Fringe Focus

Re: “Finally, a Fringe Festival: Is this what America’s best theater town’s been missing? Sarah Mikayla Brown and Vinnie Lacey think so” by Deanna Isaacs, August 26

While I am pleased that Chicago is going for this, the focus is off the mark. Chicago is a fringe CITY, that’s what makes us unique to a city like New York where, while there is much fringe theater to be had, the focus is on big-budget spectacle work with more of a wow factor than risk. The artists who gravitate to Chicago over New York or the West Coast are drawn here for the fringey type environment it offers with less focus on vanity. To have a Fringe Fest in Chicago where, I might add, few staple Chicago fringe companies aren’t even so much as mentioned and performance venues are restricted to the uber trendy Pilsen ‘hood, is polarizing and disingenuous to a festival implying a celebration of offbeat work in Chicago. This is the first year, I know, and God knows this is one hell of an endeavor that went from submission to production relatively quickly. I don’t mean to poo-poo it, but as a member of a fringey local company, I would love to see CFF reach out more to the Chicago fringe community in the future as it already exists. Celebrate THAT, and foray such a celebration into an open invitation to bring in new work that we would love to see join the existing fringe community in Chicago. Otherwise, what’s the perk to coming here? If you want visiting artists to truly benefit from bringing their work here, look to unite them with local foster companies who are a good fit and venue to showcase their pieces, not to mention come with a built in marketing for specific participants to a local audience. This might mean reviewing submissions rather than pulling them out of a hat, but at least in the end you’ve attempted to enrich the fringe community at large and provide these hopeful artists with a guaranteed connection rather than just a possible eclipse with interest. —megan m.

And Here We Thought We Were Ripping Off the Wire

Re: “Where in the World Is Sam Prekop? With a radical left turn of a solo album on the way, the Sea and Cake front man draws nine Xs on his musical map” by Jessica Hopper, August 26

I enjoyed reading Jessica Hopper’s Q&A with Sam Prekop in the Chicago Reader. His answers to her musical cues reaffirmed once again what a bright and funny musician he has always been. The concept of playing artists different recordings—without telling them the name of the recording prior to their guessing—and then getting them to open up about those recordings struck me as somewhat familiar, to say the least. It’s exactly the same idea as the Blindfold Test that has run in DownBeat for around 60 years. In fact, the formatting on the page (name of song up top, followed by song’s artist’s name, then the album’s name) that Hopper and the Reader use for the Prekop Q&A pretty much duplicates the way DownBeat has done it for decades. You can see for yourself in the current issue on newsstands everywhere and in our book, DownBeat—The Great Jazz Interviews (Hal Leonard), published last year as part of our 75th anniversary.

While we don’t claim ownership of the Blindfold Test concept, acknowledgement in an influential newspaper like the Reader would’ve been a nice thing. —Aaron Cohen

Spotted: Mark E. Smith at the Berwyn YMCA

Re: “Is That Mark E. Smith on Your Trapezius?” by Cliff Doerksen on the blog, August 25

Deltoid. —MrJM

Ahem. Left arm all together. Unless his head’s on backwards, all Exorcist-style. —Grendix

Has M.E.S. looked that old for ten years? Yeah, probably so. —DFairbanks

Since I am the owner of the above tattoo, I think it’s important to correct or reiterate a few corrections: 1) it’s the anterior deltoid, 2) it’s the left arm and I haven’t used my exorcist/head-spinning talents for some time now, 3) the tattoo is around 10 weeks old, not 10 years, and it was illustrated by the talented Patrick Cornolo, and 4) I don’t really fit the hipster profile for several reasons, one of which is because I’m probably older and less hip than Mr. Doerksen, whom I really do appreciate even if what little free time I have is now occupied responding to people about these trivial issues. But if MES brings some credibility to the otherwise barren Berwyn-Cicero area, then so be it. And my Brix tattoo is private! —Alan H

The Problem With Ticketmaster

Re “Ticketmaster’s Non-Solution to Its Service Fee Problem” by Miles Raymer on the blog, August 23

“We get it—you don’t like service fees. You don’t like them mostly because you don’t understand what the heck they are for.”

He’s absolutely correct.

We don’t understand why in an online system processing (I can’t bring myself to type “convenience”) charge is based on the ticket price.

I see Ticketmaster’s service as providing me with that little piece of paper that gets me into the concert. I don’t see how the cost of making that ticket in any way relates to the door fee that the artist & venue have agreed upon.

It’s as if Amazon charged me $20 to ship a book with 500 pages because it was a rare book that cost $50, while a $5 book that was also 500 pages only cost $1 to ship.

The cost of shipment is based on weight, and should be the same. —skeptic