NRBQ — featuring only original member Terry Adams on trippy Sun Ra keyboards — plays two sets in a “Holiday Show” beginingbeginning at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at FitzGerald’s.
Updated: December 20, 2012 5:00PM
Entertainment is a big business.
And what’s more entertaining than the end of the world?
Ridley Scott has nothing on the Mayans. On Dec. 21 the Mayan calendar morphs into a new “Baktun” (century), something that happens every 394 years. The current Baktun began around 1618, the last time the Cubs appeared in a World Series. People have gotten so worked up about 12-21-12 that the United States government actually took the time and money to tell citizens to chill. Earlier this month a government blog post read: “Scary rumors about the world ending in 2012 are just rumors.”
And this incisive dispatch is from the same people who make me disrobe at the airport?
If the world does cease to exist on Dec. 21, this will be the last big story you will read in Weekend-End-of-the-World. I will miss the Fleetwood Mac reunion tour. I won’t have to watch A.J. Pierzynski anymore. I won’t have to read any more stories about Grant Achtaz.
That’s the good news.
Entrepreneurs haven’t missed a beat in capitalizing on the potential doomsday.
And nothing goes better with doom and gloom than a drone.
The Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) hosts a 12-hour “Drone For The End Of Time” beginning at 12 p.m. Dec. 21 and running through midnight at 5925 N. Ravenswood (773-769-1069). “A drone is a continuous, uninterrupted cluster of pitches,” organizer Dan Mohr said in the last conversation we may have. “Some people expect a noise show, but one of our rules is no noise. You’re supposed to fade in and out of the drone, so there’s no audibles.” Just like growing old.
Everyone is invited to grab or bring an instrument. Guests should bring their own instrumentation. Others can just sit and listen.
What? You wanted to bring a fork or a garbage can lid?
“You don’t want any pronounced attack,” Mohr answered. “Synthesizers, violins, harmoniums will be common. The main rule is to not disturb the drone. It’s a glacial, static thing. No talking will be allowed in the room. There will be a place downstairs for people to have a conversation.”
The non-for-profit ESS opened in 1986. The space features a recording studio and isolation booth upstairs and downstairs mixing room for film projects and mastering. Jazz musician Ken Vandermark has recorded at ESS, and the organization’s audio archives include a collection of unreleased material from late free-jazz space ranger Sun Ra.
The event is free, donations will be accepted. “We’ll have beer and wine available for a donation,” Mohr said.
Will there be tequila to honor the Mayans?
“That’s a good idea,” Mohr said with a laugh. “We will look into that.”
The drone will be recorded, and there may be live streaming. Mohr has researched 12-21-12 and estimated the world will end around two in the morning (which would be Dec. 22). “So we’ll be done,” he said. “We will have a couple hours to keep drinking.”
Carlos Tortolero is President of the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1952 W. 19th St.
“This whole thing is stupid,” Tortolero said last week. “The mainstream never pays attention to important issues that affect other people unless it is something they think is strange. The Mayans were amazing mathematicians. Why would they think the world is going to end? It’s rare to find anybody in the Mexican community who has not been Facebooked with another stupid example of this. Respectable newspapers and television stations keep showing the Aztec calendar, and they’re talking about the Mayans. It’s like talking about England and showing the Eiffel Tower.
“The Mayans are still around today,” Tortolero continued, citing the estimated 7 million Maya living in southern Mexico and Guatemala. “They produce great art. They survived 500 years of European encroachment. That’s the story we should be hearing. Instead, we’re hearing all this end of the world stuff. [The museum] is not doing anything on this. We can’t wait until it is over.”
For the real deal, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, closed on Mondays. You can do some last-minute Christmas shopping at the Tienda Tzintzuntzan (Place of the Hummingbird) gift shop with abundant artwork, books, jewelry and textiles.
