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The Short List - December 2006

Exercise secrets of ex-Chicago Bears; Grey Gardens returns!; the Art Institute salutes 25 up-and-comers; and more for December


Who you calling sissy?
Spotted at the East Bank Club in the Gyrotonic room: former Chicago Bears superstars Richard Dent and Gary Fencik, who use the low-impact, machine-based exercise to counteract years of NFL wear and tear. “It’s really strengthened my core,” says Dent, “and it keeps [me] fit like a string, with everything connected.” Explains Tim Lester, director of Pilates and Gyrotonic at East Bank: “Richard and Gary both endured years of spinal compression. Gyrotonic is all about putting the spine in a neutral position, and strengthening the core muscles that surround it.” Golfers, take note: Dent vouches for the version that promises to increase the rotation of a golf swing.

The sleeper album of ‘06:
It could be The Magnificent Defeat (Rykodisc), by Jay Bennett . Notes local music critic Mark Guarino: “In the years since exiting Wilco , the pop music savant has gone through a divorce and the deaths of four family members, as well as struggling with his own demons. This album is the morning after, an album
of gonzo pop songs brimming with sturdy melodies and generous musical ideas.”

Move over, Muzak:
Sam Stryke’s claim to fame are the “Real Men of Genius” songs for Bud Light. The local composer hopes to change that in December with Christmas (available at samstryke.com), his twist on holiday classics. (We like"The Holly and the Ivy,” sung by Alice Peacock .) Stryke wants to offer a musical antidote to typical holiday madness: “I tried to create a warm and intimate atmosphere . . . the mood doesn’t get jarringly interrupted for a peppy version of ‘Jingle Bells.’”

Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz, on how Chicagoans will interpret 106 headless sculptures (“Agora") she’s installing in late November on the southernmost tip of Grant Park: “Chicago is not a pragmatic city,” says the 76-year-old. “The people are open to any metaphor.”

Rocky Horror redux:
Too many feel-good holiday shows got you craving camp? You’ll find it in Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the reclusive aunt and cousin of Jackie Kennedy , first introduced in the cult 1970s hit Grey Gardens. On Dec. 8th through 10th, the scene stealers return in a new documentary at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.; 773-871-6604). Cobbled together from old footage,The Beales of Grey Gardens should satisfy fans of the original, as will an upcoming film starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange .

“With anything of great achievement historically, something gets overshadowed,” says Art Institute architecture curator Joseph Rosa , who looks beyond masters like Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright in his new book, Young Chicago (Yale University Press; $16.95), out in December. Rosa’s celebration of younger and lesser-known local designers spotlights the SAIC fashion department chair Nick Cave , furniture maven Holly Hunt , fashion designer Cat Chow , and architect John Ronan , among others.

Illustration: Wes Duvall photography: Agora Artur Starewicz, Soundsuit Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago


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