April 2010 Archives

(reposted from the Film Studies Center website)
Representing Chicago: Experimental Video and Television at the Media Burn Archive

Screening and Discussion with Tom Weinberg and Sara Chapman
Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 7:00pm

Introduction by Judy Hoffman, Department of Cinema and Media Studies

Media Burn founder Tom Weinberg and Executive Director Sara Chapman will showcase gems from the Mediaburn.org collection - from interviews with Studs Terkel and Nelson Algren to footage of Mick Jagger and Muddy Waters at the old Checkerboard Lounge. In its evolution from fledgling archive to media savvy digital presence, Mediaburn.org has become a model of how archives can use new technologies to position historical moving image collections for public access, and of how doing so makes archives active and conversant with contemporary media culture.

The Media Burn Independent Video Archive captures the cultural history of video and television experimentation from 1968 to the present. It contains over 6,000 videotapes shot from a perspective rarely seen in traditional media, often critiquing and revealing the way media itself is constructed. The collection represents a history of independent video movement, and is a counterpoint to the official histories of the 20th Century, featuring people from all walks of life: musicians, politicians, authors, and community organizers. It captures events and moments of importance to American life, from garbage collection to political conventions.

Until recently, the work contained within the Media Burn Archive was largely unknown and impossible to access, but now over 1,500 rare historical full-length videos are streaming online.

Tom Weinberg, founder of the Media Burn Independent Video Archive and President of FITV, has been producing ground-breaking video and TV programs for over 40 years. He began his career with alternative video pioneers TVTV, and his credits include more than 500 nonfiction television programs and educational videos as producer, director, and executive producer.

Sara Chapman is Executive Director of the Media Burn Independent Video Archive. At the University of Chicago (A.B. '04), she spent a year collecting oral histories of Chicago's 1970s radical video collectives for her B.A. thesis in Cinema and Media Studies. Over the last six years, she has been central to Media Burn's growth, helping Media Burn develop into an internationally recognized non-profit organization.

Funded by grants from the University of Chicago Arts Council, Franke Institute for the Humanities, and the Chicago Studies Program.

In the Spotlight: Diverse Groups Unite for Pride

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By Chelsie Sluyk, staff writer for the University Community Service Center Newsletter

It's spring in Chicago, and that means humid April showers are beginning to project rainbows across the city. The University of Chicago was one of the earlier communities to launch their spring Queer Pride festivities last Thursday with a sea of pink T-shirts that shouted, "I'm [fill in your identity] and I'm proud!," This year's Pride Week, taking place between April 16-24, will culminate this Saturday with a drag and genderqueering ball which, according to their website, promises to be a "thrilling climax."

According to co-organizer Nicholas Cassleman (BS '13), Pride Week had three main goals: to help inspire unity, raise awareness, and provide fuel for conversation.

Last Thursday's loud pink T-shirt distribution was followed on Friday by a day of silence and a vigil to raise awareness of ongoing anti-LGBTQ violence and harassment. Over the last week, students have participated in events ranging from RuPaul's Drag Race Marathon on the Quad to Rapid HIV testing and a discussion with Cathy Cohen on the importance of forming queer coalitions.

Students also went out into the community to participate in the Spring Quarter Day of Service. Eight students formed a Pride group and joined up with Community Service RSO WYSE (Women and Youth Supporting Eachother) to clean and spread wood chips at Ogden Park in Englewood.

"We wanted to reach out to as many kinds of people as we could," Cassleman said. "By having this variety, we hope to link together important ideas and the ways they can be expressed in ways that are accessible to many."

The goal of Pride Week is to be inclusive, and many of the events addressed issues that crossed over boundries between marginalized groups. Thursday night, as part of an event put on by the Organization of Black Students and Queers and Associates, students gathered at 5710 S
Woodlawn to discuss how race, class, religion and other identities intersect with queer identities.

The evening began with a performance by About Face Theater, a group that travels to high schools across the city to perform short plays about race, gender and identity issues. Afterward, as the floor opened for discussion, students asked questions like, "What does it mean to be a diverse university community if people don't engage with one another and discuss these important issues?" and "What are positive and productive ways to bring LGBTQ and race issues to light and talk about them with friends and classmates?"

