stand to lose a big chunk of funding. This means they’ll have less money to support the kind of politicians who, going back to Jesse Jackson, liberals love. Speaking of Rauner, there are few things more irritating than to watch him race around the state blasting house speaker Michael Madigan for rounding up enough votes to override his veto of the tax hike. Yes, Rauner fought against that tax hike. But when it came time to distribute the proceeds, he headed out to a school on the northwest side to take credit for dispersing the goodies. So he was against the tax hike until it came time to take credit for its fruits, and now he’s against it again. Are you following all of that? Clearly, Rauner’s betting you’re not. Here’s hoping that the present under next year’s tree is the satisfaction of knowing that, this time around, voters weren’t bamboozled. v

v @joravben DECEMBER 21, 2017 - CHICAGO READER 9


All eyes on the square

A CDOT project to rehab Milwaukee Avenue could bring bold changes to the Logan Square traffic circle. By JOHN GREENFIELD


ogan Square’s Illinois Centennial Monument, the eagle-topped column ringed by a hectic multilane traffic circle, is an icon of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. The pillar’s surrounding green space, Logan Square proper, is a popular site for relaxing on benches, sunbathing, and skateboarding. But in a community whose Latino population fell by about 36 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to the U.S. Census, while the number of whites grew by roughly 48 percent, the meaning of the monument depends on who you ask. Latin United Community Housing Association director Juan Carlos Linares illustrated that point during a panel on preventing displacement, part of a symposium on equitable transit held downtown earlier this month. First he showed a photo of a Chase ATM screen with an image of two young white men with facial hair, coffee, and cruiser bikes lounging on the steps to the pillar. “This is what Chase wants us to see when we go to the Logan Square monument,” he said. “This is what you really see in Logan Square,” he said, showing a slide of the same location crowded with Latino mothers and children holding placards against local school funding cuts, a demonstration organized by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. “Visuals matter.” But one thing Logan Square residents agree on is that the layout of the traffic circle is a pain in the neck. The circle stands at the six-way junction of Milwaukee, Kedzie, and Logan/Wrightwood, just southeast of the Blue Line’s Logan Square station. Currently people on foot have to cross three or four traffic lanes to get to the monument, and walking from one side of the intersection to the other requires crossing the street up to four times. This discourages travel to and from the northern portion of the neighborhood; in fact, for better or for worse, this has slowed, though not stopped, the proliferation of new


upscale retail and residential developments common southeast of the square. The circle is a confusing, dangerous intersection for cyclists and motorists as well as pedestrians: the number of traffic lanes varies on different sides of the circle, and they don’t always line up. There were 280 collisions within a 500-foot radius of the pillar between 2009 and 2014, including 62 injury crashes and one fatality, according to state crash data compiled by the Chicago Crash Browser. Now the Chicago Department of Transportation is trying to address the situation. At a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting on December 13, staffers discussed plans to make the area around the monument safer and more accessible as part of a full makeover of the Milwaukee corridor from the circle to Belmont Avenue in Avondale. This summer the department completed a $253,000 redesign of Milwaukee in Wicker Park and Bucktown, using street paint and plastic posts to do “quick-hit” improvements. The Logan-to-Belmont project is a more ambitious, $10 million-plus initiative that will include more permanent safety fixes. At the December meeting CDOT planner Nate Roseberry said the department will present potential designs at another hearing this winter, and will unveil final plans at a meeting later in 2018. Construction could start in 2020. Roseberry said that the improvements could involve new bike lanes, including “wraparound” lanes that would sit between the sidewalk and bus stop islands, reducing conflicts with buses. Bus service could be enhanced by consolidating stops, adding more shelters, and implementing transit-friendly stoplight technology and “queue jumps” that give buses a head start at intersections. People on foot would benefit from new sidewalk bump-outs, which shorten crossing distances, and pedestrian islands. Meeting attendees were generally jazzed about these possibilities. But the boldest ideas for remaking the



3855 n lincoln ave.





The Logan Square Bicentennial Improvements Project calls for pedestrianizing parts of Milwaukee and Kedzie Avenues. ò BICENTENNIAL IMPROVEMENTS PROJECT

square were first floated by Logan residents in a 2014 proposal called the Logan Square Bicentennial Improvements Project. This recommends pedestrianizing the segment of Milwaukee that crosses the square, which would connect the roughly triangular piece of parkland that houses the Comfort Station art space to the rest of the square. In this scenario, through traffic on Milwaukee would go around the square rather than across it. The proposal also calls for pedestrianizing a half block of Kedzie north of the monument, by Longman & Eagle, El Cid, and Logan Liquors, to create a new “Zocolo People Plaza” (vehicles on Kedzie would be rerouted west of the Blue Line station). Almost 500 people have signed an online petition in support of the proposal, which would create roughly two acres of new green space. “This kind of opportunity doesn’t come along often,” says Charlie Keel, a painting company owner who’s coordinating the Bicentennial project. Fortunately, he says, city officials have been open to the residents’ forward-thinking ideas. “They understand that it’s not just about fixing Milwaukee now, it’s about doing something awesome and leaving a lasting legacy for our kids.” CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey says the department’s taking these outside-the-box ideas seriously. “Our next public meeting will show alternatives for consideration, which will in-

clude [new] public space as an element.” Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, whose ward would be affected by the rehab, didn’t respond to a request for comment in time for this column. But in 2015 he told DNAinfo that he’d secured the mayor’s support for the Bicentennial Improvements Project. “I think it will be a project on the scale of the Bloomingdale Trail,” Ramirez-Rosa said at the time. Paul Sajovec, chief of staff for Alderman Scott Waguespack, whose ward would also be affected, says the alderman is excited about the proposal to create a lively public space similar to the vibrant plazas common in Latin America and Europe. “We want the square to function as the name suggests, rather than just a dead space surrounded by traffic,” Sajovec says. “Not that it’s horrible right now, but we think the area has the potential to get several times more use.” Closing streets to motorized traffic often draws a backlash, but hopefully CDOT, backed by political muscle from the aldermen and the mayor as well as community support, will move forward with the Bicentennial Improvement Project’s recommendations. Safer streets and more green space would benefit residents from all walks of life. v

John Greenfield edits the transportation news website Streetsblog Chicago. v @greenfieldjohn

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The Se cond City complex By IAN BELKNAP


t’s been 65 years since the New Yorker’s A.J. Liebling dubbed Chicago the Second City, a “not-quite metropolis.” As it’s now reached retirement age, the notion ought to be collecting its gold watch and hitting the links and one day in the very near future gumming down its last spoonful of pudding before dying in obscurity. But alas, Chicago’s also-ran self-image persists: the city as subordinate, generally lacking, suffering by comparison. Like other destructive afflictions that just won’t quit—trickle-down economics, the “good guy with a gun” theory—Chicago’s Second City syndrome shows no signs of subsiding. This entrenched inferiority complex in our DNA adapts to the contemporary moment, often mutating into a superiority complex. Witness the overinflated sense of civic standing with which Mayor Rahm Emanuel declares Chicago a “worldclass city.” And all while he’s once again closing public schools or making corporate giveaways or coercing a gutless City Council into voting with him. As he does so, Emanuel always manages to sound like the leader of a lawless backwater, soon to be overtaken by rebels, addressing a skittish crowd from a palace balcony while the sound of cannon fire approaches.

In Chicago it seems no perceived slight can go unanswered, in a tone verging on desperation. If the alleged insult involves a comparison between Chicago and New York City or Los Angeles, Chicagoans will unleash a litany of



reasons this city is cleaner, greener, less expensive, kinder, more bikeable, and with smaller cockroaches too. But here’s the thing: coastal elites don’t give a rat’s ass about such comparisons. As someone who once lived in New York, home of the $23 grilled cheese and the apartment you could hide under a bath mat, I can attest NYC residents will take your insults as evidence of your soft-headed inability to see manifest greatness. In LA, home of unironic reiki for dogs and, until recently, sanctioned serial sexual assault by film producers, residents are too epically self-obsessed to take heed of disses lobbed at their city. So if I were to act as Chicago’s—hmm, what to call it?—municipal life coach, I’d urge the city to put aside its middle-child bullshit and play the long game. In another 65 years, when New York and LA have been claimed by rising sea levels, Chicago will vie with no one for primacy.


CTA rid ers with no etiquette By BILL SAVAGE


he CTA is the best of Chicago: its trains and buses get us where we’re going. The people of the CTA, on the other hand, are the worst. Not all of them—just the ones that lack decorum and a sense of consideration for their fellow riders. Unfortunately, their number is legion. I’m not talking about panhandlers or the sellers of loose cigarettes or the fragrant homeless seeking shelter on the trains in frigid weather. Those folks are doing what they have to do (or feel they have to do) to survive, and any inconvenience they impose should be understood relative to other riders’ privilege. Yet however privileged any individual might be, the CTA is a shared semipublic space, and such spaces require users to abide by certain basic rules to make things more tolerable for everyone. These rules focus on two things: sensory details and the ability to move. Riding the CTA is an assault on the senses: the unpredictable herky-jerky motion, the cacophony of squeals and dings and announcements—and all in compact environs. We all need to be able to retreat from that assault into our own heads,

whether diving into the Internet on our phones, reading a book, or staring out the window. But too many of our fellow riders violate the social contract and add to the sensory overload with smells or noise. Want to snack on the CTA? Against the agency’s rules, but OK. If you must, though, for chrissakes eat food that won’t stink up the place! Want to listen to music or watch a video on your phone? Fine, but for chrissakes, use headphones! Need to call a family member about something vitally important that simply cannot wait till you get off the train? Understandable, but here’s the deal: modern cell phone technology is pretty good, so YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOUT TO BE HEARD! The worst of the worst, though, aren’t the eaters or the shouters: it’s the door and seat blockers. These jerks step into the car and immediately stop and make themselves at home in the doorway, forcing everyone behind them to squeeze past. News flash: the doorway is a transitional space, one meant to be moved through, not occupied, unless the train is totally jammed. Outside of such rush-hour moments, there’s never any

reason to hover in front of the doorway of an el car or a bus. Unless, of course, you’re a selfish jackass. Step all the way in. And once you’ve done so, take off your backpack so you don’t block the aisle behind you. If you’d rather not sit down, don’t stand in front of an open seat that’s empty, blocking other riders from potentially wedging themselves in there. If you are seated, don’t put your bag on the empty seat beside you as if it’s your buddy riding shotgun. The CTA runs PSA campaigns in an attempt to eliminate these behaviors. None have worked, because so many public transit riders are either oblivious or seem to actively embrace being the worst of Chicago.


Deal making as a way of life By BEN JORAVSKY


or me, the City Council moment that sums up the spirit of Chicago occurred in the wee hours of December 2, 1987. It was then that the council met to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mayor Harold Washington. One alderman—I can’t remember which one—complained of the excessive deal making going on that night. And Big Bill Henry—alderman of the 24th Ward, on the west side—rose to proclaim: “Making deals? We was all making deals.” For better or worse—and usually worse—that pretty much sums up life in Chicago, where just about everyone likes to think they’re a deal maker. It’s as if you can’t just get basic services by paying your taxes the way folks in, oh, Wilmette may do it—just to pick Mayor Rahm’s hometown. No, no, you’ve got to give a little something to get a little something. We not only tolerate this condition, we’ve come like it in a sadomasochistic sort of way. Alderman Richard Mell has said that he routinely traded his council votes in exchange for city jobs he could dole out to members of his ward organization. Of course, there aren’t as many city jobs to dole out in the days of budget cuts and anti-patronage court rulings. So now aldermen trade their votes for everything from TIF-funded projects to street paving. And you wonder why the council recently passed the mayor’s budget by a vote of 47-3 (well, you don’t actually think that’s ’cause it’s a sound budget, do you?). I remember the great council debate from 2008 over Mayor Richard M. Daley’s plans to move the Children’s Museum from Navy Pier to Grant Park. The local alderman, Brendan Reilly, opposed the move. Aldermen traditionally have the final say over planning or zoning issues in their wards, and so the council was called upon to make a monu-


mental decision: Stand with their aldermanic brother on this hugely symbolic issue or bow to the mayor? Alas, one by one, the aldermen caved to Daley’s pressure. In the end, only 16 dared to stand with Reilly (though the museum eventually decided to remain at Navy Pier). So much for aldermanic prerogative. Of course, I assumed the aldermen got something from Daley for their anti-Reilly votes. Sure enough, one alderman told me his ward got a soccer field. Another said Daley promised TIF funds for a favorite project. But one alderman swore up and down he got nothing. He claimed he stayed up late the night before the vote with a piece of paper. On one side he wrote the pros of Daley’s proposal and on the other he wrote the cons. In the end, he said, the pros outnumbered the cons, so he voted with Daley. Of course, no one believed him—I’m not even sure he believed him. By the way, it’s not just aldermen who cut deals. Years ago, one of my neighbors bragged to me that our block got fast snow removal because he went to school with the alderman. On Election Day, my neighbor stopped by to remind me not to forget the alderman who got our street plowed so fast. “But the streets are supposed to be plowed anyway,” I responded. “What, are you a choir boy?” he said. Speaking of deal cutting: Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner have offered about $2.25 billion to Amazon to open a second headquarters here. Think about that. Amazon—one of the world’s richest corporations—gets billions and I get my street plowed. Obviously, some deals in Chicago are better than others.

The Ch icago Authenticity Police By BILL SAVAGE


ou know the type. You might even be the type. These self-appointed judges perpetuate an interlocking set of arguments about who or what counts as Authentic Chicago. Some of these arguments are geographical: You cannot be a Real Chicagoan if you live (gasp!) in the collar suburbs rather than the confines of the 606 area code, as though an existential boundary separates the city and adjacent municipalities, even if the physical, economic, and cultural environments are indistinguishable. Other arguments are biographical: You cannot be a True Chicagoan unless you were born and raised in Chicago itself. People who come here for college or a job? Not true Chicagoans. Other cadres of the Chicago Authenticity Police claim that only their part of town is the Real Chicago. These folks, ironically, live all over the damn place. From their roosts in Hegewisch to Edgebrook, they insist that only their neighborhood captures or expresses the essential Chicago identity, which they self-reflexively define as being whatever their neighborhood has, whether it be defunct factories or lots of cops or densely populated streets or wide tree-lined boulevards. South-siders disdain north-siders, north-siders rarely give the south side a thought, and west-siders wonder what they have to do to get into the conversation. On various sides of town, other divisions fester: Canaryville disdains Beverly while Chatham gives South Shore the side-eye. (But everyone agrees: Wrigleyville is the worst.) Then there are the food-related arguments: Deep-dish is just for tourists, they say. Real Chicagoans prefer thin-crust square-cut pies, delivered from a neighborhood joint that’s been there so long the phone number listed on signage still starts with an obsolete alphabetical exchange abbreviation. The ultimate Chicago Authenticity Police torment: the no-ketchup-on-a-hot-dog nonsense, which has been periodically pronounced dead over the years only to rise from the grave like a zombie Mike Royko shambling down Milwaukee Avenue in the sizzling light of a Vienna Beef neon sign. If I may contradict myself, here are a few attitudes I believe actually signify Authentic Chicago: the True Chicagoan doesn’t waste a nanosecond’s thought on what other people think about her food preferences. She has deep-dish or thin-crust—even a New-York-style pie-cut slice!—if that’s what she wants. She puts whatever condiments she pleases on her hot dog, because it’s her goddamn hot dog. The Real Chicagoan also welcomes anyone who wants to climb onto this crazy wagon. Lifelong resident, born here? Great, good for you for picking the right parents. From the suburbs but love the city and identify with it? The Real Chicagoan can take a compliment, and he greets you warmly. Just moved here from some Big Ten university town and want to make Chicago your own by exploring all it has to offer? Fine by him. Please, just don’t become an authenticity cop. Chicago has enough of those jagoffs already.



Po lice misconduct By MAYA DUKMASOVA


The cult of Capone By PAUL DAILING


l Capone lived as a schoolyard bully, died in a simper with a brain et by syphilis, and lives on through eternity as a cigarillo mascot and gimme film role for dark-haired white actors who want a chance to really chew some scenery. He was one historical scumbag of many, but no one wears T-shirts emblazoned with the mug of mass murderer Richard Speck. The 7-Elevens in the Loop don’t sell “Welcome to Chicago” shot glasses with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko on the side. Italian chain restaurants don’t have framed photos of Jon Burge on the walls to imply the torture cop loved the soup. Yet Chicago has embraced a man who was responsible for a higher body count than Speck, ripped off the public more than Rezko, and oppressed communities of color more than Burge, slapping Big Al’s fat face on enough sightseer merch to fill Navy Pier. Guides for companies offering mob-themed tours through town tell Scarface tales to oohs and ahs: “Wow, Capone exploited social divides and curried favors from his political overlords in this very room!” In death, a totalitarian political parasite became a folk hero. In the 1920s, Illinois’s Republican Party was divided between two factions. You were either with Chicago mayor “Big Bill”

It’s a forum wherein CPD’s hive mind can churn unhindered by political correctness. News of the reassignments related to the Watts fallout, for instance, was met with the observation that “You are literally taking your career into your own hands in the current political climate attempting to enforce the law. And even if you stopped being proactive a decade ago, nothing is ever closed. Ever.” Posters on the blog frequently decry being blamed for wrongful conviction cases when it’s the state’s attorney’s office that decides what to prosecute; they lament that their union cares more about politics than the membership’s welfare. And yet these aggrieved officers (or whoever they are) evince little solidarity with the people they purport to serve and protect. They frequently rant about “gangbanging pieces of shit” winning the day in “Shitcago.” When they deem someone

Hannibal says: Nobody was really around when Capone was doing terrible shit, so it’s easier to mythologize because you weren’t around. This motherfucker is terrible. He’s ruining lives and he’s a murderer. And so when, you know, when you haven’t been affected or anybody you don’t know directly hasn’t been affected by that, it’s easy: “Oh, he’s a gangster, like the movies! He’s from here! It’s cool!” Thompson or U.S. senator Charles Deneen, each GOP primary a proxy fight between the two. In the 1928 primary, Deneen’s candidates started winding up dead. A Deneen precinct committeeman named “Diamond Joe” Esposito was gunned down near his home. The home of Deneen’s candidate for state’s attorney was bombed. Deneen’s own home was bombed. Polling places were bombed and Chicago voters scared off by gun-waving thugs. But a south-side aldermanic candidate named Octavius Granady got special treatment. In the interests of the Republican Party and the mayor of Chicago, Capone sent two carloads of gunmen after Granady. They found him while he was out campaigning. Granady and a friend led the killers on a highspeed car chase through the city. Granady’s car hit a tree. The T-shirt logo’s men jumped out and murdered a would-be alderman in the street. Nine men, four of whom were Chicago police officers, were charged. No one was convicted. The reason? Of all the candidates in all the races, Octavius Granady did the one thing Al Capone couldn’t handle: He was a


olice misconduct has cost Chicago taxpayers more than half a billion dollars since 2004—and that’s just for legal settlements and fees. The toll that cops’ bad behavior exacts on our city isn’t measured only in dollars, although the city has paid out $100 million for misconduct cases in the last two months alone. It’s also a moral drag, a broad, ugly banner communicating to the country and the world that in Chicago, black lives don’t matter. Or perhaps, since the victims of CPD misconduct aren’t always black, the message is instead that in Chicago cops’ lives matter more than anyone else’s. Just last month, 15 people serving lengthy prison sentences stemming from cases built by corrupt sergeant Ronald Watts were exonerated. (Hours later, CPD announced that seven officers from Watts’s crew who are still on the force had been placed on desk duty.) Watts is just one of many bad cops department bosses have covered for over the years. Many beat cops would argue, of course, that it’s their lives that don’t matter, that the city only serves and protects the police department’s top brass. Indeed, officers regularly make that argument on the anonymously written blog Second City Cop.

undeserving of life—such as 24-year-old Aquoness Cathery, who was fatally shot by a cop in November—they celebrate his death and commend police involved. On December 1, SCC posted social media photos of Cathery apparently flashing gang signs and noted: “Someday society will find a cure, although this one—clocking in around 1,200 feet per second—seemed to work just fine.” The Department of Justice report released last January enumerated the various ways in which a kind of cowboy culture and deep division between top brass and rank-and-file officers contribute to patterns of civil rights violations. On its way out the door, President Obama’s DOJ left the city with a laundry list of suggested reforms but no means of forcing implementation or compliance. According to a tracker established by the Chicago Reporter, the city had fully implemented just 15 of the DOJ’s 99 reform recommendations as of the middle of November. Many in black, Latino, immigrant, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities have long lost faith in the possibility of finding justice with the help of the police—or the possibility of reform driven by local, state, or even federal government. But for those still willing to dial 911 for help, the misconduct and the failure to address its cultural causes sap whatever trust might remain in local law enforcement. And the erosion of that trust contributes to a problem that’s even more pervasive than police brutality— CPD’s abysmal record on solving crimes, particularly murder.

black man running for public office. Your folk hero from the movies wanted Chicago’s African-American community to know what would happen if they tried to improve their lot. That’s your “Welcome to Chicago” shot glass. That’s the guy whose photo implies the meatballs at a chain Italian restaurant are sufficiently authentic. The pop culture cult around Capone is equivalent to someone rooting for electrical fire after watching The Towering Inferno. Sure, both made for cool movies. In real life, both would torch you to the ground.


Bro culture By RYAN SMITH


e is Godzilla in a Big Ten college cap—consuming, fucking, and/or fucking up everything in his path. He shovels hot wings and the boozy contents of red plastic cups into his gaping maw with abandon, punctuating each conquest with a guttural roar. Like our pussy grabber in chief Donald Trump, he’s fluent in “locker-room talk” and is obsessed with winning (or the appearance thereof), with dominion over all, no matter how base or trivial, and by any means necessary. He views life as a ceaseless dick-measuring contest. Even his offer of a high five comes coupled with the threat of menace: the sudden reversal of an outstretched open hand into a cheap sack tap. But for this offense, he is unapologetic. The rules of common decency don’t apply to him. He is the Chicago bro, that youngish, moneyed jagoff who never outgrew the frat house. He is forever 21, an entitled boy king lording over his tiny postcollegiate fiefdom. Loosed upon Chicago by suburban or exurban parents, he naturally joins his brethren to colonize parts of the city in their image, creating a Neverland for douchebags in which every corner and commercial strip is occupied by bars with wall-towall TVs blaring the game (any game) and blasting Top 40 radio or 90s rock (who cares)—spots where the well drinks and lite beer never stop flowing. College flags wave from the awnings of these establishments as implicit reassurance to a bro that he’s entering a safe space where he need not fear censure for misogynist comments or bad behavior but rather can expect a fist bump of approval. Perhaps because of its strong reputation as one of the country’s biggest sports towns, Chicago is a hothouse for bro culture. It’s a tough reality to swallow, particularly in a year that has seen the active interrogation of toxic masculinity and its role in fostering environments in which men sexually harass women without consequence. The toxicity only spikes during the the bacchanalian binge-drinking marathons of Saint Patrick’s Day and TBOX (the Twelve Bars of Xmas bar crawl), when the bros are empowered to spill out from their barstools to treat Chicago as if it’s their own private beer garden. Venture into Wrigleyville on those days and the streets look like a scene from the world’s whitest, most dude-centric zombie movie—call it The Walking Ted. Dressed in half-assed leprechaun and Santa Claus costumes—whatever the occasion demands—the soulless corpses shuffle queasily down sidewalks, puking in gutters and passing out in front yards. These areas of the city—which Chicagoist aptly dubbed “douche vortices”—were once easy to avoid because their boundaries were known: Clark and Addison, long the bro culture ground zero; parts of Lakeview and Lincoln Park, of course; and much of River North, where tourist and suburban bros tend to congregate. But over the last few years, Chicago’s bro belt has shifted. While the Cubs-owning Ricketts family continues to scale up and dad-ify the area around Wrigley Field into a luxury ball mall, bros have accelerated their westward expansion into sufficiently gentrified neighborhoods such as West Town and Wicker Park. More recent sightings in the heretofore relatively bro-free territories of Logan Square and Humboldt Park raise a troubling question: Is any area safe from this invasive species?


