Archive for May, 2008

Africa Hi-Fi - May 31

As Chicago is the birthplace of house music, we are especially excited to be a part of an event with one of the modern day icons of the genre: tomorrow, Saturday May 31 in Chicago, Stop Smiling will be co-sponsoring legendary DJ / producer Ron Trent’s birthday at his long-running Chicago party, Africa Hi-Fi. In addition to being one of the best parties in the city in terms of musical talent and the diversity of the crowd, the monthly event supports Next Aid and Amnesty International, among others. This should be a special event and we hope you can make it out and hang out with us. The event takes place at Sonotehque.

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Where’s the Loyalty?

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan kicked off a week of rebukes with the release of his tell-all book What Happened. (Turncoat, said some — savior, said others.) Though perhaps the medal for disloyalty should go to the couple from Vancouver who put their baby for sale on Craigslist? Relax, the couple says, it was only a hoax. And on that rare topic of loyalty at all costs, view this clip of Pat Buchanan taking one on the chin for his former boss, Richard Nixon. (Most intense on-air dis in years?)

In entertainment news, the lead actor from Grand Theft Auto continues to feel carjacked by Rockstar Games and the Screen Actors Guild for receiving what he feels are paltry residuals from the sales of the international juggernaut. So he took his story to the press. Back on the political front, libertarians continued to spurn Mike Gravel, who finally bowed out of the presidential race. “I just ended my political career,” Mr. Gravel said at the party‚Äôs convention. “From 15 years old to now, my political career is over, and it’s no big deal.” And how must Obama be feeling about his hometown church, which continues to cast clouds over his campaign?

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Phil Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble - Frankiphone Blues

What’s a frankiphone you ask? A good question, especially if you’re not familiar with Phil Cohran, as he invented it. Essentially an electric thumb piano, Kelan Phil Cohran developed the instrumenet and used it to anchor the recordings on the album this song was pulled from, Singles. The album is a collection of songs that originally came out on Cohran’s own Zulu Records imprint. The instrument becomes a focal point on a couple of these songs, which get rounded out Chicago jazz legends like Master Henry Gibson and Pete Cosley. If Cohran’s work with Sun Ra was a little too out for you, this collection tones down the “out” just a tad and wraps everything up in a tighter package. If you like jazz and/or soul music even a little bit and don’t have this record, I guarantee that it will be a welcome addition to your collection.

– Audio - Phil Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble - Frankiphone Blues

- Bonus - Click here for a video of Cohran playing the frankiphone.

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The Ruler is Back (OK He Never Left, But Now He Can Stay)

In case you missed this tidbit over the long weekend: Slick Rick was given a full pardon by Governor David A Paterson.¬ Full story here.

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Sydney Pollack (1934-2008)

The director of such films as They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie and Out of Africa, winner of Best Picture in 1985, has passed away from cancer at 73. The Indiana native was a force in Hollywood as a director, actor and ambassador, as well as an elder statesman whose support as a producer allowed films like Michael Clayton and several works by Anthony Minghella (who also passed away this year) to reach audiences.

Read Pollack’s obituary at the NY Times and LA Times. (The Guardian has compiled an interesting cross-section of his work via YouTube.) Salon’s 1999 profile, prompted by Pollack’s performance as an unsavory accomplice in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, celebrated his merits as an actor. “Like all great character actors,” writes Michael Sragow, “he challenges and magnetizes top-billed performers without overpowering them.” Around the release of The Interpreter, his final feature film (which was followed by his documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry), Slate published this critical evaluation. More information on Pollack’s life is available via the Associated Press.

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A Definite Loss of Appetite

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider a second helping. After swallowing a six-month-old deer whole, this python was sufficiently stuffed; commuters in Illinois might have had their fill of Oreos after witnessing a trailer loaded with 14 tons of them overturn on an interstate highway; Salon reports that watching Indiana Jones might make you fat; curious McDonald’s customers might want to take note, as the Times did, that the company’s new Southern Style Chicken Sandwich is a direct theft of the sandwich regularly served at Chick-fil-A, a restaurant chain in Atlanta; and the “Annals of Drinking” column in The New Yorker offers some strong advice about skipping that second bottle of wine. “Through the lens of alcohol, the world seems nice,” writes Joan Acocella. However, “the body, to break down the alcohol, is releasing chemicals that may be more toxic than alcohol itself; these would result in nausea and other symptoms.” For tips on the ultimate hangover remedy, read the article.

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The Lazarus Project Photography Show Opening in Chicago - May 22

Aleksandar Hemon’s new book The Lazarus Project is peppered with images, both new and old. The archival photographs were pulled from the Chicago Historical Society and the originals were taken by Hemon’s childhood friend, Velibor Bozovic, while he traveled through Eastern Europe doing research for the book. The Lazarus Project is historical fiction, telling the tale of Lazarus Averbuch, an immigrant who was gunned down by the Chicago chief of police in 1908. The photographs that accompany the book are being exhibited at the Madron Gallery in Chicago. The opening is Wednesday, May 22nd from 6 - 8pm.

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No Gum Chewing Allowed - The R Kelly Trial Coverage

While every media outlet is covering every step of the the R Kelly trial, one of our favorites so far is Natalie Moore’s quippy reportage from the Chicago Public Radio blog. She’s at the courthouse every day, and during her downtime, she’s casting the movie version of herself as Sanaa Lathan, linking to crucial clips from the Pied Piper of R&B’s storied career and, of course, making the obligatory mention of the now-infamous Dave Chappelle skit. Check out her full coverage here.

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Well, Dad Likes Westerns, Right?

In his venerable DVD column for the New York Times, Dave Kehr writes about why fans of Westerns love Father’s Day. “That’s because the studios, responding to America’s annual need to appease male members of the household by anointing them with vintage testosterone, reach deep into their libraries and bring forth westerns of the past, some classic and some less so.” Kehr proceeds to wrangle the current armchair-approved releases, picking up where last week’s column left off, when he saluted the great Raoul Walsh. And in today’s New York Sun, critic Bruce Bennett takes a fresh look at Jimmy Stewart’s Westerns.

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Nina Simone - Baltimore

In keeping with our continued coverage of jazz and our love for good cover songs, this little nugget is from Nina Simone’s album of the same name. The tune was originally penned by Randy Newman in 1977 and Simone’s take on it - with its strong rhythm section, and soulful, lamenting vocal delivery - leaves little to be desired.

- Audio — Nina Simone - Baltimore

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