"It's exciting to talk about queer people of color," said Malik White, a participant at Thursday's event, "They're so often pushed out of view."

While these issues will remain hot topics on campus, Pride Week's celebration will come to a close with Saturday's genderqueering ball. The event, featuring a drag show and music by Chicago-based Earth Tone DJs, starts at 9pm on the Third floor of Ida Noyes. It is open to
everyone, and will be followed by an afterparty entitled Last Night in Babylon.

Find more information at http://pride.uchicago.edu/

Old World Charm

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A restaurant recommendation:

5734 W. Cermak Road
Cicero, IL 60804

It might be fudging it a bit, for the purposes of this blog, but I'm sure if you'd measure the shoulders in Cicero you'd find them at least as big as Chicago's. Besides, the restaurant is within walking distance from the end of the Pink Line.

We went as a group on Saturday, seven of us, having studied abroad together in Vienna in the fall. Now in the spring and squarely in the American Midwest we were craving schnitzel. Klas is not quite the dining room at the Hotel Sacher and not quite the Gasthof up the street from our student residence in Leopoldstadt, in fact it might bristle at the comparisons. The sign out front advertises "Bohemian and American cuisine." Czechoslovakia was four years independent from Vienna when the restaurant opened, a Czech restaurant in a town chock full of Czechs. Eighty-eight years on, it preserves some of that old world charm in a much changed world.

The facade is a mock half-timbered village, with peaked roofs of different heights and even a turret. Inside are suits of armor, wood-carvings, fancy chandeliers, lace, stained glass, and taxidermy. It's probably the closest thing to Habsburg Mitteleuropa we could hope to find this side of the Atlantic.

And we got our wiener schnitzel. And a plate of schnitzel at Klas, at $12.95, comes not just with a veal cutlet but also a choice of two sides, soup and dessert. And so along with our wiener schnitzel we had our goulash soup, our sauerkraut, our bread dumplings, and our strudel. Tall, dark Czech beer flowed liberally to wash it all down.

After eating, and moreover after recovering from eating, we gave the rest of the restaurant a look. The place is huge - in addition to the main dining room there's a bar, a beer garden, and at least three private banquet halls, done up as a hunting lodge, dance hall, or baroque palace. There must have been a time when the restaurant was just packed, but that was not the case on a Saturday afternoon in 2010. Next time you're having a Czech wedding, a Czech family reunion, or a Czech charity banquet, make sure to check this place out.


by Anne Groggel, UCSC Staff Writer

According to the Clean Air Council, the United States produces only 4.39 pounds of trash per day by the average person. The only two manmade structures large enough to be seen from outer space are the Great Wall of China and the New York landfill, "Fresh Kills". In recent years countless lectures and carbon emission policies have been leading stories but abstract talks often negate individual actions. Student lifestyles like our housing in an on-campus dorm room or off-campus apartment , or even what we eat, can contribute to the greenhouse gas emission that are contributing to global warming. Issues like global warming seem too large for college roommates or even a university campus to tackle. Yet, there are many things each of us can do to reduce carbon emissions.

Necessary change must come from both the smallest and largest national levels. One person picking up a single piece of trash is one singular clean spot of landscape. But a team of volunteers on one Saturday can remove litter from an entire park. On April 17th, UCSC kicks off its Annual Spring Quarter Day of Service. Students have the chance to take a few hours on a Saturday morning picking up material from a local playground. Or, students can repay Mother Nature for their share of printing by mulching Washington Park trees. Meaningful change all starts small. Unplug your computer and phone charger when not using them. Turn off the water facet when brushing your teeth and take advantage of the service day to get out into our community and do some good. Our generation will be faced with the consequences of the growing environmental issues like climate changes more than any other.

The Day of Service is a service project from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm for University of Chicago students, faculty and staff members to join with the Friends of the Parks and the Chicago Park District for an Earth Day of Service completing projects at one parks, community garden gardens, and other natural areas.

U of C volunteers will volunteer with a number of community organizations ranging from community gardens to food pantries. Benjamin Murphy, Garden Coordinator for the 65th & Woodlawn Community Garden is eager for volunteers helping to expand the garden. "The garden is almost tripling in size and the volunteers will help prepare the ground for new plots. We really appreciate the help making a place for people to enjoy in the community."

