Bad Rap at the Trib

In December 1992, during police protests over an Ice-T appearance at the Vic, the Tribune printed a page-one photo caption stating that the song “Cop Killer” “advocate[d] the slaying of police”–a sexy claim undermined only by its inaccuracy. Last week in a report datelined Washington on Carol Moseley-Braun’s gangsta rap hearings, Trib staffer Linda Harrington wrote about the “menacing words” of sometime rapper Sister Souljah, who had told “blacks to stop killing each other and kill white people.” Actually, Souljah, in a now-infamous spring 1992 Washington Post interview, was merely making a pained and sarcastic commentary on the Rodney King riots. (As I wrote at the time, her words were comparable to Mayor Daley’s sardonic remarks about the Bulls championship-night looting: “You have to understand–when you’re celebrating in America, what you do is break a window and grab something.”) Is it just me, or are such casual and prominent falsehoods beginning to constitute a pattern of racial demonization in the pages of what is supposed to be a sophisticated and enlightened big-city daily?

Fox 32: The Slacker Channel

Connoisseurs of the mass media’s attempts to plug into youth culture love Amy Scott, Fox 32’s flannel-shirted spelunker in the twisted caverns of the Generation X sensibility. The following is a transcript of a recent “What’s the Buzz?” segment.

Scene. Michigan Avenue. Scott interviews passers-by about new movies

Interviewee: Naked? Sounds good. What’s the rating on that?

Scott: I think it’s–uh–it’s a Generation X film, actually. It’s one of those slacker films.

Interviewee: Oh, cool.

[Cut to studio. Scott chats with anchor Robin Robinson]

Robinson: I like to watch “The Buzz” because I learn some new words sometimes. You said it’s a “slaykert” film?

Scott: No, “slacker.”

Robinson: “Slacker”?

Scott: That’s like a–

Robinson: Not like “slasher,” but “slacker.”

Scott: No, no, “slacker.” That’s like somebody who slacks off, like who’s like wasting their life away.

Robinson: Oh, so one of those “Generation X” terms.

Scott: Yeah, one of those “Gen X” terms, Robin.

Robinson: OK, well, no slackers around here. Walter?

[Exeunt, pursued by a bear]

Walter Jacobson: Certainly not. I’m not a slacker. You guys aren’t slackers. We’re getting ready for tomorrow. And for all the overnight news, you can watch it tomorrow, on Good Day Chicago, starting at six…


Pumpkins/Urge/Phair Update

Seven, nine, and ten months after their respective releases, the Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, Urge Overkill’s Saturation, and Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville haven’t yet topped out in sales. Virgin Records says Siamese Dream will reach the double platinum mark, for two million copies sold, next week. The record debuted at number 9 on the Billboard 200 album chart last August, dropped to number 20 the next week, and has stayed within a couple of numbers of that ever since. With “Disarm” getting heavy support from MTV and radio across the country, the band’s short college tour this spring, and their coheadlining status (with Nirvana) on Lollapalooza this summer, the Pumpkins may soon boast one of the largest selling records ever by a Chicago rock band.

Meanwhile, Saturation, which dropped off the lower reaches of the album chart three months ago, may yet experience a rare second life. In the last few weeks a number of important radio stations–including LA powerhouse KROQ (“K-Rock”) and Chicago’s Q101–have revivified “Positive Bleeding,” the record’s second single. These key “adds” have prompted MTV to put the accompanying video into rotation. Geffen reports that Saturation has sold more than 200,000 albums and shipped close to 300,000. The band opens for Pearl Jam Thursday and then begins a three-month North American tour.

And finally, Matador Records reports that Exile in Guyville has sold approximately 178,000 copies, an extremely impressive number for an independent release. In the meantime, Phair has chosen one of the major labels tussling for her signature: Atlantic. The once-proud label was suffering from a sour industry rep until former Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg became president last year. Atlantic and Matador have jointly signed Phair to a “long-term, worldwide agreement,” the company says. Back in Chicago, interruptions at Wicker Park’s Idful Studios recently grew so distracting that Phair and her band had to get out of town to concentrate on recording. Their destination? Bermuda.


In last week’s column dumb Hitsville said PJ Harvey’s Dry when he meant PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me….WXRT’s Canned Film Fest, starting at 1 PM Sunday at Pipers Alley, offers the rare opportunity to see The Last Waltz on the big screen. It shows at 6:15. Single-movie admission is $3 and one can of nonperishable food, to go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. (There’s a complete list of the movies in Showtimes in Section 2.)…No word yet on the rescheduling of the Chicago Music Awards, originally set for next Thursday and apparently discombobulated by the Pearl Jam show. “It’s no big deal,” says Metro’s Joe Shanahan. “We just don’t have a firm date yet.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Jon Randolph.