Street Smart Chicago

Dynastic by Design: How The Field Museum Built the Nation’s Largest Chinese Historical Museum Exhibit

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Guardian Lions

Guardian Lions

By Nona Tepper

“When I look at it straight it looks straight, but when I look at it sideways it looks crooked,” says Jaap Hoogstraten, director of exhibitions at the Field Museum.

The man paces in front of an arch decorated with red, blue and gold images of ancient Chinese life. The air smells like dust, and a saw grinds on a bench in the middle of the gallery. Project manager Tom Skwerski stands behind him.

“It’s tricky to do an immersive environment,” Skwerski says. “We don’t want to look like a Chinese restaurant.”

The men are standing in the Cyrus Tang Hall of China, an upcoming exhibit at The Field Museum slated to open just three months from that day. The arch is stenciled with what look like the same designs that decorate the entrance gate to Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, but is it crooked? Hoogstraten and Skwerski have had this debate before, Hoogstraten says. Perhaps they’ll have it again. The men walk away and start talking about what still needs to be done. The nearly 400 objects need to be mounted; the mounts need to be attached to bases; the bases need to be covered in decorative felt. The producers need to speed up the slideshows on Chinese dynastic history and, speaking of technology, the technology for the projections of Neolithic China still needs to be developed.

The men have three months.  Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 11, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “To look at a thing hard and straight and seriously—to fix it.” Aries author Henry James said he wanted to do that on a regular basis. He didn’t want to be “arbitrary” or “mechanical” in his efforts. I invite you to make this perspective one of your specialties in the coming weeks, Aries. Pick out a tweaked situation you’d like to mend or a half-spoiled arrangement you want to heal. Then pour your pure intelligence into it. Investigate it with a luminous focus. Use all your tough and tender insight to determine what needs to be transformed, and transform it. Read the rest of this entry »

Afternoon Delight: In Praise of “The Afternoon Shift” On Its Final Day

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Niala Boodhoo

Niala Boodhoo

By Eric Lutz

Radio is a uniquely intimate form of media. We accept these voices into our cars and our kitchens, into our headphones and routines. And when you listen to enough radio, certain voices come to sound as comforting and familiar as the voice of a smart, curious friend.

For the past three years, “The Afternoon Shift” on WBEZ has been home to many such voices, first under the guidance of Steve Edwards, then the great Rick Kogan, and, since 2013, host Niala Boodhoo. Yesterday, the station announced they were pulling the plug on the program and letting go of Boodhoo. This is sad news, in part, because it cuts local weekday programming in half, but also, much more viscerally, because it feels like the departure of a friend. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Settle Down, Marie

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By Nick Drnaso. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Nick_Drnaso_Marie_WEB

Dime Stories: Brian Wilson’s Second Act

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Ghost Thank You (Nocturne) 100

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

About halfway through “Love and Mercy,” the Brian Wilson biopic, one realizes how Brian Wilson’s songs have never lost their currency. We still sing along to these happy tunes. Of all the music from the 1960s, only the Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys offer a safe harbor from the cynicism and tragedy of that troubled decade. Even forty-nine years later, “Pet Sounds” still stands as a transcendent recording that would influence a good measure of what came after—including the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Just listen to the layering of sounds; Wilson did it first. It is to the picture’s credit that this period in Brian Wilson’s life is rendered in sunshine and bold, vibrant colors. Brian has broken it wide open, even if he is the only one who understands this. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 4, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The Persian scholar Avicenna was so well-rounded in his knowledge that he wrote two different encyclopedias. Even as a teenager he was obsessed with learning all he could. He got especially consumed with trying to master Aristotle’s “Metaphysics,” which did not easily yield its secrets to him. He read it forty times, memorizing every word. When he finally understood it, he was so excited he celebrated by giving out money and gifts to destitute strangers. I suspect you will soon be having an equivalent breakthrough, Aries. At last you will grasp a truth that has eluded you for a long time. Congratulations in advance! Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 28, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Keith Moon played drums for the rock band the Who. He was once voted the second-greatest drummer  in history. But his erratic behavior, often provoked by drugs or alcohol, sometimes interfered with his abilities. In 1973, the Who was doing a live concert near San Francisco when the horse tranquilizer that Moon had taken earlier caused him to pass out. The band appealed to the audience for help. “Can anybody play the drums?” asked guitarist Pete Townshend. “I mean somebody good?” A nineteen-year-old amateur drummer named Scot Halpin volunteered. He played well enough to finish the show. I suspect that sometime soon, Aries, you may also get an unexpected opportunity to play the role of a substitute. Be ready! Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 21, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): James McNeil Whistler was an influential painter in the latter half of the nineteenth century. He advocated the “art for art’s sake” credo, insisting that the best art doesn’t need to teach or moralize. As far as he was concerned, its most important purpose was to bring forth “glorious harmony” from chaos. But the immediate reason I’m nominating him to be your patron saint for the coming weeks is the stylized signature he created: an elegant butterfly with a long tail that was actually a stinger. I think you’ll thrive by embodying that dual spirit: being graceful, sensitive and harmonious and yet also feisty, piquant and provocative. Can you manage that much paradox? I think you can. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Untitled

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By Ben Marcus. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)

benmarcus_WEB

Dime Stories: The Scavengers

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

The great Charles Bowden passed away last year. He wrote a great many articles and books about the border, the one we share with Mexico. In the years since NAFTA passed there have been hundred upon hundreds of women murdered in and around Juarez–a great many of them maquiladora workers. A maquiladora is an assembly plant, or factory, that hires thousands of women and pays them stoop labor, shit wages to do piecework–sewing, circuit boards, and other close work that require small, deft hands.

A great many women from as far away as Central America flocked to the border for jobs. So NAFTA managed to impoverish two cultures. The women of the maquiladora plants and the American union worker, and some big American companies outsourced jobs here to avoid paying a living wage to union workers: Levi’s, Motorola, IBM, Black & Decker, GM, Cooper Tire, among others. Read the rest of this entry »