SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY APRIL 30, 2014 ¬ ARTS, CULTURE, & POLITICS ¬ THE SLICKEST PAPER SOUTH OF ROOSEVELT ¬ SOUTHSIDEWEEKLY.COM ¬ FREE
Amid increasing production and attempts at regulation, petroleum coke has drifted into the spotlight
GREYSTONES, FORCED AIR @ ACRE, SERGIO MIMS, DIVISION STREET SPEAKS
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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
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 Deputy Editor
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Prison Care The Joliet Youth Center, a currently-closed youth prison, may soon reopen its iron doors to mentally-ill adult inmates. The Illinois Department of Corrections is particularly invested in opening the facility because it may face a federal lawsuit for inadequately addressing mental illness within the Illinois state prison system. Cook County Prison Sheriff Tom Dart has been particularly vocal on the matter, drawing attention to the unfortunate fact that he is the state’s largest landlord to the mentally ill. While aides to Governor Pat Quinn have warned that the facility’s construction depends upon whether a temporary tax increase is extended, $1.7 million is currently earmarked for the construction project, and the state has already employed a design firm to begin outlining its new plans for the facility.
Pecuniary Peccadilloes Moneyed members of the Democratic Party met downtown at the Ritz-Carlton this past week to discuss which candidates, issues, and strategies were worthy of their fiscal largesse. The summit was titled “Spring Investment Conference,” a cleverly dull name given that the scale of electoral “investment” about which these liberal Midases are conferring is (as usual) nauseating, and often capable of ending the social ills that the parties claim to intend to fix in the first place. The nominal duplicity has failed to fool the state GOP, however, whose ongoing race for gubernatorial cathedra has thrown its candidates into intra-party chaos. Reports suggest that GOP operatives plan on snooping on the conference for their own political benefit.
RIP Rashad April is the cruelest month. On the first day, fans of dance music
in Chicago and all around the world awoke to hear of the tragic death of Frankie Knuckles, the saintly godfather of house music. Now, as the month draws to a close, DJ Rashad, another dance music pioneer and Chicagoan, has died. It’s just not right. DJ Rashad will always hold a special place in the hearts of dance music fans in Chicago and around the world, for bringing us the feverish joy of footwork.
Increase the Opportunity Gap? Yes We Can Barack Obama came to Chicago as a community organizer in Roseland, set up his first campaign office in South Shore, and settled his family in Kenwood. And despite the president’s deep ties to the South Side, his former chief of staff and the Chicago Public Schools have decided that Stanton Park on the North Side is the ideal home for the future Barack Obama Preparatory High School. It will be the eleventh selective-enrollment high school in the city, seven of which are already on the North Side. Obama Prep will be funded by $60 million in TIF funds and is set to open in 2017. The school is meant to provide another high-quality option for students across the city. Mayor Emanuel pointed out that the location is “accessible from two rail lines and four bus lines,” concluding that “this new school is really for the whole city.” But selective-enrollment schools are exactly what their title suggests they would be: selective. According to Catalyst Chicago, in 2012 only seventeen percent of the students in these schools were African-American, and the Sun-Times reported recently that admittance rates of African American students are declining. Odd, then, that the school will be named for a man who called education “the civil rights movement of our time,” and who has emphasized the need for equal opportunity to high-quality education for all students. ¬
IN THIS ISSUE petcoke
The wind along Lake Michigan’s shores certainly does not stop blowing for byproducts of oil refining.
“I also had pain,” she said, pointing up to the ceiling, where her hair was still dangling from the rafters.
“I always say, if I was captured and you wanted to torture me and get me to say everything I knew, put jake bittle.............9 on La Boheme.”
zach goldhammer & noah kahrs..............10
young chicago authors
Spicer calls Hyde Park’s latest wave of development “Urban Renewal 2.”
They’ve met hundreds of Chicagoans; traversing miles, they interviewed anyone willing to talk.
Byproduct Blues Amid increasing production and attempts at regulation, petroleum coke has drifted into the spotlight BY ARI FELDMAN
pring finally came to Chicago about a month ago, turning the lake from gray to blue and exposing endless lawns of dead grass. On the Southeast Side, along the banks of the Calumet River, the warmer weather slowly turned several large hills from snow white to a metallic black. The hills are made entirely of petroleum coke, a byproduct of refining crude oil. The debate around how and where petcoke should be stored has snowballed since December, when British Petroleum’s refinery in Whiting, Indiana completed a $3.8 billion renovation, which included a state-of-the-art coker that will triple its output of petroleum coke. The petcoke from Whiting is currently being stored at two terminals on the Calumet River, about one mile from the border with Indiana. Both of these facilities are owned by KCBX, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, which has an exclusive contract with BP for storing the company’s petroleum coke. (A third storage site in the area is owned by Beemsterboer Slag Corporation, which was storing petcoke without the proper permits up until November of last year, when the city forced them to remove their stockpiles.) Though the petcoke is enclosed in a pit with forty-foot walls when it’s on BP’s land in Indiana waiting to be placed on a barge and sailed to Illinois, it is left open to the elements during transportation and storage. It sits uncovered just hundreds of feet from houses, and only blocks away from schools and hospitals. Last July, a video of a particularly windy evening in Detroit showed a formidable cloud of what looks like ash from a fireplace. It was in fact petroleum coke dust, blowing over the Detroit River. Then, in August, there was a windstorm on the Southeast Side that lifted a cloud of 4 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY
petcoke from its holding grounds on East 100th and East 106th Streets, blowing it across the neighborhood. Since then, both Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have proposed
for byproducts of oil refining, and residents of the Southeast Side have been facing the almost non-stop dispersal of stray dust from the faces of the black hills for over eighty years. Whether it’s hills
Residents of the Southeast Side have been facing the almost non-stop dispersal of stray dust from the faces of the black hills for over eighty years.
regulations on the storage of petcoke, and Lisa Madigan, attorney general of Illinois, has filed lawsuits against both KCBX and Beemsterboer for violating dumping regulations. Chicago is no stranger to the hazards of being an industrial town, and residents of the Southeast Side have lived with the more pervasive realities of industry for over a century. Petcoke is the latest iteration of this struggle: another chapter of confusion, ignorance, and inconsistent government action. The wind that blows along Lake Michigan’s shores certainly does not stop
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of petcoke or coal dust, relief only comes when it snows.