Trump Towe r By RYAN SMITH


recently watched a twentysomething man in a Cubs jersey pose for a picture at the northeast corner of Upper Wacker Drive and Wabash. He instructed his companion with the camera to make sure she framed the Trump International Hotel & Tower just so in the background as he, wearing a smirk, flipped the bird in the direction of the skyscraper. Shortly thereafter, a young couple who’d been waiting in the wings staged the same scene for a selfie. Back in 2014, Donald Trump told Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin that the Trump Tower marquee—featuring our now president’s last name spelled out on the river-facing side of the building in 20-foottall block letters—would eventually become Chicago’s version of Los Angeles’s Hollywood sign. And he’s sort of right: Trump’s sign truly has evolved into an instantly recognizable icon tourists line up to be photographed with. But while the LA landmark conjures dreams of Tinseltown fame and fortune, Trump Tower’s marquee evokes nightmares about the president’s hateful reign. For those of us living in the city that Trump constantly bashes (“What the hell is going on in Chicago?”), his tower now looms like a gleaming, 98-story middle finger aimed at the 86 percent of Chicago voters who voted for anyone but Trump in 2016. And we’re all too eager to literally scream “Fuck you!” in return and post about the experience on Instagram. Trump Tower once seemed more innocuous, just another billionaire’s phallic monument to himself. When Trump first announced plans to

build on the former site of the Sun-Times building in mid-2001, he made noise about it taking away the title of world’s tallest building from what was then still called Sears Tower. “Don’t be totally surprised,” he told the New York Times. “It’ll be a great building, the world’s tallest or not.” But 9/11 spooked him, and he shrunk it down to a slightly more modest size. When it was completed in late 2008, the tower reached a height of 1,388 feet, making it the third tallest in the U.S. and second in Chicago, after Willis Tower. Most Chicagoans shrugged; a decade ago, of course, Trump was most famous for terrorizing contestants on The Apprentice. But by the time his 2,800-square-foot vanity plate was hung on the 16th floor of the tower in 2014, Trump’s name had become more poisonous due to his birtherism conspiracy theory campaign against then-President Obama. It’s only gotten worse—much, much worse—since then. I used to feel queasy about the idea of actually going inside the place. I imagined Trump Tower as a version of Barad-dûr, Sauron’s stronghold in Lord of the Rings. But as it turns out, the place is much more banal—more Mar-a-Lago than Mordor. The tower’s sleek exterior is a handsome addition to the skyline if you’re viewing it from a distance and can’t make out the tacky nameplate. The interiors are posh, but not in an over-the-top gilded-everything sort of way. Minus the velvet Trump-branded bag that the daily edition of the fake-news newspaper comes delivered in to guests, there are no Vegas-style flourishes—no golden statues of Trump posed like Michelangelo’s David or anything. Just chandeliers hanging in sparse lobbies and middle-aged business travelers sipping $17 cocktails in the sleek hotel bar. I may have been viewing the building through the wrong lens of popular culture. It’s also a well-worn trope for filmmakers to house an evil mastermind in a glittering slice of glass-andsteel modernist architecture. From Bond villains to corporate crooks like Gordon Gekko, cinema’s bad hombres keep elegant lairs austere enough to match their indifference toward humanity. So too it seems for our real-life movie-villain president. He plunged his skyscraper through the heart of Chicago, and here we are left to shout helplessly into its mirrored void.

Hannibal says: It’s weird that the president’s name is on the skyline and shit. You just go about your regular day, and you look up and see it and, “Oh, disgusting.” I know he did that before he was president, but it’s still weird. I feel like it should be covered up.



Hannibal says: It’s a redone historical place to get tourists to overpay for parking and look at some me stuff. It’s Navy Pier.


such as DMK Restaurants’ Fish Bar. It dares you to think you’re better than Fish Bar. Navy Pier gaslights you. It insists you’re having fun, that there’s something for everyone—and you’re an everyone, right? It traps you in its labyrinth of light, sound, and smells

that are either food or people. You’re already here. It insists you stay. You know the Pixar movie Inside Out? Navy Pier is the Inside Out of America’s collective consciousness. The emotions are noise, capitalism, and being from Indiana. Have you ever sat in silence next to a family that doesn’t love each other? Then you’ve never ridden Navy Pier’s Ferris wheel. Navy Pier is a Carnival Cruise ship that never makes it to better weather. These types of people love Navy Pier: IMAX nerds, men named Rick, and children who literally don’t know better. The most fun I’ve ever had at Navy Pier was at the Art Expo when I was in high school. One of my classmates saw Oprah and said, “That was Oprah!” I looked up and didn’t see Oprah, but my friend had seen her and that was cool to me. Then an adult male artist tried to get us to come back to his hotel so he could show us more of his work and also have sex with us. If you dropped an alien in the middle of Navy Pier and asked it what kind of porn Americans like, the alien would say, “Stepdaughter porn, for sure. Also, did you know Dippin’ Dots are still a thing?”

of sheer annoyance, though, Chitown is the cilantro of nicknames: how objectionable it is depends on who’s saying it. Chi-town can be used with a sort of tossed-off coolness, but it can also be a hideous fist pump of a phrase. (Still, any usage of the term is preferable over “Chi-raq,” which is an insult to both Chicagoans and Iraqis, thank you very much, Spike Lee.) In any case, Chi-town is there for all of us—those who love to hate it, and those who . . . uh, love to avoid saying “Chicago” for some reason. Other city nicknames are so lame that they barely even qualify as nicknames. The deeply bland Chicagoland is really a gross generalization rather than a sobriquet; the Third Coast amounts to not much more than a petulant protest: “But we’re a coast too—sort of!” Then there are the smallscale offenders in the Chicago nickname universe, such as the real-estate-developer-created abbreviations like MiCa (for Milwaukee and California) and SoNo (for south of North Avenue). Why ape the New York convention of piecing bits

of street names and directionals into case-sensitive monstrosities? We’re a city of neighborhoods— places with real names. Well, except for the Magnificent Mile, which just might be the most obnoxious of all Chicago-related nicknames—that cheesy superlative tourists use when they talk about shopping at and around Water Tower Place. “North Michigan Avenue” takes about the same amount of effort to say and completely avoids all the complications of the nickname, which include but are not limited to (1) the awkwardness of hearing tourists ask CTA drivers if the bus running along Michigan Avenue is going to the Magnificent Mile; (2) having to hear other out-of-towners mistakenly call it the Miracle Mile; (3) the even more repellent nick-nickname Mag Mile. It seems like it would be the easiest thing in the world to just stop saying “Magnificent Mile” or “Chi-beria” or whatever, but don’t expect anything to change. Like tavern regulars, nicknames tend to stick around.


avy Pier is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of the midwest because it’s what people from small towns think cities should be: a mall with rides and chain eateries with large portions. Navy Pier is the locational equivalent of a panic attack. It’s chaos and distress and bright signs that scream “Hey, maybe there’s a solution here!” But there’s never a solution. There is a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant. Confused and unfocused, Navy Pier presents its attractions as if it’s grasping at anything in an attempt to convince you not to break up with it. “But, but baby—we’ve got the stained glass museum and the fun-house maze. Remember the Build-A-Bear Workshop? Baby, please! There’s Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Bar & Grill! Please, baby. We’ve got the WBEZ studios. The Shakespeare Theater. BABY!” Navy Pier knows locals think they’re too good for it. So as part of its superexpensive Centennial Vision renovation, it’s added a new fountain and Ferris wheel, gussied up the promenade, and padded out the fast food with what its website calls the “Chicago Food Experience,” featuring “authentic” options

Chicago nicknames By WENDY MCCLURE


icknames are good for tavern regulars and old-time gangsters. For anyone and anything else they can be downright cringeworthy. Alas, Chicago is an eminently nickname-able city. Maybe it’s because the world associates Chicago with taverns and old-time gangsters, or maybe it’s just our lousy luck that city nicknames accumulate like dibs chairs in January. Sure, they add color to the landscape of our midwestern vernacular, but for every cool Chicago epithet there are at least two or three awkward ones: for every Scarface, a Willie Potatoes. But which nickname is the worst? Is it even worth it to hate the old cliches like the Windy City and the City of Big Shoulders? For all their corniness, they come with mini history lessons, about politics or literature. In a tiny, pithy way, they express truths about Chicago—or, in the case of the Second City and Hog Butcher for the World, former truths. “Chi-town,” on the other hand, starts with an untruth—the first syllable of the word Chicago does not rhyme with “shy”— stumbles over a questionable hyphen (some people opt to leave it out and just capitalize the T in the middle of word, which is just weird), and ends with a vague description: town. In terms


Mount Greenwood By JAKE MALOOLEY










Weather-related complaints ò






ext time you find yourself grumbling about the cold through chattering teeth, just remember: Chicago has the best weather in North America. You’re probably reading this on 18-degree day, when an oatmeal cloud cover is hovering above your head and the Hawk, the lake wind that Chicago’s own Lou Rawls compared to “a giant razor blade blowing down the street,” is funneling westbound through the alleys. It could be a lot worse. You could live in New Orleans. Or Los Angeles. Or Houston, which last summer was hit by Hurricane Harvey, killing at least 75 people and causing $200 billion in flooding damage. That has me wondering how much longer life along the Gulf Coast—or any seacoast—will be viable. But Chicago—and the Great Lakes region in general—has all the geographic and climatological assets to be a winner in the era of climate change. We’re about 600 feet above sea level, so we won’t be swamped by rising seas. There are no hurricanes on the Great Lakes, only the gales of November that Gordon Lightfoot sang about. And unlike the drought-vulnerable southwest, we’re never going to run out of drinking water. In the movie L.A. Story, weatherman Steve Martin is replaced by a colorless functionary whose forecast is “72 degrees and sunny. Next report in three days.” Sure, 72 degrees and sunny may be the climatic equivalent of prime rib, but do you want to eat prime rib every day? Here in Chicago, we get to experience the entire meteorological buffet—sun, rain, wind, heat waves, polar vortices, wet falling leaves pasted to windshields, Snowmageddons,


gloomy Aprils that refuse to turn into spring— without the aforementioned gristle of hurricanes and flooding. Because of that, weather is to Chicago what football is to Dallas or politics is to D.C. Do you know who the highest-paid local TV weatherman in this country is? Tom freakin’ Skilling, who earns a million dollars a year not just because he’s so skilled at what he does, but because there’s so much demand for what he does: our enthralling climatic variety means we need to warned about what’s happening outside two or three times a day. “Skillheads” won’t go to bed without watching Tom’s forecast, and they mob his annual severe-weather seminar at Fermilab. It’s Tom Skilling’s weather; the rest of us just put on a sweater for it. The weather here also makes it a great place for getting shit done. We spend the summers in and around Lake Michigan and getting drunk in the bleachers at baseball games, then devote the other nine months to paying for all that fun. In his 1915 book Civilization and Climate, Yale geographer Ellsworth Huntington wrote that, “We are frequently told that the Riviera or southern California has an ideal climate . . . . For most people the really essential thing in life is the ordinary work of the day. Hence, the climate which is best for work may in the long run claim to be the most ideal.” He then identified the northern U.S. as an area where variety in temperature produces “Very High Energy” among the natives. A lot of people consider Huntington a quack, but Chicago is the City That Works. So stop complaining about the weather and get back to work. Or move to Miami, where you won’t get any done.

t’s been said a trillion times: Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. With some 246 of them, it would stand to reason that the task of choosing the city’s worst would be nigh impossible. After all, what makes a particular neighborhood worse than any other? Is it the crime rate? Underperforming schools? Undesirable housing stock? Lack of cultural amenities? As I chewed the question over, I kept landing on the same answer: Chicago’s worst neighborhood is the one that is least representative of the city—demographically, politically, culturally. The neighborhood whose annexation to the nearest suburb would be seen as a win for the city. On those terms there was one place that seemed to be actively campaigning for the dubious designation. Located in the 19th Ward on the city’s far southwest side, Mount Greenwood is Chicago’s Upside Down. No demogorgon roams this parallel universe, but a majority of its electorate did back the man who’s been called the swamp monster: President Donald Trump. On November 8, Trump won nearly 70 percent of the vote in three Mount Greenwood precincts, making the area the president’s top stronghold in true blue Chicago. In the days leading up to the election, Mount Greenwood had already become the focus of controversy. On November 5, 2016, according to news reports, a white off-duty police officer and a police sergeant fatally shot Joshua Beal, a 25-year-old black man from Indianapolis who was captured in eyewitness video pointing a gun during a traffic dispute before he was shot. (In July, Beal’s fiancee filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department, alleging the off-duty officer didn’t properly identify himself before shooting Beal.) Following the incident, Black Lives Matter staged protests in the neighborhood. The group was met by a pack of counterprotesters, most of them white locals, who held propolice signs, spat racial slurs, and told the activists to leave the neighborhood. The clash between the two groups spoke to the demographics of Mount Greenwood, which is nearly 90 percent white and has a high concentration of residents who work as police and firefighters. In a 1992 piece for the New York Times, Isabel Wilkerson, author of the Great Migration history The Warmth of Other Suns, juxtaposed Mount Greenwood with its opposite, mostly black Roseland: “They are separated by two miles, a highway and fear and suspicion so deep that many people in one community would not dare set foot in the other.” She described Mount Greenwood as “an insular, Leave It to Beaver world where white people can live out entire lives without ever getting to know a black person, where people rarely venture beyond understood borders.” On Inauguration Day back in January, Reader staff writer Maya Dukmasova went barhopping in Mount Greenwood as Trump took the oath of the highest office in the land. Her report is filled with colorful characters offering colorful quotes. “In this area, Obama’s like the fucking next coming of Satan, basically,” said Mike, a paramedic who insisted he did not vote for Trump. “There’s a percentage of people that hate him because he is African-American, unfortunately, yes.” But the guy who most embodied the Mount Greenwood id on steroids was Rich, “a Vietnam vet and a retired backhoe operator wearing brown ostrich-hide cowboy boots and a diamond stud in one ear. He described his political views as ‘a little bit to the right of Attila the Hun.’” Unlike Mike, Rich did vote Trump, and he was damn proud to see his guy’s hand on the Bible that day. “The man, as far as I’m concerned, is a miracle worker,” he told Dukmasova. “How can you go wrong with a guy that has a wife that looks like that?” Which brings me back to my earlier point: If Mount Greenwood were suddenly made part of Oak Lawn, Rich would no longer be able call himself a Chicago resident. And we’d be better off for it.



Protected bike lanes By PHILIP MONTORO


his is a bait and switch: I’m a cyclist, and I support bike infrastructure. I use and mostly appreciate protected bike lanes. But the way Chicago lays out its protected lanes sets traps for cyclists. I’m talking specifically about lanes that cross side streets, where only traffic on the side street has to stop. (Milwaukee Avenue is a good example.) Cyclists traveling at cruising speed thus ride directly across the path of drivers turning onto the side street—and when traffic is light, drivers often make these turns with little to no warning. This wouldn’t be worse than biking on any other two-way road, except that the protected bike lane is usually separated from the street by parking spaces—and when they’re full, drivers and cyclists can barely see each other until it’s too late. Even an attentive driver can be taken by surprise when parked cars conceal nearly all of a cyclist’s approach to the intersection. This arrangement also sucks for cyclists because of the constraints it places on drivers trying to turn from the side street onto the larger road: the protected bike lane is

so close to the curb that drivers can’t see oncoming cyclists till they’re practically in the intersection, and the parking lane is so far out into the street that drivers are motivated to nose out into cyclists’ path in order to get a clear look at car traffic. I don’t have to imagine a driver as hostile to cyclists to perceive this as dangerous. I’d almost rather ride on the other side of the parking lane, out in the street, where I’d at least be more visible. This is part of a ubiquitous pattern, not only in Chicago but across the country: when you squeeze cycling infrastructure into tiny gaps clawed open in a cityscape engineered for cars, you can create almost as many problems as you solve. Fellow cyclists, I wish you at least as much luck as I’ve had—despite too many bad scares to count, I’ve never been struck. Drivers, I wish you mindfulness toward all other road-using humans, especially the ones you might not know are there—these intersections are terrible for all of us, but in the event of a bike-car crash, you won’t be the one who’s hurt or killed.

Lake Michigan bacteria By BRAD EINSTEIN


ake Michigan is the crown jewel of this fair city. Unfortunately, as swim advisories occasionally remind beachgoers, it’s also full of shit. A whole lot of shit. It’s my shit. It’s your shit. It’s shit that floats up from Gary, Indiana, and it’s shit that floats down from Gary, a dude from Milwaukee who had a very large breakfast. And yes—Callooh! Callay!—in 1900 engineers made the river flush backward so now all our turds float to Saint Louis—unless there’s heavy rain. In that case, the city re-reverses the flow, diverting sewage into the lake and swiftly turning our freshwater fun into a feces fiasco.

Not sure how besewaged the lake is at any given moment? Fear not, the city of Chicago has solved its bacterial warning optics the same way the GOP has solved its actively hating America optics: with flags! Just check out a lifeguard stand and follow this little mnemonic: If the flag is green, the water’s clean. If the flag is yellow, you’re a fellow . . . who likes to gamble with his health. If the flag is red, you’re gonna be dead! The flag system is so easy to remember because it’s the same colors E. coli will turn your stool before all your organs fail!

To be fair, this year Chicago did expand its partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago to monitor 20 beaches with a new rapid test that analyzes levels of bacterial DNA in a water sample. This progress is great to see—or at least it will be, if the pink eye I got at Montrose Beach in August ever responds to antibiotics. It’s worth mentioning that lake bacteria does have its upsides. After all, it wasn’t just that Arby’s meat slicer that took half of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s right middle finger. What really damned his digit was the infection he got after swimming in the lake before getting stitches. So while Rahm’s spent years fucking up a number of Chicago’s treasured institutions, the lake remains the only one that has irrevocably fucked up him.



Split-face co ncrete block build ings Hannibal says: It looks weird to go up and down the blocks in Humboldt Park seeing this new architecture next to an old house. But what are you gonna do about it? Sometimes people want new shit.


plit-face concrete block residential buildings are the parking meter lease deal of Chicago architecture: ugly, regrettable—and something we’re stuck with for decades to come. This blight first popped up by the hundreds during the construction boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The buildings are made of concrete blocks that have an exposed face designed to superficially resemble stone. Bucktown, Wicker Park, and portions of Lincoln Park are particularly plagued by the buildings, although they can be found in almost every neighborhood. For developers, the blocks made for easy, predictable, and economic—read: cheap—construction. Proponents of building type said the faux stone face of the block made the new structures fit in contextually in older neighborhoods. When it comes to questionable construction, every generation has its cross to bear. Our parents and grandparents have to answer for the aluminum siding and the Flinstones-esque stone appliques of the 1960s and ’70s. But at least those recladdings of existing structures can be—and have been—peeled away. The proliferation of split-face concrete block buildings made for a near-permanent class of architecture that ranged from boring to ungainly, a missed opportunity to erect exciting new residential architecture at a time when money flowed through the city. And to make matters worse, the blocks with the decorative faces are frequently only on the front-facing portion of a building. The sides of these buildings are

often just unadorned, straight-up concrete block, visible from the street. Nathan Mason, who uses his Facebook page to document—and poke fun at—bad architecture across Chicago, has often set his sights on split-face concrete block buildings. “They’re banal monstrosities of design,” said Mason, a curator of exhibits and public art for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. He adds that the contextualism argument used to support the buildings was really NIMBY-ism in disguise; local leaders and neighborhood residents desired new construction but didn’t want contemporary or daring design. This contemptible residential construction dropped off after 2008. The real estate crash was a factor, as were growing reports that rain and melting snow tended to leak inside the concrete block buildings, causing mold and rot unless the structures were properly sealed. If the leakage issue manages to shorten the lifespan of these structures, the split-face concrete block buildings may have inadvertently given Chicago what it doesn’t have in the parking meter deal: an escape clause.




Public pool rules By LAURA PEARSON


othing says summer in Chicago like a refreshing dip in one of the Park District’s 49 outdoor pools. Sure, they vary in quality—from inviting oases lined with lounge chairs and shaded by leafy trees to stark blue rectangles in slabs of concrete—but for many Chicagoans and their families, these neighborhood pools are a lifesaver on sweltering days. That is, if they can actually get in the water without drowning in rules and regulations. First, there’s the limited season. Inevitably it’s for budgetary reasons, but the pools don’t open until mid-June and only stay open through Labor Day, leaving merely two and a half-ish months to enjoy them. Chicago summer is already woefully short. Why can’t the pools open after Memorial Day? Then there are the utterly confusing hours of operation, which vary by location. The Park District’s website advises residents to check before stopping by to swim. Don’t bother. The schedules are rarely up to date. Even if you do study them carefully to find that blessed 45-minute window when adults can swim, you’ll likely show up to the pool and it’ll be Family Swim (no adults admit-

ted without accompanying a child 17 or under) or a day camp will have the run of the place or maybe the teen lifeguards will decide to do some random training exercises, during which time both swimmers and sunbathers must abruptly clear the pool area, stand outside the gate, and wait. There’s a surfeit of waiting around Chicago pools, with staff members barking commands and ordering people form lines for no explicable reason. At the end of last summer, after several failed attempts to make it to Adult Swim at Holstein Park (trusting the online schedule like a fool), I showed up on a hot August afternoon only to discover the pool in the midst of Family Swim. Again. “Where’s your family?” the lifeguard asked. “There,” I said, pointing to the mother and kids behind me. We’d spent 30 minutes waiting in line together and had bonded over the byzantine pool rules. The lifeguard eyed me skeptically. “I think you’re lying,” she said. But my sweet fam vouched that I was, in fact, with them. You might have to lie your way into a Chicago public pool, but on the bright side you might also get adopted.



Towing companies By JULIA THIEL


n my way home from work one night in the summer of 2007, I parked in the lot of a shuttered Pizza Hut while I grabbed a burrito from La Pasadita. I’d made it about three steps out of the parking lot when I realized I didn’t have my wallet, so I turned around and headed back to my car. The apprehension I felt at seeing a man standing next to it in the dark turned into a different kind of dread as he explained that there was a boot on my car, it would cost $75 to get it off, and he would be recording our conversation. He pointed to a sign across the lot warning against unauthorized vehicles; I pointed out that it wasn’t visible in the dark and I was parked in front of a different sign, which said the lot was for Pizza Hut customers only (and, I added, the fast-food joint was gone). We went back and forth for quite a while, until he finally said he’d give me a break and take the boot off my car without charging me. (I suspect it was really because he thought I would be a pain in the ass in court, but I didn’t care too much what the reason was.) Whether they’re booting or towing cars, the companies that are contracted to monitor private lots have been causing headaches and sometimes bodily injury to Chicagoans for more than 50 years. A 2011 study by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America named Chicago the worst city and Illinois the worst state in the U.S. for aggressive towing practices, but the issues predate that study by decades. Mike Royko began writing about now-notorious Lincoln Towing in the 1960s, and in 1988 recalled “thrilling stories of car owners being knifed, beaten with tire irons, stomped, mauled and otherwise chastised when they objected to their cars being seized” in a piece for the Tribune. In 1972—a year after the company was ordered to

Sunday parking meters Hannibal says: It’s tow trucks, man! They got a big-ass truck to take cars! They didn’t get it to cruise. They got it to take people’s cars and upset them and make them pay. Nobody likes them. It’s not, “Oh yeah, this one tow truck, he might just—even if you parked illegally for a couple hours, he might just leave a note: ‘Hey man, I could’ve towed your car but I didn’t.’” No, they all want to get money.

pay $27,500 in damages to a man whose face was allegedly slashed by employees when he tried to retrieve his car without paying the fee— folk singer Steve Goodman immortalized them in the song “Lincoln Park Pirates.” Part of the chorus goes: “It’s way, hey, tow ’em away / We plunder the streets of your town / Be it Edsel or Chevy, there’s no car too heavy / And no one can make us shut down.” All these years later, it still appears that no one can make them shut down. The Illinois Commerce Commission began investigating whether to revoke Lincoln Towing’s license nearly two years ago but has yet to make a decision. And it’s just the most recognized name. Last year the ICC also began an investigation of Bridgeport-based Rendered Services, which has been accused of moving cars to illegal parking spots in order to tow them (the company, like Lincoln Towing, has a one-star Yelp rating). A few months later the City Council approved a “towing bill of rights” that requires, among other things, that “relocators” photograph illegally parked vehicles and record video and audio of the tow, to be provided to vehicle owners on request. It hasn’t stopped the complaints, though: according to data provided to DNAinfo Chicago by the ICC, in the first nine months of this year drivers lodged about 200 complaints against Lincoln Towing, most of them alleging illegal tows. As Goodman’s song goes, “The Lincoln Park Pirates are we . . . and we always collect our fee.”



ne of the pleasures of Sundays in Chicago in the not-so-very long ago was piling into the family car, tooling up (or down) Lake Shore Drive into the heart of the city, and parking just about anywhere, for as long as you liked, without so much as a nod in the direction of a parking meter. Those days are gone. It now costs $6.50 an hour to park in the Loop on Sunday and every other day of the week; $4 an hour out of the Loop, but within the “central district” bounded by Roosevelt, North Avenue, and Halsted; and $2 an hour at meters in neighborhood commercial districts. We’re paying the highest rates for street parking in the nation—and the really bad thing is, that isn’t even the worst of it. What sucks the most about having to hunt down a paybox on a Sunday and surrender your credit card to it (or punching up a prepaid mobile app) is the hideous specter it’ll summon of Mayor Richard M. Daley and his infamous parking privatization deal of 2008 (extensively covered in the Reader by Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke). That was when, with startling alacrity, Daley whisked an agreement through the deeply slumbering City Council that leased all 36,000 of Chicago’s parking meters to a private group that seemed to be mostly Morgan Stanley but turned out to include, among mysterious others, German financiers and the government of Abu Dhabi. So now when the paybox does its little happy dance and siphons money out of your bank account, your cash—instead of filling the city coffers—is heading to more exotic locations, like the UAE. And will be for the rest of your foreseeable future, because the lease runs for another 65 years. Once the meters were privatized, rates skyrocketed, free Sunday parking disappeared, and the public noticed that they’d been royally screwed. Daley decided this would be a good time to retire; in a remarkable coincidence, he landed a cushy new job with the very same law firm that had facilitated the meter deal. Rahm Emanuel, running to succeed Daley, promised to remedy this disaster, but then a weird thing happened: when activists challenged it in court, Mayor Emanuel’s city lawyers wound up arguing in the lease’s defense. The only change Emanuel made was a 2013 amendment that extended meter hours, provided free Sunday parking at neighborhood meters, and had the unfortunate likely side effect of making any further legal challenges unlikely. A year later, the City Council reinstated Sunday fees on major neighborhood streets, after business owners complained that a lack of turnover in parking spots was making it hard for Sunday customers to get to them.







