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<em>The Art of Falling</em>: Hubbard Street Dance and Second City's Comic Liaisons

Sat, 2014-10-18 18:42


"If music be the food of love/ then laughter is its queen" - Procol Harum, A Whiter Shade of Pale

Early on in the ingenious collaboration between Second City and Hubbard Street Dance, Procol Harum's counterculture hymn permeates Chicago's Harris Theater as actors and dancers assemble in rows of folding chairs facing the audience. Suddenly actor Tim Mason pulls his Beats out of his ears, the music stops, and we realize that we're watching a sketch unfold in the passenger cabin of a Southwest Airlines flight (that will end in tragicomedy in Act II). Beats-less, Mason must fend off his oversharing seatmate, the formidable Rashawn Scott, who confides that she is Cleveland-bound with a plan to jumpstart her flagging marriage by shagging LeBron James' uncle. Meanwhile, the dancers around them enact a wondrous dance of air travel tedium, a marvel of minimalism, interrupted periodically by a jolt of turbulence - all of this to atmospheric jazz accompaniment by Second City's nimble Julie B. Nichols and Emma Dayhuff in the pit.

The entire evening proceeds in essentially this vein - a variation on the staging of a classic story ballet, with Second City actors as the soloists, supported by a corps de ballet who amplify the emotion of the moment, or provide a provocative counterpoint. With the added frisson of dancers not merely qua dancers, but as props, furniture and decorative objects.



Second City may have pioneered sketch comedy since its formation in 1959, but this latest collaborative project takes the art form to visually spectacular and emotionally satisfying new heights. The crispest scenes, in a surreal and slightly kinky departure from Frank Loesser's hit musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, conjure up a 1950's office in which the ingénue temp - writer/actor Carisa Barreca, "going from office to office, living on the edge" - gets lost in a seething whirlwind of activity, with dancers embodying and animating the office furniture, typewriters, a vending machine, stationary bike, a messenger bag, drinking fountain, and a "Hitler staple gun." The office boss orders the receptionist to get rid of an offensive crucifix he dubs "Black Jesus" - a black dancer who stands with arms extended, supporting the legs of another dancer who hangs behind him upside down in a side split - but is gently rebuked by a black employee who calls the crucifix "Regular Jesus."



In a parody of erotic music videos - exemplified by Chris Isaak and model Helena Christensen rolling around topless in the surf in Wicked Game - Jason Hortin tries to get into a romantic mood with a blow-up doll, to the sounds of Isaak's heavy breathing. But the doll, portrayed by Alicia Delgadillo in an admirable display of controlled technique, appears to have a slow leak.



The format is punctuated by a terrific improv routine by Second City's Tawny Newsome, playing a cynical Croatian crone in a caftan, leaning on a walker, with an accordion player in terrorist garb (full body unitard and black stocking mask) lounging behind her. ("My weird sex troll," she remarked offhand.) She discourses on insecurity and asks intimate questions of a couple in the audience, upon which dancers on stage improvise movement to match their answers. To the question "what is a gift one of you gave the other recently?" Friday night's couple answered "tickets to this show." Which sent Newsome reeling for a moment - "This is gonna get really fucking meta" - and the dancers improvised a slinky little soft shoe number, with clapping. Overall, however, the dancers seemed less inspired in the improv than the actor; they really shone in the choreographed segments, into which the actors blended seamlessly - no mean feat given the differences in training and experience.

The other detour in format was provided by a series of pas de deux excerpted from choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo's Second to Last. Cerrudo's trademark gliding, swooping and spiraling movements, and deft bravura-free partnering create beautiful curves in space, the women in attractive lingerie generally hovering just inches above the ground. Nichols and Dayhuff do their best to breathe new life into Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel (much loved, inexplicably, by contemporary dance-makers), but the piece felt misplaced at the top of Act II. It would have served a better purpose as the penultimate number, seguing into the moment when our hero, non-dancer Joey Bland, finally conquers his anxiety, his "fear of falling," and attempts to dance, with the encouragement of his lover, Travis Turner. The two in their awkward pas de deux strike a moving contrast to the icily handsome Cerrudo choreography.



The most thrilling and virtuosic dancing of the evening occurs to the strains of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake in a scene titled "White Office Swan." Barreca and dancers fly around in wheeled office chairs - sitting, lying, contorting themselves in various aerodynamic postures - in formations that sometimes appear random but must have been perfectly choreographed to avoid collision. The effect is stunning, and likely to rival the swan corps of the Joffrey Ballet (which, coincidentally, is presenting Swan Lake half a mile away at the Auditorium Theatre.)

Sculpted by director Billy Bungeroth with a stable of writers and choreographers from the two companies, the least compelling aspect of the evening was the conventional storyline involving the two gay lovers, around a theme that equates the risk in making a romantic commitment to the risk of falling, a risk that dancers embrace everyday. The notion of falling is further incorporated into a parallel storyline about a plane crash, which in these days, as we continue to wait for news of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, simply doesn't resonate as prime material for comedy. (Would it have been so hard to write the sketch around parachutists or hot-air balloonists? Or even paratroopers, providing ample opportunity to take swipes at the military-industrial complex?)

While the overarching message is slight, The Art of Falling has many moments that recall the power of Pina Bausch's surreal physical comedy, while mining a rich pop-cultural vein that had the packed house in stitches. A whimsical riff on our modern-day obsession with selfies was filmed directly downward from the ceiling in a dreamlike segment about a bike ride gone awry; projected onto a screen, it involved some manic crawling by the dancers. More emphatically skewered were passive-aggressive dance teachers, legendary choreographer Jiří Kylián's iconic Petite Mort (a dance whose title translates to "orgasm" and which involves near-naked men prancing about with fencing foils, "also known as a dick dance," explained Travis Turner helpfully) and Portland ("the place where dead atheists go.")

May The Art of Falling live on in versions 2.0 and beyond, hopefully bringing dance audiences into comedy clubs, and comedy audiences into the opera houses.

Photos:

1. Hubbard Street + The Second City in The Art of Falling. Center, from left: Tim Mason, Jesse Bechard, Carisa Barreca and Joey Bland. Below, from left: Travis Turner, Jessica Tong and Rashawn Scott. Far right: Tawny Newsome. Hubbard Street Dancers, clockwise from top: Alice Klock, Jason Hortin, Emilie Leriche, Andrew Murdock, Jane Rehm and Michael Gross. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

2. Joey Bland and Hubbard Street Dancer Alicia Delgadillo in Hubbard Street + The Second City's The Art of Falling. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

3. Hubbard Street + The Second City in The Art of Falling. Foreground from left: Carisa Barreca, Tim Mason and Rashawn Scott. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

4. Tim Mason, left, Rashawn Scott and Ensemble in Hubbard Street + The Second City's The Art of Falling. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

5. Hubbard Street + The Second City in The Art of Falling. Carisa Barreca, center, with, from left: Jesse Bechard, Alice Klock, Michael Gross, Emilie Leriche and Jonathan Fredrickson. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Jimmy John's Noncompete Agreement, All Mapped Out

Fri, 2014-10-17 16:55
WASHINGTON -- As Huffington Post reported on Monday, many workers at Jimmy John's sandwich shops have been asked to sign the sort of strict noncompete agreement usually reserved for high-level executives. According to the clause, the worker agrees not to take a job at a competing sandwich shop for a period of two years following employment at Jimmy John's.

The company's definition of "competitor" is rather broad: any business that derives 10 percent or more of its revenue from the sale of sandwiches, and that resides within 3 miles of a Jimmy John's location.

After HuffPost posted a copy of the agreement, many readers wondered just how badly such a contract could restrict workers' job options in the unlikely situation it were actually enforced. Thanks to Sean Maday, founder of the news mapping site SigActs, we now have an answer to what he calls "an interesting geospatial question."

Using the addresses of Jimmy John's roughly 2,000 locations, Maday created a map that reveals the effective blackout areas under the restaurant chain's noncompete clause. The red circles indicate zones in which a worker who signed the agreement would technically be forbidden to pursue sandwich-related work:



As the map shows, if a franchisee were to enforce the clause -- and if a judge were to uphold it in the case of a challenge -- a former Jimmy John's employee could effectively be run out of Chicago, Minneapolis and Denver for the purposes of deli employment. Large swaths of other major metropolitan areas would also be off-limits, and former Jimmy John's workers would have to head to the fringes of the nation's college towns if they still wanted to make hoagies.

According to one franchisee, the clause is included in the standard-issue hiring packet distributed by Jimmy John's corporate offices, although individual store owners decide who must sign it. The franchisee said many owners have jettisoned the language from the hiring packet since it came under scrutiny.

HuffPost still knows of no cases in which a franchisee tried to enforce the clause, which many judges would likely find unreasonable anyway. Several low-level employees, however, did confirm that they were required to sign the noncompete as a condition of employment. Use of the clause has apparently varied from store to store; in some, only management-level employees have been asked to sign.

Colleges Are Already Screwing Up New Campus Safety Law That Includes Domestic Violence

Fri, 2014-10-17 16:21
Colleges have to count more types of incidents as hate crimes and disclose the number of dating violence, domestic violence and stalking reports they receive each year, under final safety law regulations unveiled Friday by the U.S. Department of Education.

However, the department had already asked schools to list those new categories in the annual crime reports released this year. At least 23 institutions (listed below) failed to include them, though the Education Department will not say whether colleges will face fines for not complying with those new rules that were already in place.