here’s a lot of people who don’t know the difference between Diet Coke and petcoke,” says Tom Wolf, executive director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Council. It’s a good line, and not untrue. Petcoke comes in two varieties, green and cooked. Green petcoke is the material that is transported from Whiting to the terminals on the Calumet River. When that material is burned to make things
like processed aluminum and cement, it’s declared cooked. Many factories around the country use petcoke of either variety in small amounts. It is consumed at the highest rates by aluminum smelting plants and by factories that produce bricks. Most of the United States’ petcoke output is sent overseas, however—typically to places like Japan, India and China, where regulations on pollution are not as stringent. In the first quarter of 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, those three countries accounted for over a third of U.S. petcoke exports. In the early part of the twentieth century, petcoke was considered a waste product from the fuel-refining process. But since the thirties, petroleum coke has been burned as a secondary fuel that can be yielded by refining crude oil in a certain manner. It is most analogous to steam coal in function, yet it can contain as much as ten times more sulfur and release over fifty percent more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Unlike coal, petcoke burns without producing much ash—between four and nineteen percent less, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers. This makes it a convenient energy source for Third World countries, which are less likely to have sophisticated waste management systems. What makes petcoke so popular around the world, however, is that American producers consistently and significantly discount the price: it generally gets a twenty-five percent mark-off relative to coal, according to a report from Oil Change International. It is, as they say, priced to move. In 2011, the U.S. produced close to sixty-two million tons of petcoke, and almost forty million tons of that was export-
The warmer weather slowly turned several large hills from snow white to a metallic black. ed, according to a report from Roskill. The report estimates current global production at one hundred million metric tons each year, and predicts that the world will produce 170 million metric tons in 2016. Nearly every manufacturing process has its byproducts, but petroleum coke, or petcoke, is also a byproduct of the present moment in climate policy. As more and more oil flows south from Canada—and with the possible introduction of hundreds of thousands more barrels each day with the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline’s fourth phase—the output of
petcoke from the nation’s refineries has doubled since 1999, to 180,000 tons a day, according to the same report from Oil Change International. Canada’s bituminous sands, in Alberta, produce oil that is called dark, or sour, in the petroleum industry. Formed in the Cretaceous Period, between 140 and 60 million years ago, the sands have been estimated to hold about 169 billion retrievable barrels, which amounts to just nine percent of the total barrels of bitumen estimated to lie below the boreal forest. The sands are second only to the
Arabian Peninsula in petroleum reserves, though the liquid they produce is a mixture of petroleum, sand, and water, and is harder and more costly to refine than oil that comes from either Saudi Arabia or Texas. According to the report from Oil Change International, processing oil that is heavily laden with bitumen yields double the amount of petcoke obtained from refining light oil. BP’s multi-billion dollar upgrade includes a new distillation unit to help the plant process more of this unconventional oil. With its new machines, the refinery in
Whiting is set to become the biggest producer of petroleum coke on the continent.
ike a lot of things that come from the belly of the earth, petcoke can be potentially harmful, especially in smaller sizes. Petcoke is what is called particulate matter, or PM. World environmental organizations measure the size of particles in micrometers, and classify different particles as either PM-10 or PM-2.5. A particle that is PM-10 is less than ten mi-
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crometers in diameter and smaller than a human hair. A particle that is PM-2.5 is less than two-and-a-half micrometers in diameter and is small enough to wend its way into the deepest part of your lungs. An ideal yield of petcoke produces balls a bit smaller than a pencil eraser, but in transit and storage those pellets can break down and become PM-10 and even PM-2.5 dust, smaller than the particles in an aerosol inhaler. Sarah Lovinger, executive director of the Chicago chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, says that PM-10 dust can exacerbate existing lung conditions like asthma and emphysema, and that studies have linked fine particulate matter to lung cancer. The EPA, however, classifies petcoke as a “non-hazardous material.” It has done studies since the nineties on the possible adverse effects of petcoke on rats, monkeys, and plants, and has found negligible toxicity in plants and no cancer in the animals. Unlike other infamous particles, such as asbestos or silica crystals, petcoke was found to have no effect on the genetic makeup of the rats or monkeys—it didn’t change the order or appearance of any of their chromosomes or genes. The EPA acknowledges readily on its website that particulate matter has been linked for years with lung damage, and their studies found as much. A report from June 2011 references a two-year inhalation study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine in 1987 that “produced irreversible respiratory effects...in rats and primates (both sexes) at all concentrations tested.” The animals developed lesions and cysts, as well as scarring and a build of a fibrous tissue around the openings to the lungs. Unfortunately, studies on animals in a lab can often have little bearing in determining a substance’s potential threats toward humans. “You can’t tease out the different environmental factors [with animal studies],” Lovinger says. These studies point to a general conclusion, but they can seldom link widespread health issues, such as asthma, to single causes. When people who live around industrial areas get sick, researchers have to deal with a host of gases, particles, and other products that could be dangerous at varying levels and in various combinations. “We certainly know, from studies 6 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY
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that have been done here, in the Seattle area, in Toronto, and in other places around the world—they’ve looked at this in Italy, and in London, in Brazil—that if you live in certain areas there seems to be a higher prevalence of asthma,” says Louise Giles, medical director of respiratory therapy at Comer Children’s Hospital. “We know that asthma rates in Chicago are higher than the national norm, and we know that it’s a real problem.”
throat and in your nostrils. It’s there—it’s obvious. It’s like an invisible killer.” SETA is a volunteer-run, grass-roots organization that focuses on educating the Southeast Chicago community on local environmental issues and sustainable development. It operates on funds from members, both residents and area businesses. “We have a high rate of asthma,” added Peggy Salazar, SETA’s executive direc-
Petcoke is most analogous to steam coal in function, yet it can contain as much as ten times more sulfur and release over fifty percent more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“Petroleum coke in and of itself, as long as its not airborne, is probably not toxic,” Giles adds. “But the minute it becomes airborne it’s an inhalant—bang, there you’ve got your issue.” Tom Shepherd, president of the Southeast Environmental Taskforce, or SETA, told me about the role the dust plays in the everyday lives of people living around the piles of petcoke. “Just on a typical day, with the wind as it is today, you can feel it if you’re standing there,” he said. We were sitting in SETA’s offices, at 133rd and Baltimore Avenue. “You know it’s there. You may not see every speck, but if you feel it you know it’s there. You’re gonna feel burning in your
tor. “We know that. We have a high rate of cancer here. Something in this area is causing that. What’s different about our area? We’re industrial. So we put two and two together. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that’s what’s different about our area.” A study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, published in 2008 by doctors from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, contains a map of Chicago’s child asthma rate by neighborhood. Southeast Chicago is colored green, falling into the five-totwelve percent prevalence range—right around the national average. Areas closer to the Dan Ryan high-
way have much higher rates—upward of thirty percent—and are yellow and dark red. A 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control found the average rate of asthma in children in the U.S. to be nine percent. No studies have been done on neighborhood asthma rates in Chicago since 2008.
ETA’s offices are just ten minutes down Avenue O from KCBX’s terminals on 100th Street. Running parallel with the state border, Avenue O is about half residential, half industrial, with the section between 117th and 130th Streets flanked by warehouses and industrial storage lots. Its northern side ends in a large warehouse facility on the banks of the Calumet River. About halfway in between is George Washington High School, with an enrollment of over 1,500 students, ninety percent from low-income families. On the school’s roof is an air quality monitor controlled by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. In 2012, the monitor logged the highest twenty-four-hour average of PM-10 in the state for that year: two-thirds the acceptable limit of airborne particulate matter by EPA standards. For 2014, the Washington High air monitor was supposed to be decommissioned. According to an Illinois EPA spokeswoman, that decision was reversed after the agency’s 2014 report came out. It is one of only four PM-10 monitors in the state; the second closest one to the Calumet River is in La Grange. Other schools in the area have been feeling the presence of the petcoke, but in different ways. In January, at the St. Simeon Serbian Church on 114th Street, a community meeting was held that drew over 150 residents, journalists, and employees of KCBX and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. One of the many community members to stand up and address the crowd was Nick Limbeck, a second-grade teacher at Gallistel Language Academy at 104th Street and Ewing Avenue, who talked about the presence of petcoke in his classroom. “Mainly the black dust accumulates on surfaces around the classroom, on tables, chairs, desks, things like that,” he told me. “It was most noticeable during the warmer months. It was not as noticeable the last few months.”
