Sunday, April 23, 2017

Scenes from Saturday's March for Science

Posted By on 04.23.17 at 01:15 PM

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An estimated 40,000 people, dogs, cats, and dinosaurs gathered in Grant Park on Saturday—a seasonably appropriate Earth Day—to march to the  Field Museum to show their support for science: the belief in it, the funding for it, and its spirit of openness and curiosity, all things that have been denied by members of the current administration. It was also an opportunity to make some excellent protest signs, which, arguably, has become the great public art form of our time. (So thank you, Trump administration, I guess?)

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The march itself was more low-key than the Women's March back in January, either because scientists prefer rationality to anger or because, after just three months, many Americans have begun to experience protest fatigue. As a sign I saw on the el pointed out, there is just so much to protest these days.

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The socialists were out in force, as they have been at every march this year. Many scientists, they pointed out, have also been comrades. Representatives for gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss were also out campaigning. They pointed out that as a former U. of C. math professor, he would be uniquely qualified to solve Illinois's budget issues. It is true, he probably has more experience with imaginary numbers than most.

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Unlike at the Women's March, there was no official science uniform, aside from the march T-shirt, which featured one Chicago star surrounded by atomic rings. In the spirit of the pussy hats, there were a few brain hats (one marcher had knitted hers from vintage 1970s yarn left to her by an aunt), but those appeared to be a more complicated knitting project.

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There were also lab coats and goggles, NASA jumpsuits, sweatshirts from Rosalind Franklin University and the U. of C., and T-shirts from high school science competitions. (Incidentally, this is the first march I have been to where complete strangers have bonded over participating in high school science competitions and also over taking AP physics.) Also one microscope helmet.

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At times, the march slowed to a shuffle, and bored marchers decided to start up chants: "Hey hey, ho ho! Phony facts have got to go!"; "No ban! No wall! Science for us all!"; and "Get up! Get down! Chicago is a science town!" None of these lasted more than a couple of minutes or so. Science folk are not chanters. Which is totally fine.

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At the end of the march there was a science expo at the Field Museum where local organizations and academic programs showed off promotional materials and looked for volunteers and applicants, but many marchers were more interested in exploring the scientific process of digestion.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Pledge drives flourish at public media in Chicago

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 08:19 PM

WBEZ raised $1 million in its most recent pledge drive. - JOE THORN/FLICKR
  • Joe Thorn/Flickr
  • WBEZ raised $1 million in its most recent pledge drive.

Was I imagining things, or did the WBEZ announcers sound cheerier than usual during the membership drive that ended last week? Maybe it was the fact this spring's drive was reduced to just five days on the air—after days of hints to listeners to go online to make their pledges. Maybe it was the campaign's success: the revenues it raised—$1 million—soared 33 percent above the 2016 spring total, and that drive was considered a good one.

Or maybe it was just a general sense that life is so bad it's good. Donald Trump's in the White House, fake news imperils democracy, and there's not much partisans of openness and truth can do about it except support the journalism they trust. So they do.

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Meet Pablo Garcia, the biggest Cubs fan in Albuquerque

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 03:30 PM

Homer and Marge at Isotopes Field in Albuquerque - COURTESY ALBUQUERQUE ISOTOPES
  • courtesy Albuquerque Isotopes
  • Homer and Marge at Isotopes Field in Albuquerque

According to all the travel guides, the charms of Albuquerque pale next to those of Santa Fe and the many little mountain towns of northern New Mexico. Though Albuquerque has views of the mountains and pockets of quaint pink adobe architecture, the town itself exists for the people who live there, not for tourists, and it looks that way. Still, I maintain there is something incredibly endearing about a city that has named its minor-league baseball team after an episode of The Simpsons—the one where Homer threatens a hunger strike when the Springfield Isotopes prepare to move to Albuquerque—and has statues of Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa inside its ballpark. (It's also endearing that there's a personal injury lawyer who has turned his ad campaign into a tribute to Better Call Saul. His slogan is "Hurt? Call Bert.")

So naturally when my boyfriend, Jeff, and I were in Albuquerque last week, we had to go visit. Unfortunately, the Isotopes were out of town and the ballpark was closed. We stood around admiring the field through the first-base gate and trying to figure out what to do next when a woman standing at the ticket counter yelled over something scornful about Jeff's Cubs World Series T-shirt. We yelled back about how it's not bragging to celebrate something that happens once every 108 years, and a conversation ensued.

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Pot smokers toke up in public to make a political statement

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 02:35 PM

About 80 people gathered at the Logan Square monument Thursday afternoon for a smoke out in honor of 4/20. - LEE GAINES
  • Lee Gaines
  • About 80 people gathered at the Logan Square monument Thursday afternoon for a smoke out in honor of 4/20.

About a half-dozen men in their 20s and 30s stood next to the Logan Square monument Thursday passing three blunts between them as they celebrated the unofficial holiday known as National Weed Day. When Sammy, a 35-year-old Logan Square native who declined to provide his last name, looked at his cell phone and realized it was 4:20 PM on April 20, he and a few other people clapped and cheered.

Sammy and the rest of his group were among a crowd of about 80 people, mostly male and mostly millennial, gathered around Logan Square's marble column toking up for the 4/20 celebration. Sammy told me he found out about the Logan Square smoke out on Facebook and jumped at the opportunity to celebrate with like-minded individuals.

