Growing up in Chicago teaches one how to walk with purpose, especially en route to the designated meeting spot for libations after the work whistle blows. And taking time out to smell the flowers or gaze up at the majestic skyline screams either tourist or teetotaler. However, the alcohol-attuned could be forgiven for glancing around during a brisk jaunt in the South Loop and asking, “Where have all the dive bars gone? Pristine houses of hootch with mood lightning and cocktail lists requiring a legend to decipher are replacing dank dungeons at an alarming rate. Purveyor of punk, Cal’s Bar is the latest causality. The 65-year-old institution shuttered its doors (located at 400 S. Wells) as the calendar flipped over into 2013 with a NYE sendoff from Mercy Mercy, The Demerits, and The Larroquettes. Those aren’t icicles; it’s just a trail of the city’s bike messengers’ frozen tears. But, as they say, when one door closes another opens. In this case, the entryway leads to a second location of Kuma’s Corner, the burger joint with a heavy metal streak. We can’t wait to get our hands on an Iron Maiden (mmmm avocado!) when Kuma’s Too opens at 666 W. Diversey (a match made in hell) in February (fingers crossed).
“And if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.” Miss Penny Lane uttered that invaluable advice in Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical ode to rock ‘n’ roll, Almost Famous and after watching John Boston‘s mini-doc, Re-Vinylized, those words really strike a chord. Whiskey Bender Productions released the 30-minute Chicago International REEL Shorts Festival official selection online. Sound Opinions’ Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis serve as the voices of authority while interviews with the owners of Vintage Vinyl, Permanent Records, and the now-defunct Deadwax Records investigate vinyl’s reemergence and its positive effect on brick-and-mortar stores. Despite the uptick in album sales, some shops still struggle to compete in the downloading age. A fundraiser was held in December to delay the potential closing of Val’s halla. Oak Park’s music maven Val Camilletti told the Chicago Tribune she needs $55,000 to keep the store afloat and “put her back in the black.” Supporters have until Jan. 15 to contribute on the store’s Chip In page at valshallarecords.chipin.com.
Every sleep means we’re one day closer to Feb. 10 and the return of “The Walking Dead” from winter break. But, as much as we love a good cranium-splitting hatchet job, one thing has us clamoring for more: Michonne. The katana-swinging, scowling, ass-kicking woman of few words haunts our dreams. It was brought to our attention by a superfan of Grammy-winning reggae legends Black Uhuru that the third-season addition bears a striking resemblance to late vocalist Sandra “Puma” Jones and we’re inclined to agree. A side-by-side comparison of the ladies is a meme waiting to happen. In other Dead news, the Hollywood Reporter confirms the show’s renewal for a fourth season (duh! – it’s a record-setting ratings bonanza), and the troubling announcement that showrunner Glen Mazzara will depart after this batch of episodes air. A statement from AMC uses words like “amicable” and “difference of opinion” and “it’s time to move on,” but who just casually walks away from a show at the height of its powers (The mid-season finale drew a staggering 15.2 million viewers, according to the Los Angeles Times.) without some internal discord? It’s another sour note for the cable network already sacked with a spotty reputation for its dealings with the creative types behind its most popular fare. Series creator Frank Darabont left in the middle of the second season and a contract dispute/pissing contest with Matthew Weiner kept AMC’s other golden jewel, “Mad Men” off the air for almost a year. Get it together people!
— Janine Schaults