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You Can't Please Everyone: The Dubious Relationship between Logan Square and it's Bohemian Inhabitants

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(Please note: this is rather long, props still need to be given and links need to be made.  I will make sure to do so ASAP… I just needed to get it up here before it’s totally outdated.)

I love living in Logan Square.  I love the tree-lined streets and the elote carts, with their awkward, honking horns. I love the lively Quince años parties in people’s yards in the summer.  I love the candy that’s left over after the piñatas have been broken and the kids have gotten sick from sugar.

 Most of all, I love that I can afford to have a bedroom, a painting studio, and an office.  My boyfriend has a bike shop and a wood shop.  My dog has his own bedroom.  I have more than enough space and I only have to travel an extra mile out of my way to get it.

 Often, though, my enjoyment is soured by subtle reminders that I am not entirely welcome here.   To some of my neighbors, I am a blonde-haired harbinger of doom and my freshly renovated apartment with its’ granite countertops and hardwood floors is the lair in which I conspire my fascist agenda.  Or something like that. 

 Although most of Logan Square has already been gentrified, the West end, where I live, is just beginning to turn.  And so somehow, although this is my home too and I only want what’s best, my being here is apparently an open invitation for self-involved yuppies and money-hungry developers to come suck the life out of the neighborhood. I realize that some of my queasiness about gentrification can probably just be chalked up to white guilt, but gentrification is a real and hotly debated issue and discussions about it are not only valid but important, so I will forge on. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lets Make Lots of Money

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The Hideout during election week

The Hideout

(This is a story I wrote last April for my in-depth reporting class.  It’s about the music scene in Chicago and the controversial Event Promoters Ordinance which has been tossed around for a few years…)

Last weekend I overheard a conversation in the smoking tent at the bar I work at.  A group of regulars were talking about forming a band.  The most enthusiastic of them, a well-groomed, twenty-something blonde guy, suddenly yelled out in a fit of passion: “Chicago has an incredible music scene that just isn’t happening!”

This got me thinking.  Back in 2006, I spent six months traveling around the UK and Europe.  During my trip, I spent a good deal of my time seeking out good local music.  I was generally disappointed by what I didn’t find.  Although I did see some great bands in London and Liverpool, I found a lot of the music mediocre, unoriginal, and drab.  England and Ireland seemed to be tripping over themselves musically and Europe was just way too into techno for my tastes.  I finished my trip with an invigorated appreciation of Chicago. 

Often, when I tell people I think Chicago is the best music city I’ve been to, they are surprised.  Most people, especially people who don’t live in Chicago, have no idea what’s going on here musically.  And, after minimal Internet research, I understand why.  To say that Chicago has an amazing music scene might not be entirely accurate. Chicago has an amazing UNDERGROUND music scene.  And if you aren’t already part of it, it can be difficult to access. The Chicago music scene has a ton of potential, but is underrated and often ignored.

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Dormant Art: an Interview with Rob Ray of Deadtech (3321 W. Fullerton)

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Rob Ray

Rob Ray

Rob Ray was the proprietor and curator of Deadtech, a defunct Logan Square artspace that existed from 1998-2008.  Deadtech was a venue for unconventional, electromechanical art and a community for artists interested in exploring the dichotomy between man and machine.   Ray is currently working on his MFA at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Kelly Reaves: What was Deadtech’s mission?

Rob Ray: To be a center for art and technology and an assistant to technology-centric artists in the best way we knew how. This tended to manifest itself in the putting on shows, providing technical assistance, and loaning equipment. We also hosted various regular meetings such as the Chicago Dorkbot and the chicago_pd group.  Our mission changed in the mid 2000s as new-media became a term very similar to “alternative” in that while it might have been new at the time, it became quite common.  So, I had to think about how Deadtech could differentiate itself from more established, better funded, and more highly recognized commercial and institutional places.  It used to be common for somebody to look at you totally sideways when you said you wanted to hang a projector in their space. It is now a common thing to see.  We took a fresh look at our assets and realized the biggest one we had was time.  A commercial space or somewhere like the Cultural Center never has time, and tech-based art is a PAIN to suss-out and painful to install. So we could work with artists that really wanted to do almost a residency-type install, or try something new in the actual space. Read the rest of this entry »