Whether building new garden plot, helping to renovate the Broadway Youth Center, working with the Hyde Park Kenwood Food Pantry for this Day of Service, U of C volunteers will have the opportunity to work with a number of important Chicago community-based agencies. Spending time in service allows us all to beautify our community while heightening awareness of social concerns. Graduate student Barton Willage looks forward "to getting off the University of Chicago campus and to helping out the community by giving my time."

Pre-registration is required and students can sign up at http://tinyurl.com/spring-dos or learn more about University Days of Service page at http://ucsc/programs/days-of-service/ .

Spring means Short Shorts

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Check out this new contest for Chicago in 60 Seconds!

Give us UChicago in 60 seconds or less and you could win a cool $100 in time for the hot summer.

Contest Overview

Show us the University of Chicago College in all its idiosyncratic, colorful, dynamic splendor--on video. Any aspect of the College experience is fair game as long as the video is 60 seconds or less. Be wildly creative--or just plain wild. Amaze us with your masterful cinematography, or send us an unedited clip already sitting on your camera--it doesn't matter! No genre is out of bounds, no format too unique. Just, you know, keep it legal.

If you have the drive but lack the tools, we have you covered. Just stop in at the Communications reception desk on the 2nd floor of the Administration Building, south wing. We have three HD Flipcams available for check-out to University affiliates. Just bring your University ID when you come.



All University of Chicago College students, faculty, staff, and alumni are encouraged to participate. The video can use any audio/visual multimedia (e.g., raw video, flash, animation, cell phone, slideshow) as long as the work is 60 seconds or less. Subject matter needs to be suitable for public distribution. The best submissions will offer a glimpse of life in the College from your unique perspective. There is no limit on the number of videos you can submit.

How to Submit

Submissions will be accepted from April 1 until April 23. All entries must be in a digital format, uploaded to YouTube. Participants must then provide the link to the video through a simple online submission form. Entries will appear on the UChicago IN:60 Seconds web page on the College Admissions site.

How could we ever determine whether one slice of life is better than another? We can't! For this reason, all entrants will get free UChicago gear. We will randomly select a clip to win the cool $100. Just in time for the hot summer!

Windy City Pro Wrestling

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You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queen

Yes, ABBA was playing over the loudspeaker in this warehouse gym in southeasternmost Chicago, where 102nd Street and Avenue O dead-end into the Calumet River, seven blocks upstream from the drawbridge Jake and Elwood jumped in a second-hand police car. "You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen," sang the Nordic popstars to the posters of muscly, half-naked men that lined the walls, to the racks of free weights and the machines pushed up against them to make room for the coming attraction, to the maybe forty people gathered there that Saturday night, sitting in steel folding chairs three rows deep, waiting on the men in masks and tights who soon would punch and kick and execute high-flying body slams off the ropes. But the stars were still getting ready off stage, so it was left to Björn, Benny, Anna and Frida to warm up the crowd at Windy City Pro-Wrestling's tenth annual Lee Sanders Memorial Tournament.


The musical selection, it turns out, wasn't nearly as inappropriate to the setting as it seemed to me then, as I sat imagining extreme acts of violence feeding the blood lust of a raging crowd. I was feeling rather out of my element, by eight miles and a world, in a shadowy region known to me only through the stories of a high school friend. This is a guy who seeks out this stuff in church basements, VWF halls, and crumbling arenas across New Jersey, the capital of indy wrestling, I'm told, and from him I'd heard of "bring you own weapon" matches in backyards in Delaware, where wrestlers hit each other over the head with fluorescent tubes, and that the Necro Butcher, that guy with a staple gun from The Wrestler, staples people in real life too. My personal experience with pro wrestling consisted entirely of video games at a neighbor's house in the 90s, and those fans, let me tell you, those pixels went wild.

These fans, though, they didn't quite seem the type. Windy City Pro Wrestling's fanbase evidently crosses ethnic and generational lines; the event drew families with small children, teenagers out on a Saturday night, older couples, men in white beards, a girl even came in leading her grandmother by the arm. They all mingled before the match, exchanging hellos, in an atmosphere about as tense as any junior varsity sporting event. Then the music died down, a smoke machine started up, and the white bearded man sitting in front of me got up in front of the crowd and with a microphone intoned: "Some of you may know me as Santa Claus."

