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Living Wage

The fight to hike the minimum in Illinois




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IN CHICAGO 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

Money Matters

SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY The South Side Weekly is a newsprint magazine based out of 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 Editors Josh Kovensky, Osita Nwanevu Stage & Screen Hannah Nyhart Editor Music Editor Zach Goldhammer Visual Arts Editor Katryce Lassle Education Editor Bess Cohen Online Editor Sharon Lurye Contributing Editors Jake Bittle, Meaghan Murphy Photo Editor Camden Bauchner Layout Editor Olivia Dorow Hovland Copyeditor Emma Collins Senior Writers Ari Feldman, Emily Holland, Patrick Leow, Stephen Urchick Staff Writers Dove Barbanel, Christian Belanger, Jon Brozdowski, Emma Collins, Isabel Ochoa Gold, Lauren Gurley, Jack Nuelle, Paige Pendarvis, Rob Snyder Senior Photographer Luke White Staff Illustrators Isabel Ochoa Gold, Hanna Petroski, Maggie Sivit Editorial Intern

Zavier Celimene

Business Manager

Harry Backlund

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

The city (or rather, Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel) has a bad habit. Under both mayors, the city has shunted its debt on down the line, taking out loans to cover immediate costs. But it seems that Emanuel is now looking to bonds as a way of lowering borrowing costs, once again pushing debt in the way of pension reform: to the back-burner. The mayor’s administration seeks to issue up to $900 million in bonds in this year alone, hoping to come up with some loose change for things like legal settlements, new construction and, you know, building maintenance.

An Illness

The Mighty Richard the II—inheritor of the empire, builder of millennium miracles, reinventor of the Machine—has fallen ill. Sources say that Richard M. Daley, the seventy-one-year-old former mayor of Chicago, reported feeling “disoriented” after returning from a trip to Arizona, leaving him hospitalized since last Sunday. Illness has mostly been a stranger to the former mayor. A speedy recovery to you, boss.

Upping the Ante, but Not Really

The Republican candidates for governor recently sounded off on a bill proposing the expansion of gaming in Illinois, including a casino in Chicago. Three-time gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady isn’t willing to take any chances this time around, declaring that he’s against the casino. Candidates Bruce Rauner and Dan Rutherford agreed with him, both saying it should be up to voters. Kirk Dillard, apparently unfamiliar with gambling, was the only candidate who remained open to the possibility, saying that that Chicago should have the option of a casino “as a matter of fairness.”

A Glimmer in Zimmer’s Eye

Regenstein, Harper, Mansueto, D’Angelo, Crerar. In an email to the UofC on January 31, President Zimmer announced his commitment to add yet another notable name to the list: Obama. Backing up Mayor Emanuel’s announcement last week, Zimmer announced the formation of a partnership with other South Side organizations geared toward bringing Barack Obama’s Presidential Library to a neighborhood on the South Side. If approved, a tour will also be devised that includes Valois, the Obama apparel aisle at Walgreens, and that spot where Barack bought Michelle an ice cream cone.

One Year On

A few days before the 2013 State of the Union, Michael Ward, then eighteen, shot into a crowd of kids standing at Harsh Park in Kenwood. He was trying to kill the men who had shot his friend a few months earlier, but instead he killed a King College Prep Student he had never met: Hadiya Pendleton, a fifteen-year-old band majorette who marched a month earlier in D.C., at the president’s second inauguration. That coincidence turned Hadiya’s murder into a headline across the country, and a few days later the president evoked the shooting in his speech. In the year since then, Hadiya’s parents have become advocates for gun control as states across the county have tightened and—more frequently—relaxed limits on gun sales. But it’s easy to put too much hope in gun control; a fix that seems to make sense but which crumbles before the utter complexity of impoverished and abused communities. Hadiya’s death was one of over 400 that year, and with a number that great, it’s important to acknowledge that all of Chicago—not only Kenwood and Bronzeville, but Lincoln Park and Ravenswood—is part of Hadiya’s story. ¬


“In the black community, ‘Republican’ and ‘conservative’ are bad words.”

olivia markbreiter................4

cta ex-offenders program

“What we’re trying to do is give people a work history.”

jon brozdowski............6

minimum wage

house of bing

“It’s a dire situation right now, and the minimum wage increase can have a real impact on the lives of these folks.”

“It’s always going to be Mo Better, and it’s creating a brand. This is the start of something big.”

josh kovensky...............8

jack nuelle.................10 Send tips, comments, or questions to: For advertising inquiries, contact: (773)234-5388

Cover illustration by Ellie Mejia.

the weekly show

“I’m a little too lazy to put on a show and then maintain it.”

mark hassenfradz...............12

out loud



“Damn!—Eva’s a pimp with two men doing her chores.”

stephen urchick..................13

bergstein’s ny

“The strange newness of the place was shattered as I heard my name singsonged from across the shop.”

olivia adams.........................14


The Republican Party At Luversia’s, a GOP meet-and-greet-and-eat BY OLIVIA MARKBREITER


o be honest, prior to 2009 I used to be a Democrat,” said David Earl Williams III, a candidate for the 9th District in the Illinois House of Representatives. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the usually pink walls of Luversia’s Soul Food Diner were covered with an American flag. It hovered over Williams’s head, falling down twice. Men in suits, with nametags on their lapels, rushed to tape it back up. In the heart of Chatham, Izola’s Restaurant was once famous as a social and political meeting place for community favorites. It fed figures such as Harold Washington and Muhammad Ali until it closed in 2011. Luversia’s, which opened last year to take its place, continued that tradition with an unusual South Side party. The Republican Party, with all of their Chicago candidates for the 2014 election, chose this restaurant to hold a meet-andgreet. With funding appeals, speeches, and collard greens, this well-known South Side gathering spot served as the stage for a new set of ideals—new, at least, for the heavily Democratic South Side. “In the black community, ‘Republican’ and ‘conservative’ are bad words,” Fatimah Macklin, a candidate for the 34th District, said. “It’s ingrained in people. People in the African-American community are basically raised to be Democrats.” The meet-and-greet was part of a new Republican Party initiative to create more competition in the upcoming elections, and to support Bruce Rauner’s Republican bid for governor. With essentially every office in the city occupied by a Democratic incumbent, the Republican Party is struggling to even provide enough candidates to contest the thirty-seven seats. “We can’t get votes unless we get candidates,” Chris Cleveland, vice chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, declared to the room. “So if you know of anyone who has even thought of being a candidate or running for office....” The evening began with an informal meeting-and-eating time, with Dar4 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

nell Macklin, Republican committeeman for the 6th Ward, making introductions and candidates ordering sides of mac and cheese. Although crowded, warm, and louder-than-buzzing, the crowd was comprised mainly of the candidates themselves, along with a few staffers and enthusiastic spouses. The handshakes, smiles, and two-minute speeches that each candidate was allotted were necessarily directed to other Republican candidates, rather than any potential voters. “Say ‘FREEDOM!’ ” one candidate said with a smile, as he snapped a quick photo of himself with a fellow Republican.

being a political, an intellectual minority.” The candidates talked enthusiastically about their personal values, and how their conservative ideals were an opportunity for much-needed change in Chicago. The candidate for the 26th District, Coby Hakalir, blared, “People are ready for a different voice. When you look at the unemployment rate and you look at the quality of schools and you look at the quality of life, and you look at our taxes, the fact that we have billions in unpaid debt, people are finally starting to realize that maybe there is somebody else we should be listening to about these things. I’m happy to provide

