Posted inArts & Culture

Not From Around Here

THE SHAME-MAN, EL MEXI-CANT & EL CYBER-VATO COME TO CHICAGO IN SEARCH OF THEIR LOST SELVES (OR THE IDENTITY TOUR) Guillermo Gomez-Pena, James Luna, and Roberto Sifuentes at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, April 29 and 30 A young man known in current parlance as a cholo, wearing a red bandanna around his forehead, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Tribune on the Cutting Edge

Dear Reader: I found the Reader’s article about Ken Parish Perkins [Hot Type, April 15] quite interesting because although I had known nothing about him, his name had left a lasting impression after I read his review of Middlemarch: “While I have yet to read it [the book]–somebody’s gotta watch these shows, you know–it couldn’t […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Opera Factory

The zarzuela, a folk opera still wildly popular in Spanish-speaking countries, hit a new height in craftsmanship a century ago when Tomas Breton’s La verbena de la paloma premiered in Madrid. Never mind the slight plot; the music is delightful and fiery and the lyrics are amusingly sardonic. It’s easily the most familiar of all […]

Posted inNews & Politics

End of the Line

He got on the Ravenswood el at Armitage–an elderly, birdlike man, smartly dressed, with an impeccable white goatee. He took the seat next to mine and fussed for a few moments with his worn leather briefcase. I didn’t pay him much attention. He seemed normal enough. He looked like a music teacher, or a curator […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Stuart Moxham

In 1979, as the principal songwriter and instrumentalist for the Welsh minimalist pop trio Young Marble Giants, Stuart Moxham was the architect of a sound that still influences pop. Like punk rock, the Giants’ music was a stripped-down alternative to the bloated flab that dominated the 70s: a couple of instruments playing simple parts over […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Public

THE PUBLIC StreetSigns Chopin Theatre/At the Gallery A nude draped in red lies on a bed upended like a gravestone and recites the last words of Christ. Juliet awakens in her tomb and questions the purpose of her recent adventures. A chorus of white horses mock her notion of love and threaten to assault her, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

I Married a Munchkin

For three decades local filmmaker Tom Palazzolo has shown a remarkable knack for placing the rituals and personages of working-class America into startlingly revelatory and quirky perspective. The subject of his latest documentary portrait is Mary Ellen St. Alban, a midget actress with a glamorous past. She started out in vaudeville as a toddler and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Reel Life: a look at not looking

When Ya-shan Kua arrived from Taiwan last year, she was warned not to look at anyone when riding the el. More intrigued than intimidated by this local tactic of defensive isolation, Kua made From To, a five-minute, 16-millimeter black-and-white reverie on transit. She cast an estranged everyman and filmed him in solo journeys on the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

He’s back: George Schmidt, the perennial outsider, runs again for teachers’ union president

Just about everybody on the outside–business leaders, school officials, reformers, politicians, journalists–wants incumbent Tom Reece to win the May 20 election for president of the Chicago Teachers Union. But the opinion of the people who’ll actually vote–the teachers themselves–isn’t so clear. Reece’s challenger is George Schmidt, a high school English teacher and longtime union maverick. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Damon Short Quintet

Chicago can boast some terrific percussionists these days, and you ought to count Damon Short among them–not only for his drumming, but also for his wide-ranging, highly personal skills as a composer. Short’s drumming percolates up from the swing beat of his father’s record collection, from the chunky street rhythms he absorbed while living in […]

Posted inMusic

Four Guitars

MINNEAPOLIS GUITAR QUARTET at Unity Temple, April 30 For every minute spent performing onstage, the average musician must spend hundreds of hours working alone. Mother may stand over the youthful musician-in-training to enforce the discipline of daily practice, but she can’t press the keys or strings, provide the breath for the embouchure, or memorize words; […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The AIDS of Innocents

PATIENT A Elmore Pond Players at Cafe Voltaire PUSHIN’ UP ROSES Nomenil at Cafe Voltaire I hated Kimberly Bergalis. Her 15 minutes of infamy came in 1991 when the discovery that her dentist had infected her with HIV turned her into the poster child for the Hysterical Overreaction Society. Of course Bergalis and I never […]