Mistre atment of the homeless

The recyc l ing program that doesn’t recycle




t’s important for me as a progressive stereotype to listen to public radio while driving and to get outraged at the news. If my hackles are especially raised, I will even tweet about it. (Like I said, progressive stereotype.) This is what transpired in October after I heard a report from WBEZ’s Odette Yousef about the common Chicago policing practice of confiscating and throwing away the tents of the homeless. According to Yousef’s story, one explanation the Chicago Police Department gives to defend the practice is a law that says it’s illegal to block a public thoroughfare. CPD cites a provision of the city’s municipal code: “No person shall use any public way for the storage of personal property, goods, wares or merchandise of any kind. Nor shall any person place or cause to be placed in or upon any public way, any barrel, box, hogshead, crate, package or other obstruction of any kind, or permit the same to remain thereon longer than is necessary to convey such article to or from the premises abutting on such sidewalk.” OK, let’s say I park my car on a sidewalk. A cop would write me a ticket and tell me to move along, but I think we’d all be shocked if he told me to get out of the car, proceeded to smash my vehicle into a cube in front of me, and then wouldn’t even let me keep the cube. (Would he throw my hogshead of mead into the trash too?) Regardless of the laws human beings who are homeless may or may not be breaking by setting up a tent in public, the CPD seems more concerned with optics than with law and order. The logic of the policy to a progressive stereotype such as myself seems to be: homeless people should not be publicly visible and they will be intimidated and destabilized until they’re made invisible. Never mind that there isn’t room enough in all of Chicago’s shelters to accommodate the thousands who are homeless. Even if there was, shelters are often not stable, safe places to stay. What would help create more stability for these folks? I can think of a dozen things off the top of my head, many of which are a part of the ongoing work of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, none of which are stealing and destroying the property, shelter, privacy, and peace of our fellow Chicagoans most in need.





f Donald Trump won’t tackle climate change, then Chicago will” was the headline of an August op-ed piece in the Guardian by Mayor Emanuel, who loves to tout Chicago as a green city, all the more so since the Trump administration thumbed its nose at the Paris climate agreement. Earlier this month Chicago played host to a conference (rather grandly titled the North American Climate Summit) that drew 51 mayors who signed on to a charter calling for cities to meet or exceed the targets set by the Paris accord. Chicago already has a Climate Action Plan of its own. So you can bet Rahm never mentions the city’s recycling program if he can help it. Less than 10 percent of Chicago’s waste is diverted from landfills, while the nationwide average is 35 percent, and high flyers like Los Angeles and San Francisco claim 80 percent, Seattle 60 percent. And it’s not like the city’s shortfalls in this regard are a dirty little secret among Chicagoans. The problem goes way back—Mayor Harold Washington first proposed curbside recycling for the city’s residences in 1987, the year of his death. The city was without a recycling program at all till 1993, when Mayor Richard M. Daley first implemented the infamous Blue Bag Recycling Program. The blue bags were available for purchase at gro-

cery stores; those who were interested in recycling could fill and throw them into the trash along with regular refuse, and the bags, readily detected by their color, would be sorted out. Or not. Participation in the program was limited to begin with, as you might expect with a plan based on the purchase of special bags, but even the efforts of the well-intended were sabotaged when haulers dropped off their loads at “transfer stations,” essentially big garbage dumps, rather than taking them to sorting centers where the blue bags could more readily be rooted out. Once people learned that they’d been buying the damn bags (small, not cheap, and easily torn) and dutifully putting out their recycling only to have most of it wind up in a landfill, they felt suckered, and rightfully so. The Blue Bag Recycling Program was finally scrapped in 2008, which marked the start of curbside recycling in Chicago. Or rather, selected wards in Chicago. Citing costs, the city introduced its Blue Cart Residential Recycling Program gradually, leaving most neighborhoods without a program at all. Budget constraints continued to hamper the rollout. In 2010—the year the city released its Climate Action Plan—irate city workers tipped reporters to the existence of hundred of blue carts sitting unused in a south-side warehouse, orphaned by lack of funds for trucks and employees. Despite all the problems, by 2013 the carts were placed citywide, serving 600,000 residences and multiunit buildings with four units or less. So there’s that accomplishment, anyway. Nevertheless, the numbers, as cited above, puncture any sense of civic pride. The city’s recycling rate as a whole hit a high of 11 percent in 2014 but in 2016 dropped back below 10 percent, where, incredibly, it remains, just a 1 percent improvement over the bad old days of blue bags.




Hannibal says: He has only nine fingers? I didn’t know that. I mean, you shouldn’t focus on that. That seems petty and mean.




onald Trump may be the best thing that ever happened to Rahm Emanuel. This year the mayor has been able to style himself as a champion of immigrants and a toughtalking defender of liberal values and his city’s pride thanks to Trump and his petty obsession with Chicago. Emanuel essentially prevailed over Trump in a standoff over the concept of sanctuary cities when a federal judge decided that the Trump administration cannot cut off funds to Chicago because of its policy limiting police cooperation with immigration agents. The immigration issue and other Trump policies and wars of words have flipped the narrative and deflected attention from Emanuel’s previous woes, including the 2015 election in which he was forced into a runoff, and subsequent revelations indicating that his administration had covered up the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald. Since Trump took office, Emanuel has placed himself on the side of police accountability, supporting the Illinois attorney general’s efforts to push through reforms mandated by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice even as the Trump administration said it would not enforce a planned federal consent decree. Meanwhile Chicago’s stature continues to grow as a glistening global city. The Obama Presidential Center will be constructed in Jackson Park, and a kickoff summit of global activists and leaders was held this fall. In December, Emanuel hosted a gathering of global mayors devoted to fighting climate change—a dig at the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. But many residents, community leaders, and longtime Emanuel critics aren’t buying the liberal hero persona for the man long known as Mayor 1 Percent. They note that even as he makes bold statements about the rights of undocumented immigrants, Emanuel’s development and financial policies and priorities have continued to marginalize the working-class neighborhoods where such immigrants and many African-American residents live. Emanuel’s administration continues to funnel tax increment financing funds meant for blighted areas to wealthy developers and parts of the city, including a scheme revealed last summer to surreptitiously direct TIF money to Navy Pier.



Emanuel’s past budgets have infamously slashed public services and jobs and closed mental health clinics, while the recently passed 2018 budget increased water, sewer, and phone bills, all things that have a disproportionate effect on lower-income people. Increased revenue was needed to meet obligations to city union workers, but many critics say more of the tab should be picked up by the city’s wealthy corporations—the types of players who have already donated $3.1 million to Emanuel’s war chest for the 2019 mayoral race. Immigrants rights activists point out that Chicago’s sanctuary city status isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The Welcoming City ordinance actually includes exceptions allowing police to cooperate with immigration officials when an undocumented person is facing felony charges or is considered to be a gang member— even if the person has never been found guilty of anything. Community leaders generally aren’t impressed by Emanuel’s efforts to reform the police department, known not only for violence against blacks and Latinos but also for spying on and infiltrating anti-globalization movements. And community activists in the south-side neighborhoods surrounding the planned Obama Presidential Center lament Emanuel’s failure to back their call for a Community Benefits Agreement that would ensure local residents benefit from the development and jobs sparked by the $675 million center. The long-standing battle also continues between Emanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union. The city recently announced plans to close and consolidate more public schools next year. While many Chicago voters are disenchanted with Emanuel, his political prospects appear much rosier thanks to a November surprise: Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s sudden announcement that he will retire and back Jesus “Chuy” García for his seat— conveniently removing García from the 2019 mayoral race. So unless fiery former principal Troy LaRaviere can pull it off or another upstart candidate emerges, Emanuel may well have smooth sailing into another term. This time he might not even have to don a fuzzy sweater.


Rahm Em anuel



ruce Rauner released an ad in October that neatly summarizes his tenure as Illinois governor. The campaign commercial features the Republican governors of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Missouri, boasting about how awesome their state economies are, and sneering at Illinois for its financial disarray and economic doldrums. Rauner’s state is an ineptly governed disaster zone . . . but it’s not his fault! The GOP governors claim that house speaker Michael Madigan is at fault. That’s Rauner’s go-to strategy: he celebrates the misery of his constituents because he’s convinced himself that he can blame that misery on someone else. That game plan hasn’t worked all that well so far. Rauner is so despised that even the conservative National Review named him the worst Republican governor in America. As of the beginning of November, according to a Morning Consult poll, Rauner was the fifth-least-popular governor in the country, and the least popular first-term governor, with 30 percent approval and 55 percent disapproval. Those dismal numbers rival President Trump’s. While Rauner has mostly eschewed Trumplike open race-baiting and bigotry, in other respects his 2014 election presaged the nation’s current orgy of farcical mean-spirited incompetence. A billionaire equity fund manager, Rauner had no political experience to speak of before he ran for governor. Like Trump, he made vague promises that his experience in the private sector would magically allow him to get things done, shake things up, and make government work like a business. Admittedly, Rauner, unlike Trump, was at least a successful businessman. But running a business and running a government are, it turns out, very different. Among other things, when you screw up a government, a lot more people suffer. Rauner figured he could waltz into Springfield and unilaterally slash taxes and kneecap unions. When Democratic lawmakers pushed back, Rauner threw a tantrum that has now lasted for three years and shows no signs of abating. He refused to sign a budget, and unable to make payments, the state was forced to rack up $14.5 billion in debt. The state’s bond status was almost downgraded to junk. State universities have had their credit dropped to junk status as well. Northeastern University had to force teachers and staff to take furlough days, and tuition resources for poor students were slashed. Public school budgets and resources have been cut too; so have social services such as mental health services for teens. Thanks in part to the disarray, Illinois had the dubious distinction of losing more residents than any other state in 2016. Through it all, the obscenely wealthy Rauner squats amid his piles of money and blames everyone but himself for beggaring his state. He whines that it’s the fault of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, or of Mike Madigan, or of Chicago teachers—whom he called “virtually illiterate” in an e-mail. Nobody is fooled, and unless Illinois is very, very unlucky, Rauner will be out on his ass in 2018. His successor will inherit a weaker, meaner, broken state, but Rauner won’t care. Immiserating children is a small price to pay for the chance to smugly say it’s someone else’s fault.



Chicago be ing used by right-wingers as a sy mbol of urban mayhem By EDWARD MCCLELLAND


ollowing the Las Vegas massacre in October, Donald Trump’s White House put together a list of talking points to help its surrogates argue it wasn’t a gun that allowed Stephen Paddock to shoot 58 people to death in 15 minutes. Among them: “[S]ome of America’s cities with the strictest gun laws have the highest rates of gun violence. Examples include: Chicago last year had over 4,300 shooting victim [sic]” “What about Chicago?” is a timeworn talking point among Second Amendment absolutists. A red-state gun owner once needled me about my city: “Guess Chicago proves gun control laws don’t work.” “Chicago proves that local gun control laws don’t work,” I retorted. “They’re worthless as long as you can buy a gun somewhere else and take it across the city limits.” Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, tried to blame the violence here on Chicago’s sanctuary city policy, saying it protects “criminal aliens who prey on their own residents.” Even Hollywood conservatives have gotten into the Chicago-hating act. The original Death Wish movies were set in 1970s New York, a special time and place in the annals of urban anarchy. But with New York’s homicide rate at a historic low, the reboot of the franchise—about a man who exacts vigilante justice on the thugs who’ve made his city uninhabitable—needed a new setting. How about . . . Chicago?! It’s the nation’s murder capital! (It’s not.) When the feckless CPD can’t solve his

E The unelected Chicago Board of Education By JONATHAN MESSINGER

wife’s murder, surgeon Paul Keysey (played by Bruce Willis) buys a gun and goes on a killing spree, smirking every time he dispatches another victim. To make things worse, the movie features voice-over work by Chicago’s worst radio personality, Mancow Muller. Then there’s Chicago’s worst columnist, the Tribune’s John Kass, who sagely remarked of the death of a Rogers Park woman cut down in gang crossfire: “There are many guns in the suburbs, but people aren’t being shot down in the suburbs.” Why oh why do they hate Chicago so? Saint Louis and Baltimore had the highest murder rates in the nation last year, but conservatives don’t talk such smack about them. A few theories: • Chicago has been run by Democrats since 1931, longer than any other major city. • Chicago produced Barack Obama, and attacking the city’s dysfunction is a way of discrediting his legacy. • Chicago sent Trump into retreat. In March 2016, the city’s well-developed protest culture, which dates back to Saul Alinsky, mobilized against Trump, forcing him to cancel a rally at UIC Pavilion.

arlier this month, when the Chicago Public Schools inspector general issued a report that CPS CEO Forrest Claypool engaged in a “full-blown cover-up” of ethics violations and “repeatedly lied” to investigators, Mayor Rahm Emanuel tiptoed into the controversy. Rather than condemn his handpicked CEO, a longtime loyal factotum and friend, Emanuel said simply, “Forrest made a mistake,” and asked that no one make any snap judgments. Board of Education president Frank Clark immediately commended Claypool for “exemplary leadership” and said the board would review the report. Claypool would eventually announce his resignation, but the rubber stamp was in full effect. The mayor was ready to stand by his guy, and so Clark, who was also appointed by the mayor, did the same. And this, the initial stiff-arming of a damning IG report, is just one illustration of why an unelected school board doesn’t make sense for Chicago. Illinois lawmakers handed the mayor control of the board in 1995, making it something of a rare bird: a tax-levying body that isn’t actually elected by the taxpayers. Proponents argue that having the mayor appoint the board increases accountability—if you don’t like the board’s actions, elect a new mayor. But this is sort of like blaming Toyota if your Uber is late. There are

• Chicago hates Trump. He got just 12 percent of the vote here, his worst showing in any of the nation’s 15 largest cities.

• Chicago is a blue island. We’re urban, multicultural, progressive, and immigrant friendly—everything conservatives fear and loathe gathered into a mass 2.5-million strong in the midst of America’s otherwise Trump-voting heartland. Chicago’s murders prove that LIBERALISM = DEATH.

The fact that 762 people were murdered in Chicago last year—more than New York and Los Angeles combined—is something we all ought to be ashamed of. NYC and LA did a far better job of taming crack-era gang violence than Chicago. But using those murder victims to score cheap political points is something to be ashamed of too.

no checks and balances on the board’s tax decisions. Neither the mayor nor the City Council can veto those votes. Just to put a fine point on how insane this is: We elect members of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board, but not the school board. We vote on something like 30,000 judges every election, but not the people responsible for the stewardship of, among other things, special education dollars for the kids who need it most. And an elected school board isn’t exactly a fringe idea. According to education advocacy group Illinois Raise Your Hand, 94 percent of school boards around the country are elected, and Chicago’s is the only one in Illinois appointed by law. Several nonbinding referenda over the last few years have shown again and again that Chicagoans want to elect their boards. So what’s the argument for having the board appointed by the mayor? Supporters of an appointed board say it removes politics from the board’s composition. If you ignore for a second that Chicago has run on patronage since its inception, this still makes very little sense. An elected school board would represent the diverse viewpoints of members’ constituencies the same way any legislative body does. But an appointed board only represents one point of view: the mayor’s. What the politics-free argument truly is after is a board that will oppose the Chicago Teachers Union.


Blago sympathizers By JONATHAN MESSINGER


y fascination with Rod Blagojevich knows no bounds. I used to live a couple blocks from him and would wave as he, inexplicably, jogged down the middle of the street. At parties—the ones I’m still invited to—I’m happy to find an opportunity to steer the conversation to Illinois’s disgraced former governor. And I once presented him with a magazine cover mocking his corrupt past and reality-show heel turn, which he signed: “Jonathan, you are F-ing golden!” So I get it! I understand the urge to sympathize with, and maybe even cuddle, the former politician whose tradmark mane has turned white in a Colorado federal prison. We’ve all been milked for sympathy as Blago files appeal after appeal, trying to get out of the pen after serving a little more than a third of his 14-year sentence. Maybe you remember him doing his Elvis impression, or getting a noogie from Joy Behar on The View, and you think, “Come on, he wasn’t that bad.”

No way. It’s important to remember that it wasn’t just his giddiness over having the statutory power to appoint someone to Barack Obama’s Senate seat and his alleged plans to use that authority as leverage for himself that landed him in the clink. Federal prosecutors also documented how Blago tried to shake down an executive at then Children’s Memorial Hospital for a $50,000 campaign contribution in exchange for his providing $8 million in state health funds. So not only was Obama’s seat

“golden,” but apparently reimbursements for treating sick kids were as well. And bear in mind that governors around the country face the prospect of filling Senate seats if more harassers in Congress’s upper chamber tumble; we probably shouldn’t treat Blagojevich’s quid pro quo corruption as suddenly less serious. Your cute little #FreeBlago Twitter campaign is as pathetic as the governor’s turn on Celebrity Apprentice. Just stop.

ues that are then contested, and he’s openly encouraged everyone across the county to appeal their property values to win a reduction (preferably through a certified Democratic Party law

firm). All along, he’s unapologetically hired family members and political cronies like election lawyer Tom Jaconetty, a master of derailing candidates by challenging signature petitions to get on the ballot, a favorite Berrios political tactic. Oh yeah, he also accepts political contributions from those lawyers arguing tax appeals, and he has been resistant to any and all attempts to rein in those contributions or declare them illegal entirely, just as he’s openly refused to alter nepotistic hiring. Ever a toady to Democratic Party powers that be, he sided with the Vrdolyak 29 during the so-called Council Wars, which briefly cost him the 31st Ward committeeman seat he’d won in the 80s, though he reclaimed it in the 90s after Harold Washington ally Ray Figueroa lost interest. He rose to chairman of the Cook County Democrats in 2007 in what could be perceived as a bone thrown to Hispanics. Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle has defended Berrios as someone who has opened the slating process to women and minorities over his ten-year tenure. That’s true enough. But otherwise Berrios operates amid a dynamic not unlike the early seasons of The Sopranos: think of Uncle Junior attracting all the unwanted attention, including the scrutiny of government investigators, while the real powers are left to operate in the shadows.

Joe Berrios By TED COX


oe Berrios was the first Latino elected to the Illinois General Assembly, at the age of 30 in 1982, and his political career has slid downhill ever since. Think of his legacy as something along the lines of a trail left by a snail. At the time he first won elected office, Berrios already held a position in the Cook County agency that oversees property tax appeals; it’s an inherently corrupt system that has been at the nexus of Democratic Party power for decades, especially since patronage was undercut by the Shakman decrees. Keep in mind, the assessor sets property values across the county, values that can then be contested before the Cook County Board of Review, often by high-profile law firms headed by statewide Democratic powers like house speaker Mike Madigan and senate president John Cullerton, as well as alderman Ed Burke (whose firm does Donald Trump’s local property tax business). It’s basically a license to print money—most recently criticized as a “racket” by none other than Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy—and Berrios presides over it. While double-dipping in government positions and as a General Assembly lobbyist over the years, Berrios has made Cook County property taxes his bread and butter, rising first to a commissioner position on the Board of Review (a much more lucrative and powerful post than any chump state-rep gig), then to assessor in 2010. He’s now the one who sets the assessed val-




Michael Ferro By SAM STECKLOW


hat exactly does Michael Ferro want out of the news industry? It’s a fair question for the man who controls the country’s third-largest newspaper publishing company, including the vast majority of publications covering the Chicago area. The 51-year-old has never seemed particularly enamored of any of the newspapers he’s invested in. A former top editor at the Sun-Times when it was under Ferro’s chairmanship of Wrapports, the coterie of wealthy Chicago businessmen that formed to buy the daily along with the Reader five years ago, expressed doubt that Ferro ever so much as looked at the paper. Since Ferro jumped across town in February 2016 to become chairman and majority shareholder of the company that owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and other papers, the most notable moves he’s made have been changing the name of Tribune Publishing to the guttural Tronc and fending off (against the wishes of shareholders) efforts by Gannett to purchase the company. Projects cooked up under Ferro’s watch seem to be more akin to PR stunts than to sustainable models for the future of news and information. There was the roundly ridiculed aggregator, the Sun-Times Network, which was finally shut down last year; the empty-headed lifestyle magazine Splash, a Ferro pet project that he purchased and added to the Tronc portfolio shortly after his arrival there; and now the Los Angeles Times’s yet-to-be-unveiled “international entertainment strategy.” What’s sad is that Ferro plainly thinks of himself as an equal to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Sure, both are rich swinging dicks from the tech world who added a prestige newspaper to their respective portfolios. But aside from the vast disparity in their bank accounts (Bezos’s is much, much bigger), the most glaring difference between the two for anyone who actually cares about journalism is that Bezos has deeply invested in the Washington Post’s editorial resources—and it shows. Ferro meanwhile has engineered the cutting and consolidation of his news operations, preoccupied instead with bulking up the ability to make a cheap buck on automated video. He believes harvesting content and stuffing it into a figurative funnel—as Tronc functionaries once described the work of journalism in a much-maligned company brand video—will manifest in cash on the other side.

During his turbulent five years at Wrapports, Ferro approved the creation of Grid, an ambitious business publication that was unfortunately compromised by puff pieces about Ferro’s friends. Ferro’s strained relationship with the Sun-Times reached its nadir in 2014, when the paper’s highly respected Springfield bureau chief, Dave McKinney, resigned after management threatened to reassign him because a story he wrote stuck in the craw of then-gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, Ferro’s pal and a former Wrapports investor. Due perhaps to his background as the founder of Click Commerce—a dotcom-era business-to-business software firm that was bought by Illinois Tool Works in 2006 and shortly thereafter tanked—Ferro is drawn to technology fads. That tendency coupled with his apparent attention deficit has not served his newspapers well. At the Sun-Times he dabbled with ill-fated bitcoin strategies: bitcoin subscriptions, a bitcoin paywall, a bitcoin wallet. And now at Tronc he’s on to artificial intelligence. (His obsession is reportedly fueled by the “thousands” of technology patents granted to Tronc by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, whom Ferro ousted from the Tronc board last March.) “There’s all these really new, fun features we’re going to be able to do with artificial intelligence and content to make videos faster,” Ferro babbled on CNBC in June 2016. “Right

now, we’re doing a couple hundred videos a day; we think we should be doing 2,000 videos a day.” Aside from AI, Ferro’s chief concern at Tronc seems to be milking the company for everything it’s worth. Weeks after becoming the controlling shareholder, Ferro reportedly strong-armed Los Angeles Times editors into handing over Academy Awards tickets meant for reporters assigned to cover the ceremony. Times journalists organizing the newsroom’s union drive recently discovered Tronc paid $4.6 million to one of Ferro’s other companies for use of its private jet over just seven months this year. (Tronc responded that the expenses were “reasonable and appropriate.”) The union organizers also found preposterous disparities between executive and newsroom compensation: Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn, a longtime Ferro lieutenant, makes more than a million dollars more per year than his counterpart at Gannett, a larger and more valuable company, while journalists with the Tronc-owned Times Community News are paid $40,000 salaries. Meanwhile, Troncowned Baltimore Sun Media Group closed the alt-weekly City Paper, and last month Ferro’s company began cutting jobs at its latest acquisition, the New York Daily News. As Ferro continues meddling in a business that’s nothing but gloom and doom, adding more and more publications to Tronc’s portfolio, the question remains: Why? Surely it’s not the profit margins. And he’s never expressed some deeply held reverence for the fourth estate’s role in our democracy. Ferro may very well believe himself to be the chosen one, the beleaguered industry’s white knight. For passionate Chicago news consumers and the journalists they rely on, it is a terrifying thought.