“The Republican Party,” said one candidate for state treasurer, “has failed because they have not been here with the candidates enough, helping them.” As the night went on and each candidate took turns standing at the front of the room to give a short address, the initial feeling of Republican camaraderie acquired a confessional tone. “If you’re a black conservative, you go through a lot of stuff,” explained Eric Wallace, who is running for the 2nd District. “When I tell people I’m a Republican, they gasp,” Darnell Macklin said, as people shook their heads in sympathy and agreement. The theme of being not only a political underdog but also the victim of legitimate stigmatization was closely tied to King himself, whose legacy each speaker dutifully invoked. Dan Kropp, a white radio talk-show host, addressed the room first: “I don’t think it would be appropriate to talk about the black experience,” he said with laughter and applause from the mainly black audience. “I want to talk about a minority experience we all share:

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that voice.” Candidates openly discussed their trepidation about telling voters that they are Republicans, afraid that constituents in their neighborhoods would automatically ignore them. Yet, though anxious about their party label, the candidates appeared certain that their values were more representative of their neighborhoods than those of the Democratic platform. According to Fatimah Macklin, “When I come to voters I don’t say I’m a Republican or I’m a conservative. I just talk and have real conversations with them. And their values align with mine”. But mixed with endorsements for conservative policies, family values, and fiscal responsibility was an undercurrent of criticism against the Republican Party itself. “Even for me, I was a Democrat prior to this,” said Fatimah Macklin. “Republicans never came to our area, they never reached

out to us.” When asked why being a Republican is so unpopular on the South Side, Macklin responded, “It’s all about messaging. They want to do outreach, and then they’ll have a flyer out, or a poster or something in the news, and you see nothing but white people. Well, that’s not going to be outreach to the black community. It just takes someone like me to actually come out and talk to the younger generation and see that there are black Republicans and black conservatives. If someone older or white tried to come out and talk, it wouldn’t be the same.” Bob Rogeh, a white candidate running for state treasurer, was even more explicit with his frustration: “The Republican Party has failed because they have not been here with the candidates enough, helping them.” As the evening came to a close and the line of speakers slowly dwindled, GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner arrived on the scene. The biggest politician was also the biggest man in the room, towering over the tables filled with food, as candidates rushed to shake hands or give him their card. Rauner, the leading opponent in the race against incumbent Pat Quinn, was the most polished and the most practiced politician in Luversia’s that night. After delivering a few choice talking points about term limits for senators and investments in education, Rauner concluded with an appeal to his audience: he explained that African-Americans voters have been “ignored by Republicans” and “taken advantage of by Democrats.” In a loud and somewhat toneless voice, Rauner discussed the abuse of the African-American voter, and held forth on the importance of turning to conservative values. Rauner’s appearance at the end of the evening seemed more like a treat for the other candidates than a serious stop on his campaign trail. He offered encouragement, took several photos, and ordered nothing to eat. ¬


stephanie koch

Confetti fell at Cermak and Wentworth on Chicago’s annual Chinese New Year Parade last Sunday, which marked a raucous entry into the Year of the Horse. FEBRUARY 5, 2014 ¬ SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY 5


Off the Rails

The demise of a CTA program to employ ex-offenders BY JON BROZDOWSKI


t was all due to one man’s ego,” said Robert Kelly, president of the city’s main rail union. During late November and December of 2013, Kelly was involved in a public spat with the Chicago Transit Authority over the continuation of its rail apprenticeship program. With the CTA and the union unable to reach an agreement, the rail apprenticeship program was terminated on December 31 of last year. In 2007, the CTA began offering apprenticeship opportunities for ex-offenders, offering $9.50 an hour for full-time, year-long jobs cleaning rail cars and buses. Workers serviced platforms, rail yards, car shops, and the interiors and exteriors of rolling stock. They did the same work as the CTA’s employees, but earned less than half as much. In March 2013, Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool announced the expansion of the program. It increased the spaces for potential participants fourfold, so that two hundred bus apprentices could participate annually, although the number of rail apprenticeships remained unchanged. Since the expansion, however, the CTA has yet to fill all of the new positions. Only offenders who haven’t been convicted of a domestic, sexual, or violent crime are eligible, and participants have to be pre-screened through agencies that help ex-offenders in Chicago. They also must complete eight to ten weeks of Job Readiness Training run by the agencies, like the Cara Program, which guides ex-offenders with core training for both “personal and professional development.” “What we’re trying to do is give people a work history,” said CTA spokesman Steve Mayberry. He believes employers are often unwilling to give ex-offenders a chance because their resumes are so scant, 6 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

and that the program offers them a chance to flesh it out. According to the Cara Program’s senior manager of career services, Joe Mutuc, the CTA’s apprenticeship opportunity was a “fantastic program that was working.” The Amalgamated Transit Union Local Division 308, the division which represents rail workers and of which Kelly is the president, wanted to renegotiate the contract for participants in the rail apprenticeship program so that they would receive wages comparable to other CTA employees. Instead, the CTA tried to force Kelly into renewing the contract unchanged, in a high-profile public labor dispute, instigated a few months before the contract was set to expire. Despite the pressure, Kelly refused to sign, and the program ended for sixty-five rail cleaners. Just days later, however, they were picked up by the bus union, ATU Local Division 241, and now work as bus apprentices instead. Some feel that the situation faced by ex-offenders is so dire that they should be glad to receive training and work above minimum wage. But Kelly sees the wage as fundamentally exploitative. “There’s no doubt that this saves them money, and I’m okay with that. But these people, they work $9.50 an hour, and they get no benefits.” And as union members, the workers are necessarily subjected to $65 union dues every month, a cost that’s reasonable for someone with a yearly salary and benefits, but less so for a worker earning just above minimum wage. Last November, the Civic Federation, a charity research organization, warned that with a $1.38 billion budget for 2014, “the CTA will face a $7-$8 million deficit mid-year, which could precipitate fare increases or service cuts.” Kelly, who has worked in every posi-

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terrence antonio james, chicago tribune

VenusLa’V Caston, a convicted felon who worked in the CTA’s rail-car servicer apprenticeship program until it was shut down in December. tion in the union from motorman to conductor since 1986, became president the year after the five-year contract for the ex-offender program was signed. He has offered to show a timeline of his communications with the CTA, claiming that he made it quite clear long in advance that he would not renew the contract without significant changes. He claims he had been pushing for a wage increase since 2012, and had thought that he and the CTA had already agreed to disagree on how these workers should be compensated when the public dispute about the program began. In December, several ministers and aldermen participated in a large protest outside the union offices that was covered by major news outlets. Accusations of racism and even terrorism were thrown around; Kelly was said to be holding sixty-five workers’ lives “hostage.” Congressman Bobby Rush was quoted as saying, “We’re going to take on the union and anybody who’s sympathetic to these hard-hearted, callous union leaders who are playing Scrooge.” Though it was meant to announce the successful continuation of the apprentice-

ship program with the addition of bus apprenticeships, a recent CTA press release also claims that Kelly “continually refused to consider the life-changing program.” It goes on to mention “Mr. Kelly’s inaction,” “Mr. Kelly’s refusal,” “Mr. Kelly’s decision to terminate,” and “Mr. Kelly’s commitment to end,” the program, finally calling for “Mr. Kelly to set aside his discriminatory practices” and agree to the CTA’s terms. “There’s nothing to negotiate,” CTA Spokesperson Steve Mayberry said. “If he [Kelly] shows up at CTA headquarters, he himself can extend this program with the stroke of his pen.” Robert Kelly maintains that he very much wanted to negotiate, but said the CTA insisted on sending outside community groups to negotiate on its behalf. “I don’t negotiate with people who don’t work for the CTA,” Kelly said adamantly. He says would have been glad to speak to Forrest Claypool, but he personally has never spoken to him about the program. “I don’t care for the man, but on behalf of my members, I’ll come to the table.” ¬

Film/Opera/Music/Theater/Visual Arts UChicago Arts presents Envisioning China, a festival of arts and culture at the University of Chicago featuring more than 40 events and exhibitions. Explore the depths of China’s cultural legacy through never-before-exhibited paintings, rarely seen films, engaging talks, and magnificent performances by acclaimed artists, musicians, and more.

