Posted inOn Culture

Starship Chicago II has landed

Here’s a question: How many elements can you strip from an iconic building before it loses its identity? Could you pull the clocks off State Street’s flagship Marshall Field Building? Slice the big Tiffany dome from the Chicago Cultural Center? Cut the X braces from the Hancock? How about tearing the Trump sign off Trump […]

Posted inOn Politics

Lemming city

Quick—name Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first chief of staff! You probably can’t—unless your name is Mick Dumke. I mention Mick (a Block Club Chicago editor and my former writing partner here at the Reader) because he actually knew the answer when I asked him about it the other day. Then he sort of apologized, apparently a […]

Posted inOn Culture

The father, the son, and the archivist

There’s a nicely curated selection of Art Shay’s photography up through May 27 at Gallery Victor. It includes a lot of familiar images—Marlon Brando kissing his dog, Hugh Hefner with typewriter and playmates in his bedroom office, and, of course, Simone de Beauvoir’s bare bum. Iconic photos of entertainers, athletes, and politicians share the wall […]

Posted inStaff notes

Little treat season

In my household, we’re currently celebrating “little treat” season. It occurs every year just as Chicago is shaking off the winter weather; on days when it’s extra sunny or unseasonably warm, my partner and I allow ourselves to go out and get a little treat. Now, “little treat” can mean anything from a shared iced […]

Posted inOn Culture

Food, glorious food!

Chicago Opera Theater is trying out a new opera at the Athenaeum next week. Titled The Cook-Off, it’s about a televised contest in which three young chefs face off over the same meal. The exotic dish they’ll be cooking? Mac and cheese—the mainstay of American tables during the Great Depression. It’s an apt choice at […]

Posted inOn Politics

Karen’s plan

At the risk of making you think I’m weirder than you may already think I am . . . Sometimes when walking alone late at night, I talk to friends and family who have died. Been doing it for a couple of years now. Going back to the pandemic when the streets were so deserted […]

Posted inOn Culture

At NEIU: a painful lesson in mission creep

A welcoming committee armed with signs and slogans gathered outside Northeastern Illinois University’s iconic El Centro building last Thursday, an hour before the university Board of Trustees was scheduled to meet there. “UNIVERSITIES ARE NOT BUSINESSES,” one sign read. “How much money have you spent hiring outside people to fire our own?” asked another. Buoyed […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

The city in bloom

I have a personal tradition each vernal equinox of posting on social media some recorded version of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” (This year I opted for Sarah Vaughan.) But the truth is, it’s hard to feel hung up when I look over this week’s spring theater and arts preview issue. (Feeling […]

Posted inOn Culture

Spring awakening

Never mind those icy patches on the sidewalk: spring is here, bringing with it our seasonal theater and arts preview issue. Accordingly, while the global banking system teeters, Xi and Vlad (nukes in their back pockets) rendezvous, and Trump seems poised to take the first-ever presidential perp walk, the issue I’m stewing about is this: […]

Posted inOn Politics

Mr. Self-Promotion

As one of the old guys still standing from the Daley days of yore, I suppose it’s up to me to tell the rest of you a thing or two about Paul Vallas, the man Chicago seems eager to elect as its mayor. Back in the 90s, Vallas was Mayor Daley’s hand-picked boss of the […]

Posted inOn Culture

Hello, Dalí

I was a reporter at the St. Petersburg Times in 1980, when St. Pete got the idea of turning itself into Salvador Dalíwood. Not everyone was on board: on the one hand, there were grumbles about Dalí’s apparent tolerance for fascism (including a cozy long-term relationship with Franco), and on the other, sneering art-world objections […]

Posted inOn Politics

The Tunney-Vallas Alliance

I realize we’re in the silly season of the mayoral race, as candidates bombard us with propaganda we know we shouldn’t believe. But the recent commercial in which Alderperson Tom Tunney praises mayoral candidate Paul Vallas for being on the front lines in the fights for LGBTQ+ and abortion rights is particularly misleading even by […]

Posted inOn Politics

The Vallas surge

Back in our country’s less enlightened days that have, of course, long since passed (ha, ha, ha), there was a concept in boxing called the “great white hope.” That was a white boxer (any white boxer) who was viewed as the defender of the race’s wounded pride and honor when he fought a Black boxer […]