Jo hn Kass

Hannibal says: That’s a strong move. Not saying I agree with it, but, wow! “You know what? Shut it all down. Fuck that.” Even if you don’t like it, you gotta respect that level of stubbornness, even if he’s on the wrong side. Damn! “Just shut it all down!”


Joe Ricketts By J.R. JONES


hicago is celebrated as a city of many neighborhoods, but really there are only two: the skyboxes and the bleachers. Joe Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, watches life roll by from a skybox. Founder of the discount brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, Ricketts divides his time between a 17,000-square-foot mansion in Omaha and a palatial ranch in Little Jackson Hole, Wyoming, using his $2.1 billion fortune to market bison meat, fund political initiatives against federal spending, and hold forth on his blog about the importance of free markets, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance. In 2016, Ricketts spent at least $1 million (and his son, Todd, raised another $24 million) to elect Donald Trump, who never tires of trashing Chicago even as he stamps his name on the skyline. Joe’s investment will pay off big time if the GOP passes its proposed tax bill, which slashes the corporate rate and the estate tax: according to a study by the Tax Policy Center cited in the Washington Post, the top 1 percent of Americans can look forward to a tax reduction of 62 percent over the next decade. Like many men who’ve risen from modest beginnings to spectacular wealth, Ricketts can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t just do the same. Six weeks ago, he pulled the plug on his DNAinfo network of local news sites—including the invaluable DNAinfo Chicago and its affiliated blog, Chicagoist—and threw 115 journalists out of work. The timing was conspicuous: only a week earlier, his New York staff had voted to unionize. “Unions promote a corrosive us-against-them mentality that destroys the esprit de corps businesses


O need to succeed,” Ricketts wrote on his blog in September. “The type of company that interests me is one where ownership and the employees are truly in it together, without interference from a third-party union that has its own agenda and priorities.” That’s the kind of company that interests many people, but it’s pretty hard to find in our modern economy of stagnant wages, shrinking benefits, contract employment, and a ragged social safety net. Ricketts may champion a balanced federal budget, but he and his son Tom, chairman of the Cubs, have gone after plenty of public money to implement the family’s five-year, $575 million “1060 Plan” to renovate Wrigley Field and develop the surrounding area. As my colleague Ryan Smith reported last April, the Cubs lobbied Mayor Emanuel for a $200 million contribution from the city amusement tax in 2012 and stand to collect $75 million in federal historic preservation tax credits from the National Park Service. As part of the plan, a giant boutique hotel is going up next to the park, and with the 2017 season complete, construction is under way for the American Airlines 1914 Club, the first of four top-dollar luxury clubs to be located inside the ballpark. Meanwhile, just to show Chicagoans that we’re truly in it together, the Cubs have raised ticket prices 19.5 percent; according to the ticket resale site TickPick, the team now has the most expensive tickets in baseball, averaging $150 apiece. To Skybox Joe, even the bleachers are too good for us bums.

ne of the saddest things about John Kass’s present status as a right-wing blowhard is that he previously played a role in Chicago’s media landscape as a government watchdog, reporting for the Chicago Tribune on shady dealings at City Hall under Richard M. Daley. But following the death of legendary newspaperman Mike Royko in 1997, it was determined that Kass would be more of an asset to the Republican-leaning daily as a columnist. The Trib has a right to throw red meat to its aging, suburban readership, but in recent years Kass has managed to find ways to be ever more reactionary, such as attacking so-called liberal responses to horrific tragedies. For instance, in an October 3 column in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, Kass painted renewed calls for sensible gun laws by Democrats as vulturelike behavior: “The dead weren’t even finished dying before the left swooped down to feed on gun control politics.” Exactly how long does Kass think it’s necessary to wait before bringing up the obvious? Until the next heartbreaking incident in which dozens of innocent people are killed? In this case it was the Sutherland Springs church shooting, about a month later. In that October 3 column, Kass acknowledged that the U.S. has more guns and gun crimes than any other country, and claimed he’s open to more debate on the issue. But he also argued that blaming the National Rifle Association for mass shootings is like blaming airplanes for 9/11. He went so far as to imply that a more important factor in U.S. gun massacres is the nation’s drop in church attendance. When weighing in on the gun control debate, Kass—like President Donald Trump and other right-wingers—never misses an opportunity to bring up the homicide epidemic in Chicago and the failure of Democratic leaders to solve it. “Most killings aren’t committed by some lone sniper without apparent motive,” Kass wrote. “Street gangs continue their slaughter and City Hall is powerless to stop them.” Kass continued that theme in an October 13 column after longtime Waldorf School math teacher Cynthia Trevillion, 64, was shot and killed in gang crossfire near the Morse el stop in Rogers Park. “Chicago politicians want you to think of it as gun violence because that gives them political cover,” he wrote. Instead, the columnist suggested, the chief reason why murders are more common in the city than the suburbs, where he resides, is poor home training. He quotes a resident who asks, “Where are the parents of these kids? . . . Even at a young age, you can teach the difference between good and bad. But these boys who killed the teacher didn’t learn that.” Largely ignored in Kass’s self-righteous moralizing are the root causes of violence in Chicago’s lower-income communities: the legacies of segregation, neighborhood disinvestment, and redlining, as well as a host of continuing issues—addiction, mass incarceration, unemployment, lack of access to affordable housing and high-quality education and health care. A moutza to him.



Chicago’s pretense of having a splashy celebrity culture By LAURA PEARSON


mong the more embarrassing displays of Second City syndrome is the desperate thirst for a Chicago “celebrity culture,” especially local media outlets’ relentless quest to frame the city as “star-powered.” This manifests in lame party coverage—from store openings attended by a few self-mythologizing fashion bloggers and an errant Bulls player to fund-raising galas catering to North Shore socialites, dutifully emceed by Bill Kurtis—as well as secondhand reporting about literally anything any remotely Chicago-related famous person says, wears, eats, or tweets. Bonus points if said person wears something Cubs, eats something Portillo’s, or tweets something about Cubs/Portillo’s. Because, alas, the giant mirror Chicago holds up to itself can only reflect the most basic signifiers of Chicagoness. Who qualifies as a Chicago celebrity, anyway? Lifestyle and entertainment reporters cast a ridiculously wide net. Top of the list, and spurring an endless stream of “Local boy/girl makes good” stories, is any famous or quasi-famous individual born anywhere in the metropolitan area— whether Glencoe or Waukegan, Maywood or Minooka. Note: “born and raised” is not a requirement; being born somewhere Illinois-ish is newsworthy enough. Singers, chefs, models, moguls, authors, politicians, MasterChef contestants—all qualify. But Second City alums who grew up elsewhere count too, as do professional athletes who live in the city only semiannually. Then there’s breathless coverage of actors in town to film Empire, Shameless, and any of the numerous public-service-themed Dick Wolf shows, Chicago P.D. or Chicago Streets & San or whatever, as well as routine stories about graduates of New Trier or Northwestern who caught their big break in New York or LA, never to return again. If you absorbed only local news, you’d think Kanye West remains a resident, Billy Corgan is culturally relevant, and everyone in Cook County is still reeling from Oprah’s departure. Of course, many notable people are from Chicago, and some actually live here. The issue isn’t whether the city can claim VIPs (not you, fashion bloggers and Lake Forest ladies who lunch); it’s the weird fierceness with which they’re claimed. At best, it’s awkward—with a distinct lack of self-awareness the media trumpets such people and attempts to shoehorn in ever more notables as a means of legitimizing Chicago’s existence. The same goes for gleeful consumers of this stuff—i.e., Rahm Emanuel and people who are drawn to dine at Bill and Giuliana Rancic restaurants. At worst, the thirst for a celebrity culture runs completely counter to Chicago’s ethos— that we favor things like hard work and process over posturing and status. Bill Murray sightings are fun, and fuel for the insatiable content machine, but the bottom line is Chicago is studded with regular people and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Media cove rage of Chicago hip-hop By LEOR GALIL


o many local hip-hop artists have helped me see the city anew through their work that I doubt I could name them all. Chicago hip-hop followed up on a tremendous 2016 with a flood of great releases that helped me get through the lows of 2017: to pick just three, Joseph Chilliams’s cheeky and tender Henry Church, Cupcakke’s brash and ecstatic Queen Elizabitch, and G Herbo’s introspective and ferocious Humble Beast. Depending on where you read the news and discover music, though, you might not have heard of any of these albums. Because Chance the Rapper is from Chicago, the glare of his celebrity has an especially deranging effect on local media. Not only does it draw attention away from his music (the reason he’s famous in the first place) and from the important causes he supports, it also starves the rest of the city’s scene of thoughtful coverage. For the past few years I’ve kept track of the missteps I’ve noticed in the media’s treatment of Chicago hiphop. In 2014 I talked with former Reader staffer Drew Hunt about Noisey’s myopic and shallow Chi-Raq videos, and I wrote a few blog posts about the press’s habit of framing Chicago hip-hop with a trumped-up binary that sets nihilistic drill artists as somehow in conflict with Chance and his crew and their positive vibes. Every new think piece that positions Chance and Chief Keef as polar opposites does further damage to an already corrupted critical discourse—one that could’ve instead provided Chicagoans with an enriching understanding of what’s happening in their own backyards. The Chance-versus-Keef trope should’ve been obsolete in 2013, but the Chicago Tribune’s William Lee flogged that dead horse when he compared the two

rappers for the paper’s Lollapalooza preview package this summer. Not only does he call Keef a “bad boy” and Chance a “golden boy” (groan), he also suggests that the two of them grew up on different planets. Listening to these rappers’ music (and reading the credits) tells you a lot about how their social and professional circles overlap, but I doubt Lee bothered to do much of that. He only mentions a couple Keef songs, both from 2012, and creates a flattened-out picture of the emotive, wistful “Citgo” by quoting a couple lines about violence and ignoring the sound of the track—which is like removing all the verbs in a poem. Reading Lee’s story, I wondered if he’d listened to Keef’s R&B-flavored Thot Breaker mixtape, which had come out in June, or if he knew that Keef appears on the recent debut album by Vic Mensa (who goes way back with Chance). Did he know that one of the openers for Chance’s 2017 post-Grammy tour was King Louie, the drill rapper who popularized the term “Chiraq”? In the case of Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, who wrote a commentary about Chance’s child-support case one day after he donated $1 million to the Chicago Public Schools in March, I don’t have to guess whether she did her research. She was happy when Chance won his Grammys, she wrote, even though she “hadn’t heard a single lyric the 23-year-old penned.” Mitchell’s column suggests that Chance would tarnish his squeaky-clean image if he gave his child and her mother a raw deal right after that extravagant gift to CPS. But Chance isn’t a cartoon goody two-shoes: on much of his best material, he paints himself as profoundly flawed. As it so happens, the case was resolved amicably a couple weeks later (both sides’ lawyers remarked on how speedy and civil the proceedings were), but that made Mitchell look even more like she was inventing a possible scandal for clicks. Chance isn’t above criticism—the music press pounced on him after news broke that his team had pressured MTV to spike a mildly negative piece—but this isn’t so much criticism as it is salacious speculation. All year I’ve been returning to a New Yorker piece Alex Ross published in March, “The Fate of the Critic in the Clickbait Age,” to remind myself of how important it is for the country’s dwindling corps of arts writers to cover their beats well. The issues I’ve had with coverage of Chicago hip-hop are symptomatic of the understaffing and cuts that have afflicted all sorts of media for a decade or so—the people reporting on the city’s scene rarely have the time or opportunity to develop deep knowledge of the subject. We want the folks covering politics to have an intimate understanding of the mechanisms of government; why settle for less when it comes to hip-hop?


‘Chelsea Dag ger’ By LEOR GALIL


ince the Chicago Blackhawks debuted the Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger” as its goal-celebration song in late 2008, the team has won the Stanley Cup three times. During every championship run, “Chelsea Dagger” has become as inescapable as “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” the day after Thanksgiving— and it remains just as irritating when you’re subjected to it over and over. In a 2013 Reader essay, Aimee Levitt calls it “one of the most annoying songs ever recorded,” part of a chorus of complaints about “Chelsea Dagger” that has mounted over the years—complaints I’d endure read aloud in their entirety rather than listen to the ploddingly delivered gibberish the Fratellis pass off as a hook. Repeated exposure to this 2006 single by a third-rate Scottish knockoff of the Libertines makes it pretty tough to avoid realizing its mediocrity.

Front man Jon Fratelli told ESPN in 2010 that he intended “Chelsea Dagger” to evoke “a rock ’n’ roll gig in an old speakeasy or something like that.” Even the guy who wrote the song sounds indifferent when describing it (he’s frank that he doesn’t consider it his best work), giving up halfway through his own sentence to say, “Yeah, that’s good enough.” The track does evoke a speakeasy—one in the wee hours, after everyone

has had one too many. It’s a song you can still shout your way through when you’re too drunk to drive—and because the recording sets the bar so low, you’ll even sound decent doing it. “Chelsea Dagger” sounds like mundane drunken revelry, which is hardly the part of a professional hockey game that the Hawks intend to celebrate with the song. Scoring a goal in major-league play is an athletic feat impressive enough that it provokes perfectly rational people to compare other humans to deities. The music that celebrates such a momentous moment shouldn’t be so ordinary that it blends right into a jukebox of commercial radio rock.



ou know it’s a bleak scene when your team’s victory song makes “Chelsea Dagger” sound like “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The Blackhawks’ celebration soundtrack seems straight-up nuanced and sophisticated when compared to the dopey, hokey strains of “Go, Cubs, Go.” Chicago-born folksinger and songwriter Steve Goodman wrote “Go, Cubs, Go” in 1984, the same year he died of leukemia at age 36. Over the years his music has been recorded by an impressive cast of singers, including Willie Nelson, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez. In 1985 he won a posthumous Grammy for Nelson’s recording of his song “City of New Orleans.” It’s a great tune, but somehow it’s not what defined Goodman’s legacy. That would be “Go, Cubs, Go.”


“Go, Cubs, Go” is a lame, deflated stab at a rallying cry, its neutered Bo Diddley beat about as rousing as a nursery rhyme. But it’s not just plain old bad—it’s shitty, stick-in-your-head bad, like “99 Bottles of Beer.” Hear its flaccid, annoying chorus once, and it’ll torture you for the rest of the day. Sure, when it comes to professional sports, baseball is pretty wholesome— most people aren’t trying to listen to Slayer at Wrigley. But “Go, Cubs, Go” is about as edgy as a Jell-O mold. By the 1990s “Go, Cubs, Go” had found its rightful place: in relative obscurity. But when the Cubs started winning more frequently over the last few years, this poor paean crept back

into the collective fan consciousness. And with the team’s 2016 World Series victory, the song became a dreadfully inescapable part of Chicago life. Can we hope that “Go, Cubs, Go” will fade back into obscurity and/or be replaced by a more stirring anthem? I’m not holding my breath—I recently saw a truck with a PA in its bed creeping down Chicago Avenue, blaring the song at an obscene volume.
















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ver the last year it seemed that suddenly the U.S. had decided to take allegations of sexual harassment and abuse seriously. From Hollywood to New York to D.C., men in positions of power have rightfully lost their jobs and become pariahs. There are a few men, however, who seem immune from repercussions. Chief among them are harasser in chief Donald Trump and troubled R&B giant R. Kelly. (And yes, film director Woody Allen too.) Like Trump, Kelly has a string of sexual harassment and abuse allegations against him stretching back decades. In 1994, he married singer Aaliyah, who was then only 15, after producing her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. (The marriage was quickly annulled.) Since then, there’s been a steady drip of stomach-churning accusations, first brought to light in the Sun-Times through the dogged reporting of Jim DeRogatis (who, as the paper’s pop music critic, wasn’t expected to do investigations) and legal affairs reporter Abdon M. Pallasch. In 2000, the two wrote about a 1996 lawsuit brought by a woman named Tiffany Hawkins, who said Kelly had sex with her when she was 15 and he was 24; Kelly settled. In 2001, an anonymous source sent DeRogatis a video tape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with an underage girl. The police, unable to identify the girl, could not prosecute. In 2002, DeRogatis received another tape— this one apparently showing Kelly having sex with and urinating into the mouth of a 14-yearold girl. In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of various child pornography charges. In July of this year, DeRogatis wrote a story published in Buzzfeed alleging that Kelly keeps several women in a


“sex cult” based at properties in Chicago and Atlanta, where he brainwashes, abuses, and sexually assaults them. Yet the career of the self-appointed Pied Piper of R&B chugs along. “While Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and other stars have promptly seen their careers implode after their alleged behavior was exposed, the music industry seems unconcerned about the charges against Kelly,” DeRogatis wrote in the New Yorker in November. “His record label, Sony Music, refuses to comment, and Live Nation, the global concert promoter, continues to stage his shows.” Following the Buzzfeed report, a few of Kelly’s 2017 tour dates were canceled, reportedly because of low ticket sales. But according to the artist’s website, he’s slated to perform in LA on New Year’s Eve, New York City in January, and Detroit in February. Harvey Weinstein allegedly sexually assaulted a number wealthy film stars with privileged access to media. Most of Kelly’s alleged victims are women of color who are not at all well-known. “The tragic truth,” Karen Attiah wrote in the Washington Post, “is that Kelly’s alleged acts are dependent on the invisibility of black women and girls in the United States—as long as black women are seen to be a caste not worthy of protection and care in American society, his actions won’t receive widespread outcry and public pressure.” Trump has managed to weather the post-Weinstein backlash by being the most powerful person in the country. Kelly has survived by carefully choosing victims from among the least powerful. It’s a strategy that continues to serve him well.



t first I thought it’d be a cheap shot to include Billy Corgan in this issue—don’t we already know he’s one of the most ridiculous figures in Chicago’s music scene? But then I decided that his apparently obsessive desire to remain in the public eye at any cost was just too offensive to ignore. I’ve never liked any of his music, and Steve Albini’s notorious 1994 dismissal of Corgan’s most famous band (in a letter to the Reader) rings truer than ever: “Smashing Pumpkins are REO Speedwagon (stylistically appropriate for the current college party scene, but ultimately insignificant).” If you claim to love the band’s music, be honest: Without a nostalgic attachment to it, would you really be able to stomach Corgan’s whine on “Today”? But even putting aside the Pumpkins’ legacy (or lack thereof), Corgan has pulled plenty of spurious shit—most recently, he’s started asking us to call him William Patrick Corgan. To which I say: He can run, but he can’t hide. He’s defended Trumpist ideals, and in May 2016 he appeared on the YouTube channel of InfoWars, the media property run by rightwing conspiracy kook Alex Jones, where he ripped on Bernie Sanders for his socialist views and complained that raising taxes on the rich would “completely disempower the innovators.” Because Corgan seems obsessed with pro wrestling—he bought the moribund National Wrestling Alliance through his production company this year—his bizarre antics sometimes put me in mind of Andy Kaufman, but I have no reason to believe that anything he does is a meticulously crafted put-on. Some of his stunts—in March 2014, for instance, he played an eight-hour ambient set for modular synthesizers to accompany a recorded reading of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha at Madame ZuZu’s, his Highland Park “tea shop and art studio”—are so simultaneously terrible and self-serious that I can’t imagine he’s somehow being tongue-in-cheek. Corgan isn’t stupid. He’s just so hungry for attention and has such lousy taste that he ends up vomiting all over Chicago at regular, merciless intervals.




Ersatz Ir ish bars By MIKE SULA


ou know how everybody’s Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day? It’s actually worse than that. The starkest failure of originality in Chicago drinking culture is the ubiquity of the ersatz Irish pub. And I’m not talking about watering holes with tangible ties to Mother Ireland or bars of actual character, such as Shinnick’s Pub in Bridgeport, owned by three generations of the same family since 1938. I’m talking about the kind of place whose idea of Irish pride is a shamrock-shaped apostrophe on the sign and Guinness urinal screens. Where everyone around you shouts “Jamo!” at a bartender who’s badly faking a brogue as overhead 30 televisions are all tuned to American football. I mean pub-in-a-box spots constructed from kits shipped from Dublin in container cars filled with the bones of real dead taverns and convincingly replicated parts. Because nothing says fun like a college freshman’s fifth Irish Car Bomb, the pseudo Gaelic pub proliferates across the north side like potato blight. Who supports all these places? The kind of person who wishes he knew relatives in Ireland, but the best he can do is an aunt in Boston. The kind of person who boards a party bus outside a Wrigleyville bar on the morning of Saint Patrick’s Day and is passed out naked in a Beverly backyard before noon. It’s the kind of person who lives in a city of unlimited and varied drinking establishments, yet always defaults to “Let’s go down to Paddy McDump’s and get some corned beef nachos.” Ah, come on, I’m just taking the piss. Where else are you going to get “the gargles” and delay your eventual hangover with genuine auld sod provender such as blackened chicken quesadillas, red pepper hummus, and fried fish tacos—just like Mam used to make! So come on in. Everybody’s Irish at the McPub.


s espoused by its most ardent practitioners, improvisational theater is most pure when executed as a meandering long-form odyssey—a rare variety of comedic entertainment that is neither funny nor entertaining. Improv is to comedy as Scientology is to religion: it suckers white people into paying ever more expensive fees to the organization to gain higher levels of achievement. Like any cult, its hierarchies are of endless fascination to those within it and deadly boring to those without. And like Scientology, improv is centered around a messianic leader, though the example of the late Del Close suggests that L. Ron Hubbard would have been even more toxic if he’d had a smack habit. Improv has as one of its core tenets the notion of “Yes, and . . . ,” which directs young initiates never to say no to anything suggested to them onstage. This makes improv the only art form in which lack of consent is inherent. Since improv sounds like something designed by a sexual predator, it’s perhaps no surprise that predators are both attracted to it and shielded by its institutions. It creates a form of Stockholm syndrome so severe that improv performers can go on to work for Lorne Michaels and still claim to be feminists. Second City is considered one of our great artistic institutions, like Lyric Opera or Chicago Shakespeare Theater, all places where the

form on display was considered groundbreaking a very long time ago. Second City seems content these days to be a mecca for corporate outings and tourists, making it the Navy Pier of comedy: people go there, but it’s no one you know. Last year, some performers on the theater’s E.T.C. stage were outraged at racist comments shouted by the audience, which is a little like working at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and being shocked by customers’ poor table manners. Second City’s Up Comedy Club once booked shows headlined by national stand-ups. It now hosts improv shows about dating and hashtags, staffed by interchangeable performers. Improv is why Judd Apatow comedies are a half hour too long and contain an additional hour of outtakes in which performer dudes vaguely grope for a punch line. Vague groping being the hallmark of improv performer dudes both on- and offstage. Improv’s greatest sin is encouraging the mediocre. It values the indulgence of the performer over the satisfaction of the audience. It reassures its low-achieving college-buddy teams that half-assed winging it is as valuable as careful preparation. Improv is the artistic equivalent of grade inflation; it treats a B-minus like an A. It celebrates fuzziness instead of precision, first drafts over revision, glibness over contemplation, disposability over permanence. There will never be a profound improv set.


