What should we expect from the Chicago food scene in 2011? Food trucks, butcher shops and seafood, for starters. Justin Kaufmann sat down with me to get a sneak preview of the stories, trends and predictions to watch in the year ahead.
Dec. 29, 2010
Actor-playwright-monologist John Leguizamo will return to Chicago Feb. 1-12 to break in his new Broadway-bound show, "Ghetto Klown" (which is being called "John Leguizamo Warms Up" here, for reasons unknown). The show will play the Royal George Theatre for two weeks only, prior to beginning performances Feb. 21 at the Lyceum Theatre in New York. Lequizamo probably will tour in it following its limited-engagement Broadway run, so it's likely to return to Chicago at some point. But you can see it first. With tickets at $40-$45, it's a very good deal to see a Broadway try-out.
In the course of his extremely diverse career, Leguizamo has earned a reputation as a chameleon performer in roles ranging from drag to the fat, evil clown in "Spawn." He's played opposite Mark Wahlberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert DeNiro and Nicole Kidman among others. Among his one-man Broadway shows, which have brought him a devoted following quite apart from his extensive screen work, are "Sexaholix" and the award-winning "Spic-O-Rama."
Dec. 29, 2010
This year, WBEZ/Vocalo invested in some new cameras. For the first part of the year, we were working off our old trusted Flip video camera, which gave us the ability to capture video, but not really edit. With our new cameras, we were able to take this radio station and its web site in a new direction. Here's a list of 10 of the better videos we produced in 2010. I put them all in one post for your viewing enjoyment on this boring work day.
With our new cameras, we were able to take our Wikipedia Files video podcast to a whole new level. We started the year off fact-checking the Wikipedia page of embattled and controversial politician Scott Lee Cohen. But our big "get" for the year was Big Boi. Big Boi is half of the hip-hop duo Outkast. We were given a few minutes of his time before his big show at Pitchfork. He didn't disappoint. This is how Wikipedia Files should go every time:
ATM = Always Trust Magic
Dec. 29, 2010
With the burgeoning number of theater blogs, Chicago productions are rarely overlooked completely. But a few that I saw in 2010 weren’t given the props they deserved. When creative productions go unnoticed, that’s bad news for both the industry and the theatergoing public.
1) Tellin’ Tales Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dreamers” ran just two weekends in June, but it was a find. This evening of four monologues on the subject of insomnia, curated by Tekki Lomnicki, was often hilarious and/or disconcertingly up-front and true. I don’t know why this particular, highly personal brand of performance—a cross between stand-up and autobiographical confession—seems to have gone out of style.
2) Despite its attention-grabbing title, “Six Dead Queens and an Inflatable Henry!” was neglected by both the Trib and TimeOut in April. Piccolo Theatre’s freewheeling take on Foursight Theatre’s 1999 show had a manic charm from the get-go, when all six of Henry’s dead wives roiled beneath the covers of a giant raked bed.
Dec. 28, 2010
Congressman Danny Davis isn't taking the holiday break lightly.
As others quitely gear up for a renewed Chicago mayoral campaign after the New Year, Davis is stepping up the energy and the publicity this week.
First came yesterday's press conference aimed at highlighting his pledge to clean up city politics. Now comes his statement today that former President Bill Clinton should rethink his plans to campaign in Chicago on behalf of Rahm Emanuel.
The Davis campaign issued a press release today urging Clinton not to make such an appearance, arguing that doing so could jeopardize his "long and fruitful relationship" with the African-American community. After all, Clinton was often symbolically known as America's "first black president" by some in the community long before Barack Obama won election to the White House in 2008.
Davis claims that relationship could be hampered by choosing to support a white candidate, Rahm Emanuel, over two black candidates who've considered him a friend as well - Davis and former U.S.
Dec. 28, 2010
Ken Davis hosts a show called Chicago Newsroom on CAN-TV. It's a roundtable discussion of the week's news. You will see pundits and journalists talk with Ken about the issues facing Chicago. The show leans more towards Chicago politics than anything else, which means it is ripe for subversion.
While you were enjoying your roasted chestnuts and fighting with your family, I went down to the ole' CAN-TV studios in Greektown to mess with Ken. That's right, Alderman Ed Bus (my alter-ego) makes his Chicago Newsroom debut.
Ken had a one-on-one conversation with Chicago Reader scribe Ben Joravsky about the legacy of Mayor Richard M. Daley. Towards the back-end of this great conversation (and it was a great conversation), I butted into the conversation for some comic relief.
Dec. 28, 2010
Buddhist goes up to a hotdog stand, says “Make me one with everything.” Y’know, comedy is a funny thing. That’s why I’ve made a separate list of the five best comedies of 2010, distinct from the five best dramas. My Dueling Critic colleague, Kelly Kleiman, made no such list, which says a lot about her sense of humor. She doesn’t understand the difference between funny-haha and funny-peculiar. If you do, consider the following:
1. “The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life,” The Second City etc. Well, the “junior” division of the Great Octopus of Improvisational Comedy—aka The Second City—knocked it over the wall with this deafeningly-loud, lightening-fast revue which actually managed to be topical and political as well as funny. Of course, problem with topical humor is it changes so quickly. Then again, with politics the more things change, the more they stay the same. Oh well, I guess Second City won’t have Daley to kick around anymore.
Dec. 28, 2010
The deadline for promoters responding to the request for proposals to privatize Taste of Chicago, the Blues Festival, and the five other soon-to-be-formerly-free city music festivals was 4 p.m. Monday, having been extended from the same time on the day the night before Christmas, and the results are in. Drum roll please...
The one and only bidder is a company called Celebrate Chicago, LLC.
No Ticketmaster/Live Nation. No Jam Productions. And no C3 Presents... unless of course one of them is part of Celebrate Chicago, LLC. And alas, as of this moment, we have no way of knowing.
The company does not turn up on a search of registered corporations in Illinois--possibly because it was formed specifically to respond to this proposal, either as a dedicated venture or a partnership with other entities to qualify for the city's women and minority hiring rules, and probably because it's too new to have been registered yet with the state, especially given the holiday.
The city is not going to share any other information with the public on who this bidder is or what it would like to do until the bidding evaluation committee either accepts the proposal and awards a contract or decides to keep the festivals in-house.