The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, an amendment to the campus safety law the Clery Act, requires colleges to track and accurately disclose the numbers of these types of reports they receive each year. The final rules announced Friday also require schools to include in annual reports descriptions of the types of disciplinary proceedings they used in cases that fall into those new categories. And, it adds gender identity and national origin as two new categories of bias for determining whether an action that occurs on campus is a hate crime.

Although the final rules don't go into effect until July 1, 2015, colleges had been told they were expected to include the new categories of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in their 2013 annual crime reports, which came out this month. Many colleges did include these new sections, but 23 colleges and universities were identified by the advocacy group Know Your IX as violating this part of the new law.

Separately, another advocacy group, SurvJustice, started filing formal complaints with the Education Department this week against 22 campuses (listed below), also alleging they violated the new provisions of the Clery Act. Violations of the Clery Act can result in a maximum $35,000 fine per error for higher education institutions.

During a press call with reporters Friday, acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Lynn Mahaffie would not say whether colleges that failed to post these new categories would face any penalties.

Mahaffie would only say the department is "asking schools to make good faith efforts to comply," which include reporting on those categories. The department, Mahaffie added, will be looking into how well schools did this year.

Know Your IX embarked on the campaign of identifying schools that failed to share dating violence reports to emphasize that the gender equity law Title IX covers more than just sexual assault and harassment.

"This Campus SaVE data is such a perfect place to start," said Know Your IX co-founder Dana Bolger, "because publishing the number of reports a school receives of dating violence and stalking is so easy -- it's such low-hanging fruit, it's such an easy ask. It's absurd that schools are not following it."

Colleges were asked to make a "good faith" effort with their 2013 numbers to determine whether an incident fell under the new regulatory guidelines, and they had to include the new categories in their report this year. However, the department won't enforce its definitions of the specific types of incidents until next year, when colleges report their 2014 numbers.

Colleges accused by Know Your IX of violating the Clery Act by not including new categories of dating violence, domestic violence and stalking in their latest crime reports. (Some provided comment about the accusation to HuffPost; those are included in italics.):
  • Austin College

  • Carlow University

  • Chatham University

  • Cornell College

  • Emory and Henry College

  • Georgetown College

  • Hiram College

  • Howard University

  • Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo has since added the new categories but insists it wasn't required to do so. It added the data "because we had the data and to allay any concerns our campus community may have had.")

  • Kenyon College (Kenyon said it "will continue to work with federal officials to make a good faith effort, as required, to include incident reports required by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.")

  • Lawrence University

  • Lycoming College

  • Lyon College

  • Marlboro College

  • Point Park University

  • Rhodes College (Rhodes said it added the new categories a few days after the initial publication of its report.)

  • Southwestern University

  • St. John's College

  • University of the District of Columbia

  • University of Illinois at Springfield

  • University of New Hampshire

  • Wabash College (Wabash said it had the statistics available in its security office, but did not add the new categories to its security report until after the Oct. 1 deadline.)

  • Wheaton College


Colleges with federal Clery complaints lodged against them by SurvJustice:
  • Whitworth University

  • Bennington College

  • Schreiner University

  • Western Washington University

  • University of St. Thomas

  • Kenyon College

  • Concordia University

  • Goddard College

  • Wayne Baptist University (includes 14 campuses)

These Gorgeous Chicago Landmarks Are Open To The Public For The First Time In Decades

Fri, 2014-10-17 16:12
Consider it the Super Bowl for architecture buffs.

Open House Chicago returns this weekend to give visitors from around the globe the rare opportunity to step inside some of the city's most treasured landmarks typically closed from public view.

The now-annual event run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) provides a city-wide history lesson spanning 18 neighborhoods and 150 structures, CAF officials told The Huffington Post.

This year, though, a handful of landmarks on the tour will open to guests for the first time in more than half a century. Among the most anticipated is the Allerton Hotel -- home to the iconic "Tip Top Tap" sign -- which has been closed since 1961.

The hotel's bar and ballroom once hosted stars of the day like Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball, according to ABC Chicago. The ballroom is the featured stop inside the Allerton, which was purchased by a French hotelier earlier this year and renamed the Warwick Allerton Hotel.

You'll also get a peak inside downtown's The Sky-Line Club, one of the oldest private membership facilities in town. Nestled in the Old Republic Building, it was constructed in part in Sussex, England before making its way to the Windy City.

Not every stop on this year's open house tour is steeped in history, however. Among the two featured stops for 2014 are the headquarters of two millennial-era e-commerce giants: daily deals site, Groupon, and popular t-shirt maker, Threadless.

OHC organizers say they hope the free event draws at least 60,000 visitors, up from last year's crowd of 55,000. In 2013, visitors from 71 different countries and all 50 states poured into the city to take a peek into the best-kept secrets in Chicago.

Open House Chicago runs Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19. Free, no tickets are required.




Caption information courtesy of the Chicago Architectural Foundation.

Health Goth Is More Than A Fashion Trend

Fri, 2014-10-17 15:01
What the heck is Health Goth?

While the term may look strange at first glance, the idea behind the wearing of head-to-toe black sportswear is simple: it promotes a way to make the fitness world more accessible to people who don't fit the stereotype of the typical gym-goer.

Less about wearing any particular brand or even style of clothing, Health Goth is a a subcultural movement, a new point of entry for people who'd rather pump iron to Nine Inch Nails or Type O Negative than Maroon Five or Taylor Swift -- and who don't necessarily feel at home at the typical Top 40-blaring, Lululemon-dominated gym.

The origin of Health Goth is generally traced back to April 2013, when two Portland men launched the original Health Goth Facebook page.

Since then, others have taken up the Health Goth banner, including Chicago-based music producer and party promoter Johnny Love, the man behind HealthGoth.com. This summer, Love launched a line of t-shirts and sport bras that subvert -- with a sinister spin -- the look of fitness wear from corporate brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.


One of Love's designs, the "Dead Worldwide" shirt, is worn by nightlife personality Jazzeppi.

Love hopes the trend will help encourage the dark-hearted among us to lead healthier lives.

"The evolution, or rather, byproduct of its existence will be a generation of gym-goers who realize that you don't have to be a jock to lift weights, and who do it listening to darker and/or more aggressive music," Love told HuffPost via e-mail.

The message appears to be resonating. What started as a social media meme now appears -- thanks in no small part to coverage from fashion and cultural publications including Marie Claire, PAPERMAG and Complex -- ready to hit the mainstream.

The style has been described by some as an outgrowth from black-heavy looks like street goth or goth ninja, but there's much more to it than the clothes. As the cliché goes, it's seen by its devotees as a lifestyle.

At its core, Love describes Health Goth as "about achieving an attractive level of physical fitness." In 2013, he created a "#HealthGoth Fitness Bible" that urged people to start eating more healthily -- refraining from eating anything that cannot be made in one's own home kitchen -- and to work out regularly, exercising one's entire body evenly by completing full exercises, not being afraid of lifting weights and, above all, "work[ing] out 'til you feel like death."

Love doesn't particularly see anything too contradictory about bridging the ideas of "health" and "goth" together, either. Many icons of the culture -- like Trent Reznor and Glenn Danzig -- have remained in excellent physical shape throughout their careers. There's even websites like MetalWorkout.com, geared toward the fitness-minded who prefer music fast and frightening.

"[Fashion designer] Rick Owens has sung the praises of working out and he has a good point," Love said. "Clothes fit and look best on a well maintained body, no one wants to see a Grover belly poking through your Under Armour compression shirt. After your body is right then you can swaddle it in all the semi-futuristic, minimal, monochrome sportswear you desire, and then it'll look good."


Love (right), with a friend, both wearing "Dead Worldwide" after a soccer match.

Love has had success as the movement's poster boy. The first run of his line sold out, and he now has his eye on putting out a wider range of gear, including shorts, leggings, a football jersey and a low-cut bodybuilder-style tank top.

But as Health Goth continues its evolution from a hashtag to well-known style and culture, could it be heading the way of preceding music-oriented microtrends -- like seapunk or "witch house" -- that lost their cachet when chart-topping pop stars co-opted the look?

Love understands that exposure is "a double-edged sword," but is hopeful for a lasting impact regardless if Katy Perry or Lady Gaga pop up in music videos wearing monochrome black above Nike Roshe running shoes.

"If only the superficial elements of Health Goth are what gains traction, then I see the same thing happening [to it]," he said, referring to discarded trends.

"There are still people who dress 'punk' because there is an actual culture that goes along with it, [but] if something is solely a clothing style, then it can be tossed away and picked up by a mom on the sale rack at T.J.Maxx."

Illinois Deserves Better Than the <i>Chicago Tribune</i>

Fri, 2014-10-17 14:30
The Chicago Tribune endorsed Bruce Rauner in the GOP Primary and it's now endorsed him for the General Election too. This comes as a surprise to no one.

No doubt the editorial board already had its love letter written and ready to go even as the Tribune had one diligent reporter in Tampa three weeks ago covering the first days of an ongoing trial in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Plaintiffs there seek to prove that private equity firm GTCR participated in a massive, fraudulent scheme to unlawfully hide assets and thus prevent nursing home victims' families from recovering for the suffering and death of loved ones. Bruce Rauner isn't individually named as a defendant in the case, but GTCR is and Rauner was at the helm of GTCR as its chairman when all of the alleged wrongdoing took place.

