On A Recent Gun Tragedy in Chicago

There is rightful outrage to the shooting death in Rogers Park this weekend to teacher Cynthia Trevillion caught tragically in gang crossfire while out for supper with her husband. Who should be held accountable? Joe Walsh is a leading local gun pornographer. The NRA – National Rifle Association of America is growing wealthy and powerful over rivers of blood on our nation’s streets. Rahm Emanuel refuses to hold the Chicago Police accountable and fosters economic policies, championed by people like Alderman James Cappleman that degrades Chicago Public Schools and evaporates affordable housing. It is Trump and his tacit and sometimes overt support for racism and the destruction of assistance for the poor and working poor that promotes a general hopelessness in many communities. It is all of us who turn the page when this happens in “Black” and “Bad” neighborhoods and are outraged when it happens in our neighborhood. It is something perversely dark and cruel bred in American culture where this is allowed to happen year over decade. It is all of us for not  choosing to be informed, and to show up to vote, to call, to protest, and at the end of all those efforts,  if necessary, show up a million strong and drag those from civil, loving, decent, all-embracing society out of office and tossed into a river.
This morning on Facebook my friend, Lina Ramona Vitkauskas lamented:

This happened a block away from our apartment:

“From a friend of the Chicago Waldorf School Family and I share his sentiments:

‘Last night here in Rogers Park, a wonderful wife, inspiring teacher, and good friend was senselessly killed by random gunfire. Cynthia Trevillion of the Chicago Waldorf School did not deserve to die. She was walking in our neighborhood, going to a restaurant where she lived, when a car full of kids drove by and shot, missing their intended target, and killed her instantly. Right in front of her husband.

For absolutely no reason whatsoever.

While the killers have not been tracked down yet, we can all guess that the guns they possessed were obtained illegally. Bought from someone who either stole them or bought them from some other idiot. Reports vary, but it’s believed that 60% of guns used in Chicago crimes come from Indiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin and are virtually untraceable because, you know, the government shouldn’t track those sort of things. I mean, what can we do, right?

And before you start with your “crooks don’t pay attention to the law”, save it. Closing the loop of “personal” sales will curtail the availability of guns. You sell a firearm anywhere to anyone, it will be registered. And if that firearm is used in a crime, you will be implicated. It’s that simple.

Even these measures will not completely eliminate guns falling into the wrong hands. No, they won’t completely eradicate senseless killings like last night.

But if we can reduce the amount of guns on the streets by 10%…20…30%…maybe we don’t lose such a bright soul.

Maybe the kids at our school aren’t mourning the loss of their teacher.

Maybe a husband isn’t burying his wife decades too early.”

This was my response to my friend, Lina Ramona Vitkauskas:
Four things. Rahm is closing still more schools, with growing lack of funds as more and more cash is directed to charter(corporate schools) By the way, more TIF money is going to rich developers as the city gentrifies, and available housing to the poor, disenfranchised and working poor is relegated to fewer and fewer neighborhoods, like Rogers Park. 2. the 60% figure is accurate, but more alarming is that police report that better than 80% of guns they recover were purchased LEGALLY and sold to gangs and criminals. 3. The police, in a tantrum over being asked to not shoot kids 16 times, in antagonism of BLM and because these public servants are being told they must be accountable are simply refusing to do their jobs, and the gangs know it! And last, there is a element of a lack of moral leadership, which starts at the top and has become a quality of our government. Facts and information have been discredited by looters and criminals in the White House, the state house, the corporate boardroom and city hall which creates a culture of making excuse for any blatantly abhorrent behavior. If Trump can get away with doing what is selfishly advantageous to him, why can’t some punk on the street? .

Film schedule and new website live for Facets’ 34th Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

