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¬ NOVEMBER 20, 2013


A week’s worth of developing stories, odd events, and signs of the times, culled from the desks, inboxes, and wandering eyes of the editors South Side Metra Station

SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY The South Side Weekly is a newsprint magazine produced by students at the University of Chicago, for and about the South Side. The Weekly is distributed across the South Side each Wednesday of the academic year. In fall 2013, the Weekly reformed itself as an independent, student-directed organization. Previously, the paper was known as the Chicago Weekly. Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor

Harrison Smith Bea Malsky

Senior Editors John Gamino, Spencer Mcavoy Politics Editor Osita Nwanevu Stage & Screen Hannah Nyhart Editor Music and Zach Goldhammer Video Editor Visual Arts Editor Katryce Lassle Associate Online Sharon Lurye and Contributing Editor Contributing Editors Ari Feldman, Josh Kovensky, Meaghan Murphy Photo Editor Lydia Gorham Layout Editor Olivia Dorow Hovland Online Editor Gabi Bernard Senior Writer Stephen Urchick Staff Writers Dove Barbanel, Jake Bittle, Bess Cohen, Emma Collins, Emily Holland, Jason Huang, Jack Nuelle Staff Photographer Camden Bauchner Staff Illustrators Hanna Petroski, Isabel Ochoa Gold Business Manager

Harry Backlund

5706 S. University Ave. Reynolds Club 018 Chicago, IL 60637

Following a summer of notable rail transit construction, the South Side is about to get another brand new commuter station—its second in three years. Metra is putting $20 million toward a station on 79th Street at Wallace Avenue. Though Metra had been planning the station for some years, it was not until State Senator Jaqueline Collins was able to make a deal with Governor Pat Quinn that all the funding came together. The station will be the first the Auburn Gresham neighborhood has had in over thirty-five years. Though the station won’t be seeing the kind of traffic the Rock Island station gets, Metra expects about 400 riders to use the new station each week.

Step Off, Stewart

“If it looks like an antenna and acts like an antenna, then guess what? It’s an antenna.” These words were spoken by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last Tuesday in regards to the decision—made by a committee of qualified architects—to call the thing on top of New York City’s Freedom Tower a spire. The decision officially places the skyscraper at One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan atop the list of America’s tallest building, supplanting the Willis Tower. Jon Stewart gave Rahm a hard time on The Daily Show the next day, and also went after everything Chicago loves and holds dear. (He called deep dish pizza “a [expletive] casserole.”) Rahm ended up sending Jon deep dish pizza with anchovies as a peace offering–or a weird reference to “The Godfather.” Who knows.

For advertising inquiries, contact: (773)234-5388

Cover by Stiky IDC.

Last week, the Chicago City Council engaged in a vigorous show of circular grandstanding the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the last time the Chicago City Council engaged in a vigorous show of circular grandstanding. Aldermen invoked council Rule Forty-One to move two publicly popular pieces of legislation out of the Rules Committee, where they had languished for more than one hundred days: an ordinance to reallocate TIF surpluses to alleviate CPS budget woes and a resolution toward an elected school board. Despite strong nominal support before their rule committee burial, neither was able to hold onto enough alderman for a floor vote. Alderman Toni Foulkes called the whole thing a joke, and we laughed ‘til we cried.

Chicago State Loves Teachers

Who says lawyers can’t be creative? The counsel for the administration of Chicago State University has sent a cease and desist letter to the operators of the school’s Faculty Voice blog over copyright infringement. The blog is notoriously critical of CSU’s higher-ups, and many see the administration’s move as an attempt to quash any and all critiques from teachers and staff. Recent posts have attacked the pay raises of those close to the university’s president and suggested that some of his employees faked their credentials. In response to the counsel’s letter, the blog changed the logo they were using to a seal for one “Crony State University.”¬


calumet & garfield

breast cancer

“What was once a grand gateway to the South Side is now a blank brick wall.”

“Some women believe that if they don’t have a family history of breast cancer, they noah kahrs.............4 aren’t susceptible. That’s just not true.” OLIVIA ADAMS..............5


josé landaverde

“Transparent mastectomy reports hang from the ceiling, with medical jargon studded through the blocks of diagnostic statements.”

“To be communist is to follow the word of Jesus...You need to respond to the social needs of the people.”

cardboard show

cesar conde

“The newly anointed cardboard royalty put their arms over each other’s shoulders.”

“One cannot help but feel that art can and must do things for us.”

paige pendarvis......8

syrbis at level eater

kiran misra............9


an iliad

“We need to take control of our own research.”

sharon lurye.......14

“Before beginning in earnest he tells us, ‘Every time stephen urchick..16 I sing this song, I hope it’s the last time.’”

robert morris

“A Few Thoughts On Bombs, Tennis, Freewill, Agency Reduction, the Museum, Dust Storms, and JAKE BITTLE.................7 Magnets” CINDY DAPOGNY...........6

“ You may have been the guy who cured polio…. however, once they know you play D&D, you’re john gamino.........10 the D&D guy that cured polio.”

Who’s Laughing Now

darkscorch chronicles


“Sure to please both vinyl fiends and RPG nerds in equal measure.”

“This night’s incarnation of the Theater showcases a trio of writers who share the same forename: Chris.”

zach goldhammer........14 christian belanger...............15

if scrooge was a brother

“Reggie Glover’s delivery gives Bandele’s Scroo’ the feel of an out-of-touch and spencer mcavoy....17 absurd man-child.”

stephen urchick..18



garfield avenue

calumet avenue


adhiraaj anand

Under the Green Line BY NOAH KAHRS The intersection of Garfield and Calumet has long been dominated by the Green Line. Most recently, the Red Line closure brought massive traffic to the station between busses replacing the Red Line and the lure of free entry at Garfield, daily ridership at the station jumped from thirteen hundred to thirteen thousand. A previously vacant lot at the northwest corner of Garfield and Calumet has taken center stages as a bus terminal for the rail replacement service. The northeast corner of the intersection, seen easily from the Loop-bound Green Line platforms, once housed a massive retirement home. Built in 1911, the James C. King Home for Old Men was still around in 1950s, and used to span the whole north side of Garfield from Calumet Avenue to King Drive. By the 1980s the home had gone and the lot left behind, currently owned by the University of Chicago, is now occupied only by broken concrete and orange traffic cones. The UofC removed a vacant and rusted warehouse upon acquiring the property but has yet to announce plans for development. Directly south across Garfield Boulevard is former site of the Rhumboogie 343 E Garfield. The spot had long been an inauspicious location for jazz clubs. According to the Red Saunders Research Foundation, a cafe known as “Dave’s” or as “Swingland,” depending on its ownership at the time, operated for six years under three different owners. But in April 1942, the Rhumboogie started up under the man-


¬ NOVEMBER 20, 2013

agement of Joe Louisand, and threw a grand opening featuring Tiny Bradshaw. T-Bone Walker had numerous stays at the club from 1942 to 1945, establishing the club’s name, the Rhumboogie, as a record label. Some say, dubiously, that Sonny Rollins and Sonny Blount, who would later become Sun Ra, played together at the Rhumboogie. It’s much more certain that Blount, a Washington Park resident, played at the Club DeLisa, which was located at Garfield and State until its 1958 closure. Once the Rhumboogie had established T-Bone Walker as a major star, he was courted by numerous other record labels, and the Rhumboogie brand faded away. The club never recovered from a fire late in 1945, and it closed in 1947. The site has been an empty lot since the 1960s. Looking due west from the Rhumboogie site, the first remaining building wall is home to a graffiti mural, created by Kane One’s Graffiti Institute, declaring “Spray Paint Not Bullets.” The vacant space around the Rhumboogie’s former home has expanded towards the Green Line over the last few decades. Twenty years ago the wall housing the mural would barely have been visible. A little further along Garfield, right under the Green Line, is the oldest remaining “L” station-house in Chicago. The original Green Line station, located across the street from its sleek, modern counterpart, closed in July 2001. Since then, the CTA has used one of the oldest transit stations in the country for the storage of maintenance equipment.

Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory Council, has been campaigning for a community-based use of the station since 2009. The CTA claimed that they needed the old station for maintenance during the Red Line closure, but Butler says that “over the five-month period, no one saw them use that location.” A recent survey of Washington Park residents showed that ninety percent of residents are in favor of “having a historic landmark as a community outlet.” But, despite a fresh coat of paint, the CTA still has the station’s doors and windows sealed. What was once a grand gateway to the South Side is now a blank brick wall. Next to the current station, at the northwest corner of Garfield and Calumet, the former bus terminal is an empty expanse of asphalt, separated from the street by opaque fences, though the empty lot is visible from the Loopbound platform at the station. Though a long-present block of housing occupied the lot at least until 1994, it was gone by the opening of the new station in 2001. The CTA plans to turn this space into a parking lot. Although Butler is relieved that buses will no longer be traveling down Washington Park’s small residential streets, she doesn’t see why the CTA wants a second lot—the station’s existing lot seems perpetually under-capacity. Once repaved, the footprint of the old terminal will be merely a home to cars, and nothing more. ¬


Uncertain Future for Breast Cancer Screenings State cuts South Side prevention efforts BY OLIVIA ADAMS


his April, for the third year in a row, Illinois legislators voted to cut the budget of the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP)—a state-run initiative that aims to provide free preventative care and cancer treatments to uninsured Illinois women— by nearly $296,000. It was a major blow for an already-lean budget. Although Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently stepped in to provide money to replace IBCCP funds and provide screenings to 1,500 more Chicago women through Roseland Community Hospital, the long-term sustainability of the city’s breast cancer programs and the rationale for the initial cuts to IBCCP’s budget have both been called into question by local health advocates. Anne Marie Murphy, executive director of the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, described this year’s budget cuts as “draconian.” As justification for the budget slashing, legislators cited the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will provide free mammograms and other preventative services according to the Illinois Department of Insurance. With this attitude as popular as it is in Springfield, it seems unlikely that the program will ever be fully fiscally revived at the state level. Health advocates like those at the Task Force argue that although the ACA could increase mammogram availability, the law offers few substitutes for the locally attuned services for cancer victims that the IBCCP supported. The IBCCP, they say, exists in part to help women navigate Chicago’s health care system, and many contend that the organization could prevent uninsured women from falling through the ACA’s bureaucratic cracks and failing to take advantage of new preventative care options. Additionally, some fear that women currently enrolled in the IBC-

CP will remain ineligible for the Medicaid expansion set to accompany the ACA, and will thus remain uninsured and without free cancer prevention services. All of these outcomes—flawed ACA implementation, a gradual reduction in the mayor’s new stop-gap screening funding, or both—would be particularly problematic for Chicago’s uninsured black women. According to a 2007 study by the Sinai Urban Health Institute, black women face a sixty-two percent higher risk of dying from breast cancer in Chicago than white women. The medically underserved South Side, where a scarcity of personal wellness resources can often worsen even minor health issues, could be hit the hardest. Groups like the Task Force have been working to connect South Side women with the services they need in light of the IBCCP’s recent budget cuts. This year, the Task Force offered one thousand free mammograms from various Chicago hospitals, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. So far, 686 women have completed mammograms, and four were diagnosed with breast cancer. All of the treatments, including the initial mammograms, cancer treatments, and post-care, were completed without cost to the patients. Despite the availability of these resources, the South Side still struggles to overcome a culture fearful of breast cancer prevention methods and thus remains vulnerable to the disease. Derek Michaels, manager of marketing and outreach at St. Bernard Hospital, a center for free mammogram services in central Englewood, strives to advocate for women fearful of facing the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis. “When I ask [the women] why [they won’t get mammograms], many of them say ‘I don’t want to know,’” he said.