That diligent Tribune reporter, David Heinzmann, provided some excellent coverage from the first week of trial, but there has been nothing since. Perhaps inconvenient facts like testimony that ownership of the toxic parts of GTCR's once high-flying nursing home chain were somehow unloaded on a visibly confused elderly graphic artist who thought he was only getting some computer equipment was causing too much cognitive dissonance for the Tribune bosses back home in Chicago. I have no idea.

So how does the Chicago Tribune deal with the nursing home abuse which occurred during Rauner's watch, the alleged fraud to avoid responsibility, the proven massive accounting fraud at one GTCR owned company, the numerous executives criminally convicted at others, the $13 million dollar settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice for Medicare/Medicaid fraud in Georgia, the settlement of a civil RICO lawsuit in Ohio, and Rauner's alleged threat against a female executive and her family?

And further, how does the Tribune deal with the fact Rauner was a fierce opponent of the pension reform bill which passed in December? Rauner not only opposed the bill, he did his best to derail it. The Tribune preached in favor of the bill for months. Shortly before that December vote, the editorial board told lawmakers it would be "a vote that would define them." But the Tribune didn't stop there, it warned lawmakers that not supporting the bill would be to "declare that you're the problem."

So how does the Tribune deal with all of this? How does the Tribune endorse a guy who by its own definition is the problem? Simple. The Tribune just ignores it all. "In crafting this endorsement, we won't be sucked into each candidate's autopsies of what the other guy did in the past," declares the Tribune.

How convenient.

But I get it. Any focus on Rauner's actual record instead of hazy future plans (which the Tribune doesn't even attempt to specify) would likely reveal the endorsement as something beyond the simply ludicrous.

However, the Chicago Tribune wasn't always so willing to ignore the past.

Back in 2004 when Republican Jack Ryan was running against Barack Obama for U.S. Senate, the Tribune was so obsessed over details of how Ryan may or may not have propositioned his own wife, the newspaper's lawyers actually went to court in California seeking to unseal more divorce records.

In what many observers believed was a very rare if not an unprecedented ruling, the court did order the release of some files, even though the judge acknowledged that the publicity could be expected to have "a deleterious effect" on the Ryans' young son.

Jack Ryan always denied the unsubstantiated claims made by his now ex-wife in a contested divorce, and in fact the claims were never proven. In any case the allegations were a bunch of nothing - no abuse and no infidelity whatsoever. In fact the court awarded joint custody of the child to the parents so obviously there was no question in the court's mind about Jack Ryan's fitness. And anyone who knows the man can attest to Jack Ryan's decency and character.

But the Chicago Tribune didn't let the facts get in the way. The newspaper stoked the titillation at every opportunity - even though it was truly a "sex scandal" which had no sex.

While the allegations against Jack Ryan were confined exclusively to his private life with his own wife, the Tribune's editorial board had no trouble declaring this from atop its high horse shortly before Ryan dropped out of the race that summer of 2004: "The questions raised this week go much deeper than a novice candidate's mistakes. They go to his credibility, the value of his word."

And Tribune columnist John Kass (R - Dibs), while sparing readers another invented cutesy nickname for Jack Ryan, would not be outdone on moral indignation about a candidate's past. Kass declared: "As a possible U.S. senator, [Jack Ryan] had a profound responsibility, to the voters, to his state, to his nation."

The Tribune's obsession with a candidate's past and private life had earlier been displayed that same year in the case of Blair Hull who was a leading challenger to Obama in the Democratic Primary for that U.S. Senate seat. (I'm not going to get into the Tribune's obsession with the intra-marital relations of some candidates while completely ignoring the apparent extramarital activities of Rauner. But if you're interested in that topic you can read what Chicago Magazine had to say here, and NBC 5 Chicago here.)

But it's not only the past which the Tribune now selectively ignores - it's also the honesty issue.

Recall the Tribune's other supposed rap against Jack Ryan was that he wasn't honest when he said there was "nothing embarrassing" in his divorce file. First of all, that sounds like a true statement to me, and it's now ten years later and no one has ever proven otherwise.

But if the Tribune truly cares about a candidate's honesty, what about Rauner?

First, even the Tribune acknowledges that Rauner wasn't honest when he originally said he sat on the nursing home chain's company board for only one year. The company was Trans Healthcare and we now know Rauner remained on its board for at least four years.

We also know Rauner wasn't honest when he first spoke to the Tribune about the influence he used to clout his daughter into the prestigious Walter Payton Prep in Chicago over a truly deserving student.

But perhaps Rauner's biggest whopper of all is when he recently declared "nobody in my firm was ever accused of wrongdoing." Right, all we have to do is ignore things like the civil RICO case his firm settled in Ohio, the large settlement he paid to a female executive in a case involving disturbing threats Rauner allegedly made against the executive and her family, and the massive fraud trial still going on in federal court in Tampa.

The Tribune's endorsement is astonishing for another reason.

Sam Zell acquired control of the Tribune media empire in 2007. Less than a year later the company filed for bankruptcy protection.

Zell wanted to shake-up the Tribune's staid corporate culture and he hand-picked radio executive Randy Michaels for the job. Michaels was installed as the Tribune's new CEO.

That decision was a disaster. The New York Times detailed Michaels's unbelievable exploits here back in 2010. Here is just a small excerpt: Based on interviews with more than 20 employees and former employees of the Tribune, Mr. Michaels' and his executives' use of sexual innuendo, poisonous workplace banter and profane invective shocked and offended people throughout the company. Tribune Tower, the architectural symbol of the staid company, came to resemble a frat house, complete with poker parties, juke boxes and pervasive sex talk.

Michaels lasted only two years at the Tribune. One has to assume his departure was enthusiastically welcomed by every decent employee who hadn't already fled the company.

Given all of Michaels's documented piggish behavior, he was obviously done in the industry right? Wrong. Rauner and his partners hired him! Michaels was tapped in 2011 to run the GTCR-owned Merlin Media, L.L.C.

I have no idea what the Chicago Tribune is thinking. Its people say they want a change leader, but provides not a scintilla of support for its claim that Rauner would be that guy.

All I personally see in Rauner is a continuation of a thuggish culture in the Illinois Republican Party which is keeping the GOP here from making inroads. Rauner's quickly bonded with other aging GOP losers who think it's okay to bar a black former Miss America from speaking at events, and miscreants who think it's okay to employ openly armed men in a failed attempt to keep competitors off the ballot.

In Rauner I see a man who thinks it's okay to allegedly threaten one of his own executives and her family. I see a guy who is fine with siphoning what he can from lousy nursing homes, and then when people start dying, lawyers-up and hides behind a complicated shell-game in hopes of blocking the victims' families from ever seeing a penny.

Illinois has given the Chicago Tribune over a century and a half. Given that length of time and this level of failure, surely all Illinoisans can agree it's time for real change at the Chicago Tribune.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.

Chicago A Cappella Group Performs 'Global Transcendence' Concert With Repertoire For World Religions

Fri, 2014-10-17 13:19
With religious tensions high around the world, one Chicago-based a cappella group is aiming to make a difference with the one tool it has: music.

Chicago a cappella kicked off its "Global Transcendence" program with concerts on October 11-12, and two more are scheduled for this weekend. The program showcases "the musical intersections of the world’s faiths" with selections from Jewish, Hindu, Baha'i, Christian and other traditions.

The interfaith theme of the concert is deeply rooted in founder and artistic director Jonathan Miller's own background. In the program notes for the show, Miller wrote:

My parents met while studying Hinduism and meditation in Boston. Swami Akhilananda, my parents’ teacher and one of the pioneering bridge-builders between Eastern and Western religion and psychology, had posted on the wall of the Boston Vedanta Society a saying from the Rig Veda, a sacred Sanskrit text, which began: “Truth is One; Sages call It by various names.” My parents taught me this idea in my earliest years, and it remains a birthright of sorts for me.

On top of this background, Miller serves as cantor during High Holy Days services at a Conservative Jewish synagogue in Chicago and has sung in Catholic and Protestant services for decades, the group's executive director Matthew Greenberg told HuffPost.

Combine Miller's passion for spiritual traditions with current events, and the show's timing could not be better, Greenberg said.

"It seems that never before has our world been more aware of sectarian and inter-religious conflict," he said. "It so fills the airwaves and information flow that we begin to think there is nothing that connects us, only that which divides."

This concert, Greenberg said, aims to dispute that.

Listen to a sampling of Chicago a cappella's "Global Transcendence" program below:

"Dastam Begir," a Baha’i song with soloist Emily Price:


Begins with Eshu O, a traditional Ghanaian chant, and segues into “Alleluiarion of Pentekoste," a traditional Greek Orthodox chant:


“O Lux Beatissima” by Howard Helvey, featuring ancient Christian text:

Former Indiana governor explains what's wrong with Illinois

Fri, 2014-10-17 11:46
As Illinois moves ever-closer to decision time on finding a new governor, could our elected officials learn something from looking at our neighbors? Scott Reeder spoke with former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels about how he ran his state and his advice for his friends to the west.

From Reeder:

"I told my people early on in my administration that I wanted to build the best sandbox in America. I wanted to create an environment that encouraged the hiring of people and more investment in Indiana," he said. "I asked them to consider what they can do better, faster - or stop doing - to ensure that the next job comes here and not Illinois or some other state."

Daniels said focusing on improving the overall business climate has been the key to Indiana's success.

Daniels indicated Illinois and other states have become overly reliant on offering special incentives to select businesses.

