Prince, Picasso, Nov. 8 book event + concert giveaway

Monday I returned from a 12-day, mostly work trip to Chicago, DC and a Virginia suburb. Due to the length of the trip, I promised my homeless friend April that I'd text her a picture from Chicago every day (she owns a smartphone, not unlike many tech-equipped homeless, as WSJ reported a while back).

This proved a more interesting task than I expected, as I tried to capture a different Chicago distinctive each day -- from the city's elegant riverfront and skyline to its split-layer streets and famous blues scene. I've made several trips to Chicago in the past few years, but this was the first time I really noticed how much public art they have. Maybe someday I'll write more about public art, and why I think it can be such a gift to communities.

Speaking of gifts, let me know if you're a boogie-woogie fan. Friday night I won tickets from my favorite blues radio show to go hear the second annual San Francisco international boogie woogie festival, Nov. 8, 4 p.m. at the SFJAZZ Center near Civic Center. From Friday night's interview with the organizer, it sounds like it should be great (read this HuffPo piece on last year's festival for more.

I'm offering my extra ticket to artRecs readers first! Let me know if you're interested and free next Sunday.

:: events ::
  • Nov. 8: Disquiet Time discussion at the American Baptist Seminary of the West, 2606 Dwight Way in Berkeley. 7-9 p.m., FREE. See more details below. Nearest BART station: Downtown Berkeley.
  • Nov. 9: Second annual San Francisco boogie woogie festival, SFJAZZ Center.
  • Nov. 13: Postmodern Jukebox at Slim's, 8 p.m., $25. The band has made a name for themselves with genre-bending covers of pop songs like "Anaconda" and "Call Me Maybe," as well as their slow-jam versions of TV theme songs. I don't always go in for acts like that, but they're talented musicians and I do love a good swing tune (which genre they turn to often). Anyone want to come with?
:: our stuff ::
:: film ::
  • Dear White People recently opened in the Bay Area. A.O. Scott reviews it for NYT. Anyone interested in watching it? I'm really curious to see it, but this seems like the kind of film where you could get as much, if not more, out of the post-viewing discussion as the movie itself.
:: tunes ::
  • Prince played an eight-minute set on SNL this weekend. Sharing the video on Twitter, musician Ryan Adams said, "Prince just broke music again." Consequence of Sound had more on the performance.
  • NPR's First Listens this week include a new set of basement tapes from Bob Dylan and a Neil Young album recorded two ways: "He recorded all of its 10 songs with either a 92-piece orchestra or an elaborate big band (not to mention the occasional choir), for a sound that couldn't be farther from the raggedness exemplified in his acoustic and electric recordings alike."
  • Joshua Bell recently reprised his famously unappreciated Metro performance in Washington, D.C. -- this time, to a more discerning crowd.
  • New Gregory Porter: His latest album (sort of) is the compilation Issues of Life. Porter also sang in the month-long iTunes festival in London. For a limited time, iTunes has the video of his performance available for free viewing. (I cannot praise his live shows enough; I'm seriously thinking of flying to SoCal in January to catch one there.)
  • New soul radio program: Since my move almost a year ago, I've been listening to the radio a lot more than before. That has given me a new appreciation for the breadth of programming on KCSM, the local jazz station. Not only do they feature three hours of blues on Friday nights, and a Sunday afternoon Latin jazz program (2-6 p.m.), they also run play two hours of swing-era jazz from 6-8 p.m. Now I find myself wanting to listen from 6 to 10 p.m. on Sundays, though, thanks to a great new soul program that starts at 8 p.m. Tune in to 91.1 or find the station on iTunes to hear for yourself. The more I hear, the more I think of the station.
  • Dwight Garner's review of the new Mark Whitaker Cosby bio emphasizes Cosby's love for jazz and its influence on his work. 
  • I haven't read enough on Lecrae to say where this Religion News Service interview falls in coverage of him, but I appreciated Sarah Pulliam Bailey's work. Read the full interview transcript.
:: visual art ::