Wh ite characters in plays founders and current artistic director are all SWAs themselves. Their season of indictment began, appropriately enough, with Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee, the centerpiece of which is a thoughtful portrait of a guy who’s had all the breaks but ended up paralyzed anyway, because he’s smart enough to see that his very existence is a kind of aggression. Lee surrounds that story with metagestures calculated to make a SWA-majority audience as uncomfortable as possible. Next came Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over, in which white people break down into two categories: sociopathic cop and Satan. Well, three, if you count tensed-up patrons. And Taylor Mac delivered the coup de grace with Hir, a kind of black-comic eulogy for the whole concept of a straight white America. Over at American Theater Company, Will Davis (who happens to be white and transgender) spent much of his first season as artistic director subverting SWA hegemony by ignoring it: Jaclyn Backhaus’s Men on Boats had no male parts, anato-

my-wise; William Inge’s Picnic played out in a gender-fluid universe, the actors seemingly cast according to the disposition of their hearts rather than the contents of their pants. It wasn’t until last month that Davis acknowledged SWA—or, more accurately, SWT (straight white Texan)—perfidy head-on with Welcome to Jesus, Janine Nabers’s tale of a small town full of murderous white football fans. But the starkest, least apologetic case against straight white America—white America, period—came pretty much out of the blue, from a play written 55 years ago and staged by a company known mainly for producing Irish classics. The play was Wedding Band by Alice Childress, the company the Artistic Home, and the argument revolved around a black woman named Julia, whose decade-long love affair with Herman, a white man, comes to a head in World War I-era Charleston. If Wedding Band is hardly remembered now, it was actively ignored back in 1962, when Childress first tried to get it produced. And it’s easy to see why. Herman’s mom has to be the most vicious racist this side of a lynch mob, Herman himself has his cowardly moments, and Childress gives Julia a speech of such breathtaking rage as to send well-meaning SWAs out into the street afterward muttering, “They can’t possibly mean me.” Well, apparently they do.

additionally competing with you for our cultural/humanities guilt dollars. We know that when you were carefully deciding the perfect Chicago studio at which to enroll to learn how best to tell your story—the story that whoever in your life ever doubted you was specifically doubting you could tell, thus inspiring you to take vengeance in the form of storyelling classes that will allow this hitherto untold pent-up narrative to reveal itself (in a pub on a weeknight in front of a crowd potentially populated with rising Eve Harrington storytelling types)—we know that this unsupportive person you’ve invited us to hear you talk about in a curated evening of other aggrieved autobiographical narrators probably didn’t ask you tough-but-helpful questions when you were trying to choose the most conducive story studio at which to pay to learn. How could he/she/they? He/she/they were unsupportive in the first place, which seems to be how we got invited to your big show at the Chicago Untold Tellers Unreconstructed Narrative Collective. Anyway, this unsupportive person might have told you that you shouldn’t choose the studio or the class or the teacher with the most unverified Moth credits, but the one whose ads honestly hock their ability to make your actual story so compelling that the Chicagoans, the Chicago transplants, the vagabonds, and the transients we will encounter on public transit while trying to get to your show will be forgotten about by the time you start talking about the time when your grandma said that one thing. Speaking of! Needless to say, when choosing where to study the newly emerging craft of talking about yourself, really woke aspiring storytellers will pay special care to the vital new splinter movements of storytelling, the ones that responsibly pit native Chicagoans’ stories and showcases against those of

transplanted Chicagoans, whose stories and showcases need to be appropriately interrogated for their authenticity. That said, of course, if you choose the wrong path for reasons that aren’t your fault and which you can one day hopefully tell a story about, maybe the studio you choose to study at will land you in one of the new storytelling showcases that are innovating the genre by filming storytelling nights in pubs and putting them online. Then, when we’re on the Red Line en route to a live show produced by one of these other groups while watching you, on our phone, finally telling your story, though in a show produced by a warring storytelling faction, everyone’s stories can at last still fairly be heard, justice will hopefully be served (Kit will know not to hustle us if we have our earbuds in cuz they still have manners in Oklahoma), and we can all return to the fight for net neutrality spiritually refreshed and intellectually rejuvenated. That said, we really can’t wait to hear your story. v



traight white Americans are the worst. Especially but not exclusively straight white American men. How do I know? I saw a lot of theater in Chicago this year. Sure, you might glean the same conclusion from news stories (Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore) or history books (slavery, genocide) or social media (@realDonaldTrump). But a play distills behavior in a way nothing else can. And the distillate left by a remarkable number of recent shows is the message that straight white Americans suck. Straight whites have been depicted as villains before, of course, but it didn’t matter because the heroes were inevitably straight and white too. Now more scripts by people of color are getting staged, along with less camouflaged scripts by the noncisgendered—and they’re somehow disinclined to treat SWAs kindly. Steppenwolf Theatre was a prime locus for the exploration of SWA suckiness this year—interestingly, inasmuch as its

Stor y telling series By CHRISTOPHER PIATT


lease don’t take this the wrong way, but while we’re really flattered to be invited to your storytelling show, right now the greatest single obstacle keeping us from attending is actually getting to your storytelling show. You can certainly follow this logic, because though the incentives to plot our week around attending “Really Specific Grandma Narratives: An Incubator Night of Intermediate Storytellers” are both legion and legitimate, and though our otherwise dogged fight to restore net neutrality deserves a well-earned night off, if we’re going to make it to the Story Consortium Lab North Side Chapter in time to catch the first up-and-comer at the top of the bill, we’re going to have to ride the Chicago Transit Authority. There, as you surely know, we are uncommonly likely to encounter a homeless guy from Tulsa named Kit who’s selling opium suppositories in order to purchase an Amtrak ticket to Decatur the next day so that he can be at his daughter’s side in time for her surgery or ballet or T-ball championship, and now Kit is competing with you not just for our already-precious niche attention span for unique, compelling common-man narratives told openly and honestly in a public forum to an indifferent listenership, but also—if your story that we’re boarding a train to hear in person involves anything bad that happened to you which we, the audience, might feel guilty enough about after your set that we’re compelled to buy you a drink—Kit from Tulsa is




I just bought this place on the west side, a commercial building where I want to start offering some arts classes, writing classes, music classes—that type of thing. That’s part of the reason I moved back, so I could have more of a good impact here. It’s still superloose; I gotta find a structure to it now that I have a mortgage in place. The idea is for kids on the west side, if you don’t play sports and you’re 14, there’s something else for you to do. Maybe you want to get into sketch writing, so we invite somebody from Second City.

Hannibal Buress is bringing it all back home

You grew up on the west side. North Avenue and Austin. North Austin is the neighborhood, and Galewood is what we would call it.

With his return to Chicago, the comedian is reconnecting to his roots on the west side.

How connected do you still feel to the west side? Connected but not. You get what I mean? I’m navigating what I’m trying to be, trying to be an adult, that kind of stuff. But as far as my regular—I live a weird-ass life.


You also have a place in Wicker Park? Yeah, I rent it out when I’m not there. I don’t have possessions there, pictures of family and stuff, old CD collections—it doesn’t have that type of personality.


lsewhere in this issue, we poke fun at Chicago’s desperate thirst for a celebrity culture, so desperate that anyone remotely notable who was born in the city or started a career here or graduated from an area university is forever celebrated as a local hero. Hannibal Buress, meanwhile, has a legitimate claim to local-boy-done-good status. The 34-year-old comedian, a regular on Comedy Central’s Broad City, previously lived in New York but returned earlier this year to the city of his birth. He was raised on the west side and paid his dues in the mid-aughts hustling between three to four stand-up shows a night. He stood out with absurd observational humor delivered with a mix of confidence and indifference. He confessed in an old joke, for instance, that he keeps jars of pickle juice in his refrigerator to “flick on my sandwiches for flavor.” Buress still makes a habit of dropping into small rooms around town—the openmike night at Cole’s, the Paper Machete at the Green Mill—but these days the majority of his gigs are high profile. He opened for one of his comedy heroes, Chris Rock, at the Chicago Theatre last September, and on December 29, he’ll headline a show at the Civic Opera House. Last year, he launched a podcast, Handsome Rambler, on which he chronicles stories from the road and interviews guests such as Chance the Rapper. Buress, like Chance, has taken an active interest in giving back to his hometown;

It must be weird to live in a building where you’ve never actually unpacked. It’s fine. I don’t need stuff like that. Give me my TV or some shit that I can watch, give me my computer so I can do some work, give me a Bluetooth speaker and my clothes, maybe I’ll grab just a little food and juice and water— what the fuck else do I really need?

he’s in the early stages of planning a small community center on the west side that offers comedy classes and other opportunities for youth. We asked him about that project, his formative years in Chicago, and his fraught relationship with The Cosby Show. (And no, Buress doesn’t talk about his arrest in Miami on a disorderly intoxication charge; this interview was conducted nearly two weeks prior to that incident.)

What’s kept you in Chicago, despite getting plenty of work on the coasts? I’m still gone a lot, but even when I was living in New York, I really wasn’t truly living in New York. If I did spend ten days straight in New York, that was like a long time. I’m not writing on 30 Rock, I’m not writing on Saturday Night Live, I’m not on a late-night show, I’m not doing a full-time television show that requires me to be in New York every day.

Do you rent it to mostly other comics who are touring? No, Airbnb, but not under my name. I [once] left my ID in the place without realizing, so then these people start tweeting at me: “Yo, we found your ID in this Airbnb.” They’re thinking I just stayed in the place that they stayed in. “Whoa, this is crazy!” So I say, “Hey, can you send that to me, please?,” trying to play it like I was still just a guest. And then the guy says, “My girl kinda wants to keep it.” And I said “Hey, bro, that’s actually my building, and you’re stealing right now if you do that.” [Laughs.] They dropped it off at my friend’s store.

How do you juggle Airbnb while you’re on the road? I have property managers for it. I see all the interactions, like they handle all the turnover and getting it clean, dealing with the J


continued from 35 guests, dealing with their issues. I couldn’t deal with that. I don’t have the personality for it or the attention to that type of detail. I see the interactions, and I only jump in on the correspondence three times in a year over probably 100-something [correspondences]. Once we thought somebody stole a piece of art.



t t u u • •

Did they? There was a painting there when she got there and it wasn’t when she left so . . . This one lady wrote a long thing talking about the banister for the back porch: “Oh, this is not up to code”—this really long, annoying thing. She kept going on about the stuff she wished [had been there]: kitchen furnishings, a Brita filter for tap water, a skillet, one more saucepan, a mixing bowl, a grater. She wanted a cheese grater! Go to the store and get your cheese grater! I forget where I was when I saw it, but I said, “You need to get out of here with that bullshit.” What college did you go to? Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois. Dick Gregory went there. Who else? Open Mike Eagle, Tony Trimm. I went to college for four years, then stayed with my parents for a couple years after. I went to New York for a few months in 2006, then came back. What happened? I moved without money or structure or a job and somehow pulled it off for four months and then left.

Adapted and Directed by Adapted Directed by Heidiand Stillman

Heidi Stillman

From the Book by From the Dickens Book by Charles

Charles Dickens

In Association with Association with TheInActors Gymnasium

The Actors Gymnasium


lookingglasstheatre.org lookingglasstheatre.org 312.337.0665 312.337.0665

Marilyn Dodds Frank and Raphael Cruz; Photo by Liz Lauren Marilyn Dodds Frank and Raphael Cruz; Photo by Liz Lauren

Was there like a benchmark you’d reached in your stand-up that made you say, “Now is the time to move”? I’d been to New York a couple of times. It’s really exciting when you visit when you’re 21 or 22. That shit is mind-blowing. I knew the stories of comedians going to New York and making it, and how Chappelle got [rejected] by all the clubs in just two weeks. What was your performance schedule like in Chicago? Just trying to be onstage a lot and do it a lot. I never had a regular day job. I was working at Pita Pit for a month or so, had some side gigs doing promotions— like, go to a boat show and hand out flyers for some shit. Was there a particular comic or show that made you think, “I have to go up a lot to make it?”


I don’t know if it was a particular comic, I just wanted to do it, man. I would always go to Zanies and watch whoever—as long as the show wasn’t sold out, you could go and watch the headliner that week. If I wasn’t reading about comedy or looking up stuff online, I would do it. What was your media diet growing up? Martin, Living Single, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Jamie Foxx Show, Cosby Show, and Animaniacs. Gargoyles was a great cartoon. X-Men—I was a big Gambit fan. Wrestling. When was the first time you got onstage? March or April 2002. It was chill. I mean, it wasn’t an aggressive environment. It was supportive. I got some chuckles, enough to be really excited. I remember just afterwards my legs were shaking from the adrenaline. Who were the people you looked up to when you were frequenting Chicago’s open mikes? Leon Rogers, Lil Rel, Deon Cole. Did any of them particularly influence your style? No. Deon a little bit. I didn’t really take any cues from anybody. You mentioned growing up watching The Cosby Show. Back in 2014, you were speaking openly about rape allegations against Bill Cosby, unknowingly opening a door for more women to come forward with their stories. Can you still enjoy Cosby knowing what we do n ow a b o u t th e allegations? Yeah, I don’t know. I was at my cousin Percy’s house and there hap-

pened to be an episode on. It was a few months ago. I think it was the episode where [Cosby] says, “I brought you in this world and I’ll take you out,” and I said it along with him. It varies, but it puts a weird vibe onto somebody’s work. That’s a decision each individual needs to make for themselves. There’s no playbook, there are no rules. You’ve been getting more television and film roles recently. I just saw The Disaster Artist, in which you have a small part. Is acting something you’ve been focusing on pursuing? It just comes. I don’t pursue it. Occasionally they bring me straight-up offers. I did that movie specifically because I used to go to see The Room at screenings in New York in 2009, 2010. So I heard that [James] Franco’s making a movie about The Room and I was like, “He’s making a movie about a movie? It sounds like a terrible idea, but I’m on board.” Do you ever perform at open mikes here? I go to Cole’s [on Wednesdays] a lot. But I knew if I went to Cole’s last night, I’m going to have to talk to a lot of people. It’s that type of thing, where I do make decisions if I want to go [knowing] I’m going to engage with x amount of people. I was with my ex-girlfriend at some random bar—this one girl came up and was like, “Did you find a pair of glasses over here?” I’m turned this way, and she’s trying to get me to turn [the other] way. She’s just trying to check to make sure it’s me or some shit. It’s just weird-ass behavior. We had a drink and we get to the car, and I’m about to pull out, and this girl comes up to the car acting all weird. She says, “Are you a comedian? My friends work at the bar you just left. Can you come back to the bar, please?” I tell her thank you but I can’t come back to the bar. And she’s like, “Please come back. Please, please. I’ll give you some money.” I said, “How much money?” and she’s like, “Is money the only thing that matters to you?” Sounds like you feel like you brought it upon yourself. Part of it is: I didn’t have to take the movie. I didn’t have to tour. I didn’t have to do multiple television shows or specials. I didn’t have to do that shit. That’s just part of it. It’s still weird, but that’s why I’m like, “You did that shit, man. You did a Samsung commercial. Deal with it. If you didn’t want this, stay in the fucking house.” v

v @steveheisler


Photo by Chris Lee



20th Annual Concert in Chicago

Strauss Symphony of America featuring

Nir Kabaretti, conductor (Vienna)

Kerry James Marshall, Still Life With Wedding Portrait, 2015 ò ROCOR/FLICKR


When contemporary art is flipped, who should profit? By DEANNA ISAACS


here’s a lot not to like about the art market, including its long-standing propensity for making collectors rich while leaving “starving artists” in the financial dust. In 2015, Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall donated a new painting to the Museum of Contemporary Art for its annual benefit auction—a fancy affair in which contributed art is sold to raise money for the museum.

Marshall’s painting, Still Life With Wedding Portrait (2015), shows the hands (three in white gloves, one in black) of preparators hanging a portrait of abolitionist Harriet Tubman and her husband, John, on their wedding day in 1844. In Marshall’s signature style, which alludes to the “whites-only” history of Western art, the composition is deceptively traditional, while the subjects are emphatically, disruptively, and profoundly black. J

Hege Gustava Tjønn, soprano (Vienna) Martin Piskorski, tenor (Vienna) Dancers from Europaballett St.Pölten (Austria) & International Champion Ballroom Dancers

European Singers, Ballroom Dancers & Ballet Enjoy Strauss Waltzes & Operetta Excerpts

Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm ORCHESTRA HALL SYMPHONY CENTER

312.294.3000 • cso.org salutetovienna.com/chicago Produced by Attila Glatz Concert Productions. Artists subject to change without notice.











continued from 37


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please recycle this paper 38 CHICAGO READER - DECEMBER 21, 2017

Still Life With Wedding Portrait brought the highest price at the benefit: $700,000. The buyer’s name wasn’t announced, but when the painting was shown in Marshall’s solo exhibit, “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” at the MCA the next year, the lenders were listed as Jay and Georgina Jordan. John “Jay” Jordan II is a founder of the Jordan Company, a private equity firm with offices in Chicago and New York, and of Jordan Industries, a Deerfield-based holding company. A philanthropist, he has signed Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge,” promising at least 50 percent of his fortune to charitable causes, and has already donated $150 million to his alma mater, Notre Dame. When his daughter, Colby, married Alberto Mugrabi (whose art-collecting family owns the world’s largest stash of work by Andy Warhol) on the French Riviera last year, both Vogue and Forbes covered the wedding. There was reportedly some speculation that (as can happen in charity sales) after winning it in the auction, the Jordans would donate the Marshall painting to the MCA’s collection. But this fall, Still Life With Wedding Portrait turned up on a Christie’s auction list, with an estimated value of $1 million to $1.5 million. A new record price for Marshall’s work was set when the bids rocketed past those numbers and it sold for $5 million. In just two years, the painting’s market value had jumped $4 million, none of which would make its way back to the artist who had conceived of it, created it, and given it away. True, Marshall isn’t starving. He’s reaping deserved success and still producing art that’s likely to bring him even greater financial rewards. But in 1973, Robert Rauschenberg jolted an auction by objecting loudly that he had worked his “ass off” while his collector was making an easy fortune on the fruit of his labor. Since then, huge gains by the 1 percent from art that brought much less to the person who made it have been looking like a glaring injustice—and an anomaly in the realm of intellectual property. Even the U.S. copyright office, in a cautiously worded 2013 report, admitted that visual artists may “operate at a disadvantage under the copyright law relative to authors of other types of creative works.” The United States is one of the few places where the issue hasn’t been addressed at the federal level. In 80 other countries (including all of the European Union), visual artists have a legal claim to royalties—the “droit de

suite”—when their work is resold at a profit. According to DePaul University law school professor Patty Gerstenblith, “The U.S. is the only major market that doesn’t have it.” There has been one domestic exception: California passed its own Resale Royalties Act in 1976, specifying a 5 percent royalty on sales of more than $1,000 when the seller is a California resident or the sale occurs in California. But enforcement has proven difficult: the courts have ruled that the law can’t apply to sales outside of the state, and its constitutionality is still being litigated (with royalty collection halted in the meantime). Arts attorney Scott Hodes says a successful royalties law will “need to be done nationally.” There’ve been two recent legislative attempts, both spearheaded by New York congressman Jerrold Nadler. Neither offered anything more than a modest return for the artist, and both are now dead. The most recent, the ART (American Royalties Too) Act, introduced by Nadler in 2014, would’ve provided a 5 percent royalty on works sold at major auction houses for any amount over $5,000. The royalty—which, like copyright, would expire 70 years after death—was capped at $35,000. And the ART Act wouldn’t have applied to sales by galleries or dealers—apparently because their sale prices are notoriously and stubbornly secret. Theodore Feder, president of the national Artists Rights Society, said (in a phone interview from his New York office last week) that the legislation has been resisted by the big auction houses and eBay. “But there’s a $35,000 cap,” which is often less than the auction house’s own fee, Feder said. “On a $20 million sale [not so unusual in this heated market], the artist would get only the cap amount of $35,000 while the auction house commission would be $2,557,000.” “Why they resist, I’m not sure,” Feder said. “And these agreements are reciprocal.” When French art is sold on the secondary market in England, he added, “the French artist gets a royalty.” When American art is resold in England—or anywhere—the artist gets zip. Feder expects Nadler, a Democrat, along with his Senate cosponsors (also Democrats), Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, to reintroduce the ART Act, essentially unchanged, in early 2018. So, not perfect, Feder admits, but even a Band-Aid fix is better than what artists have now. “Right now” he said, “the artist gets nothing.” v

v @DeannaIsaacs



Get showtimes at chicagoreader.com/movies.








Best films of 2017 By J.R. JONES

One thing you should know about the Reader’s year-end film rankings is that, from time immemorial, we’ve limited the candidates to movies that premiered locally between January 1 and December 31—that’s why Toni Erdmann, a big awards favorite in 2016, wasn’t eligible until this year, and a handful of highly touted films premiering on the coasts now to qualify for the Oscars (such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread and Michael Haneke’s Happy End) won’t be considered until 2018. Another thing you should know is that, for the first time, I and contributing writer Ben Sachs, whose year-end list appears on the Bleader, agreed on three whole films: Toni Erdmann, Nocturama, and Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer. That gives them a coveted 100 percent rating on the Reader-meter, even more coveted because the only other possibilities are 50 percent or zero.


The Lost City of Z Cinema still offers a combination of visual scope and narrative compression you can’t get from TV, which is what makes this epic historical adventure by James Gray such an arresting experience. Running 141 minutes, it tells the true story of Percy Fawcett, an English explorer whose lifelong obsession with finding a legendary Amazonian city ended only with his mysterious disappearance in the Brazilian jungle in 1925. Like David Lean’s classic Lawrence of Arabia, the film offers a dashing hero, played by Charlie Hunnam, and the powerful theme of British culture colliding with a brutal world it only dimly understands.


I Am Not Your Negro Raoul Peck’s stirring documentary portrait of James Baldwin draws on electrifying interview footage of the writer from the 1960s but places him at the center of today’s national

conversation on race. Baldwin never delivered his proposed novel Remember This House, which was meant to recount his friendships with Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. But Peck uses 30 pages of notes that Baldwin left behind as the jumping-off point for a vivid portrait, one that reminds us of his rhetorical power and devastating moral clarity.


Toni Erdmann German writer-director Maren Ade filters screwball comedy through the sober aesthetic of the Romanian new wave—long takes, no score, epic running time—for this demented tale of a fractious father-and-daughter relationship. The father, played by Peter Simonischek, is a mischievous old hippie who’s fond of disguises; the daughter, played with a deep sense of anger and unease by Sandra Hüller, has rebelled against him with her career as a

perfectly pressed business consultant. When dad crashes her high-stakes business trip to Bucharest, the fur flies.


Lady Bird Greta Gerwig has spoken warmly of her single-sex education at a Catholic girls’ school in Sacramento, California, and Lady Bird, her solo writing and directing debut, is heavily informed by the experience, radiating sisterhood but without a hint of rancor. The gangly, 17-year-old heroine, played by Saoirse Ronan of Brooklyn, chafes against her lower-middle-class parents and dreams of ditching Sacramento for college in the east. Hoping to raise her social status, she tries out a couple of boyfriends, but they’re peripheral to a story in which girls are allowed to be their own sweet and irritable selves.


Nocturama This audacious French thriller by Bertrand Bonello begins with a topical premise—a crew of young radicals prepare to execute a coordinated terror attack across Paris—but Bonello’s true agenda is socialist black comedy. After sowing chaos across the city, the conspirators hide in a chic department store, where the luxurious merchandise gets the better of them, and a foolhardy invitation extended to two street people to join in the bacchanalia triggers the terrorists’ doom. Even after you realize you’re watching a political parable, the suspense is unbearable.


Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer A Jewish folktale set in modern-day Manhattan, this engrossing drama from Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar (Footnote) features a career-topping performance from Richard Gere as a graying, fraying influence peddler whose generosity and opportunism are almost impossible to distinguish from each other. Attending a conference, Norman strikes up a friendship with a visiting Israeli politician, and three years later, when the man becomes prime minister, he taps Norman as his “ambassador to New York Jewry,” a decision he’ll live to regret.


Loving Vincent Every Pixar animation ends with an endless scroll crediting the digital artists who contributed to the finished project—what if they gave all that cash to oil painters instead? Funded by the Polish Film Institute, Loving Vincent was created by a team of 115 artists who hand-painted all 65,000 of its frames, re-creating and elaborating on the canvases of Vincent van Gogh for a detective story that explores his last years in France and his mysterious, still-controversial death. Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman wrote and directed this feast for the eyes and storm for the soul.


Dawson City: Frozen Time Time melts away in this slow, stealthy historical doc- J


Get showtimes at chicagoreader.com/movies.


JAN 11


JAN 12-13



JAN 14


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2018 T N K F E S T. C O M





continued from 39 umentary by Bill Morrison (Decasia). In 1978, a worker demolishing a gutted athletic center in Dawson City, Yukon, discovered more than 500 cans of film that had been discarded by local theaters in the 1910s and ’20s and sealed inside a swimming pool. Using clips from these recovered films as well as historical photos and texts, Morrison reconstructs the town’s glory days following the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897 and its sad descent over the years as the mining industry destroyed the surrounding countryside and the local economy collapsed.


The Red Turtle A rebuke to the glibness of most children’s entertainment, this enthralling debut feature by longtime Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit transpires without a word of dialogue, its human characters dwarfed by a majestic natural environment. Washed ashore on a deserted island, the hero is harassed by a giant turtle with a ruby-red shell; after it expires on the beach, it’s reincarnated as a beautiful woman who becomes the man’s emotional lifeline. This was the first European animation ever funded by Japan’s Studio Ghibli and shares with that studio’s films a sense of nature’s mysterious power.


