Friday, June 16, 2017

A Chicago Walking Tour, Great Beauty, A Haunted Bar, Music & More

At ChiTownView we explore the history, mystery and beauty of Chicago, with the occasional video clip that has nothing to do with the windy city at all. Anyway part of my process is to go for a stroll and film things along the way. I usually have a rough idea of where I'm going and some spots I want to check out along the way. Then there are always the unexpected things that pop up along the way.

Last Wednesday 6/7/17 was a good case in point. The plan was to take the blue line downtown transfer to the red line and take that up to Belmont. From there I would walk south to the loop. Among the locations I wanted to check out was; the apartment where outsider artist Henry Darger lived for forty years, a north Halsted building that had been a bordello, gang hangout and headquarters for a cult, and a couple of beautiful 19th century mansions.

Henry Dargers Apartment 851 W. Webster

The Tonic Room 2447 N. Halsted, Illinois 4th most haunted bar.

After these two stops I headed a little further north to the Francis J. Dewes House at 503 Wrightwood. Unfortunately the trees are in full bloom making a good video of the house next to impossible. I'll have to return in the fall when the leaves drop.

From there I walked over to the lake and headed south. There was an old gold coast mansion I wanted to see and thought I'd go through Lincoln Park Zoo on the way. When I crossed Fullerton I saw a sign that said Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool which caught my eye. I went through the gate a found a quiet place of beauty that I never knew existed.

After that peaceful moment I went to the zoo and it was well a zoo. Packed with kids out on summer vacation or taking that last field trip. In any case I just kept going way too loud and crowded. So I continued south through Lincoln Park and into the gold coast area a 19th century enclave of the wealthy. There I came across this unique building full of blue stained glass and moorish arches.

Following the gold coast I passed through the river north area and into the loop. There I got to experience another great Chicago summertime tradition, free music. In the Daley Center their was a house party going on with dj's spinning the wheels of steel.

Then as I was heading for the subway entrance to head home I heard the sound of blues music coming from down the street. So I walked over to State St. and found a three piece band set up and they were cranking out some electric blues. A little preview for the blues fest coming up the following weekend. Which will be the subject of our next post.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

World's Greatest Garage Rock Band, The Amazing Heeby Jeebies

I've just bought my first new cd in the 21st century when I came across a cd/ep by Chicago's own Amazing Heeby Jeebies. A group that serves up high octane brand of classic garage rock that I've seen live twice in the last month. And that hasn't happened in a long time.

They are musical and cultural heirs to the the late great Cramps. The Jeebies are like what the Cramps would have been if Ivy had taken over vocals when Lux died. In one forty minute set recently they did two Cramps songs sprinkled in with their own originals. They also played songs by the Sonics, Velvet Underground and Slade.

The quintet is fronted by vocalist Ary Paloma Jeebie a slender burnett that packs a lot of power in her pipes and smooth in her moves. The rest of the band consists of a couple of electric guitarists; Thomas Klein and Bob Hyatt. With a rock solid rhythm section of Earl Carter bass and Dave Shapiro pounding the skins. Together they create a high energy brand of rock and roll that is most enjoyable.

The cd I bought came out in 2015, it's self titled and has four originals; We Got It All, Mummy, Heeby Jeebies On A Saturday Night and Lupe Garou. Don't know how available it is since there was nothing on eBay or Amazon by them. I've heard that they are recording music for a new cd. Like them on Facebook and you can keep up to date with their activities.

So if your into garage, punk, rockabilly or any kind of basic rock and roll spend an evening with The Amazing Heeby Jeebies you will not be disappointed. Below are a couple of live clips by them and if you go to ChiTownSoundz you will find more.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Public Art In Chicago In, Around & Underground The Cultural Center

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have designated 2017 the "Year of Public Art". MindsiMedia is a big fan of the city's extensive collection of public art. ChiTownView has recently added a half dozen new videos all highlighting art spanning over a hundred years all in around and underground from the Chicago Cultural Center.

The Cultural Center is a pretty amazing place and until recently I've walked past hundreds of time without going in. Located on Michigan Ave. between Washington & Randolph it's right across the street from Millenium Park. It was built in 1897 at a time when cities tried to outdo each other in constructing magnificent public spaces. For most of the first 100 years it served as Chicago's main library. Then in 1991 the Harold Washington Center opened on the south end of the loop and took over that function. Thus the CulturalCenter was born.

The building was designed by and it's architectural style is neoclassical with Italian Renaissance elements and is construction materials includes granite, marble, mahogany and bronze. Each year it holds hundreds of art exhibitions, hosts concert, screens films and much more. It is also home to two stunning stained glass domes. There is the well known world's largest Tiffany dome located off the Washington entrance. That's what first brought me into this building. 

A truly magnificent work of art is it not?  But there is another large stained glass dome that most people aren't aware of. It's on the north end of the center in G.A.R. Hall. Here is a look at that one.

