Producer/engineer Iain Burgess played a vital role in defining the Chicago punk sound in the 80's with his work with Naked Raygun, Big Black, and the Effigies. Burgess passed away on Thursday from a pulmonary embolism, a complication of the pancreatic and liver cancers he'd recently been diagnosed with. Although British, he is best known for his years in Chicago, where he helped create a distinctive large sound with a live-centered recording style and served as a mentor to Steve Albini. He also worked with Didjits, Ministry, Mega City Four, the Cows, Pegboy, Shellac, Jawbox and many others.
The tunnel musicians of Chicago can be heard amid the roar of trains.... I recently spent three nights walking through the tunnels for a closer listen. These are the sounds, and the people I heard. [more inside]
Gridface has an on-going series of interviews as part of its Chicago House music history section. The first interview was with Stacey Collins, aka VERB, who started working security at The Music Box in 1983. Others interviewed include producers Merwin Sanders (discog) and Jamal Moss (aka Hieroglyphic Being, IAMTHATIAM, The Sun God) and Frank Youngwerth (discog), and DJ Leonard "Remix" Rroy. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
The Violet Hour, a speakeasy styled lounge in Chicago with no sign, has been pushing the envelope in creative drink mixing since it opened in 2005. Toby Maloney, the Violet Hour's "Head Intoxocologist", had no problem posting on a Chicago food forum and sharing some of the drink recipes that have made his bar one of the most exciting in the country. [more inside]
In Illinois, a political ad is airing on the radio. In it, former Republican Party candidate Andy Martin says current Illinois congressman Mark Kirk is a homosexual. Another ad claims Kirk is a "de facto pedophile." Jack Roeser, an Illinois businessman, is quoted in one ad as saying there is a "solid rumor" regarding Mark's sexuality. What says Roeser about Martin? "I have nothing to do with that SOB."
Witness the spectacle as Chicago's A Red Orchid Theater presents A Very Merry (Unauthorized) Children's Scientology Pageant, through January 17, 2010. It's time to celebrate, it's time to open up your eyes. Critics agree - it's a hit!
Chicago Welcomes You "How to redesign a resettlement process for immigrants who may never have seen a streetlight, cooked on a stove, used a toilet that isn’t a hole in the ground or handled any type of currency." More about the project.
Asian Carp update: since 2003(previously), the inexorable advance of Asian Carp up the Mississippi delta has brought them to within 6 miles of Lake Michigan. These invasive "100-pound Zebra Mussels" suck rivers clean and starve native fish. Asian Carp are now 97% of the fish biomass in the Mississippi delta. The "electric fence" across the canal didn't stop them. The poisoning of the canal won't stop them. Closing the Chicago sewage canal locks is the only way to be sure. But the Army Corps of Engineers have the jurisdiction. Feel safe? [more inside]
La Gioconda, Tristan und Isolde, The Pearl Fishers, Il Trovatore, and Rigoletto — enacted with 16-inch rod puppets. [more inside]
Ride the City maps the best or safest urban bicycle route from point A to B. Presently featuring multi-lingual maps from New York, Chicago, Austin, Louisville, San Diego, and Seattle. Their blog posts updates about new cities added to the grid, or other topics relating to urban bicycling.
"Chinatown" communities across the United States (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco) are undergoing a shift in linguistic identity, as recent immigrants are more likely to natively speak Mandarin (the official spoken language of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan,) instead of Cantonese. [more inside]
"You'll have heard how the city once ended in fire, and around these parts, it threatens to end in ice every few years or so. But once, not too long ago, Chicago flirted with ending in water, an entirely preventable man-made inundation that few saw but everybody felt – a two-billion-dollar sucker punch tsunami that weighed in among the dozen most costly floods in American history." [more inside]
Vivian Maier's Photography. "This [site] was created in dedication to the photographer Vivian Maier, a street photographer from the 1950s - 1970s. Vivian's work was discovered at an auction here in Chicago." [more inside]
Photographer captures citizens' arrest of alleged purse-snatcher (video, slight graphic violence)
Doomsday vs. Lyric (YT). From Rhyme Spitters 2006, a documentary of an annual Chicago tournament of freestyle emcee battles – completely improvised verbal battles between two rappers where insults are brought to a lyrical form that's often hilarious, often very politically incorrect, and usually NSFW. It's usually not taken personal by either party – in fact, it's not unusual in these battles to see a rapper smiling in appreciation of a particularly well-crafted insult that just came from their opponent. See also Rhyme Spitters 1, 2, and 4, each hour-long documentaries online at Vimeo featuring tons more battles.
"In my next conscious moment, I was dimly aware that I was facedown on the pavement. There was blood in my mouth."
