Posted inArts & Culture

Prefuse 73

Scott Herren made Surrounded by Silence (Warp), his third full-length under the name Prefuse 73, as something of a showcase for his friends and acquaintances from the worlds of hip-hop, indie rock, electronica, and experimental music. His hyperactive, chopped-up, peripatetic sampladelia hasn’t radically changed–beats still sputter and flow, tripping from jittery bursts to funky breaks, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Elegies: A Song Cycle

William Finn’s self-indulgently personal 2003 cabaret show, which closes Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago’s “Finn Festival,” is devoted to departed friends. In addition to off-putting in-songs it features gossipy lyrics, name-dropping, the occasional deeply felt sentiment about a noble teacher or loving mother, and in at least one case an astonishing meanness of spirit: one song […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

We have friends who insist they won’t eat microwave-cooked items and refuse to own a microwave oven, claiming it has deleterious effects on the nutritional value of food. I chuckle over their sensitivity–seems most restaurants today serve many items that are cooked rapidly using microwaves, so I’ll bet our friends eat some of these foods […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Enough Stupid Starts a Fire

If the title’s accurate, there should be a pretty good blaze going at the Trap Door on Friday nights. This amiably awful sketch-comedy revue certainly supplies enough stupid: the frat-boy stupidity of the skit about an all-male cheerleading squad, the inscrutable stupidity of one set at a murder trial, the thin-stretched stupidity of another in […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Estrogen Fest

“Estrogen Fest 2005: Changing the Rules!” runs 5/11-6/5 at the Storefront Theater in the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph. Presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs in conjunction with Prop Thtr, this annual showcase of women’s performance features artists in the fields of theater, spoken word, poetry, dance, and music. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Architecture Days

Architectural Digest sponsors this three-city program of tours “celebrating leading voices in the fields of architecture and design” (the others are being held in LA and New York City). Tickets are available at; advance purchase is required. Proceeds benefit the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the Wright Preservation Trust. Details on where to meet, appropriate […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bill Frisell & the Unspeakable Orchestra

Over the past three decades, guitar visionary Bill Frisell has created one of improvised music’s most original styles, built on elegiac timbres, stately phrasing, and meaningful meandering. (For years a favorite line in Manhattan avant-jazz circles was that Frisell had been “raised by deer,” and even his most slashing, electronics-driven work retains the gauzy textures […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Nightclubbing: Roots of Hardcore

Incendiary live performances from the first wave of American punk, captured on video by Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong for their New York public-access show Nightclubbing. The real gold is five songs by the original Heartbreakers, featuring Richard Hell of Television and Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls: slamming through “Blank Generation” and “I […]

Posted inFilm


In our world of endless noise and pointless jabber, the movies of Kim Ki-duk (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring) are transcendently quiet: the illicit lovers in this eerie South Korean drama communicate whole worlds without ever speaking, and the woman’s single line of dialogue, directed at her cuckolded husband, is almost certainly a lie. A […]

Posted inArts & Culture

First Lady Suite

Presidents’ wives are whining, inconsequential ninnies with few thoughts of their own in Michael John LaChiusa’s chamber opera, now receiving a stultifying staging by Shifra Wench. In these fanciful vignettes, Mamie Eisenhower (the humorous Elizabeth Haley) travels to Little Rock, Arkansas, during the 1957 school-integration crisis, then time-travels to Algiers to catch Ike in the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ben Pleasants

Charles Bukowski is perhaps better known–and in some circles more revered–for the particulars of his life than for the quality of his writing. The bum, habitual drunk, Hitler admirer, and surprisingly successful consort packed scalding bitterness and jealousy into everything from his first novel, Post Office, to poetry collections like Love Is a Dog From […]