Death in the Terminal If you blinked, you probably missed this gripping Israeli documentary by Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry, which screened as part of the excellent


Doc10 Film Festival—but then, the film itself is about the vagaries of sight. In October 2015, a Bedouin gunman attacked a bus station in Beersheba and was shot dead by security forces; they also fatally wounded an innocent Eritrean immigrant whom they mistook for an accomplice, and the dying man was kicked and beaten by people inside the station. With video footage from two security cameras and interviews with eyewitnesses, Shemesh and Sudry reconstruct the 18 minutes of violence and confusion, crafting a Rashomon for the age of terror. Runners-up:

11. Ruben Östlund’s The Square 12. Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name

13. Firas Fayyad and Steen Johannessen’s Last Men in Aleppo

14. Michael Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime 15. Azazel Jacobs’s The Lovers 16. Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake 17. Robert Eggers’s The Witch 18. Bong Joon-ho’s Okja 19. Vanessa Gould’s Obit 20. William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth Tied for Worst of 2017: Margaret Betts’s Novitiate and Terrence Malick’s Song to Song. v

v @JR_Jones




Recommended and notable shows and critics’ insights for the weeks of December 21 and 28 b




The Sun Ra Arkestra lands at Constellation for New Year’s Eve



Sat 12/30 and Sun 12/31, 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $30, $40 in advance. 18+

THURSDAY21 Hamid Drake & Michael Zerang Drake and Zerang’s solstice duo starts at 5:30 AM Thu 12/21-Sat 12/23 at Links Hall, $27. b Trio WAZ performs Thursday evening and Drake leads a multiarts ensemble Friday evening. Both late shows start at 8:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $10-$15. 18+ As befits a pair of master percussionists at the height of their powers, Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang often play abroad. In recent months Drake has toured Europe with Joe McPhee and the DKV Trio, and played an incendiary duet with Malian xylophonist Aly Keita at the Sant’Anna Arresi Jazz Festival in Sardinia. Zerang has performed gigs in Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates with Karkhana, an electric jazz band that includes musicians from Cairo, Beirut, and Istanbul. But no matter what else is on their schedules, every December since 1990 the two men convene at Links Hall to perform as the solstice dawns. While the format is always the same—surrounded by percussion instruments from around the world, they begin the con-

AFROFUTURIST BIG-BAND leader Sun Ra left the planet 24 years ago, but his legacy has never been in better shape. Many of his classic sides have been remastered and reissued on vinyl, CD, and file formats, and the Sun Ra Arkestra, which plays his tunes in classic and alternate arrangements, still tours regularly. The celestially attired Arkestra is currently led by 93-year-old Marshall Allen, who’s been a member of the band since it first formed in Chicago in the 1950s. If anyone could make a case for the notion that age is a figment of the mind, it’s Allen; onstage he’s a joyous visual focus, alternately conducting and playing with the band. He’s also a fiery musical force, cutting through the Arkestra’s brass polyphony and space-themed chants with short, serrated bursts on his saxophone and persuasively filling in for Ra’s synthesizer with his EVI (electronic valve instrument). And he’s an indefatigable ambassador for Ra’s cosmic aesthetic, even when he’s playing outside of the Arkestra. He appears on a delightful new album by the Heliosonic Tonetet, an all-star ensemble co-led by multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson. Recorded in 2015, Heliosonic Toneways Volume 1 (ScienSonic Laboratories) revisits the abstract, percussion-heavy chamber music that Ra explored 50 years earlier on two volumes of The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra (E.S.P.). The Arkestra will play early and late shows on each of the last two nights of the year. —BILL MEYER

cert in candlelight and finish it with the winter sun streaming through the windows—the music is quite varied. Drawing on their collective understanding of drum traditions from numerous cultures, they might mix Middle Eastern rhythms, wreath the room with bell tones, or bear down on savagely swinging jazz grooves (last year my favorite passage was the ten minutes where together they played a frame drum they’d balanced across their knees). This year the duo will play three successive early-morning concerts. Then, tonight, Trio WAZ, Zerang’s group with bassist Tatsu Aoki and saxophone-didgeridoo player Edward Wilkerson Jr., will be joined by cellist Tomeka Reid; they’re followed by Drake’s Indigenous Mind, with bassist Joshua Abrams, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and tenor saxophonist Ari Brown, playing music by Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane. Finally, on Friday night Drake will lead another group that mixes musicians, dancers, and storytellers. —BILL MEYER

Kool Keith Supa Emcee Supremacee, Lamon Manuel, and DJ X-Ray open. 8 PM, Logan Arcade, 2410 W. Fullerton, $15, $12 in advance. 21+


Who knew that flanking a mutative hip-hop personality with old-school Ghostbusters, Batman, and Wrestlemania pinball machines would feel so right? For the fourth year in a row, Kool Keith— who has also gone by Dr. Octagon, Dr. Dooom, and a slew of other monikers—will descend upon Chicago’s most legit barcade for a merry evening of performance and carousing that’s been anointed “A Very Kool Xmas.” Spawned in 2014 from a playful Twitter back-and-forth between Keith and Logan Arcade mensch and owner Jim Zespy, the event has become a bizarro, well-oiled holiday getdown featuring the idiosyncratic and colorful vet rapper working through his deep catalog about the future, space, and the future in space. Keith’s chill delivery begets rapid rhymes that hang among the bells and whistles and clings and clangs of the arcade’s vintage machines. (The back room is actually cleared out for the performance, which gives the arcade more of a music-venue vibe, but those pinball noises are ever-present.) Being three sheets to the wind in a loud-ass arcade is sensory overload to begin with; at this event the atmosphere is even more intoxicating. And because Keith loves the spotlight, expect him to schmooze and wade through the crowd, ready for any photo op J




Find more music listings at chicagoreader.com/soundboard.

Nina Kraviz



Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas Ana Tijoux's Roja y Negro Global Dance Party: Orisha Dance Chicago with Iré Elese Abure



New Year's Eve with Over the Rhine Includes a special champagne toast with the band!








Justin Roberts and the Not Ready




for Naptime Players • Kids Concert



01.27 MAKO CIG 02.01 DIET CI G


Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole with Shawn Pimental

In Szold Hall


02.02 AVATAR





Carrie Newcomer



The Bad Plus Never Stop II

featuring Reid Anderson, Orrin Evans, and David King


James Hill

In Szold Hall



02.24 MISSIO




02.28 J BOOG







Russian techno producer and DJ Nina Kraviz abandoned a future in dentistry as her international music career started to take shape. Bouncing from one gig locale to the next, she lived out of suitcases while the years melted by. One night some years ago, in an undisclosed hotel room in an unmentioned locale (unmentioned, perhaps, since forgotten—Kraviz travels so frequently who could blame her for maybe not remembering details such as when and where?), she turned to music while she was recovering from a broken heart. Out came the irresistible “You Take.” Kraviz calls it a house song, and its lithe four-on-the-floor beat and rhythmic swinging bass fit the bill, but it is also pure pop. The sullen melody of her sparse vocal hook echoes romantic despair, but despite its emotionally complexity, it lands as easily and accurately as any Top 40 song that’s planted a flag in my hippocampus. Released in October as single-sided white-label 12-inch on her own imprint label, “You Take” was preceded by July’s Pochuvstvui EP, on which she takes steely, corrugated techno rhythms and beams them into the outer reaches of space. The minimalism of the EP’s title track complements the layered dreamlike melodies on both versions of the B-side number “You Are Wrong.” Kraviz








1/12 1/19 1/26


Global Dance Party: Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orchestra Global Dance Party: Big Mean Sound Machine Global Dance Party: Ethnic Dance Chicago Celebrates the EU featuring Mazurka Wojciechowska and Paul Collins Global Dance Party: Salsa Congress


1/10 1/17 1/24

Rómulo Castro García Jaerv Marimba Oxib K'ajau


FRIDAY22 Nina Kraviz Eris Drew opens. 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, $20-$25. 21+

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that might arise. Supa Emcee and a small host of DJs will precede Keith, and following his set you can expect some freestyling to close out the evening. In conjunction with this year’s party, Logan Hardware Records is dropping a limited cassingle of unreleased Kool Keith material. One of the tracks is (naturally) titled “Fuck Space,” and the other is “Larry Birdz.” It’ll be available for purchase at the show along with commissioned silk-screened posters from Dead Meat Design. —KEVIN WARWICK




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03.28 FOZZY







www.bottomlounge.com 1375 w lake st 312.666.6775

succeeds by following her guts, which can make it difficult to figure out where she’s going but easy to fall into the spell she makes with her own music and her adventurous mixes (such as her 2016 contribution to !K7’s crucial DJ-Kicks series). As she’s become a key performer on the global stage—Mixmag just named her DJ of the year—she’s found ways of ratcheting up her ambition; in the fall she spun a set atop a 150-foot water tower in Finland. Tonight’s show is underground, but it should also allow Kraviz to give the crowd an incomparable experience. —LEOR GALIL

Yakuza Helen Money and Sanford Parker open. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $15, $12 in advance. 21+ Chicago has always been a good town when it comes to producing homegrown metal bands—the south side rocked heavy in the 80s with the likes of Trouble, Cianide, and Macabre—but it didn’t develop the international reputation it deserved until the 90s, when north-side postrock collaborators drew hipster attention. From there a new generation of freaks exploded forth. When Yakuza formed at the end of the decade, their grindcore base and free-jazz eruptions sounded like no one else, to the extent that some people refuse to consider them metal at all. Labels aside, a huge number of the greatest innovative metal bands in the world have found them brilliant stagemates in the years since. This once-ubiquitous institution has been on hiatus and hasn’t played out in a year and a half. Front man and sax player (and sometime Empty Bottle staff member) Bruce Lamont tells me the band is feeling recharged by rehearsals and he hopes they will record again in the future. The lineup, which has been steady since 2009, also includes guitarist Matt McClelland, drummer James Staffel, and bassist Ivan Cruz. Legendary producer-engineer Sanford Parker, who is also Lamont’s collaborator in Corrections House, will sit in with the band for a few tunes, as will the amazing avant-metal cellist Helen Money. —MONICA KENDRICK



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SATURDAY23 Taylor Bennett Bianca Shaw and Melo Makes Music open. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, $21. b Few local hip-hop artists have been as interesting to watch grow in the spotlight as Taylor Bennett. Part of the buzz that’s come to surround him is due to his family name: Chancellor Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper, is his older brother. Whatever amount of initial attention Taylor has garnered because of that connection, the pressure to live up

to Chance’s level of success—and whatever expectations people have of Taylor because of big bro’s Grammys, headlines, late-night appearances, and everything else—could be enough to crush a small village. But where some might crumple under that kind of duress, Taylor has become more in touch with himself, and has focused on figuring out his strengths as an artist while exploring his musical boundaries. Through the years he’s molded his raw talent, slowing down the speed of his rapping on his earliest releases to allow his words to gently coast across his instrumentals like an Olympic-level curling team handling a stone on ice. His February EP Restoration of an American Idol (Tay Bennett Entertainment) is jammed with big rap guests includ- J

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ing Lil Yachty and Kyle, but Taylor clears the way so he can allow his performance to breathe; while Chance and Jeremih have undoubtedly brought in new listeners with their turns on “Grown Up Fairy Tales,” Taylor’s raspy, contemplative performance really makes the song. —LEOR GALIL

Macabre Novembers Doom, Avernus, and Kastasyde open. 6:30 PM, Reggie’s Rock Club, 2105 S. State, $20, $17 in advance. 17+

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oldtownschool.org 44 CHICAGO READER - DECEMBER 21, 2017

What better way to celebrate the joys of the holiday season than by listening to a bizarre, hyper death-metal track titled “What the Heck, Richard Speck?” Local trio Macabre—whose mashup of death metal, grindcore, thrash, and serial killer obsession has been dubbed “murder metal”—have been ringing in the holiday season with a showcase of twisted extreme music called the Holiday of Horror for two decades now. And they’ve been crafting their twisted homages to some of the darkest humans on the planet for even longer, starting with their debut release, Shitlist (which includes an early version of their ode to Speck), in 1987. Since then, Macabre have given the world tracks celebrating Ed Gein, the Zodiac Killer, the Unabomber, and less-recognized murderers like Jerry Brudos, who’s discussed on the delightful little chestnut “Fatal Foot Fetish.” Perhaps Macabre’s greatest mark on the world is the 2000 death-metal “rock opera” Dahmer, which explores—in exhausting detail— the life and death of the notorious cannibal of the title. This show is the 20th anniversary of Macabre’s Holiday of Horror. —LUCA CIMARUSTI

WAFFLE FEST 7 Waffle Gang headlines; Chris Spencer, Phats Brothers, Unx, Don Parious, Skbronk, Aly Jayne, Cutta, Petty Gang, Philmore Greene, the Whoevers, Tomahawk Gang, MoeCyrus, 80’s Babies, Eat Well the Gods, Pathfinders, and Culture Power 45 open. 8 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, $10. 21+ This holiday season may God (or whatever you believe in, higher power or otherwise) bless us, everyone, but especially Shawn Childress (aka rapper-producer Awdazcate), who in 2011 brilliantly created an event where people could gather to eat and watch different generations of local hiphop acts. Waffle Fest has been going strong ever since. Near the top of this year’s yuletide iteration is Chris Spencer, aka rappers Chris Crack and Vic

Spencer. Crack, who has a nasal drawl and an outsize personality, and Spencer—a gruff-voiced MC whose irascible presentation underscores his determination to do right by rap’s underground heroes— make an oddly endearing pair. On August’s Blessed (Perpetual Rebel), they follow the lead of their polished-up, sample-heavy soul instrumentation, smoothing the edges of their voices and vollying verses like they’re feathers floating through the air. Maurice Mauricio, aka MoeCyrus, anchors the opening half of the bill. A member of hip-hop collective Slumpgang777, MoeCyrus self-released a couple of full-lengths this year—March’s [Untitled] and October’s L Trains and Paper Planes—on which he demonstrates an easygoing, intuitive grasp of rap that promises a bright artistic future. Set to a dreamy, string-sampling instrumental that feels like it’s ripped from a Turner Classic Movies staple, L Trains’s “Forgot the World” evokes all the queasiness and anxiety of unrequited love. —LEOR GALIL

THURSDAY28 DKV Trio with Joe McPhee See also Friday. 9 PM, Elastic, 3429 W. Diversey, $20. b The holiday season in Chicago often means great things for the city’s musical institutions, as local musicians who spend much of their time on the road coalesce in their hometown. Both reedist Ken Vandermark and percussionist Hamid Drake are road dogs, but in December they’re known to come together with longtime collaborator and bassist Kent Kessler in their high-octane improvising outfit DKV Trio, one of the city’s most reliable, hard-hitting combos. The trio doesn’t offer too many surprises in its sound these days, but as the excellent Latitude 41.88 (Not Two), recorded live at Milwaukee’s Sugar Maple in December of 2014 and released last month, makes clear, it doesn’t matter; the band seems to find an endless supply of new wrinkles within its limber yet muscular approach. Driven by the fluid, fierce rhythm section, Vandermark’s sinewy tenor and baritone playing meaningfully taps into his love of vintage R&B, pushing the gritty honking style of 40s bar walking into the realm of abstraction without forsaking meaty, memorable licks or melodic fragments. Each of the three tracks clocks in at around 20 minutes, making space for some unaccompanied solos as well as thrilling ebband-flow roller-coaster rides. Though the group only meets up in town once or twice a year these days, the musicians draw upon their deep rapport



Find more music listings at chicagoreader.com/soundboard.

and intuitive drive and never seem rusty but instead plug directly into an almost subconscious interplay between them. This year’s engagement is even more exciting than usual, thanks to the presence of the singular Poughkeepsie multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, a seemingly ageless 78-year-old with extensive ties to each player. I expect his contributions will both bolster the trio’s power quotient and enhance the contemplative side that surfaces now and again. —PETER MARGASAK

FRIDAY29 The Dishes Nerves headline; the Dishes and Michael Shannon & Friends open. DJ Jill Hopkins spins before the show. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $15. 21+


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I take great pleasure in finally writing a preview blurb for Chicago’s great, all-woman (or mostly allwoman, depending on the lineup) garage strutters the Dishes. I could never do it back in their 90s-00s heyday, because guitarist Kiki Yablon was also the Reader’s music editor. The group released a handful of indelible, high-energy records and went out on a high note; their last show was in 2004 at the Shellac-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in the UK. For this show, the core trio of Yablon, bassist Sharon Maloy, and singer-guitarist Sarah Staskauskas reunite, and Janet Beveridge Bean (Eleventh Dream Day, Freakwater) joins them on drums. Wall-slamming power trio the Nerves, the Dishes’ friends and frequent gigmates, also reunite for this gig. Take a listen to these blasts from the past and you’ll find their music is still fresh and infectious, their crunchy wildness sounds forever young. —MONICA KENDRICK

DKV Trio with Joe McPhee See Thursday. 9 PM, Elastic, 3429 W. Diversey, $20. b

SATURDAY30 Cloud Rat Lowhangers, XAbruptX, and Ozzuario open. 7 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, $12, $10 in advance. 17+ Michigan’s Cloud Rat bill themselves as grind punk, but the truth is that they tear, slouch, and ooze across multiple genres of pissed-off and heavy music. Their 2015 full-length Qliphoth (Halo of Flies) howls from frantic hardcore head snapping to doom trudge, pausing in the middle for an ambient touch. Their three 2017 releases continue to show off their stylistic range and consistently feral attitude. On their split with Crevasse (Halo of Flies) they contribute four short bursts of aggression that forcefully flatten the line between hardcore and thrash, with vocalist Megan shrieking as if she’s being eaten by rabid bats before actually doing something recognizable as singing on their last track, “Fish in a Pool.” Cloud Rat’s music on split with Disrotted (Halo of Flies) could almost pass for another band’s if Megan’s throat-tearing vocals weren’t so distinctive. The trio’s contribution is one 18-minute track that alternates frantic squalls with somber blackened crawls; it’s music of numb terror rather J


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than frantic writhing. Drummer Brandon’s tempo shifts from blistering punk to convincingly heavy doom, and guitarist Rorik is as comfortable with atmospheric filigree as with frantic death-metal stomp. The band’s wild versatility means it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll get when you see them live, but you can trust it will be loud and satisfyingly evil. —NOAH BERLATSKY

Guided by Voices See also Sunday. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, sold out. 21+

In August, Guided by Voices, who re-formed again last year after a sudden breakup in 2014, released their 24th long-player, How Do You Spell Heaven. Even more impressively, the album is the 101st fulllength ultraprolific front man and sole constant member Robert Pollard has put his stamp on. The version of GBV that’s been operating over the past couple years is a far cry from the band that released fractured bedroom-pop masterpieces throughout the 80s and 90s. Gone is the whimsy of fellow lead singer Tobin Sprout, the layers of tape hiss, and the 30-second blasts of lo-fi majesty. They’ve been replaced with the bombast of new guitarist Bobby Bare Jr. and the slick leads of returning guitar hero Doug Gillard. The songs on How Do You Spell Heaven and August by

Cake (which came out in April) explore Pollard’s obsession with prog rock, offering up meandering structures and song lengths that edge into the four-minute mark—which is downright indulgent when you realize the band’s iconic 1995 track “Game of Pricks” is 93 seconds long. Live, this lineup of the band play perhaps a little too much of the new shit to keep diehards totally happy, but when the classics come out they’re simply glorious. Guided by Voices have just announced LP number 25: Space Gun is set to drop in March, and its title track and first single follows down the same trails they spent 2017 blazing. —LUCA CIMARUSTI

Sun Ra Arkestra See Pick of the Week, page 43. See also Sunday. 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $40, $30 in advance. 18+

SUNDAY31 Cave DJ Tripmaker opens. 9 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, $20. 21+ A couple of years ago the excellent, trance-inducing Chicago instrumental-rock band Cave quietly vanished. Drummer Rex McMurry moved to North

Guided by Voices ò MATT COWAN

Carolina in November 2015, while Cooper Crain and Rob Frye became increasingly busy with Bitchin Bajas, among other projects. That state of affairs felt like a shame to me, because Cave was on a serious roll; from a Columbia, Missouri, band bent on experimenting and jamming it had grown into an impressively lean and taut combo that mined a mix of Krautrock grooves and ultradry funk redolent of 70s Miles Davis and “Shaft”-era Isaac Hayes—especially on unstoppable rippers such as “Sweaty Fingers,” which opened its last studio album, Threace (Drag City). The band hasn’t performed locally since a show at the Empty Bottle in September 2015, but it’s making a welcome return this week, and with any luck Cave will soon finish mixing an album tracked not long after that last local gig. The lineup reunites bassist Dan Browning and guitarist Jeremy

12.31 & 1.1

1200 W RANDOLPH ST, CHICAGO, IL 60607 | 312.733.WINE

J UST A N N O U N C E D 1.22 2.6 3.3 3.22 4.6-7 4.8-9 5.17-18




D O N ’T M I S S


Sun Ra Arkestra See Pick of the week, page 43. 8:30 and 10:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $40, $30 in advance. 18+ v


New Year’s shows




Bilal 1.10

Tom Cochrane Life is a Highway

Guided by Voices See Saturday. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, sold out. 21+




Freeze, whose presence signals a shift toward a more guitar-centric attack. I’m deeply curious to hear if, or how, the increasingly chill, post-Terry Riley sounds Crain and Frey have been pursuing with Bitchin Bajas mesh into the Cave soundscape, but whether the band simply resurrects a sound I miss dearly or pushes things in a new direction, I can’t wait. —PETER MARGASAK































FOOD & DRINK The best new Chicago restaurants of the year

Seventeen spots where you could escape the Great Garbage Fire of 2017 By MIKE SULA


hat have you taken comfort in during this terrifying, infuriating, exhausting year? Maybe oblivion in an ocean of whiskey? A relentless, endorphin-pumping intake of pasta and pastry? What about just living like there’s no tomorrow with your best friends and lovers? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you’ve likely been taking regular advantage of the great comforts offered by the Chicago restaurant industry. Whether you go out eating and drinking to exorcise your rage or to forget your fears, 2017 had your back. It was yet another year jam-packed with restaurant openings, and believe it or not, considering how terrible everything else is, things on that front are still pretty good. Sure, there are questions about their sustainability, but how can you worry when there are so many great new places to eat your feelings? And on top of that, we’ve only had one public sexual harassment scandal. (So far.) So . . . looking good, Chicago restaurants. You really put yourself out there this year. Here are all the new places that helped make 2017 bearable for me.

OK, it wasn’t new in 2017, but it was new to me: BALKAN GRILL COMPANY, a semitrailer with a kitchen parked beside a Gary, Indiana, truck stop, cranks out some of the best Serbian food I’ve ever eaten, including the pljeskavica. “Serbia’s gift to the burger arts, it’s usually built with a char-grilled beef patty the size of something you could wind up and throw for Olympic gold and tucked into the pocket of a warm, pillowy flatbread called lepinja, which looks something like a pita on growth hormone. It’s served with a fresh, crunchy coleslaw (kupus salata), a chiletinged orange goat-cheese spread (urnebes), and a white gob of kajmak, a lighter, buttery white cheese spread. If you’ve any sense at all, you smear the cheeses on your patty, pile it with cabbage and onions, and go to town.” I heard back from more happy people to whom I recommended owner Momo Bogdanovich’s immigrant success story than from visitors anyplace else.

I probably complained more about hotel restaurants this year than any other, but there were some good ones, particularly CITY MOUSE , on Randolph Row in the Ace Hotel, from Jason Vincent and Ben Lustbader of Logan Square’s Giant along with chef de cuisine Patrick Sheerin. It’s kind of “a satellite operation, serving the same sort of explosively flavored vegetable compositions; luscious, head-slappingly good pastas; and wacky sweet playthings that they made their name on” farther north. Boka Restaurant Group had a part in two hotel openings. At THE KENNISON in Lincoln Park’s Hotel Lincoln, Bill Walker has capably “taken on the age-old challenge of creating compelling food that [meets] the very broad needs of hotel travelers—who may or may not care very much about compelling food.” Inspired by “country club culture,” SOMERSET, in the Gold Coast’s Viceroy Chicago hotel, is another outing for Boka executive chef Lee Wolen, whose J

Clockwise: Tacos at Mi Tocaya; Elske’s brothy celeriac risotto; Selam Ethiopian Kitchen’s meatless “fasting platter” with the raw beef dishes tire siga and kitfo, honey wine, and grilled short ribs; Gorée Cusine’s tiebu djeun, a sort of West African paella revered as the national dish of Senegal ò NICK MURWAY; DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS; BRITTANY SOWACKE; DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS





Search the Reader’s online database of thousands of Chicago-area restaurants—and add your own review—at chicagoreader.com/food.

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Tango Sur, an Argentine Steakhouse offers a vast array of culinary delights and has been influenced by many different cultures, including Mediterranean, Italian and Spanish. BYOB.

