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Back to School: Our Favorite Things
Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton

Silent Summer Film Festival

Hep papers like the Reader covet that profitable 85-to-100 demographic, which is why I always try to plug the Silent Film Society of Chicago. Headed by Dennis Wolkowicz (aka theater organist Jay Warren), the SFSC presents a year-round calendar of silent movies with live musical accompaniment, but its centerpiece is the Silent Summer Film Festival, held Friday nights at the vintage Portage Theater from July through August. Screenings are always packed, the audience ranging from senior citizens to college students to young kids trying to wrap their heads around the concept of a movie with no sound or color. The lineup always features the usual suspects—Chaplin, Keaton, Pickford, Lloyd, Valentino, Fairbanks—but the longer the festival’s gone on, the more it’s plumbed the recesses of the silent canon, highlighting forgotten stars like Colleen Moore and Harry Langdon.

The musical programming is rigorously traditional: there’s no pandering to the younger crowd with pop bands or free-jazz outfits. Most screenings are accompanied by experienced organists like Warren, Dennis James, and Mark Noller of the Music Box. The festival’s Achilles’ heel has always been its ensembles, like the dowdy West End Jazz Band and the overtaxed Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra, whose accompaniment of Potemkin last August was often excruciating. On those occasions you might wish for a little more silence. Silent Film Society of Chicago, 4050 N. Milwaukee (at the Portage Theater), 773-205-7372, silentfilmchicago.org. —J.R. Jones

We also want to hear your stories about your favorite people, places, and things in the city--go here to share them with the rest of the class.


A & T Grill
Elizabeth M. Tamny

All Rise Gallery
Liz Armstrong

The Ando Gallery at the Art Institute
Tamara Faulkner

Bartender Ballet at the Violet Hour
Mike Sula


The Basement of After-Words
Monica Kendrick

The Blue Crab Lounge at Shaw’s
Michael Lenehan

The Butcher Shop
Noah Berlatsky

Deborah Butterfield’s “Ben”
Ryan Hubbard


The Diary of Virginia May Garcia
Noah Berlatsky

The Fern Room at the Garfield Park Conservatory
Martha Bayne

Fine Wine Brokers
Kathie Bergquist

The Grid
Bill Savage


Hideout Dance Parties
Martha Bayne

Jazz Record Mart and Dusty Groove
Peter Margasak

Jollyball at the Museum of Science and Industry
Noah Berlatsky

Ken Dunn
Mick Dumke


The Lobby Bar at Second City
Albert Williams

Lost & Found
Kathie Bergquist

Manhattans at the Matchbox
David Hammond

Matinees at the Music Box
Adam Langer


Marina City
Lynn Becker

The Mausoleum at Rosehill Cemetery
Kerry Reid

Monday Night at Sidetrack
Zac Thompson

Monday Night Farm Dinner at Lula Cafe
Peter Margasak


Moo & Oink
Mike Sula

Music Box Massacre
J.R. Jones

The Murals at the 18th Street El Stop
Brenna Ehrlich

The Newberry Library
Harold Henderson


The North Branch Trail
Jennifer Sodini

Open Mike at Gallery Cabaret
Julia Rickert

Outdanced!
Liz Armstrong

RUI: Reading Under the Influence
Kathie Bergquist


Silent Summer Film Festival
J.R. Jones

Sunday Transmission at the Hungry Brain
Peter Margasak

The Sweet Spot at the Empty Bottle
Miles Raymer

Textile Discount Outlet
Tasneem Paghdiwala


The Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute
Albert Williams

Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater
Albert Williams

Wil Hasbrouck
Harold Henderson

The Window Seat at Letizia’s
Emerson Dameron


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