Even women who have a history of breast cancer in their families are still wary of completing mammograms. The fear of diagnosis and subsequent treatment, which may include a mastectomy, feeds self-esteem and body image anxieties within these women. Many do not have the resources for reconstructive surgery, and would be forced to live with the realities of severe bodily alteration without any recourse to change their appearances. Lack of understanding and the perpetuation of health rumors also contribute to unwillingness to seek out mammogram services. “Some women believe that if they don’t have a family history of breast cancer, they aren’t susceptible. That’s just not true,” Michaels said. Additionally, some South Side women cannot rely on familial support groups to assuage their fears. Women without sisters or mothers in their lives may find it more difficult to get regular mammograms without the support of other women, so they avoid the process altogether. This mindset perpetuates the latent health disparity among Chicago’s black and white female populations. According to a 2013 study by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, fifty-one percent of black women involved in the study’s focus groups believed all women to have the same risk of dying of breast cancer. This same study also found that, of the women questioned, most believed that this risk stemmed from a lack of awareness of cancer screenings within the black community, and a subsequent failure of black women to get regular screenings. To the contrary, medical and health professions involved in the study blamed healthcare inequalities for the breast cancer disparity. Several organizations are working to reverse these misconceptions. The Task Force’s Screen to Live navigation program,

which targets Englewood—a community with some of the highest breast cancer mortality rates—reaches out to women in laundromats, buses, and churches through casual conversation to increase awareness of the importance of mammogram screenings. Since its inception in June of last year, 1,200 Englewood women have been contacted, and 210 of 300 women have completed their scheduled mammograms. Sisters Working It Out (SWIO), an organization conceived as a collaborative effort among several Chicago health advocacy groups, runs a Community Health Educators (CHE) program staffed by members drawn from all over Chicago, who receive training in order to best recognize and assist with the problems specific to Chicago’s uninsured women. According to SWIO Program Coordinator Tonya Robertson, each CHE member is responsible for counseling thirty uninsured women about their health concerns, referring ten uninsured women to free mammogram and pap exam services, and participating in two “advocacy activities” on behalf of the uninsured. St. Bernard Hospital, located in central Englewood, which has used sixty of its 150 free mammograms allotted for this year, also offers health fairs, distributes mammogram reminders to Englewood residents, and organizes a monthly cancer support group for patients and families. Given the potential long-term instability of IBCCP, the South Side’s women may have to rely more and more on these kinds of non-governmental efforts. In the meantime, the Task Force plans to continue lobbying the Illinois state legislature for increased funding and working with major hospitals to secure more free mammograms for those who need them the most. ¬


Glitter, Paint, and a Whole Lot of Cardboard The Eleventh Annual Cardboard Show at Project Onward BY CINDY DAPOGNY


hristina Milian is staring at me. She smiles coyly, framed in a frayed, six-by-six square of cardboard. Next to her is Snooki, and next to Snooki is Rosario Dawson. Below each of them is a sticker with their names, along with, “Andrew Hall. 50.00.” Hall himself is standing next to me, pointing at each portrait in turn, smiling. “These ones are mine.” We are standing in the gallery space of Project Onward in the Bridgeport Art Center, where the Eleventh Annual Cardboard Show is taking place. Project Onward has been in the space since this past July, and it would have been easy to miss the entrance if not for the brightly decorated cardboard signs pointing the way. Following the signs through narrow hallways, I took one final turn and found myself in the artists’ studio: white-walled, woodfloored, the foreground teeming with glitter and cardboard, the background buzzing with people. After the cramped hallways it seemed endless. I ran into Hall as I began to make my way through the artists’ workspaces and display boards toward the gallery. Hall is one of Project Onward’s most popular artists. Several of his pieces—detailed renderings of churches and building facades— hang in the conference room off of the main studio. He has been in the program for nine years, starting soon after it was established in 2004. Originally, Project Onward was an outgrowth of Gallery 37, an organization that allows students ages fourteen through twenty-one to apprentice with Chicago artists. The students aging out of Gallery 37 could continue their interests with Project Onward. It grew so quickly that in summer of 2005, the organization moved to the second floor (and, in 2008, a portion of the first floor) of the Chicago Cultural Center. Project Onward’s primary aim is to provide artistic guidance for artists with

mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. They currently have forty member artists, all of whom work two to five days a week in their new studio space in Bridgeport. Jackson cites the new, independent non-profit status of the program as a major reason for the move. “We wanted to keep our integrity,” he says. Moving to a new neighborhood from the Loop was a major factor in establishing the organization as an independent gallery and studio space. Communications Director Rachael Zuppke agrees. “That part of the city, it’s just a restriction to growth. Here, we have room to expand.” The Cultural Center as a tourist destination, she says, was a boon in terms of the sheer number of visitors, but the move to Bridgeport allows the program to make its own way in the Chicago arts world. “It’s great having a space like this,” she says, referring to the Bridgeport Art Center, a building specifically designed for the arts. “Back at the Cultural Center, for example, we had this one blue wall that was really poorly-lit. It’s just hard to take that seriously sometimes.” All around her, the walls shine a bright white. About halfway through the show, I found the Cardboard Show’s organizer, Mike Pocius. Mike’s brother Allan began the Annual Cardboard Show back in 2002 in his apartment, and a few years later Mike took over. The show is a neighborhood tradition that has popped up in venues all over Bridgeport. The Cardboard Show found its way to Project Onward’s space in part because of Pocius’s volunteering for the program, back in its Cultural Center days. Jackson says that Pocius was the one who introduced cardboard to Project Onward artists. “I was the Cardboard Guy,” Pocius confirms. “Saved them a whole lot of money on canvas. Especially with Adam Hines.” He points at a tall stack of paintings nearby. “He’s got something like 6,000 pieces on cardboard. Yeah,” he says, seeing my face. “A lot of money.” Cardboard’s


cindy dapogny

ubiquity and sturdiness provide the artists with plenty of material for their projects, and it is visible on every work surface. Cobalt Studio in Bridgeport, host of the 2012 Cardboard Show and Pocius’s own photography, refers to Pocius as the “King of the Chicago Street Photographers.” He has a strong Chicago accent and a deep appreciation for his hometown and its residents. One way he shows this is in the central tenet of the Cardboard Show: it is open to all, and no artist is turned away. Thanks to the lack of restrictions, the variety within the show is pretty incredible: much of the cardboard serves as a surface for paint or colored pencils, as well as providing mounting material, but there are sculptures and reliefs that show off its versatility as medium. A cardboard koi fish moves through waves of corrugated brown. A tiny cardboard man vomits on a sidewalk outside of a foreshortened sculpture of a building. The sold pieces are accompanied by red dots, and the gallery’s white walls are already adorned with a generous spray of these dots. The Cardboard Show usually

runs for about three days, but it will be up in the Project Onward gallery until November 27. At nine o’clock there is a raffle. I hold my ticket, listen to the numbers, and watch as Zuppke and a middle-aged attendee step forward to light applause and cheers. They receive glittery cardboard crowns and pose for pictures. Zuppke is laughing, and her crown sparkles in the gallery lights. The crowd shuffles around for a better look. The newly anointed Cardboard Royalty put their arms over each other’s shoulders, and when I look around, everyone is smiling. A change in venue often stirs up myriad problems, but Project Onward still maintains their mission. Jackson mentioned earlier that not one artist was lost during the transition to Bridgeport. Project Onward may still be settling into their new home, but they sure do look comfortable. ¬ Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th Street. Through November 27. Monday-Saturday, 8am-6pm; Sunday, 8am-noon. Free.


Face to Face “In the Hood” at 33 Collective BY JAKE BITTLE


hen our eyes meet with a stranger’s, we size them up, give them a once-over, make guesses about where they’ve come from and where they’re going. In this moment, whatever prejudices we have come out in full force. It is in this moment that Cesar Conde dwells with “In The Hood,” a stunning series of portraits in which Conde had African-American professionals of all occupations don hoodies before he painted them. With this series, Conde attempts to establish a dialogue about race, perception, and prejudice, and forces us to examine our behaviors within those crucial seconds of initial judgment. Conde’s exhibit was located in the back of the building at 33 Collective, on the first floor of Bridgeport’s Zhou B Art Center. In a small anteroom, a band played a lively jazz tune as people milled about. Behind the band loomed an enormous portrait of a black man in a hoodie. His eyes, full of detail and reflection, were inescapable. He stared across the room at a portrait of a black woman who stared back at him. She too was solemn and stoic beneath her hoodie. These paintings, with all their directness and their immensity, force their viewers to take a step—a large step—back from all of their ingrained preconceptions about race and behavior. They are, in a word, arresting. The anteroom led into a smaller room filled with almost a dozen more of the paintings. Each confronts its viewer with a face both stark and compassionate. In concert, however, the series seemed to say more than the sum of its parts. The faces work not as a group of individuals, but as a community speaking out against our entrenched judgments and preconceptions. At one end of the room, a poster listed the various jobs held by these black professionals, who are friends or acquaintances of Conde’s: “I am a lawyer...I am an invest-

courtesy of cesar conde

ment banker...I am a business owner...I graduated from Yale.” I found Conde in the center of the room, in the middle of a lively conversation. I couldn’t even get the fact that I was a reporter out of my mouth before he invited me outside for an interview. Behind the gallery building, he explained the genesis of the project. “ ‘In The Hood’ was inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin,” said Conde. “The reason why I did portraits of African-American professionals in mature stages of their lives is that’s what Trayvon Martin would’ve been, could’ve been. We’re killing off a lot of our kids.” Conde said the collection was born out of a “visceral reaction” to the shooting of seventeen-year-old Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012. “I find this a complete injustice,” said Conde. “I was so angry. I wanted to rebel. I wanted to throw Molotov cocktails. And

I said, ‘How can I use my craft to bring out the issue in a very passive way?’ ” According to Conde, each painting took about a month to complete. Conde had his subjects put on hoodies, took photos of them, and then painted from the photos. He has been working on the series for over a year. The subjects, he said, were people he had met and known throughout his life who wanted to show their commitment to justice. “They wanted to collaborate,” said Conde. “This is their way of showing their protest, and their way of showing their solidarity, because we care about this issue of race.” Back in the exhibit, several of Conde’s subjects stood around the room by their respective portraits. Despite the somberness of the occasion—the whole exhibit is retaliation against an injustice—most of the subjects were laughing and joking with whoever passed by. The room, in gen-

eral, was warm and merry: there was no schmoozing, and no posturing. There were, however, a lot of people taking long looks into the faces that lined the walls, and turning away visibly affected. In the midst of the merriment, the men and women in hoodies looked out at us, seeking to remind us constantly of their presence. Conde’s art is art that does, and when looking at his portraits, one cannot help but feel that art can and must do things for us, that it must be strong, not flimsy. Indeed, that is Conde’s whole goal: to remind us of the hard truths under the surface of our biases and judgments, lest we forget what happened to Trayvon. ¬ 33 Contemporary Gallery, Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St. Through December 14. Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm. (708)8374534.