“You’re gonna feel burning in your throat and in your nostrils. It’s there—it’s obvious.” From his third-floor classroom, the piles in the KCBX terminal are readily visible. Limbeck had his students conduct a small “study” of the black dust, having them wipe wet paper towels on the windowsills and make observations and drawings of the substance. Two students in his class of twenty-six have asthma, and both students were forced to miss more than a week of class at the beginning of the school year. Limbeck says their parents were sure the absences stemmed from petcoke inhalation. He told me he was disappointed with the way the city has dealt with the petcoke issue. “I feel like I’m in a George Orwell novel, where fixing the problem is increasing it,” he said.
After the meeting at St. Simeon, I talked with Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs at Chicago’s Respiratory Health Association. He thinks the petcoke should go completely. “The only safe limit is zero,” he said, pointing to a positive, linear relationship between general pollution and health issues. Dr. Giles agrees, and added that the issue of pollution is even starker for children. “We know that particulate matter is a kind of airborne pollution,” she said. “The younger you are, the more susceptible you are to damage that can happen from prolonged inhalation.” When I talked to Tom Wolf, of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, he expressed concern that residents were blam-
ing petcoke indiscriminately for the area’s perceived health problems. “That’s an industrial area down there,” he said. “It’s a huge assumption to say one facility is causing all those perceived problems.” In the same year that Washington High School’s air monitor saw record levels of PM-10, it also recorded the highest yearlong averages of cadmium and nickel in the state, though nowhere near the EPA’s limits. Coal dust, which has been stored along the Calumet River for over eighty years, looks very similar to petcoke when it is stored in piles or is airborne, or when it clings to the siding, windows, or front steps of a house. “What I’m worried about happening is you do knee-jerk reaction regulations,
you put a company out of business or make it spend hundreds of millions of dollars, and at the end of all that the community still has dangerous levels of particulate matter because the problem’s from someplace else,” Wolf continued. “I’ve seen people tell me, I’ve seen people throw up filters, but anecdotal evidence isn’t science.” The filters Wolf mentions are those found in your average in-home air-treatment system. At the meeting in January, one of those filters was held up in front of the crowd by Peggy Salazar, of SETA. It had only lasted a few weeks the previous summer before turning the color of a charcoal briquette. “That’s not normal,” she said, as she swept her fingers across the filter and held APRIL 30, 2014 ¬ SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY 7
them up, showing a black residue one usually sees on the hands of coal miners. The filters were from 109th and Mackinaw, about two blocks from a petcoke storage area. “If I had an air filter like that I would be pretty mad,” Wolf said when I mentioned Salazar’s presentation. “But I would also like to think that I would ask the city to determine where that is coming from, and not assume that I know where it’s coming from.” Salazar says that she contacted the Illinois EPA to have the filter tested, to see if it was in fact covered in petroleum coke dust. The Illinois EPA, she claims, refused to test it. “We were a little hesitant to just come out and call it petcoke,” she says. “I can’t imagine it being anything else, either. Even if its coal dust, it’s still an issue.”
who represents the entire Southeast Side, presented a revised version that would make storage of petcoke permissible if it is at a facility that also cooks the petcoke to fuel a manufacturing process. An outright ban, Pope argued, would make the city legally vulnerable to a court challenge by KCBX and their parent company, Koch Industries. Pope asked the committee to defer its decision until later this month, saying, “I think there may be
On the roof of George Washington High School is an air quality monitor controlled by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. In 2012, the monitor logged the highest twentyfour-hour average of PM-10 in the state for that year.
iven that petroleum coke has been stored along the Calumet River in varying amounts for over two decades, the city’s recent actions do seem a bit sudden. Beemsterboer Slag Corporation was ordered to get rid of its petcoke after the Illinois EPA discovered the company had started handling the substance on its twenty-two acre facility before they had received the necessary permits. The company’s piles were gone within a month. When Governor Pat Quinn spoke up about petcoke in January, he announced proposals that were coming from his office that he hoped would be ratified by the Illinois Pollution Control Board, a non-governmental agency that reviews regulations and legislation pertaining to the environment. The city had a slightly longer timeline to develop rules with regulators, stretching from February until last week. “That’s still fast,” Tom Wolf said of the city’s regulations. “But if you’re giving me a comparison, that’s better than seven days. And ultimately I believe the city was responding to a specific issue and protecting their citizens.” Quinn’s regulations were voted down by the Illinois Pollution Control Board, and the city’s deliberated response came Tuesday, April 1, at a meeting of the zoning committee that concerned the ordinances around petcoke. Though a ban on petcoke within the city-limits of Chicago had been championed by Aldermen John Pope (10th) and Ed Burke (14th), Pope, 8 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY
age facility needed to make plans to fully enclose its piles within ninety days, and erect the necessary structures within two years. However, questions still remain over the continued impact of the piles on the community and the environment. The studies done on plants and animals showed evidence that petroleum coke, when inhaled at high concentrations over long periods of time, can cause serious,
a few more items we can add.” This week, hours after this issue goes to print, the zoning committee is set to give what many think will be the final set of ordinances concerning who is allowed to store petcoke and how in Chicago. It’s taken since January for the committee to come up with a final decision, but Salazar has low expectations. The question of enclosure to prevent the wind from sweeping the petcoke up and drifting it onto the homes of the Southeast Side was answered last month, when the Chicago Department of Public Health announced that any petcoke stor-
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largely incurable lung damage, but some residents are concerned about what could happen if petcoke got into their water supply through drainage issues or some kind of leak. The lawsuit filed against KCBX by Lisa Madigan in early March contends that KCBX has shown disregard for water pollution standards, and that the concrete walkway between the water and the piles of coal dust and petcoke is too narrow to prevent the dust from seeping into the Calumet River and into the water supply of the area. A press release from Madigan’s office says that an inspection by the
Illinois EPA found many deep cracks in the walkway through which the petcoke could have seeped into the ground and water.
