Letters & Comments July 16, 2009 | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Letters & Comments July 16, 2009

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The Time Has Come

A part of me responded with intellectual disdain and anger when I read the little black box on page 30 of the July 9 Reader: "In the coming weeks the Reader will stop running movie showtimes in print, devoting the space to features instead of data that can be used conveniently online." This part of me wanted to lash back by asserting, "The phrase 'data that can be used conveniently online' is as awkward as it is absurd." Another part of me, less academic, explained: "Although I own an iPhone, it's still more convenient to pick up a Reader and scan all the movie times at once than to wait for a page to load and then scroll around a small screen to find the right movie at the right place at the right time."

The disdainful part chimed in: "Give me a break, 'data that can be used conveniently online.'" The less academic part explained: "I don't always plan my movie-going at home in front of a computer, I decide on the fly, browsing through the Reader at a cafe, realizing, 'My god! I have 20 minutes to get to the Music Box!'" A genuinely upset part of me added: "I tear out the movie page—one page, for cryin' out loud!—and carry it around with me all week. One page!" Finally, the disdainful part had to get the last word in: "Whatever 'features' you're planning to replace the showtimes 'data' with—good luck making them more convenient and useful than the what, where, and when of all the movies showing in the city every week."

Oh, Reader. I have counted on you for movie showtimes for over a decade. What has brought things to this pass? Parts of me feel betrayed, insulted by a short blurb that doesn't do justice to the impact of this decision. Some parts lash out with criticism and sarcasm, others do their best to explain the trouble this will cause, and others plead: it's just one page! Alas, alack, alarum. Is this really the end? Please reconsider! Melissa Sandfort, Albany Park

Editor Alison True replies:

Thanks for your note, Melissa. I'll respond to the part of you that would understand this: It isn't that we don't recognize the value of our showtimes page. The problem is that we can't get complete movie showtimes before our printing deadline. Space in print is precious, so we'd rather direct you to our page on your iPhone, where, especially if you're hitting a movie on the fly, you'll get information that's up to our usual high standards.

Ice Cream Exotica

Any roundup of notable Chicagoland ice cream joints [July 9] that makes no mention of Flamingo's Paleteria (6733 W. Cermak, Berwyn) is null and void. Your taste buds haven't lived until you've had their avocado ice cream, or the hot cucumber, or the guava-and-caramel, or the pumpkin pie, and so on for 100-plus flavors. Cliff Doerksen

Disco Demo Debate

Re: "Postcards From the Day Disco Died," by Brian Costello with photographs by Diane Alexander White, July 9

The 1979 "disco demolition night" was a reactionary assault by working-class whites (egged on by publicity-seeking demagogue Steve Dahl) against the rising popularity of urban music—i.e., black, Latino, and gay dance music—in mainstream culture. Comiskey Park 30 years ago seemed awfully reminiscent of Nazi-era Nuremberg, where they burned books by Jews, intellectuals, homosexuals, and other undesirables. Eric Weiss

Eric— I think you are putting a little too much thought into what happened that fateful night at Comiskey. Was Dahl a publicity hound? Yes, of course he was, but no more than any other disc jockey then and now. I would go so far as to say that Dahl didn't have enough gray matter in his tiny head to make a connection between disco being 'urban music' therefore connected to blacks, Latinos, and gays and the working class whites that he was catering to, or in your theory, trying to form a mob of angry disaffected white youth to rage against minorities.

Was the crowd manipulated by Dahl? Yes, of course they were. Did the crowd hate disco music and the shallow culture that surrounded it? Yes, they did. Did anyone in that crowd make the connection between disco and minorities? Probably not. They were a bunch of drunk and stoned working class kids that were blowing off steam and that is about as deep as it gets. You want to look for Nazis and conformists? Go sit in the bleachers at Wrigley with all the frat boys. TMc

Chicago was (and is) one of the most segregated cities in America. It was known for violence against minorities who dared to cross boundaries—let alone move—into white neighborhoods, especially in areas like Bridgeport. With lucrative city connetions, ostensibly working-class whites in places like Bridgeport were considerably better off financially than similar black areas.

So to ignore this context when discussing pictures of an all-white crowd, some wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Insane Coho Lips logo—a blues rock band organized by Dahl—you really have to wonder.

It's disingenuous to pretend racism doesn't count if the people involved aren't overtly or intentionally expressing it. One aspect of racism is often refusing to admit an issue has a racial context—even when it involves an all-white group turning violent destroying a music which is associated with blacks.

I don't expect it to be the dominant aspect of the story, but to omit it entirely is really telling. well then

Just to clarify, not everyone who is into hard rock and heavy metal is a homophobic, racist meathead. How would you all feel if I say everyone who is into disco was a happy, clueless, coke-snorting sap? Vietnam was a lost cause, Nixon was an awful president, the economy was tanking. What is there to be happy about? I would rather listen to Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy because their music was all about the working class blues. I could totally relate to that. And for the record, Rob Halford of Judas Priest is gay and Phillip Lynott of Thin Lizzy is black yet their fanbase never cared if they were. Music will always have these rivalries between followers of their preferred genres. Those rivalries will always exist depending on the decade it just happens in. Punks vs. new wavers, thrash metal vs. glam rock, east coast rap vs. west coast rap, and so on. R

I'm not saying that race played no role in what happened at Disco Demolition—that would be foolish—but it's worth pointing out that by 1979 you certainly didn't have to be racist to hate disco.

Remember all those rock bands making awful disco records, trying to capitalize on the trend? Disco was pretty ubiquitous by then and its profitability had led to the production of a lot of debased crap (most of it by white folks). I mean, you could buy a disco record by Donald Duck, for Christ's sake.

I figure that debased crap, not the gay/black/urban nightclub music that disco evolved from, was what provoked most of the backlash. PHLP

You guys with your theories are funny! I know, I was there that night. It was summertime, some friends of mine told me about it, so we all just got drunk/high and went. I happened to like disco music, and I don't know really how my friends felt about it, but we all got a record (I'm not even sure mine was a disco song). None of us thought disco had anything to do with race, sexual orientation ("what was that?", we'd probably ask at the time). It was a blast! The people with the theories other than just kids being rowdy are full of shit. Luke

I wonder when the Cubs will have a "fratboy college rock carnage night" where people would bring in their Nickelback, Dave Matthews, and Guster CDs to destroy—that would be the greatest thing to happen since Disco Demolition. Shitty Music Sucks

Critics at the time brought up the issue of race and homesexuality, so the question does have historical context.

Plus the full context is that Chicago had major racial divisions across the city, with notorious violence on the white south side. Plus, the areas slightly safe for gay people were far from Comiskey.

I don't think the crowd was out to make any statement on these issues, but, like it or not, an all-white crowd which turns violent has a larger context. well then

This story elicited a huge response. The debate continues.


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