Folks on the left call this practice "corporate welfare" and on the right they call it "crony capitalism."

Check out the rest of Daniels' tips for the state at Reboot Illinois.

No matter who wins in November or what tips they do or do not take from Daniels, the next governor will have to tackle questions about education. Andrew Broy, the president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, says Illinois' schools are at a critical juncture and aren't receiving the guidance they need.

From Broy:

The new report on Chicago charter school performance by the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity fails to provide accurate information at a critical time for public schools in our city. Unfortunately, the report is the latest in a long trend of policy preferences masquerading as research. With so much at stake in our struggle to improve Chicago's public schools, we must separate fact from fiction and truths from half-truths.

Read the rest of Broy's thoughts on Illinois charter schools at Reboot Illinois.

People Are Now Apparently Faking Ebola To Get Faster Medical Treatment

Fri, 2014-10-17 11:15
The Ebola hoaxes have begun.

Authorities in Columbus, Ohio, received a call around 9 p.m. Thursday, according to NBC's WCMH, claiming a local woman was suffering from Ebola-like symptoms. ABC's WSYX reported it was also claimed the woman had recently traveled to West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak has lead to almost 9,000 cases and 4,500 deaths.

Hazmat crews were sent to the woman's home, and she was taken to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Isolation Unit, Columbus' WBNS reported.

Once there, officials discovered it had all been a hoax.

Jose Rodriguez of Columbus Public Health said the woman did not exhibit Ebola symptoms and had not traveled to West Africa, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Tracy Smith, a battalion chief with the local Fire Division, said the woman may have devised the story because she "simply wanted faster treatment for a different illness."

“We are trying to protect the community,” Rodriguez said, “and a hoax really wasted our resources.”

Police will investigate the incident, according to WBNS.

Hoaxes tend to occur in the midst of a health crisis or national tragedy, like the AIDS crises or the 9/11 attacks.

“The more widespread the tragedy, the more attention it gets in the press over a long period of time, the more likely it is that powerless individuals will see a way of establishing control in the worst kinds of ways,” Jack Levin, a criminologist at Northeastern University and author of many books about violence, previously told The Huffington Post. He said more Ebola hoaxes will likely happen in the coming months.

These 7 Pizza Styles Dominate the Midwest

Fri, 2014-10-17 10:26
Ask 10 people to tell you which region can lay rightful claim to pizza -- that illustrious, oozing, Italian-American disc over which we all obsess -- and you'll get 10 different answers. But we're not here to argue; we're here to educate! So we teamed up with World Champion Pizza Maker Tony Gemignani* and Roots co-founder Scott Weiner** to create the official Thrillist Regional Pizza Index, a multi-part series exploring the proud provincial pie persuasions that are found across the country (and the world). We started in the Northeast; now, the Midwest!

Chicago. It's what we talk about when we talk about Midwestern pizza, and rightly so: its deep-dish is a national treasure. But that's just one of the three (3!) pie-nnovations that The Chi has given the world, and beyond Windy City limits, there's an even vaster plain of perpetually overshadowed Midwestern 'za. From St. Louis to Detroit, and from The D to the Quad Cities, Chicago's deep-dish is surrounded on all sides by the lesser-known Midwest pizza hotbeds. Strap on your rust belt, kids.

More: Your Regional Guide to America's Greatest Pizzas: Northeast Edition!



Back-of-the-napkin report
Oven: Gas brick
Cheese(s): Whole or part-skim mozzarella
Key practitioners: Lou Malnati's; Art of Pizza; Pizzeria Uno and Due; Pizano's

Tony's take
If you had any doubts deep-dish was a heavy-hitter, Tony puts those to rest. "You're cooking [deep-dish] like you'd be cooking a cake", he says, with temperatures at the (relatively low) range of 450-520ºF. After oiling/buttering the round, black steel pan, the dough -- "traditionally... butter or lard, along with cornmeal, potato" -- gets tucked in, then loaded up with cheese. After that, it's on to toppings (sausage & spinach are popular) and sauce, usually "a blend of chunky with hand-crushed tomatoes".

Ingredients of greatness:


Credit: Grant Condon

1. THE DEEP-DISH
This circular, jet-black steel pan is the proverbial vessel for which the pie is named. (But these days, not everyone uses it -- more on that later.)

2. SPINACH IS HEALTHY, RIGHT?
In the city that brought you Abe Froman -- Sausage King of Chicago -- the de-cased meat is a go-to topping. But spinach is also popular... and delicious.

3. STRAIGHTFORWARD CHEESE
Whole or part-skim mozzarella is the dairy of choice for deep-dish. It's that richness that produces tasty, oozy moments like this one.

Don't you dare cook that sausage!
The deep-dish shown here is topped with spinach and sausage (it's hard to see!), but in Chicago, "'ingredients usually means 'sausage'", says Tony. "More importantly, raw sausage." The meat is either laid in patty form or squeezed from its casing, then baked concurrent with the 'za so it stays juicy and moist.


Credit: Grant Condon

Back-of-the-napkin report
Oven: Gas brick
Cheese(s): Wisconsin brick cheese (which is very real), plus white cheddar (sometimes)
Key practitioners: Buddy's; Cloverleaf; Niki's; Jet's; All these places

Tony's take
"The flavor profile" of the Detroit pie, Tony explains, "is sorta like mac & cheese -- that slightly burnt mac & cheese taste". That's because the edges of this rectangular Sicilian/cast-iron hybrid are crispy brown flanges of cheese that've been flash-caramelized by the searing heat from the pan's walls (more on that in a minute). "It's all about those burnt edges & corners. Everyone wants the corners. That's just life," he muses. "That's why I cut my Detroit [pies] into fourths -- so everyone gets a corner."

Ingredients of greatness:


Credit: Grant Condon

1. LOOKS HEAVY, EATS LIGHT
Detroit is deep-dish, sure. But it's a much spongier, air-filled crust than its Chicago counterpart, so you'll feel surprisingly not-awful eating multiple pieces.

2. MARINARA "RACING STRIPES"
"The red-top is just cheese with two racing stripes over the top," explains Tony. "You'll see some people finish those pies with Parm or Pecorino, and all toppings are normally placed under the cheese."

3. EDGE(S) OF GLORY
Pushed right out to the edges of the blue steel pan, the mozz & cheddar have no choice but to transform into tasty golden-brown stalagmites. These are the crowning glory of the Detroit deep-dish.

Blue steel pans are paramount
You can't cook one of these right-angled monstrosities in just any pan, by the way. The official vessel is a blue steel pan sourced from a small manufacturing company in West Virginia. "The blue steel... gets to a high, high heat, so it really burns the corners," says Tony. Wes Pikula, the general manager of Buddy's, told Detroit Free Press in 2011 that the pans "have a way of capturing the flavors in the metal", similar to a black skillet.

Skillets are intended for the kitchen, but apparently, blue steel pans were never supposed to be "pans" in the first place. In an odd twist of Motor City history, the manufacturer -- who inadvertently caused a pan shortage when it moved its operations to Mexico three years ago -- claimed in the same article that its blue steel pans were meant as small-parts trays for factory work, not for baking. No one's quite sure how they came to be a Detroit pizza essential, but they remain one to this day.

There's plenty more Midwest pizza styles, like Chicago Thin-Crust, St. Louis-Style, Quad Cities-Style, and much more -- all on Thrillist!

More from Thrillist:

The 33 best BBQ joints in America

33 of the Best, Most Iconic American Foods

Follow Thrillist on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Thrillist

100-Year-Old Wrigley Field Reduced To Rubble As Renovations Begin

Fri, 2014-10-17 09:40
CHICAGO (AP) -- Construction equipment is starting to take big bites out of Wrigley Field's exterior outfield walls.

The demolition of the famous bleachers at the historic ballpark in Chicago is part of a project to build a large electronic sign and six other outfield signs.

Chicago Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Thursday that the affected walls won't be rebuilt for several weeks. He says the ivy-covered outfield wall will not be taken down.

The work is part of the Cubs' privately funded $575 million renovation project. The Cubs started the project despite a legal fight involving owners of rooftop businesses across the street.

Those businesses fear their views of the field will be blocked. They have sued the city.


(AP Photos/M. Spencer Green)



Man Suspected Of Shooting 2 Illinois Deputies Caught

Fri, 2014-10-17 09:35
CHICAGO (AP) -- A man suspected of shooting two sheriff's deputies in suburban Chicago was arrested Thursday after residents told investigators a man fitting the suspect's description was walking on a nearby street, authorities said.

McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said Scott Peters, 52, did not resist arrest about two miles from his Holiday Hills home. Peters has not been charged yet.

Peters is suspected of firing "several rounds" from a rifle through the front door when deputies arrived at his home early Thursday in response to a request for a wellness check, Nygren said.

Peters fled, and his wife and child were in the home but unharmed, Nygren said.

One deputy was shot in the torso and leg, and was listed in serious condition after undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital, said Nygren, who noted the deputy was a 7-year veteran of the sheriff's office.

The second deputy, a 12-year veteran, was shot in the leg. She was listed in good condition, the sheriff said.

"We think they will recover," he said. "It will be a long road."

When the deputies arrived, Peters fired "several rounds through the door without opening it and kept firing through the open door," Nygren said.

Nygren said it was unclear how Peters escaped or where he may have hid before he was arrested. Peters was still wearing the shorts and T-shirt he had on in the morning, and all of the family's vehicles were accounted after the shooting, the sheriff said.

