Posted inArts & Culture

Nature Kids

Anew group of independent filmmakers calling themselves X-Film Chicago initiates “Barbarians at the Gate,” a biweekly series of experimental film screenings, with this nine-film program of unusually high quality. In New Moon Donna Cameron combines cutouts from newspapers with simple line drawings and TV images. Avoiding postmodernism’s familiar ironic approach, the film presents close-ups of […]

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Group Efforts: gods in peril

Gwen Lux was 20 years old when she brought the gods to Michigan Avenue. It was 1929, and Lux and her husband Eugene had been commissioned to create sculpture for a 16-story skyscraper going up at 520 N. Michigan. The building’s architects, Frederick J. Thielbar and John Reed Fugard, wanted embellishment that would complement the […]

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Guided By Voices

Prior to witnessing their remarkable live energy a couple times last year, I figured Dayton’s Guided by Voices were just another bunch of garage-bound lo-fi enthusiasts: 1993’s Vampire on Titus (Scat), their first widely available recording, sounds like shit, and finding the band’s compelling songcraft amid mounds of tape hiss, dropouts, indecipherable vocals, and often […]

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Out of Africa

Bridging Continents: Connecting African and Latin American Art at Aldo Castillo Gallery, through April 30 It’s long been known that Picasso’s key breakthrough toward cubism–1907’s Les demoiselles d’Avignon–owes at least as much to his study of African sculpture as to the late works of Cezanne. Yet most African-influenced works seem much weaker than the real […]

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Stories on Stage

David Sedaris has a wicked wit. Best known for his hilarious holiday story about working as one of Santa’s elves at Macy’s (which NPR now plays annually), this former Chicagoan has a gift for finding the dark cloud behind every silver lining. His stories are narrated by bitter, unreliable characters who reveal more than they […]

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Cyrus Chestnut

Like current media darling Jacky Terrasson, pianist Cyrus Chestnut has spent time in singer Betty Carter’s group, his distinctive trio relies on interaction with a standout drummer–Clarence Penn to Terrasson’s Leon Parker–and he enjoys reworking classic material. But over the course of two superb albums the 33-year-old Chestnut has proven that he has no need […]

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Luc Houtkamp

A dazzling exponent of extended technique, Dutch improviser Luc Houtkamp provides an exhilarating exploration of sounds and how to make them. The Songlines, a definitive 1991 solo saxophone recording, highlights many of his favored tacks, including adventurous, often breathtaking overblowing and circular breathing. The album’s title piece dissects a lengthy upper-register squeal with sour decay, […]

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A Normal Part

The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me Bailiwick Repertory A Chocolate Sandwich Footsteps Theatre Company If contemporary gay playwrights are to be believed, every gay man’s coming-out story is the same: innocently gender-confused childhood, heart-stopping stolen kiss in high school, parental reprimand and disapproval, escape to a liberal urban mecca, indulgence in residual self-loathing acted out […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

What happened to the astronauts after the Challenger explosion? Everyone assumes they were blown to pieces, but about six months after the accident I saw an article saying the emergency oxygen systems for the astronauts had been manually activated, meaning some or all of them had survived the explosion. I also remember the tanks had […]