A former Chicago Weekly writer and Features Editor like Katie Buitrago! All of us at the Weekly want to congratulate Katie on her excellent feature in the most recent Chicago Reader, “What sort of woman reads Playboy?” It’s about Peggy Wilkins, a forty-something Hyde Park resident and University of Chicago Library server technician, who has worked her way to the top of Playboy Magazine fandom. She’s even had to rent an second apartment above the one she shares with her boyfriend to store her exhaustive collection of magazines and posters. So what drives Wilkins’s passion? Read the article to find out!
The University of Chicago student activist group SOUL (Students Organizing United with Labor) got some big-time press coverage for their latest demonstration against hour cuts for residence hall staff. In addition to the usual chants, the activists sang their own protest-specific renditions of Christmas carols last Thursday outside the campus housing office and administration building. The story appeared in the online and Chicago print editions of the New York Times and was reported by the recently founded Chicago News Cooperative.
Our indicted former governor Rod Blagojevich will be speaking and signing his new memoir, “The Governor,” at the University of Chicago Bookstore (Barnes & Noble) this week.
The signing will take place Tuesday, December 8, at 2pm.
From the Times’s review:
His publicist has described the book, published by Phoenix Books, as a “six-figure deal.” But in his writing, Mr. Blagojevich seems to have a specific message for the public, and perhaps more precisely, for those who might sit on his jury in a federal trial next year: He did nothing corrupt, though others have. He then lays out what he portrays as Chicago’s gritty, crass political rules, established long before him, in which power is traded for favors.
Ms. Aimen suggested that Mr. Blagojevich might struggle to keep his own legal team because of his desire to talk openly about the charges. “I think he must be a hard guy to handle,” she said.
For those who don’t remember his term, this quote from a press conference about sums it up: “It’s like the little boy with a pile of horse manure, I kept digging cheerfully in that and found a pony in there — the pony is free public transportation for all seniors in the state of Illinois.”
The local branch of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty will be hosting a study break tomorrow at the University of Chicago with Mark Clements, a recently-freed victim of police torture. According to promotional materials by the group, Clements was wrongly imprisoned for 28 years (beginning when he was 16) and brutalized while in police custody, experiences which he will speak about at the event. This will all take place from noon to 2 pm at the Community Lounge at 5710 Woodlawn Ave.
The Chicago Police have a checkered history with regard to torture; former CPD detective Jon Burge’s 1993 conviction on charges of having, among other things, used a cattle-prod to elicit confessions from suspects in police custody led to a general scandal a few years back. The talk will address these and other issues in local criminal justice, including juvenile sentencing, along with its main issue of ending capital punishment. Check it out.
Maoist polemicist Raymond Lotta issued a reply to Keith Jamieson’s recent essay, Everything You Know About Communism is Right, and had it passed out in front of the University’s Cobb Hall today.
The reply argues that the atrocities carried out in the last century by Communist revolutionary governments are part of the “learning curve” of the revolutionary project, and corrects the claim that Stalin killed millions of people to reflect the mere 700,000 or so death sentences carried out between 1937 and 1938. He asserts that regardless of the atrocities of communism, people have been lied to about it, and that the record needs to be corrected. His rebuttal also corrects some factual errors from his recent speech.
One of Lotta’s fellow Revolutionary Communist Party members and polemicists (who is curiously unnamed on the flier) will be on campus to informally “take on all comers” next Tuesday, Dec 1, 11am to 3pm in Hutchinson Commons at the University of Chicago.
Quinn Dombrowski, the enterprising Regenstein Library photographer who has been documenting graffiti in the stacks since the summer of 2007, has put a new spin on her photography by launching the RegRemix contest, encouraging people to “reuse and remix” the graffiti through poetry, song, something tangible, or just about any form imaginable.
The contest is being held in conjunction with the release of her photography book on the same theme, Crescat Graffiti, Vita Excolatur: Confessions of the University of Chicago. The expansive project, which contains over 700 photos, has been transformed by Dombrowski herself into buttons, mugs, and shirts.
The contest runs until December 20, and prizes include a shirt for the winner (with a graffiti of their choice) and a graffitied mug for the runner-up.
Observing the lecture delivered by Communist grand panjandrum Raymond Lotta, I couldn’t help but feel as though I should share my thoughts on his scintillating exegesis of two or three mid-1960s Mao Zedong speeches. Enjoy. Stay tuned for a blurb on this talk in next week’s issue.
7:13: Lotta begins with a parable about Christian fundamentalists seizing control of America and suppressing the theory of evolution. This is, according to Lotta, “an analogy for the situation that exists in intellectual discourse today with regard to Communism,” which is true insofar as Robert Conquest bases his entire opposition to Communist doctrine on a fervent belief in Jesus. Meaning it is not true.