From now until the end of July the Cultural Center is hosting two very interesting displays of African American public art. The first is a photo exhibition on The Wall Of Respect which was a groundbreaking urban mural that was created on Chicago's south side in 1967.

The second display consists of thirty two 10' X 4' double doors painted in acrylic that hung inside Malcolm X College until it was recently demolished. The artist Eugene Eda took two years to complete this collection.

To continue our exploration of this bounty of public art we go outside and across the street to Millenium Park to explore the "tire art" of Chakaia Booker.

And for the final stop on our one block tour we venture down into Chicago's series of underground pedways where we find an awesome display of gorgeous American Victorian stained glass. It can be found right outside of Macy's which is right next to the Cultural Center.

So there you have it six examples of Chicago's vast collection of public art all within a thousand feet of one another. ChiTownView has dozens of videos with more statues, murals etc. We collected them in the playlist Public Art; Statues, Fountains, Mosaic, Murals, Street Art etc.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Twenty Years Of Las Vegas Neon

I've heard neon called liquid light in the night and I think that's a perfect way to describe it.Some of my earliest childhood memories are being out after dark and seeing some beautiful signs like the Magikist lips or Skips Drive In. Anyway I have hundreds of Polaroid photos of neon signs, mostly from the Chicago area. About ten years ago when I built my web portal I posted some of my photos but haven't really done a whole lot since then. Recently I've gotten serious about organizing and scanning my Polaroids and putting some of them up for sale. Also the web site is now getting an update.

Starting with an updated Vegas neon area because Las Vegas is like the Vatican, Mecca or the Louvre of neon. It's a city covered with neon signs some famous and some not. I've only been able to make the pilgrimage three times with three different cameras; a Polaroid SX-70, Polaroid Spectra and an HP digital camera. So there's a page for each of the camera's as well as some videos posted.

In the 1980's I made my first foray to the city of (neon) lights it was at the end of the classic period before Fremont St. was covered and the strip still had some of the classic casinos operating. This gallery has more than 30 SX-70 photos. To visit this gallery click here.

I returned to Las Vegas in the late 90's and only got about a dozen shots before my Polaroid Spectra camera gave out. Click here to check it out.
In 2005 I made my last visit to Vegas armed with an HP digital camera and got a fair number of shots at the Neon Museum. See more here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The "Flesh" Series Where Sex & Violence Collide In A 60's Serial Killer Trilogy By Michael & Roberta Findlay

On our web portal we have a page called Welcome To The Sinema. It is chock full of vintage shorts and full length sex films of a NON pornographic nature. A varied group that includes a page on Bettie Page, the topless attractions at the 1939 world's fair in New York and our newest offering(s) a trio of feature films known as the "flesh" trilogy.

Michael Findlay (1938–1977), and his wife Roberta Findlay, directed and produced numerous sexploitation movies. They were part of a group of New York filmmakers including; Joseph Sarno, Joseph P. Mawra, and Lou Campa who combined mixed violence and sex (often kinky) creating a genre known as roughies. One that went mainstream (kind of) in the 70's with films like "Last House On The Left" and "I Spit On Your Grave". Sometimes he would direct under the alias Julian Marsh and act in his own films billed as Robert West. His wife Roberta (a.k.a. Anna Riva) was the cinematographer, co-writer, and supporting actress for many of their films together.

The couple is mostly known for the "flesh" trilogy. Starting with The Touch of Her Flesh and the two sequels, The Curse of Her Flesh and The Kiss of her Flesh. They tell the tale of a cuckolded gun dealer named Richard Jennings (played by Findlay) who is disfigured in a car accident after finding his wife in bed with another man. In recovery, Jennings comes to generalize his hatred of his wife to promiscuous women in general; after he is released, Jennings goes on a killing spree, murdering prostitutes and strippers with a variety of unique implements, including poison-tipped rose thorns, blow darts, a crossbow, a scimitar, and a buzzsaw. Although he would appear to die at the end of the first two films he would pop back up for more fun & games.

The Touch of Her Flesh
The Curse of Her Flesh

                                       The Curse of Her Flesh

Another of his films that is noteworthy for it's star power is Satan's Bed. It was made in 1965 before the Flesh films and amongst the players in this hot mess is Yoko Ono! Also known as “Satan's Hot Bed” this movie, like all truly bad thrash, is two unrelated films spliced together in a cinematic marriage that produces this masterpiece.

After the “Flesh” series Findlay continued to make films about perverse sexuality and violence. Among them are; A Thousand Pleasures , The Ultimate Degenerate, The Closer to the Bone the Sweeter the Meat, Funk, a Yeti slasher movie called Shriek of the Mutilated and a Manson murder homage Slaughter, the 1971 film that, after further contributions from Allan Shackleton, became Snuff (1976), the namesake of the fictional snuff film genre.

Ironically enough Michael Findlay's death in 1977 was gruesome, he was decapitaed by a helicopters rotary blade in an accident on top of the Pan Am Building.