Posted inNews & Politics


[snip] “To the Bush administration, ‘Islam’ is an abstraction,” writes Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books. “For the US, the Middle East is a faraway land, a convenient place to export America’s troubles so that they won’t have to be addressed in the ‘homeland.’ But the Middle East is Europe’s ‘near abroad,’ […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Billy the Mountain & Other Wartime Stories

This rambunctious rock operetta using Frank Zappa’s lyrics contends with a handful of awkward impediments. There’s the infamous middle finger of a post that sits dead center before the Elbo Room’s stage. Then there’s the Striding Lion InterArts Workshop’s ingenious seating process, contrived to guarantee a musical-chairs free-for-all. Finally, the tale itself–the adventures of Billy, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Up and Down

Chosen to represent the Czech Republic at the Oscars, this Altman-esque fresco by Jan Hrebejk (Divided We Fall) offers a provocative and entertaining satirical account of intersecting lives, classes, and subcultures in contemporary Prague. At first it seems to be about immigration, but eventually it becomes a wry commentary on racism and xenophobia as manifested […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bloc Party, Ponys

Despite the vaguely leftist connotations of their name, London’s Bloc Party sound much less Gang of Four-damaged than some of their stateside counterparts. Substituting terse quasi-anthemic pop hooks for angular clutter, they caught the attention of critics while opening for Franz Ferdinand on a UK tour in 2003; that led to a string of singles, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Mountains Clouds Turbulence Coastlines

Wholesale Chicago’s multimedia antiwar piece, directed by Dolores Wilber, is blessedly oblique and nonaccusatory. Two towering men in orange jumpsuits (Steven Thompson and Douglas Grew) repeat such odd actions as spinning a safety pin on a clothesline and pretending to cook nonfood items, including what looks like sawdust with turds in it. At times the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Music Man

Ray Frewen’s production of Meredith Willson’s quintessential middle-American musical–aided by Gregory Slawko’s colorful, period-perfect costumes and James Zager’s sassy choreography–captures its exuberance, tartness, and mischief. Gene Weygandt is the lovable Professor Harold Hill, sauntering through River City with a great sense of rhythm and self-assured charm as he rips off the citizens for uniforms and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Crossroads and Quixote

Bruce Baillie’s rarely screened Quixote (1965) stands alongside other synoptic 60s masterpieces such as Stan Brakhage’s The Art of Vision and Peter Kubelka’s Unsere Afrikareise, which use dense collages of diverse images in an attempt to make sense of a troubling world. In Quixote wild horses and a basketball game are part of a cross-country […]