Stardust Scott Cramer's freaky party goes late and features nightlife superstars from the past and present. It's a bit like Warhol's Factory resurrected. Cheap drinks abound, and the regulars come to dance and schmooze with host Trannika Rex. Tonight's theme is Acid Dreams, with guests Scott Zacharias and Kevin Starke. Berlin. 10pm. $10, R.S.V.P. at do312.com for free admission.
Never Been to Paris Sean Flannery recounts his misadventures in drinking and living via slideshow in this hilarious ongoing show. The Comedy Bar. 10pm. $15, in advance $10.
Haskell Wexler had already won the first of two cinematography Oscars (1966's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and '76's Bound for Glory) when he decided to return to the place of his birth, Chicago, and direct his first fiction feature, Medium Cool (1969). Written by Wexler, then 46, the counterculture classic remains a vibrant hybrid: characters (many of them non-actors) are put in the midst of real events, most famously the chaos of the '68 Democratic National Convention riots in Grant Park. Wexler himself was tear-gassed during filming.
Against that backdrop of social and political unrest, a hard-bitten television news cameraman pursues an Uptown Appalachian woman and awakens to a number of insights about the media, namely that the electronic eye dehumanizes its subjects, keeping TV producers and viewers at a dispassionate arm's length from the impact of the events captured. Speaking directly into Wexler's lens, an African-American activist schools the movie's cameraman, John Cassellis (Robert Forster)—and, in turn, the audience: "When you come in here and you say you've come to do something of human interest, it makes one wonder whether you're going to do something of interest to other humans or whether you consider the person human in whom you're interested."
Yesterday, the Criterion Collection released a restored 4K digital transfer of Medium Cool, along with extras including a commentary track from Wexler, excerpts from the documentary “Look Out, Haskell, It’s Real!” by historian Paul Cronin and "Medium Cool Revisited," a short film essay by Wexler comparing what he saw in '68 to the demonstrations during last year's NATO summit in Chicago.
We phoned the 91-year-old—whose cinematography résumé includes In the Heat of the Night and Days of Heaven—at his Los Angeles office to talk about the making of Medium Cool, his beloved hometown and how Studs Terkel became "Our Man in Chicago."
Yet another sign of summer: Farmers' markets have finally started. Our farmers' market guide lays out the wheres and whens for every market in the city, including the new Night Markets in Logan Square and on Argyle in Uptown. Feeling inspired by all of that fresh produce? Check out what chefs recommend doing with everything from tomatoes to blueberries.
I'm seven-plus months pregnant and let me tell you, I have seen some weird shit marketed to parents, most of which just make me more nervous about my son's impending arrival (will he harbor years of resentment if I don't buy a contraption that warms his baby wipes?). But when I heard about a new album that takes White Stripes songs, removes any trace of testosterone-laden guitar, adds xylophones and bells, and calls the result "lullabies," I was intrigued. Let’s be real, though: Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of the White Stripes isn’t for babies, it’s for parents. So they don’t stuff diapers in their ears when they hear “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for the 107th time. And so they can feel kinda cool, at a time when they couldn’t be any less cool.
So how does “Seven Nation Army” sound without Jack White’s iconic intro riff and Meg White’s thump-thump-thump? Quite pleasant, actually. The xylophones and bells conjure a Jamaican beachside vacation…with a German bell choir. Same goes for “The Hardest Button to Button,” “My Doorbell” (I especially appreciate the kazoo action on that track) and the other nine songs taken from the White Stripes’ oeuvre. The album’s a great way to introduce one of my favorite bands to my son, without subjecting him to the frightening, ghostly visage of Jack White just yet.
ART & DESIGN
Lecture: Time Griffin The former editor of Artforum and executive director and chief curator of NYC's the Kitchen delivers a lecture as part of the Elizabeth and Todd Warnock Lecture Series. Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art. 5pm–6:30pm.
Kastle + XXXY Barrett Richards has dabbled in dead ends like happy hardcore and breaks. Now, as Kastle, he's mining gems of every genre. An eponymous new album, released in April, drifts through shadowy mist of R&B, trap, dubstep (of the preferred U.K. sort), bass, house and garage. Sirens Ayah Marar and Reva DeVito and bedroom crooner JMSN lure you into soulful, crushing grooves. In other words, it's what Burial might sound like if he hung out in strip clubs. Manchester's XXXY is both nostalgic for '90s divas and looking to push house into the future. Lincoln Hall. 9pm. $20, advance $15.