he rolling hills of black dust along the Calumet River have been fixtures of the neighborhood for over two decades. Yet, as BP starts to process crude oil at triple its previous capacity, the role of petcoke in the ongoing metropolitan drama has become much more important, not just to residents but to those with a stake in the industry. When I talked to Peggy Salazar of SETA recently, she expressed her deep disappointment at the way the city has handled the regulatory process. “They came out with guns blazing, like it was high noon or something,” she said. “Okay, you put some regulations in place, but who’s going to enforce them? What’s changed, really? What’s going to happen?” She worried that the setbacks in City Hall would discourage residents of the Southeast Side from getting organized against KCBX. “Their experience is going to be that nothing changes,” she said. “We live in a modern society,” Tom Wolf says. “I take the El, I drive a car. There’s no perfect, nonpolluting way of living.” Last Saturday, the Southeast Environmental Taskforce hosted a march from State Line Avenue to the petcoke piles on 108th and Buffalo. Over one hundred people showed up, double what Peggy Salazar had anticipated. “If we got fifty we were going to be really happy, so we were twice as happy,” she says. This week, the zoning committee is set to give what many think will be the final set of ordinances concerning petcoke in Chicago. It’s taken since January for the committee to come up with a final decision, but Salazar has low expectations. “We’re not satisfied with what they’re giving. They need to enclose the piles tomorrow, not two years from now,” she told me. “We’re still disgusted and fed up, because it seems like were not gonna get what we want. But we’re not going to give up. As long as people are showing their support, like they did on Saturday, the effort is not going to die.” ¬
The Tortoise and the Hair “Forced Air” at ACRE BY JAKE BITTLE
hen I entered ACRE gallery in Pilsen for the opening of “Forced Air,” I was almost stabbed. In the middle of the room, only a few feet from the door, a giant sphere sat on the floor, from which various spears and sticks were protruding. This bizarre sphere (whose given title is “Not Necessarily”), about as big as a medium-sized dog and perforated with holes of different sizes, was the most conspicuous occupant of the gallery on April 27, during the opening of “Forced Air.” The project is a collaboration between artists Jiyoung Yoon and Andy Kincaid, both of whom have extensive backgrounds in installation and sculpture. The perforated sphere, which was Yoon’s doing, shared the hardwood floor with a shattered turtle shell (also part of Yoon’s work), which at least three guests tripped over as they made their way around the small room. Yoon’s work, rather than staying confined to the walls, where gallery viewers generally expect to find art, disrupts the space of the room through its physically invasive placement: several patrons knocked “Not Necessarily” clean over and Yoon, who was present, had to pick it back up. Bits and pieces of the turtle shell also lay scattered around the room. Around one corner, near the bathroom and a woman selling beer and wine, a Dynex television screen displayed on repeat the most heavily advertised part of Yoon’s work: a video in which she hangs suspended by her hair from the ceiling while two men on ladders cut her hair off in order to free her. When Yoon is finally released, she falls to the ground and lands on a turtle shell, shattering the shell. I watched the video twice and then looked back out into the main room: there was the shell. Yoon, when she was not walking around the gallery room balancing on just her heels, did her best to explain to me precisely what she was trying to accomplish with her video and her perilous sphere. “I was thinking about how people want to land somehow,” she said. “How they can be too eager to feel like they have
courtesy of acre
landed, or are grounded. We are not even afraid to hurt anything just to land ourselves.” She gestured to the shell. “The turtle is sacrifice, so we observe all the impact, all the weight. It broke, so I was safe. But I also had pain,” she said, pointing up to the ceiling, where her hair was still dangling from the rafters. She had recreated the scene of the video in the space of the gallery. “I also had pain, so you cannot blame me for causing pain. It’s like a circulation.” The title of the show is “Seeing Things The Way We See The Moon,” she continued, “because, like with the moon, we only see one side of things.” While Yoon’s work interrupted the open space of the gallery’s center, Kincaid’s work lined the walls: he had supplied four pieces for the gallery, all frustratingly different in size and scheme. “All the pieces,” explained Kincaid, “are related to how we interact with landscape and natural setting.” He gestured to a small screen on a far wall, which he described as intentionally “iPhone-shaped.”
It was displaying a video of a sunset on top of a wider video of the same sunset; the videos shifted and shook on top of each other, occasionally achieving what Kincaid called a “moment of catharsis” when the two horizon lines lined up. Kincaid described the sunset as “an aesthetic object that we can’t help but be drawn to...but one that everyone wants to capture, and it’s there every day.” Next to the video screen (“Sunrise”) was an enormous murky picture labeled “Collected Sunrise.” It was not clear just what the content of the picture was until Kincaid explained that he had taken a still of the sunset video and searched Google for images similar to it. He had then overlaid the first fifty images the search engine generated, mostly of sunsets and sunrises, to create the murky, watery behemoth of a painting that dominated one wall of the room. The unifying theme of the work, Kincaid said, was “the way that we interact with [landscape] spaces, and our distor-
tions of our experiences of reality based on how we’re eager to capture parts of that experience.” On the surface, Kincaid admitted, his work and Yoon’s did not appear to have much in common other than the fact that they were both in the same room. “But,” he added later on, “think about how Jiyoung’s work is about the artist’s experience, how they see themselves, and in my work you see the viewer’s impact, the artist’s impact, on how they see their environment. I think [our work together] is like a looking in, looking out sort of thing.” Kincaid and Yoon were looking out, and I was looking in, but what neither of us could deny, looking at the hair dangling from the ceiling or the massive brown painting on the wall, was that there was definitely something to look at. ¬ ACRE Projects, 1913 W. 17th St. Through May 12. Sunday-Monday, noon-4pm. Free. acreresidency.org
APRIL 30, 2014 ¬ SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY 9
WHPK Veteran DJ: Sergio Mims
An interview with the station’s resident film buff and classical music obsessive BY NOAH KAHRS AND ZACH GOLDHAMMER
n addition to being a board member of Theaster Gates’s Black Cinema House and a film journalist for Indiewire’s “Shadow and Act”—a Ralph Ellison-inspired blog dedicated to the cinema of the African diaspora —Sergio Mims is also one of the most well-established DJs on WHPK’s classical format. For the second interview in our series profiling the veteran DJs of WHPK, Mims invited us into the studio as he played Schubert’s opera Fierrebras for the first half of his radio show—the unpretentiously titled program, “Stuff From My Collection”—to discuss his loves, hates and obsessions within the worlds of music and film. zach goldhammer
How did you first get interested in music, especially in classical music? I have to go back to when I was ten years old. My father used to give me all kinds of recordings to listen to and one day he gave me a recording of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado [and] I just gravitated towards it, I thought it was the happiest music I ever heard. I said, “Gee, I’d like to hear more like this.” At that time, there used to be a supermarket called 10 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY
A&P, back in the days long ago. They would sell classical records. There’d be a different one every other week, with notes, and later you could compile all the records into a binder. I still have it… and back then they would have record clubs. They had Columbia Record Club or RCA Record Club, and they’d announce that you’re getting this album for this month, and my father joined it for me, so I was just getting records.
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And why classical music? I don’t know, that’s sort of an eternal question. It’s just something that spoke to me; I just gravitated towards it more than any other music. Who are some of your favorite composers? I can tell you who I don’t like. That’s easier. I like [almost] everybody, I can listen to everybody from Monteverdi to
Stockhausen to Hans Werner Henze to Allan Pettersson. Who I do not like, who I cannot stand—I cannot stand Puccini, cannot stand Ralph Vaughan Williams. I always say, if I was captured and you wanted to torture me and get me to say everything I knew, put on La Boheme, or anything by Vaughan Williams, and I will confess everything. There are some composers who took me a while to warm up to, people who I like now who I didn’t
MUSIC like before, but I will never like Puccini and I will never like Vaughan Williams. Aaron Copland has a great quote about Vaughn Williams that perfectly expresses how I feel: “Listening to the Fifth Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams is like staring at a cow for forty-five minutes.” I don’t know why Puccini’s so popular. I always say, people who like Puccini don’t know music. So I take it you’re not a fan of half the Lyric’s programming? No! I won’t go [when they play Puccini]. And by the way, I’m glad you brought that up. Because of this show, it’s really expanded my horizons, I’ve been traveling even to Europe to see concerts. WHPK programming, and my show in particular, are known outside the country, so I have been to the Royal Opera House in London, I’ve been to the English National Opera, I’ve been to the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. I was actually asked to be on a Swiss Radio Program last year, but I couldn’t do it. This is because of the show and [online] streaming. Classical music broadcast radio stations are a small community, there’s not a lot of radio stations left that broadcast classical music, and everybody tries to seek out what everyone else is doing. How did you get started with DJing at WHPK? Well, that was Jake [Austen, format chief for Public Affairs programming on WHPK]. Jake was after me for almost a year trying to get me to do a show on movies, which I still do about once a month on the station. But after a year I gave in, and I said, “OK, I’ll do it.” And I did it for about 3 or 4 years, I would bring in filmmakers, we would do a discussion, but I said, “Boy, I would really like to do a show on classical music,” because when I got involved with WHPK and I saw all the kinds of programming they have, I said, well, I would like to do something like that. And one summer a position was open for a slot, and I just jumped right in, and that’s been it ever since. Working and doing this show on WHPK has been a real unexpected joy for me. Can you talk a bit about how you decide what music to play?
