Posted inArts & Culture

Angels in America

Cloud Tectonics Goodman Theatre and Teatro Vista at the Goodman Theatre Studio When did Los Angeles–that sprawling, auto-choked, culturally diverse, ethnically divided, malled, and suburbanized city–become model and metaphor for all America? I suspect it happened sometime in the late 70s, when so many SoCal ideas infected the popular culture: worship of the body, fascination […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Profiles in Failure

Really enjoyed David Futrelle’s “Marx on the Skids” (Reader, September 15), and think you’ve hit on something. Futrelle–a self-described “failed socialist”–proved himself up to every cheap psychologism available in traducing the legacy of that wicked Karl Marx. How about a whole Reader series of pieces, by failures, castigating their intellectual betters? You could call it […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Harry Sparnaay

At certain moments in the history of an instrument, a single player comes along and opens a whole new can of worms. Such is the case with Harry Sparnaay, the Dutch virtuoso whose astounding facility on the bass clarinet has inspired such heavyweights as Iannis Xenakis, Isang Yun, Morton Feldman, and Brian Ferneyhough (along with […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Sports Section

For Chicago baseball fans, September is usually a month of calm and good cheer rivaled only by March and April for optimism. By the last month of most seasons both our teams have been all but eliminated from the pennant races, yet the grieving is over, acceptance has come, and with it an influx of […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

EDWIN McCAIN 9/29, OTIS’ A protege of Hootie & the Blowfish leader Darius Rucker, Charleston’s Edwin McCain peddles the same heart-on-sleeve cardboard sentiments as his mentor, within an equally sleepy folk-rock setting. “Solitude,” the first single off his bland debut, Honor Among Thieves (Lava/Atlantic), is a weepy duet with Rucker that seems to be about […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Cesaria Evora

Known as the “barefoot diva,” 54-year-old Cesaria Evora hails from Sao Vicente in Cape Verde–a group of islands off the coast of Senegal that were colonized by Portuguese slave traders more than 500 years ago. A bit of a late bloomer, she recorded her first album in France in 1988, and over the course of […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Derf’s Hate List

To the editor: Isn’t it time for your paper to rid itself of “Derf” and his “comic” the City? Isn’t there quite enough hate in this world without having him adding babies, parents and would-be mothers to his long list of people to despise [September 15]? His emotional level is embarrassing, his humor the sort […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Almost Blue

Almost Blue, Next Theatre Company. An homage to the noir tradition, Keith Reddin’s semithriller began life as a teleplay–a fact that sadly still shows. Though Almost Blue is energetically performed by a well-cast quartet in Steve Pickering’s taut and evocative staging for Next Theatre, the play remains a formulaic actors’ exercise, soaked in atmosphere but […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicago String Ensemble

About a decade ago the Chicago String Ensemble’s chief maestro Alan Heatherington left for Buffalo, and the ensemble ended up cobbling together a couple of uneven seasons with guest conductors. Then Heatherington returned and built the CSE into a well-regarded orchestra distinguished by imaginative programming. In August Heatherington again severed his ties with the group, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Power of the People

Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg Chicago Symphony Orchestra, September 23 and 24 Xerxes Lyric Opera, through October 21 H.L. Mencken thought Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg was Western civilization’s single greatest work of art. English critic Ernest Newman described it as “the greatest of all comedies in music.” And Georg Solti in his introductory note to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Monte Warden

On his recently issued second solo album, Here I Am (Watermelon), Austin rocker Monte Warden has lost some of the Buddy Holly influence that pervaded his terrific 1993 debut. Opting for a more contemporary sound (a la retro popsters like Nick Lowe, Marshall Crenshaw, and Chris Isaak), he’s incorporated a wider slate of styles, but […]