February–June 2014 at the University of Chicago

Chinese, Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), Imperial Opera Mask Paintings of Different Spirits, ca. 1746–95, 10 album leaves, ink and color on paper. © The Field Museum, Photographer John Weinstein. Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture, February 13–June 15, Smart Museum of Art, free.

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Living Wage In Springfield and Chicago, a fight to raise the minimum wage BY JOSH KOVENSKY


hen low-wage fast food workers went on strike this past autumn, they didn’t know what to expect. Many of those on strike didn’t match the expectations of outsiders either. While fast food workers have long been seen as teenage temps, today’s minimum-wage worker is more likely to be feeding a family or putting a child through college. Thanks both to those protests and to the minimum-wage reality that many Americans now face, political momentum has begun to gather to give the country’s lowest-paid workers a raise. The reality is that, for many of those who survive on the Illinois minimum wage of $8.25 per hour, things just aren’t working. As State Representative Christian Mitchell says, “We’re talking about everyday working people who, in a different economy, could be potentially working at a higher wage already.” Two campaigns to raise the minimum wage are underway in Chicago. The Raise Illinois campaign, which counts a wide array of organizations among its supporters, agitates for an increase of the state minimum to $10.65 an hour. Governor Pat Quinn has come out in support of the proposal, which would give Illinois the highest minimum wage in the country—setting the mark where wages would be had they kept pace with inflation since 1968. The second proposal is smaller in scope but advocates a more drastic increase, proposing that Chicago adopt a $15 an hour minimum wage for companies with revenues of $50 million or more. That campaign is led by Fight for 15, an organization that led the fast-food worker strikes last fall. Action Now, a national workers’ advocacy organization, has had a hand in both of the proposals, particularly the first. Action Now organizes the Raise Illinois campaign, which includes a number of Chicago labor unions, immigrants’ rights organizations, and workers’ advocacy groups, all of which regularly travel to Springfield to weigh on legislators’ consciences. Amid all of this political organizing, 8 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

however, millions of people across the country continue to live and work at the minimum wage, and more are forced to work at low wages despite advanced degrees and experience. Luz Medina, a recent immigrant and single mother of three, is one of these people. Medina lives in South Chicago, where she works part-time at a daycare center, making minimum wage. In addition to supporting her three children, Medina volunteers with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, a community-organizing project that helps immigrant workers on the Southeast Side. Her oldest daughter is eighteen and is looking at colleges. Medina hopes to be able to pay for her tuition, but, as she says with a laugh, “that’s why we need a raise.”

According to Raise Illinois, in 2005, when the state increased minimum wage by a dollar, Illinois “achieved the Midwest’s second biggest improvement in job growth.” “Raising the minimum wage to $10.65 across four years would infuse $3.8 billion into our economy,” the organization says, citing research from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Astar Herndon, of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), points out that “the perception is that every worker makes the minimum wage, but that is not the case.” Restaurant workers earn $4.95, and the ROC advocates for an increase to $10. “When people make more money, they’re able to spend more money,” says Herndon.

Raising the minimum wage means more purchasing power, more spending power in people’s pockets. Medina has been down to Springfield four times to help lobby for such a raise. Mitchell, whose district snakes from Streeterville down to Centro de Trabajadores Unidos’s office, in South Chicago, regularly speaks with minimum-wage advocates in both his Bronzeville and Springfield offices. “Raising the minimum wage means more purchasing power, more spending power in people’s pockets,” Mitchell says. “It’s a dire situation right now, and the minimum wage increase can have a real impact on the lives of these folks.” The argument that Mitchell makes, and one that many of the activists make, is that raising the minimum wage will give people more cash, allowing them to spend more, thereby creating jobs down the line.

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The reality on the ground may not be that clear-cut. Darnell Macklin, a Republican candidate for the state’s 34th District and the chairman of the 6th Ward Republican Committee, in Chatham, remains unconvinced. “I have a lot of mixed feelings. Firstly, I think that hiking the minimum wage hurts—not helps—workers.” Macklin runs a consulting firm downtown and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Roosevelt University. “If I’m a small business owner with four employees making $8.25 an hour,” he says, “and if I’ve got to raise that to $10 an hour, I’m probably going to cut one of my employees. I’m going to cut one or two, or find a way to automate.” Derek Neal, a labor economist at the

University of Chicago, notes that “going to $10 will likely not cause large losses of unemployment. However, there is no reason to expect such a change to increase employment, either.” There will be some consequences for consumers, though. “If the minimum wage goes up, the best research shows that the prices of products made with low-skill workers will rise,” he explains. This perspective has stymied some efforts to convince lawmakers to raise the minimum. “Most of the legislators that are on board have been Democrats,” says Aileen Kelleher, an activist with Action Now. “Some are worried about the impact on small business, while most Republicans are outright against it.” Activists dispute the threat to small business. “There’s research to suggest otherwise,” says Herndon. “Chicago has the second-largest restaurant industry in the nation. California doesn’t have a sub-minimum wage; their minimum wage is as high as $13 in some areas, and their restaurant industry has grown across the board.”


efore Luz Medina got her job at the daycare, she worked as a caretaker at a nursing home, making roughly $10 an hour. In 2010, however, with businesses still reeling from the recession, Medina was fired from her job so that new management could make way for minimum-wage workers. She finds it difficult to talk about the months that followed, during which she lost her home. “The hardest thing was...seeing my things put out on the street,” Medina says. After a year and a half of looking, she found her current job at the daycare through her brother. Medina is looking to supplement her income with more work, and the problems that she faced during her time of unemployment recur today. “I’ve been going after jobs where the competition has degrees that I don’t have,” she says. Raymundo Valdez, of the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, where Medina volunteers, points out that “minimum-wage jobs are not only for unskilled workers. More and more skilled

EMPLOYMENT workers, college-aged students, people with associates degrees, tend to be fighting for those same jobs because of the marketplace.” Darnell Macklin says that in the current market, a wage increase could make competition for jobs even more brutal. In a time when many people with degrees and advanced levels of work experience are being shunted down the pay scale, many of the South Side’s less advantaged workers find themselves in a dilemma. “A lot of these guys got out of jail, no degree and no skills, starting at minimum wage, and used to end up as a shift manager after a few years,” says Macklin. “But employers want to hire people with degrees and experience over others.” Of the Chicago proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 on large corporations, Macklin says, “Looking at McDonald’s, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, I think that the effect will be that people with degrees are going to be taking those jobs at $15 per hour.” Neal, the UofC economist, sees problems with the $15 an hour hike as well. “My guess is that, if the $15 per hour law goes into effect, the real winners will be the

owners of property in Indiana that is zoned commercial or industrial. Cities on the Indiana side of the state line will become new centers for businesses that rely on low-skill workers, e.g., malls, distribution facilities, light manufacturing. In fact, the best name for such a policy would be the Northern Indiana Revitalization Act.” However, a job in Indiana would be out of reach for workers like Luz Medina: “That’s another difficulty...I can’t go more than thirty minutes from home because of my children.” A similar restricton goes for much of the South Side already. Raymundo Valdez notes that, “from here, if you drive twenty minutes in either direction it’s difficult to find a place where you can find the types of jobs that you might find on the North Side.” Valdez says that, for Medina, “there’s no other choice [but to work at the minimum wage]. She has three kids, so she has to go out every day and work for them, and that’s why she’s been part of the campaign from the beginning.” “This is an issue that touches all of our communities,” Kelleher says. “When peo-