It’s “Stuff From My Collection.” That’s it, it’s my collection. I have a huge collection. I never repeated myself or played a recording twice, because I have that many recordings, and I can look and see what I’ve got and what haven’t I
titudes of the black community, [showing] someone who had gone beyond what society told him he could be. The other thing, too, was that you’ve never seen a black classical musician in a movie at that period; you don’t even see it today!
“Listening to the Fifth Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams is like staring at a cow for forty-five minutes.” played yet. And I like to play extremes: I will contrast Mozart with Schoenberg. Things like that to play around with the programming, to give people a sense of what’s out there. I always want to do something different with my show. I don’t want to do the obvious stuff, I’ve never played Beethoven’s Fifth, I’ve never played Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony. What I’m really interested in is giving people a broad view of what classical music is, which is why I’ve done everything from baroque to really 21st-century stuff. Just yesterday, I broadcast John Adams, his new work Gospel According to the Other Mary. [I play] everything, from one extreme to the other and everything in between. And I hope that, if you didn’t like this, maybe I got something else coming up, or something next week that you’ll like. I gotta play something you like.
And Clarence Muse, who almost always played slaves and degrading roles, came up with the idea for this picture, which was made independently and was considered a “race film.” He was basically trying to play a character that he would never be allowed to play in a Hollywood film. It’s fascinating, the film deals with
a conflict between classical music and more popular black forms of music such as jazz and swing, and the final line was tremendous. It’s one of the greatest final lines of all time. But in that whole conflict, there’s that question, should we honor and appreciate what we are creating, or should we try to follow the past of what white people have been doing? It’s a very complex movie, much more complex than what people give it credit for. I don’t really consider myself a film critic anymore, I consider myself a film journalist. I don’t write reviews much anymore—I will do reviews on the radio show, but I find it’s much more interesting to write about the business and what’s going on than, “Gee, I like this movie, and this is why I think you should go see it.” Anybody can do that. But it’s really just what I’m interested in, since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in movies, seeing every film I could see, writing screenplays, even working as an assistant director years ago. It’s just part of who I am, I don’t try to stop and think, “Gee, why?” If I started to think about it, I would go crazy. ¬
Speaking of your programming, I was looking through your blog on IndieWire and noticed you programmed the film Broken Strings about a year ago down at the Black Cinema House. It’s about interactions of African-American culture with classical music of the era, right? Does your work as film critic often line up with your interest in classical music? Well, with Broken Strings, you have to think about how important that movie was at the time it came out. [The actor Clarence Muse] was playing a black man who was a classical violinist, and that was considered a very prestigious thing, somebody who actually made it. The movie, at the time, reflected the at-
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Gone Greystones The uncertain future of historic preservation in Hyde Park BY RACHEL SCHASTOK
he 5100 block of South Harper Avenue in Hyde Park has been growing emptier these last few months. On the northern end of the block, what was once the Village Shopping Center is now a vast empty stretch bounded by tall construction fencing. Across the street, a smaller pile of rubble marks the former site of three adjoined greystone houses. It’s hard to be devastated by the loss of the shopping center itself, an unglamorous suburban-style strip mall. But local preservationists are still struggling to make sense of the loss of the historic homes and determine whether changes can be made to align with their own goals. The greystones were demolished to make way for a truck-turning area and a small private parking lot for City Hyde Park, an ambitious new development at the corner of Harper and East Hyde Park Boulevard. The project, led by Antheus Capital and designed by Studio Gang architects, includes plans for a Whole Foods and a high-rise of apartment units (“a new rental community of elegant living,” as the project’s website puts it). To some, the demolition marks a potential turning point in Hyde Park’s relationship with development: a sign that companies like Antheus Capital will continue to build, with little regard for preservationists and neighbors. “Is this the start of a new relationship [of Antheus Capital] with Hyde Park, one that is based solely on cold calculations and the bottom line?” an editorial in the Hyde Park Herald asked bluntly last November. Meanwhile, Jack Spicer, preservation chair of the Hyde Park Historical Society, says the greystones are an especially significant loss because they were a “vestige” of an area of Hyde Park that has been all but “obliterated by urban renewal.” In July 2008, following Antheus’s purchase of the vacant homes, the Herald reported that the company wanted to restore them from a state of neglect and rat infestation in order to protect property values of the development planned across the street. Peter Cassel, a representative for Antheus, said then that the homes would likely be converted into nine rental apartments. However, in 12 SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY
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late 2013, Antheus, which owns a number of other properties in Hyde Park through MAC Property Management, announced that rehabilitation was not financially viable and that the homes would be demolished instead. he three homes have been witnesses to sweeping transformations from their perch near the corner of Hyde Park Blvd. and Harper. Their history begins in 1892, when they were constructed at what was then 5110-5114 S. Jefferson Ave. This places them in the earliest years of Chicago’s greystone boom; between roughly 1890 and 1930, thousands of these homes were built in neighborhoods on the city’s South, West, and Northwest Sides. In their early years, the homes were steps from the grand Hyde Park Hotel, and Hyde Park Blvd. was itself a lively commercial strip. Urban renewal projects made drastic changes to the neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s, and the hotel was sacrificed for the Village Shopping Center, whose own rubble is now the future site of City Hyde Park. The neighborhood has not forgotten the effects of urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s—the Hyde Park Historical Society maintains a “Razed Buildings Collection” in the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections, with hundreds of photographs showing structures that were demolished under the blight-elimination program. “Development in the 1950s and 1960s era of urban renewal took an insensitive, heavy-handed approach,” says Ward Miller, president of Preservation Chicago. “It’s created a polarizing effect and a loss of so much historical fabric.” Preservationists tend to view midcentury urban renewal as the poster-child for what Spicer calls “thoughtless” development, as contrasted with more “sensitive” procedures. And both Spicer and Miller mark the sacrifice of the greystones as an instance of the former. (Spicer calls Hyde Park’s latest wave of development “Urban Renewal 2.”) But if the neighborhood is now living out the sequel, there’s still disagreement about what the ending will be.