  • The Bay Bridge Lights show could be extended permanently, but backers are still seeking additional funding. I don't love leaving work after dark, but it's one of my favorite parts of  after-sunset commutes.
  • Behind the Wall: The New Yorker publishes photos from a new book by Ute Mahler, chronicling life in East Germany during the years of the Berlin Wall. In contrast to the period's "'sugar-coated' propaganda, Mahler, along with a few others, set out to photograph the less promising realities of life in East Germany."
  • Picasso show looks at the influence of his second wife Jacqueline: This story includes a nice slide show of the couple, my favorite picture of which shows them dancing in his studio. Several of the photos were shot by Life photographer David Douglas Duncan, an interesting third party in WSJ's account of the couple.
  • The Root reviews eight London exhibitions scheduled for Black History Month. One curator interviewed said, “One hopes that this is a sign of changing times where the appreciation of black artistic practice is no longer tied to a designated month of the year and is perhaps indicative of a Britain that is ready to critically engage with stimulating art, regardless of the cultural backgrounds of its creators.”
  • Malkovich as Marilyn, Warhol and Einstein: Starting in November, a Chicago gallery hosts a new portrait series by photographer Sandro Miller, in which he recreates famous photos by Dorothy Lange, Warhol and others ... all using John Malkovich. Some of them I found eerily close to the originals. Others, like recreated portraits of Mohammed Ali and Three Horses, raised a lot of questions for me.
  • How The New Yorker's covers have changed - this almost makes me want to finally subscribe, though magazines always end up in a massive to-read pile.
  • Portuguese illustrator Andre Carrilho on Ebola: A pointed depiction of Westerners' fickle interest in the outbreak
  • In the latest in an increasingly storied portrait series, the 40th photo of the four Brown sisters has been released. Begun when the women were in their late teens and early 20s, the annual portrait has become a fascinating chronicle of life and aging.
  • A college friend of mine contributed to this documentary about two brothers' return to Haiti and attempt to find their family after the 2010 earthquake.
:: reading/food for thought ::
  • Walking in New York: One of the best, most delightful essays I've read in some time -- by my dear friend Garnette Cadogan. Print this out to read at leisure, over a good meal or flavorful cup of coffee. So many great lines and images in his account of walking through the streets of New York. If you like this piece, Garnette also contributed to the new anthology Tales of Two Cities, featuring essays about New York by the likes of Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Colum McCann, David Byrne, Teju Cole, Jonathan Safran Foer and many others.
  • How to be funny: A while back, Stephen George introduced me to one of funniest short stories/serials I've read in a long time -- the hipster send-up Simon's Sell-Out by Simon Rich. In a new interview, the precocious young writer talks to Longreads about his new short-story collection Spoiled Brats and other projects. 
  • National Book Award finalists announced (NPR). Nominees range from Marilynne Robinson's Lila to books of poetry on racism and segregation. I wish I had time to read more of the books than I'm likely to. One nominee explores local history: Steve Sheinkin's The Port Chicago 50 recounts the explosion at a segregated naval site in Suisan Bay that led to charges of mutiny after several men refused to work until the government fixed safety issues. (More than 300 died in the explosion.)
:: food ::
  • Virginia beer to watch for: During my recent trip, I had a chance to try two beers from craft brewery Hardywood Park. I particularly liked the rye whiskey-barrel pumpkin beer. In fact, I set my alarm for 7 a.m. my last day there, just so I could walk the 1.4 miles to Trader Joe's to buy a few bottles for my trip home (bus service is limited, and my sister leaves for work at 5 a.m.). Alas, this errand only yielded one bottle, due to brisk weekend sales, but I'm still investigating other ways to get the beer, short of a follow-up trip or paying a friend to check a suitcase of beer. If you find yourself in Virginia, check out Hardywood Park beers ... and then let me know if you're open to some small-scale beer transport.

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