The weapon Peters allegedly used hasn't been recovered, although authorities said believe they know where it is.

Sheriff's deputies conducted a door-to-door after the shooting in Holiday Hills, a village with a population of about 600, to make sure residents were safe.

Authorities say about 250 officers from several jurisdictions - including the FBI and the U.S. Marshal Service - were involved in the search about 45 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.

Nygren said local police didn't have "much of a past history" with Peters. He said Peters is a military veteran, but didn't have details about his service history.

Nygren also said he did not know what Peters did for a living, saying only that he "may be on disability."

How Google Glass Apps Showcase the Potential of Wearable Educational Technology

Fri, 2014-10-17 09:09
Last month Google made its wearable Glass product available to the general public for the first time. While you no longer need to be an invited Google Glass Explorer to play around with the pioneering (albeit unfashionable) platform, you still need $1,500 to get one shipped to you from the Google Play Store.

It's unclear whether this high profile focus on wearable computing will come anywhere close to matching the success of Google's Android operating system. Many, including famed tech commentator Robert Scoble, believe that Glass is not ready for prime time and will ultimately sink like Google's once trendy Wave messaging platform.

Regardless of whether Google Glass will succeed, wearable technology -- sooner rather than later -- will profoundly impact learning. We are seeing how iPads, Android tablets, and Chromebooks are "flipping" traditional educational models by allowing students to view classroom lectures at home and reserving classroom time for personalized instruction. Apps created for these platforms can also assess real-time progress by individual and groups of students in ways that were never possible before.

We shouldn't forget that the technology that enables flipped learning and real-time personalization barely existed just five years ago. Things change fast. Understanding the potential ahead, app developers are reimagining how they can reach students, teachers and schools on devices that will literally be connected to us.

Until the Apple Watch comes out early next year, Google Glass will be the highest profile wearable computing device that doesn't count your steps or monitor your heartbeat. While the Google Glass app ecosystem is still in its embryonic stage (there are less than 100 apps developed specifically for use on Google Glass), it does offer some breadcrumbs in terms of how wearable technology will impact education.

Here are five areas where we can already see wearable technology's current and potential impact on education.

Personalized learning instruction and assessment
Assessment apps like Socrative -- available for the iPad, Android tablets, and Chromebooks -- allow teachers to see real-time analytics that show how well a student or groups of students are responding to any particular lesson at any particular time. The one thing any of these screen-based apps cannot do is simultaneously interpret student body language, which is an equally important signal to comprehension. Imagine a version of Socrative built on top of a Google Now framework, however, where a teacher can view quantitative comprehension data while also being able to look at any of their students in the eye.

Field trips and Career Training
The first-person broadcast capabilities of Google Glass, where users can record and/or transmit in real-time what they are hearing and seeing, will allow teachers to record and share virtual field trips like never before. From a narrated tour of an art or science museum, to showing elementary students a day in the life of a firefighter, to giving physics students lessons from a particle collider (buggy, but A for effort!), Glass will provide context to worlds outside the classroom. This understanding was previously unfathomable.

Productivity
It's not that Glass and other wearable devices will teach students to be any more productive. The aim in this early stage is to create a vocabulary of gestures that allow users to harness everything they are tracking with the technology. From sharing a real-time video with the wink of an eye, to storing an audio file in Google Drive with a slight tilt of the head, users, developers and media companies are tinkering with the next generation of taps, zooms and two finger scrolls. Not surprisingly, Evernote is already staking a claim by investing considerably in this new platform. Expect others to dive in soon.

Language Learning
When Google acquired the game-changing technology of language translation app Word Lens, it had plans for applications not just confined to a touch screen. Through augmented reality, Word Lens quickly scans words in one language and translates them to another. It doesn't take too much imagination to predict how this -- and associated technologies that do the same for audio (see below) -- will impact multilingual communication in the near-term. Popular language-learning app Duolingo also has an official presence on Google Glass.

Serving students with audio and visual disabilities
Developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Captioning to Glass app converts audio spoken into a smartphone to captioning that will be visible to anyone wearing the device. Currently, the app is used to help anyone with a hearing disability refer back to words that were spoken and not picked up by reading lips or facial gestures. Conversely, the speaker has the chance to edit out "uhs," "ums" and other verbal tics. The same team is also working on a Translation to Glass product, that will aim to replicate the functionality of Word Lens for audio translation.

Highest-paid Illinois College Football Coaches

Fri, 2014-10-17 08:19
College football can be a huge money maker for schools. On top of being a way to generate revenue, good football teams can also help a school attract prospective students.

Football is essentially a major investment for colleges, and their board members are willing to shell out big bucks to hire and retain football coaches who can win and provide the maximum return on that investment. While football might not be as big in Illinois as it is in the South, particularly the Southeastern Conference -- where University of Alabama Head Coach, Nick Saban, made $5.4 million last year -- coaches at Illinois' public universities are still earning six-figure salaries.

Of Illinois' 12 public universities, six have football squads that compete in either the Division I-A (FBS) or I-AA (FCS) level. Since taxpayer dollars are on the hook for these salaries, take a look at what each coach is making, along with any additional compensation and bonus incentives. Contract details were obtained from each university through Freedom of Information Act Requests.

[Note: The NCAA changed its college football playoff rules, eliminating the Bowl Champion Series (BCS) system, which determined the top 25 rankings through a complex computer algorithm, and replaced it with selection committee consisting of experts responsible for issuing ranks. The Bleacher Report has more on these changes.]

Here are three of the coaches with the top Illinois football salaries.

6. Eastern Illinois University (FCS)

Coach Kim Dameron

Contract term: Jan. 11, 2014-Dec. 31, 2018
Base salary: $170,000
Additional compensation:
$500 automobile stipend
Base salary increase of $15,000 if employed through Sept. 1, 2017
Conference: Ohio Valley Conference
2013 season record: 12-2 (8-0 in OVC)

5. Western Illinois University (FCS)

Coach Bob Nielson

Contract term: July 1, 2014-Dec. 31, 2017
Base salary: $206,892
Conference: Missouri Valley Football Conference
2013 season record: 4-8 (2-6 in MVFC)

4. Southern Illinois University (FCS)

Coach Dale Lennon

Contract term: Jan. 1, 2014-Dec. 31, 2016
Base salary: $220,788
Additional compensation: $4,000 per year for each year Lennon's son is enrolled full-time at SIUC.
Conference: Missouri Valley Football Conference
2013 season record: 7-5 (5-3 in MVFC)

Check out Reboot Illinois to see which school's football team has a coach that makes almost half a million dollars a year, plus see what bonus incentives all football coaches receive every year.

NEXT ARTICLE: Beauties and the beasts of Illinois' college campuses
The most unusual high school mascots in Illinois
Illinois two-year colleges whose graduates have the highest earning potential
States with the highest average in-state public tuition and fees
What's it cost to attend a public university in Illinois?

Anna Quindlen On Tooting Your Own Horn, Fearlessness And Raising Feminist Sons

Fri, 2014-10-17 08:08
What does it take to get to the top -- without losing your center? Our “Making It Work” series profiles successful, dynamic women who are standouts in their fields, peeling back the "hows" of their work and their life, taking away lessons we can all apply to our own.

Anna Quindlen has always told stories.

She began her career at newspapers, starting off as a copy girl at the New York Times and eventually becoming a reporter there and at the New York Post. In 1992, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her NYT opinion column, "Public and Private." From 2000 to 2009, she wrote the "Last Word" column for Newsweek. Now, at 62, she is the author of seven novels and 10 nonfiction books, the mother of three grown children aged 31, 29 and 26 and a much sought-after college commencement speaker.

The stories Quindlen tells are both trivial and important, fictional and personal. In her columns, readers learned why she kept her last name after marrying and left the Catholic church. Her most recent novel, Still Life With Bread Crumbs, explores how a 60-year-old photographer reinvents herself. In a review for NPR, Heather McAlpin writes that the book "makes a case for seizing control of your life" -- something Quindlen herself firmly believes in.

We recently spoke with Quindlen about leveling the playing field and where we would be without feminism. Here's what she had to say.

Let's jump right into it. How would you define success?

It’s a little bit like what Louis Armstrong once said about jazz. If you have to ask, you’ll never know. It’s a gut reaction. There are moments in your own life that don’t necessarily have to do with getting the promotion, or getting the raise, when you are sitting there and you think -- well, I’ve done it. Whatever it is. That feeling that somehow, there was an internal standard that you may not have even known you had, and you met it. That’s what I think of as success.

And so by that definition, are you successful?

Yes. I think women are so hesitant to say that -- anything that sounds even dimly like tooting your own horn, women back off from. And it’s one of the things that holds us back. I honestly don’t understand, given the retail price of a book, how you could go out there in the marketplace without a novel that you thought, was successful -- without feeling that, deep down inside. I think that part of our socialization as women is hesitating to put ourselves forward. Talking about yourself as successful, feels a little bit like that. But I think we’ve got to get rid of that.


Quindlen with Barnard College president Debora Spar (L) and Meryl Streep

Something that really resonates in your books is how female characters define themselves and ultimately reinvent themselves. Why are these themes so important to you?

