Congress Theater Chicago


* Jim DeRogatis has an interesting piece about the Congress Theater and Joe Moreno's move to clean it up, which involves a City Hall hearing next month:

We continue to have people drunk in people’s front lawns, and people urinating and defecating on those lawns… They haven’t put any money into sound reduction. I have senior citizens who live next door who can’t sleep. [Carranza] said, ‘We can’t afford to do it to the Congress, but we’ll do it to the [neighboring] houses.’ That hasn’t happened… It’s a known fact on blogs and what-not that if you go there and you’re underage, you can drink and do drugs…  I could go on and on and on.

But it's not just Moreno versus the owner. Lots of people showed up to defend the venue in comments, who appreciate the venue's independence:

* This is nonsense. It's a great venue, so's the Aragon. There are several bars and a flophouse nearby. I've never been to a show at Congress that went past midnight. The street IS well-lit. We like the Congress how it is, not everyone wants to feel like they're in a police state when they go to see a band or a comedian. Chill out, guys.

* As a concert goer who has been to all of the venues listed above, I can honestly say that Congress Theater has the strictest security of any venue in the city. Unlike shows I've been to at the Aragon, where smoke clouds are everywhere, the security monitors the crowd and ejects anyone they see violating the rules. The problem is not the venue, but the crowd. The Congress hosts the majority of electronic concerts and the demographic that comes to this is very different from one who attends the Empty Bottle or Subterranean. By and large, they are suburban teenagers who have very little respect for the neighborhood or those around them, rather than a city-dwelling 21+ crowd.

* As an independent promoter myself, I applaud Mr. Carranza’s courage to maintain the independence of his venue and fully support his efforts to improve his operations. Lastly, I quite enjoy this venue. People in glass theaters need to stop lobbing rocks.

* I feel bad for my neighbors who find trash and smell urine on their lawns. I would hate that, too. But anyone who knows that stretch of Milwaukee knows that it's a ghost town most of the time. Except for the few jerks out of thousands of attendees who annoy the neighbors, it's good to have some kind of nightlife.

The venue has been cited a few times, but it's not terribly high on the city's list of priorities.

* First food trucks, now food truck art:

A 40-year-old ice cream truck painted camouflage green, it begins rolling through Chicago on March 18, roughly coinciding with the anniversary of the U.S. militaryinvasion of Iraq. It also doubles as an art project called "Enemy Kitchen," Rakowitz's contribution to "Feast," the new exhibition about art and hospitality at the Smart Museum of Art in Hyde Park. U.S. military veterans who were stationed in Iraq will serve food from the truck. And as for the menu items, they are Rakowitz family recipes, drawing on his Jewish-Iraqi heritage.

As with the city's other food trucks, you can follow @EnemyKitchen on Twitter.

* Elly Fishman catches up with Left Handed Wave, the street artist responsible for the "banana man" you may have seen on the city streets. Street art: the new mix tape.

Now his following is bigger than ever. He has nearly 2,000 followers on Facebook and receives regular e-mails from collectors inquiring about work. “It’s a little overwhelming. I never expected anything. I was raised in the suburbs. I didn’t grow up with friends who broke graf, I’m from a totally different world. It’s an adjustment for me.”

* This American Life's previous most-downloaded podcast was its now-infamous Mike Daisey one. Now? It's their Mike Daisey retraction.

* The dilapadated Anshe Kenesseth Israel temple, one of the last vestiges of North Lawndale's Jewish past, is coming down.

* The University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts is going up—even if no one's exactly sure what it is yet:

Nothing quite like it, in fact, ever has arisen in the Chicago area, and no one knows for sure exactly how the place will operate. The learning curve will begin Monday, when students begin pouring into a most unusual complex that dares to combine classrooms, performing arts spaces, movie theater, rehearsal rooms, art gallery and you-name-it.

* David Lepeska looks at Theaster Gates's work in Grand Crossing:

Grand Crossing's population declined by more than 15 percent between 2000 to 2010, according to the latest census. But rather than leave, Gates tripled down, taking advantage of depressed prices to buy the dilapidated house next door, an adjacent lot and a duplex across the street. One house became an archive and library for thousands of architecture and design books as well as an artist residence.


Photograph: juggernautco (CC by 2.0)