7:15: Lotta can’t seem to find a comfortable distance from the microphone.
7:16: Lotta claims that the U.S. women’s movement was sparked by the Cultural Revolution. This explains that weird three-year period in which Betty Friedan was such a vocal supporter of the Red Guards.
7:18: Environmentalism is also Communist! Huzzah.
7:20: Lotta asserts that it is the capitalists who are living in the utopian Jesus Cloud Heaven Land, while the ultrarealistic governments of Laos and Cuba continue with their hard-nosed pen-pushing.
7:23: The greatest weapon in the capitalist arsenal appears to be PowerPoint, which Lotta still struggles to use.
7:24: “Socialism is a new form of political power in which the formerly oppressed and exploited, in alliance with the middle classes and professionals and great majority of society, rule over society with the leadership of a visionary, vanguard party.” Guess who thinks they’re in the vanguard party?
7:28: Lotta attempts to imitate the voice of a Japanese imperialist and winds up sounding like Mickey Mouse. Read the rest of this entry »
Of all the pampleteers and signature-gatherers on the University of Chicago campus, one type stands out in particular for its smoldering eyes and overall inscrutability. No, I don’t mean the anti-circumcision activist by the Hospital, I’m talking about the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist-Avakianist entity that dispatches a mix of balding, shabbily-dressed weirdos and weirdo-ettes to hand out socialist newspapers and try to persuade students that the Cultural Revolution was a net plus, and that Stalin wasn’t bad, really, honest, check out our website.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER COMMUNISM COMES TO THE SAHARA?
NOTHING AT FIRST, THEN A SAND SHORTAGE
This week’s issue of the Chicago Weekly includes a Perspectives piece by University of Chicago alum Ryan McCarl about an attack on the UofC Men’s Cross Country team that left one student permanently injured. At press time we still didn’t have all the details on the attack, but since then we’ve found out the whole story.
Two weeks ago, on Friday, October 15, 15 members of the Men’s Cross Country team were running west along Garfield Boulevard, a route they’ve often run before. At about 3:50, when they reached Garfield and State, an eastbound green Buick sedan drove by and opened fire with paintballs. Second-year Andrew Wong turned to look at the car and was struck on the bridge of his nose by a paintball, which ricocheted into his right eye. His cornea was scratched and his iris was partially (and permanently) detached, allowing bright light into his inner eye. Wong went to the ER that night and has seen an ophthalmologist several times since then. Read the rest of this entry »
While yesterday’s “rumble” at the C-Bench didn’t involve the much-hoped-for synchronized snapping face-offs or moody Leonard Bernstein music, it drew a sizable turnout and transformed the relaxed atmosphere of the C-Bench into one of palpably curious excitement. Students who usually don’t sit at the unofficial hipster hangout found themselves milling about within its acoustically perfect shape, and smokers who use the C-Bench for disaffected lounging took new pride in brandishing their cigarettes, drawing and puffing with distinct vigor. Read the rest of this entry »
The University of Chicago’s sizable Indian population has finally caught the eye of the supreme deity that is the Bollywood film industry.
Hitting theaters last month, “What’s Your Raashee?” stars Harman Baweja as Yogesh Patel, a Booth School student who studies by day and disc jockeys by night. Summoned home by his parents, where, like in almost all Bollywood movies, a marriage is forced upon him, Patel decides to meet exactly twelve girls—one from each sign of the zodiac. All are played by Priyanka Chopra in a deeply complicated undertaking of lengthy proportions.
While the film has received chilly reviews back in India, I, for one, am glad that some attention is finally being brought to the Booth School’s seedy underworld of wild DJs.
Check out this excerpt from the film of Patel break dancing in all his branded glory.
(Thanks to the University of Chicago Magazine, which tweeted this to our attention.)
Yesterday’s post titled “University of Chicago jocks move to take back ancestral bench” has generated a lot of hubbub. Patrick Offner, president of the Executive Board of the Order of the C, today informed me that he and the Order of the C “are NOT taking back the C-Bench, but rather using it as a setting for activities aimed at bettering the campus community.” He also called the email to the Women’s Athletic Association mailing list that I quoted in my last post “misinformed,” and said what’s happening at the C-Bench tomorrow is in fact the first larger meeting for something called the “C-Bench Initiative.” The Initiative, according to Offner, “will involve several projects over the course of the year, but many of these are still in the planning phase. Potential ideas are to pass out information about healthy lifestyles and provide nutritional information to students.” Offner also suggested that I was focusing too much on the C-Bench itself, which he says was chosen because of its “historical significance related to the athletic community” and because it’s in an area many students pass through.