In modern life, reinvention had better resonate with you, because the data now shows that many of us will have four to five different jobs or careers over the course of our lifetime. Speaking of the course of our lifetime, one of the reasons that’s true is because in the year when I was born -- 1952 -- the average life expectancy of an American was 68. Now that we’ve added about 12, 13 years to that, people feel as though there’s more opportunity to reinvent themselves. But also I think for women, there can be a requirement to reinvent ourselves because our domestic roles change. My life was one kind of life when I had three little kids under the age of 5, and it’s a different kind of life now that I have a 31, 29 and 26-year old. Luckily I think most women are pretty good at that -- at saying, "I was one thing and now I’m going to become something else."

Do you think young girls and women are appropriately socialized to reinvent themselves in that way, or is it a crisis point for many women?

I think it can be a crisis point for lots of people. There’s nothing like being a really high-powered working woman and then waking up one day and discovering you’re somebody who’s been wearing the same yoga pants for three days and is covered in spit-up. There can be an element of whiplash to it.

But the older women get, the better they get at setting their own standards, which makes reinvention easier. When I got over 50, I really didn’t give a damn what anybody thought of me any more. The only voice I listened to after that point was my own. I’ve encountered that a lot in women at a certain age. I think we lose patience with those outside voices of the world that seem to hold us to such a ridiculously high standard, and lets guys get away with murder. I think there comes a moment in many of our lives at which we think: enough.




Have you always wanted to be a writer?

From the time I was pretty young, I always thought of myself as a writer. And that was abetted by a whole line of teachers, God bless them, who kept saying to me -- "You’re really good at this, and you should keep doing it." The first person who ever told me I was a writer, as opposed to "you should think about being a writer" or "you might be a writer," was a teacher. And thats a very, very powerful thing.

I wanted to be a fiction writer. That was my goal. My class prophecy in my high school says “I want to write the great American novel,” which just shows how utterly full of yourself you are when you’re 17. I wanted to be a fiction writer, but I also wanted to purchase attractive clothing and pay rent. I couldn’t figure out how a fiction writer did that, and that’s why I went to work as a copy girl, then as a city desk clerk, and then as a young reporter. And being a reporter was just so much fun that I stayed for much longer than I’d planned. I only got the chance to write on my first novel when I was on maternity leave when I had my second kid.

What advice would you give to young women starting out in their careers? Especially those who want to be writers?

It’s the Nike slogan: just do it. People spend a lot of time waiting to write. They wait for the right time, they wait for inspiration, some of them are foolish enough to wait for a book deal -- and there’s no point to that. Inspiration doesn’t come around very often, there’s never a right time to write, and book deals come after you’re done, more often than not. You have to try to set aside an hour or so every day and just pound something out.

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about women and success, and women and feminism. Some young celebrities, like Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry, have publicly distanced themselves from feminism and downplayed its role in their success. How much is feminism a part of your life, and your work?

That’s a little like being asked how being female relates to my work. Feminism has been the ruling impulse of my adult life, and is frankly responsible for the existence I have. I’ve said that if I live to be 70, I will get a tattoo to celebrate. I could just as soon get the word "feminism" tattooed on my body as almost anything else, because it’s so much a part of me. I always just turn to the dictionary: "social, political and economic equality." Hello! It just seems so simple, and eloquent, and right to me, that the idea that there’s any kind of dismissal, distrust, whatever -- it makes me nuts. Especially with smart young women.

People say to me constantly when I speak on college campuses, “Why don’t you call it humanism?” And I always say the same thing: When there is a level playing field, I will call it humanism. But I can tell you unequivocally that we are nowhere near a level playing field. It just seems like such a no-brainer to me. Younger women can dismiss feminism if they want, despite the fact that they are living lives that would have been impossible without it. Unthinkable without it! And that’s what I think makes [some of us] crazy. We know that without feminism, those young women would have vastly diminished existences.


Anna Quindlen and Cynthia Nixon at Newsweek's 4th annual Women & Leadership Conference in 2008

What can we do to level that playing field for women? What are the key issues you think feminists and advocates for women should be focusing on?

Job one for me was raising feminist sons. Unless men come along for the ride, you’ll be left with all the stuff women were obliged to do 100 years ago, because men haven’t changed as well.

But I also think it’s really important that we have better top-down leadership. There’s been a leadership lid in this country for the last 20 years. If you look at virtually any line of work, from Wall Street, to medicine, to journalism, the percentage of people at the top in every business and industry and field, is about 20 percent female. Twenty years ago, the line on that was "there aren’t enough women in the pipeline." With 50 percent of graduating law students female, and only 17-18 percent of partners at top law firms female, you can’t make the pipeline argument any more. There’s a lot more than that going on.

So how did you raise feminist kids?

I have two boys and a girl. It’s actually fairly easy to raise a feminist daughter. I have a very smart, strong-minded daughter who only needed to be told “Gee, Maria, a woman has never been president of the United States” for her to go off like a rocket. It’s harder to raise feminist sons, because what you’re basically saying to your kids is, "you should give up this privilege that society hands you with both hands, and you should be different from your colleagues." I used to talk all the time about parity between men and women. I used to talk all the time about the gross inequities. They certainly never thought twice about whether women worked or had positions of power and influence in the world -- my friends include a federal judge, a correspondent on "60 Minutes," a New York Times critic. So they grew up thinking women did all those things. Ultimately, while I think sometimes it was hard for them to be asked to be different from their peers, when push came to shove it worked out pretty well for them.

What advice would you give yourself when you were in high school?

The size of your thighs is irrelevant. Stop worrying so much, it will all be alright. Try to get rid of the fear. I feel like fearlessness can make everything better, and make everything work. It’s really fear that holds us back from doing the things we really want to do, from doing the things that we could really be great at, from doing the things that could change everything. When you look at the women that have made a real difference in the world throughout history, what they’ve done has almost always been defined by fearlessness. That’s something I came to at a certain point; I wish I’d come to it younger. Stop looking over your shoulder -- there’s nobody who matters back there.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Haunted House With 'John Wayne Gacy Room' Erected Near Where Serial Killer Was Active

Fri, 2014-10-17 08:01
In a small community near where John Wayne Gacy abducted and murdered dozens of young men and boys in the 1970s, tensions have been simmering for weeks over a Halloween haunted house featuring a room dedicated to the notorious serial killer.

The so-called "Gacy room," part of the Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare attraction that opened this fall in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park, has forced both supporters and detractors to question society's tolerance for wringing entertainment value from real-life horrors.

“I find it to be very despicable. I think it’s cruel," Terry Sullivan, an attorney who co-prosecuted the Gacy trial, told The Huffington Post on Thursday. "There are many victims of Gacy that are still here and still in the area. I realize that it is part of history. But if it’s going to be part of history, I don’t think that it should be put into a Halloween scene or have any deadpan humor attached to it.”

The real Gacy abducted at least 33 local young men and boys, strangling and suffocating them before burying many of them in the crawlspace of his Chicago home. He was apprehended in 1978 by police in the city of Des Plaines -- mere miles from Villa Park -- and was executed in 1994.

The Villa Park haunted house's Gacy room is one of 13 inspired by infamous killers like Ed Gein and Ted Bundy. Visitors to the Gacy room are greeted by a live actor dressed as Gacy's alter-ego, Pogo the Clown, blowing up balloon animals until they pop. Seated on a nearby sofa are a pair of mannequins dressed as young Boy Scouts.

(Story continues below.)

An actor portrays Gacy's Pogo the Clown alter-ego in the Gacy room of the Great American Nightmare attraction.

Steve Kopelman, who co-produced the attraction, said he hasn't heard complaints about the Gacy room. A 33-year veteran of the haunted house industry, Kopelman blamed reporters for turning the issue into a "media frenzy."

"If the media hadn’t made a big stink about it, I doubt anyone would even know about it," he said. "Someone who had to deal with this 40-something years ago isn’t really the audience for the haunt."

“I’m not the victim’s family, so I can’t tell you what they feel or what this does to them," Kopelman also told HuffPost. "But I can’t say enough that the people who are probably hurt by this probably wouldn’t have found out if were it weren’t for the media."

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, founder of victims advocacy group IllinoisVictimsCalling told the Daily Herald, a local paper, she considers entertainer Rob Zombie the "lowest form of human slime" for trying to profit off the tragedy. "Would you go to a spoofy entertainment thing about a rape or a child molestation?" she said. "There's nothing funny about it."



Kopelman said the haunted house didn't raise an eyebrow during its run in Pomona, California, last year. But Bob Egan, another co-prosecutor of the Gacy case, says this year's Chicago-area attraction is contentious because of its proximity to families of Gacy's real-life victims.

“I’ve got no quarrel with this person’s right to do this, but you exercise a little common sense of where to do it," Egan told HuffPost. "If it was in Nebraska or Florida, I’d have no problem because there’s no proximity to the victims' next-of-kin."

"But this is an active cold case," said Egan, who currently works with the Cook County Sheriff's Department, which handled the Gacy investigations. "You just don’t go into a geographic area and make light of something like this."

Sam Amirante, who served as Gacy's defense attorney, said families of the Gacy victims have been "pretty understanding" of the public's fascination with the case. Though he finds the Villa Park haunted house "a little insensitive" because of how geographically close it is to the crime scenes, Amirante recognizes the producers' right to free expression.

"As a person who was his lawyer, I don’t like it. I don’t like that kind of exploitation," Amirante told HuffPost. "But where do we draw the line? I think we’ve come to a point in our own society now where we worry too much about where we’re going to offend somebody."

Kopelman said the Great American Nightmare haunted house won't return to Chicago next year -- not because of the controversy, but because the creators want to keep the attraction fresh. Kopelman fully expects to up the ante again next year.

