Posted inArts & Culture

Never the Sinner

Never the Sinner, Shining Through Productions, at Heartland Studio Theater. Long before John Logan became a big-time screenwriter (Gladiator, Vanilla Sky, Mission Impossible II), he meticulously reconstructed the “crime of the century” in an absorbing account of teenage thrill killers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Rather than focus on how these self-appointed Nietzschean supermen botched […]

Posted inMusic

Honor Among Thieves

Interpol at the Empty Bottle, September 6 Making rock music involves a lot of promiscuous recycling. Euphemistically, this is called “assimilation of influences” or “working in the tradition of.” But ask your average indie rocker what his favorite band right now sounds like and he’s likely to describe it using the names of two or […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Virgil Bliss

Clint Jordan, who studied acting in prison, gives a gutsy but shaded performance as a career criminal paroled to a halfway house who lives in fear of the mistake that will land him back behind bars. Among the temptations littering his path are a drug addict who turns tricks to support her habit (throaty-voiced Kirsten […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Stories Over the past several months, a motorist has repeatedly visited construction sites in the California towns of Fremont, Hayward, Brentwood, and Dublin, asking workers to fill his car (at first a maroon Volvo, more recently a white Oldsmobile station wagon) with concrete or hot asphalt. His request has been honored at least once: […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Kenny Garrett

With relatively little fanfare, 41-year-old saxist Kenny Garrett has emerged as one of the more important jazzmen of his generation. Since his move to New York in the early 80s, he’s given critics and audiences good reason to expect great things from him–but his trajectory from there to here has been interesting nonetheless, encompassing an […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Leveled Landscapes

Andreas Jauss: As Things Are at North Park University, Carlson Tower, through September 27 The seen world is alive with emotion. A dark alley threat-ens; a sunny field liberates; a monolithic building oppresses; a sensitively designed structure gives pleasure. Moreover we all have our own idiosyncratic responses to colors and shapes. But Andreas Jauss in […]

Posted inArts & Culture

War Photographer

Reading about Sean Flynn, the hotshot photojournalist in Michael Herr’s Vietnam book Dispatches, I understood how much danger a person faces in that line of work; this 2001 profile of James Nachtwey, five-time winner of the Robert Capa Gold Medal for his war photography, asks how much human suffering one person can witness. Learning his […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Pop Psychology

Pop Psychology, at Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret. Picture Paul Simon channeling Dr. Phil and you get the gist of Tony Rogers’s self-help sing-along. Donning a red vest and playing acoustic guitar, Rogers (of acclaimed Chicago pop group the Good) leads the audience through role-playing exercises and “repeat after me” affirmations. The original score is […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia Copeland’s third and latest outing, Talking to Strangers (Alligator), provides welcome reassurance for critics (such as myself) who’ve been growing increasingly uneasy with the young singer’s apparent willingness to compromise her extraordinary gifts and take the easy route of rocked-out bellowing. Abetted by producer Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, whose funk-driven, richly textured arrangements both […]

Posted inArts & Culture


These days most jet-setting electro artists seem more concerned with showing off their designer clothes than creating new sounds, but Dutchman Danny Wolfers (aka Legowelt) still puts his music ahead of his image. His Web site includes a geeked-out list of everything in his studio with a brief description of each piece of gear (“sometimes […]

Posted inFood & Drink

All Over the Map

Every night at Fogo de Chao–the 350-seat restaurant on LaSalle specializing in spit-roasted meat–a highly orchestrated ballet takes place. Brazilian servers sporting pleated pants and boots circle the tables, carrying skewers of grilled steak, pork, and lamb. When diners show green cardboard disks indicating they’re ready to eat, a flurry of “gauchos” approaches, slicing portions […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Raised in Captivity

Raised in Captivity, Speaking Ring Theatre, at the Chicago Cultural Center. In Nicky Silver’s absurd play about love and redemption, long separated twins are reunited at their mother’s funeral. The emotional Bernadette (Jennifer Leavitt) is trapped in a safe but loveless marriage to a wry dentist (Kevin Gladish) who wants to become an artist and […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Bart of Avon

Actor Rick Miller says he’s changed his one-man farce, MacHomer: The Simpsons Do Macbeth, since Reader critic Jack Helbig wrote about it three years ago. Helbig was enthusiastic, noting that the show, which Miller had developed at fringe festivals, “combines Miller’s two loves, Shakespeare and silliness: his somewhat shortened adaptation transforms the dark, murder-filled Scottish […]