More On Mob Attacks

While the situation in Boystown keeps getting a bit crazier and more depressing, Milwaukee experienced mob violence in the Riverwest neighborhood on Monday evening. In the incidents, about 22 teenagers looted a BP convenience store, prior to about 11 people being assaulted and robbed in Reservoir Park. With this incident, there is surveillance video footage from the store posted online for people to possibly help identify the suspects. As of yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that eight teenagers have turned themselves in, although another article from the Journal Sentinel says that on Wednesday four teenagers had been cited for disorderly conduct, theft, and curfew violation after their mothers called the Milwaukee police. (For a perspective from a mother that reported her children, Milwaukee’s ABC affiliate, WISN, spoke to one*.)

Today, charges were made against one person in connection to the Boystown stabbing. A longer window of time has elapsed between Sunday’s stabbing and a person being charged than the incident in Riverwest and seven people being charged. There are quite a few differences between the incidents, including that Riverwest residents haven’t started a Facebook page, there are two different police forces involved here, and Milwaukee is a little more than a fourth the size of Chicago. Another interesting aspect is that with the Milwaukee violence, both Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett were present at a community meeting and addressed the crowd.

Although my mother and sister live in the Milwaukee area and I visit there frequently, I know very little about Riverwest and among the things I do know, I can tell you that Lakefront Brewery has a lager named after the neighborhood. I can tell you more about the climate in Boystown because I used to patronize some businesses in that area. But first, a discussion on identity.
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Racism, Crime, and Facebook

You see these all over BoystownThere have recently been stabbings and attacks in the trendy Boystown area of Lakeview, which is home to several gay bars and the annual Pride Festival and Pride Parade. As a result of these attacks, some Boystown residents have taken to Facebook, creating a Facebook page with some blatant racist remarks. (Sample quote: “‎I’m not racist, but those black kids have got to go!”) I would have been completely oblivious to the Facebook page had it not been for a friend posting a link for the page on his Facebook profile, showing disgust.

Sunday night, a 25-year-old man was attacked and stabbed by a mob of young people in Boystown. The attack was recorded and posted on YouTube, although the video is attached to the Tribune article I linked to. Judging from that video, some of the assailants appear to African-American, although I can’t say that accurately say what the ethnicities of all the assailants are because of lighting, angles, and the quality of the video. My immediate thought after viewing the video is why some residents are jumping to the idea that African-American youths should not be welcomed in their neighborhood.

But first, some background.

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The Continuing Saga of Critics vs. Bloggers, Tweeters

For at least three years, it has been discussed as to whether or not bloggers were making theater critics, and critic in general, obsolete. This is a topic that won’t die, like whether or not print journalism is dead. In fact, the discussion of the irrelevance of print and broadcast theater critics prompted me to discuss this topic in a crudely drawn comic last year.
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The Tribune Changes Things Up

Now you know what's on my coffee table. This past week, the Chicago Tribune unveiled a redesigned version with more content. According to Robert Feder’s blog, the subscribers will be charged more, but it currently doesn’t cost more to buy it from the newsstands. With this, the Tribune also unveiled a redesigned website that manages to seem cleaner, despite having numerous submenus, and a mobile app that is easier to navigate and matches the design of the website.

The new design features a redesigned nameplate with etchings of Chicago and Chicago landmarks, a new typeface for the stories, a new section on Thursdays for dining, and other additional pages of coverage. My only caveat with the redesign is that there seems to be an inconsistency with the typeface for the headlines, which was something I noticed when looking very closely at the paper.

My main question about the new-and-improved Tribune is why they decided to do this. Was this to attract readers they might have lost? Was this done to attract a younger generation of readers? It’s possible that the people that are younger—my generation, the target audience for RedEye—will either be interested in reading a newspaper like the Tribune, stick to RedEye, or not even read a newspaper. I didn’t pick up a copy of the Tribune on Friday because of the enhancements; I already read the Tribune. I would be curious to see how the circulation numbers change after this, especially in a 20-35-year-old demographic.

Ultimately, the changed Tribune looks nice and I like the fact that they’ve added more articles. From a video on the TribNation blog, it seems as though this was done after receiving input from current readers. While it’s important to maintain a strong readership, I would think that newspapers should be trying to attract more readers.

Theatre Cedar Rapids Actually Announces Their 2010-11 Season

Whenever it is discussed that Theatre Cedar Rapids is back and better than ever, no one is joking. Their 2010-11 season only proves that. Their upcoming season has such a great line-up that I would consider flying from O’Hare to see some of these plays. Even though they’re not doing August: Osage County, which I had predicted they would do because they have the space, the budget and the chutzpah to do that show.

Anyway, time to stop with the hyperbole and be serious.

Their first play is the musical 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, music and lyrics by William Finn (Falsettos, A New Brain, Elegies) and book by Rachel Sheinkin. The musical focuses on six contestants vying for the championship of the bee. The musical will run from Sept. 10-Oct. 2.

The second play is Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello, adapted by Jason Alberty. The play focuses on a rehearsal that is interrupted by six fictional characters that demand for their story to be finished. Alberty will also be directing the play and it will run from Oct. 15-30.