“I’m sure there is a line [I wouldn’t cross], but I don’t know what that is,” he said.

Sullivan, who blasted the house as "pornography at its worst," remains unconvinced that line will ever be found.

"We’re pushing it now," he said, "and I don’t know where it’s going end.”


The entrance to one of the three haunted houses that make up the Great American Nightmare attraction.

9 Reasons We Should Abolish Tipping, Once And For All

Fri, 2014-10-17 07:55
Tipping is a strange, self-defeating phenomenon. The practice as we know it today has come to negate the very reason it exists: What started out as a reward for exceptional service has now become compulsory. "Tipping starts with people wanting to be generous, or to show off, but then it becomes something where people just do it because it's expected of them," says Michael Lynn, a professor of consumer behavior and marketing at Cornell University who has written more than 50 research papers on tipping. When we tip, we are essentially buying the right to avoid disapproval and guilt -- a uniquely first-world problem.

Still, tipping is a huge thing, accounting for around $44 billion in the U.S. food industry alone, according to the economist Ofer Azar. Polls show that Americans love to tip. "People like the power," says Sage Bierster, a waiter friend of mine who's been in the business for more than six years. But tipping brings with it a welter of problems: It's costly for taxpayers, it's often arbitrary (and even discriminatory) and it contributes to poverty among the waiters and waitresses who must grovel for our change to earn their living.

That's why I'm proposing that we abolish tipping. Just get rid of it entirely. Here are nine reasons to ban the begging bowls once and for all:

1. It Pushes Waiters Into Poverty (And Helps Keep Them There)


In most states, restaurants are allowed to pay waiters far less than the minimum wage. The federal rate for servers in the U.S. is just $2.13 an hour, and in 19 states, that's what servers make. Each state, though, has leeway to set a higher wage for servers. Twenty-four states have voluntarily raised servers' minimum wage above $2.13 an hour, and seven states have gone as far as requiring servers to be paid the same minimum wage as everyone else.




This is a great system for the restaurant industry, because it lets businesses pay less than the minimum wage in almost every state. But it contributes to poverty among the waiters and waitresses who toil in diners and other inexpensive restaurants across the country. (Servers in higher-end places tend to earn a livable wage.) In fact, servers are nearly three times as likely as other workers to experience poverty, according to a March 2014 report from the National Economic Council, the U.S. Department of Labor and others.

Tipped workers and their families often depend on welfare programs to survive -- and they do so at significantly higher rates than non-tipped workers, according to a 2014 report from the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on labor issues. "Tipped workers are heavily reliant on public subsidies to help make ends meet," said Sylvia Allegretto, a research economist at the University of California, Berkeley and a former waitress, who co-authored the report. "Who helps them bridge the gap? Taxpayers."

2. Servers Make Less Per Hour Than They Used To...


The "tipped minimum wage," which is the amount servers make per hour (not counting their tips), was established in 1966 by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Prior to 1966, there was no standard rate for servers and other workers who earned tips, like hotel workers. The FLSA established that the tipped minimum wage had to be no less than 50 percent of the regular minimum wage. That way, when the regular minimum wage increased, the tipped minimum wage would automatically increase along with it.

But in 1996, that changed. Under pressure from the restaurant lobby (led at the time by fast-food mogul Herman Cain), the Clinton administration decoupled the tipped minimum wage from the regular minimum wage. As a result, because of inflation, the value of the tipped minimum wage has steadily fallen over the years, as this chart from the Department of Labor report shows:




The current federal tipped minimum wage for servers, $2.13 an hour, is exactly the same as it was in 1991, when the regular minimum wage was $4.25.

"What a boon to the restaurant lobby, that for 23 years in a row they've been able to pay the same low wages [to servers]," said Allegretto.

3. ...And People Tip Less Now Than They Used To, Too


It's generally accepted that when you go out to eat, you're supposed to leave a 20 percent tip for good service. But most people don't tip that much, according to a survey conducted earlier this year by the coupon site Vouchercloud. The company polled more than 2,600 adults from all over the country, asking them what percentage of the bill they usually leave as a tip when they dine out. Just 23 percent said they leave a 20 percent tip, and about half the survey's respondents said they tip less now than they did five years ago, with the majority saying it was because their "financial situation had changed."

4. Abolish Tipping, And Customers Will Still Spend The Same Amount


Here's one argument you often hear in favor of keeping the tipped minimum wage so low: If restaurants have to pay servers a higher hourly wage, they'll be forced to increase menu prices and that will drive business away by giving people "sticker shock." But in all likelihood, the price hike of your meal, or the mandatory service charge tacked on in lieu of a tip, would be roughly equal to what you would have paid in tips anyway. In reality, customers already pay 100 percent of servers' wages, said Azar, who has done extensive research on the subject.

"Restaurant owners don't bring money from their own personal pocket to pay servers," said Azar. "Whatever they pay waiters is from the restaurant revenues, and [those revenues] come from customers paying. It makes no difference if these payments are called tips, prices, or service charges."

So if you're bothered by restaurants that add a mandatory service charge to the bill, don't worry: You're paying the same amount, albeit in a different form, that you normally would.


Restaurants like Sushi Yasuda in New York have already gotten rid of tipping. (Photo Yelp/Germain W.)

5. Paying Waiters A Low Hourly Wage Can Be Bad For Restaurants' Profits


According to a 2014 report by the union-backed Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), those states that legally require restaurant owners to pay servers higher hourly wages also have higher per capita restaurant sales. Why? Because, the report says, when workers make more, they stay at their jobs longer, increase their productivity and spend more of their own money at restaurants.

Packhouse Meats, an independent eatery in Newport, Kentucky, is one establishment that's already experienced the benefits of paying waiters a guaranteed wage. Servers at Packhouse Meats make $10 an hour or 20 percent of their sales -- whichever amount is greater.


The online menu for Packhouse Meats alerts customers to its no-tipping policy.

"We have very low turnover here, because our waiters don't want to leave," said Packhouse manager Kurt Stephens. Low turnover means the restaurant spends less time and money training new servers, and so it can provide a better experience for customers, according to Stephens.

"We end up saving a hefty sum," he said, "and the feedback I get from customers is, they love it, because the price on the menu is exactly what they end up paying."

6. When People Tip, They Discriminate


Every waiter knows that tips are unpredictable -- sometimes you'll earn 10 or 15 percent just because your customers don't like you. Worse, sometimes they don't like you because of the way you look. Studies by Michael Lynn, the Cornell professor and tipping expert, have shown that waitresses with larger breasts, smaller body sizes and blond hair tend to earn more tips than waitresses without such attributes. A separate study by Lynn found that white servers are tipped more than black servers for the same quality service and regardless of the race of the customer.

7. Tipping Culture Is An Incubator For Widespread Sexual Harassment


The tipping economy is particularly unfriendly to women. According to an October 2014 report from ROC, 80 percent of female servers say they've been sexually harassed at some point in their careers, and sexual harassment is more prevalent in states that only pay servers the federal sub-minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, as opposed to states that mandate a higher minimum wage.

"Since women restaurant workers living off tips are forced to rely on customers for their income rather than their employer, these workers must often tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers, co-workers, and management," the report says. "This dynamic contributes to the restaurant industry's status as the single largest source of sexual harassment claims in the U.S."

8. It's Arbitrary


We like to think of our tips as a reflection of how well a server did his or her job. But in reality, the reasons we tip are often irrational. Research has found that we tend to tip waiters more if they touch us on the arm or draw a sun or a smiley face on our check. We also tip servers who wear red or squat next to the table more than we do servers who wear other colors or remain vertical while working.




What's more, lots of people like tipping because they believe it gives them power -- they think that leaving a small tip, or no tip at all, sends a message to a server that he or she needs to do a better job next time. (See Steve Buscemi's "Reservoir Dogs" rant, above.) In reality, multiple waiters I spoke to for this story said that getting a substandard tip tells them very little.

"If you had a bad experience, say something to your waiter, say it to a manager, but don't say it with your money," said my friend Sage, who has spent years waiting tables and managing various New York restaurants. "There could be a million reasons your experience wasn't good. But you leaving a 10 or 15 percent tip with no explanation, it tells me nothing."

9. At High-End Restaurants, Tipping Creates Income Inequality Between Waiters And Kitchen Staff


As already mentioned, for many servers in cheaper restaurants, the tipped minimum wage contributes to poverty. But in high-end restaurants, tipping leads to a different form of income inequality. When menu prices are higher, servers often end up making a lot more in tips than kitchen staff, who have equally valuable skills but are often paid modest wages.

Because the Fair Labor Standards Act restricts servers from sharing their tips with workers who aren't directly engaged in customer service, some upscale restaurants have banned tipping altogether in favor of a service charge, which those restaurants can use to pay their employees more equitably.

The restaurants Next and Alinea are sister establishments in Chicago. Neither is cheap. (With wine pairings, the bill at either restaurant can easily exceed $300 for one person.) Customers at Next and Alinea pay a mandatory 20 percent service charge, a system that co-owner Nick Kokonas says allows him to pay all his employees a fair, performance-based wage, whether they're waiters or sous-chefs.

"Before, we could only share gratuities, which were a large portion of our revenue, with a small amount of the staff" -- namely, the servers, Kokonas said. Having a service charge "allows us to run a much more balanced and efficient operation."

