Posted inArts & Culture

Marvin’s Room

For the inaugural production in its new space last summer, Raven Theatre staged Chicago playwright Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room. Extended once again, this wonderful comedy drama celebrates life and love while confronting serious illness with humor, honesty, and an eye for human frailty. A wounded family beset by illness is brought together by yet another […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Out Hud

Originally from Sacramento, now based in Brooklyn, this instrumental five-piece sure has lousy taste in titles. Exhibit A: S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D., the meaningless pseudo-acronym with which they encumbered their debut for the local Kranky label. (Though just plain “Street Dad” wouldn’t have been much better.) The names of their songs are even worse: “Hair Dude, You’re […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Waco Brothers

In the mid-90s Jon Langford told me he envisioned the Waco Brothers as his Chicago bar band, and indeed back then these raucous country rockers were kicking up dust in some club every few weeks. (They’ve slowed down a bit since drummer Steve Goulding moved to New York a few years ago.) Though four of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Thank Heaven It Wasn’t 7/11

Midway through its run, Second City’s 88th revue has added updates impaling Trent Lott and sending up cocaine sales at Burger King. In fighting form, the Second Citizens remain unabashed, confronting an abusive superpatriotic music teacher, mealymouthed ministers, the intifada, and a know-nothing president. Ruthlessly pursuing common sense in the service of some terrible swift […]

Posted inNews & Politics

First Stop: Second City

There’s no place I’d rather be come New Year’s Eve than in a Second City audience. That said, this year’s edition of the company’s Dysfunctional Holiday Revue at Metropolis is a tad uneven–which means you’re only in stitches, say, 90 percent of the time. Some of the best moments come when unsuspecting audience members are […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Quai des Orfevres

The skillful writer-director Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, Diabolique) is mainly known for his corrosive misanthropy (his creepy The Raven, a story about poison-pen letters in a village made during the French occupation, was subsequently and unfairly castigated for being anti-French). Yet surprisingly, this accomplished 1947 noir turns that misanthropy precisely on its head […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Donnie

Donnie Johnson, the latest contender in the crowded neosoul field, comes with a compelling back story and some big-name connections. He’s Marvin Gaye’s second cousin, and like Gaye he left the Hebrew Pentecostal religion (which he describes as “Jews for Jesus, but with a slap of the Holy Roller on top of it”) for the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Strauss Symphony of America

What is New Year’s without the waltz? Throughout Europe, the entire holiday season seems to sway in 3/4 time–especially in Vienna, where the Strausses raised the genre to its artistic and popular zenith in the late 1800s–and the tradition is now being imported here on a massive scale. Building on the success of his previous […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Gymkhana

In college right away I learned the best way to hit on a guy is to hold his hand if you know him at all. It’s that easy. Pick one, walk beside him as he cuts across the overly kept grass of the broad, open campus or the wide sweep of psychedelic mushrooms on the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

No quotation dictionary gives the origin of the common phrase “Elvis has left the building.” Who said it first? –Nicole A., Palo Alto, CA Funny you should ask. The guy who said it just left the building himself. Horace Lee Logan, founder and longtime producer of Louisiana Hayride, the country-music radio show that gave Elvis […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Louis Faurer

One of Louis Faurer’s stated goals was to “transform adversity into victories of love and hope.” His photographs of New York street scenes, most shot between 1946 and ’54, document the alienating effects of city life. Champion, New York, N.Y. is a lonely image of a well-dressed man standing in the middle of traffic, his […]