City Council: Let’s Try Destroying Chicago Music

Chicago\'s City Council in a moment of clarity

The specimens that inhabit the Chicago city council chambers are an odd lot. When they raise upon their hind legs and bleat as one, the strangest, most alien ideas are aired. Ideas that do not boggle so much as numb the mind with their breathtaking vacancy. Kafka is merely the quaint reference point for the depths of the council’s legal absurdism – when this governing body flies by the seat of its pants and burps up legislation without the direct cajoling of the Mayor, you can always bet on comedy gold.

This time, they have decided that this city’s most well-known and precious cultural resource – music – needs fixin’. And they’re gonna fix it good.

Pointing to a five year old tragedy that may not even have involved live music, the E2 nightclub stampede of 2003, the city council is proposing to create an incredibly draconian series of licensing, background checking, police notification and insurance ordinances for all promoters of live music — except, of course the ones who already own or control the city’s largest rooms.

The proposed law, being voted on tomorrow and published in its full, impenetrable ancient Greek on Jim DeRogatis’s blog, is bad news for anybody putting on small shows in Chicago. The ordinance’s definition of “promoter” is insanely loose and will include bands putting on their own shows.

Normally, city council members don’t have such a antagonistic attitude toward entrepreneurism, and it’s almost certain that even this ridiculous proposal, if passed, would be enforced as selectively as clout with City Hall allows.

In any case, this is a time when resistance needs to be mounted. Sign this petition. Show up tomorrow to city hall if you can.

UPDATE: Reportedly this ordinance has been tabled and will not be voted upon tomorrow. More details forthcoming, but at this point it looks like public outcry got the council’s attention. Really.

In related news, pigs are appearing on the radar screens at Midway Airport and volcanos are spewing crushed ice.

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rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

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1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende
May 2008
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