“...offers an eclectic mix of a menu...” — THRILLIST


“fresh interpretations of classic American seasonal food go a long way to undercut the weird Anglo-establishment concept this restaurant embraces.” It’s too soon to review Boka’s third opening this year, Bellemore, also in the Fulton Market District, but not too soon to review Iliana Regan’s midwestern izakaya KITSUNE, in North Center, where the chef and “her team make food that fucks with expectations and forces one to expand the idea of the way things are supposed to be” with dishes like ramen in scorched miso broth and a dessert of “satsuma mandarin orange granita sweetened with miso caramel, all concealing chewy nuggets of candied sweet potato.” Regan wasn’t the only chef bringing a midwestern sensibility to a foreign cuisine. At Logan Square’s DAISIES, chef Joe Frillman does magical pastas but also tips his hat to dairyland with dishes like “tempura-battered mushrooms and cheese curds with a tangy green goddess dressing.” At Humboldt Park’s SPLIT-RAIL, Zoe Schor pays “gently satirical homage to the traditionally beige foodways of the white midwestern casserole belt” with supersize chicken nuggets and baked potato gnocchi. Opposite sides of Africa were represented: Uptown’s SELAM ETHIOPIAN KITCHEN got downright medieval, offering tire siga, West African tartare if you will, from which one carves “morsels of raw beef from a fistsize chunk of bottom round, then [swirls] them through a mixture of mitmita, berbere-spiked awaze sauce, and a sinus-scouring mustard called senafitch.” Meanwhile Senegalese GORÉE CUISINE, in Kenwood, was “cooking the food of a country whose links to certain foods of the African-American south are so clear and direct you can taste them.” Logan Square developed into the supermercado for fresh ideas about Mexican food with Diana Dávila’s MI TOCAYA ANTOJERÍJA , where she mounted the comeback of the year cooking things like fideos secos and tongue in peanut salsa “from memory, channeling the food of uncles, aunts, childhood snacks, and iconic dishes that speak to the soul of cities, states, and Mexico itself.” Nearby, QUIOTE established itself as Chicago’s headquarters for the mezcal movement while pushing an irreverent menu with surprises like habanero-compounded butter, green chorizo on smashed potatoes, and a dish of fried cauliflower that wants to be a fish taco.

Why Andrew Zimmerman doesn’t have an empire of interesting restaurants under him by now is a mystery, but the longtime Sepia chef showed off a newborn this year with the Randolph Street addition PROXI, a global survey of street food with many plates that cross “national and cultural lines, often in the same mouthful.” Wh ile Zim merman was braising garam-masala-rubbed lamb ribs in coconut milk and serving them with Kansas City-style barbecue sauce, Marisa Paolillo was pulling her own Iliana Regan at Edgewater’s MANGO PICKLE , employing local meat and produce in the service of a “brilliant expression of Indian food, neither shackled by tradition nor disrespectful of it.” Logan Square’s THE SPICE ROOM takes a more conventional approach to Indian whose “redeeming quality is the consistent freshness and vibrancy of [its] familiar dishes. . . . This is the same Indian menu you’ve seen hundreds of times. And yet its execution is at a level that would indeed stand out on Devon. Every neighborhood deserves an Indian restaurant like this.” I was pleased that 2016’s tide of Italian restaurants subsided, but I was pretty stoked about MIRABELLA , an Irving Park Italian steak house that offers a menu nearly identical to downtown’s Gene & Georgetti, with nicer prices and nicer servers. “It’s so wonderfully out of step with the prevailing winds of steak-house culture that it almost seems like it’s new.” Former One Off Hospitality chefs David and Anna Posey embraced the Danish concept of hygge (HOO-guh), or “coziness,” at ELSKE, on the lonely end of Randolph, where the “initial menu is very much of the winter, all comforting textures and devoid of sharp spikes in acid or heat. Anna Posey’s desserts are similarly restrained in sweetness but perform memorably out of the box.” Finally eastern-European food with a few Korean curveballs—and fancy fish eggs—is the MO at Humboldt Park’s HERITAGE RESTAURANT & CAVIAR BAR, which “deserves its place in the neighborhood” as a “broad, imaginative, largely well-executed and affordable concept that ought to be appreciated by all.” You might imagine I turned into a lump of butter after eating all that. But no. Chopping firewood and digging the underground bunker have kept me in fighting trim. Happy New Year. v

v @MikeSula



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argentine atmosphere while you dine

Fruit Loop; Flagstone Fence and Cheery Wine ò JAMIE RAMSAY


t’s not often that a bar manages to be both restrained and over-the-top, but Prairie School manages it. The West Loop bar from Heisler Hospitality and nationally known bartender Jim Meehan is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style, which itself was inspired by the flat prairie landscapes of the midwest. Meehan built his reputation in New York with the speakeasy PDT, but he grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is making a return to his midwestern roots. Not that he’s moving back here: he currently lives in Portland, Oregon, so head bartender Kristina Magro (Pub Royale) is running things on a day-to-day basis. Prairie School architecture is characterized by horizontal lines, and there’s no shortage of them here. Rectangles dominate the room: they’re in the carpet pattern, the floor-toceiling windows, the long strips of wood on the ceiling, the deep frames on the back wall of the bar, and the square-edged leather wing chairs. Even the bar stools have small rectangles of stained glass at the base. The sheer number of clean, simple lines produces an elegant but slightly overwhelming effect,

softened by organic elements like stone walls and a live edge bar. Kevin Heisner (who, along with Matt Eisler, owns Heisler Hospitality) has designed a space immediately evocative of Frank Lloyd Wright, with every element the architect favored crammed into a few hundred square feet. Beer and wine are on draft, poured from several shiny brass taps, and handmade ceramic tumblers are on display behind the bar. Prairie School bucks the recent trend of serving cocktails on tap, instead opting for a Suntory highball machine, which combines highly carbonated water with Suntory Toki whiskey. The result is clean and refreshing— two words not often associated with whiskey, but the highball is mostly soda and meant to be consumed quickly. It’s served in a Collins glass with a long, rectangular ice cube, a presentation also used for the Cheery Wine and Flagstone Fence, two drinks that otherwise couldn’t be more different. Both have some carbonation, but the Cheery Wine (brandy, bourbon, cherry vinegar, cherry bark vanilla bitters, and soda) tastes like an earthy, less sweet vanilla-cherry soda, while the Flag-

stone Fence has a funk that’s reminiscent of a barnyard—an intriguing flavor produced by a combination of cider, brandy, and barrel-aged grape must fortified with cognac. Most of the drinks aren’t spirit forward; except for the highball, it was impossible to pick out what was used in each cocktail without consulting the menu. The Falling Water, made with cold-brewed Ethiopian coffee and a whole egg, tasted like a rich, creamy coffee drink with barely a hint of the Rhine Hall plum brandy and cardoon-infused amaro in it. The one exception was the Fruit Loop, a midwestern version of the Brooklyn cocktail made with rye, vermouth, tart cherry liqueur from Michigan, and Letherbee Fernet. Fruity and a bit tart, it was my favorite of the bunch, balancing all the ingredients without obscuring any of them. Overall the cocktails are solid, if a bit pricey at $15 each. But the atmosphere of Prairie School seems to be the real point of the bar. It’s a visual feast, and the cocktails are there to enjoy while taking it all in. v

restaurant & bar 210 0 we st division st . 7 7 3 . 2 9 2 .1 6 0 0

v @juliathiel DECEMBER 21, 2017 - CHICAGO READER 49

JOBS General THE RESEARCH RESOURCES Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, located in a large metropolitan area, is seeking a full-time Associate Director for Finance and Operations to manage the day to day operations and lab compliance program of the 25 scientific service and research cores, including, but not limited to, budget planning, financial forecasting, and the purchase and management of complex scientific instrumentation for each core through the university procurement process. Manage billing, pricing rate settings and strategic planning for each service and research core with focus on scientific instrumentation cost recovery and maintenance. Direct personnel operations including 7 professional employees. Requirements are a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Public Administration degree, plus four years of experience managing budget and personnel operations in an academic research setting with a focus on the purchase and management of complex scientific instrumentation and management of accounts receivable operations. For fullest consideration, please submit a CV, cover letter, and 3 references to the attention of the Search Coordinator via email at ovcr hr@uic.edu or via mail at University of Illinois at Chicago, Research Re-

sources Center, 835 S Wolcott Ave, Chicago, IL 60612. The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. The University of Illinois may conduct background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer. Background checks will be performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

COMPUTER/IT: TECH MASTER (Chicago IL) - Dvlp new features/ enhancmts using Java, JSP, CSS3, HTML5, jQuery, Node JS & Shell Scripts as script’g languages. Commnict reqs for new features. Dsgn/implmt perfrmnc imprvmts of web apps using Chrome Dev Tools, jMeter. Code rviews to ensure prodct quality & standrd adhrnc using Attlasian Suite, Jira & Crucible. Analyz/dsgn imprvmts proposl. Maintn Amazon AWS dvlpmt instances basd on Ubuntu Linux incld’g GIT, Cloud9. Serve as Tech Lead resp for anlysis, dsgn, archtctr, progrmg, docmtn & coordntn of SW projcts. Wrk at client’s site in Chicago IL reprt’g to Tech Dirctr at Globant’s HQ in San Francisco CA. Reqs: Bs. Info/Systms Eng’g, Comptr Eng’g, SW Eng’g or US eqv + 2yrs/exp in job or SW Dvlpr or clsly reltd occptn resp for SW dvlpmt projcts w/n the digitl media ind, lead’g infrstructr & vulnerblty assessmts, perfrmnc, load/stress test of web apps, cloud comput’g integrtn projcts & auditr of dvlpmt projcts. Must have 2yrs/exp using P2P, Content Srvcs (API Srvc),

Scrumb, Jira, Jenkins, Pixel Perfect technqs, JS & CSS Performnc methdlgs (BEM) & othr perfrmnc technqs using JS, CSS, Ajax & SVGs. Resumes: S. Moro, Site Mgr, Globant LLC – 875 Howard St #320, San Francisco CA 94103.

EDUCATION: INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN SPECIALIST (Chicago, IL) Manage instructional design services to support faculty in development of online, hybrid/blended, technology-enhanced courses to advance North Park’s technology based teaching and learning initiatives. Offer professional guidance and support for faculty in the development of online, hybrid/blended, face-to- face technology enhanced courses; Partner with faculty to identify and align measurable learning outcomes, instructional resources, and assessment strategies for online and hybrid/blended courses; Function as project manager for online and hybrid/blended course development projects. Master’s Degree in Education, Workforce Education, Instructional Design or related. Must have edu or exp in design, development, testing of interactive multimedia programs, E-Learning projects, depiction of flow of learning, assessment development, learning theories and instructional design, writing and analysis of instructional goals, analysis of performance objectives, development of instructional strategies and materials. Resumes to Ingrid Tenglin, North Park University, 3225 W. Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60625. Include position reference #NPC1 in response.

Stonebridge Consulting Group has multiple openings to work in Warrenville, IL and/or various client sites throughout the U.S. Must be willing to travel and/or relocate. Guidewire IT Analyst to develop business requirements, evaluate risks to improve corrective measures; integrate user stories for Guidewire Policy Center or Guidewire Claim Center implementation; troubleshoot production defects; perform smoke testing, regression testing. IT Business Analyst to perform requirements gathering, analyze system & functional specs; facilitate JAD sessions; develop document reqs documentation; perform application configuration & integration; perform data analysis; manage ITSM tool with service team. Work in Sharepoint, Planview, Service Now, Guidewire. Send resume & cover letter to Stonebridge Consulting Group, 27475 Ferry Rd, Warrenville, IL 60555 ADVISORY ADVISORY ANALYTICS MANAGER (MULT. POS.), PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services LLC, Chicago, IL. Provide growth & devt. strategy, analytics & strategic decision making, Mergers & Acquisition strategy, commercial & market due diligence, & strategy transformation to help clients realize competitive advantage from operations. Req. Bach’s deg or foreign equiv. in Bus Admin, Econ, Stats, Comp Sci or rel. + 5 yrs post- bach progressive rel. work exp.;

LOOP FIRM DESIRES BI-LINGUAL STAFFER Loop Firm desires bi-lingual staffer for general office duties and legal support. Four days per week @$12 per hour. Send resume to pcintelligence@comcast.net

WIN F R E E E TS TICK Check out the latest giveaways to win tickets to live theater, concerts, and much more.

OR a Master’s deg or foreign equiv. in Bus Admin, Econ, Stats, Comp Sci or rel. + 3 yrs rel. work exp. Travel up to 80% req. Apply by mail, referencing Job Code IL1522, Attn: HR SSC/Talent Management, 4040 W. Boy Scout Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607.

TECHNOLOGY ADVISORY MANAGER, APPLICATION TECHNOLOGY (MULT. POS.), PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services LLC, Chicago, IL. Help clients determine the best apps for bus. needs & integrate new & existing apps into their bus. including Mobility integration. Req. Bach’s deg or foreign equiv. in Comp Sci, IT, Engg, Bus Admin or rel. + 5 yrs post-bach’s progressive rel. work exp.; or a Master’s deg or foreign equiv. in Comp Sci, IT, Engg, Bus Admin or rel. + 3 yrs rel. work exp. Travel up to 80% req. Apply by mail, referencing Job Code IL1521, Attn: HR SSC/Talent Management, 4040 W. Boy Scout Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607.

Woodstock CUSD 200 seeks Dual Language Teachers, for various loc. throughout the district (Woodstock, IL) to provide instruction in dual language ed. (Sp anish/English) to HS students. Bachelors’ in Education (Will also accept any field in accordance w/ IL State Board of Ed. req’s). (Foreign 3yr degree, as recognized by the State of IL as an acceptable equivalent also accepted). State of IL licensure as a Professional Educator w/Bilingual Endorsement; or appropriate license /certification in compliance w/ Sta te/District guidelines for teachers. Must speak, read & write Spanish. Bkgd check req’d. Apply online: https://www.applitrack. com/mchenry/onlineapp/

MARKETING DIRECTOR. DIRE CT/OVERSEE marketing strategy, marketing budget, vertical marketing campaigns. Use AppNexus. Bach’s degree (Communications, Marketing or related field) req’d. Min. 2 yrs’ marketing exp. req’d, including: a) Min. 1 yr exp. in account manager pos’n(s) w/technology/telecommunications vertical marketing campaigns and b) Min. 1 yr exp. in marketing coordinator pos’n(s) w/ management of marketing budget. Exp. must include min. 1 yr in pos’n(s) involving AppNexus. Resumes to: Recruiting, Chicago Women’s Basketball Operations, LLC, d/b/a Chicago Sky, 2301 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616

STUDIO OTHER LARGE SUNNY ROOM w/fridge & microwave. Near Oak Park, Green Line & Buses. 24 hr Desk, Parking Lot $101/week & Up. (773)378-8888 CROSSROADS HOTEL SRO SINGLE RMS Private bath, PHONE, CABLE & MAIDS. 1 Block to Orange Line 5300 S. Pulaski 773-581-1188

BI Mgr: Lead design, build, testing, deployment & support of complex BI data analysis & reporting software solutions to improve clients’ search marketing campaign performance. Chicago, IL location. Reqs MS in Comp Sci & 2 yrs exp as Data Strategy Analyst. Send resume to: VNC Communications, Inc. dba Performics, 111 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL, 60601, Attn: M. Lynn.

Ashland Hotel nice clean rms. 24 hr desk/maid/TV/laundry/air. Low rates daily/weekly/monthly. South Side. Call 773-376-5200

1 BR UNDER $700 7022 S. SHORE DRIVE Impeccably Clean Highrise STUDIOS, 1 & 2 BEDROOMS Facing Lake & Park. Laundry & Security on Premises. Parking & Apts. Are Subject to Availability. TOWNHOUSE APARTMENTS 773-288-1030


REAL ESTATE RENTALS STUDIO $500-$599 CHICAGO, BEVERLY/CAL Par k/Blue Island: Studio $625 & up; 1BR $700 & up; 2BR $885 & up. Heat, Appls, Balcony, Carpet, Laundry, Parking. Call 708-3880170


CAMPAIGN JOBS Help doctors save lives around the world. Work for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. on behalf of Doctors Without Borders.



Remod. 1 BR Apts $650 w/gas incl. 2-5BR start at $650 & up. Sec 8 Welc. Rental Assistance Prog. for Qualified Applicants offer up to $200 /month for 1 yr. (773)412-1153 Wesley Realty FALL SPECIAL: Studios starting at $499 incls utilities, 1BR $550, 2BR $599, 2BR $699, With approved credit. No Security Deposit for Sec 8 Tenants. South Shore & Southside. 312-656-5066 or 773-287-9999

MIDWAY AREA/63RD KEDZIE Deluxe Studio 1 & 2 BRs. All modern oak floors, appliances, Security system, on site maint. clean & quiet, Nr. transp. From $445. 773582-1985 (espanol)

BEST PRICE BEST APARTMENT BEST LOCATION 1BR $650. 8416 S. Cottage. Next to Target & Nike stores. Call 773-487-0053

REMODELED 4 1/2 RM apt., 1BR, 1BA, LR/DR, kitc, hdwd flrs, 2nd flr, nice area, $850/mo., 1 mo rent_+ 1 /2 mo security, Call btwn 9-5, 773995-8605 ask for Ethel

232 E 121ST Pl.

BACK TO SCHOOL SPECIAL - $300 Move in Fee - Nice lrg 1BR $565; 2BR $650 & 1 3BR $800, balcony. Sec 8 Welc. 773-995-6950

CLEAN ROOM W/FRIDGE & micro, Near Oak Park, Food -4Less, Walmart, Walgreens, Buses & Metra, Laundry. $115/wk & up. 773-637-5957 1 MONTH FREE South Shore Studios $600-$750 Free Heat, Fitness Ctr, Lndry rm. Niki 773.808. 2043 www.livenovo.com CHICAGO Lovely 4 rm apt, 1BR, liv rm, din rm, kitchen/bath, heated & carpet flrs. Close to trans. $685, avail now. 108th. 773-264-6711

EARN $440-$600 WEEK

Full-time / Part-time / Career

Chicago - Hyde PARK 5401 S. Ellis. 1BR. $625/mo. Call 773-955-5106

7601 S SOUTH SHORE. 1BR $650, lndry rm, in elevator bldg, Appls, gas & heat incl, Pkng avail. No Dep. 773-908-3076

VISIT CHICAGOREADER.COM/WIN for your chance to win!

CHICAGO 70TH & King Dr, 1BR, clean, quiet, well maintained bldg, Lndry, Heat incl. Sec. 8 Ok Starting at $720/mo 773-510-9290

CALL 312-574-3794 www.grassrootscampaigns.com


STUDIO $600-$699 CHICAGO, HYDE PARK Arms Hotel, 5316 S. Harper, maid, phone /cable, switchboard, fridge, priv bath, lndry, $165/wk, $350/bi-wk or $650/mo. Call 773-493-3500

Newly updated, clean furnished rooms in Joliet, near buses & Metra, elevator. Utilities included, $91/wk. $395/mo. 815-722-1212 BIG ROOM with stove, fridge, bath & nice wood floors. Near Red Line & Buses. Elevator & Laundry, Shopping. $121/wk + up. 773-561-4970



NICE ROOM w/stove, fridge & bath Near Aldi, Walgreens, Beach, Red Line & Buses. Elevator & Laundry. $133/wk & up. 773-275-4442

108TH & PRAIRIE: 2BR $775 Newly decorated, heat & appls incl. Section 8 ok. 888-249-7971

1 BR $700-$799 CHICAGO---DEMING PLACE & Lamon Ave. Nice 1st floor 1 bedroom. Heat included. $750. No Dogs.Call Ken 773-391-1460

1 BR $800-$899 SECTION 8 WELCOME! South side, Recently renovated, 1, 2 & 3BR Apts. FREE HEAT! $800$1250/mo. Call Sean, 773-410-7084

1 BR $900-$1099 HYDE PARK 1BR. $1095. FREE HEAT Newly decor, hdwd flrs, Din Rm, appls, free credit check, no app fee 1-773-667-6477 or 1-312-802-7301

1 BR OTHER APTS. FOR RENT PARK MGMT & INV. Ltd. Hot Summer Is Here Cool Off In The Pool OUR UNITS INCLUDE HEAT, HW & CG Plenty of parking 1Bdr From $795.00 2Bdr From $925.00 3 Bdr/2 Full Bath From $1200 **1-(773)-476-6000** ROUND LAKE BEACH, IL Cedar Villas is accepting applications for subsidized 1BR apts. for seniors 62 years or older and the disabled. Rent is based on 30% of annual income. For details, call us at 847-546-1899 ∫

APTS. FOR RENT PARK MGMT & INV. Ltd. SUMMER IS HERE!! Most units Include.. HEAT & HOT WTR Studios From $475.00 1Bdr From $550.00 2Bdr From $745.00 3 Bdr/2 Full Bath From $1200 **1-(773)-476-6000** MOST BEAUTIFUL APARTMENTS! 6748 Crandon, 2BR, off street pkng 7527 Essex, 2BR, $850/mo and up. 773-947-8572 / 312-613-4424 SUBURBS, RENT TO OWN! Buy with No closing costs and get help with your credit. Call 708868-2422 or visit www.nhba.com CHICAGO, RENT TO OWN! Buy with no closing costs and get help with your credit. Call 708868-2422 or visit www.nhba.com

NO SECURITY DEPOSIT NO MOVE IN FEE 1, 2, 3 BEDROOM APTS (773) 874-1122 ACACIA SRO HOTEL Men Preferred! Rooms for Rent. Weekly & Monthly Rates. 312-421-4597

2 BR UNDER $900 8324 S INGLESIDE 1BR $660/mo & Studio $625/mo, newly remodeled, laundry, hrdwd flrs, cable, Sec 8 welc. 708-308-1509 or 773493-3500

Chatham - 7300 S Wabash 2BR. $775 and 1 BR $630. Sec 8 OK. Heat & appl. Call Office: 773966-5275 or Steve: 773-936-4749

Chicago, 9121 S. Cottage Grove, 2BR apt. $1050/mo Newly remod, appls, mini blinds, ceiling fans, pkng Sec 8 OK. Free Heat 312-915-0100

CHICAGO 94-3739 S. Bishop. 2BR, 5 Rms, 2nd flr, appls, parking, storage & closet space, near shops/ trans. $900 + sec. 708-335-0786 RIVERDALE, IL 14141 S. School St. Newly Renovated 2 BR, 1 Bath avail. No Pets. Rent $825/mo. 312-217-6556

2 BR $900-$1099 ROGERS PARK, LARGE 2Bdrm+ rehabbed vintage, 1547 W. Birchwood at Ashland. Formal dining room and hardwood floors. Heat not included. 3 blocks from lake. Available Jan 1, 2018. $1050.00. 773-9354425 65th & WOODLAWN: large 1BR, stove, refrig., gas, light included. No security deposit. Section 8 ok. $875/ mo. Call 773-684-1166.

W. HUMBOLDT PARK. 1302-08 N. Kildare. Division/ Pulaski. Newly Rehabbed, 2BR, $785. Sec 8 OK. 773-619-0280 or 773-286-8200

2 BR $1100-$1299 EVANSTON: 2111 WESLEY, 2BR, near Northwestern, parking, storage, all utilities, A/C, laundry included. All wood floors, 2-flat. $1250/mo. Available January 2. 847-424-1885 or alanbirman@ hotmail.com MARQUETTE PARK AREA near 72nd/ Western Ave. Nice 2BR House, nr trans & shopping, appls incl. Sec 8 OK. $1100/mo. 773-590-0116

GARFIELD RIDGE: 4546 S. RIVERDALE, NEW DECOR, 2BR, appls, new crpt, heated, A/ C, lndry, prkng, no pets, nr Metra. Sec 8 ok. $800. 630-480-0638

Lamon, Beaut rehab’d 3BR, 2BA house, fin bsmt, granite ctrs, SS appls, 2-car gar, $1625/mo 708-2884510

SECTION 8 WELCOME. NO SECURITY DEPOSIT. 6717 S. Rhodes, 5BR, 2BA house, appls included. $140 0/mo. 708-288-4510


11339 S. CALUMET. 3BR, 2nd flr,

Villas is accepting applications for Subsidized 2 and 3 bedroom apt waiting list. Rent is based on 30% of annual income for qualified applicants. Contact us at 847-546-1899 for details

fully carpeted, brand new ceramic tile bath, new kit w/tile & counter, elec incl. $1200/mo. 773-519-7011

SECTION 8 WELCOME $400 Cash Move-In Bonus, No Dep. 225 W 108th Pl, 2BR/1BA . 7134 S. Normal, 4BR/2BA. ceiling fans, Ht & appls incl 312-683-5174

11740 S. LASALLE, 3BR, 1st floor of 2 flat, hdwd flrs, stove, fridge, W/D, Newly remod. $1100/ mo. No Sec Dep. FREE heat.