A Labyrinth of Contradictions “A few thoughts on bombs, tennis, free will, agency reduction, the Museum, dust storms, and magnets” BY PAIGE PENDARVIS


o one in the packed Logan Performance Hall knew quite what to expect when Robert Morris first took the stage and made his way to the podium. Morris spoke slowly with a deep voice that verged on monotone, unassuming but with a sure presence. His first task was correcting Professor W. J. T. Mitchell’s introduction, which got the new name of Morris’ talk wrong. No longer titled “Is a Pound of Passivity Worth a Pinch of Pique?” as advertised, Morris changed the title to “A Few Thoughts On Bombs, Tennis, Freewill, Agency Reduction, the Museum, Dust Storms, and Magnets” at the last minute. As he took the stage, the large screen directly behind him lit up with an image of a much younger Morris standing behind a similar podium many years ago. Juxtaposed with that image was present day, eighty-two-year-old Morris, who now looks more like an aged professor or elderly relative than one of the key figures in the history of twentieth century art. Dressed in a black blazer, pants, and shoes, with a grey turtleneck underneath and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses perched on his nose, he would blend into a crowd rather than stand out. But as he shuffled slowly back and forth from one podium to the other podium (he had two onstage), musing about everything from physics, to tennis, to ravens, it was evident that the audience hung on his every word. Morris spent his first few minutes on stage telling the audience about how he’d refused to give talks for twenty years, and doesn’t want to talk about his old art or be interviewed about it. To Morris, “Contemporary art makes enough noise without me.” Yet for all his protestations, Morris came willingly to the Logan Center that night to give this talk, share his knowledge with university students and faculty, and speak about his previous work. Nevertheless, Morris seemed like to remind us that, “I also think I could have said no.” For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding his talk—two introductions, his past works projected as a slideshow behind him in the “presence of most of Chicago’s art world”— Morris never took himself or his audience too seriously.

juliet eldred

He delivered his messages with a hint of whimsy. He leisurely strolled to the podium to offer up anecdotes, often swearing or coming up with a cleverly disturbing distillation of the modern world. One was about fighting for one’s country, or “the right to say motherfucker,” in which a young man went back to war, several times, ultimately loosing a hand, an eye, and both legs. After two combat tours, society finally deems his sacrifices “good” enough, letting him remain home. At least now he can say “motherfucker” with prideful patriotism. Morris spent a large part of his talk critiquing modern society. He pointed out that we pride ourselves on our “innate” rationality, but that it is really all based on assumptions. “Rationality will not save us,” Morris says, as it supports our belief in self-interest, which perpetuates “evil.” Self-interest, according to Morris, requires a “‘what the fuck’ attitude.” To all this, Morris simply says, “WTF?” Morris also critiqued agency reduction—the continual visual reduction in art, starting with analytic cubism—as a larger critique of culture. This trend of “doing less


in art,” he says, “is never separate from culture. Art must tell us what we are.” Morris furthered this by arguing that as art does less, the museum does more, becoming a more social, performative space. Morris believes this focus on the spectacle “leads to passive viewership and less critical engagement.” He then offered up an anecdote of a young man who pops into a gallery, takes a picture of the wall label, and walks out without even looking at Morris’ piece, exemplifying his claim that, today, passive engagement with art from behind an iPhone camera is the norm. But Morris is more than a pessimist. Deeply fascinated by physics and philosophy—he frequently quoted Richard Feynman, Bertrand Russell, and John Cage—Morris came off as sage, rather than condescending. For Morris, art is a means to deal with the contradictions of the world. These contradictions are reflected in his works, especially in his labyrinths—mazes, which he calls dialectical experiences, “reminiscent of the tension in my work between exterior clarity and inner confusion.”

Though his work characterizes a struggle to understand a world full of crippling contradictions, “Morris makes us feel anything is possible,” according to Professor Mitchell. He goes on to state that Morris’ work is, “too experimental, various, and unpredictable,” for him to be consigned to history just yet. After an abrupt, haunting ending in which Morris described a spider on a piece of burning firewood, resigned to the inevitably of its death, Morris still had one trick up his sleeve. “I’ve agreed to take a few questions,” he said, cutting through the applause. A man raised his hand to ask a question. Much to everyone’s surprise, Morris answered by pulling out a black hat, filled with pieces of paper. Stooping down to pick one up, he read, “ ‘This is our paradox because every course of action can be made to accord with the rule’—Ludwig Wittgenstein.” Morris proceeded to give quotations from Bertrand Russell and John Cage until he “ran out of answers.” Then, he scooped up his hat and walked off the stage in the same slow, steady manner in which he came. ¬


Gendered Bodies “Resisterectomy” at the Gray Center BY KIRAN MISRA


he white walls and stark layout of “Resisterectomy” at the Gray Center have an almost clinical feel. Patrons move from one display to another in reverent silence, and there is a sense of eerie calm. Transparent mastectomy reports hang from the ceiling, with medical jargon studded through the blocks of diagnostic statements. To the left, an ethereal recording of a man and a woman in hospital gowns flickers on a television screen wrapped in fabric. Around the room are transcripts of emails and blog posts, mounted on paper-thin decals or screens. The central focus of the exhibit, however, is an eight-minute video playing on loop in the far left corner, split-screened between a man and a women, the two artists, identically clad in black T-shirts and talking against a white background. This is Chase Joynt and Mary Bryson’s “Resisterectomy,” a four-part multimedia installation that, in Joynt’s own words, “juxtaposes the narrative of trans sex-reassignment surgeries with the narrative of cancer surgeries—mastectomy and hysterectomy.” The show’s themes of resistance and sisterhood are combined to form the exhibition title. Though the questions about the gendered body that “Resisterectomy” seeks to address are complex, the elements of the exhibit are simple—portraits, a short film, medical reports, blog posts, and email exchanges. Bryson and Joynt both recreate two famous black-and-white nude photos: a portrait from “Body Alchemy” by Loren Cameron, where a muscular trans man flexes with stoic strength, and Deena Metzger’s “Tree Poster,” where a joyous woman with one breast removed stretches out her arms to show off the vine tattoo on the flat side of her chest. Between the still photos of Bryson and Joynt runs a video

loop of the two posing. As they try to hold still they eventually fall out of their respective poses, showing their inability to fit the one-dimensional mold of “trans man” or “cancer survivor.” When most people seek to portray an experience, their first thought isn’t to find someone who is as different from them as possible, but that’s exactly what Joynt decided to do. He wanted to reframe his experiences by contrasting them with “a stereotypical suburban cis woman’s story,” a narrative which he now knows “doesn’t even exist.” Through friends of friends he found and reached out to Mary Bryson, a professor at the University of British Columbia whom he believed would fit this role. Bryson responded with questions as to why Joynt was looking for a woman, and said she wasn’t sure if she fit the mold. “In this one e-mail, the assumptions I was making about what this project could be, who I was, and whom I thought I needed have been revealed to me,” explained Joynt. “I realized that in seeking ‘an opposite’ to what I assumed to be my particular experiences, I was making an assumption that there was a location (or an identity) that was inherently ‘not me.’ ” Bryson and Joynt’s work complicate this simple, relational binary. In the video, the two look extremely similar, identically clad against identical backgrounds with the two stories playing side by side. These similarities allow their stories to play out free of the, “self vs. other” kind of thinking Joynt initially conceived. The exhibition was first installed in the Feminist Art Gallery in Toronto, where it was in more experimental stages. As Joynt observed viewers’ responses to his work, he made modifications to the exhibition, adding elements like the pathology

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posters and mounting the images on acrylic rather than paper. Due to its union of very different domains—cancer, trans politics, and visual arts—“Resisterecomy” has attracted an extremely varied audience since its inception. “One of the most motivating components of the installation has been the breadth and variety of attendees. Young queer people are sharing space with public intellectuals, cancer survivors, PFLAG parents, and strangers off the street. And even as I say that, I know that all gallery-goers are often hybrid combinations of all or none of those things,” reflects Joynt. Though the show has all the parts Joynt set out to create—video, text, photo, and installation—it isn’t done. Nor, most likely, will it ever be. As “Resisterectomy” moves to each new location it is installed

in, it changes and grows. “It started as, and still remains, a series of questions about the management of gendered bodies as they relate to specific medical procedures and spaces. The answers to those questions, and as a result, the artistic forms that those answer take, continue to morph,” says Joynt. As each question about the gendered body is answered, ten new ones take its place. As “Resisterectomy” continues to exist, it will continue to grow. ¬

Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, Midway Studios, 929 E. 60th St. Through December 8. By appointment only. Free. (773)8341936.


The Fai

When Father José Lan his congregation follo BY JOHN GAMINO


ucked between a law office and a weight loss clinic (“hasta 20 libras al mes”) on 26th Street in Little Village is a church and a quiet hotbed of social change. A broad white sign, in prim red lettering, announces this as the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission. A blue awning stands watch over the window and the door; its lack of words is all that distinguishes the mission from the litany of other storefronts on the street.