So is that what’s happening tomorrow? Is the Order of the C just starting an initiative to improve health on campus?
According to emails obtained by the Weekly, Offner and other members of the Order of the C contacted a number of athletic teams in the past few days to alert them about the event tomorrow. One email from a member of the Order of the C Executive Board to a team mailing list was titled “TAKING BACK THE C BENCH” and began as follows:
I’ve got something very important to discuss with you.
1. The year is 1903. The “C” bench is erected outside of Cobb Hall. Soon after, Varsity athletes and their girlfriends make it the coolest place to be.
Flash forward, the year is 2009. The C bench has become a haven for pretentious cigarette smoking hipsters and their star-crossed love affairs. Varsity athletes are rarely seen enjoying the C bench’s well designed seating and atmosphere, meant to encourage healthy discussion and social engagement.
This, gentlemen, is a problem.”
The email goes on to inform team members that “all of the Men’s Athletic Teams on campus, led by the Order of the C, will be staging a protest of our new organization, the SAAS (Student Athletes Against Smoking)” on Thursday. The last part of the email before the signature reads:
“I encourage all of you to attend, to wear either your lettermen jackets or some other athletic related attire, and to help pass out fliers and generally discourage hipsters and others who continue to besmirch the good name of the C bench. See you all there.”
This email, like the one sent out to the WAA mailing list on Monday, makes it sound like what’s happening tomorrow isn’t just a meeting about a public health campaign. It makes it sound like what’s happening tomorrow is a jocks vs. hipsters rumble.
And then there’s the picture at the bottom of a poster Offner sent to the orderofthecboard mailing list:
The Tribune isn’t predicting rain tomorrow afternoon, so I’d encourage everyone to drop by the C-Bench around 1pm and see for themselves what’s going on.
The C-Bench, a large semicircular stone bench placed on the University of Chicago campus through the generosity of the Class of 1903, has always had a reputation. Until the 1960s, it was reserved for varsity lettermen and their dates. More recently it’s become known as the haunt of chain-smoking hipsters. But this Thursday, a group of athletes is looking to win back the bench. The Order of the C, the University’s varsity letterman group, is asking all interested campus athletes to gather at the C-Bench at 1pm the day after tomorrow in order to “take it back from the smokers,” according to an email sent out to the Women’s Athletic Association mailing list on Monday afternoon.
Patrick Offner, president of the Order of the C’s Executive Board, commented, “Our hope is that the university will openly embrace our intentions. The C-bench was once associated with all the positive ideals of the university: open discussion, tradition, and healthy lifestyles. This point of congregation for athletes, and later the entire student body, has been claimed by a smaller, exclusionary group and the consensus is for change.”
Update: For the latest C-Bench news, see our next post.
Tickets are still available for Redmoon Theater’s final production of “Hunchback” tonight at 8 pm at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel. The Chicago-based company’s production, based on the Victor Hugo novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” features puppetry, masking, and a towering set that has been designed specifically for the chapel, with a score composed by jazz artist Michael Zerang. Tickets are $20 at the door, $10 for students and seniors.
The 61st Street Community Garden was founded about a decade ago as a shared garden for families. Each family or individual pays about $40/year for a 10′ x 10′ plot of land with few restrictions to grow. The Garden, however, is owned by the University of Chicago and was built on top of a vacant lot. Earlier this year, the University announced its intentions to demolish the garden so it could use the land as a staging ground for the construction of the new Chicago Theological Seminary campus. The individuals and community involved with the garden have had various conversations with the University about relocating or preserving the garden, but the University still plans to demolish it next month. There are a few events coming up to celebrate the garden and raise awareness about its closing. Both of them will be held at the garden.
- Saturday, October 24, 2-5 PM – Come Say Hello, Come Say Goodbye?: Food, bonfire, and a drum circle to show support for the garden. I had the distinct pleasure of overhearing a planning meeting for this event hosted by University of Chicago students, and their basic mission is to show appreciation and hope from students that the University will change their plans.
- Sunday, November 1, 10AM-4PM – Last BBQ and Potluck: This event is hosted by community members and meant to be a last goodbye to the garden. There is more information on volunteering to help gardeners relocate their equipment, but the gardeners still do not have another site for the planned relocation.