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German jazz veteran Günter Baby Sommer reunites with Cold War-era colleagues on a new live CD

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 02:00 PM

Quarteto Trionfale  (Günter Baby Sommer, Barre Phillips, Manfred Schoof, Gianluigi Trovesi) - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • Quarteto Trionfale (Günter Baby Sommer, Barre Phillips, Manfred Schoof, Gianluigi Trovesi)

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, adventurous jazz musicians in East Germany struggled to keep up with their comrades on the other side. While some artists in the east got opportunities to play abroad and collaborate with folks from beyond the wall, they often had to contend with serious government meddling. In 1979, for example, fantastic East German drummer Günter Baby Sommer was booked to perform at the Jazzwerkstatt Peitz, a small performance space in the east, with a band that included excellent West German trumpeter Manfred Schoof—a key figure in the advent of free jazz and an early cohort of Peter Brötzmann. According to the liner notes of a new Sommer CD, written by critic and radio host Götz Bühler, the authorities were concerned about the potential blowback of having a player from the other side of the wall in the band, so they demanded that Sommer round out the group with musicians from other countries. Those other musicians were wonderful Italian reedist Gianluigi Trovesi and great American bassist Barre Phillips.

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C2E2, an Earth Day celebration at Garfield Park Conservatory, and more things to do in Chicago this weekend

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 01:06 PM

The McCormick Place turns into cosplay central this weekend during C2E2. - SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Sun-Times Media
  • The McCormick Place turns into cosplay central this weekend during C2E2.

There's plenty to do both inside and out on this Earth Day weekend. Here's some of what we recommend:

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James Gray talks about The Lost City of Z, re-creating history, and online writing trends that piss him off

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 12:31 PM

The Lost City of Z
  • The Lost City of Z
The historical epic The Lost City of Z, which opens in theaters today, marks a substantial change of pace for writer-director James Gray. Gray’s five previous films—among them We Own the Night, Two Lovers, and The Immigrant—took place in ethnic enclaves of New York City over relatively short periods of time. Lost City, on the other hand, takes place in England, Ireland, and the Amazonian jungle, and its narrative spans two decades. It recounts the true story of Percy Fawcett (played in the movie by Charlie Hunnam), a British explorer who was determined to find the ruins of a fabled ancient city in South America in the early 20th century. He made several trips along the Amazon over the course of his career, eventually recruiting his son to join him in his travels. Like Gray’s other movies, Lost City feels classical in its storytelling and cinematic grammar, making it unlike most other films being made today. At the same time, the film advances modern views about women and imperialism that one doesn’t find in, say, the historical epics of David Lean, whom Gray cited as an influence when he presented Lost City (from his personal 35-millimeter print) at the Music Box last Sunday night. I spoke with Gray the morning after that screening to discuss some of his other creative influences, the politics of his new film, and what he hopes to achieve when he re-creates earlier eras.

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Drowning our Tax Day sorrows at Income Tax Bar

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 11:00 AM

COURTESY INCOME TAX BAR
  • courtesy Income Tax Bar
Yes, yes, I realize that we should have gone to Income Tax Bar on Tuesday to drown our sorrow over being newly poor. But the weather was so nice on Tuesday and, anyway, the government hadn't cashed the big checks we mailed to it, so the sorrow was more abstract. It was easier to be sad on Wednesday when it turned cold and blustery and our bank accounts were noticeably smaller. Those are ideal conditions for going to a bar and drinking some wine and expounding at length on our personal grievances with life.

There is plenty of wine at Income Tax Bar, mostly from France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. There are also beer, cider, spirits, and a small selection of cocktails, most of which are brandy based. The waitstaff are very kind and patient with their explanations about what things are and helpful about helping novices figure out what might taste good.

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Harajuku party encourages self-expression in the South Loop

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 10:28 AM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.

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  • Isa Giallorenzo

Model Juni Park was spotted hanging out at a Harajuku party at Studio 415 cohosted by Akira cofounder Jon Cotay. No longer working for the local boutique, the globe-trotting businessman now runs an event company that organizes such parties. "I decided to do the Harajuku-themed party based on my travels to Tokyo," he says. To Cotay, the Japanese teen street style popularized by the fashion magazine Fruits gave his partygoers an occasion to experiment with hair and makeup, layer patterns and colors, and engage in playing roles such as punk, goth, kawaii, and sweet Lolita.

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Chance the Rapper named one of Time's 100 most influential people of 2017, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 06:00 AM

Chance the Rapper announcing his $1 million donation to Chicago Public Schools in March - ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
  • Chance the Rapper announcing his $1 million donation to Chicago Public Schools in March

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, April 21, 2017.

  • Chance the Rapper named one of Time's 100 most influential people of 2017

Chance the Rapper has been named as one of the most 100 influential people in the world by Time magazine. Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein, President Donald Trump, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, actor Riz Ahmed, actress Emma Stone, and basketball legend LeBron James are some of the other influencers to make the 2017 list. Rapper, actor, and fellow south-side native Common wrote a glowing profile about Chance for the magazine: "Chance upends expectations about what artists, ­especially hip-hop artists, can do. He streams his albums instead of selling them. He makes music from an unapologetically inspiring and Christian perspective—music that transcends age, race and gender. He gives back to his Chicago community. And he does it all as an independent artist, without the support of a label." Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not on the list but wrote the profile of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. [Time]

  • Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts withdraws his nomination from the Trump administration

Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to be deputy commerce secretary, has withdrawn his nomination from consideration for the job. Ricketts "could not unravel the overlapping family holdings that obviously include the Cubs" even though he was willing to, a source told the Sun-Times. "I offer my continued support for President Trump and his administration, and the important work they are doing to promote economic opportunity," Ricketts told the newspaper in an e-mail. "I hope there are other opportunities to contribute to his administration in the future." [Sun-Times]

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