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“We don’t need a church that looks nice,” one of the mission workers says. Before the mission moved in here a few years ago, 3442 W. 26th Street was a shoe store. It’s a church now, on Sundays. For the other six days of the week it’s a multipurpose community hub. On each of those days, one to two hundred people pass through the doors. If they try anything on for size, it will be the piles of donated clothes lined up against the wall. More likely, they will come because an undocumented loved one has been detained, and they don’t know where they are; or they will come because they need critical medical attention they can’t get through insurance and surely can’t afford; or they will come because they can’t feed their families; or they will simply come to pray. Father José Landaverde founded Our Lady of Guadalupe six years ago. (It moved into its current space in 2011; the original building was a repurposed bar.) He used his own meager funds to start the mission from scratch. Though it has since grown to fit the needs of the neighborhood, Landaverde has remained its soul. His short, sturdy but lean frame is reminiscent of a boxer’s, and he carries himself with a steady authority. He leads Mass on Sundays, but he also drives around trying to stop people from being deported. “Little Village has many churches, but those churches are just places people go to pray,” Landaverde says. “They are not working with those who are suffering.” Attending to the needs of the suffer-


ith of the People

ndaverde was banned from his church, owed ing is what it means to be a Christian here, at the mission. “Jesus was an insurrectionist,” Landaverde says. He taught us “we deserve the same rights as human beings.” He taught us “to work for the poor and the marginalized.” Landaverde pauses, sitting back thoughtfully in his office chair. “The Gospel is social justice, you know?” This was too much for some. Within the Anglican Catholic Church, Landaverde has been accused of being too radical and too political: of being a communista. Over the past year, he has increasingly clashed with officials at the Diocese of Quincy—of which the mission was until recently a part—over his emphasis on social issues, his acts of civil disobedience, and his fights for political change. On October 18, an article in Univision reported that Landaverde would temporarily be stepping down from the priesthood for “health reasons.” On October 25, officials from the diocese arrived at Our Lady of Guadalupe with a letter formally banning Landaverde from the priesthood and the mission for two years. The decision to ban Landaverde, the letter said, was made “in light of your failure to provide pastoral care to your congregation, your illegal activities, and your unwillingness to accept the guidance and oversight of the diocese.” But the ban never had a moment to matter. Members of the mission’s governing council greeted the diocesan officials with a letter of their own, renouncing their association with the diocese and declaring their support for the leadership of Father Landaverde instead. Our Lady of Guadalupe is now unaffiliated, still led by Landaverde, and still there for the people it serves.


andaverde has no explicit political allegiances, but he is unabashedly a radical. “They asked me if I was a communist and I said yes,” he says, with more than a hint of glee. “To be communist is to follow the word of Jesus...You need to respond to the social needs of the people.”

He knows those needs very well. Born into poverty in El Salvador, Landaverde was separated from his family and forced into the jungle at age eight by the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. At seventeen he was arrested and beaten for organizing the poor. He fled the country and eventually arrived in the United States, where he was granted status as a political refugee. He stayed at Su Casa Catholic Worker, a shelter for displaced and homeless Latino families in Back of the Yards, where he again took part in community organizing. He also studied for the priesthood. As Landaverde sees it, the two go hand-inhand. “I strongly believe as a Christian that you need to do both—the spiritual and the social,” he says. It’s not a matter of one or the other. “We need to believe in equality. A church that is not connected with the poor is not a church of Christ.” Landaverde connects with the poor through both ordinary acts of kindness and vehement acts of protest. People can come to the mission just to talk, or they can come to plan a march and a strike. His overriding mission is not of charity but of change. “Charity just ends up containing the poor and the marginalized,” he explains. If someone is driven by hunger to steal a loaf of bread, Landaverde doesn’t just want that person to be fed. He wants to change the structure that made the hunger so. It’s a tall task, and it’s not a new one, but Landaverde can’t be criticized for not confronting it head on. He has been arrested at protests almost a dozen times. A photo from the Chicago Tribune, in May 2012, shows him surrounded by officers outside the Immigration Court building in the Loop, wearing his clerical collar and holding a “Judges are racist” sign. That summer, he was also arrested in Washington, D.C. for confronting Janet Napolitano (then the Secretary of Homeland Security, who presided over record annual deportation numbers during her term) and calling

her “the devil.” The charges were later dismissed. “Here in Little Village, there are many people who don’t have documents,” Landaverde says. One of his usual extraclerical activities consists of running around looking for these people when they’ve been detained by Homeland Security officials. When this happens, you first need to find out where they are. They could be at any number of local prisons, or they may no longer even be in the country at all. So Landaverde often finds himself driving around to different prisons in search of neighbors who have been detained; when he finds them, he makes inquiries about paying bond or at least seeks further legal aid. One Thursday, when he was supposed to sit down with me at the mission to talk, Landaverde found himself at the correctional center at Clark and Congress instead, looking for a parishioner’s husband. As it turned out, he was already in Mexico. Another picture, which Landaverde shows me on Facebook, shows him standing coolly at a protest march, wearing the same clerical collar and also a Che Guevera tote bag. “Do you believe a conservative diocese will keep me?” he asks, with a laugh.


hen Our Lady of Guadalupe first opened, in the one-time bar, it was part of the Anglican Province of America. “They never messed with us,” Landaverde says. But the APA reorganized, and in 2011 the mission was left to join the Diocese of Quincy, as part of the Anglican Catholic Church. For the first year, there was little communication between the mission and the diocese, which is based in Peoria and has no other members in Chicago. “We started to invite them to see what we were doing and they didn’t like that,” Landaverde recalls. “They didn’t like the press I was getting.” They started asking him if he was a communist, and of course

he kept saying yes. The diocese says it had been monitoring the mission for much of the past year, with mounting concerns that politics were becoming too important. “We cannot support a mission whose first priority is social issues,” Bishop Alberto Morales, who leads the diocese and wrote the letter banning Landaverde, told me. “He’s not just a social worker; he’s a priest.” After leading a hunger strike this past summer, Landaverde did ask for some time off to get back to health. Another priest came in, but he didn’t maintain the same day-to-day presence as Landaverde, and it wasn’t long before things culminated in late-October’s separation. Morales says his diocese could not “support any illegal things,” and that they received “many complaints” about how Landaverde was “unstable” and “not there on Sundays.” This might explain one of the more bizarre provisions of his letter, which required Landaverde to “submit to a psychological evaluation by a licensed psychologist” of the bishop’s choosing. Morales declined to elaborate further on the nature of the alleged complaints, and said the diocese had moved on. “These people believe they are living in the sixteenth century,” Landaverde says. He supports same-sex marriage, but “they don’t believe in that.” He supports “communism in the sense of the Gospel,” and he supports breaking laws in cases of civil disobedience. “Father José sees that this is the only way to get stuff done,” Juan Balbuena, who helps run operations at the mission, explains. And the mission has stood behind him. As one parishioner put it: “A lot of people come for the church itself—and because they love the father.” They care for him enough to support a change in affiliation over a change in priests. People here talk about the church as a community, but they almost never talk about it without mentioning “Father José.”


The mission is now applying to the United American Catholic Church, a more progressive and inclusive denomination. “We’re going to keep working on the same issues we’ve been working on,” Landaverde says. “We’re going to be there—fighting.” Next week, he tells me, there will be a new sign outside. And a big rainbow flag.


ut Our Lady of Guadalupe is already open “to the people who are suffering, day by day.” These are the hundreds of people who pass through its doors. They enter first through the church, a deep, cavernous room that culminates in the altar by the far wall. They pass the piles of clothes on their left, the old shoe store counter and the rack of flickering candles on their right, and, just before reaching the first rows of pews, turn the corner and suddenly emerge upon a hidden cluster of back rooms. This is where it all happens. A hall, stuffed with chairs, serves as a waiting room of sorts for the different offices: medical and legal and spiritual and anything they need to be. Like the church itself, the back hall is drab but not dreary. A sprawling red banner stretches across the entirety of one of the walls. “Without Legalization,” it reads, in big white letters set over smaller ones: “there can be no equal labor rights.” Often, these rooms provide “really basic stuff for people who don’t have papers,” as Lou Curet, a doctor who runs a free clinic four to five hours every week, describes his office. The first day I visited, I walked in when things were just getting started, around ten on a Thursday morning. A man and a woman were rearranging things behind the altar, and another man sat behind the old store counter. When I came back, at two, the church itself was still empty, but there was now a line of five or six people for the back rooms. Others came and went while I was there. Balbuena listed off the basic services the mission provides, and explained how most of them tied back to immigration. He also had an example of another kind. “Just today,” Balbuena said, “this girl came in. She didn’t look well.” She started talking to him, and it turned out that since she’d last been here—to talk about getting married—she’d been pushed down a set of stairs and had a miscarriage. She was too 12 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

afraid to report it to the police. Then, just a few days before, she had tried to take her own life. “You try to do as much as you can,” he said. He ended up referring her for psychological help. “You don’t want to do too much.”


et Landaverde has a curious way of almost doing both. His protests have national implications, even as they are rooted in local plights. Over the summer, Landaverde led the mission in a series of protests aimed at local hospitals, on behalf of fourteen undocumented and uninsured parishioners and neighbors in need of critical kidney

Undocumented immigrants don’t have access to federal insurance, and often have to foot the medical bills themselves. This is something almost nobody, undocumented or not, can ever hope to do: according to Milliman, an actuarial company, the average cost of a liver transplant in the United States was $577,100 in 2011; the average cost for a kidney was $262,900. And those figures don’t include the cost of post-treatment medications, which call for another $10,000 a year for the rest of a patient’s life. While hospitals may not look at a candidate’s citizenship when determining who gets organs, they can—and do—look at whether they will be able to pay. “They want money,” Balbuena said

“Little Village has many churches, but those churches are just places people go to pray,” Landaverde says. “They are not working with those who are suffering.” and liver transplants. Those who are denied such care are effectively handed a death sentence. Fourteen protestors from the mission took part in a hunger strike that lasted eleven days—the same one that later prompted Landaverde to ask for some time off. During the strike, Landaverde, Balbuena, and the others (including some of those in need of transplants themselves) consumed nothing but water and fluids. A larger group marched on Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and set up camp outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital downtown. The marches and the hunger strike garnered significant public attention, and were covered in such publications as The Nation, the Chicago Tribune, and In These Times. After the protests at Northwestern, the hospital released a statement denying that legal status was a factor in selecting candidates for transplants. “The criteria for recipient selection are the same for every candidate regardless of citizenship or other immigration status,” the hospital wrote. But this was also beside the point.