ple don’t have good-paying jobs it increases crime and violence and decreases faith in these communities.” Macklin agrees. “I see a lot of teens walking the streets waiting for something to do,” he says. “A lot of them sell drugs on the corner for a job, and if they had a job it would take them off the streets.” Over the past few months, the struggles of workers like Luz Medina and the anxieties of people like Darnell Macklin have become a larger political affair. In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama pledged to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 an hour, and called for Congress to raise the federal wage. “Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth,” he said, “no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty—and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.” Last autumn’s protests by low-wage workers have netted some individual successes. According to Fight for 15, some workers at Victoria’s Secret received a $3 raise, while workers at Whole Foods were awarded paid sick days. Action Now and Raise Illinois are still lobbying the Gener-

al Assembly in Springfield, but, as Valdez pointed out, “You can still be working at a temp agency for twenty years and be getting paid the minimum wage with no real form of getting a better job.” These campaigns have a long way to go. Raise Illinois and Action Now’s proposal to raise wages to $10.65 still hasn’t been brought to debate. Fight for 15’s proposal will appear on Chicago ballots this March. The referendum won’t wield legal power, but activists hope that strong enough vote totals will send a powerful message to Chicago aldermen. While everyone agrees that no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, higher-skilled workers still continue to find themselves in low-wage jobs, and the poorest of the poor still struggle to find jobs at all. Activists fight for a higher minimum wage in the belief that it will bring a humane livelihood to millions of Americans, while detractors contend that that same increase will decimate job offerings and increase the numbers of the destitute. And for Luz Medina, the year and a half she spent looking for a job “is still too hard to talk about.” ¬



Good News from the Basement

Mo Better brings jazz to an unexpected South Shore venue BY JACK NUELLE


n the basement of one of the old, ornate buildings along South Shore Drive sits The House of Bing. The modest restaurant, which serves American and Chinese cuisine, is decorated with tattered vestiges of both traditional Chicago and Chinese culture: a fan here, a lopsided pagoda there, and, nestled in the window, a neon Old Style sign winking tiredly at the night. In a side room, away from the locals milling around the bar, a different scene awaits. A five-piece band is setting up. The bass is sound checking, while scales burst from the two keyboards. Drum hits punctuate throughout. This is Mo Better Jazz, a weekly jazz show hosted by the House of Bing. Each Friday, the restaurant attracts a crowd of mostly-local South Shore jazz fans, their faces illuminated by the dim, red light of the room. Creator Joe Stroter has only been running these jazz shows for a mere six months, but it’s already turned into something bigger than himself. Mo Better, the


name he’s given to this weekly event, references the caliber of musicians he hopes to grace his stage. “The clientele, the artists that we’re bringing in, [are] attracting a lot of people, because…we’ve been trying to bring the best acts out of the city,” he said. This name he’s crafted is already beginning to sound like a brand, which is a word Stroter himself uses liberally. “It’s always going to be Mo Better, and it’s creating a brand. And I have a dream of having Mo Better Cincinnati, Mo Better St. Louis, Mo Better Memphis, Mo Better Miami. This is the start of something big.” For right now, however, Mo Better is confined to this South Shore side room. For Stroter, that’s just fine. “South Shore has been getting so much bad press, and I wanted to do something positive in the community. And I wanted to bring acts that people go up to the North Side to see right here to the neighborhood. It’s a lot of people in the neighborhood that appreciate what’s been going on.” Stroter, who was born and raised in

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South Shore, has his finger on the neighborhood’s pulse. As he remarks, “We used to have a lot of clubs in the neighborhood where we could go and sit in and play in— the Grass Hut, the Toast of the Town, the Enterprise—and I wanted to create something like that in the community of South Shore.” These clubs, once thriving nightspots, are no more, having faded into a past landscape of the South Side. Musicians who play on the South Side, then, need a place to perform, and Stroter wanted to give that to them. Mo Better Jazz is one of just a few venues which still host regular jazz shows on the South Side of the city. The reason for the location of Mo Better Jazz in South Shore is primarily an issue of proximity. The South Shore Jazz festival has been hosted in the cultural center just across the street from the House of Bing for the past sixteen years. Stroter has been a producer of the event for most of those years, and after twelve or so years of having lunch at Bing during breaks from the festival, he cultivated the idea of bringing jazz to the restaurant space. Upon the death of both his parents last year, Stroter says he began to realize that “you gotta do everything right now,” and decided to bring Mo Better to life. On most weeks, the Mo Better musicians tend to fit inside a more traditional straight-jazz format. But tonight the feature is smooth jazz saxophonist Reggie Foster Jr., who, with help from his four backing musicians, blares his own brand of jazz that wouldn’t sound out of place as background for Billy Joel. His screaming saxophone, along with electric keys, layered synth and walking bass, cast the House of Bing as an unlikely showcase for an extended late night television theme. At the same time however, despite the abundance of easy listening grooves,

Reggie Foster and his band were all tight musicians with a devotion to superb performance. They also swung away from some of the more predictable aspects of their style on several occasions, working in some bebop flair on a few songs as well as performing a Norah Jones cover and a composition called “Song for Devon,” a stirring tribute to the child of a friend who almost died in delivery. Bossa Nova rhythms and meandering solos also made appearances throughout the performance. Foster, who was clad in what appeared to be a leather blazer, and who wandered the room on several occasions to play in the faces of amused audience members, is a talented and dynamic performer. His band rose to his level as well, routinely moving in time with their music, and riffing expertly off each other. This musical excellence, tied with a connection to the community, is what cements Foster and his band as Mo Better. As for the future of the jazz collective, Mo Better has been getting attention beyond South Shore as well, including offers from other restaurants around the city. Stroter dreams of bringing Mo Better across the country, but Mo Better will always have South Side connections, as shown by who was in the audience Friday night. Stroter’s high school assistant principal, as well as members of his wrestling team and high school jazz band, were all in attendance, coming out to cheer on one of their own, and enjoy a brand of music they hold dear. As Stroter says, “My family is supporting us, man. I love this. So tell somebody, we got some good news in my basement.” ¬ The House of Bing, 6930 South Shore Dr. Fridays, 7:30pm-11pm. $10 suggested donation.


First Time, Every Time An ever-changing variety show takes the stage at Jazz Showcase BY MARK HASSENFRADZ


he host of “The Weekly Show” takes the stage with a rather impressive false penis hanging out of the front of his pants. After several jokes far too vile for polite publishing, he uses his prosthetic phallus as a phone to call in the next act. The previous week, he’d been a comedian singing about his hatred of ukuleles. This variance occurs regularly at “The Weekly Show,” mainly because the word “regular” is not in its creators’ vocabulary. The brainchild of local producer and performer Monte LaMonte, the variety show is produced by one of five hosts each week in the South Loop’s Jazz Showcase. Sponteneity is its only constant aspect. “I’m a little too lazy to put on a show and then maintain it,” says LaMonte. “Then I said, ‘Hey, let me get a group together, let’s see how many people I can get that would produce their own individual week. This way I could be a part of the show without actually running the show. And I thought, ‘Genius!’ ” As host of the first week’s show, LaMonte greeted each guest, welcoming the audience into a venue with a storied lineage of performers. The oldest jazz club in Chicago and the second oldest in the country, there is scarcely a spot on the showcase’s walls that is not occupied by a photograph of a jazz legend who once played there. Each table has newspaper clippings of past performers embedded in the surface. Despite the venue’s history, LaMonte’s theme for the first show was “Feels Like the First Time,” an announcement of the wonders of new experiences, scored by the legendary Foreigner song of the same name. With eight minutes each, no two performers were alike. Dan Shapiro, the phallus-bearing host of Week Two, sang for the first time in public about a trend that has driven him mad: ukuleles. Accompanied by one, he warbled and rhymed and name-checked Zooey Deschanel. Immediately after Shapiro in the first “Weekly Show” was Meredith DePalma, whose performance of Bach on the flute while still dressed in her nurse’s scrubs spoke to the range of talent in the room. In between beautiful melodies, she waxed po12 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