Which come to think of it is the perfect character to emcee a professional wrestling tournament.

It's fashionable among pointy-headed academics, I think, to call professional wrestling a morality play, and while that seems a bit condescending it's totally true. The fans knew exactly which wrestlers to cheer and which to boo, and every match encapsulated a neat moral lesson. Well, except for the first one. The first two wrestlers to enter the ring were little guys: tiny, taut V-Factor without an once of fat on his body against fresh-faced Barry Ryte, without a smidgen of muscle definition. V-Factor manhandled Ryte and the only moral of the story, if there was one, was that muscle wins.

Now when I say manhandle... The fighting was really hammy. Wrestlers would punch a foot from their opponent's face and stomp the mat for sound effects. Or body slam a foot from the other guy's body. Or stomp a foot from the other guy's crotch. This last move drew a roar from the crowd, in part I think, from its obvious fakeness. The fans knew when to cheer and when to boo just as the wrestlers knew when the throw a punch and when to recoil - there was remarkably little real anger in the air that night; the passion of the crowd was as much a part of the act as the action in the ring.

The acting was hammier still. The second match pitted a pious Irishman against a demonic Italian. You could tell the latter was evil incarnate by the black eye make-up streaking down his cheeks, his heavy strut, and the gruff voice he affected in great lines like, "I'm going to... punch you... in the... FACE!". He began the match by snatching at the crucifix the Irishman wore around his neck and trying to strangle him in the midst of his pre-match prayer. But the Irishman eventually prevailed: faith beats satanism.

Next came the Stoic versus the Whiner. One wrestler kept stopping the match and pulling over the ref to complain that his opponent was pulling his hair. The opponent, himself bald, stood their biding his time, and whenever the match resumed, he'd resume his pummeling, eventually beating the whiner into the mat. The match that followed featured the Hotshot up against the Old School. First a young guy ran out, waving his arms to pump up the crowd - you knew something was off when the crowd only responded with boos and jeers. He was followed into the ring by an older, bulkier but somewhat flabbier opponent, and the crowd cheered, even as a couple of toughs, one in a leather jacket and shades, one bare-chested in a studded dog collar, took to the stage and momentarily derailed the competition. "I'm the baddest guy in town," said the dominant of the pair, spelling out what was already obvious from his costume. He introduced himself as a retired wrestler who'd come back to put together the baddest team in town -- big, burly Mike Anthony was his hand-picked successor. Mike Anthony was also held the distinction of the first wrestler there to produce the sound of flesh-on-flesh contact -- by slapping his opponent in the chest. And maybe because of that slap Mike Anthony, champion of the old school, beat the hotshot upstart who had the nerve to challenge the established order.

The final match of the night came down to V-Factor versus Mike Anthony. It was a long one, containing some pretty impressive acrobatic work, but in the end, V-Factor came out on top. And the crowd? Well, it didn't go wild. They clapped, yes, they cheered, they stood from their seats (which had the whole time remained seats -- Chekhov's gun gone unfired) But even as V-Factor climbed the ropes, spread his arms, and kissed and the sky, the air the place felt much the same as it had before the three count. There was none of that release that floods an arena after the tension of the big game. No one had been holding their breath, no one's knuckles had gone white, no one had stared transfixed, waiting for that final call. There was no tension to release in the first place, community theater isn't tense.

The event was brought to an end by Mrs. Sanders, climbing into the ring to present the trophy to a triumphant V-Factor. Her husband had wrestled with WCPW in his day, and ultimately, unsuccessfully, with cancer. Now the Lee Sanders Tournament was held in his memory and its proceeds given towards his family. "I'd like to thank all the wrestles who performed tonight," Mrs. Sanders said, "They gave it one hundred and ten percent." I don't know where everyone dispersed to after the tournament, but from 7:30 to 9:30 that Saturday night, friends and families of the East Side of Chicago had enjoyed an evening of good, clean wrestling fun. And so had I. I am so going to Battle of the Belts in May.

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