Conversations with local preservationists reveal a lack of the militant anti-developer attitude one might expect of them, though they still regret the loss of the homes. Miller, for one, is a self-declared “eternal optimist,” who sees the new wave of development in Hyde Park as a second chance for change, an opportunity to improve on the poor planning implemented during urban renewal. “I’m not trying to hamper development,” he says. Instead, he’s in favor of a rethinking of the neighborhood’s commercial districts, many of which he thinks were changed for the worse. Miller sums up the tension between preservationists and developers as competing answers to the same questions: “How can we grow a community holistically? What should be saved, and what should be rethought?”
reservationists delight in the great architectural variety to be found in greystones; the term refers not to a single architectural feature, but rather to their distinctive Indiana limestone facades. Quarrying operations in southern Indiana were in full swing by this time, exporting the native stone to Chicago and other cities. Limestone had a reputation as a particularly fireproof material, well-suited to replace buildings lost in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Greystone structures, then, are one way that memory of the city’s rebirth is kept alive. But there’s also the practical consideration: unlike some structures, greystones age well. Val Cavin is a community activist in North Lawndale, another part of Chicago’s greystone belt, who fights against the demolition of greystones in her neighborhood. She explains that greystones are “very solid.” Even if a greystone’s interior is in poor condition, she says, the limestone exterior can usually be restored. Given that, Ruth Knack, president of the Hyde Park Historical Society and a writer on urban planning, points out that the demolition of the greystones also carries environmental costs. “The developers of City Hyde Park talk about it as being green development. But the most green form of
development is preserving buildings that already exist.” Every building requires labor and resources, she says, and “old buildings embody the energy that went into constructing them.” In addition to their structural stability, greystones can also provide community stability. “Greystones are an anchor in neighborhoods that have been distressed. Historical preservation is, in general, a tool to maintain diversity,” Cavin said. Buildings worthy of preservation have often been owned by people who have lived in them for a long time.” In the face of gentrification and disinvestment pressures, the preservation of historic homes is a way to fight back, preventing long-term residents with strong personal investment in their community from being edged out. “If historical preservation is part of our development standards, we’ll get better outcomes,” maintains Miller. He and Preservation Chicago propose the creation of landmark districts to protect the neighborhood’s historic housing stock. Miller is quick to explain that landmark designation does not turn an area into a “museum piece,” in which homeowners lose all control of their property. The designation is limited to homes’ exteriors, not their interiors, and serves to create “living landmarks.” But the Harper greystones are now gone, and the question for preservationists and concerned residents is how to bring such considerations to the table now, going forward. “I don’t want to hang on the loss of three houses, Miller says. Ultimately, no one does—neither preservationists nor developers, though perhaps for different reasons. ¬
Students Speak Young Chicago Artists celebrates a book release BY SARAH CLAYPOOLE
efore the show, Walker Post crosses the presentation space with long strides, making sure everything is in order for his speech. Eventually he feels suitably prepared, and settles in by the food with the other high school students as they joke and visit with people they’ve met through the Division Street Speaks program, a journalistic training effort under the banner of Young Chicago Authors and the University of Chicago. As friends show up, the group expands to about a dozen. Despite the more formal space and presentation, this is easy, effortless. Post and the small crowd of his fellow young writers have gathered at the Washington Park Arts Incubator to celebrate the release of a book of assembled interviews, the result of a year’s work. As part of Division Street Speaks, these students have each undertaken a project emulating Studs Terkel’s 1967 oral history collection. They have walked up and down Chicago’s well-known Division Street, interviewing and recording the people they encountered along the way. In the process they’ve met hundreds of Chicagoans of all ages and creeds; traversing miles, they have interviewed anyone willing to talk, providing an impressive range of interviewed subjects. Saturday’s event at the Arts Incubator is a culmination of this project, broken down into a workshop, presentation, and panel. The workshop is friendly. Program instructors describe the journalistic process and ask attendees to describe their own experiences. The discussion lingers on social media as a platform, and a number of attendees are mentors from other Chicago high school programs, curious about Young Chicago Authors. The participants are put in dialogue with one another, named interviewer and interviewee. I speak with Mango, a lyricist from Hyde Park who’s at the event with a
Things Forgotten...Remembered Treasures hide all around us: in a shoebox beneath a childhood bed, in an attic’s dusty corner, in the pocket of a long-neglected coat. We often forget these mementos, leaving them to the company of mothballs and renegade socks. Joe Milosevich, however, in his exhibit “Things Forgotten...Remembered” at 33 Contemporary Gallery, unearths these tokens of bygone days by constructing elaborate sculptural assemblages that incorporate everything from plastic-barreled monkeys to discarded cuckoo clocks. He marries the kitsch with the surreal, and in so doing creates art that is both powerfully nostalgic and visually enthralling. Come to reminisce, to remember, or at least to assuage your guilt about that lonely teddy bear you lost somewhere along the way. 33 Contemporary Gallery, 1029 W. 35th St, First floor. Through May 10. Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; also by appointment. Free. (708)837-4534. 33collective.com (Emma Collins)
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friend. That friend is a painter who eventually moves to a prepared canvass against the window, and paints the neighborhood with warm colors and thick lines, silhouetted in the light of late afternoon. Mango and I discuss questions of artistic purpose—inspiration, qualification to speak as an artist—and our favorite neighborhood eateries (a shared interest in Rajun Cajun). The interview ended with two photographs: one casual, the other staged by the interviewer. The evening continued with a series of presentations, both from the students and local artists. Toward the end, two pairs of students described their personal journalistic pursuits. The first pair had attended a protest against CPS closings last spring. They described trying to get interviews in a tense environment, speaking to protestors before the arrests began. The next group had looked into mental health facilities closing into Chicago. Finally, the students assembled themselves into a panel. They discussed their favorite interviews, the methodology of learning how to obtain personal statements from near strangers, and the ways the program taught skills useful in their high school education. As they joked and jostled, the camaraderie was evident. An involved audience asked after their experience; replete with pictures, quotes, and audio from their interviews, they answered. ¬
Combining traditional wall-hangs with prints and digital media, the new exhibition “Fixation” going up at the Zhou B Art Center hopes to hone in on those (titular) titillations in our lives. Curators Sergio Gomez and Didi Menendez have tracked down twenty-four artists and seventeen poets to contribute to their obsessive project. “Fixation” intends to creep into each artist’s personal preoccupations. It seeks to tease out the ineradicable ideas and clingy concepts driving these artists to the canvas, pushing them to the paper. Resist the urge to suppress those elusive longings. Act on this blurb’s suggestion. Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St. Second floor gallery. Through May 11. Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. (773)523-0200. zhoubartcenter. com (Stephen Urchick)