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The producers of the Weekly show. From left to right: Dan Shapiro, Robert O’Connor, Angela Oliver, Angelina Marie, and Monte LaMonte. etic about the process of DNA replication, asking the audience to feel their cells dividing. In addition to just good music, the crowd left with a better grasp on cellular biology than they’d entered with. The next week, LaMonte was able to sit back, relax, and watch “The Weekly Show” bring in new acts and grow at breakneck speed, having passed the torch to Dan Shapiro of ukulele and dildo fame. It was an entirely different show. A slam poet saying, “I’m looking at you, jackass” to nearly every person in the audience, a Christopher Walken impersonator reading the week’s news, and a comedian’s take on the darker undertones of “The Lion King” were but a few moments of the night. At “The Weekly Show,” the lines between audience, performer, and producer blur. There is no backstage, so performers mingle with other performers and audience members. Apart from entertaining people and ensuring a low-key, friendly environ-

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ment, LaMonte has further plans for “The Weekly Show.” “What I would like to do is teach a class on how to produce shows. This is great because a lot of people in the group haven’t produced shows before...The truth is, in Chicago, eventually at some point or another you may have to produce your own stuff.” LaMonte is using his experiment at “The Weekly Show” as a jumping-off point for creating more entertainment venues on the South Side, particularly for storytelling, an art performed by cast-member and third-week host, Angela Marie. For the first week, Marie told a story about the first job she was told she’d be good at—motherhood, a pursuit cut short by her infertility. She offered a heartbreaking reflection on her own maternal instincts and the other venues she found to apply them. Marie showed a different part of her life at the second “Weekly Show,” ruminating on her time working at the Chicago Board of

Trade where her penchant for dirty jokes turned her from a piece of meat into a force to be reckoned with in the eyes of her coworkers. Each show is unique; even regulars never perform the same act twice. The shows have so far evoked entirely different feelings; the first encouraged the audience to reflect on new experiences and the benefit of trying new things, while the second offered astoundingly raunchy humor. Ultimately, LaMonte’s goal for the series is simple: he wants people to enjoy themselves. “I like the environment of just a good time. I hope that people walk away from this and say, ‘I had a lot of fun, and it was neat, it was entertaining.’ ” ¬ Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct. Through February 15. Saturdays, 4pm-5:30pm. (312)360-0234.


An Offensive World “Out Loud” at eta Creative Arts BY STEPHEN URCHICK


va St. John glowers at her boyfriend, Kevin. “Shit, women love gay men!” he laughs. “I would lie to a woman in a heartbeat to get in there!” Kevin backpedals on his joke, presses forward with his advances, slips out when he’s rebuffed, and tries several times for a sloppy kiss. “Out Loud,” an original production performed by eta Creative Arts, gives voice and form to insincerity, aggressive sexuality, and gender performativity. When Eva’s gay colleague and flatmate, Benny, arrives in time to disrupt the muddled romance, Kevin notices that he’s folding laundry, that Benny’s cooking dinner, and that— damn!—Eva’s a pimp with two men doing her chores. “Out Loud” is a grab bag of troubling issues, aired in the daily demands of two South Side actors’ hard-knock careers. Eva and Benny perceive themselves as cultural outliers, quaffing $25 glasses of wine and munching on Garrett’s popcorn with equal ease. Rehearsing, reciting, and casting furnish the background for a discussion of self-confidence, stereotypes, and the unfairness of an oblivious world. The play leverages its acting motif to defuse the plot’s racial and political minefield, laid with viciously abusive cops looking for love, directors who want a part that’s “ghetto,” “gritty,” and “raw,” and a blondhaired disaster from Skokie who believed

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her black college roommate had a monkey’s tail. Mine clearance begins as early as the play’s prologue. A hysterical black congregation erupts into absurd preaching and loud, affected alleluias. The next scene reveals that this distasteful vignette is drawn from a show in which Eva and Benny are unfortunately cast. They remove their costumes in stark spotlights onstage, each conducting upsetting, one-sided phone calls with loved ones. It frames the play with irreverence, serving as an honest and up-front omen that the upcoming characters will be just as caricatured. These are parts put on like clothing: the more garish the outfit, the more cartoonish the figure. A self-proclaimed “African Descendant” decks himself in a stridently colorful kufi and tunic; a too-good-to-be-true cardiologist wears a red blazer and blue turtleneck. Eva and Benny appear to be the play’s most sincere characters, and accordingly remain in black for its duration. The play excels at mustering up credibly crummy figures of all walks. Its rendering of Cory—a white, jean-jacketed, and high-throated Sun-Times intern—is as a vile as Benny’s parents’ shell-shocking domestic discord. A shrill, white Obama volunteer pushing her way around Eva, Benny, and the crowd at the Grant Park acceptance speech is as distressing as the

shameless black hustler pushing flags and photos onto the unaware. Yet “Out Loud” can’t sanction “fair-and-balanced” in good faith. Eva lashes out at the volunteer’s cultural appropriation, and Benny almost gets into a fistfight over the hustler’s conduct on such a momentous occasion. Both characters come from somewhere valid and pained, but neither proves to the other that they can articulate their hurt appropriately. “Out Loud” would rather change the focus. The dredged status quo merely provides contrast for Eva and Benny—individual, activated anomalies. They’re the only stable, persistent presences within the play. The same two actors play all the other intervening characters, making these others feel transient and empty. Eva and Benny alone stand out, a dual blessing and curse. Benny struggles to rehearse the part of a heterosexual gangster. (“What are you doing?” “Scratching my nuts.”) Eva can flawlessly access the same part’s noble, fatherly love with a bittersweet irony. (“At least she know her daddy went out like a man.”) Eva laments: “I don’t think they know how to cast us.” Yet the friends each brace the other against life’s violent and silly mainstream, swimming its counterflow. Eva works through Benny’s corrosive guilt, his “what ifs.” He anxiously believes that he would have been straight, “normal,” and happy if he hadn’t been raped at age

fourteen. Benny brings Eva back to reality when she spaces out watching a passing family of three. His firm presence silently asserts that she doesn’t need to worry— she’ll find love on her own terms. But Eva and Benny feverishly argue. Eva has already twisted Benny’s messedup past like a shiv; Benny has outright called her an egocentric bitch. Eva and Benny have just finished some heated dispute when the lights suddenly go up and a director walks onto the stage. The scene has seamlessly changed; the argument is long past. The director doesn’t believe their two characters love one another, and “Out Loud” calls cheeky attention to the fact that these archetypically life-long-friends have somewhat expectedly kissed and made up. The director returns with the next scene’s description: two protesters who find one another through teargas and the violence of this world. “Out Loud” itself fittingly proposes the same kind of active resistance against stinging attempts at cultural coercion. It reads like a commandment to play a genuine part in riding out the world’s bitter bigotries. ¬ eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Through March 3. Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 3pm. $30. Student, senior, and group discounts available.