Thursday, Oct 12, 2017: Chicago – The full film schedule for Facets’ 34th Chicago International Children’s Film Festival is now live on a brand new Festival website. The website includes a fully interactive day-by-day schedule for the Festival’s 132 film programs, which contain 280+ films from 40+ countries. Print schedules will be available at all partner venues and retailers around the city.
The Festival runs from October 27 – November 5, 2017 at eight Chicagoland locations: Facets (Lincoln Park), Davis Theater (Lincoln Square), Music Box Theatre (Lakeview), Wilmette Theatre (Wilmette), Alliance Française (Gold Coast), Cervantes Institute (River North), University of Chicago: Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts (Hyde Park), and The Gorton Community Center (Lake Forest).  
The full Festival schedule, ticketing, field trip bookings, and Family Passes are available now at facets.org/cicff. Workshops will be available by Oct. 20, 2017.
Festival patrons can now browse the full film schedule online on a brand new website designed by The Normal Studio, a cutting-edge Chicago design firm headed by Renata Graw. Starting this year, The Normal Studio has been working with Facets to rebrand and complete design work for the Festival and other Facets programs.  For more information about The Normal Studio, visit their website:  thenormalstudio.com.
“We are very excited about our new brand identity and website for the Festival. It has been such a great experience working with the design team at Normal and we are really blown away by what they have produced,” says Facets Marketing Director, Paul Gonter. “The designs are contemporary, intelligent, and fun. Just like the films we program.”
Paul goes on to talk about the new website: “Not only does the website look beautiful, but the browsable schedule  offers our patrons – whether they are parents, kids, teens, filmmakers, or media professionals – an easy way into our over 130 film programs. This makes planning a trip to and sharing information about the Festival much easier.”

Facets and the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival would like to thank their media partners, WTTW Kids and WBEZ9.15 Chicago for their support.

Facets’ 34th Chicago International Children’s Film Festival runs from October 27 – November 5, 2017. The full Festival schedule, ticketing, field trip bookings, and Family Passes are available now at facets.org/cicff. Workshops will be available by Oct. 20, 2017. 
Facets’ Chicago International Children’s Film Festival presents the best, most innovative film and educational experiences for kids, teens, families, students, and industry professionals. The Festival is operated by Facets, a nonprofit that connects 30k+ people annually to independent ideas through transformative film experiences.


Paul Gonter


773.281.9075 ext. 3043

That’s Community.

So working to clean up the hillside behind the house, and a pickup pulls up and a woman climbs out and asks if I am the one who has been cleaning up the hillside.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Can I help?” she says.

We talk about Sunday. I say I have a radio show. She laments her daughter’s struggle to do something in the Arts, but also make a living. The Art schools, she says, want bonafides. She wants to be a dancer. She’s 17; the child of working parents. Bonafides? What’s that, right?.

I tell her that one of our hosts. Sid Yiddish is going on tour, and would her daughter like to cohost the show with Kerri Kendall as our dance correspondent when Sid is out? Least we can do to help with her Bonafides. There isn’t a moment’s hesitation.

That’s community, and if I accomplish nothing else with this program and it inspires this one young lady, I’m satisfied.


Bloody Theatre

My personal thoughts on Las Vegas? The media is already talking about “mental illness,” but only in the context of White people getting shot. An irrelevant diversion. No indication of mental illness here. In fact, if you are around a person struggling with a mental illness, statistically, and in my personal experience, you are far safer than with a “normal” person. By that standard, I’d like to see greater control to prevent starfish and grasshoppers from getting guns. That is how foolish and irresponsible and diversionary the knee-jerk reaction to insinuations of responsible and reasonable gun laws.
Not the time for analysis or asking hard questions? When is the right time when a crime has been committed, or  that the status quo is always leading to the same tragic result? Is it when NRA surrogates in talk radio and cable TV news tell you it is time?
$18.6 million. That’s how much the NRA contributed via its corporate gun and ammo producing backers to politicians in the 2012 election. $18.6 million, compared to $245,000 on the non-corporate, predominantly victim and survivor funded opposition.  The numbers aren’t in for 2016 yet, but recall Trump is quoted saying he would be the best friend the NRA ever had. Add to that cash poured into the media. And what has that wrought for the gun industry? Mind you, as an aside, it tends to be working class and poor people who are the victims of gun violence. There are theater shooters, gang shootings, nightclubs, country western concerts, Army bases, small business, schools where the shootings happen. Exclusive country clubs…not so much. That’s not a dare, it is an indication that the people who have no voice in the issue tend to be the ones being shot. America’s gun issue doesn’t really affect rich people, the ones who can pick up a phone and get right through to whichever price-tag politician they may have helped purchase.
And I do mean purchase. Coming back to the $18.6 million to politicians primarily in Washington D.C, did you know the center for disease control is forbidden from studying gun violence, by law? That was a policy encouraged and promoted by the gun and ammo industry. And did you know federal dollars are prohibited from going to gun research in Universities? Why would that be?
America has no interest in honestly addressing this issue, and so, like the constant hysterics of an insane girlfriend, I am learning to tune out the crocodile tears and faux outrage. At this point we’re just waiting for the next greatest mass shooting in US history in the next six months, and the one after that and the one after that. At this point, it’s just macabre theatre of the bloodiest kind.