The stereotype holds that students at the University of Chicago spend a lot of time in the libraries, and particularly in the Regenstein Library, the campus’s towering Brutalist hulk. Not all that time, of course, is spent studying, as is documented by Quinn Dombrowski’s Flickr set of 714 photos of graffiti found around campus, almost all in the Reg. The photos, which have been linked to by a blog at the LA Times and Chicagoist, include poetry, vulgarity, drawings, diagrams, conversations, advice, and more, in all sorts of languages.
But Dombrowski’s Flickr isn’t the first attempt to document the campus’s graffiti. In 2004, item #80 on the list for the annual University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt directed teams to produce a copy of “Brain Farts: The Collected Works of the University of Chicago Bathroom Graffiti” (with bonus points for “an inset detailing the entirety of the ‘Grout Work’”). Michael “mitcho” Erlewine compiled the Pierce team’s entry and uploaded it to his website in PDF format. “Brain Farts” includes photos from bathrooms all over campus and three entire pages of grout puns. Recent alum Jacob Green also took a few graffiti photos around campus and posted them online under the title “Bathroom Politics.”
For more on graffiti on the South Side, see our feature from April 2008.
After several years of stop and start, the Woodlawn Collaborative, a joint project between University of Chicago students and nearby community groups, officially opened last week in the First Presbyterian Church at 64th Street and Kimbark. The first occupant of the site is MAGIC, a Woodlawn-based neighborhood youth services organization, which will provide a safe study space for local middle and high school students.
Last spring the Weekly ran a story on the Collaborative’s long struggle to secure the space for use by student and community groups involved in the arts, education, and activism. Greg Gabrellas, one of the founders of the Collaborative and a student at the University, updated us on the project and emphasized that the opening is only the first step. “We still must create an organization, basically from scratch, that is comprised of student and community-based organizations working towards a common end.” The Collaborative has roughly 20 partner groups and hopes to expand programming through the fall and winter and begin running at full capacity by next spring.
The project’s mission to act as a catalyst to social change in Woodlawn is seeing its first results. “We can’t pretend that we can solve these urgent social problems ourselves; we will educate the next generation of artists, activists and intellectuals who can take a stab at it, perhaps in better conditions than our own,” Gabrellas says. He emphasizes that what the collaborative needs now more than ever is people. “There is a place for everyone: group leaders to shift their activities here, teaching artists to teach classes, economics majors to help us with our finances, and dedicated people to ensure that everyone who enters our facilities is safe and sound.” On October 30th the members will convene for their fall general meeting to discuss the transition into a full-time center.
What an auspicious weekend for the University of Chicago.
First, the 500th Convocation benchmark has been hit, making the university look decidedly old and venerable.
Second, the 2009 Nobel Laureates have been announced this week, and three winners are affiliates of the university: Ada E. Yonath (Chemistry), George E. Smith (Physics), and (surprise!) President Barack Obama, who has pulled in the first Peace Prize for the university.
The latter news bit has gone viral in the cable news world and sparked debate on whether or not Obama’s win was deserved, but for now, we might as well bask in the glory of three more names on the University of Chicago’s long list of Laureates.
Happy weekend, Chicago.
With the leaves really beginning to turn on the trees, it finally feels like autumn. But given that Chicago autumn quickly transforms into a long early winter, and folksy wisdom predicts this year’s winter to be quite the doozy, why not get out next weekend, while it’s still possible to survive in a hoodie?
Several South Side (and city) organizations have taken a cue from the leaves and scheduled a number of neighborhood tours:
- The University of Chicago’s Chicago Studies department hosts a South Side History Bike Tour, led by the university trio of Dean John Boyer, Dean Mark Hansen, and Professor Terry Clark. The tour will meet on the Quad between the Regenstein Library and Bartlett at 10am on Saturday and will pedal north to Bronzeville, head to the Union Stock Yard Gate, and take in the sacred site of the late Mayor Daley’s home, amongst other historic finery.
- The Southside Solidarity Network’s historian-led Woodlawn tour will begin in front of the University of Chicago’s new South Campus dorm at 1pm on Sunday, engaging with activists and residents in an attempt to familiarize students and others with the neighborhood.
- The Burnham Plan Centennial will be hosting a set of Community Showcase Tours, delving into such areas as Pilsen, South Chicago, the Quad Communities, and Auburn Gresham, with each tour leaving the Chicago Cultural Center at 9am on Saturday and lasting for three hours.
- The second-to-last of Paul Durica’s current series of Pocket Guide to Hell tours (“The Hidden History of the University of Chicago”) will occur Sunday at 2pm, beginning from the front entrance of the Reynold’s Club. This was supposed to be the last, but due to popular demand, Durica’s added another on October 18.
Hibernation hasn’t kicked in quite yet. So put your Lord of the Rings marathon off for a few more weekends and get out while the getting out’s good.