FOOD VISUAL ARTS Where the Wind Blows, Pt. 2

Bergstein’s NY Delicatessen A beloved restaurant gets a new home in Hyde Park BY OLIVIA ADAMS


his was a deli, a culinary genre defined by an atmosphere of geniality, like the open kitchen of a close family friend who happens to charge you for raiding the fridge. The words delicatessen and new have a nearly oxymoronic relationship when used to describe a single eatery; the most memorable characteristic of good corned beef, matzo ball soup, and coleslaw paradise lies in their familiarity, their universal sense of home. My initial interactions with the Bergstein’s staff revealed fleeting indications of a newly christened restaurant. The place lacked that sense of establishment that stems from decades of good work chatting with regular customers in raised voices over the shouted orders of bagels with lox. All understandable, as this Bergstein’s location—the second, after the original Chicago Heights location—just opened on January 23. However, after filling out my meal ticket and settling down to a dark wooden table and chair, the strange newness of the place was shattered as I heard my name sing-songed from across the shop. “Olivia? Oliiiiiiiiiviaaaaaaa?!” I’d ordered “The Good Life,” a classic roast beef and provolone sandwich topped with roasted red peppers and nestled in a fresh onion roll. Well-balanced and filling, the addition of the red pepper to an otherwise meat-dominated sandwich added a layer of finesse to an otherwise simplistic meal. Bergstein’s also offers soups, fresh salads, and vegetarian options. In order to keep up with its New York label, it also offers bagels with lox and cream cheese . My fellow ladies-at-lunch ordered a couple other items on the menu, including the salami and turkey “Second City” sandwich 14 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY

and the “Saffron CPR,” a vegetarian option. Over several years, Bergstein’s has gathered a following among UofC lunchers at the forefront of Chicago’s food truck culture. Their disappearance from the noontime Ellis Avenue food truck army last January, due to city regulation changes, helped to solidify their plans for a more permanent location on Woodlawn and 55th Street. “When the university was looking for businesses to fill their property, the faculty requested us because they missed our food truck,” Store Manager Josh Widen said. “We weren’t even necessarily looking to open a second spot, you know? They came to us and we were like, ‘we can’t say no to that.’ People were looking for our food, and that’s awesome.” Bergstein’s stresses a high quality standard in terms of taste and ingredients in exchange for higher prices. The kitchen prepares salads daily rather than serving already-prepared, repackaged dishes. A family recipe for matzo ball soup, as well as fresh New York-style bagels, separate this deli from other less expensive options. As I finished my conversation with Widen, Etta James’s “At Last” began to roll out from the speakers like butter over the low drone of meat slicers and chatter from customers. This was a good omen; and an even better omen soon followed, when Widen began preparing a to-go order of hot matzo ball soup. ¬

“Keep the art of sign painting alive!” wrote Chez Perry, one of Chicago’s longest working sign painters, on his 2012 Kickstarter campaign created to find work in a medium that technology has made more rare. The signature handcrafted folk artistry behind logos, wall menus and bar signs has gradually dissipated in Chicago. Luckily, in the second part of Ugly Stepsister Gallery’s ongoing exhibition “Where the Wind Blows, Pt. 2,” attendees can appreciate the subtle, varied, and distinctly human quality of the work of many premier sign artists and collectives still making beautifully crafted, hand-painted signs in the city. The bold design and painterly expertise behind these works is on full show, demonstrating the unique qualities of individually crafted signs—qualities that, as “Where the Wind Blows” aims to prove, cannot be easily replaced. Ugly Stepsister Gallery, 1750 S. Union Ave. Through February 9th. Saturday-Sunday, noon-6pm, or by appointment. (312)927-7546. (Julian Nebreda)

Performing Images From the late fourteenth to the early twentieth centuries, opera and theater were central to Chinese cultural life at the Imperial Court and in rural villages alike. This flowering of theater produced an inevitable ripple effect felt far beyond the stage. Operatic motifs are found on ceramics, scroll paintings, books, fans, and textiles. “Performing Images,” a new exhibit at the Smart Museum of Art, compiles a stunning array of such objects from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The show is being launched in concert with a five-month-long festival, “Envisioning China: A Festival of Arts and Culture,” that celebrates Chinese art, history, and culture with over forty events. “Performing Images” runs alongside another exhibit at the Smart, “Inspired by the Opera: Contemporary Chinese Photography and Video.” Together, these two collections form an unbroken narrative of an important field of Chinese visual art from its origins in medieval opera through its present incarnation. Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Februrary 13-June 15. Tuesday-Wednesday, 10am-5pm; Thursday, 10am-8pm; Friday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. Free. (773)7020200. (Lillian Selonick)

Paul’s NOT Gay In 2009, Slow Gallery opened in Pilsen and asked, “Paul WHO?” Now, the gallery will celebrate its fifth anniversary—traditionally observed with gifts of wood—with an exhibition grounded in the statement that “Paul’s NOT Gay.” On Valentine’s Day 2014, a handful of the artists who contributed work to the gallery’s first show will return to the space to defend (or refute) the claim. The exhibition is described as “tongue-in-cheek (or other body parts),” so it’s bound to get interesting. Bring a date or show up stag and spend your V-Day ruminating on the fact that “Paul’s NOT Gay.” Slow Gallery, 2153 W. 21st St. Opening reception Friday, February 14, 6pm-9pm. February 14-March 14. Saturdays, noon-5pm. (773)6458803. (Katryce Lassle)

Regret How a person handles the mistakes they’ve made and the regrets they carry can say a lot about them. Repressing or dwelling; shame or blame; unless you’ve made all the right decisions in life (and you haven’t) you have had to grapple with—maybe even master—a way of coming to terms with your regrets. As Chicago Art Department puts it, “the best way to start a new year is to dwell on the mistakes you made in the last.” Whether you’re looking to satisfy your schadenfreude or find comfort in your own regrets, an exhibition dedicated to exploring the sentiment is sure to make for some interesting conversations with fellow gallery-goers. Chicago Art Department, 1932 S. Halsted #101. Opening reception Friday, February 14, 6pm-10pm. Free. (312)725-4223. (Katryce Lassle)

Photorealism in the Digital Age

Bergstein’s NY Delicatessen. 1164 E. 55th Street. Monday through Sunday, 7am–3pm (subject to change). (773)891-0429.

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For New York-based artist Yigal Ozeri and other photorealistic painters, there is much to be gained by rendering a photograph with paint on canvas. The works they produce capture all of the detail and depth of a photograph, and simultaneously seem to project the image into an ethereal, dreamy world beyond our own. With the quality of digital photography constantly improving,

photorealistic painters can capture and magnify intricate details more vividly (and realistically) than ever. Mana Contemporary Chicago explores some of Israeli-born Ozeri’s most recent work in their upcoming exhibition “Photorealism in the Digital Age,” shedding light on an ever-changing form of painting that has fascinated for decades. Mana Contemporary Chicago, 2233 S. Throop St. Opening reception Saturday, February 15, 5pm-8pm. February 15-April 15. Call for gallery hours. Free. (312)8508301. (Katryce Lassle)

The Fifth Dimension The fabled “fifth dimension” has piqued the interest of artists since at least the early twentieth century. While there is no consensus about what the fifth dimension actually is, the Logan Center for the Arts has invited seven artists to install their works in the Logan Center Gallery gradually over the course of two months. The seven artists’ works appear sequentially, each a few days after the last. With pieces that promise to push past the gallery’s very walls, “The Fifth Dimension” claims not to be an exhibit about the fifth dimension, but the fifth dimension itself. Just like the differing conceptions of the fifth dimension, the exhibit space changes as each artist installs his or her work, offering up a constantly evolving interpretation of the fifth dimension as a concept. If nothing else, the exhibit will certainly travel through time and space, promising equal parts whimsy and perceptual shifts. Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Through February 16. Monday-Saturday, 8am-10pm; Sunday, 11am-8pm. Free. (773)702-2787. arts.uchicago. edu (Paige Pendarvis)