Short and Sweet and a Little Cheesy- an interview with Malaika Marion of The Brown Sack (3706 W. Armitage)

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photo courtesy of Yelp

photo courtesy of Yelp

This is the first of a series of interviews I’m conducting now about art and culture in the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago.  In February I stopped by my local sandwich shop, the Brown Sack, to speak to the Malaika Marion, co-owner.  I nervously sat and sipped tea while trying to muster up the courage to do my first interview with a stranger.  Well, not quite a stranger, last summer my dog demolished her patio by dragging her picnic table and potted tree onto Armitage Ave. in an attempt to tackle a cute bitch.  So, I kind of hoped she wouldn’t remember me.  She remembered.  But, even despite my mishap, she ended up being one of the nicest people I’ve ever met!  The interview turned out to be extraordinarily enjoyable- a nice introduction to the wonderful world of journalism.  The tape ran on for about an hour before it ran out.  In an effort to make it short and sweet for a school assignment, I’ve cut it down to the first 500 words.  

 

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Written by Kelly Reaves

March 19, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Bad Boy Turned Architect

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burden“Today I am going to breathe water,”

explained Chris Burden in his 1974 video, ‘Velvet Water’, “which is the opposite of drowning, because when you breathe water, you believe water to be richer, thicker oxygen capable of sustaining life”. In doing so, he decided not to be bound by conventional wisdom and to mistrust everything except his own experience.  After five minutes he collapsed, choking.

Is there something wrong with Chris Burden?  Is he crazy, or is he just a good artist?  Although his artwork has tamed quite a bit over the years, it is still awe-inspiring.  But the question that his work, especially his early work, elicits in my mind is- is he doing this out of insanity or love?

Burden is best known for his early work.  Beginning with his 1971 MFA show, ‘Five Day Locker Piece’, in which he confined himself in a tiny student locker for five days straight, Burden spent his early career staging performances that explored a potentially fatal merging of art and life. Over a three year period from ’71 to ‘74, he nailed himself to the roof of a Volkswagen Beetle, lay under a tarp on La Cienega Boulevard, lay in a bed in a gallery for 22 days, slithered, nearly naked, through 50 feet of broken glass, and most infamous of all, had himself shot with a rifle. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

December 13, 2008 at 9:50 pm

The Loop's Dirty Little Secret

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   cals2There is one last sacred place downtown. 

It is small, smelly, soggy, and guarded by loyal homeless guys.  But they are friendly, and they all know my name.  Everybody knows my name there,
 and they’re always glad I came.  This place is my own personal “Cheers.”  It is called Cal’s Liquors, and it is the last dive bar in the loop. 

At 61 years old, Cal’s is barely hanging on.  The city isn’t too happy about it being in the loop because it is loud and the attached liquor store sells half pints of booze, which attracts the homeless.  The homeless, in turn, scare the condo owners who live next door with their odor and enthusiasm.  There are no beer taps in the bar, and you’re probably better off with a bottle anyway because the “dishwashing system” is questionable.  If you are a female and you need to use the bathroom, empty your pockets first because if anything falls out while you’re dropping your pants you will not want to fish it out of the standing water on the bathroom floor. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

December 13, 2008 at 9:45 pm

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Cosmic Slop

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White people love Rashid Johnson.

 They love him because he’s a black artist who makes art about identity politics without assuming the role of a victim or pointing fingers. His art also makes white people feel like they understand black people, which delights them, but it is a dubious understanding because his work is intentionally ambiguous. It is anything but didactic, and it is refreshing. And it is refreshing, but not satisfying.

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Written by Kelly Reaves

October 20, 2008 at 6:51 am