- On the Cover: Photo by Matthew Gilson. For more of his work, go to MatthewGilson.com.
We tend to think about culture in America these days as consumable products or ticketed events, and so the "cultural coverage" most media outlets offer is reduced to binary reviews: should one or should one not pay hard-earned money for the product or event in question? ("When I hear the word 'culture' I take out my checkbook," visual artist Barbara Kruger posed in the 1980s.) Yet actual culture today—the musical, gustatory, aesthetic, movement-based, and intellectual pursuits of humans—is in greater flux than even the stock market. The #MeToo movement would seem to be a positive change for women, for example, although I can understand how it may be less delightful for rapists. ICE raids are profoundly negative, not just for the individuals whose lives are violently disrupted, but for their families and communities who must live every day with a warranted fear of attack and expulsion. Yet raids continue, presumably because the fears around migration that they generate benefits those in comfort.
The mealtime conversations that result in and from these movements and the backlashes against them—and, indeed, the latest flick at the multiplex—these all constitute our culture. In this way we can see that our culture is a direct reflection of politics. Here in Chicago we are being offered a nearly unprecedented opportunity to vastly change our local culture in one fell swoop: with votes on mayoral and aldermanic elections, in city clerk and treasurer races, and on a range of referenda.
The Reader is known as a cultural paper. In service to that ongoing agenda, we're embarking on a project to ask you what kind of culture you want in 2019. We also want to offer you information about who might be best to ensure it comes about once all the runoff elections are completed. We're kicking this quest off tonight at a Public Newsroom event with City Bureau. We'll be planning our election—and cultural—coverage based on the kind of city you tell us you want to live in. (If you didn't sign up, don't worry—we hope to have plenty more ways to gather your input in the coming months.)
Regrettably, our last issue featured new media innovator Sonia Sheridan on our cover without mentioning her name. An article incorrectly stated that Michael Beyer is suing Chicago Public Schools in conjunction with the Ogden local school council. Only some members of the LSC are joining the suit. In addition, an ingredient in a Rocio Vargas dish was incorrectly identified in our last issue; it is cannabutter. And we misprinted "Lincoln Yards" in the last issue as well.
Joravsky sets the tone for our mayoral coverage with a petitioning-process explainer in this issue, and we've got a peek at some new cultural discussions at the Field Museum. Comics reporter Anya Davidson is back to draw out the political themes in a recent discussion of the 1983 Lizzie Borden film Born in Flames, and Mike Sula's restaurant preview looks at how one eatery is coping with life—and death—as the president conspires to Make America Great Again.
Want to tell us more about the kind of culture you want in Chicago? See you tonight. Or, we hope, very soon. v