"A Mugging on Lake Street" : John Conroy -- author and former staff writer of the Chicago Reader best known for his articles on police torture finds himself a victim of a "senseless" crime and is forced by circumstance to examine his own opinions about race, hate crimes, and violence. (last link is referenced in original article)
President Obama pencil topper. Olympic Mayor Daley. Parachuting Rod Blagojevich.(Acrobat PDF) Mayor Daley Parking Meter.(Acrobat PDF) Paper sculptures by illustrator and animation artist Joe Fournier.
Last week, the Sears Tower opened the "Ledge", where you can be 103 floors above the ground, standing on glass to get a great view of Chicago.
NEA Jazz in the Schools takes a step-by-step journey through the history of jazz, integrating that story with the sweep of American social, economic, and political developments. This multi-media curriculum is designed to be as useful to high school history and social studies teachers as it is to music teachers. Start with the introductory video to get a feel for the place. The education outline contains five lessons. If you just want to listen, all the music samples are on one page. Perhaps you're more interested in individual artist biographies, or a jazz history timeline. [more inside]
The push for Chicago as the 2016 Olympic-host city is gearing up, and even the usually reclusive Michael Jordan has publicly declared his support. Jordan also appears in this recently released ad that features testimonials from other former Chicago Olympians such as Jackie-Joyner Kersee, Greg Louganis, and many more.
It's harder to be more obscure and unheralded than John Henry Timmis IV. He barely even tried to sell his own music, almost always giving copies away of his impossibly rare loner-punk 45's. Dieing in 2002, almost 15 years after his last single, from complications resulting from alcoholism, after suffering from the degenerative ear/skull disease mastoiditis-- his potential hardly tapped... until now. Film buffs may know him as the director/producer of the longest movie ever made, The Cure for Insomnia staring Lee Groban reading his same titled 4,080 page poem spliced with porn and heavy metal, clocking in at 87 hours. Virtually unknown until the song "Death Trip" appeared on an obscure bootleg punk compilation Staring Down the Barrel. Interest peaked enough for Plastic Crimewave's Secret History of Chicago Music article to have a write up on him and Drag City/Galactic Zoo to reissue his forgotten masterpiece, Cosmic Lighting. [more inside]
"He was one bad dude, strutting across the stage like a harp-toting gangster, mesmerizing the crowd with his tough-guy antics and rib-sticking Chicago blues attack." - All Music Guide. He was also a sharp-dressing mofo who, at the end of his storied life, was buried in "his creaseless sky-blue silk suit and matching homburg, a shiny trove of harmonicas laid out beside him, a pint of gin nestled nearby to ease his journey home". In the opinion of many, he was the greatest blues harmonica player of all time. [more inside]
Touch and Go Records, distributor for Drag City, Merge, and Kill Rock Stars (among others) has announced they will be cutting their distribution service and scale back to being a record label only.
Perhaps something of an oddity in Chicago machine politics [I like to think in the spirit of Sean Tevis] Tom Geoghegan (pronounced "gay-gun") is running in a special election -- primary March 3rd and (hope me :) general April 7th -- for Rahm Emanuel's vacated 5th district Illinois seat. [more inside]
MrChiCity3 hilariously explains how to attract women with Snapple and Vitamin Water, how he dealt with finding a bug in his apartment, and what happened when he got a parking ticket. [NSFW and potentially offensive language, no nsfw images] [more inside]
Blagojevich impeached by State House. With only one dissenter Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois House of Representatives while out jogging (video). This is the first step for removing the governor from power. Next the state senate puts Blaggo on trail, and that is scheduled to happen shortly after Obama's inauguration in a couple of weeks. Capital Fax Blog is reporting that Blaggo is not going to resign, and the governer has scheduled a press conference this afternoon with an official response to the vote. Previously on Mefi [more inside]
"You got bailed out. We got sold out." Chicago workers respond to a factory closing by occupying the factory. A flickr set of photos from the site.
Chicago jam-comics group Trubble Club boasts an all-star line-up of amazing illustrators, collectively creating surreal, hilarious and somewhat disturbing comics. [more inside]
Wilco perform "The Wilco Song" on The Colbert Report... and Tweedy even manages to work Colbert's name into the lyrics. Apparently, the band are tight with a certain candidate.
