Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

File: October 2011

| September 30, 2011

Energizing Bunnies: The Windy City’s resurgence as a setting for motion pictures has spilled onto the small screen, notably with “Boss” and “The Playboy Club” hoping to outlast the since-canceled “Chicago Code.” These programs draw high numbers of Chicagoans, who no doubt sit close to their sets wearing loupes to pinpoint flaws.

Editor’s note: As of October 4th, “The Playboy Club” has been canceled!

The “Playboy” folks stayed local when it came to music, hiring Richard Marx to help oversee “Glee”-like cast productions of ’60s hits for sale on iTunes. “Aside from ‘Moon River’ from an upcoming episode, and a new version of ‘Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town),’ which I just produced for the soundtrack,” Marx writes via e-mail, “the tracks are cut in L.A. by a trio of guys {The Transcenders}, and I am producing the vocals on the cast members here in Chicago, mostly working with Laura Benanti, who’s really cool. There’s an attempt to both stay true to the era but modernize enough to get people to click ‘Buy,’ but realistically, how modern can you get with a song that has the word toddlin’ in the lyrics?” He says the Playboy-related gig hasn’t elevated his sons’ opinion of him, but he keeps plugging away. “Aside from a hit I co-wrote with Keith Urban, ‘Long Hot Summer,’ that’s climbing the country charts, I’m mostly doing solo acoustic concerts. Playing around the U.S. until December, then heading to China, Indonesia, and Singapore.”

Free Your Mind

Daily Herald readers revolted recently when the suburban newspaper added online-viewing fees – people don’t want to pay for what they used to have to pay for. The rules regarding digital content don’t really exist, at least in any recognizable form. Some of the BET Awards‘ nominated songs were issued free online, partly to avoid copyright law, but also to elude the hassles of doing things “officially.” Longtime local singer/songwriter Michael McDermott just cut the ribbons on a campaign, which asks fans to fund artistic projects. Hank Williams‘ grandson, Hank III), just self-released a double album and two single ones, the former of which is $15 and rated a “7” by Trevor Fisher in our “Spins” section; the latter pair are $14 each and utter garbage. Wilco streamed its new album, The Whole Love, online for free prior to its release, meanwhile Prosthetic became the latest indie label to pull its tracks from streaming subscription service Spotify, arguing the miniscule royalties are cost prohibitive. Live Nation and Universal Music have formed an old-media partnership, and Columbia has issued a tribute of sorts to Hank III’s grandfather on CD – it, too, is utter garbage. What we need is a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
– Steve Forstneger

Punks On Film

The terms “fine-art photography” and “punk rock” don’t often collide in the same sentence, but that changed when people dropped by House Of Blues in September. The New York-based company Rock Paper Photo hosted a photography exhibit depicting some of punk and new wave’s best-known pioneers. These limited-edition pieces were hand-signed and available for purchase, with prices reaching up to $1,000. The last day of the exhibit coincided with a performance by The Psychedelic Furs and The Tom Tom Club; Blondie performed the first night.

The high-quality images often capture the musicians’ unique personalities. A young Debbie Harry reclines seductively in shorts and a tank top on Coney Island Beach in a black-and-white shot, and a portrait of Sid Vicious features his ever-present snarl. There are also photos of Ric Ocasek, David Byrne, The Clash, The New York Dolls, and Stiv Bators. One of the more intriguing works depicts the Ramones standing at the base of the Supreme Court Building. The online Rock Paper Photo gallery has many more fine art photographs and extends well beyond the punk and new-wave genres.

– Terrence Flamm

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