Posted inFilm

The Political Is Personal

Underground Zero ** (Worth seeing) The deadly airliners of September 11, 2001, leveled egos as well as buildings. Attacked by Muslim fundamentalists, we responded like guilty Puritans, as if ashamed of our indulgence, our insularity, and our dearly held individualism. United by pride and anger, bonding to absorb the shock, we began to call each […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Consonant

As the bassist in Mission of Burma, Clint Conley wrote and sang “Academy Fight Song” and “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver,” two of the Boston quartet’s best-loved tunes, but since the band called it quits in 1983 he’s kept a low profile. Drummer Peter Prescott kept rocking hard with Volcano Suns and Kustomized, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Films by Jonas Mekas

Jonas Mekas has long been a leading advocate for avant-garde film, producing a large body of criticism from the 1950s to the ’70s and founding the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. But he’s also an inspired and original diaristic filmmaker whose work combines short bursts of images, speeded-up motion, and improvisational in-camera editing. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

The past creeps closer. “Is it an architectural gem?” asks architect Leonard Koroski, referring to Michelle Clark Middle School, at 5500 W. Harrison, a glass-walled modernist creation that has suffered from poor maintenance since being built in the early 1970s. “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But it has a [thoughtful] plan with an interior […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Peter Brotzmann Tentet

When this brawny free-jazz group made its debut, here in Chicago back in 1997, it was as an octet–a configuration meant to summon the spirit of another eight-piece band, which had immortalized itself nearly three decades earlier. Machine Gun, the classic 1968 octet recording by German saxophonist Peter Brotzmann, was one of the earliest and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Crack: We Are Rock

Crack: We Are Rock is the brainchild of a fellow who calls himself King Riff; living in Kansas City a decade or so ago, he got into the habit of incorporating any weirdo willing to make a spaz of himself on drum or guitar into his “band.” In the mid-90s he left KC for San […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

Not sure why this comes to mind now, but is it true that Joseph Stalin was once a seminarian? –Mike Toncray, Joliet, Illinois Yes. No question, you get some unique personalities in seminaries. Take Stalin–an all-powerful despot, venerated by his subjects (in public anyway), accustomed to absolute obedience. If he hadn’t wound up as head […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros, Hypocrites, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Eugene Ionesco was not only a master absurdist but a trickster who delighted in baffling audiences and critics alike. Even his relatively simple works, like this 1959 play about a town whose citizens are mysteriously turning into rhinoceroses, resist interpretation. Some have compared the townspeople’s transformation into beasts to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Old Man’s Friend

The Old Man’s Friend, Victory Gardens Theater. How could the nuanced, funny second half of this play share so much as a title with its doltish, contrived beginning? Perhaps playwright James Sherman wrote a flawless one-act about an adult daughter’s reconciliation with her dying father, then felt he had to complete the evening by adding […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Calendar

Friday 6/14 – Thursday 6/20 JUNE 14 FRIDAY The art of bonsai–literally translated as “tray planting,” in which shrubs and trees are stunted and trained into shapes that complement their containers–was born in China and refined in Japan, where it’s been practiced since the 14th century. The Chicago Botanic Garden’s 184 bonsai are overseen by […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Debut

Debut, Funny How Productions, at the Playground. Inspiration is in short supply in this ramshackle sketch-comedy revue by Second City Training Center grads. The show seems to have been created by guys who lounge around in their boxers watching too much TV and licking Cheetos powder off their fingers. Save for one manic, pitch-perfect commentary […]