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184                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            But he knows the double frustration of the artist in Chicago even bet-
            ter. “Reviewing a frothy piece of entertainment,” Ebert said, “is a futile
              enterprise on the day when William Kunstler was sent to jail for four years
            and seven days.”
               Art in Chicago has hardly fared well. The movies are censored by the
            Chicago Film Board, a group of ladies whose Kabuki-like credentials are
            (no kidding) that they are widows of machine-politicians. The Aardvark
            Cinematheque, an experimental film emporium in Chicago’s hip Old
            Town, was severely obstructed in its inception by Film Board censorship
            objections which interestingly were always over-ruled, after weeks of ten-
            sion and fighting, by a higher appeals board of psychologists, professors,
            and artists who seemed to speak for more liberal Chicagoans.
               If the Broadway musical Hair [which in each major city had a new edi-
            tion] is representative of commercial theater now playing in Chicago, then
            “Chicago Hair” — unlike “New York Hair” or “LA Hair — is stripped of
            social-comment dialogue, because local satirical references that might be
            incendiary or revolutionary or sexual have been forbidden.
               “Chicago  Hair” sings pre-censored set lyrics and ad-libs little satire.
            Only the poster “DIAL-A-BEATING: PO-5-1515” — sneaked into a mob
            scene — makes any reference to the Chicago police by giving the fuzz’
            phone number. Art is obviously having a hard time in the city the kids
            call “Prague West.”


            Chicago’s head like Chicago’s location is central Mid-America, without
            the extremities of either Coast. So it’s no wonder art can barely survive
            in this U.S. “Central America.” Acting out of 300 years of repressive
            Founding-Father Calvinism, the United States Government continues to
            tax art and exempt churches.
               This tax inequity ignores the radical connection between art and
            religion: that both once performed the same function. They both mean
            to sort out man’s relationship with other men and all men’s relationship
            to their universe.
               Something new is afoot. Even politically Catholic Chicago is paring
            back its piety. So much property tax revenue has been lost to the city that
            legislation was passed so that religious orders are now restricted from
            buying any more old non-taxable mansions on North Sheridan Road, two
            and three blocks south of Loyola university on Lake Michigan.
               The city prefers — instead of ten tax-exempt Jesuits living in gilded-
            age splendor — that plush residential high rises (highly taxable) replace

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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