Posted inArts & Culture

Tribute to Hal Russell

TRIBUTE TO HAL RUSSELL Like almost everyone who worked with drummer, vibist, saxist, and trumpeter Hal Russell, bassist Mike Staron came away from the experience a changed man. Russell was the wild-eyed but surprisingly amiable soul at the heart of the NRG Ensemble, and Staron played in that musical maelstrom on and off from the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Calendar Sidebar

Andrew J. Epstein discovered roller derby through his grandmother, who worked in it–“not as a player but as a concessions bookkeeper,” he says. “We’d watch it together on TV.” In the early 70s Epstein, a longtime Reader contributor, got permission to undertake a photographic study of the game. “Shooting from the infield”–or inside the track–he […]

Posted inFilm

A Time to Live and a Time to Die

A reflective autobiographical film about Hou Hsiao-hsien’s youth in the late 40s and early 50s. Largely filmed in the same places in Taiwan where the events originally happened, this unhurried 1985 family chronicle carries an emotional force and a historical significance that may not be immediately apparent. Working in long takes and wide-screen deep-focus compositions […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Kind Lady

KIND LADY, Pendulum Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. This somewhat sadistic period play is Edward Chodorov’s melodramatic 1935 adaptation of a mystery story by Hugh Walpole. Reclusive and entirely too trusting, the title character is a wealthy spinster, Mary Herries, who comes to regret her kindness to a penniless painter. Sheltered in Mary’s lavish […]

Posted inFilm

Nature Calls

Animation Fetishist: The Films of Jim Trainor By Fred Camper In a 1987 column, Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman decried the state of avant-garde film, saying that much of the movement’s original spark and social activism was gone. Asserting that new energy would have to come from “marginal and excluded” filmmakers, he concluded that […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

Why don’t you take advantage of E-mail technology? Instead of publishing a single response to a letter you received (probably via E-mail!), why don’t you send a response directly to the person with the problem? Then wait for the advice seeker to respond, and publish the whole back-and-forth for your readers. That way we wouldn’t […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Continental Drifters

CONTINENTAL DRIFTERS A few years ago, when the Continental Drifters released a single of Fairport Convention’s “Meet on the Ledge,” they went so far as to copy the sleeve design of the beloved British folk rockers’ 1969 masterpiece, Liege & Lief. Skin-deep album-cover tributes have become commonplace in indie pop, but this wasn’t one of […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Cheaters, Cheaters, Everywhere

Re: Cheaters the movie [May 19]– There’s a phrase they use in filmmaking called “cheating.” “Cheat left. Cheat right. Cheat to the camera.” In other words turn yourself in such a way that it looks better on film. This, I believe, is what happened in the making of the HBO teleplay Cheaters. They cheated. They […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy

MAL WALDRON & STEVE LACY For much of his career, visionary soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy has focused on the music of Thelonious Monk; their names have naturally become linked in the minds of many jazz fans. Yet his duo partner here, marvelously melancholic pianist Mal Waldron, may actually have closer ties to that idiosyncratic genius. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Something From Nothing

[Sic] Roadworks Productions at Live Bait Theater By Nick Green Five years ago, at the tender age of three, Roadworks put on the Chicago premiere of Eric Bogosian’s SubUrbia. Just securing the rights was something of a coup, and the production was sold out for much of its four-month run at the Theatre Building. In […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Spiteful Swipes and Goofball Pity

Dear Reader: I am writing in response to Jack Clark’s hilariously petty article concerning the Steinmetz High School cheating scandal (“All the Wrong Answers,” May 19). The article was so rich in spiteful swipes at Steinmetz (the cheaters) and so rich in goofball pity for Whitney Young (the cheated upon) that it wound up affecting […]

Posted inMusic

Too Much of a God Thing

XTC Apple Venus Volume 1 Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) (TVT) For almost two decades XTC has been English pop’s most celebrated hothouse flower. Instead of moving to London or New York or LA, as so many British pop stars have before them, the members still live in their dismal hometown of Swindon, a […]

Posted inArts & Culture


SMOG The music of Smog, a “band” composed basically of singer-songwriter Bill Callahan, has always been introspective and dark; the flickerings of contentment and vulnerability on last year’s superb Knock Knock (Drag City) were something of a breakthrough. On Smog’s new Dongs of Sevotion (Drag City), though, that vulnerability is gone; it seems Callahan’s happiness, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chucho Valdes

CHUCHO VALDES Few things are more exhilarating than the furious rhythmic conversation at the heart of the Chucho Valdes Quartet. A key progenitor of modern Latin jazz, Valdes founded the great Irakere back in the late 1960s, and in recent years this spellbinding Cuban pianist has reached dazzling new heights. His quartet–with bassist Francisco Rubio […]