A day before sitting behind the drumkit for two of Bruce Springsteen's sold-out concerts at Wrigley Field last weekend, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg entertained a small audience at Oak Park's Unity Temple.
"Besides being my generation's biggest Beatles fan, I happen to be a true Frank Lloyd Wright nerd — I mean 'aficionado,'" Weinberg told a group of about 150 people assembled in the auditorium of the Wright-designed church at 875 Lake St. last Thursday.
Weinberg's lecture was part of the "Break the Box" series of distinguished speakers, sponsored by the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation.
The New Jersey native said he has been a devotee of the architect since childhood, when a relative allowed him to visit the Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York while the modernist masterpiece was still under construction. As a teenager, he'd search out Prairie School architecture with his high school buddy and future film producer (and fellow Wright devotee), Joel Silver.
Weinberg said traveling with the E Street Band allowed him to visit Wright homes in buildings across the country.
Check out the above clip from the 1964 film Soy Cuba.
That astounding, unbroken camera shot is the stuff of cinema legend, to which sequences like the opening scene in Boogie Nights and the nightclub entrance in GoodFellas pay homage. The joint Soviet/Cuban production tells four self-contained stories of Cubans who are oppressed — but who ultimately fighting back against the corrupt, late '50s, pre-Castro (and non-communist) government.
The film ("I am Cuba" in English) was designed to serve as a dramatic reminder of why — in the eyes of the filmmakers — the Castro revolution was needed and, as such, is one of the finest straight propaganda films made. But the movie wasn't much of a hit in the USSR or Cuba and was seldom seen in this country, given the film's anti-American sentiment. Fortunately, Directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese rescued the film in 1995 and restored it. (My former Sun-Times colleague Roger Ebert reviewed the film for its 1995 re-release.)
Why talk about this film here?
City officials Thursday will seek landmark protection for a vacant 130-year-old Gold Coast residence under threat of demolition.
Staffers from the city's landmarks division will ask the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to grant preliminary landmark status to the three-story, Tudor-styled Augustus Warner House, 1337 N. Dearborn Parkway, according to a draft agenda of the commission's meeting today.
The narrow, three-story Warner House caught the attention of city officials in June when the building's owner, developer Bart Przyjemski, applied for a permit to demolish the structure. Built in 1884 and designed by architect Lawrence Gustav Hallberg, the home is rated "orange" in the city's Historic Resources Survey — the document's second highest rating — which triggered an automatic review of the demolition permit by landmarks officials.
Sandwiched between a four-story 1880s limestone residential building and a slit-windowed 15-story condo tower built in 1972, the Warner House has been marketed as a redevelopment site in recent years.
The Chicago Spire would have been built and standing for almost a year by now, had all gone according to plan: a 2,000 ft. tall tower — with the twisted profile of a drillbit — that would have been Chicago's newest landmark.
Of course, fate and finance intervened beginning with the real estate collapse of 2008 and the project was halted. All that remains are memories, lawsuits, liens and a cofferdam 80 ft. deep and slightly more than 100 ft. in diameter on the tower's former site.
That and this four-minute, dreamlike animation of the Chicago Spire, created when the project seemed viable. Posted on YouTube by user lincolnparkmedia, the video is a Surrealist piece of filmmaking with parting clouds, a dramatically falling rain drop and white dove flying past the towers torsioned facade. The score reminds me of the music they played when the heroes reached the cave in those old Jules Verne movie adaptations that used to come on "Family Classics" when I was kid.
The above video interested me.
Shot a year ago in London, the video shows six street photographers preparing to take pictures of building exteriors— and getting majorly hassled by the private security personnel from inside those buildings.
The video shines light on a peculiar cold war between photographers and security personnel in the years following the 9/11 terrorism attacks and the July 7, 2005 London bombings that killed 52 and injured 700: Amateurs and professional photographers standing in the public way to take photographs of a building are sometimes stopped and questioned by security personnel or run off entirely under the rubric of anti-terrorism.
Now building owners can, of course, prohibit photography on their own property. That's understandable. I can't expect to waltz into the lobby of, say, the Aon Building or the Willis Tower on a whim and snap away. But the video shows the other side of the coin, which is photographers standing on public streets, photographing publicly-seen buildings and being challenged by private cops enforcing not a law, but the wishes of the buildings' corporate owners.