Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Stories In January in New Square, New York, home to a Hasidic community of the Skver sect, a Skver fish cutter and his Christian coworker swore they heard a 20-pound carp shout apocalyptic warnings in Hebrew. The coworker–who couldn’t understand the language–thought the fish was the work of the devil, but Zalmen Rosen, 57, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Johnny Ginkgoseed

In April 1865, two decades before Jens Jensen began to make his mark on Chicago’s parklands, Scottish landscape gardener John Blair arrived from Rockford to create a horticultural display for Chicago’s Sanitary Fair, which raised money for wounded Union soldiers. The display, housed in a 370-foot-long structure at Michigan and Washington, included evergreens, shrubs, flowers, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Fire of Space

Jordan McLean may fill the first-trumpet chair in Antibalas, but his time in the spotlight with North America’s premier Afrobeat revival orchestra is necessarily limited–when you’re part of an egalitarian 17-piece collective, you have to wait your turn. So he really smokes when he steps to the front of his jazz band Fire of Space, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ensemble Tartit

Music doesn’t get much more basic than this: the Tuareg group Ensemble Tartit combine call-and-response vocals, syncopated hand claps, rudimentary rhythms tapped out on the tinde (a grain-grinding mortar that becomes an instrument when fitted with a piece of goatskin), and three- or four-note licks played on a one-string fiddle called the imzad, and the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

PAC/edge Performance Festival

This self-styled “convergence of Chicago artists,” running through April 26, is presented by Performing Arts Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Boasting Chicago first lady Maggie Daley as honorary chair, the avant-garde festival features more than 100 multidisciplinary presentations. All shows take place at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; the […]

Posted inMusic

Screaming Bore

Blood Brothers Burn, Piano Island, Burn (Artist Direct) Screams just ain’t what they used to be. At South by Southwest a few weeks ago, just days before the war, I was searching for shouts of joy, anger, anxiety–any signs of emotion. Instead I found the Rapture, a well-hyped New York band that screams over disco […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ghosts of the Abyss

James Cameron, director of Titanic (1997), explored the wreckage of the fabled ocean liner while preparing for that film, and in summer 2001 he returned with a team of camera operators, illustrators, historians, scientists, and explorers to create this exhilarating large-format documentary. Among the state-of-the art gadgets designed for the project were lightweight digital 3-D […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Artifical Memory Trace

One of the most common complaints about electronic-music performances is that there’s nothing to look at–unfortunately, watching someone move sound files around on a laptop or turn knobs on a mixing board just doesn’t cut it for most people. Slavek Kwi, who performs under the name Artificial Memory Trace, is particularly interested in this phenomenon: […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Marion Bridge

Nova Scotian playwright Daniel MacIvor based the screenplay of this powerful Canadian feature (2002, 90 min.) on his play of the same name, and it has all the virtues of fine stage drama: narrative economy, honest emotion, and characters so closely defined that the most pedestrian encounters between them are revelatory. Three sisters from a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bobby Gould in Hell

Bobby Gould in Hell, Plumb Line Productions, at Chicago Actors Studio. David Mamet’s cocky, amoral Bobby Gould appears in Speed-the-Plow (1988), Bobby Gould in Hell (1989), and a trio of one-acts collected under the title The Old Neighborhood (1997). Each work turns, in a sense, on Gould’s flaws. In Speed-the-Plow, for example, his overactive libido […]

Posted inArts & Culture

On Stage: a fresh look at Twain’s moral outrage

Peter Arnett could have saved himself some trouble if he’d remembered Mark Twain’s words when his harshly satirical “War Prayer” was rejected by his publisher: “None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.” Twain’s essay–written in response to the 1899-1902 Philippine Insurrection but not published until 1923, years after his death–includes an angel […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

I’m hoping you can help me. My boyfriend wants nothing more than to have me pee on him. I really want to do this, but my body will not cooperate. I’m usually able to pee whether I feel the need to or not, such as when the doctor needs a sample, so this is very […]