“Two Virginia Republicans have asked a court for restraining orders that would prevent private bookseller Barnes & Noble from selling two books to minors, marking an escalation in the conservative campaign to limit students’ access to literature,” reports the Washington Post. “The two books are ‘Gender Queer’ by Maia Kobabe, a memoir about identifying as genderqueer or nonbinary, and ‘A Court of Mist and Fury,’ a fantasy novel by Sarah J. Maas. The two Republicans, Del. Timothy Anderson of Virginia Beach and Tommy Altman, a congressional candidate, requested the orders from Virginia Beach Circuit Court as part of their larger, ongoing lawsuit targeting the books. The requested restraining orders would also prohibit distribution of the two books by Virginia Beach City Public Schools. The board of that school system voted to remove all copies of ‘Gender Queer’ from its libraries over its sexual content.” Bookstore owner Candice Huber posts a report that “the judge will decide if these books can be sold or owned by minors or adults. If the books are ruled ‘obscene,’ not only will booksellers not be able to sell them, readers can’t own them, & if you do either, you risk criminal prosecution.”

The American Booksellers for Free Expression responds: “ABFE strongly condemns a Virginia judge’s tentative opinion that the books… might be ‘obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors’ and the petitioners’ preliminary injunction against Barnes & Noble and other booksellers to prevent sales of books. The judge has ordered the authors and publishers of the books to present more evidence so that she can make a final decision regarding whether the books may be sold or possessed in Virginia, by either minors or adults. The last time a book was banned for being ‘obscene’ was in the 1960s. Then, in 1973, the Supreme Court provided a three-question test to determine if a particular material is obscene: Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the ‘prurient interest’; whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct; and whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value… The Virginia judge’s opinion is troubling in that the order could threaten the First Amendment right of a bookseller to sell a book, and that it does so based on the subjective point of view of a few citizens—one of whom in this particular instance is running for office.”


Gene Pesek, Sun-Times Photographer Who Shot The Mirage Tavern, Beatles, Bears

“Gene Pesek viewed the world as if he were a camera,” writes Maureen O’Donnell at the Sun-Times. “‘I see photography no matter where I am… I see pictures. I can be driving on [the] Dan Ryan and looking straight ahead, and I’ll see a picture.’ … Mr. Pesek chronicled the beautiful and the bestial in a nearly forty-year career as a Chicago Sun-Times photographer. Some days, he’d be assigned to shoot movie stars or spring flowers. Other times, he shot crime scenes, plane crashes and political conventions.”

How City Bureau Measures The Impact Of Civic Media Strategies In Chicago

The Institute For Nonprofit News outlines what City Bureau is doing in Chicago: “Before we could measure impact at City Bureau, we needed to acknowledge the history and limitations of how the media industry has framed impact in the past—and come up with new questions to guide our learning. Do media outlets see themselves and their reporters as change agents? Do they see themselves as part of an ecosystem rooted in the public interest? What would a theory of change for journalism as a public good look like in practice—and how would it manifest in peoples’ lives? Over an eleven-month period in 2019, our staff, board and members of our community engaged in deep conversations, interactive activities, working sessions and group reflection in an effort to align, and re-commit to, our values. These conversations were the building blocks for our current strategic plan.” More here.

Minnesota Public Radio Drops Award-Winning “APM Reports”

Award-winning program “APM Reports” has been shut down by Minnesota Public Radio after seven years, reports the Star-Tribune. Minnesota Public Radio e-mailed and made Zoom calls to its workers. “This change means that colleagues, who’ve invested their energy, skills and passion with us, will be leaving our organization,” MPR said in a release. “The St. Paul-based ‘Reports’ specialized in long-form, investigative journalism. Its signature podcast, ‘In the Dark,’ won a pair of Peabody Awards—one for its in-depth look at the kidnapping and murder of eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling and the other for the investigation of the case of Curtis Flowers, a Mississippi man who was tried six times for the same crime.”