…but is it Art? Creativity and the Developmentally Disable.

Emmanuel Kant, the 18th century philosopher of the Enlightenment, who arguably set the historical stage for outsider art, believed Genius was “the ability to independently arrive at and understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person.” The Enlightenment gave birth to early outsider notables such as Daniel DeFoe, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Francisco Goya. Indeed, the very idea of “outsider” art brings up some very powerful questions about the definition of art, and directly challenges fundamental assumptions.

Is there a difference between art as a vocation, art as philosophy, art as a station in society and art created by the untrained, unsophisticated, the developmentally disable, children, elephants or what have you? And yes, I said elephant art. It’s a thing. Google it.

I had a conversation some time ago when I began researching how Art instruction and Art therapy can powerfully benefit the development of the human brain. Nothing terribly new there, but my friend, who trained in the visual Arts unwittingly and innocent brought up an important issue. Was Art created by the developmentally disabled Art or in fact akin to teaching someone a trick? Conversely, was it necessary to be trained in an academic setting, utilizing learned concepts of structure, line, rhythm, color and composition to be considered the only true Art.? A bit elitist? Perhaps, but there is arguable merit to both sides of the argument. That would tend to exclude any non-deliberate or wholly intuitive Art forms, as well as notable masters who struggled desperately with mental illness, for example, like Vincent van Gogh or Jackson Pollack.IMG_2766

This week I visited students and residents at Misericordia, on Chicago’s north side, home to 600 residents with varying degrees of Down’s Syndrome. A personal note here; my uncle Marty, who passed away several years ago, had severe Down’s Syndrome. Marty struggled and often became frustrated when unable to communicate a thought or feeling. He’d been taught ritualistic behaviors, which he would repeat meticulously as a means of managing that frustration. He loved to color, not well when it came to working inside the lines of a coloring book, but he was incredibly careful in choosing colors, something which I now view as a way of quantifying thoughts, moods and frustrations in his own free and honest vehicle for communication. I am certain the choice of colors was deliberate. As an artist, it took me many years to be that intuitive and free in choosing colors for compositions.

If language is community, then color, line, structure composition are the syntax, verbiage and punctuation in the language of the artist. Fundamental to any artistic endeavor is the necessity for freedom and absolute honesty, particularly in the rendering of ideas and emotions. Since Art lives at its strongest on the emotional level, the penchant for the Artist to render emotions precisely is paramount. we were all good at that at one point in our lives. As children we had precious few filters. It often takes artists a lifetime to reacquire a portion of that freedom. Others find it more easily.

Julie O’Sullivan has dedicated nearly two decades as an art instructor for Misericordia’s adult residents. I will defer from saying that Mesericordia’s residents suffer from, are afflicted by or are impaired with Down’s Syndrome. As Julie and I toured the first of three second floor studio’s at Misericordia’s sprawling campus those descriptors seemed a sublime failure of language. From the painting studio, to a ceramics room and finally a craft studio, furnishing Misericordia’s gift shop with exemplary inventory, it was impossible now to come away feeling that real Art was being created there. Moreover, the work being created, while assisted by instructors, was deliberate and in quality which at times far exceeded work I’d seen by students without so-called developmental disabilities. Colors were rendered with spectacular and complex acumen, with pieces strategically constructed.

One piece in particular, keeps returning to me. It was a version of Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 classic, Christina’s World. It is the image of a young woman reclined in a field looking off to a rustic farm on the near horizon. the sky is a soft grey. At Misericordia’s painting studio I was drawn to a version in which the sky and distant farm were rendered dark and stormy. I recalled my Uncle Marty and if he’d been given the tools and pathways for communicating emotions and feelings these residents had. But would that be Art?

The effort here isn’t to persuade, so much as it is to awaken some thought on the subject. Is it Art?  

IMG_2772The best answer I can offer is what happens when we stand in front of a painting, and what is the natural response? Emotion. Further, I believe that for an artist to ask the question of whether or not something is Art is a form of artistic suicide. Rather the question should be, why isn’t everything Art? It is very much  parallel to the issue of human rights and human freedom in which the effort should be to expand the definition to encompass and empower the greatest number of living things. Even more, it should be the effort of the collective community of artists to chronicle the world through the prism of the human heart, replete with love and compassion and inclusion, as the ultimate means in filling the world with beauty; which I suppose is as good a definition as I come.         

