Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

A little over a year ago I was doing my coachly duty at a high school speech tournament when a fellow coach announced that she wanted the pull tabs from our empty soda cans. She said she was saving them for a woman who could turn them in to get cancer treatment. It sounded like […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rendering Artists Their Due

ARCHITECTURE IN PERSPECTIVE VI at Gwenda Jay Gallery Advertisement, political propaganda, and fashion and theater illustration–all these graphic arts, once considered well beyond the pale of fine art, now summon keen interest from collectors, historians, and exhibitors. This spring the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is devoting an entire exhibit to contemporary shoe design. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The City File

Gee, I still can’t get it into first gear. Letters we never finished: “Dear Editor, Enclosed please find a column on bringing life back to an old car by adding new loudspeakers.” “She is a very appealing candidate: non-threatening and articulate and well-versed in the ways of the white world, but she still has the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

A Bird Out of Water

A BIRD OUT OF WATER Society for New Things At first I felt sorry for the actors in Tom Rossen’s A Bird Out of Water–stuck in this play for two hours, having to say things like “Damn it Joe! Don’t talk about my sister that way!” and “There’s so much suffering out there I can’t […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Comrades & Lovers

COMRADES & LOVERS Bailiwick Repertory If ever a poet confessed his sexuality in his verse, it was Walt Whitman. His poems and letters to the soldiers he cared for during the Civil War are heartbreaking testaments to a more than comradely affection. And the steamy “Calamus” section of Leaves of Grass gave homoeroticism a vigor […]

Posted inMusic

Lunar Music

CONTEMPORARY CHAMBER PLAYERS at Mandel Hall April 24, 1992 In John Eaton’s Notes on Moonlight, the moon is both a harsh and coy mistress. The song cycle, premiered by the Contemporary Chamber Players in their annual Paul Fromm concert, presents a series of lunar images from five poets’ sometimes worshipful, sometimes ambivalent musings. Scored for […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Secrets of the Orient

M. BUTTERFLY Wisdom Bridge Theatre When I saw M. Butterfly on Broadway in 1988, I was dazzled by the epical proportions of the design and performances. The sprawling stage was outfitted with a long, winding ramp and decorated with all manner of screens and drapes to evoke the story’s Chinese setting. The cast, headed by […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Edward II

My candidate for the best Derek Jarman movie to date is this politically potent and deliberately shocking and anachronistic adaptation of the Christopher Marlowe play that rethinks it in terms of contemporary English homophobia and just about everything else that might be summed up as the Thatcher-Reagan legacy. Shooting his spare settings in crisp 35-millimeter […]

Posted inFilm

A Midnight Clear

Writer-director Keith Gordon sustains rather than fulfills the interesting promise of his first feature (The Chocolate War, 1988) in another taut novel adaptation that shows the influence of Stanley Kubrick. The novel this time is by William Wharton, who also wrote the source novels for Birdy and Dad; it’s a semiautobiographical account of the members […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Field & Street

Sixteen hundred black-crowned night herons have come to nest in the marshes around Lake Calumet. I helped count them on a bitterly cold evening two weeks ago. The total more than doubles the previous high count recorded for this species in a single day anywhere in the Chicago area. The clouds of herons provide a […]

Posted inArts & Culture


ERNST/WATSON/DANCE at the Dancespace Performance Center May 1 and 2 The dances of Christina Ernst and Sam Watson are collaborations on many levels. Not only do they choreograph many of their dances together, but their movement style fluidly combines the jazz- and modern-dance idioms. Their dances tread a delicate line between a throwaway lightheartedness and […]