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Posted inArts & Culture

Lovers: Part 1–Winners

Lovers: Part 1–Winners, Dreadnaught Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. First performed in Dublin in 1967, Brian Friel’s Winners is meant to be the first half of a two-part evening. The second half–Losers, about an unhappily married middle-aged couple–acts as a reminder of what the two happy high school sweethearts in the first play might […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Battle Scars

Battle Scars, Fillet of Solo Festival, Live Bait Theater, through August 24. The title ties together two pieces with little in common. Lotti Pharriss’s Fear Itself is much the stronger, as Pharriss–in gas mask and apron festooned with alarming press clippings–explores the way irrational fears suddenly became rational on September 11. A convert to Catholicism […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

KEVIN COYNE 8/16, SCHUBAS Though there is a wholesome European looseness of line about the art of Englishman Kevin Coyne, his wonderful music is strongly rooted in old American weirdness. The painter, poet, fiction writer, occasional actor, and former drug counselor has been at it since the 60s, when he sang white-boy blues in the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Dolly Parton

When Dolly Parton began her association with the Nashville indie label Sugar Hill in 1999, she had little to prove. Long one of country music’s most prolific and intelligent songwriters, not to mention a chart-topper, a successful actress, and a slick businesswoman, she had already done it all. But, as with so many other country […]

Posted inArts & Culture

End of the World Party

End of the World Party, Bailiwick Repertory. Chuck Ranberg’s predictable but charming play, part of Bailiwick’s annual Pride series, is centered around a beach house named Ill Repute in the gay mecca of Fire Island, New York. The seven male characters–all types we’ve met before–include Will (Cade Wenthe), a hypochondriac who’s afraid he’s infected with […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

Ask your state representative why he or she voted to make it illegal to photograph or videotape animals at a factory farm. According to Bill Berkowitz, writing for the July 18 Working for Change (, in April the Illinois House of Representatives passed House Bill 5793 by a vote of 118-0. According to the Peoria […]

Posted inMusic

Conventional Thinking

Fairport Convention Fairport Unconventional (Free Reed) Fairport Convention are celebrating their 35th anniversary as a group this year–and on Fairport Unconventional, a four-CD box set issued in commemoration, it’s clearer than ever that the fascination with history that gave them their glory has become their trap. They’re the progenitors of British folk rock, which draws […]

Posted inFilm

Unified Theory

h2etropolis **** (Masterpiece) Directed by Fritz Lang Written by Lang and Thea von Harbou With Gustav Frohlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Fritz Rasp, Theodor Loos, and Heinrich George. The internationalism of filmic language will become the strongest instrument available for the mutual understanding of peoples, who otherwise have such difficulty understanding each other […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

In 1994 I read an article in the British music journal the Wire that claimed that compact discs have a life expectancy of ten years. I have seen references to an article in Scientific American making the same claim and heard that this has been confirmed many times by other studies. The only thing is, […]

Posted inArts & Culture


A few years ago, in the course of a Web search on avant-garde violinist Tony Conrad, I came across a hilarious work of fiction describing two mountain geezers discussing a Conrad appearance at an old-time fiddlers’ convention (and approving of it, though amused). The piece had apparently run in the local newspaper in Wytheville, Virginia, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Street-Fightin’ Men

Bookended by Marina City to the south and the glittering American Medical Association tower to the north, the sidewalks along State Street between the river and Illinois see their share of well-heeled traffic. But the stretch is also close to several construction sites, this newspaper’s office, a few corner-bar-type establishments that still water a regular […]