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Posted inArts & Culture

Marie and Bruce

MARIE AND BRUCE, Ouijar, at the Lunar Cabaret. I loved the way the Ouijar folks use the Lunar Cabaret space for Wallace Shawn’s 1980 Marie and Bruce, placing the audience on what is usually the stage and Marie and Bruce’s dismal New York apartment in a pit. We’re literally looking down on these two as […]

Posted inMusic

Die Meistersinger von NŸrnberg

DIE MEISTERSINGER VON N†RNBERG The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of Die Meistersinger in 1995 was a genuine blockbuster–a fitting fireworks display to cap off Georg Solti’s illustrious career, which had been intertwined with Wagner’s music from the start. But the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production of the five-hour comic opera, on loan from the […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Bunnicula, Lifeline Theatre. One doesn’t usually consider rabbits threatening (anyone remember the ill-starred horror film Night of the Lepus?). Of course, in Bunnicula the Monroe family discovered the latest addition to their household at a movie theater where a Dracula film was playing. And soon thereafter all the vegetables in the refrigerator were mysteriously drained […]

Posted inMusic


SCRAWL A band that starts rerecording its own material is often just hoping to conceal creative bankruptcy. But when Scrawl, a rock trio from Columbus, Ohio, split its 1998 Nature Film (Elektra) pretty much fifty-fifty between new and old songs, it was fighting a more literal sort of bankruptcy: the labels that had issued five […]

Posted inFilm

Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle It may not be The Bridges of Madison County, but the latest Kevin Costner romance is nearly as good as they get. A lonely researcher for the Chicago Tribune finds a bottle washed up on the beach that contains a letter so passionate she develops a crush on the anonymous writer. […]

Posted inMusic

Busta Rhymes

BUSTA RHYMES Beyond all the moronic, paranoid apocalyptic rigmarole on Busta Rhymes’s latest album, Extinction Level Event–The Final World Front (Elektra), is some of the rapper’s best work. If you can get through the interminable between-song skits (and get past his cartoonish media-whore persona) you’ll find the skittering, stuttering post-Timbaland beat schemes of “Tear da […]

Posted inArts & Culture

All the Lonely People

Belfry Organic Theater Company By Jack Helbig Billy Roche is not well-known in America–this production is his U.S. premiere–but he should be. Part of the current wave of young Irish playwrights that includes Sebastian Barry and Marina Carr, Roche came of artistic age in the late 80s and 90s. A miniaturist, he describes his corner […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Caretaker

THE CARETAKER, A Sense of Urgency Productions, at Viaduct Theatre. A Sense of Urgency lives up to its name with this purposeful revival of a menacing comedy. In Harold Pinter’s minimalist masterpiece, potent props–worn-out shoes, a bucket to catch the rain, an unplugged stove, an unclosed window–speak as sinisterly as the characters: Mick, the aggressive […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

Hey, Faggot: I’m a 40-year-old well-endowed straight male into cockfights. Considering my size–I’m almost eleven inches long and six and one-fourth inches around–it is foolish for men to challenge me, but they do. I was in two fights recently. One guy was nine and a half by five and three-quarters, the other was eight by […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Birds

The Birds, Tinfish Theatre. There’s never been a shortage of foolish people attempting to create a new and perfect world, oblivious to the imperfections carried over from the old (in America we do it every four years). So Aristophanes’ comedy The Birds, written in 414 BC, continues to be timely. Of course, the utopia forged […]

Posted inArts & Culture

In Print: who was Eliot Ness?

Eliot Ness occupies a heroic place in the popular imagination. With bravery, honesty, and blazing tommy guns, he single-handedly brought down Al Capone. Or so goes the myth. The reality, of course, is less clear-cut, though in many ways it’s more interesting. A south-side native, Ness was indeed honest, regularly turning down bribes. But his […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody preserves it. Last month the Art Institute hosted an event at which two cabinets were displayed, one containing “the exact atmospheric conditions of New York City” at 12:51 PM on April 12, 1997 (“46 degrees and rainy with 6 mph winds”), and the other of Los Angeles at […]