PlayTime Picks: A Thursday peek at what’s hot each weekend around Chicago

It’s Thursday and time for Playtime picks the best and most unique in entertainment and events in and around Chicago. Playtime is heard each and every Thursday on French and Friends from 5-7pm on AM1590 WGCO in Chicago. Playtime is part of “Playtime with Sid and Bill, heard every Sunday from 1-3pm on WGCO, Chicago’s only and most irreverent radio show for the Arts and entertainment!  This week. bacon and beer, more beer. Music, and beer, Halloween a sing along at the bean, Beer! a meat market and the end of the world postponed.

  1. This Saturday, the bacon and Beer classic kicks off in Daley plaza from 1-6pm, 12 noon if you are on the VIP list. General Admission Tickets start at $55 for unlimited food and beer, plus a commemorative glass. VIP tickets start at $69, but that gets you in an hour early with an exclusive VIP line 50 brewers, including some of Chicago’s best, like Some of Chicago’s best beers: Metropolitan, Baderbrau, and Half Acre, and truly some of Chicago’s finest restaurants, like:

Ms. Tittle’s cupcakes

Flo, an interesting Mexican and American fusion place at 1434 west Chicago. Recommending their Sloppy Flo $10, made with Ground beef stewed in a red chili BBQ sauce on a toasted kaiser bun with red onion and pickled jalapenos, or the Guacamole BLT $9, made with Guacamole, thick cut bacon, tomato and romaine on toasted baguette. Personal favorite, their short rib tacos

Also Evanston and Wilmette’s own Bangers and lace, with their Duck BLT, made with duck sausage, tomato bacon chutney, arugula and a garlic aioli on chabatta roll. or Kielbasa and pork belly with beer braised Brussels sprouts, fried egg, potatoes and a mustard vinaigrette.

The public house. 400 north state, public housechicago.com for their brunch, gluten friendly, main menu and late night menu. Excellent burgers and sandwiches, ask about house cocktails, such as their Bad Apple- made with citron, apple liquor, lemon, guava, raspberry.

For information and tickets: baconandbeerclassic.com/chicago-bacon-and-beer-classic-2017-tickets/


  1. The bacon and beer fest too pricey? Something for the whole family? How about free???? Join St. Benedict’s parish and neighbors Friday through Sunday, as they celebrate their German roots with the 52nd Annual St. Benedict OktoberFest. Held in the courtyard at 2215 west Irving. This is all ages, but you must be 21 to consume alcohol. Live music, Friday 6pm the Bratwurst brothers. Free still too steep? Volunteer for the event! And of course, it is for a great cause!

details and info at stbenedictoktoberfest.com

 3. For two nights only, October 6, 7 at The Chicago Theatre Comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short. The show, a retrospective about their lives in show business, includes stand-up, film clips, musical numbers and conversations


  1. Shout out to bassist for The Imperial Blue Dogs Nick Georhke, who will be playing this Friday at the Basket Brigade Band Benefit 2017, their annual band benefit also performing with The Imperial Blue Dogs: Chasing Alice, U.F.C Raffles and auction items.  Friday at 6 PM – 11:59 PM The Chicago Loop Sports Bar and Grill7 W Streamwood Blvd, Streamwood. 100% of the proceeds goes to building Thanksgiving food baskets for needy families!
  1. And from Diana Dalnes, Sunday, OCT1st, 730pm at the Millennium Park Bean  

“This Is Halloween” To start off a kick on the first day of October we shall be singing “This Is Halloween” from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”! Show your Halloween Spirit!!!!!


  1. Running Saturday through Thursday October 5th, at the Steep Theatre 1115 West Berwyn, Chicago The Invisible Hand, a play written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar and directed by Audrey Francis tells the story of an American banker taken hostage by an isolated militant group in Pakistan. When his ransom goes unpaid, his only hope is to trade on his expertise in international finance to earn his way to freedom. This tense geo-political thriller asks, just how free is the free market?   

The Steep has won critical acclaim for outstanding works, brilliant acting whose previous plays, include HINTER, about a brutal murder and Earthquakes in London Earthquakes in London about the end of the world!