Miami Dutch They preview us to curiosity with the strangeness of their release. I try to parse their gnomish subtext but lose myself as I take up this tongue-tripping, blurb-breaking, press-punching tone. “Miami Dutch,” a new exhibition going up at Queer Thoughts, insists on becoming the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time. Coupling an unhinged and gestural short story with an exuberantly bright and sharp-edged painting, they argue on their website that the intersection might just “break the adverbial body and her discreet geometries,” “the inaccessible plan of the surface.” The prose resists a simple gloss, the composition seemingly shivers itself into shapes, and you, gallery-goer, will remake reality. Can you feel it? Queer Thoughts Gallery, 1640 W. 18th St. #3. Through February 23. Hours by appointment. qtgallery. net (Stephen Urchick)

Parrottree The Renaissance Society will soon be home to a new solo exhibition by Berlin-based artist Nora Schultz. The first show curated at the Renaissance Society by new executive director and chief curator Solveig Øvstebø, “Parrottree—Building for Bigger Than Real” combines found material from Schultz’s studio and the exhibition space itself into sculptures and functional printing devices. The sculptures add depth to themselves by presenting the opportunity to make two-dimensional works out of the three-dimensional—Schultz uses her found-material presses and printers to churn out 2D art within the space, often in front of an audience. With related events including poetry readings, concerts, and guided walkthroughs led by curator Hamza Walker, Nora Schultz’s first American solo show is bound to leave its mark. The Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis Ave., fourth floor. Through February 23. Tuesday-Friday, 10am5pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-5pm. Free. (773)702-8670. (Katryce Lassle)

Hidden Gems Community-based art is no new phenomenon on the South Side. Before Theaster Gates, the likes of Charles White, Henry Avery, Archibald Motley, Jr., Marion Perkins, and other influential locals once called the South Side Community Arts Center their artistic home. Started by the Works Progress Administration, Bronzeville’s historic SSCAC has been accumulating an impressive collection of works by African-American artists since 1940. Though it was originally funded by federal programs, all funding was cut during World War II; community investment is what’s kept the center alive this long. With their new exhibition “Hidden Gems,” SSCAC celebrates Black History Month by sifting through the archives and displaying some rare old pieces from their permanent collection. South Side Community

ARTS CALENDAR Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave. Through March 1. Opening reception Saturday, February 8, 2pm-5pm. Free. (777)373-1026. (Grace Gleason)

Fragmentos It’s how most of us remember our childhoods: in fragments, abstract bits of memories that we are sometimes surprised we’ve kept with us. We all carry mental maps of our youth; Mexican-American artist Pilar Acevedo lays hers out in full color. She works through poetry, painting, sound, sculpture, and found materials to reimagine not only her childhood, but also the aspects of childhood that many women share. Surreal, uncanny, and even a bit frightening, “Fragmentos” places girlhood in a dream space that might turn into a nightmare at any moment. You survived childhood; “Fragmentos” is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on those years you thought you’d forgotten. National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Through July 13. Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. Free. (312)738-1503. (Katryce Lassle)

STAGE & SCREEN The Trials of Muhammad Ali Director Bill Siegel brings to life the story of the man who handcuffed lightning and threw thunder, in his new documentary “The Trials of Muhammad Ali.” Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, became arguably the greatest boxer of all time, and found himself on the ropes facing conflicts over religion, war, and race. The film concentrates on a burgeoning legend’s turn away from fame and fortune, towards his personal beliefs. Ali’s struggles are not as well known today, yet his spiritual journey through Islam is what made him who he is. Siegel, who will be on hand for a Q&A, is an Academy Award-nominated director with twenty years of experience. Combining the world of professional boxing and the tumultuous days of the 1960s, Siegel has brought a fantastic history to the screen. The South Side Weekly is a sponsor of this event. Logan Center, 915 E. 60th St. Friday, February 7, 7pm. Free. (773)702-8596. (Mark Hassenfratz)

Broke Hearts Variety Show If the Co-Prosperity Sphere had waited until a week after Valentines Day to whip out the broken hearts, they could have scored on some on-theme extra large boxes of chocolate. As it is, they’re presenting their variety show as a “palate cleanser” before the ever-saccharine February 14. The acts are mostly writers, whose ruminations on romance mean a daring jump into a realm literature has so rarely dabbled in: heartbreak. Set the Rom-com-ridden Netflix queue aside for a night and go to this instead. Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 S. Morgan St. Saturday, February 8, 8pm. (773)837-0145.

Fools for Love—The Weekly Show! The Weekly Show’s rotating roster of producers serves up another evening of entertainment courtesy of this week’s host, Angela Oliver. The variety show’s theme for the night is billed as one of “strange relationships & chance encounters,” but if a live staging of Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” section doesn’t appeal, the core cast offers a lot to like. The performer/producers are renaissance folks all, though only show inventor Monte LaMonte puts that on his resume. The Jazz Showcase will play host to self-described storytellers, failed comics and adventurers, as well as special guests: actor Teri Jo Rask and improv troupe Clown Car to Sicily. There are worse reasons to be foolish. Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct. Saturday, February 8, 4pm. (312)360-0234 (Hannah Nyhart)

Seven Guitars Following the lives of six friends gathered in Pittsburgh in 1948 for the funeral of a seventh, August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” is being resurrected this month by Court Theatre’s artist in residence, Ron OJ Parson. The fallen friend is Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton, a blues guitarist who died in obscurity. The play, which won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play Award after

its 1996 debut, traces the lives of these seven friends through flashbacks and explores the harmonies and false notes of life, death, hope, and destiny, with the aid of a seven piece band. Seven Guitars is the 1940s installment of Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Cycle,” an award winning series of plays that takes an intimate, powerful look at life in Pittsburgh through the decades. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Through February 9. See website for showtimes. $15-$45. (773)753-4472. (Lillian Selonick)

Hannah Arendt at Doc Films “The banality of evil” has become a stock quote in academia, a phrase used more often than it is understood. A new biopic on Hannah Arendt, and specifically on her coverage of the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, and the book whose title popularized the phrase, strives to illuminate the historical situation around her work. Arendt is one of the 20th century’s most influential theorists. Born to a Jewish family in Germany, Arendt immigrated to the US during the Holocaust. In 1961, the New Yorker commissioned her to write on Eichmann’s trial. The film, from German director Margarethe von Trotta (who was born in Berlin in 1942), centers on Arendt’s life during the controversial period that marked the publication of her seminal work. The Chicago Center for Jewish Studies sponsors this free screening at Doc Films, which will feature an introduction by comparative literature professor Haun Saussy. Come for the meditations on the nature of evil, stay for the historical perspectives on complex issues still unresolved. Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St. Monday, February 10, 9pm-11pm. (773)702-8575. docfilms.uchicago. edu (Julian Nebreda)

Taming of the Shrew The English literary tradition owes Shakespeare big time. Pretty much anyone who has ever scribbled in English post-Bard, from storied critic Harold Bloom to storied critic Kanye West, has, at some point, invoked the man’s authority. The Greeks have Plato, the Germans Goethe, and we have the Swan of Avon. For the longest time, I was under the impression that “The Taming of the Shrew” involved some combination of old English and anthropomorphism. As a firm believer in my pet turtle Julius’ right to conversation, I was disappointed to find my convictions only partially founded. Nonetheless, the Provision Theater’s offering of this classic—a patchwork quilt of sexism, misogyny, and societal discomfort—is required viewing. Whether you’re looking to carry out a feminist takedown or you simply want to check out Heath Ledger’s source material, swing by, throwing-fruit in hand. Provision Theater, 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd. February 12-March 30. See website for showtimes and pricing. (312)455-0065. (Arman Sayani)