JOLIET W BELLARMINE. Beautiful townhome, 3BR, 1.5BA, remod., Close to I-80, tenant pays util. $980/mo 815-302-5729 or 708-422-8801 WOODLAWN COMMUNITY (close to U of C campus) 3 BR, 1 BA, includes heat, Sec. 8 OK. $1,100/mo. 773-802-0422

Central Park/Fillmore, Large 3 BR apt, $800 plus sec deposit Newly remodeled, tenant pays gas & electric. 773-443-2724




{ { Get more information at the website: www.trinityseniorapartments.com


ONE OF A KIND BUDLONG WOODS, 5500N/ 2600W. Three bedrooms plus, DR,

CHICAGO SOUTH - YOU’VE tried the rest, we are the best. Apartments & Homes for rent, city & suburb. No credit checks. 773-221-7490, 773-221-7493 855 W. Margate Terrace – Gorgeous 8 room, 3 bedroom, 2 bath renovated apartment in attractive 3 unit building. Apartment features two sunrooms, large living room, dining room, new appliances, and A/C. $2200 includes heat. Chad: 312-720-3136, cjohnson@hallmark-johnson.com

spacious LR, 1.5 baths plus, many closets, first floor, near transportation. $1600 includes heat. Available now. Marty, 773-784-0763.

3 BR OR MORE $1800-$2499 LARGE 3 BEDROOM apartment near Wrigley Field. 3820 N. Fremont. Two bathrooms. Hardwood Floors. Cats OK. $2175/month. Special! Sign a lease starting by February 1, get March rent free! Available 2/1. 773-761-4318.



2006 HARLEY DAVIDSON, 4,100 miles, Vance & Hines pipes, airbox, race tuner & forward controls, great X-Mas gift. $7000. 773-226-1776


Morgan Park Fenced yard, hardwood floors, Sec8 welcome. 11658 S Watkins. $1350/mo. 773.779.4229

3 BR OR MORE $1200-$1499

SENior citizENS 62+ yEarS

Offering Quality services for Senior Citizens 62 years and older • Wellmaintained, secure-gated parking • Close to shopping, restaurants, public transportation • On-site Internet center • Computer training • Movies • Arts & Crafts classes • Bible classes • free weekly transportation for grocery shopping • Coin-operated laundry machines • Vending machines • Secure mail system and more

CHICAGO, 11820 S. UNION, 3BR Apartment, newly rehabbed. Section 8 welcome. Available Now. Call 773-440-5801

4 BR, 1.5 Bath, Beautiful home in

3 BR OR MORE $1500-$1799



$1200. 79th & Aberdeen, 2BR. $750. Tenant pays utils. Sec 8 ok. Hdwd & ceramic tile. 773-502-4304

Will accept 2BR Voucher. Call 773-221-0061


6225 S Drexel Ave 773-955-6603 or 955-7162


65TH AND CARPENTER 3BR, 2BA, carpeted, heat & appls incl, 1 mo free rent (with Sec 8). No Sec Dep. $1250/mo. 773-684-1166


6230 S GREENWOOD, 3BR, sep DR, all new kitchen with D/W, micro. W/D on site. Good location & off-street parking. No pets. $1290/mo + heat. 773.858.7551

3939 S Calumet Ave 773-373-8480 or 373-8482

5BR, 4BA, freshly updated, quiet block, near schools. $1300/mo. 773-501-0503


ELMHURST 2BR, 1 MO FREE RENT 1100sf, spac eat-in kit, new a ppls/carpet, ac, $1175/incl ht, water, pkg. 773-743-4141 urbanequiti es.com

Section 8 Eligibility-Low Rents 1 Br & Studio aptS

GARY NSA ACCEPTING applications for SECTION 8 STUDIO, 1 & 2BR UNITS ONLY. Apply Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm ONLY at 1735 W 5th Ave. Applications are to be filled out on site. Adult applicants must provide a current picture ID and SS card.


AFFORDABLE CAREGIVER 101ST/MAY, 1 & 2br. 77th/Lowe. 1 & 2br. 69th/Dante 3br. 71st/ Bennett. 2br. 77th/Essex. 3br. New renov. Sec 8 ok. 708-503-1366

non-residential SELF-STORAGE

SENIOR CARE - Looking For A Job To Live-in 24/7 or Come & Go Best price, All Loc.’s, No Fees. Eng. Spkng. Bonded/Insured. Has Car. 10 Yrs Experience. Excellent references Clear background check 708-6922580


T W O locations to serve you. All units fully heated and humidity controlled with ac available. North: Knox Avenue. 773-685-6868. South: Pershing Avenue. 773-523-6868.




GARY NSA ACCEPTING applications for SECTION 8 STUDIO & 2BR UNITS ONLY. Apply Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm ONLY at 1735 W 5th Ave. Applications are to be filled out on site. Adult applicants must provide a current picture ID and SS card.

CHICAGO 67th & Emerald - furn. rooms, 45 + male pref, share kitchen & bath, utils incl, cable ready. From $350. 773-358-2570.



FULL BODY MASSAGE. hotel, house calls welcome $90 special. Russian, Polish, Ukrainain girls. Northbrook and Schaumburg locations. 10% discount for new customers. Please call 773-407-7025


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Adult Phone Sex and Web Cam Provider. Ebony Beauty. Must Be 21+. All Credit Cards Accepted. 773-935-4995






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EARLY WARNINGS chicagoreader.com/early

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STRAIGHT DOPE By Cecil Adams Q : I was at a wake for an old friend a few

days ago. One of his sons is a member of a well-known organization of motorcycle enthusiasts, and a few fellow members at the wake wore typical outerwear unique to this organization. There were ball-peenhammer patches on the jackets. One of them was wearing a T-shirt with crossed ballpeen hammers on it. What is up with the hammers? —LONGHAIR75, VIA THE STRAIGHT DOPE MESSAGE BOARD

A : In case Longhair is being too coy for you,

This is how you say it’s going to be okay. Every 8 minutes the American Red Cross responds to a disaster and makes this promise. This holiday season, you can help us keep it.

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the bike enthusiasts he’s talking about are the Hells Angels. How do we know this? The ball-peen hammer is a tell. The Angels have a long-standing fondness for the tool, such that it’s all but considered the group’s trademark weapon. Still, patches or pins displaying hammers are ancillary to the marquee feature of a biker-gang jacket: the big patches on the back that bikers call their colors. (The term may extend to the entire garment they’re sewn on.) Often these consist of three separate pieces: two arc-shaped patches above and below, called “rockers,” naming the organization and the local chapter, and in between the club’s insignia—in the Angels’ case, a winged skull in profile. Think of these as the foundational text of a jacket, and the surrounding patches as chapters added later, identifying things like preferred weapon (hence the hammer), past drug use, or incarceration history. Variously colored wings, meanwhile, are said to indicate different outre sexual acts the wearer has gotten up to, so be sure to ask what each means next time you see your pal’s son and his cronies. You might also notice a patch bearing the device “1%.” Here the biker is proclaiming that he belongs to a group whose business may not be entirely on the up-and-up. (Extralegal activities might include things like violence, drug dealing, and gunrunning.) The emblem refers to a PR statement once issued by the American Motorcyclist Association to the effect that 99 percent of the riders out there were law-abiding, leaving just 1 percent who weren’t. This distinction was drawn back in 1947, meaning the motorcycling 1 percenters long predate the Occupy Wall Streetera bogeymen who’ve now claimed their own place in the ranks of American villainy. But why the ball-peen, specifically? If any one Hells Angel started the tradition, he’s been lost to history, but you’ll find that broadly, bikers of the 1 percent like carrying around mayhem-ready implements that can at least nominally pass as being otherwise useful: I swear, officer—my old lady’s antique steam


Never miss a show again.

boiler needs riveting. Various outlaw factions are associated with different signature tools; the Sons of Silence, for instance, prefer utility flashlights. Screwdrivers are another popular option. The Angels’ affinity for the ball-peen hammer goes back decades and continues today. Hunter S. Thompson’s 1966 book on the gang doesn’t mention hammers, true, but a later memoir by group leader Sonny Barger recalled punishment he’d visited on some guys who’d tried to steal his bike circa ’68: “We bullwhipped them and beat them with spiked dog collars, broke their fingers with ball-peen hammers.” A Reuters report describes a 2010 melee in Santa Cruz, California, where Angels squared off against members of another outlaw club called the Vagos, “some wielding ball-peen hammers.” (Their beef? Who’d get to hang out at the local Starbucks.) In an age of endless novelty, it’s nice to see folks still doing it the old way. Biker gangs like the Angels tend to be a bit touchy about their identifying garb—enough so that the medical literature has taken note. One paper I came across gives hospital emergency staff the skinny on what to do if an injured outlaw shows up: “Should a biker’s colors be removed during the course of his care, physicians and staff would be prudent to treat his colors with respect or otherwise risk a hostile reaction.” On the other hand, there’s evidence these guys might be open to gentler methods of conflict resolution. A 2013 New York Times article described the Hells Angels’ impressive legal apparatus and their newfound enthusiasm for litigation, which extends to the 18 versions of their symbols the organization has trademarked, which they guard aggressively. In 2008 the group went after a T-shirt maker who’d used the Angels’ name in its designs, and in 2013 they sued Toys “R” Us, which was selling a yo-yo with an Angels-style death’s head on it. (Not your grandma’s Toys “R” Us anymore, apparently.) Both cases got settled out of court—but fortunately not too far out of court. v Send questions to Cecil via straightdope.com or write him c/o Chicago Reader, 30 N. Racine, suite 300, Chicago 60607.




By Dan Savage

‘Why do I always fall in love with lesbians?’

A “sporty” Italian really wants to know. Plus: better dick pics, and more Q : I am a 22-year-old Italian

man, 100 percent straight, sensitive and sporty. I have one question for you: Why do I always fall in love with lesbians? Why do I instantly fall in love with girls who have that something more in their eyes? Something melancholy and perhaps insecure? Girls whom I’d rather protect and embrace than take to bed? The last girl with whom this happened told me it was my “Red Cross” mind-set that made me fall in love with girls who are insecure/ sad/melancholy, so I have a sort of selection bias that excludes most straight girls I meet. I do not believe this, because the world is full of straight girls who need saving. So why then, Dan? WHY? I have a girlfriend. I truly love her. I am afraid that one day she is going to tell me she’s gay too. She always talks with me about a new supercute female friend. Is she a lesbian? I have recently met another girl, superempathetic. She is gay, and I knew it after an allnight conversation in my car listening to Cigarettes After Sex. Why do I always fall in love with gay girls? Can I love two people at the same time? This is the fourth time that this has happened. Why do I find lesbians so attractive? I’m freaking. —INCREASINGLY TORMENTED ABOUT LESBIAN YEARNINGS

A : There’s a lot going on in your letter, ITALY, so I’m going to take your questions one at a time . . . (1) Maybe you always fall in love with lesbians, or maybe this was a series of coincidences. It’s also possible you find women with a certain degree of masculine energy and/or swagger attractive, and women with that swagger are somewhat likelier to be lesbians.

(2) Women—straight or bi or lesbian—don’t need “saving.” They need respect, they need to be taken seriously, they need bodily autonomy, and they need loving partners and political allies. (3) Your girlfriend may be a lesbian—anyone could in these highly fluid days, even me. But if your girlfriend isn’t straight, ITALY, she’s likelier to be bisexual, seeing as there are roughly three times as many bi women as there are lesbian women. (4) Just as we are capable of loving more than one parent, child, sibling, friend, and television show at a time (you know I love you both equally, Lady Dynamite and The Crown), we can love more than one romantic partner at a time. But we’re told that romantic love is a zero-sum game so often— if someone wins, someone else loses—it has become a self-fulfilling/relationship-destroying prophecy. It’s a myth that harms not just people who might want to be with two people, but partnered monogamous people as well. A person who is convinced he can feel romantic love for only one person at a time may doubt his love for a long-term partner if he develops a crush on someone new. He’ll say to himself, “I couldn’t possibly feel this way about this barista if I was still in love with my partner of ten years.” But those feelings can exist side by side—stable, secure, lasting love for a long-term partner and an intense infatuation (most likely fleeting) for a new person. (5) Cigarettes After Sex were on a boat in the Arabian Sea (they sent the pics to prove it) when I reached them about your dilemma. Drummer Jacob Tomsky said: “About loving more than one person at the same time,

a Gabriel García Márquez quote from Love in the Time of Cholera comes to mind: ‘My heart has more rooms than a whorehouse.’ Your heart will surprise you with its duplicity.” Or its capacity. (6) Maybe it’s not an accident that you keep falling for lesbians. There are lots of straight men out there who have a thing for dykes. It’s entirely possible that you aren’t worried your girlfriend is a lesbian, ITALY, but secretly hoping she is. Good luck!




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have been together for five years. We have had an open relationship from fairly early on, but it’s only in the last six months that he’s started using various gentlemen’s apps for meeting new guys. I snuck a look at his phone and I was horrified—the dick pics he’s sharing are terrible. Poorly lit and with bad angles, they completely do not do justice to his cock. How can I help him take better junk shots without revealing that I’ve been looking at his phone?

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Mickey Avalon, Dirty Nasty 2/9, 9 PM, Bottom Lounge, 17+ Rachel Baiman 2/1, 9 PM, Hideout Big Bad Voodoo Daddy 2/18, 7 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b Boombox Cartel 4/28, 9 PM, Concord Music Hall, on sale Fri 12/22, noon, 17+ Borgore 2/3, 11:45 PM, Concord Music Hall, 18+ Cam’ron 1/19, 8 PM, Portage Theater, 17+ Case 2/6, 7 and 9:30 PM, City Winery, on sale Thu 12/21, noon b Dead Meadow 4/4, 8 PM, Beat Kitchen Lee DeWyze 2/16, 8 PM, SPACE, Evanston, on sale Fri 12/22, 10 AM b Beth Ditto 3/19, 8 PM, Lincoln Hall, 18+ English Beat 4/6, 8 PM and 4/7, 7 PM, City Winery, on sale Thu 12/21, noon b Jay Farrar 2/11, 7 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn 2/24, 8 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b Fruition 2/9, 9 PM, Martyrs’ Michael Glabicki & Dirk Miller 2/6, 8 PM, SPACE, Evanston, on sale Fri 12/22, 10 AM b Trevor Hall 2/23-24, 8 PM, SPACE, Evanston b High Kings 3/22, 8 PM, City Winery, on sale Thu 12/21, noon b Iamx 4/28, 9 PM, Bottom Lounge, 17+ Integrity, Temple of Void, the Ox King 2/6, 7 PM, Reggie’s Rock Club, 18+ Cassandra Jenkins 2/16, 9 PM, Hideout

Mike Love 3/9, 8:30 PM, FitzGerald’s, Berwyn, on sale Fri 12/22, 11 AM Shelby Lynne 3/1, 8 PM, SPACE, Evanston, on sale Fri 12/22, 10 AM b Mac Sabbath, Galactic Empire 2/17, 8 PM, Subterranean, 17+ William Matheny 1/22, 7 PM, Hideout Vic Mensa 12/31, 9 PM, Concord Music Hall Nothing, Nowhere. 3/9, 8 PM, Subterranean, 17+ Justin Nozuka, Good Old War 3/9, 7:30 PM, Bottom Lounge, 17+ Pharoahe Monch 1/20, 9 PM, Subterranean Pink Talking Fish 3/17, 9 PM, Park West, 18+ Charlie Puth 7/31, 7:30 PM, Huntington Bank Pavilion, on sale Fri 12/22, 10 AM Ralph Rosario 1/19, 9 PM, Thalia Hall Royal Thunder 4/5, 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, on sale Fri 12/22, 11 AM, 17+ The Rumble with Strife, Wisdom in Chains, Greg Bennick, Racetraitor, Bitter End, Die Young, and more 4/27, 5 PM and 4/28, 1 PM, Cobra Lounge, on sale Fri 12/22, noon, 17+ Rutabega 1/14, 8 PM, Hideout Screeching Weasel 2/16-17, 7 PM, Reggie’s Rock Club, 17+ Scythian 3/3, 8 PM, City Winery, on sale Thu 12/21, noon b Secrets 3/13, 6 PM, Wire, Berwyn b Septicflesh, Dark Funeral 3/4, 7 PM, Reggie’s Rock Club, 17+ Jake Shimabukuro 4/8-9, 8 PM, City Winery, on sale Thu 12/21, noon b Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder 3/4, 7:30 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b


Supersuckers 3/28, 8 PM, Reggie’s Music Joint Trout Steak Revival 4/19, 9 PM, Schubas Vitalic 3/14, 8 PM, Subterranean, 17+

UPDATED Declan McKenna 3/7 and 3/9, 7:30 PM, SPACE, Evanston, 3/9 sold out, 3/7 added b Rachael Yamagata 2/2-3, 8 PM, SPACE, Evanston, 2/2 sold out b

UPCOMING Acid Mothers Temple, Melting Paraiso U.F.O. 4/14, 9 PM, Beat Kitchen Alvvays 3/23, 7:30 PM, Metro b American Nightmare, No Warning 2/25, 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 17+ Trey Anastasio Band 4/20-21, 8 PM, Chicago Theatre Dan Auerbach & the Easy Eye Sound Revue, Shannon & the Clams 4/2, 8 PM, Riviera Theatre, 18+ Bad Plus 2/2, 7:30 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b Bahamas 3/10, 8:30 PM, Metro, 18+ Baths 4/11, 9 PM, Lincoln Hall, 18+ Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet 3/8, 7:30 PM, SPACE, Evanston b Jason Bieler 4/27, 7 PM, Reggie’s Music Joint Calexico 4/25, 8 PM, Thalia Hall, 17+ Brandi Carlile 6/15, 7:30 PM, Chicago Theatre Carpenter Brut 4/26, 8 PM, Concord Music Hall, 17+

b Coin 2/7, 8 PM, House of Blues b Deep Dark Woods 1/13, 9 PM, Schubas Devil Makes Three 1/12, 8 PM, Concord Music Hall, 18+ Diet Cig 2/1, 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 17+ Eagles 3/14, 8 PM, United Center Enslaved, Wolves in the Throne Room 2/23, 7 PM, Metro, 18+ Samantha Fish 1/31, 8 PM, Lincoln Hall Haley Fohr 1/11, 6 PM, Art Institute of Chicago Fb Fortunate Youth, Tatanka 4/21, 8:30 PM, Bottom Lounge, 17+ G-Eazy, Trippie Redd 3/9, 7 PM, Aragon Ballroom b Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds 2/24, 8 PM, Chicago Theatre Godspeed You! Black Emperor 3/18-19, 8 PM, Metro, 18+ Helloween 9/10, 7 PM, Concord Music Hall, 17+ Hippo Campus 2/16, 7:30 PM, the Vic b Peter Hook & the Light 5/4, 9 PM, Metro, 18+ Iced Earth 3/29, 7:30 PM, Bottom Lounge, 17+ Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon 2/16-17, 8 PM, Park West, 18+ Jimmy Eat World, Hotelier 5/8, 7:30 PM, Riviera Theatre b Tom Jones 5/12-13, 8 PM, House of Blues Kesha & Macklemore 7/14, 7 PM, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Tinley Park Killers 1/16, 7:30 PM, United Center Kimbra, Arc Iris 2/3, 7 PM, Concord Music Hall b L.A. Salami 3/30, 9 PM, Schubas Ladysmith Black Mambazo 2/17, 5 and 8 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b Lorde 3/27, 7 PM, Allstate Arena, Rosemont LP 2/24, 7:30 PM, Metro b Jeff Lynne’s ELO 8/15, 8 PM, Allstate Arena, Rosemont Majid Jordan 2/21, 7:30 PM, the Vic, 18+ Marilyn Manson 2/6, 8 PM, Riviera Theatre, 18+ Miguel 3/5, 8 PM, Riviera Theatre, 18+ Ministry, Chelsea Wolfe 4/7, 8 PM, Riviera Theatre, 18+ Thurston Moore 2/10, 8:30 PM, Constellation, 18+ Dan Navarro 2/9, 7 PM, Schubas Carrie Newcomer 1/27, 8 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b John Oates & the Good Road Band 2/8, 8 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b Of Mice & Men 2/11, 5 PM, House of Blues b






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Partner 1/26, 9 PM, Empty Bottle Passion Pit 1/17, 8 PM, United Center, 18+ Pedro the Lion 8/24, 9 PM, Thalia Hall, 17+ Residents 4/17, 7 PM, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music b Screaming Females 3/10, 9 PM, Lincoln Hall, 18+ Ty Segall 4/8, 8 PM, Riviera Theatre, 18+ Shopping 3/28, 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, 17+ Soft Moon 3/31, 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle St. Vincent 1/12, 8 PM, Chicago Theatre b Taylor Swift 6/2, 7 PM, Soldier Field They Might Be Giants 3/17, 7:30 PM, the Vic, 14+ Paul Thorn 3/24, 9 PM, FitzGerald’s, Berwyn Tune-Yards 3/3, 8:30 PM, Thalia Hall, 17+ Two Feet 2/25, 8 PM, Lincoln Hall, 18+ U2 5/22-23, 8 PM, United Center U.S. Girls 4/17, 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle Tessa Violet 1/26, 8 PM, Lincoln Hall b Walk the Moon 1/26, 7:30 PM, Aragon Ballroom b Wallows 2/22, 7:30 PM, Lincoln Hall b J. Roddy Walston & the Business 2/2, 9 PM, Metro, 18+ Watain, Destroyer 666 3/2, 7 PM, Metro, 18+ Wedding Present 3/26, 7:30 PM, Lincoln Hall Weepies 4/14, 8 PM, Thalia Hall b Weezer, Pixies, Wombats 7/7, 7:30 PM, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Tinley Park Bob Weir & Phil Lesh 3/10, 8 PM, Chicago Theatre Why? 3/3, 9 PM, Lincoln Hall, 18+ The Wind & the Wave 2/25, 8 PM, SPACE, Evanston b Andrew W.K. 5/12, 8 PM, the Vic, 18+ “Weird Al” Yankovic 4/6-7, 8 PM, The Vic b Yo La Tengo 3/29-30, 8 PM, Thalia Hall, 17+ Yung Gravy 1/26, 8:30 PM, Subterranean b Yung Lean & Sad Boys 1/31, 6 PM, Concord Music Hall b Zafa Collective 1/28, 8:30 PM, Constellation, 18+ Zombies 3/19-20, 8 PM, City Winery b v

GOSSIP WOLF A furry ear to the ground of the local music scene KSTARKE RECORDS, the Ukrainian Village shop run by veteran DJ Kevin Starke, closed for good last month. But on Friday, December 22, the storefront at 1109 N. Western will reopen as a new record and clothing shop called Wild Prairie Vinyl & Vintage (co-owner Natasha Rac took the name from the lyrics to “Onion Rings,” a song on the 2001 Molemen compilation Chicago City Limits Vol. 1). Starke sold the business to Rac and Wild Prairie’s other owner, Alex Gonzales, a local DJ who’d worked at KStarke for five years. “One day I wondered if I could not have to pay for records anymore and asked Kevin if I could help out at the shop,” Gonzales says. “Kevin showed me what was good and became a mentor.” Starke included thousands of his shop’s records in the deal, and Gonzales and Rac kept the best for Wild Prairie’s stock. Friday the new store has a soft open, and Saturday it hosts a free daylong party with eight DJs and complimentary Half Acre beer. Regular hours are noon to 7 PM Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 PM on Sunday. “We want a space where people can come and hang out,” Rac says. This wolf is looking forward to New Year’s Eve at the Hideout with storming soul ensemble the Right Now, whose 2017 full-length Starlight is packed full of radioready pop anthems. The evening also includes an acoustic performance from roots rockers the Lucky Dutch and a DJ set from DJRC. Tickets are $20, and Dark Matter Coffee will raffle off prizes; part of the night’s proceeds benefits local suicide prevention nonprofit Hope for the Day. Are you a Grinch with no patience for Christmas music? Local pop-punks Bash Bang aren’t afraid to roast a few chestnuts—and they get it over with quick! Last week they dropped an 83-second ripper called “Santa’s Gone Punk” that includes lines about the holly jolly fellow’s new neck tattoo and Mohawk. It’s free to download via Bandcamp—and it totally sleighs! —J.R. NELSON AND LEOR GALIL Got a tip? Tweet @Gossip_Wolf or e-mail gossipwolf@chicagoreader.com.




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Print Issue of December 21, 2017 (Volume 47, Number 12)  

Print Issue of December 21, 2017 (Volume 47, Number 12)