  1. And in a continuing effort to help Dan French find things to do  that don’t require travel or parking, Sep 30-oct1, from 11:30 am – 3:00 pm It’s the Argyle and Andersonville Global Food Tour…Toast like a Viking in a haunted speakeasy? An Asian market and mural walk on Argyle Street, French-Vietnamese Street food, tour Charlie Chaplin’s Essanay Studios, Taste your way through a Middle Eastern spice bazaar. $55 per person  Book online at http://www.chicagofoodways.com


  1. From our friends at RadiO.D. congratulations as they celebrate their 100th show, and being voted the number 2 music radio DJ in the 2017 Chicago Reader poll this Friday with live performances featuring Evil Engine! in an exclusive event 6-9 pm, 2643 West Chicago Ave,Chicago!


Friday at Underground Lounge, 56 West Illinois St. it’s “Sasha’s crazy birthday party time extravaganza” w Battalion Of Saints/ The Nobodys/ The Cryptics plus locals Law Of Keanu/ Landspeeder/ Shots Fired Shots Fired

 10/1: @ Brauerhouse: Screaming Females also w/ Street Eaters/ Rad Payoff Brauerhouse, 1000 Rohlwing Rd, Lombard

 Sat & Sun, Sep 30th & Oct 1st @ Bottom Lounge, Riot Fest presents 2 Nights w/ Between The Buried And Me (Colors 10th Anniversary Tour). Also with The Contortionist/ Polyphia/ Toothgrinder Both shows are All Ages / & Both shows r @ Bottom Lounge, 1375 W Lake St, Chgo

 Sep 29th thru Oct 1st: @ The Metro. Cracknation Records presents “Cold Waves Vi”. 3 day fest of industrial music. The headliners by day are: Fri: Stabbing Westward link Sat: Front 242 link Sun: KMFDM All shows are 18+ / Metro, 3730 N Clark St, Chgo

 9/30: @ Reggies Rock Club, Empire Productions presents Agnostic Front(35th Anniversary Tour)/ Spare Change/ Crime Spree/ Decline 17+ / Reggies, 2105 S State St, Chgo


  1. Fulton Market Harvest Fest brings together Chicago’s restaurants, fantastic craft beer, live music and cooking demonstrations to celebrate the city’s rich culinary history. Curated by Chefs Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan, Fulton Market Harvest Fest unites the city’s top culinary talent with notable chefs from around the country for three days of pop-up dinners, food and beverage classes, cooking demonstrations and a neighborhood street fest. Proceeds from Fulton Market Harvest Fest benefit the food-focused charity, Pilot Light. Entrance on Fulton Market & Halsted St.

Saturday, September 30th 11am to 10pm, Sunday, October 1st 11am to 8pm

Something for the kids as well, with storytelling, music classes from The Old Town School of Folk Music, DIY snacks, a coloring station, pumpkin decorating and yoga with Barefeet Power Yoga.

Details, and a rundown of restaurants and some great music, including 2:45pm-4:00pm Golden Horse Ranch Band, rockabilly and roots country. The O’My’s Saturday at 7:15

Get the full itinerary at  fultonmarketharvestfest.com/


  1. And finally, the end of the world has been rescheduled for sometime in October. The predictors of doom point to a math error and apologize for any inconvenience. The end of the world is an all ages event. We will let you know when the great tribulation has been rescheduled…


And that is Playtime Picks. This week on Playtime with Sid and Bill, featuring Kerri Kendall, Comedian Thomas Bottoms. Search Inc and Visibility Arts, a local effort supporting adults with developmental disabilities, a new segment taking an Arts approach to those with chronic pain and Fibromyalgia, The Art of Recovery with Stacy Ihlenfeld, RadiO.D., hot off their 100th episode celebration for the best in live metal and punk music. Sid gets a job and a date and Kerri toasts her friend, the late Hugh Hefner.


You’re invited to our monthly Reclaim Chicago North Chapter Monthly Community Meeting Tomorrow Night @ Sulzer Library! (4455 N Lincoln) from 6:30pm-8:30pm

Reclaim Chicago is building a progressive grassroots organization on the North Side and beyond. We’re organizing neighbor to neighbor to reclaim our city from machine politicians and their wealthy backers. We believe that ordinary people have the power to work together and elect a government that responds to the people’s interests.

Every month we hold a public meeting to talk about the work we’re doing, reflect on why it matters, and plan the next steps. We invite new people to get involved and encourage current members to take leadership roles in our issue campaigns and base building.

If you want government to put human need and the health of our planet over corporate profits, we want you to join us in making it happen. Come to our next monthly meeting on September 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.

Please check out more details and RSVP HERE.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Andre Vasquez
‘Community Organizer (Reclaim Chicago), 40th Ward Neighbor
Call/Text 312.888.5099