Nov. 19, 2013
Nov. 18, 2013
The first sentence of Kelley Stoltz’s artist bio on AllMusic.com nicely sums up all of the key touchstones in his musical mix, even as it charts his professional and geographic journey: “Singer/songwriter Kelly Stoltz grew up in the Detroit area, but eventually found his way to San Francisco after taking a detour to New York City, where he worked in the mailroom at Jeff Buckley’s management company.”
This is to say, San Francisco psychedelic pop, heartfelt folk-rock, New York art-punk minimalism, Detroit garage-rock growl—yep, they’re all here on album number seven Double Exposure.
Nov. 14, 2013
Nov. 14, 2013
Lady Gaga, Artpop (Interscope Records)
Just because the postmodern pop persona so carefully and lucratively constructed by the former Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta asks us to listen with the mindset that her third studio album is capital-A art doesn’t mean she delivers on that promise the way that, say, the Velvet Underground did when it packaged its sounds behind that famous Warhol banana. Musically, Artpop is more potent than the soggy and flaccid Born This Way (2011)—the grooves are groovier, the hooks are hookier, and while there’s still some unnecessary (and unsuccessful) hair-metal balladry, it doesn’t dominate the disc the way it did last time. In fact, if you disconnect or chemically impede your intellect while listening, you can have a fair amount of fun until things derail with the piano-driven pretentiousness of “Dope” and “Gypsy.”
Nov. 13, 2013
My first foray into journalism was writing “Nasty Knocks and Dirty Cracks,” a gossip column for my high school newspaper (where I was also managing editor).
I loved the column because it was an excuse to write about any and all topics — sports, politics, economics, pop culture — and let me circulate through the jock, stoner, drama nerd and queen bee cliques without having to join any of them. The column was popular, and sometimes scandalous. A “blind item” came a little too close for comfort, resulting in a teachable moment between the paper’s staff and school authorities around libel law and defamation.
But as much as I might have fancied myself a very small fry version of Hedda Hopper or Michael Musto, by the time I graduated high school the era of the big time gossip columnist was on its way out.
I was reminded of that by remembrances this week of Chicago’s legendary Irv “Kup” Kupcinet. Kup died 10 years ago, but his career declined well before then.
When Kup did reign, he reigned big. It is hard to imagine today that a man who regularly dined out on rumor (usually in his own personal booth at the Ambassador Hotel’s Pump Room) could wield so much social power and influence, at least in this town.
Nov. 13, 2013
What makes for a great neighborhood bar? To me, its main quality exists in comfort.
Are the drinks priced well? Are the seats comfortable? Are the people more than decent? A great neighborhood bar — a great dive bar in particular — is especially enjoyable on weekdays, when raucousness is abandoned for quiet and a night cap. Expressions like 'pleasant,' 'decent' and 'just right' should be used liberally.
In college, I lived in Chicago's Lincoln Park. I remember going to a bar a block away from me once, hoping to find an alternative to treking to other parts of the city for a night out. I handed the doorman my ID, but what should have been a quick once-over became uncomfortable. His stare was equal parts lascivious and questioning, as if saying, ‘You don’t belong here, but I’ll let you in if you’re a good girl and ask nicely.’
I never went back.
“All we’ve got in Chicago is a bunch of TV screens and dive bars,” I once said to a friend while leaving the Belmont 'El' stop. “And I hate it.”
Nov. 12, 2013
I spent the weekend eyeballing the three final submissions for Northwestern University's highly-publicized architectural bake-off to build the school's new biomedical research facility.
The finalists include three Chicago firms: Goettsch Partners is working with Philadelphia company Ballinger; Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture is partnered with Payette from
Boston; and Perkins and Will is going at it alone.
To make way for the building, dubbed the Feinberg School of Medicine Medical Research Center, architect Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital is being torn down.
The winning design will be built in two phases. Construction of the 600,000 sq ft first phase is expected to begin in 2015. The space would then double — and the lab tower would grow substantially, as the Goettsch/Ballinger rendering above shows — in a planned second stage.
So what can we make of all this?
One look at the submissions shows why the university never would have reused the old Prentice building.