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of the hospitals, “and in this community, most of the people don’t have the money.” He first came to the mission because his mother needed a liver transplant, and she is trying to get one still. “When we came we thought we were one of a few people, but we realized there are a lot.” Across the nation, undocumented immigrants in need of critical transplants end up falling through the cracks. Certain exceptions are made with Medicaid to allow treatment for “aliens” in the case of “an emergency medical condition.” But these only include instances of “sudden onset” or childbirth. Life-threatening organ needs are not met. Nor will this change under the Affordable Care Act, since undocumented residents will still be prohibited from the low-income insurance provisions the act will provide. “The issue is people need transplants,” Landaverde told the Tribune, during the protests at Northwestern. “They cannot let people continue dying.” Or, as one man’s sign asked: “How can you ignore when we’re dying at your door?”


here would be no Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission without José Landaverde, but the story isn’t just about him, if it ever was. “He’s a helper,” one man says of Landaverde. He pauses, then adds: “Everybody is a helper.” Most of the people here are first- or second-generation Mexican immigrants— Balbuena estimates well over eighty percent of all parishioners don’t speak English—and many of them come with their families. Manuel Tempor only moved from Venezuela a year-and-a-half ago, but he spends three to four hours every Sunday when he comes to the mission for Mass. “It’s more inclusive, definitely,” he says, comparing it to other churches he’s known. He dismisses any significant cultural barriers. “We share the same language, the same values, the same God.” Parishioners like Tempor often praise the fact that this is a “liberal” church and not a “conservative” one. Like the immigration and medical protests led by Landaverde, this might carry implications that reach beyond Little Village and even the city of Chicago. Latinos have traditionally supported liberals in American politics, but conservatives have never lost hope that their Catholic heritage will swing them in the end. There’s no chance of that at Our Lady of Guadalupe, where many of the parishioners have left Roman Catholicism, first for the ACC and now for the UACC, to follow a priest who calls out the “capitalist system” for “destroying humanity,” who believes that “through the Bible you can create social change.” Still, “the church itself is not really very different [from others],” Elsie Feliciano, one of the parishioners on the mission’s administrative committee, tells me. “The religious part is the same.” But then she points to the back rooms. “Many churches disagree with that,” she says. We’re sitting in the last row of pews. Only the last third of the wide red banner is visible, so that it reads “zation: equal labor rights.” “You have no idea how many people come here daily,” Feliciano adds. It’s only then that I realize the wall that’s covering the rest of the banner, the wall that separates the church from the offices in the back, is only a makeshift screen, with little sliding hinges hanging down from the ceiling. Mass and sacraments at the mission might follow those of churches elsewhere, but things are different beyond


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that. The mission’s social work informs its spiritual community; it can’t be separated by anything more than a makeshift wall. What goes on in those back rooms creates a shared sense of purpose. It’s the first thing most people bring up when they describe the church: the legal aid, the fight to get people transplants, the simple presence of an open set of doors. That feeling that someone is doing something, that something is at least going on, is potent in itself. It means something here. It defines this place. “The last hope of the community is God,” Landaverde says. “A God who is working all the time with them, a God who is with the poor.” This is what distinguishes a church that doesn’t look nice. “Most of the time

you go to church you just pray; pray and go home,” Feliciano says. It’s not like that here.


fter Mass this past Sunday, two-dozen people gathered around a table that had been set up in the back hall. They filled their plates from large trays of chicken, rice, and sweet bread, then filled the seats around the table as though it had been set aside for dining purposes alone. Warm Spanish coursed through the room. More than a few people encouraged me to take some food, though most had no idea who I was or why I was even there. “People get along real well here,” Marco, who is thirteen and plays guitar in the chorus, says. He and Father Luis,

the associate pastor at the mission, start playing music about halfway through the meal. Father Luis sings (and talks) with a resounding, amicable voice. He sports a curt grey beard, and his deep eyes dance. Soon others are singing along, Landaverde included. On the bulletin board behind him are some papers printed from the website of the United American Catholic Church, with the heading “A New Way to Be Catholic.” The dates on the corner of each page indicate they were printed just two days earlier. “A new way to be Catholic?” the papers ask. “What does that mean? We like to think of it as progressive, thinking, believing and doing...Sunday Mass and huge stone buildings have their place, but what

really makes us [a] church is the going out into the world and being Christ to the people we meet. To all the people we meet.” Later, when there are only a few scraps of chicken left on the table, Landaverde picks up Father Luis’s guitar and begins to play. The guitar is covered with a smattering of stickers and insignias: one from the Human Rights Council, one from the NATO protests, and another that says “Tolerance.” Near the middle, flanking the strings, is the red, white, and blue crest of the Anglican church, just beginning to fade. ¬



The Secret is Out Sybris at the Co-Prosperity Sphere’s “Level Eater” BY SHARON LURYE


here is a secret that only a select few may understand. For decades, those who do have gathered in dimly-lit rooms, huddled together for hours as they play out their wildest fantasies. But today, the secret is becoming downright common knowledge. Your friends, co-workers, even family members have probably already admitted it to you: they play Dungeons and Dragons. “People are just out there, they’re like, yeah, we play D&D, who cares,” explained Phil Naumann, a guitarist for the indie rock band Sybris. “We used to call it The Secret,” he says, but now it’s “sort of a thing that people do.” Naumann was sitting around with his fellow bandmates, waiting for their show to start later in the night. Nearby was a table loaded with chips, cheese puffs, and all the other supplies that are the universal sign of a gaming night. They had gathered at the Co-Prosperity Sphere for the fourth annual “Level Eater” event—a night of free food, free beer, and fantasy art, all inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. While the band lounged on the upper floor, a crowd of people wandered the gallery. The works included riffs on pop culture, wild and highly sexual paintings that played with the boundaries of the grotesque, and beautifully up-front cheesiness, like the exceptionally gory battle scene titled “Axe Body Spray.” An adorably scruffy black dog trotted through the crowd, begging for fried chicken. Sybris was going to play songs based on the fantasy board game that night, while the Three Floyds brewery filled up glasses of its special-edition, one-nightonly “dwarven ale.” After the show, of course, they planned to invite everyone in the Sphere to join in on a giant game of D&D led by dungeon master Chad Troutman. Two members, Phil Naumann and bassist Shawn Todgurski, play the game each week with Troutman; he was the bouncer at a bar they played in. By sheer coincidence, a few employees from Three Floyds all go to Troutman’s D&D session each week as well—a sign of how the game can knit communities together from different groups all over Chicago. The band, which has been around for ten years, isn’t specifically D&D themed. 14 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

sharon lurye

photo caption In 2006 they were asked to join a D&D compilation album which never made it off the ground; the result of that was the song “Critically in Love,” where vocalist Angela Mullenhour mourns: “I need some elven wine…I am a party of one!” After a lot of “drunk scheming,” the band came up with a three-song vinyl record. “Phil and I play D&D a lot; we thought it would be funny to make a D&D [album],” said Todgurski. “Now we have to own it.” The band doesn’t think there’s any special overlap between the music community and the D&D community. “No more than there is with, like, accounting and, I don’t know, baristas,” said Naumann. However, they do admit that there is an element of escapism in both games and music; just being in a band is a fantasy that they get to play out every night they’re on stage. “I think the whole idea of trying to be in a band and make it, having it consume your life and you want another life—it’s an escape,” said Mullenhour, taking a drag from her cigarette. “So I suppose that’s kind of fantastical.” Everyone in the band has a day job: three of them work in bars or restaurants, while Todgurski is a mental health counselor. He agreed with Mullenhour that being in a band is a form of roleplay. “For forty-five minutes [while I’m on

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stage] it’s like, I’m the bass guy,” he said. “The next day I go back to my job cleaning up crazy people’s pee. But for that forty-five minutes…” He paused to think of the words. “I’m something that I’m not. Or that I am.” “We lived in the fantasy world for real for about a year,” said Mullenhour, referring to the days when the band members thought they could make it as full-time musicians. They’re back in the real world now, but they still play music, a form of rock and roll that the band members described as “loud,” “pretty,” “not angry,” “joyous,” and “heart on our sleeve.” It’s a fantasy ritual, and the game is as well. For Troutman, the Dungeon Master who administers the game and makes up the plot that the role-players follow, D&D has actually helped his career. He writes short stories and novels, and even when they’re not fantasy-themed, having to come up with an original plot every week “makes me keep my chops, keep sharp writing this stuff.” He used to be embarrassed if his gamers discussed their adventures out loud at the bar where he works. “It’s the type of thing that’s automatically a qualifier about you, once you tell somebody,” he explained. “You may have been the guy who cured polio….however, once they know you play D&D, you’re the D&D guy that cured polio.” Nowadays, while the game isn’t necessarily more popular, it is more accepted. The internet has made it easier for different groups to find each other. Television shows like “Community” and “Freaks and Geeks” have used D&D as a central plot point, and celebrities like Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Stephen Colbert have all professed their love for the game—and, contrary to the popular belief that playing D&D is a form of birth control, even porn stars are into it to. Adult film entertainers Kimberly Kane, Zak Sabbath, Mandy Morbid, and Satine Phoenix released a reality web series in 2010 about their weekly D&D adventures. The name? “I’d Hit It With My Axe.” The appeal of D&D is, in the end, universal: “It’s an escape from my fucking miserable life,” said Todgurski. “That’s what it’s always been.” ¬

Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Chronicles Numero’s D&D-inspired hard rock compilation Helping to further delineate the link between simulated-dungeon-crawling and six-string-shredding, the Little Village-based Numero Group label is preparing to release a compilation of Dungeons & Dragons-inspired seventies hard rock. The “Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles” compilation shows the Little Village-based reissue label moving further afield from their eccentric soul roots and building on the orc-rock sound they pioneered with last year’s Medusa re-release. The “Darkscorch” compilation is now being spearheaded by Dustin Drase, a Numero employee and fantasy-game enthusiast who was invited to DJ the “Level Eater” event in Bridgeport this past Saturday. The compilation itself includes rereleases of sixteen ultra-rare Gary Gygax-worshipping hard rock songs from bands with names like “Stonehenge” and “Wizard.” Though a quick scan of the title could lead one to believe that it’s just the soundtrack to a new Spinal Tap sequel film, the quality of these tracks proves “Darkscorch” to be far more than a novelty offering—it’s a true labor of role-playing love. The record label also plans to include a fully playable board game inspired by the album’s tracks, a bonus treat which is sure to please both vinyl fiends and RPG nerds in equal measure. While aspiring mages and air-guitar heroes across the nation may be salivating in anticipation, they will still have to wait awhile longer: “Darkscorch” won’t officially be released until March 4. For now, though, Numero has left us with two tongue-scorching teaser tracks—Junction’s “Sorceror” and Wrath’s “Warlord”—which can be streamed in full via the label’s Soundcloud page. Preview tracks at


Three Chrises A visit to Bad Grammar Theater at the reading series’ new home BY CHRISTIAN BELANGER


his past Friday, the back room of the Powell’s Bookstore at UIC campus served as the new home for Bad Grammar Theater, a monthly event described on its website as a “reading series featuring Chicago’s rising and established authors.” It used to take place a good deal further south, in the Chicago Arts District, but just changed locations earlier this year, and may be suffering from some attendance problems as a result. On this particular night, Brendan Detzner, the organizer, makes it clear that readings must proceed apace, since each writer only has fifteen minutes in which to perform. This night’s incarnation of the Theater showcases a trio of writers who share the same forename: Chris. The first Chris reads speedily, a bit breathless but still self-assured, and when he finishes there is polite applause as he limps back to his seat and sits down, but not before briefly plugging his own local writing contest. The second Chris follows the first, wearing thick black glasses and reading (from a Nook, no less) a noir story in the style of James Cain. He cheerfully acknowledges he has borrowed liberally from Cain in the writing of this piece, and this quickly becomes evident, as the hardboiled protagonist gruffly flirts with a woman over a martini before casually taking care of a bad guy on his way to cleaning up his tarnished reputation. Like Chris #1, he reads in a hurried manner. After he finishes, he reiterates his enthusiasm for villains and anti-heroes of all types before walking back to his seat, hands raised in the air, giving a shout-out to the fictional criminal mastermind, Fu Manchu. After this comes Chris #3, who sports a big, beautiful, meticulously-groomed beard. This Chris presents an excerpt from his latest novel, which focuses on a middle-aged man suffering the usual existen-

tial ennui of suburbia. In the novel, the protagonist is suddenly confronted with the knowledge that he possesses some sort of super-power. The story is generally pleasant, if a bit bland. There is one particularly enticing metaphor in which the narrator describes a school building disgorging children in brightly hued jackets and hats as “vomiting crayons.” It’s fresh and witty, and comes as a nice change of pace after Chris #2’s too-faithful tribute to crime fiction. The fourth reader, following the trilogy of Chrises, is veteran Bad Grammar reader Lawrence Santoro. Santoro, who has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for horror writing multiple times, comes off as both knowledgeable and affable, while quoting Ray Bradbury in order to explain the origin of one of his books. He writes rather like Bradbury, too, crafting a neatly grotesque story—with just the right amount of detail—about a lonely, fatherless boy, Clem, and his imaginary enemy Clown, who haunts him. The writing is appropriately morbid for a self-described horror author (Clem mentions, at one point, the sad night of “Daddy’s aneurysm party”), but the passion and drama he puts into the reading are what really distinguish Santoro from his colleagues. Where many of them were hurried and flat, Lawrence lingers, drawing out syllables, fully inhabiting each character, and generally putting on a thrilling performance. When his fifteen minutes are over, he merely cocks an eyebrow at the audience, smiles wryly, and gently closes the book, leaving the audience wishing for more as he strolls back to his seat. ¬



