No one save the participants knows what exactly happened outside the Map Room, the Bucktown bar, early in the morning two Sundays ago. The only clear thing is the result: Malukosamba leader Venicio de Toledo spent most of the next week in a coma. He came to last Wednesday, and remains in the intensive care unit at Cook County Hospital.
De Toledo is a Brazilian native in his mid-40s who's lived in Chicago for about 20 years; the band is a club-scene fixture, dispensing a souped-up samba through a large and shifting group of musicians. A benefit for de Toledo is scheduled for December 11 at Rosa's. Friends, who held a prayer vigil for the musician outside the bar this past Saturday night, whisper of dark deeds done on the street to an innocent man; more than one person mentions that drugs may have played a part in the incident. But the facts are murky, and the principals either won't or can't talk: de Toledo is still in the hospital; the roommate who was with him that night is incommunicado; and the management of the Map Room is keeping mum as well.
But the musician's friends will recount the story they heard from de Toledo's roommate. They say the pair swung by the club that night because de Toledo was to talk with someone about playing there. (Apparently the person he was supposed to meet was waiting for him at another bar.) They say it was very late, perhaps 5 AM, when de Toledo knocked on the bar's window. They say that with little time for an altercation to ensue, de Toledo was hit and fell backward, hitting his head on the sidewalk, whereupon a total of four men from inside the bar set upon him. De Toledo's roommate was supposedly chased by the men. Returning with police and an ambulance, he found de Toledo propped up in an alley and his attackers hosing blood off the sidewalk.
De Toledo managed to walk to the ambulance but later slipped into a coma. He had some kind of operation that night; friends say his face is disfigured and that he may have suffered brain damage. The initial official reaction was that the incident was a case of self-defense; now, however, police are investigating more fully, though they haven't filed a report yet.
One of the men in the fight was allegedly Map Room manager Andre Pleasance. The bar's owner, Mark Blasingame, said Pleasance doesn't work there anymore. "I really don't have much to say," Blasingame said. "A police investigation is going on on both sides." Pleasance, outside of stressing that "the Map Room doesn't have anything to do with this," says that he "can't talk about it right now."
Who was that masked man with R.E.M. on Saturday Night Live two weeks ago? It was Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey, the man the band is bringing along as a guest guitarist on the world tour that starts in January. "I'm Peter Holsapple, basically," says McCaughey, referring to the former dB, who accompanied the band on its Green outing in 1989. "I totally had to do it, even though I'm not good enough," he laughs. "I didn't let that stand in my way." Meanwhile Fellows guitarist Kurt Bloch is on tour with his other band, Fastbacks. Bassist Jim Sangster is on tour in Spain with Ron Loney. And drummer Tad Hutchinson is working as a security guard in the Seattle Art Museum. McCaughey recently finished what is essentially his second solo album, under the name Minus 5: his collaborators are Peter Buck and the Posies' Jonathan Auer and Ken Stringfellow. It'll be out soon on Popllama Records....In last week's look at the closing of Poplar Creek and the consolidation of Nederlander and Jam at the World Music Theatre, Hitsville went out of his way to give credit to the south-suburban Star and the Daily Southtown for breaking the story. Turns out Tribune writer Mark Caro did--in a piece back in May that the paper's solons relegated to a suburban-zoned edition, figuring that we north-siders wouldn't be interested. The story eventually became front-page news in both the Trib and the Sun-Times....There's no little tittering going on about the New York Times business section's straight-faced report that the Offspring's Smash has sold 100 million records. The flub, reminiscent of the paper's notorious publication of a fictitious guide to grunge slang invented by a Sub Pop employee, was the achievement of sardonic Epitaph Records staffer Andy Kulkin. For the record, Kulkin says he is shocked at the industry's tendency to inflate sales figures. "This is a serious business here," he says. "The fate of the world depends on it."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marty Perez.