Eddo Stern’s Games on Stage Eddo Stern’s repertoire is crisscrossed with slashes: an artist/game designer/professor who creates concerts/ spectacle shows/computer games. He bends performer/ audience interactions and explodes ludic/narrative boundaries. Stern is crossing the country to showcase three such at the Logan Center. Working out of UCLA’s Game Lab, the artist explores the “uneasy and…unconscious connections between physical existence and electronic simulation.” That means he’ll turn avatars into actors and pit them against (literally) crowd-controlled mobs. He’ll fuse dinner theater to an entertainment system. And next Friday, he’ll be showing/telling these examples of live public play in a public screening and discussion. Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., Screening Room 201. Friday, February 14, 7pm. Free with limited seating. (Stephen Urchick)

When Good Broccoli Goes Bad Spinach, lima beans, brussel sprouts. There’s a certain sort of vegetable that’s been the root of many an intergenerational battle. But will a kid who doesn’t want to eat her broccoli listen to it sing? In “When Good Broccoli Goes Bad,” a children’s musical written and directed by Carla Stillwell, Broccoli runs away from the vegetable crisper to explore the rest of the refrigerator, meeting the unhealthy foods of the other shelves. As the

music changes to reflect different genres and decades, the audience learns about nutrition and the value of healthy eating. Broccoli may last only one or two weeks in the fridge, but this inventive collaboration between the DuSable Museum and MPAACT Theatre seems likely to have a much longer shelf life. DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Place. February 16th– May. Every third Sunday, 3 pm. $7. (773)947-0600 (Olivia Stovicek)

Black History Month at DuSable In honor of Black History Month, the DuSable Museum of African American History will be holding weekly screenings and lectures; these events, centered around Maafa, or the “African Holocaust,” will explore the past and present violence and oppression endured by Africans all over the world. On Wednesday, February 5, a screening of the documentary “Winds of Change” will follow a discussion of Kwame Nkrumah and Ghana’s independence. On Wednesday, February 12, there will be a screening of a documentary on the Haitian Revolution and its international influence. On Wednesday, February 19, documentaries about Louisiana will be screened, followed by a discussion led by Jihad Muhammad and Masequa Myers. And on Wednesday, February 26, a final panel discussion will be led by Rev. Otis Moss, Dr. Carol Adams, Professor Chris Reed, among others. Sunday services at Trinity United Church of Christ and various musical performances will also take place throughout the month of February. DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Place. Through February 26. Wednesday events begin at 6:30pm. (773)947-0600. (Katryce Lassle)

Out Loud The trope of the oddball pairing—two individuals with personalities so diametrically opposed as to appear unworkable—has long been used to challenge traditionally-held beliefs pertaining to notions of familiarity and companionship. Do it right and you get chicken and waffles. Force something that isn’t meant to be and, well, there was that one time Lou Reed did an album with Metallica. In “Out Loud,” writers Ray Proctor and Olivia Dawson attempt to tap into this idea of beauty in the midst of apparent discordance through a series of “vignettes of conversation” between a straight, socially-conservative woman and her friend, a gay, African-American man. The primary topic of conversation is political correctness; specifically what one ought and ought not say out loud in public, witty corollaries in the form of discussions about race, sex, and identity. Chock-full of verbal sparring, “Out Loud” promises a strong opening to the eta Creative Arts Foundation’s schedule for the New Year. eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Through March 3. Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 3pm. $30. Student, senior, and group discounts available. (Arman Sayani)

MUSIC The Coup There are many reasons why The Coup have spent nearly a quarter-century on the fringes of the hip-hop underground. The politically radical group has threatened to kill landlords, CEOs, and aging pimps named Jesus, all delivered in finely versified storytelling. In one of the more disturbingly strange instances of poor timing, though, the group also released an album cover in which two of the band members were pictured in front of an image of an exploded World Trade Center building, detonators in hand, just months before the September 11 attacks, leading to uproar from conservative critics and fans alike. The Coup has, however, been steadily regaining mainstream recognition. Two Coup songs were used in Judd Appatow’s iconic “Superbad” film in 2007, and just this past summer they took the stage as one of the most exciting acts at Brooklyn’s Afropunk Fest. As the group moves towards an increasingly high-energy punk sound, and becomes less reliant on traditional beats, the future for these hip-hop veterans could prove to be extremely volatile and exciting. Reggies, 2105 S. State St. Sunday, February 7, 8:30pm. 17+. $15-$17. (312)9490120. (Zach Goldhammer)

Johnny Winter While albino blues legend Johnny Winter is generally more closely associated with Texas than Chicago, the guitarist’s connections to the Windy City actually run quite deep. The Beaumont, Texas native didn’t find his big break until he came up to Chicago to jam with Illinois instrumental wunderkind Mike Bloomfield. It was here that he was scouted by execs from Columbia Records, who then released his first two albums, both of which received substantial praise. It was here that he also met local legend Muddy Waters for whom Winter produced not one, not two, but three Grammy-winning blues albums. In recent years, Winter has remained active, releasing old recordings of his iconic Woodstock performance in 2009 and touring and performing. The ever-rambling blues journeyman now finds himself once again back in Chicago for a February meet-and-greet at Reggies. Reggies, 2105 S. State St. Sunday, February 13, 5pm-6pm. All ages. Free. (312)949-0120. (Zach Goldhammer)

Juelz Santana Last January, Juelz Santana of The Diplomats (“It’s Dipset, b$%!h”) went solo for the first time since 2005 with his mixtape, “God Will’n.” Positively dripping with superstar features, the long-awaited project revealed that Santana’s Uptown, New York wit is just as sharp (and his entourage just as fly) as it was when he dropped the perpetually addictive “There It Go (The Whistle Song)” nearly a decade ago. Now, one year since his last mixtape release, Santana is poised to make the jump from “Whassup? I’m Back” status to “No Seriously, I’m BACK” by releasing his third studio album, “Born to Lose, Built to Win,” an album which he has been working on since before Obama was elected. Pop over to The Shrine on February 13 and catch the fabled Harlem rhymester reclaim his throne in the Midwest. The Shrine, 2109 S. Wabash Ave. Thursday, February 13. Doors open at 10pm. $20. (312)753-5700. (Kari Wei)

Hyde Park Folk Festival Walk right in, sit right down for the fifty-fourth annual Hyde Park Folk Festival. The festival, which since 1961 has brought artists like the New Lost City Ramblers, the Staple Singers, and Muddy Waters to the Mandel Hall stage, is back with a lineup ranging from veteran artists Bobby Hicks and Calvin Bridges to two promising new acts, Bigfoot and the Yanks. As always, performers will encompass a range of styles from Appalachian to Irish, gospel, and more. Head to campus early over the weekend for free dances, jam sessions, and other workshops to be held in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St. If you’re craving a behind-the-scenes look at the world of contemporary folk, The Folklore Society is still accepting volunteers to staff the festival. Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St. February 14-16. See website for times. $10-$25, weekend pass and student/senior discounts available. Tickets online, by phone, or at Mandel Hall Box Office. (773)7027300. (Rachel Schastok)

J. Dilla Day Dillo Day ain’t got nothing on Dilla Day. In honor of the tremendously influential James Dewitt Yancey, aka hip-hop artist J Dilla, The Shrine is holding a night of celebration and seriously sick beats on the 20. Since his death on February 10, 2006—three days after the release of what’s considered his magnum opus, the instrumental hip-hop album “Donuts”—Detriot-born Dilla’s legacy has only grown (those “J Dilla Changed My Life” shirts are around for a reason). A few Chicago artists will be around to share in the festivities: Norm Rockwell and Sean Doe are DJing, and Encyclopedia Brown, along with The Ol Days, will be performing. Now’s the time to dust off that “Donuts” LP: the Day of the Dilla draws nigh. The Shrine, 2109 S. Wabash Ave. Thursday, February 20. Doors open at 10pm. 21+. Free before midnight; after midnight $20. (312)753-5700. (Cindy Dapogny)



¬ FEBRUARY 5, 2014

February 5, 2014