Lies, damn lies “Hoodwinked” at the DuSable Museum BY STEPHEN URCHICK


t made your heart sink. From behind his washed and shaky camera, the man hitting the streets asked: “Are there more black men in jail, or in college?” That these black students answered “jail” nigh unanimously wasn’t nearly as distressing as the quickness, vigorousness, and even gleefulness in their replies. A girl cocked her head and pursed her lips, as if it were absurd to ask. One whole group belted out their response in throaty unison, the vowel sound in “jail” trailing downwards. Janks Morton—filmmaker, author, and activist-statistician—wove these single cases into one long sheet of suffocating, self-effacing quick-takes. He asked his interviewees to name one positive stereotype about black people. The command echoed off the movie screen for long minutes. Two populations of educated young individuals from Bowie and Howard Universities repeated his words, grasping for answers or outright disbelieving the task. (“I don’t understand what you’re saying!”) Morton cut away from the footage to a caricature-ish impersonation of Florida Evans, a character from the sitcom Good Times. Grieving over her husband’s death, she throws a ceramic punchbowl to the floor. She swellingly cries, clenching her hands, tremulous and bloodcurdlingly pained, “Damn, damn—damn!” “That’s where I lost it,” Morton said. He turned to the Evans motif as an easy point of entry into the sheer exasperation that informed his “Hoodwinked,” a ninety-minute documentary on the misrep16 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

resentation of black society in the news media. Shown at the DuSable Museum, the last stop in a tour of screenings and post-film Q&As with the director himself, “Hoodwinked” takes apart examples in skewed reporting on black statistical studies. Morton argues that a persistent program of number-juggling has produced an exploitatively lucrative state of African-American emergency. It comes at the expense of an entire race’s worth, dignity and self-image. “There’s a game going on,” he announced to the audience after the film, “to keep you side-barred and distracted from your own greatness.” Morton found it incredible that after over nearly 27,000 hours of television consumed in a black student’s teenaged years, his interviewees could only cite “running, jumping, dancing, and singing” as a black man’s proficiencies. His assertion that “you are what you eat” hits home in an era of information bloat. He unpacks the numbers he claims African Americans have so dangerously internalized, attempting a message of uplift through numerical fact checking. What’s the ratio of black women to men on a college campus? What percent of black boys drop out of high school? Do states really use elementary school test scores to predict the number of new jails to build? Are there more black men in jail today than previously enslaved? Morton defeats the anticipated answers in detail. He asserts the status quo with his field research and then assaults it with expert in-

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terviews and sampled snatches of his classroom lectures. He proclaims the absurdity of headlines drawn from these and other questions with farcically staged newsroom sequences. These scenes themselves are particularly effective and particularly dark comedy. The woman reporter, huffingly, takes off her hoop earrings as her male counterpart on-camera announces new findings on black women and obesity. We titter at her frantic arm flying into the shot, slamming down hasty and assumedly obscene notes in front of him. Yet as she gives the new numbers on the black male’s graduation, incarceration, and recidivism rates, it becomes grimly clear he has the shorter stick. His broodingly doubtful face sets the stakes. “Your mismanagement leads to your division, and your division leads to their profit!” Morton insists. Within the film, his own blackboard sallies against the spreadsheet are particularly passionate. As he leans into a battle, his speech becomes reassuringly short, no-nonsense, and indignant. “So I’mma pull my numbers!” he says, his arm slashing out to point at the new slide. His candor is heartening. “I like the DoE! I’mma like these data sets!” They consider a full year of school, he says. But look at how the Justice Policy Institute tries to compare a full year of incarceration to a single Fall term! Look at how they determine the dropout rate! (“I’ve even talked to principals who don’t know the difference between graduation and dropout rate.”)

Take four kids entering the 9th grade. One high-tails it the next year, the only one of the students to actually drop out. The other transfers to a different school the following. But if you only consider the number of kids remaining in that four-student cohort at graduation time, you obtain something much more much more sensational and marketable. “I’m a real estate agent who points out the crack in the wall and convinces you that this is the Grand Canyon,” Morton says. “And sells you the bridge!” One of Morton’s contributors, Dr. Ivory Toldson, confesses the temptation to overstate the problems in black America whenever he’s writing a new grant proposal. “We need to take control of our own research,” he says. ‘Hoodwinked’ becomes a step in that direction. Less a film than a manifesto, Morton doesn’t camouflage his heavy-handed rhetorical approach. Scenes of a radio station airing and discussing his artist’s statement read as synecdoche for a grander plan to appropriate multiple modes of transmission and get this message out. “I’ve sat on this for five years,” Morton tells his students in the film, “but that game’s over.” When the lights had risen and the Q&A had heated up, the audience rapidly resolved that they needed his scholarship in their classrooms and barbershops. Morton hurriedly clarified that he’d be leaving Illinois soon. “I’m not in Chicago—” “It’s our job!” a lone voice shouted, cutting him off. Morton paused and smiled. “Yeah,” he nodded, “I’ll take that.” ¬


A Poet’s Odyssey “An Iliad” at Court BY SPENCER MCAVOY


lready in the title a disarming modesty is in place. It’s intimate: an Iliad, this Iliad. Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare—the duo who adapted the twenty-four-book epic poem “The Iliad” into the ninety-five-minute oneman show “An Iliad”—aren’t interested in contending with Homer for the definite article. The drama of this performance, directed by Court Theatre’s Charles Newell, doesn’t derive from the struggle between the Trojans and the Greeks, or even from the rage of Achilles, but from the anxiety of one man who, having represented the bloodshed, the waste, and the tragedy of the Trojan War thousands of times across thousands of years, finds himself straining to make the ancient story present to us— and to himself—again. The Poet, played by Timothy Edward Kane, is tired, dirty, and alone. His relation to his tale is almost the opposite of Kane’s, who returns to “An Iliad” triumphantly after winning the Jeff Award for Best Solo Performance for the show’s 2011 run. But when the Poet asks the muses to sing, he is plaintive, as though already certain of refusal. He has been singing this song so long that he’s begun to forget some of the details—places, names of secondary or tertiary figures—and become bored with the others. Before beginning in earnest he tells us, “Every time I sing this song, I hope it’s the last time.” But first he needs his audience to see the “waste,” to see that the bodies scattered across the pages of “The Iliad” are “not just bodies,” but former sons and husbands, if not heroes. And he’s singing not just to any audience, but to this audience. Though the Poet speaks in many voices, he’s always speaking to us, and he’s willing to sacrifice artful expression to make his point. “What drove them to fight with such fury?” he asks. “Oh, the gods of course. Um, pride, honor, jealousy. Aphrodite, some game or other, an apple, Helen being more beautiful than somebody—it doesn’t matter.

michael brosilow

Actor Timary Edward Kane plays The Poet. The point is, Helen’s been stolen, and the Greeks have to get her back. There’s always something, isn’t there?” Later, in a compellingly frantic sequence, the Poet breaks off listing the names of all the hometowns of the Greek soldiers, forgoing the obvious pleasure he gets from recalling them. “That’s right, you don’t know any of these places,” he says. He pauses, waiting for the right words: “The point is, on all theses ships are boys, boys from every small town in, say, Ohio.” In the script of “An Iliad,” the original Greek is set alongside direct excerpts from the energetic Fagles translation and the modern vernacular added by Peterson and O’Hare. The pair composed the play, according to Newell, by first videotaping and transcribing O’Hare’s spontaneous riffs on the text. The results include some inspired analogues to the similes employed in the original, which often elicit comparisons between actions of epic proportions and more common, domestic events. Thus the Greeks’ refusal to end the war is equated with an irate supermarketgoer’s determination to stick to the line she’s been in

for twenty minutes, even if the other lines are moving faster, and the Poet evokes the peaceful everyday life of Troy by imagining its citizens hosting a community forum to discuss what to do about a dying fig tree. At their best, these insertions belittle the lofty ideals that tend to glorify violence (courage, honor, nationalism) in favor of the simple pleasures of an everyday peace. But these abrupt shifts in tone also occasionally seemed to undercut crucial points in the performance. While describing Andromache’s rising sense of anticipation and dread in the moments before she sights Hector’s dead body from the walls of Troy (Achilles has just killed him, and is about to begin dragging his corpse around the city with his chariot), the Poet paraphrases her thoughts in modern diction: “He should have called by now.” Despite Kane’s soft, melancholy delivery, the lines still smack of an odd joke, as does the Poet’s comment regarding Andromache’s subsequent tirade, directed at Hector’s dead body: “You know what she’s really saying? She’s saying, ‘I told you so.’ ” The pull of pride, of rage, of violence

that is Hector’s downfall is acknowledged by “An Iliad” but remains relatively unexplored. Rather than any feature of the script, it’s the seeming spontaneity with which Kane allows fury to take hold of him wherein lies the interest of this performance’s treatment of war. There’s a certain mad ecstasy with which he announces “This is our guy,” upon introducing Achilles, describing him as skilled in the “art of war” (to allow that there is such a thing seems out of keeping with a later all-out condemnation of violence, expressed in his frenzied catalogue of every major conflict from Troy to Syria). The sense is that, despite the attempt to craft a wholly anti-war play, some of the ambivalence of “The Iliad” lingers, unacknowledged. “An Iliad” is more a reading of its source than a replica. The Poet says, for instance, as if it were well established, that Achilles has come to love his “prize,” the young girl Briseis, whose appropriation by Agamemnon sparks his first rage. The extent to which he actually cares about Briseis is, however, left ambiguous by the original poet. The Poet also becomes a little prescriptive at times, as when he relates the scene in which Priam comes to beg for his son’s body back. He reads the scene for us, not to us. “Achilles, who is addicted to rage, this fighting man, feels the rage welling up and he just makes it disappear,” he says. Still, the over-explicating is explicable in a performance so colored by authorial anxiety. More than that most famous of opening words, the guttural “Rage,” which does make several appearances, the final line, the Poet’s softly spoken and almost needy “Do you see?” is “An Iliad’s” refrain. The narrative precision, the fluency of the original, is exchanged for a desperate urgency; the poetics of Homer’s language are replaced by the poetry of Kane’s strict control of his own body and tone. The man has a presence, worthy of any of the Greek heroes he ventriloquizes, and suffused with rage, weariness, but most of all, a desperate need to be understood. The urgency of his sense of his duty to communicate can’t but remind us of our own duties: to understand, to make ourselves understood. This Iliad, Kane’s Iliad, reflects the fact that it’s often in the moments when we need words most that they fail us. Or, maybe, we fail them. ¬ Court Theatre, 5525 S. Ellis Ave. Through December 8. See site for showtimes and prices. (773)753-4472.



