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Chicago Reader

23 articles
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Jason Molina's Long Dark Blues

How the seminal midwestern songwriter behind Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. descended into dipsomania.

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They Came in Through the Bathroom Mirror

A Chicago housing project resident reports intruders breaking into her apartment through a medicine cabinet. Days later, she’s found dead.

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The Legend of Buster Smith

A profile of the greatest checkers player of all time.

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Brickyard Blues

On the brick stackers of Chicago.

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Los

On a mission to the moon, a female astronaut reflects on her mission and her family life.

"John left and I had Jonah and I felt like I had a hole in me like rocket man, starting between my legs and going right up inside me. I asked Houston if I could stop the special events and training and trajectory and thrust for a little while so I could see my children's special events and training and trajectory and thrust. Houston copied that and so I did. For a little while. But after a little while it felt like a long while. John came back and my children were good and my status was good but I felt the moon calling."

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Anatomy of a Heroin Ring

How a Chicago drug organization did business.

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Thank God For Facebook!

The trials and silliness of Facebook, from beyond the grave.

"In a last, desperate attempt to recapture our imaginations, Madeline began posting pictures of herself with dead celebrities like Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, even Benjamin Franklin. But they were doing things like high-fiving, watching TV, and playing darts. As a community, we agreed it was in bad taste."

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Chicken of the Trees

“The squirrels may take my tomatoes and spit them back, but they would not go unanswered. The time had come to close the circle of life.”

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Coffee Club Closes

A coffee shop owner finally gets to shut down his store.

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How Chicago House Got Its Groove Back

A look at Chicago’s DJ culture in the ’90s.

One day in 1997, Sneak promised his friend and fellow Chicago DJ Derrick Carter a new 12-inch for Carter's label Classic, then spent hours fruitlessly laboring over a basic, bustling four-four beat. Finally, Sneak gave in and smoked the J he'd had stashed for later in the day. When he came back inside, he carelessly dropped the needle onto a Teddy Pendergrass LP, heard the word "Well . . . ," and realized, "That's the sample, right there." He threaded Pendergrass's 20-year-old disco hit "You Can't Hide From Yourself" through a low-pass filter to give it the effect of going in and out of aural focus, creating one of the definitive Chicago house singles.

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Kill-Crazed Animal?

A profile of William Heirens, the convicted “Lipstick Killer” of Chicago, who died this week.

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Soul Train Local

A history of Soul Train’s Chi-town origins.

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Customs

A young Jewish man makes a comical attempt to smuggle items into Canada.

"When I sit back in my seat I feel dampness on my ass. My jeans came in contact with some mystery liquid on the lavatory floor. I finish filling out the declaration card. I'd stopped in the middle after reading that I'd have to declare any meat products I'm bringing into Canada."

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A Convict's Odyssey

When he was 16, Mark Clements talked his way into four life sentences. Twenty-eight years later, he talked his way out.

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Separate, Unequal, and Ignored

On the enduring racial segregation in Chicago and why it’s an issue no mayoral candidate is willing to touch.

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When Zion Ruled the Airwaves

How Zion, Ill., a fundamentalist Christian settlement with a population of 6,250, created one of the most popular stations in the country during the early days of radio.

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The Real American Pie

Mince pie was once more American than the apple variety. It was also blamed for “bad health, murderous dreams, the downfall of Prohibition, and the decline of the white race,” among other things. Then it disappeared.

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The Real Syl

A profile of Chicago soul great Syl Johnson.

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Give ’Em What They Want

A profile of Rahm Emanuel, written during his first congressional campaign in Illinois. Emanuel was running to fill the seat vacated by Rod Blagojevich.

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The Passion of David Bazan

During the 90s, David Bazan was Christian indie-rock’s first big crossover star. Then he stopped believing.

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What Makes Barack Obama Run?

In 1995, the Chicago Reader profiled a little-known professor (and lawyer and philanthropist and author) who had decided to run for office to get back to his true passion: community organizing.