Steppenwolf Sets “Choir Boy” Casting

Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced casting for its staging of Tony-nominated “Choir Boy,” by Oscar-winning Steppenwolf ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney, which will run June 16-July 24. Directed by Kent Gash, the production features La Shawn Banks, Sheldon D. Brown, Richard David, William Dick, Gilbert Domally, Tyler Hardwick and Samuel B. Jackson. “Choir Boy,” “threaded throughout with soul-stirring a cappella gospel hymns, is the story of a young gay Black man and his battle between identity and community. Pharus Young is a senior at the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, an institution committed to building ‘strong, ethical Black men,’ where he endeavors to be the best leader of the school’s prestigious choir in its fifty-year history. But in a world built on rites and rituals, should he conform to the expectations of his peers in order to gain the respect he desperately seeks? … An elegy to quiet rebellion, filled with the sound of longing and aspiration.” Single tickets start at $20 here.



Melrose Park Man Charged In Setting Fire To Joseph Kromelis

Joseph Guardia, twenty-seven, of Melrose Park “was charged with attempted murder and arson after pouring a flammable liquid on Joseph Kromelis, seventy-five—known as ‘The Walking Man’— and igniting it Wednesday morning in the 400 block of North Lower Wabash,” reports the Sun-Times. “Guardia was also wanted on two separate arrest warrants for burglary,” adds the Trib. Richard Roeper writes: “It’s been nearly thirty years since I first wrote about the Walking Man, who cut a striking figure with his long flowing hair, his 1970s mustache and his spiffy sports jackets and was always just … walking. Zipping along at a brisk stride in his prime, not so swiftly as the years went by, and moving with painful slowness in recent years… Joseph Kromelis is seventy-five. He’s been walking the streets of the city for at least half his life. I’m not sure he would care what any of us think about him, but I hope he realized you never heard anyone speak with the least bit of condescension or cynicism when they reported a sighting of the Walking Man. We appreciated Kromelis just doing his thing as a hometown original. Whether it was his design or not, he carved out his own unique space in Chicago lore.” Block Club Chicago reports from bond court: “The Melrose Park man accused of dousing [him] with gasoline and setting him on fire as he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue showed ‘a special kind of evil’ when he staged his unprovoked attack, prosecutors told a judge Monday.” He “was burned over fifty percent of his body… He is currently sedated at Stroger Hospital with ‘non-survivable injuries,’ the prosecutor said.”

Millennium Park Announces Summer Season

The 2022 Millennium Park Summer Season highlights include free programming celebrating the “Year of Chicago Dance;” the return of the Millennium Park Summer Film Series, Summer Music Series and Summer Workouts; the Chicago Gospel Music Festival; Chicago Blues Festival; Millennium Park Summer Music Series; Chicago Jazz Festival; Chicago House Music Festival and Conference; and the SummerDance Celebration in addition to dozens of free concerts, performances, special events, family activities, nature programs and public art. Complete attractions here.

Would The World Be Better Off Without Philanthropists? 

Nicholas Lemann surveys at the New Yorker: “In real life, the interaction between big-money philanthropy and philanthropy-reliant institutions like universities, charities, and museums is more of a business negotiation than a morality play. Philanthropists rarely make the large, unrestricted gifts that the receiving institutions really want, and so the two parties bargain: over the purpose and the control of a gift, over the form of credit, over how much the institution has to raise from other sources as a condition of the gift’s being made. In the world of philanthropy, all this is just another day at the office… As big as big philanthropy is, it’s dwarfed by both government and business. If you want to give a hundred dollars to a scholarship fund at a school, the money will almost certainly go into the fund and then be disbursed as scholarships…. But gifts that have a truly broad and undeniable effect? Those are rare, especially when they entail, as they usually do, funding one thing (like an activist group) in the hope of achieving another (like a substantial policy change). That’s why one sees a familiar set of philanthropy success stories repeated endlessly, like the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations’ initial funding of the Green Revolution or the Carnegie Corporation’s role in establishing the public broadcasting system.”


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