Spectacular Scrooge “If Scrooge Was a Brother” at eta BY STEPHEN URCHICK


benezer Scrooge stood aghast aside the Ghost of Christmas Past. “Why did you show me this!” Scrooge didn’t question—he accused. The audience quietly shared his hollow humiliation. We were morbidly captivated by his younger self ’s self-destruction on the stage at eta Creative Arts. The young South Side version of “Scroo’ ” —as he’s referred to in this particular production—has just doused love. He refuses to dance with his girlfriend Belle, who’s serving drinks at his boss’s gala. He claims she’s the hired help, argues he’s a big shot, and narrowly misses a slap. (“You’re lucky I know and love you!”) He bats away her Christmas gift—a Bible, no less—inveighing senselessly against her liberality. He painfully spotlights her poverty; he lashes out at her faith. She can’t believe him, but he fights further. He calls out to his off-stage boss: Does he want to hear some jokes about black people? He breaks her heart with slurs against his own race.. A tip-of-theiceberg example will suffice: “Why do they put cotton in the tops of medicine bottles?” “To remind black people they were once cotton pickers!” Playwright Ekundayo Bandele’s rewrites Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” as the downfall and redemption of a modern-day, race-betraying African-American landlord. Directed by eta’s Kemati Porter, “If Scrooge Was a Brother” follows Bandele’s Ebenezer—Boss 18 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

Scroo’—from his heinous decision to evict more than sixty low income tenants on Christmas Day, to his reconciliation with his mortally offended clerk Bob Cratchet. In keeping with Dickens’ text, Boss Scroo’s vindictiveness precipitates visitations from his dead manager’s unquiet spirit, the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. The vignette of Bob Cratchet’s future poverty is so crushingly grim that it shakes Scroo’ to his core—very credibly changing his life. Considerably less credible, however, was eta’s general bid to squeeze a happily-ending, family-friendly Christmas Special into something that initially weighed oppressively and read darkly. Song, dance, and gratuitous special effects made this story of a man’s self-alienation from family, community, and culture tonally split-brained. It’s harder today to get particularly mad with the nineteenth-century Ebenezer. His humbug is the product of an abused, wayward soul. You can easily forgive him without ever really taking offense. Boss Scroo’ is calculatedly written to anger. His vices are retooled. Usury and miserly ‘grasping’ isn’t nearly repugnant now as unleashing a city’s bribed judicial machinery against the hard-out. Scroo’ frequently jettisons all conversational subtlety for the nuclear options of verbal vindictiveness. His foul mouth brings us straight to the emotional doorstep of Dickens’ original Victorian readership. Scroo’s poisonous

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racism and bigotry leaves you gawking— indignant and scandalized. He shamelessly puns on “black,” and regularly blames the bums. He asks his street-hustling nephew to leave him be, to go “become fertilizer.” “Go get shot!” he growls, “or overdose in some flophouse!” We rapidly understand how Scroo’ could legitimately disgust everyone who had ever loved him. Although Boss Scroo’ is regularly overwritten, his absurdity still serves to style him as that much more megalomaniacal. Reggie Glover’s delivery gives Bandele’s Scroo’ the feel of an out-of-touch and absurd man-child. His clipped speech, vigorously pursed lips, and high, nasally voice merges with Scroo’s character to create a self-important, retributive pedant. Even at the moment of his redemption, Scroo’ gushes patronizingly on about his “epiphany,” and asks if the witnessing Cratchets know the word. Scroo’s successfully monstrous characterization makes the Cratchet family’s forgiveness seem quite truly the Christmas miracle. However, the miracle itself is emphasized too heavy-handedly and the play is unmistakably staged as a Christmas offering—replete with festive musical numbers and surprise choreography. “Scrooge” herein becomes confused. The play’s discourse on the hurtful outcomes of cultural abdication and the bitterness shared between black men can’t plausibly occupy the same stage that suddenly breaks out into cheery song. The Ghost of Christmas Future visits Boss Scroo’ as Cratchet’s grown daughter, Tina. Dismissed from boarding school at Scroo’s whim—drained by poverty after Scroo’ sacked her father and arbitrarily evicted her family—Tina abandons her plaid and stockings for a spangled hoodie and blue eyeliner. She forces Scroo’ to watch her mother’s drunkenness, see her father’s depression before entering the oneroom flat herself. Tina’s as sick as Dickens’ Tiny Tim, down with a grave social illness. Her medicine is ironically poison: smuggled oxycodone which Tina admits dealing illegally. This same, grim vignette exists alongside such tonally alien moments like a synchronized hip-hop “Joy to the World” routine, or a round-robin of “It’s Beginning

to Look a Lot like Christmas.” It’s hedged by unambiguous, gratuitous, and frequent feel-good biblical citations. The impulse to produce a pleasing holiday spectacle hamstrung the production with needless special effects. The night’s first visitation from the restless ghost of Scroo’s former boss was completely swallowed up by an echo-generating filter. The smoke machine was an obvious and permanent presence stage-left, clicking audibly in moments of tense silence. The musical cues played almost unpredictably, variably cutting in or out. The initial lines introducing us to Belle were lost in prerecorded carols. The actors competed against the speakers for nearly half the scene. Nothing in the play precluded a more minimalist approach. If anything, it might have emphasized the play’s bitterly hand-to-mouth moments. “Scrooge’s” specials merely muddled. As Boss Scroo’ watched Belle break down and his younger self exit stage left, The Ghost of Christmas Past turned to him. “You didn’t just wake up to a cold, empty life,” she said. This is an acid truth we swallow with Scroo’, chasing down Bandele’s cocktail of self-hate, stinginess, and willful ignorance. “If Scrooge Was a Brother” meaningfully updates Dickens’ original emotional punches, and appropriating Dickens’ easily referenced, iconic figures gave a helpful framework for discussing genuinely troubling issues. But this structure struggled to also support a good time for all ages. The abundant carols were hard to warm up to. The play’s giddier moments were dissonant. The staging needn’t try and assume the holiday’s cheer outright. Soberingly relevant, an effective call towards solidarity and goodwill, “Scrooge” nevertheless was asked to accomplish a bit too much with too much flair. ¬ eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. Chicago Ave. October 31-December 29. Friday-Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 3pm, 7pm. $30; $15 with senior/student I.D. (773)752-3955

ARTS CALENDAR VISUAL ARTS Illuminated Presence If Gustav Klimt and Nicki Minaj had a baby, that wild child might produce works similar to Ebony G. Patterson’s. The Jamaican-born artist creates explosive mixed-media works that combine fashion glam with artistic luminescence. The large-scale, multi-patterned, highly textured collages explore how young black men from across the African diaspora use feminine archetypes. Many of her figures have bleachedwhite faces, a commentary on the use of skin lighteners in Jamaica and elsewhere. Patterson will lead a panel discussion at the Arts Incubator on Thursday, marking the end of a week-long youth workshop at the Incubator and the beginning of her exhibition at the Monique Meloche Gallery. Other participants will include art historian Krista Thompson, curator Allison Glenn, and Marya Spont-Lemus, who manages the Community Arts Program at the UofC Charter School. Washington Park Arts Incubator, 301 E. Garfield Blvd. Thursday, November 21, 6pm-7:30pm. Free. (773)702-9724. (Sharon Lurye)

Ethnographic Terminalia At curatorial collective Ethnographic Terminalia’s annual exhibition, in Chicago for its fifth year, all things go (all things go). Artists, anthropologists, and members of the public will collide in the Arts Incubator’s gallery space to examine the blurred lines between contemporary art practice and other forms of cultural inquiry, and investigate what it means to exhibit anthropology. They’ll do it live, too, with six different artist-anthropologist teams present to answer questions and guide visitors through projects ranging from an obstacle course representing citizenship to ethnographic portraits by Zoe Bray and a demonstration from Coast Salish Cowichan Knitting. Over a dozen different universities, professional societies, and arts centers stamped their names on the exhibition, so you know it has to be good. All things know, all things know. Washington Park Arts Incubator, 301 E. Garfield Boulevard. Through November 22. Closing reception Friday, November 22, 6pm-9pm. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, noon-3pm; Friday, noon-9pm. Free. (773)702-9724. (Derek Tsang)

One Foot on a Banana Peel Who said lowbrow was low? Jokes about wee-wees and hoohas and moist, sexy, painful, even violent things have been staples of culture since Caveman Sally laughed at Caveman Sam for slipping on a banana peel. And when that banana peel gets turned into art? Well, just hold on to your butts. Co-Prosperity Sphere has assembled a team of nineteen artists, including Chicagoan Luke Pelletier, who’s serving as curator, in a celebration of low-brow art that celebrates, critiques, or craps on culture and this crazy world we live in. Free artists’ zine for everyone in attendance. Don’t slip on the banana peel on your way in. Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St. Opening reception Friday, November 22, 7pm11pm. By appointment only. (773)837-0145.

