"I guess I'd better die now.... Otherwise a lot of people are going to be really disappointed!" —from "As Del Lay Dying," an excerpt from The Funniest One in the Room by Kim "Howard" Johnson, April 3
We're for the Community
Your article "The Right to Rant" [Michael Miner, April 3] about the Okons was really informative. Our alderman has repeatedly stated that his vote on zoning issues reflects the community vote. The vote is usually taken within two weeks' notification. Therefore, neighborhood organizing has become, and will continue to be, crucial in how the 47th Ward is developed. A SLAPPS suit like the ones the Okons have had to endure because of a developer like [James] Jaeger is cruel punishment for a couple who cared enough about their community to organize in the first place. I'm thrilled that a law like the Citizen Participation Act now exists to give the neighborhood voices more protection from lawsuits like this. We are organizing a fund-raiser and celebration of grassroots organizing at O'Donovan's on April 25, 6-9 PM, for this couple's legal fees to show our support as a neighborhood. Hopefully, the act will do its job, and they won't need the money. Then it really will be a celebration. Organizers everywhere, keep your fingers crossed.
From Someone in the Rock World Who Takes Australia Very Seriously
Regarding the opening line of Miles Raymer's review of In Ghost Colors by Cut Copy ["Short Takes on Recent Releases," Music, April 3]: "There's a reason no one in the rock world takes Australia seriously—the moments of greatness AC/DC, the Saints, and Nick Cave have brought us only barely make up for acres of mediocre drivel from Midnight Oil, Silverchair, and Wolfmother."
Wow. I've tried in the past to give young Mr. Raymer a pass, mostly because of his relative youth. And even now, I'm tempted to let it slide and chalk it up to something far worse than merely having his head up his arse—and that's laziness. Pure lazy writing. Need I run down the list? The Fun Things, X, Died Pretty, Beasts of Bourbon, Liz Dealey, Primitive Calculators, the Moffs, Rose Tattoo, the Hard-Ons, Feedtime, Lubricated Goat, the Stems, and on and on, not to mention the all-time greats—Radio Birdman, Scientists, Celibate Rifles. In just the past few years, I've heard new releases from the Drones, Devastations, and New Christs that have surpassed records from bands ANYWHERE on the planet. And say what you will about Midnight Oil and their radio-sheened albums—I saw them deliver an amazing show at Metro nigh 20 years ago that challenged my opinion of the band. Even Deniz Tek from Radio Birdman guested with Silverchair on a cover of Birdman's "New Race." Silverchair may have started life as an Aussie grunge version of Hanson, but they got hip to their roots but quick. And Wolfmother? It's a fun record—if you've ever actually LISTENED to it.
Having been to Sydney years ago to see Radio Birdman and do some record shopping down there, I can personally tell you that Australia rocks. In fact, the rock scene there is far less pretentious than most scenes in many major American cities. Many of us in the "rock world" take Australia VERY seriously, and it should be noted that Australian rock 'n' roll is often regarded by fans as some of the highest-quality examples of the form. Someone at the editor's desk at the Reader should have rewritten the opening line of the review to read: "There's a reason no one in the rock world takes Miles Raymer seriously. He falls back on lazy writing and easy cliches when he approaches a subject he knows little about." That being said, I've no dispute with the rest of his review of the new Cut Copy record, as I know nothing about Aussie dance/club music. But I also have no idea how seriously I should take the review given what I know about his other writing.
Former Reader driver
Here's to More of the Stories and the Musicians Behind the Stars
Comment on "When the Music Makes the Movie" by J.R. Jones, April 3
This review is spot on as far as the pacing of the Mayfield documentary goes. While it's hard to gripe at a free viewing of a film, I couldn't help but think this documentary was a good 45 minutes too long.
For me, the talking heads weren't the problem so much as the length of the musical numbers. I, like the members of the Saturday audience, cheered when a consultant to the film announced that entire musical numbers would be performed, as opposed to the traditional 30-second samples found in typical music documentaries. However, after watching half a dozen variety show performances, I hungered for more commentary.
That said, it was a delight to be able to watch Mayfield—young, able-bodied and full of life—perform. I got a chuckle out of Cash and Gooden with their opening and closing stories. It's rare to get to see the personalities of the musicians whose light isn't afforded the opportunity to shine as brightly for the star in front of them.
Kudos to the Chicago Cultural Center for providing the forum for a few hundred admirers to watch a musical master at work.