1. Michael Palascak
Stand-up Michael Palascak finally moved out of his parents' house in the suburbs—formerly the source of much of his comedy—and all the way to Los Angeles, scoring his first Comedy Central special last year. Head out to Rosemont to find out what he jokes about these days. Zanies Rosemont. May 22, 23. 8pm. $20.
2. The Timey Wimey Fantastic Brilliant Extravaganza (Geronimo!)
Bring your sonic screwdriver to this affectionate tribute to a certain time-traveling doctor and his companions, penned by brothers Justin and McKenzie Gerber. Right Brain Project. May 24, 25 10:30pm; May 26 3pm. $15, kids 12 and under $10.
3. Improvised Star Trek
Now that you've seen Into Darkness, make the Trek to iO for a night of improvised nerdiness set in the sci-fi franchise's Next Generation era. iO Del Close Theater. May 24. Midnight. $5.
The Laugh Factory slates a new weekly night of queer and queer-friendly comics, produced and hosted by Scott Duff. The inaugural outing features Jessica Halem, Archer Coe, Joel Kim Booster, Kenny DeForest, Gwen La Roka and Marc 'DJ Moose' Moder, with proceeds benefiting the Lesbian Community Care Project. Laugh Factory. May 27. 8pm. $17.
5. Two Hour Comedy Hour
Two hours is a lot of stand-up, but the room is a charming one and the producers keep the audience involved with games. Gallery Cabaret. May 25. 7pm. Free.
After a long, long wait, the robots have returned. 2005's Human After All was the automated electronic Daft Punk album. This new record is where Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo show their human sides—their nostalgia for their childhoods.
It was a bit deflating when the songs Daft Punk sampled on its early records showed up on YouTube. Oh, these dudes are just lifting samples from some old obscure funk records. A lot of Discovery is simply a bit of a rare record playing in a loop. Huh. But it sure was awesome. Likewise, though the two Frenchmen have gone organic prog-disco, much of the joy of listening to Random Access Memories depends on how well you can suspend disbelief and ignore the liner notes. It also really helps if you were born in the early- to mid-'70s.
Read my album review of Daft Punk's fourth epic.
ART & DESIGN
Amalia Pica In her first major solo museum exhibition (co-organized by the MCA and the MIT List Visual Arts Center), the London-based Argentine artist examines communication—in particular, the act of listening—and civic participation through drawings, sculptures, installations, projections, large-scale photographic prints and live performances. Incorporating simple materials such as flags, banners, confetti and brightly colored drinking glasses, her works are not only thoughtful but beautiful to behold. Museum of Contemporary Art. 10am–8pm.
"Welcome to the Universe" The Grainger Sky Theater's second screening to be made in-house takes you a billion light years away and back to Earth, where you can zoom in on landforms rendered with NASA data that's updated weekly. Much like in the domed theater's original incarnation, a live staffer helms the daily presentations. (Screens about five times a day. Price including admission $28, kids $22.) Adler Planetarium. 9:30am-4pm.
Mayor Emanuel this morning appointed Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers chair of the board of Choose Chicago, the city-run marketing tentacle whose goal is attracting tourists and convention business.
Cue boilerplate Rahmbo endorsement: "Rogers is a world-class business executive and a truly proud Chicagoan, and her unique talents and experience are a perfect fit for this important role." Her predecessor in the volunteer post, Bruce Rauner, is mulling a run as a Republican candidate for Illinois governor.
On your commute to work this week, put down your phone for a sec (Words with Friends can wait) to witness flashes of orange and fushcia on a nearby roof—a troupe of vibrantly dressed dancers twirling in the sunshine. No, you haven't landed in a Michel Gondry film; you're seeing Wake Up! Waltz, a performance spectacle where 20-some dancers present variations on the waltz on rooftops visible from th el—from the living "green" roof of the Haas Park Field House to the top of an aromatherapy shop in South Shore. Conceived of and directed by artist Josie Davis, the series is designed to add a dose of the unexpected to the morning commute (a different kind of unexpected then, say, sitting on someone's half-eaten Big Mac or running into your ex on the Red Line).
"I think it's rare that people that people are aware of their environment," Davis says. "And it's work like this that gets people to break out of the routines that we live in and see the world in new ways."
The series started May 13 and continues through June 13, four days per week (Monday–Thursday) beginning at 9am. A schedule is posted on the Wake Up! Waltz site.