The Art of Influence This fine art exhibition has been curated to feature works of art that—subtly, rather than blatantly—allude to criminal acts that often are accepted and go unpunished around the world, including “honor killing, child marriage, acid attacks, bride burning and more.” Immortalized in artwork, these acts—and the surprising absence of consequences for those who commit them—speak volumes. “The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Tradition” promises to amplify the content and spark discourse about the perversion and pervasiveness of unpunished crimes. Beverly Art Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Through May 18. Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, 1pm-4pm. (773)445-3838. beverlyartcenter.org (Katryce Lassle)
Model Pictures Artist Ross Sawyers built and subsequently photographed scale replicas of unfinished model homes, (in)complete with holes in the walls and plastic in the windows. The photographs presented in “Model Pictures,” his first major Chicago solo show, highlight current housing and economic crises by way of images of these unfinished and empty new houses. Haunting and uncanny, the model–model homes bridge the surreal and the (unfortunately) real. Unlike life-sized abandoned model homes, though, Sawyer’s models are swiftly destroyed after their insides are documented. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Through June 13. Monday-Thursday, 9am-8pm; Friday-Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday, noon5pm. (773)324-5520. hydeparkart.org (Katryce Lassle)
Imaging/Imagining One of three parts of the UofC’s “Imaging/Imagining” exhibition, the Smart Museum presents “Imaging/Imagining: The Body as Art.” Curated by UofC physicians, the exhibition explores anatomical representations as art. Selections from a wide range
of places and times come together in an exploration of anatomical accuracy and artistic imagination. Parts two and three are the Regenstein Library’s Special Collections show, “Imaging/Imagining: The Body as Text,” and Crerar Library’s show, “Imaging/Imagining: The Body as Data.” Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Through June 22. Tuesday-Wednesday, 10am-5pm; Thursday, 10am8pm; Friday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. (773)702-0200. smartmuseum.uchicago.edu (Katryce Lassle)
Round Trip Ticket Ugly Step Sister Art Gallery presents a two-part exhibition featuring works by Kieran McGonnell. McGonnell’s work has taken the art world by storm, gaining an underground following in Chicago, New York, Ireland, and the further reaches of the galaxy. Three years ago, the artist’s life was cut tragically short. Ugly Step Sister Art Gallery has curated a three-month-long retrospective of the late artist’s works: the current installment features his early paintings, while the next will showcase his later and more widely known works. “Round Trip Ticket” highlights McGonnell’s signature use of serious subjects, oil and watercolor, and vibrant use of color, in an attempt to preserve his legacy. See review on page 19. Ugly Step Sister Art Gallery. 1750 S. Union Ave. Through July 6. Saturday-Sunday, noon-6pm. Other hours by appointment. Second installment opening reception Friday, May 9, 6pm-10pm. (312)927-7546. uglystepsisterartgallery.com (Mark Hassenfratz)
f(H2T) from Here to There Art tends to dwell implicitly on the spaces between concepts. NON:op art collective examines that unspoken liminality in its new exhibit, “f(H2T) from Here to There.” Exploring themes such as the gap between worldly suffering and spiritual enlightenment and the spaces between cultural divides, the project will be staged at the Bridgeport Art Center. Choreographers, videographers, composers, and other artists will transform what used to be a holding area for objects in between uses to a space for exploring in-between thoughts. Audiences will be given a map and encouraged to rediscover. Come slip betwixt the waking world and world of dreams. Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th Street. Through 26. Thursday, 8pm; Friday and Saturday, 8pm and 10pm. $15 students and seniors, $20 general. (773)247-3000. bridgeportart.com (Hanna Petroski)
speculationscapes During May and June, Jekyll&Hyde in Hyde Park will host “speculationscapes,” a group show focused on critical inquiry about the world in which we live. The exhibition will explore landscape, seascape, and cityscape as the media for intellectual scrutiny by bringing together the architectural expertise and creative vision of a talented group of artists. “speculationscapes” inquires about the role of high-density human impact, relationships between machines and their makers, and light events such as the existence of widespread laser beams in landscapes. Featured pieces will include dark spaces paired with food coloring and leafless flowering stems. “speculationscapes” promises to deliver a unique and speculative approach to the surroundings we inhabit. Jekyll&Hyde, 1227 E. 54th St. May 10 through June 7. Opening reception May 10, 5-7pm. Gallery open by appointment. (773)691-9541. jekyllhydepark.tumblr. com (Arda Sener)
STAGE & SCREEN
The Last Kamikazis of Heavy Metal Metal bands come in a lot of shapes and sizes. While the scene today is full of bands that focus on creating oppressive walls of crushing sound, Hessler—the focus of the documentary The Last Kamikazis of Heavy Metal—seems to beckon to a bygone era. Steeped in the tradition of glam metal and hard
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rock, their music has a powerful female vocalist, crunchy, driving, upbeat riffs, and captivating dual guitar work. If you’re not sure whether this metal documentary is for you, consider this band’s a) egotistical guitarist and founder Izg Kincaid, b) energetic (cheesy) metal-band showmanship, and c) friendship-affirming resolution that its members realize how truly important they are to one another and to the larger project for which they have all dedicated a vital period of their lives. Q& A to follow with band members and co-directors, UofC alumnae Biliana and Marina Grozdanova. Logan Theater 1, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. Friday, May 2, 11:05pm. $10. Part of CIMMFest 2014. (773)3425555. thelogantheatre.com ( James Kogan)
Killer of Sheep
Killer of Sheep offers a glimpse into life in the black community living in the Los Angeles’s Watts neighborhood in the 1970s. The film, made in 1977, is presented as a series of events in the life of Stan, a working-class man struggling to escape a feeling of hopelessness that stems from his monotonous job and precarious financial situation. Although the film doesn’t follow a traditional narrative, its incredibly honest portrayal of one man’s life through all of its ups and downs provides new insight into an underrepresented community. The film was never widely released, but its reputation grew until it was chosen by the National Society of Film Critics as one of their “100 Essential Films,” selected also by the Library of Congress for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry. Black Cinema House, 6901 S. Dorchester Ave. Sunday, May 4, 4pm. Free. RSVP requested. blackcinemahouse.org (Eleonora Edreva)
It may be nearly impossible to single out the most important political event of 1968, but the Chicago Democratic Convention has left a distinct historical mark. Medium Cool documents the Convention from street level. Inspired by the style of Studs Terkel’s Division Street, the film sets out to involve everyday Chicagoans in the unfolding action, from the most caustic of the Convention’s protesters to most average passersby. The screening, sponsored by the Studs Terkel Festival and UofC’s Film Studies Center, will conclude with a discussion with Director Haskell Wexler and special guests. Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Friday, May 9, 4pm. (773)702-2997. arts.uchicago.edu (Meaghan Murphy)
A collaboration between artists Jiyoung Yoon and Andy Kincaid. See full review on page 9. ACRE Projects, 1913 W. 17th St. Through May 12. Sunday-Monday, noon-4pm. Free. acreresidency.org ( Jake Bittle)
season. An arresting reimagining of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly through a post-colonial lens, Hwang’s play chronicles the affair between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and the male Chinese opera singer Shi Pei Pu. Under the direction of Charles Newell at Court, M. Butterfly takes an aggressive look at sex, espionage, and imperialism. Hwang is a masterful and adventurous playwright and he offers a deconstruction of his source material’s Orientalist angle that is both playfully imaginative and downright powerful. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. May 8-June 8. See website for show times. $15-$35. (773)702-7005. courttheatre.org (Shanice Casimiro and Meaghan Murphy)
