Reader retroblogging | Bleader

Reader retroblogging


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With the Best Of issue coming soon, I've been looking through ancient-of-days Readers to see what were saying about the city in our early years (I'm a big fan of old city guides). Here's some notes and advice from 1977.


Loop, 165 N. State: Any qualms about the Loop's chronic state of disrepair are more than made up by its genial, gentlemanly manager Max Milstein, something of a legend himself in Chicago's film scene. Opened in the 30s as a newsreel house, this small theater is now the spiritual home of Russ Meyer, whose Vixen played here for a record 43 weeks. Other typical fare is just as disreputable, if often not as much fun.

Water Tower, 835 N. Michigan: The wave of the future: the city's newest theater features four tiny auditoriums, arranged smorgasbord style with a common lobby. "Multiplexes," as these things are known in the neologism-crazed trade, allow the owner the luxury of running four different attractions without increasing his overhead. But small theaters aren't the same--it's like watching an oversized TV set in a slightly formal living room with a few surly friends. For this, you have to go out?


Instead of fashion moving from the more sophisticated city to outlying areas, what we have here is the North Shore look come to roost in the city. Everyone looks like they went to the same high school, like they were cheerleaders or on the girl's gymnastic team, and like they still read Seventeen magazine. They wear denim jeans, white painter's pants, cotton and polyester blend plaid shirts, down jackets and vests with yokes of contrasting colors, bouncy Adidas or crepe-soled shoes, short hairstyles with little wings that curl back from lightly made-up faces. It's likely that they buy their furniture and bed-and-bath accessories at Ace on Broadway and that they shop regularly at the Gap. They probably own a bicycle with three or more speeds, a tennis racket, and at least one plant that hangs from the ceiling in a macrame sling. They make patchwork pillows from kits.


What is selling these days is a slickly packaged orgy of voracious consumerism padded with "happy talk" (yes, our newspapers happy talk too) and vague appeals to our hunger for "style," for "life," for "lifestyle!" The Sun-Times just launched its new Sunday magazine, Chicagostyle, to--as the promotional blurb put it--"discover, illustrate, and describe all the wonderful things that you, the individual, ought to possess for a more exciting personal lifestyle. Chicago's restyled newspapers have given more space to analysis of Mopeds and new cars than to analysis of that other Machine. Maybe we have come to the realization that You! are the only interested in machines over which You! exert some personal influence.

"Who's Who in Chicago's Alternative Culture"

1. Fred Anderson: A leading light of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Chicago's internationally renowned battalion of the jazz avant-garde. 

10. Diane Ciral: As head of Friends of Parks, she helps protect our green space from the bulldozer-happy bureaucrats of the Chicago Park District.

37. Don Levin: Reefer magnate--his Adams Apple distributing organization has grown from a northside storefront to a multimillion dollar empire. That's a lot of rolling papers.

Rock Music

When it comes to new bands, there's not much noise being made at all. The dependable local groups, Redwood Landing, Huge Hart, Baraboo, Little Wing, and the like, remain pretty much the same. The punk pretenders, notably Cheap Trick, but also Skafish, Screams, and the laughable Sundog Summit (they were a country band until just recently, and they wear safety pins in their cowboy hats, are obviously on the make for some kind of stardom, but none handle the quest with the style of, say, the Ramones. 


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