After taking the high road, catch a rousing send-off-into-the-next world show when The Lowdown Brass Band headlines at 10 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia ($8; 773-227-4433). The Chicago-based, 10-piece brass band plays in the horn-driven Second Line tradition of New Orleans funeral marches. Lowdown updates the sound by incorporating reggae and funk. Opening act Wild Jesus & the Devil’s Lettuce mix noir waltzes with psychedelic grooves.
NRBQ is the band that will never go away, so it’s a safe bet they’ll still be around after the world ends Dec. 21. Featuring only original member Terry Adams on trippy Sun Ra keyboards, the pop-rock band plays two sets in a “Holiday Show” beginning at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn ($20). The gig marks the Chicago debut of NRBQ’s new bassist Casey McDonough, long time collaborator with NRBQ guitarist Scott Ligon.
The “Michael Jackson End of the World Party: Featuring 30 Years of Thriller and More” kicks off at 10:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison, across the street from the Temple of Doom ($10, 773-327-1662). A one-time only band featuring vocalist Sarah Young, keyboardist Matt Nelson (Lupe Fiasco), bassist Gram Czach (Chicago Afrobeat Project) and drummer Jonathan Marks (Hey Champ) will play the album front to back and then a set of Jackson’s hits.
There may be no better way to sign off from this mortal coil than hearing Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.”
The legacy of West Division Street is one of one-night last stands, and that party vibe always ramps up for St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve and any Chicago sports world championship. And now the end of the world is in the mix.
The Lodge Management Group is hosting a “Doomsday on Division” pub crawl. Thrill seekers should stop into the Lodge Tavern, 21 W. Division, She-nannigans House of Beers, 16 W. Division, Bootleggers, 13 W. Division, The Hangge-Uppe, 14 W. Elm, The Original Mothers, 26 W. Division and Mother’s Too, 14 W. Division any time between 9 p.m. and midnight Dec. 21. Ask for a “Doomsday on Division: 6 Bar Excursion” lanyard. Each location has a theme and drink special. For example, the Hangge-Up will have a limbo dance to go with its “Lava Flow” cocktail (vodka, pineapple juice with a grenadine float on ice). After folks participate in each activity at each bar, they get the lanyard stamped.
Once all six stamps are acquired, take the lanyard to the Original Mother’s to receive a T-shirt and a ticket to an “I Survived Doomsday” party only for “survivors” between 5 and 7 p.m. Dec. 22 at Mahoney’s Pub and Grill, 551 N. Ogden. Doomsday swag will be given away along with a complimentary buffet of food and drink. This is more complicated than building a Mayan temple. Visit rushanddivision.com/dooomsday for details.
Louis Gluntz Beer has concocted La Fin Du Monde (the end of the world), a brew for an apocalyptic toast at midnight Dec. 21 (as Thursday turns into Friday) at The Map Room, 1949 N. Hoyne, The Long Room, 1612 W. Irving Park, Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark, Four Moon Tavern, 1847 W. Roscoe, Guthries, 1300 W. Addison and Weegee’s Lounge, 3659 W. Armitage. If the world still exists on Dec. 22 the spicy, malty and nutty brew will be on draft while supplies last.
Of course it is best to get a base before heading out for all this doomsday partying. A Mayan meal dinner party would include a main course of Cochinita Pibil, grouper in banana leaf and tamales with a Mayan chocolate cake dessert, according to the new “Flavors of Belize: The Cookook (McNab Publishing).” Belizean cuisine is heavily influenced by the Mayans. And don’t miss the carne enchiladas (three for $13.95 with rice and beans) at the Mayan Palace, 2703 N. Halsted, (773) 935-4200.
The National Museum of Mexican Art’s Tortolero observed, “No group of people have contributed to the food source of the world more than the people of Mexico. Corn is the number one crop in the world, and corn needed the intervention of human beings. We created corn in a sense. Those are the kind of things people should be hearing about the people of Mexico. Not these cuckoo stories.”