A Sherman Beck Retrospective The South Side Community Art Center will be honoring renowned South Side artist Sherman Beck in an upcoming retrospective, presenting a collection representative of Beck’s career from 1955 to the present. Starting in the late sixties, Beck was part of the radical AFRICOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), a group of artists whose mission was to join the black cultural movement through visual arts. Beck has been a working artist for most of his life—he still frequently exhibits his work—and the South Side is vastly better for knowing him. Join the SSCAC in paying tribute to one of the South Side’s most influential artists, and maybe even have a conversation with the man himself. South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Avenue. Through December 12. Artist talk Saturday, November 23, 2pm-5pm. Wednesday-Friday, noon-5pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, 1pm-5pm. (773)373-1026. (Katryce Lassle)

In the Hood Cesar Conde, a Filipino-American Chicago artist, transforms personal experiences into artworks conscious of the human condition, and based in a discussion of individual uniqueness and mutual understanding. His next project, “In The Hood—Portraits of African American Professionals,” examines the American perception of racial stigmas in reference to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager killed while wearing a hoodie. The exhibit features several oversized portraits of black professionals wearing hoodies, painted against stark black backgrounds. The presentation implores viewers to juxtapose racial

identities imposed by society with the common humanity of all people, regardless of their attire or race. 33 Contemporary Gallery, Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35 St. Through December 14. Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm. Free. (708)837-4534. (Olivia Adams)

STAGE & SCREEN Les Liaisons Dangereuses The Hyde Park Community Players start their season with games of sex and intrigue, taking on Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of the famous French novel, Les Liasons Dangereuses. If revenge is a dish best served cold, this show proves it’s also one that never goes stale. Though the novel it’s based on is almost as old as the United States, the play has continued to tantalize audiences across the globe, garnering a hundred and forty-nine-performance run in New York when it first hopped the pond almost three decades ago. Though the community-driven production won’t include the original’s Alan Rickman, those miffed over missing a future Snape as seducer should be appeased by the chance to see their neighbors act out aristocratic entanglements. There will be betrayal, maybe love, definitely French. University Church, 5655 S. University Ave. Through November 24. Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 4pm and 8pm; Sunday, 4pm. $10 advance, $12 door. (Hannah Nyhart.)

Latke Hamantash Debate Two foods from two Jewish holidays are pitted head to head yet again for esteemed UofC faculty to duke out which reigns supreme in the year 5774, (aka 2013, for those not following the Hebrew calendar). This year, Professor Ted Cohen as usual moderates the battle of wits between Professor Rachel Fulton Brown (Medieval History), Professor Harold Pollack (SSA), and Dr. Carrie Rinker-Schaeffer (Urology). Show up early when doors open at 6:45 to get a seat and watch the debaters throw down knowledge from their respective fields to bolster their chosen treat and belittle their academic foes. If the outrageous Hanukkah and Purim based presentations leave you hungry for the battling salty and sweet contenders, head to Hutchinson Commons after the debate and let your tastebuds pick the winner. Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St. Tuesday, November 26, 7:30pm. Free. Reception $5. (Zoe Kauder Nalebuff)

A Christmas Memory and the Thanksgiving Visitor Strict seasonalists—those sticks in the mud who insist on celebrating popular holidays in order—will have a new thorn in their side this winter, as Provision Theater presents its adaptation of Truman Capote’s short stories “A Christmas Memory,” and “The Thanksgiving Visitor” at the same time. The charming tales are loosely autobiographical, and detail the close friendship between a young boy and his elderlybut-young-at-heart cousin. The show opens November 20, but those who like to gripe about the modern elongation of the “Christmas Season” can hold off until they deem Christmas cheer appropriate: the run will continue through December 29, when every mall in America will be well on their way to hawking Valentines merch. Provision Theater, 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd. Through December 29. See site for showtimes. $10-$32. (312)455-0066. (Hannah Nyhart)

Consuming Spirits Animated frame by frame in 16mm, twenty-four framesper-second, it’s no wonder that Chris Sullivan’s “Consuming Spirits” took fifteen years to complete. Most of the film is done using paper, ink, and a camera; its style shifts between stop-motion cutout puppets and more traditional animation, with other sections filmed on tiny model sets. Described as “rust-belt gothic,” the film tells the story of three run-down individuals in a run-down Appalachian town and their loneliness, secrets, and a local gardening radio show that errs on the side of metaphor. Sullivan’s mostly self-composed soundtrack further adds to the hypnotic atmosphere of story, adding tension to the most mundane moments. The green, yellow, and white-tinged faces of the puppets are almost grotesque, and their voices echo as from within a dream. The dark and inescapable realism of forgotten small-town America gets mixed with the surreal, hinting at something sinister beneath the surface. As it turns out, the mundane might be the most sinister thing of all. Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Friday, November 22, 7pm. Free. (773)702-8596. (Bailey Zweifel)

A Christmas Carol, Abridged

In an increasingly blustery winter, you can’t blame Dream Theatre for keeping cozy in their wheelhouse. The company

once again displays its talent for reinventing the classics, but their rendition of a Christmas Carol will keep closer to the original than their typical, enthusiastically contorted fare. Rachel Martindale directs a rendition that takes its words directly from Dicken’s seventy-year-old holiday tale. Running at just over an hour, the show keeps the focus on those words by dressing them sparsely. Three actors—Stephen Fedo, Christian Isely, and Rachel Martindale—perform amid minimal furnishings. Dream Theatre creative engine Jeremy Menekseoglu does not appear to be featured, unless he’ll be making an appearance in abridged form as Tiny Tim. Dream Theatre Company, 556 W. 18th St. November 29-December 29. See site for showtimes. $13-$18. (773)5528616. (Hannah Nyhart)


the claim is hard dismiss. DeFrancesco won the Down Beat poll for best jazz organist six years in a row, from 2003-2009 and has remained an indomitable force on the Hammond organ for over two decades. DeFrancesco first proved his jazz chops by playing with the late, great Miles Davis when the keyboardist was just seventeen-years-old. Since then, DeFrancesco has played with a wide variety of music legends, including John Mclaughlin, Carlos Santana and DeFrancesco’s own organ idol, Jimmy Smith. The B3 master will be playing with his trio will be coming during a fournight stand at the Jazz Showcase. Don’t miss your chance to see the best living organist on earth work his magic. The Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Court, November 28-December 1, 8pm-10pm. $25-$40. (312)350-0234. (Zach Goldhammer)

Chuck Inglish, Kings Dead, Tayyib Ali, Kidd Tha Chicagoan, ClarkAirlines

Toronzo Cannon & the Cannonball Express Ready the artillery! Toronzo Cannon & the Cannonball Express are returning to the South Side to play at Lee’s Unleaded this Friday. Cannon has a become mainstay of the Chicago blues circuit and is a regular at many of the city’s most popular blues venues. The guitarists’ overt Hendrix influences and soulful inclinations give the group a rather unique sound, keeping one foot solidly in the realm of Chicago electric blues and another in the more modern world of R&B and hard rock hybrids. Yet despite their modernist leaning, Cannon himself takes a distinctive pride in the city’s traditionalism. The band leader is particularly proud of being signed to Chicago’s historic Delmark label, along with his “label mate[s]...Magic Sam, Junior Wells, Willie Kent, Luther Allison, Carey Bell, Otis Rush, [and] Dinah Washington.” Lee’s Unleaded Blues, 7401 S. Chicago Ave., Friday, November 22. 9pm. $5. 21+. (Zach Goldhammer)

Anat Cohen One of the few remaining masters of the jazz clarinet, Anat Cohen, will be coming to the University of Chicago’s Logan Center Performance Hall this Sunday. The Israeli-born, New York-based reed player has become a critic’s darling in recent years, frequently topping annual lists of jazz’s finest performers. She’s sure to put on a scintillating afternoon show at the university, but what might be even more intriguing to her audience is the pedagogical turn she promises to take later in the day. Following her performance, Cohen will be leading a master’s class with student jazz musicians from South Side high schools in the Logan Center’s ninth floor penthouse salon. Audience members are invited to observe the class and may even learn a thing or two from the modern jazz virtuoso and her young Chicagoan disciples. Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Sunday, November 24. 2pm-4pm performance, 4pm-6pm master class. $35 public/$5 for students. (773)7022787. (Zach Goldhammer)

Joey DeFrancesco Trio Joey DeFrancesco’s official website modestly declares him to be “The Finest Jazz Organist on the Planet.” While one might be tempted to view this title as a product of hubris,

The slow-and-smooth-as-molasses flow of Chuck Inglish will be gracing Reggies’ Rock Club on Thursday, December 5. The rapper, who forms one half of the eighties revivalist duo, the Cool Kids, is also an exceedingly innovative producer who helped update the boom-bap sound with a low-end twist, tailor-made for hip-hop’s millennial generation. Inglish will be joined on Thursday by Kings Dead—the Boston-based collegiate rap duo formerly known as The Dean’s List, along with Philly’s Tayyib Ali, and the local underdog, Kidd Tha Chicagoan (not to be confused with Chance collaborator and crooner, BJ the Chicago Kid) and, lastly, the aspiring-ball-player-turned-rapper, ClarkAirlines. The show could end up being a hodge-podge display of hiphop acts who really have very little to do with one another. Still, this reviewer holds a small sliver of hope that the five performers somehow end up uniting and forming a rapping megazord of disparate dopeness. Reggies’ Rock Club , 2105 S. State St. Thursday, December 5. 7pm. $12-$15. 18+. (312)9490120.

Syleena Johnson In the mid-nineties, the perpetually almost-famous Chicago soul singer Syl Johnson was seeking a renaissance of recognition. After having his songs sampled in countless numbers of hip-hop tracks, sixty-year-old Syl wanted the rap generation to know who he was. In order to win over the younger audience, Johnson pulled his then 18-year old daughter, Syleena, into the recording studio for his 1994 comeback album, “Back In The Game” and for the duet follow-up, “This Time Together For Father and Daughter.” Nearly two decades later, Syleena seems to have inherited her father’s knack for bittersweet success. Despite six well-received solo albums, she is best known for the hook on Kanye West’s 2004 hit, “All Falls Down.” The chorus was originally intended to be a sample of Lauryn Hill’s “Mystery of Iniquity”; Syleena was just hired to re-record Hill’s part after West was unable to clear the sample. Johnson’s latest album, “Chapter V: Underrated” underscores the singer’s bitter feelings about her tepid success. Will Syleena now have the chance to find her own fame, or will she continue to perform in the shadow of others? The Shrine, 2109 S. Wabash Ave. Friday, December 6, 9pm. $15. (312)753-5700. (Zach Goldhammer)

WHPK Rock Charts WHPK 88.5 FM is a nonprofit community radio station at the University of Chicago. Once a week the station’s music directors collect a book of playlist logs from their Rock-format DJs, tally up the plays of albums added within the last few months, and rank them according to popularity that week. Compiled by Rachel Schastok and Charlie Rock Artist / Album / Label 1. Wooden Shjips / Back to Land / Thrill Jockey 2. The 39 Clocks / Pain It Dark [Reissue] / Luxury 3. The Herms / Drop Out, Vol. 1 / Castle Face 4. Oozing Wound / Retrash / Thrill Jockey 5. Perfect Pussy / I Have Lost All Desire for Feeling / s/r 6. Abunai! / Round-Wound / Camera Obscura 7. Night Beats / Sonic Bloom / Reverberation Appreciation Society 8. William Onyeabor / World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who is William Onyeabor? / Luaka Bop 9. Far-Out Fangtooth / Borrowed Time / Siltbreeze 10. Purling Hiss / Paisley Montage / Richie 11. Sea of Shit / 2009-2012 / Diseased Audio 12. The Blank Tapes / Vacation / Antenna Farm 13. Neighborhood Brats / No Sun No Tan / Deranged 14. Shocked Minds / Shocked Minds / HoZac 15. Spray Paint / Spray Paint / S.S.


November 20, 2013  
November 20, 2013  

Volume 1, Issue 9