Posted inArts & Culture

7 Pounds of Mud

7 Pounds of Mud, Curious Theatre Branch, at the Athenaeum Theatre. This production of a surreal Beau O’Reilly script scuttles around the borders of pathos and parody as it distorts and romanticizes the path that brought its heroes to live on the street as heroin addicts. Mud (played by the earnest and agile Michele Gregory) […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

Hey, Faggot: I have a question concerning a certain sexual proclivity of mine. I am a healthy, hot professional babe in my 20s. The thing is, I love when a guy talks dirty in bed; when he uses nasty language and is slightly physically abusive. I’ve really only dated one man who was into it, […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Swathed in layers and layers of show-biz glitz–overmiked singers and band, tons of Vegas-style lighting, dull pretend-Irish music amplified to jet-level decibels, and silly (often unintelligible) song lyrics and voice-over narration–is some genuine talent. True, the show’s female lead, Jean Butler, looks a lot like Barbie, but she can dance. So can the other people […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Calendar Photo Caption

This picture, taken by Kathy Richland at Rogers Park’s Sunset Health Club and Spa during a “ladies day” in 1977, is one of the many gorgeous photographs on display in “Our Town: 25 Years of City Life as Seen in the Pages of the Chicago Reader.” The exhibit, closing this weekend, also includes text and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Roots/Jeru the Damaja

With hip-hop entering its third decade it’s amazing how many artists continue to downplay live performance. While the studio wizardry of producers like A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and GangStarr’s DJ Premier admittedly doesn’t translate very well, there are plenty of meat-and-potatoes hip-hop crews that could produce live but don’t. Considering how important freestyling–improvised rapping–is […]

Posted inMusic

Instant Karma

Rodd Keith I Died Today: The Music of Rodd Keith (Tzadik) It was 1966 and I was just a little kid in Lansing, Michigan, with two years of accordion lessons under my belt and no understanding of the liberating power of rock ‘n’ roll or the horrors of war. One of my favorite songs on […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Vijay Iyer

Pianist Vijay Iyer, the son of immigrants from southern India, takes his heritage quite seriously; that he has managed to honor it while creating vital and thought-provoking jazz suggests that we should take him seriously in turn. In his liner notes for his debut album, Memorophilia (Asian Improv Records), Iyer stresses two themes: his affinity, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bright Sheng’s China Dreams

Bright Sheng is a descendant of Bartok, Copland, and Prokofiev–a 20th-century national composer who deftly incorporates folk materials into emotionally expressive, technically brilliant works molded by the mainstream. Like those composers, he pays attention to–and is unfettered by–the avant-garde orthodoxies of the moment, but he’s not a conservative nostalgic for the harmonic world of the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Sports Section

Was it just us, or did baseball seem to be on the cusp of something–something grand but at the same time ominous– all through the postseason? Everything from the Roberto Alomar affair to the World Series to our local concern over the White Sox and their game of managerial musical chairs seemed refracted through the […]

Posted inMusic

Sun Ra Arkestra

When Sun Ra died three years ago many feared that his Arkestra, one of the longest-running, most entertaining and adventurous jazz bands in history, would also be relegated to memory. The deaths of vital members June Tyson and John Gilmore made the picture even bleaker. Considering, however, the way the Arkestra operated in its last […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Wild World

John Spear at Illinois Art Gallery, through November 8 at Ten in One Gallery, through November 23 John Spear’s two paintings titled Adrift, with their lone figures on rafts in a stormy sea, certainly recall Homer’s The Gulf Stream, while the sea’s froth echoes Delacroix, and the streaked sky Gericault. And Spear acknowledges these influences. […]