Posted inArts & Culture

Strange Snow

Strange Snow, Pyewacket, at Sarantos Studios. By now most theater audiences can sing along with the post-Vietnam GI blues, but Steve Metcalfe’s 1982 tale of a veteran and his sister and the war comrade who rescues them has lost none of its compassion, either for the men unwilling to confront choices they made in the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Misplaced Faith

morris.qxd Dear Reader: In David Moberg’s cover report, “All Together Now” (October 17, 1997) on United Power for Action & Justice and the Industrial Areas Foundation, Mr. Moberg writes as follows: “So far most of the critics are on the Catholic right. Conservative Joseph Morris, for example, alleged in a column in Crain’s Chicago Business […]

Posted inMusic

Terranova

TERRANOVA I admit my recommendation for the Berlin DJ triumvirate Terranova ain’t based on much, but what little I’ve heard sure sounded good. The only group member who might have any stateside name recognition is Fetisch, who moved to New York in the late 80s to immerse himself in the city’s thriving hip-hop scene. DJing […]

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T-Model Ford

T-MODEL FORD Matthew Johnson, the 28-year-old who runs Mississippi’s Fat Possum Records, has said that the only good blues music today is on his record label–and with Delta talent like the late Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, CeDell Davis, and Paul “Wine” Jones on his roster, the hyperbole can almost be forgiven. In the liner notes […]

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Mose Allison

MOSE ALLISON For 40 years now the world has failed to heed Mose Allison’s humorous warnings and ironic observations, his gimlet-eyed advice disguised in homespun metaphors–and that makes his laconic philosophizing as essential as ever. On his new album, Gimcracks and Gewgaws (Blue Note), he occasionally updates his bemused outrage, as in “The More You […]

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Music in the Word

Music in the Word Amiri Baraka–known until 1967 as LeRoi Jones, black nationalist and surrealist political playwright-poet–cut his teeth on beat poetry and the improvisational populism that fueled Greenwich Village life and art in the 60s. His commitment to art as a revolutionary form of persuasion hasn’t wavered since, although his politics have shifted from […]

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Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Mrs. Warren’s Profession “Rich men without conviction are more dangerous in modern society than poor women without chastity,” wrote George Bernard Shaw in the revised preface to this 1898 play, a bitter indictment of materialism and conventional morality, both of which he viewed as inherently hypocritical. Though tame by today’s standards, the play was shunned […]

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Barkin’ Bill Smith

BARKIN’ BILL SMITH Legend has it blues vocalist Barkin’ Bill Smith got his nickname from veteran guitarist Homesick James. Homesick, if you didn’t know, is one of the blues’ great ironists, and Smith–who doesn’t bark at all, but rather croons in a mellifluous baritone reminiscent of jazz balladeers like Johnny Hartman and Billy Eckstine–has an […]

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Love for Three Oranges

LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES, Breadline Theatre Group, at the Athenaeum Theatre studio. The folks at Breadline don’t lack for ambition. In their first Chicago production, Faust Triptych, they probed Marlowe’s, Goethe’s, and Mann’s versions of the Faust legend, hoping to dissect Renaissance, Romantic, and modernist worldviews. They ended up with a muddle. Undaunted, the ensemble […]

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True Lies

Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life By Laurence Bergreen (Broadway Books) By J.R. Jones “Writing about music is like talking about fucking,” John Lennon told Playboy in 1980, and few writers have proven him wrong: to capture something as visceral as music, words seem not just inadequate but downright crude. Some writers skirt the challenge with […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Stories Things you thought didn’t happen anymore: An agency of the International Chamber of Commerce in London reported in January that in 1997 a total of 51 people on ships were killed in attacks by pirates. The prime areas of concern were near Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and Brazil. The blessed family unit: In […]

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Burning Chrome

Burning Chrome, Next Theatre Company. Science fiction author and Wired magazine poster boy William Gibson (perhaps best known for Johnny Mnemonic and Neuromancer) wins points for prescience. But once you get past his jargon, what remains is a surprisingly pedestrian pulp fiction sensibility. Unlike Anthony Burgess’s neologisms, which have a thematic purpose, Gibson’s talk often […]

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In Print: medieval space exploration

AtsomepointduringtheMiddleAgesscribeschangedthestandardpractice ofrunningwordstogether and began separating them with spaces–with unforeseeable consequences. That’s the thesis of a new book, Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading, by Paul Saenger, curator of rare books at the Newberry Library. “I was fascinated with the late medieval world and why it was so different from the early medieval world,” […]

Posted inMusic

Billy Boy Arnold

BILLY BOY ARNOLD When people start toting up the masters of blues harmonica, Billy Boy Arnold’s name doesn’t come to the fore as quick as it should. A student of Sonny Boy Williamson, Arnold cut a series of records on Vee-Jay in the mid-50s that now rank as masterpieces; he also worked with figures ranging […]