NextBus uses GPS to tell you the predicted time of the next bus. Google maps show buses in real time, and you can get updates on your phone/PDA. The coverage is limited to certain agencies within the US, so these other sites might be useful: Hopstop covers subways and buses in NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, DC, and more. (mobile version) Google Transit has many US metro areas in addition to Canada, Europe, and Japan. (previously) Many more locations inside. [more inside]
For nearly 20 years, Chicago has known about police torture of suspects. Torture at the city's notorious Area 2, under Commander Jon Burge, resulted in numerous false confessions in the 1980s, including the men who became known as the Death Row 10. The Death Row 10 case was among the reasons former Gov. George Ryan's called a moratorium on capital punishment in Illinois in 2000 and pardoned four in 2003. Burge, fired in 1993, retired to Florida on his police pension, where he seemed to escape any measure of justice. Until today. [more inside]
The Chicago Tribune has been a bastion of Republican endorsements, having consistently endorsed every single Republican presidential nominee since it was founded in 1847. One of its earliest managing editors, Joseph Medill, was a founder of the Republican Party. Today, it endorsed its first Democratic presidential candidate in its 161-year history. And it certainly did not do so halfheartedly. [more inside]
Then I imagined what my friends would say if I got killed: I kept hearing them retell the story of how I went out to O'Hare to get a cat and instead met my doom wandering down the middle of a highway in a blizzard. I could just hear them saying,[more inside]It's how he would have wanted to go ...
The history of Chicago's greaser gangs of the 1960s and 70s is an interesting one. Greaser gangs were street gangs made up of young white men who emulated the style of 1950s Fonzie-esque greasers, and existed in opposition to the perceived threat of Latinos and other minorities who were moving into their formerly Irish/Italian/Greek/etc. neighborhoods. Gangs such as the Simon City Royals and the Almighty Gaylords (previously) fought amongst themselves and against Latino gangs such as the Latin Kings and the Vice Lords throughout the late 60s and 70s, even employing racist/extremist logos and imagery to intimidate their enemies. Racial divides became less important with the advent of the drug trade, as formerly bitter enemies untied under the People and Folk nations and graduated from comparatively innocent Outsiders-style street battling to violent warfare. Read all about this real-life version of The Warriors directly from the people who lived it.
Are you a young middle-class creative type (probably white) who has chosen to live in an urban neighborhood that your parents would have shunned? Have the families that formerly lived in your neighborhood (probably not white) been pushed out by soaring rents and real-estate prices to the city fringes or suburbs? The New Republic on demographic inversion.
Roger Ebert reflects on "Siskel & Ebert", its origins, and his departed friend and enemy, on the occasion of his show's ending (after many permutations and forms). And they're taking the thumbs with them.
myopenbar.com (Chicago link) is a dandy little site that lets you know where to score free and/or cheap eats and/or drinks on any given night in your area (assuming 'your area' = NYC, SF, LA, Honolulu, Miami, or the aforementioned Chi-town). The places are rated, and visited personally by the website's bloggers, but who cares? It's free booze. [more inside]
Photographs from the Chicago Daily News, 1902-1933. Stumbled upon whilst looking for historical info on 1933, this Library of Congress-hosted site provides access to "over 55,000 images of urban life captured on glass plate negatives" by the photographers of the Daily News. memory.loc.gov simply never disappoints.
Al Green sits in with Chicago (SLYT with a massive side order of awesome).
The Meaning of Box 722. Letters to Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois in reaction to the 1966 civil rights bill, particularly the federal ban on racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing. At the time, Chicago was the most segregated city in the north, with boundaries enforced by mob violence. By Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland. When I started researching NIXONLAND I knew the congressional elections of 1966 would form a crucial part of the narrative. They'd never really been examined in-depth before, but by my reckoning they were the crucial hinge that formed the ideological alignment we live in now. Via Brad DeLong.
WGN-TV's Tom Skilling is legendary Chicago weatherman with an equally famous brother. While Sam Zell's ownership of Tribune Corporation has ruffled the feathers of many, even a mefite, it's very clear who is running the company.
Maps: Finding our place in the world is an exhibit at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, and it runs until this Sunday June 8. That page contains images of a few of the maps. One of the many great things included is an animated map of the US Civil War in 4 minutes (one week per second, timeline noted at bottom, casualty counter rolling in bottom right corner - info about this animation) The exhibition book was previously linked here; that site includes higher-resolution versions of some more of the maps. I was floored by all the stuff they have; in terms of the rarity of the stuff in it, and the geek-delight factor, I think it's probably the best gallery show I've ever seen. [more inside]
Paul Sills, son of Viola Spolin and one of the fathers of Chicago style improv comedy through his work with The Compass Players (who sort of morphed into Second City) and through his Story Theatre work has passed away at age 80. Chicago has lost two of its legends in one day.
"Ok, my eyes must be deceiving me. That can't be someone aiming a gun at someone else on Google Maps Street View", says Michael Beck.
Geese are on the run once again in Chicago, as the City Council overturns its recent ban on foie gras, which had been prompted in part by prodding from animal rights activists. Many chefs (although not all) were furious when the ban was enacted, missing the "exquisite taste, silky texture." They had threatened civil disobedience and even filed a lawsuit. And now epicurians as well as Jewish grandmothers rejoice.