Posted inArts & Culture

Dinosaur Jr.

In the lean years of the 1980s there were two categories of artists being unjustifiably ignored: first those who were unquestionably major talents–R.E.M. say–who’d obviously connect with large numbers of people given the exposure, and second artists who were more idiosyncratic, less essential, but interesting nonetheless; their diversity and energy enlivened rock’s subcultures. Now, in […]

Posted inMusic

A Career in Punk

HUSKER DU The Living End (Warner Bros) BOB MOULD Poison Years (Virgin) SUGAR File Under: Easy Listening (Ryko) One day back in 1986, my friend Jeanne, the leader of a struggling punk band, asked me who I was writing about. When I told her Husker Du, she snapped back, “What could you possibly say about […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Field & Street

I leaned against the concrete wall of a downtown bank building, waiting for a friend to get off work. I used to work in the Loop too, in an office next to the bank. Then as now, the cement plaza in front of the building was lined with 24 locust trees planted in raised boxes […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Karen Finley

I’ve never felt comfortable watching Karen Finley. Her act is just too angry, her performance style too raw, to be watched dispassionately. But I think that’s her point: to speak the unspeakable, to find words and gestures to make the seething emotions just below the surface audible, visible, and absolutely unavoidable. In 1989’s We Keep […]

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Eat Your Art Out

EAT YOUR ART OUT Nomenil at Cafe Voltaire Few theater companies in Chicago fail as marvelously as Nomenil. Instead of offering yet another rehashing of an American classic or a moth-eaten musical comedy (in other words, the stuff everyone did in college) in a city already knee-deep in theatrical nostalgia, Nomenil creates original extravaganzas that […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Nice

Nice are an Australian trio with a low profile and a high level of artistry. Led by Randall Lee and Susannah Stuart-Lindsay, they’ve inherited the Australian songwriting throne vacated by the late, lamented Go-Betweens, who delivered some of the most literate and well-crafted songs of the 80s. Nice display a similarly lean low-key lyricism on […]

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Footsteps Theatre Company. Playing off one of the great ironies of Western theater–that all those great female roles Shakespeare created were written for men who specialized in playing women–this all-female version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream works surprisingly well. Not because the premise is novel; at Footsteps all-female versions of Shakespeare […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Your Eyes My Hands

YOUR EYES MY HANDS, Blue Rider Theatre. When a young man’s girlfriend breaks their date, he drives to her house in such a fury that he crashes the car. Later they consider the destructive patterns of their relationship. A typical lovers’ spat, right? Yes, except that the young man is deaf, the result of a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Elementary Phrases

Anyone familiar with Stan Brakhage’s highly personal films of the last 40 years will be surprised by the credits of the new Elementary Phrases: by Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon. Colleagues at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the two began with strips of film Brakhage had painted on by hand, photographing them frame by […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

A 60-ish man wearing a yellow vest bearing the name of some charity stood on the sidewalk outside the Oak Park Starbucks and gestured with a donation can to the dozens of passersby. For ten minutes no one contributed. A young woman shouldering a padded camera bag approached and struck up a brief conversation. The […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Fashion Statements: catch of the day

We met Roxanne Castillo, eight, fishtailing her way through the schools of schoolchildren in front of the Shedd Aquarium. Her breezy sundress and hyperactive running shoes shouted “Let’s play!,” seemingly straining the limits of the “appropriate dress required” commandment permafixed to Shedd’s marble facade. Was Roxanne’s carefree costume a fish out of water? Our fashion […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Quintet of the Americas

Founded in 1976 in Bogota, Colombia, but now based in New York, the Quintet of the Americas specializes in folk and contemporary music of the Western Hemisphere arranged for woodwinds. The group has established a reputation for commissioning work by Latin American composers and often including the music of displaced people, from Sephardic Jews to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Seventh Continent

A powerful, provocative, and highly disturbing Austrian film by Michael Haneke that focuses on the collective suicide of a young and seemingly “normal” family (1989). Prompted by Austria’s high suicide rate and various news stories, the film’s agenda is not immediately apparent; it focuses at first on the family’s highly repetitive life-style, taking its time […]