Redmoon Building on its own tradition of Spectacle theater, Redmoon presents its 2014 show, “Bellboys, Bears and Baggage.” Taking the show indoors this time, Redmoon will transform its massive Pilsen warehouse into a dazzling theatrical world filled with image, dance, music, and one-of-a-kind “encounter scenes.” Conceived by Executive Art Director Jim Lasko and Blake Montgomery, the Spectacle lets audiences wander through the space throughout the night, caught up in Redmoon’s world of revelry and absurdity. Based loosely off of elements in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, the experience is sparked by that famously enigmatic stage direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear.” Redmoon Theater, 2120 S. Jefferson St. May 18-June 8. Thursday, 7pm-9pm; Friday-Saturday, 7pm-11pm; Sunday, 6pm-8pm. Audiences enter every half hour. $15-$30. (312)8508440. redmoon.org (Meaghan Murphy)
Let’s Get Working Studs Terkel, Chicago’s greatest listener, is getting a three-day festival at the UofC—just a few blocks away from its Law School where, he once said in an interview, he spent “the most bleak yet fascinating” years of his life. Terkel, who passed away in 2008 at age ninety-six, was born in New York but spent most of his life giving voice to the lives of ordinary Chicagoans. Instead of practicing law, he worked in radio, where he developed a candid style of interviewing that he would use in oral histories like Division Street, which chronicled 1960s Chicago, and Working, in which—as the book ’s subtitle declares—“People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do.” A celebration of Terkel’s life and legacy, the festival will include film screenings, panel discussions, musical performances, and art installations. Confirmed guests include NPR host Ira Glass and journalist Alex Kotlowitz. Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. May 9-11. (773)702-2787. studs.uchicago.edu (Harrison Smith)
“And Jacob was left alone, in his luxurious high-rise in downtown Chicago.” Timothy Gregory, actor, director, playwright, founding artistic director of Provision Theater, and host of HGTV’s New Spaces, has wondered what every Chicagoan-with-a-luxurious-high-rise wonders to themselves when looking from their sweeping windows at the bustling loop below: what if I were to wrestle with an angel until the breaking of the day? From this, he brings to us Jacob, a new production at Provision Theater that brings Genesis’ tale of Jacob wrestling the angel to a modern Chicago. Therefore, to this day, the people of Chicago do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, even when piled beneath dripping peppers in Italian beef sandwiches. Provision Theater, 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd. May 7–June 15. (312)4550065. provisiontheater.org (Isabel Ochoa Gold)
M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang’s Tony Award-winning play, M. Butterfly hits the Court Theatre to close out the
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Cyrus Chesnut Trio
Piano virtuoso and jazz visionary Cyrus Chesnut brings his trio to the Jazz Showcase for a weekend of performances starting this Thursday. Chesnut, a graduate of both the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University and Boston’s Berklee School of Music, has played with a number of greats, including Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Isaac Hayes, and Dizzy Gillespie. Known for a highly regarded use of space in his improvisation, he takes a multigenre and often eclectic approach to jazz, working from strong blues and gospel roots. His debut album Revelation (1994) was critically acclaimed, while his 2001 album, Soul Food rose to the Top 10 in the jazz charts. Driven by a deep appreciation for music in many forms, Chesnut promises to put on a unique and passionate performance, framed by a devotion to superior musicianship and style. Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct. May 1-4. 8pm and
10pm. $25 GA; $45 VIP. 312-360-0234. jazzshowcase.com. ( Jack Nuelle).
Dance Gavin Dance Springing out of Sacramento in 2005, Dance Gavin Dance has gained a large following in Chicago and across the country. The band was formed out of the break-ups of several other bands such as Farewell Unknown and Ghost Runner on Third, and takes a multi-genre approach to music. Although technically classified as post-hardcore, the band has managed to successfully incorporate elements of funk, screamo, soul and other genres into their experimental sound. Ragged screams mingle with upbeat bass riffs and snappy drumming in a wickedly fun amalgam. You can see them perform as well as ask who Gavin is, and why they want him to dance, at Reggies on May 9th during the meetand-greet after the show. Hot dogs and pop will be served. Reggies, 2105 S. State St. May 9. 2pm. Free. (312)949-0120. reggieslive.com. (Mark Hassenfratz)
Ashanti Early 2000s R&B hit-machine Ashanti is back for an intimate performance and meet and greet at the Shrine. Born Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas in 1980, her early career consisted mainly of duets and small acting roles, including a collaboration with Mary J. Blige and bit roles in several Spike Lee films and the Disney T.V. movie Polly. After a tumultuous trip through several bad record contracts, Ashanti was finally picked up by Irv Gotti’s Murder Inc. Records in 2002. Here she released her platinum-selling self-titled debut, which included the smash hit “Foolish,” freshly minted for the new millennium. Her sophomore effort Chapter II also went platinum and hoisted single “Rock Wit Me (Aww Baby)” to number 2 on the Billboard charts. In 2005 Ashanti made her major acting debut in the Samuel L. Jackson led Coach Carter, and in 2006 starred in comedy John Tucker Must Die. Ashanti’s 5th studio album BraveHeart was released on February 18. The Shrine, 2109 S. Wabash Ave. Friday, May 16. Doors open 9pm. $30; $75 with meet and greet. 21+. (312)753-5700. theshrinechicago.com ( Jack Nuelle)
CyHi the Prynce
Hailing from Georgia, CyHi the Prynce is a hiphop artist who is currently signed to Kanye West’s record label, G.O.O.D. Music, as well as Def Jam Recordings, Akon’s Konvict Muzik, and Bu Thiam’s BuVision. CyHi first appeared on the hip hop scene in 2010 after being signed to G.O.O.D. Music and making an appearance on West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that same year. Since then he has self-released five mixtapes, been included on G.O.O.D. Music’s compilation album in collaboration with Kid Cudi and John Legend, and received writing credits for West’s Yeezus (2013). His latest mixtape, Black Hystori Project (2014), was released this past February and is described as a “conscious hip hop concept album focusing on the history of black people in America.” It also happens to be a great showcase for this gifted storyteller. The Shrine, 2109 S.Wabash Ave. Friday, June 13. Doors open 9pm. $30; $300 for VIP table. 21+ (312)753-5700. theshrinechicago.com/shows. php. (Shelby Gonzales)
Without Black Flag, punk rock would not exist. Well, that’s not totally true, but it would be a lot lamer if they didn’t. The band is nothing short of revolutionary when itcomes to the creation of hardcore punk, mixing elements of heavy metal into theirviolent, clangy, anti-authoritarian noise sound. They are also innovators of the punk DIY aesthetic, which they applied to their famous underground recording. Formed by Greg Ginn in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California, Black Flag have earned themselves a substantial cult following form constant touring in the US, Canada, and Europe. Unlike many punk bands, they managed to break away from the standard three-chord format of punk rock, creating a stylistically diverse discography. And, true to their punk nature, they’re still rockin’. You’ll mosh your pants off to Black Flag at Reggie’s on their VITIMOLOGY TOUR. Highly recommended to those who are brought down by the establishment. Reggie’s, 2105 S. State St. June 17. 7pm. $20-25. 17+. (312)949-1020 reggieslive.com/ show/black-flag-3 (Mark Hassenfratz)
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 Andrew Fialkowski and Dylan West Artist / Album / Record Label 1. ONO / Diegesis / Moniker 2. Death / III [Reissue] / Drag City 3. Quilt / Held in Splendor / Mexican Summer 4. Bitch Prefect / Bird Nerds / Bedroom Suck 5. Protomartyr / Under Color of Official Right / Hardly Art 6. Voight-Kampff / Voight-Kampff / Deranged 7. Eyehategod / s/t / Housecore 8. Richard Album & the Singles / DS009: Richard Album & the Singles / Public House 9. Thou / Heathen / Gilead 10. Habibi / Habibi / Burger 11. Pontiak / INNOCENCE / Thrill Jockey 12. Various Artists / Killed By Deathrock Vol. 1 / Sacred Bones 13. Coppice / Vantage/Cordoned / caduc. 14. Stoneburner / Life Drawing / Neurot 15. Frankie Cosmos / Zentropy / Double Double Whammy
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