Their holiday show will be White Christmas, more commonly known as Irving Berlin’s White Christmas to distinguish it from, you know, Martin McDonagh’s White Christmas. Based off of the classic film, it follows Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who have a successful song-and-dance act, that follow two singing sisters to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge. White Christmas will be performed from Nov. 26-Dec. 18.

Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart will be the next show in the season. The play focuses on the Magrath sisters that have gathered Hazlehurst, Miss. to await news of their dying grandfather while looking at their failures. Crimes of the Heart will run from Jan. 28-Feb. 12, 2011.

In March, Theatre Cedar Rapids will be performing Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. The musical tells the tale of the murderous, vengeful barber Sweeney Todd who teams up with Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a meat pies shop, while on his quest to avenge the death of his wife. The musical will run from March 4-26. (It is also listed as being rated PG-13 for “excessive meat pies”)

The next play will be Sarah Ruhl’s play Eurydice. This play retells the myth of Orpheus through the eyes of Eurydice, who journeys to Hades to reunite with her father. Please note that there will be no giant fish on stage and that Eurydice will run from April 8-23.

In May, Theatre Cedar Rapids will be performing The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, as dramatized by Joseph Robinette. The classic C.S. Lewis story focuses on four children that walk through a wardrobe to discover the land of Narnia, currently being ruled by the evil White Witch. It will run from May 13-28.

The final play of the season will be the classic musical Guys and Dolls, with music and lyrics by Frank Losser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. During the prohibition, Nathan Detroit tries to find a place to hold his game while his persistently ill fiancee Adelaide suffers and Sky Masterson tries to woo the uptight Sarah Brown. Guys and Dolls will run from July 8-30.

All productions will be performed at Theatre Cedar Rapids’ home, the Iowa Theatre Building, at 102 Third St SE, Cedar Rapids. For more information, visit their website at

Update: You can read the complete press release here.

Cedar Falls Community Theatre’s 2010-11 Season

Cedar Falls Community Theatre has announced their 2010-11 season, which will be performed in the Oster Regent Theatre, which is celebrating its hundredth anniversary.

First up is Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, which is the classic musical about what happens to River City, Iowa (based on Willson’s hometown of Mason City) when “band salesman” Harold Hill comes to town. Willson’s music is complex, delightful and memorable and the musical itself brings up a bit of Americana. The Music Man runs from June 4-13. I do want to know, will the slogan for the show be, “You’ve got trouble right here in a river city”?

The next play is Kitchen Witches, which won the Samuel French Canadian Play Contest. The synopsis on Cedar Falls Community Theatre’s website says that, “Caroline Smith’s Kitchen Witches capitalizes on the publics interest in cooking shows. Two cooking show hostesses have despised each other for over 30 years, ever since Stephen Biddle dated one and married the other. When circumstances put them together on a TV show, the insults are flung harder than the food and the show becomes a rating smash as their antics top both Martha Stewart and Jerry Springer.” The premise of the play sounds interesting and it will run from July 29-August 6.

The third play of the season will be The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which will apparently have inspiration from the visuals that Gary Kelley, a well-known and award-winning artist in Cedar Falls, provided for a version of the story. I’m not too sure how that will work out with the transfer from the page to the stage, but it is very artistically ambitious and would be interesting to see. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow runs from Sept. 30-Oct. 10.

The holiday show will be Robert Fulghum’s Uh Oh, Here Comes Christmas, which will examine the commercialism of the Christmas season. That runs from Dec. 3-12.

The final show of the season is Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys, which is about a great vaudeville duo known as “Lewis and Clark” that is going to be retired by CBS. I’m not familiar with The Sunshine Boys, but I would like to say thank you for not doing another production of any form of The Odd Couple. The Sunshine Boys will run from Feb. 18-27.

There are no directors listed on CFCT’s website, but it still sounds like an interesting season.

Theatre Cedar Rapids’ 2010-11 Season Announced

Theatre Cedar Rapids has announced that their 2010-11 season will consist of lengthened runs of Annie, The Rocky Horror Show and The Producers.

According to artistic director Leslie Charipar, Annie and The Producers are being brought back after very successful runs during the 2009-10 season.

Both Annie and The Producers had sold out runs and received rave reviews from media outlets.

Charipar stated that when planning the season, they asked the residents of Eastern Iowa what plays they wanted to see Theatre Cedar Rapids produce. The most frequent answers were Annie, The Producers, Oliver!, Wicked and The Lion King. However, the rights for Wicked and The Lion King are not available and a staff member had a strong objection to Oliver! being produced.

It was also decided that by bringing back Annie and The Producers that it would provide people that missed the original runs the opportunity to see the plays again.

It has not been decided yet if the original cast members will be in the revival productions.

The Rocky Horror Show, which was produced in 2007 and 2008, will be performed in October. Directors have not been announced for the productions yet.

All of the productions will performed in Theatre Cedar Rapids’ home, the Iowa Theatre Building at 102 Third Street SE in Cedar Rapids.

The staff of Fragments would like to remind you that today is April Fools Day and hopes you enjoy the weather.