Getting Rid Of Tipping Will Take Time


A bill introduced last year, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, would re-couple the hourly wage for tipped workers to the minimum wage. If it passes, every restaurant in the country would have to pay servers a rate equal to 70 percent of the national minimum wage. But the bill is opposed by the restaurant lobby and a number of Republican lawmakers, and it has only a minute chance of passing this year.

Still, despite political opposition, there's public support for both a higher national minimum wage and a higher wage for tipped workers. A 2004 poll cited by Lynn in his research paper "Tipping and Its Alternatives" found that only 22 percent of respondents said they would prefer waiters to be paid in tips instead of regular wages. Thirty-four percent said they had no opinion, while 44 percent said they would prefer waiters to be paid a guaranteed wage. Still, people love to tip. A survey conducted by Azar in 2010 found that 60 percent of Americans prefer tipping to a service charge.

Why are we so enamored of this strange, antiquated custom?

Michael McGuan, a former manager at the Linkery, a now-closed San Diego restaurant that was one of the first to outlaw tipping, offered some insight into why we're so gratuity-obsessed. Speaking to The New York Times Magazine in 2008, McGuan said that Linkery customers would sometimes get offended when told they weren't allowed to tip.

"I'll go over to the table and ask if there is a problem with the service. If there is, then I offer to remove the service charge," McGuan said. "Almost always, the customers' issue isn't about the service but about not being able to handle their loss of control."

Women, Vote Yourselves a Raise

Thu, 2014-10-16 23:10
America goes to the polls in less than 3 weeks, there's a lot at stake for the majority of voters -- namely women. Unfortunately women also make up another majority -- those working for our pathetic $7.25 an hour minimum wage. We've all heard the numbers on the gender pay gap -- women make about 77 cents on the dollar compared to men for full time year round work. And one of the biggest factors in the pay gap is the low minimum wage.

That's because adult women make up nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers. Even so, in an election year when candidates know female voters can make them or break them, too many are saying these women don't deserve a raise.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently said a raise would be a "job killer" -- a theory frequently harped on by his fellow conservatives. They say employers will lay off some workers to pay for the increase. But it just ain't so. In the 13 states that raised their minimums this year, employment has actually gone up.

Naysayers also like to claim that companies will move to lower wage states. Wrong again. The New York Times studied businesses on either side of the Washington/Idaho border when Washington's minimum wage was nearly $3 higher than Idaho's. And guess what? Firms in Washington did not move across the state line. They were going strong, maybe because higher paid workers had more money to spend.

Workers who get tips -- so-called "sub-minimum" wage workers -- are the worst off of all. And no surprise, they're mostly women too. According to the Economic Policy Institute, two-thirds of tipped workers are female, and roughly 70 percent of the food servers and bartenders are women.

Yet employers like Darden Restaurants ,the largest full-service restaurant company in the world and owner of Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Yard House, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and Eddie V's refuses to raise wages for these workers above the mandated $2.13 an hour. Recent research by U.C. Davis, says it would cost just 10 cents per $5 in sales over a five year phase-in to raise wages for all Darden employees to $15 per hour. Dishes like Olive Garden's popular Tortellini al Forno would increase by a exactly one thin dime if all of the costs were passed on to the customer. But why should customers pick up the tab? Why not take it out of CEO mega-salaries and bonuses, or share the cost with the investor class in the form of slightly lower cash dividends (Darden made $286.2 million in profits last year).

One more thing -- the same candidates that don't want a higher minimum wage also want to cut safety net programs like Medicaid and food stamps. Supports made necessary because workers can't earn enough to live on, even with two jobs paying $7.25 an hour.

Public polls show that close to 70 percent of Americans favor raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. But Republicans in the Senate refused to vote on it earlier this year, and you can bet it won't come up at all if they take the majority away from the Democrats. So any action is likely to be at the state level -- meaning pay attention to those local candidates. They're the ones most likely to hold the purse strings for the next two years.

Listen to the 2 minute radio commentary here:

Our Souls Turned Into Weapons

Thu, 2014-10-16 17:57
"During basic training, we are weaponized: our souls turned into weapons."

Jacob George's suicide last month -- a few days after President Obama announced that the US was launching its war against ISIS -- opens a deep, terrible hole in the national identity. George: singer, banjo player, poet, peace warrior, vet. He served three tours in Afghanistan. He brought the war home. He tried to repair the damage.

Finally, finally, he reached for "the surefire therapy for ending the pain," as a fellow vet told Truthdig. He was 32.

Maybe another war was just too much for him to endure. Military glory -- protection of the innocent -- is a broken ideal, a cynical lie. "Times for war veterans are tough because we know exactly what is going to happen with the actions that Obama talked about in his recent speech," his friend Paul Appell told Truthdig. "Jacob and other war veterans know the pain and suffering that will be done to our fellow man no matter what terms are used to describe war, whether it is done from afar with drones and bombs or up close eye to eye."

And wars don't end. They go on and on and on, inside the psyches of the ones who fought and killed. War's toxins hover in the air and the water. Landmines and unexploded bombs, planted in the earth, wait patiently to explode.

In a chapbook that George published called "Soldier's Heart," which contains the lyrics to a number of his songs accompanied by essays discussing the context in which they were written, he explains his song "Playground of War." It was written when he returned to Afghanistan with a peace delegation -- George was one of the first Afghan vets to do such a thing -- and at one point visited, God help us, a landmine museum.

The guide, "hard-faced," overflowing with emotion, explains, George writes, that "it would take over a hundred years of working seven days a week to clear every single landmine out of Afghanistan. He says their fathers and grandfathers used to work their fields with plows, but now they work their fields with metal detectors and wooden rods. Instead of harvesting potatoes, they harvest explosives. He tells me all kinds of things that change my life in a matter of minutes."

This is war. War never ends. George came home with the war raging inside him and rode his bicycle across the country to promote peace. Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, he understood that veterans "can help lead the healing of the nation" In 2012, he marched in Chicago in protest of NATO and returned his medals. Marching with fellow vets, he led this cadence call: "Mama, Mama, can't you see/What Uncle Sam has done to me?"

He called his peace work a "righteous rite of passage." He said it was "how we transform PTSD into something beautiful."

He also chipped the last letter off the acronym: post-traumatic stress is not a disorder, he realized, but a completely natural, sane reaction to causing harm to others. He called it a moral injury.

A fellow vet, Brock McIntosh, interviewed on "Democracy Now" shortly after George's suicide, said: ". . . he saw a lot of killing in Afghanistan, and he also talked about seeing fear in the eyes of Afghans. And the idea that he could put fear in someone kind of haunted him. And he had lots of nightmares when he returned, and felt kind of isolated and didn't really tell his story. But over the last few years, he's had the opportunity to tell his story and to build long-lasting relationships, not only with other veterans who are like-minded, but also with Afghans."

In "Soldier's Heart," George talked about the dehumanization process that begins in basic training. Young people's souls are "turned into weapons." This is an image I can't move beyond. It's an insight into the nature of war that cannot be allowed to remain trapped inside every used up vet -- that our deepest hunger to do good, to contribute to the good of the world, is commandeered by selfish and cynical interests and planted back into the soil of our being like a landmine.

"Through my personal healing from PTSD, I've discovered it's not possible to dehumanize others without dehumanizing the self," he wrote in "Soldier's Heart."

George, unable to find a place in the society he thought he was leaving home to protect, spoke primarily to all the other returning vets trapped in the same existential hell. What he came to realize was that only by surrendering the rest of his life to the elimination of war could be himself find any peace. In doing so, he made a spiritual transition, from soldier to warrior.

"You see," he wrote, "a soldier follows orders, a soldier is loyal, and a soldier is technically and tactically proficient. A warrior isn't so good at following orders. The warrior follows the heart. A warrior has empathic understanding with the enemy, so much so that the very thought of causing pain or harm to the enemy causes pain to the warrior."

And now one more warrior lets go just as another war begins.

"We have been at war for 12 years. We have spent trillions of dollars," Bernie Sanders said recently on CNN. "What I do not want, and I fear very much, is the United States getting sucked into a quagmire and being involved in perpetual warfare year after year after year. That is my fear."

I'm sure that was Jacob George's fear as well. I'm sure he felt it in his soul.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

Foo Fighters Release 'Something From Nothing,' First Song Off 'Sonic Highways'

Thu, 2014-10-16 16:26
Foo Fighters have released the first new song off the band's eighth studio album, "Sonic Highways": the Chicago-inspired-and-recorded track, "Something From Nothing."

Starting off with some muffled guitar plucking and vocals from Dave Grohl, the song begins its monstrous ascent at the 90-second mark with some deep riffs. At 2:10, we get a few dissonant strums and a quick double-time from drummer Taylor Hawkins. A huge buildup controls the first half of the third minute, and after that it's nonstop ferocious rock 'n' roll. Grohl's gritty vocals are as domineering as ever as he sings out lines like, "Fuck it all, I came from nothing!" topped by an epic scream starting at 3:55.

“Something From Nothing” was recorded in Chicago with producer Steve Albini. Albini will also make an appearance in the first episode of the band's HBO mini-series, premiering on Friday night. The episode documents the band's recording process during their week in Chicago, as well as conversations with Chicago legends Buddy Guy and Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen. HBO will also be streaming the Foo Fighters live performance at the Cubby Bear in Chicago, where Grohl saw his first punk show, on their Facebook page immediately after the premiere airs.

Foo Fighters' "Sonic Highways" releases on Nov. 10.

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