Alewives are the stinky fish that used to wash up en masse on Lake Michigan beaches. So it is that we bring you the 17th annual Alewife Awards to commemorate the rankest cultural flotsam and jetsam to hit our shores over the past year.
Memo to vendors: No wine service after the second movement: Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti shot his patented death glare into the Symphony Center audience after a 30-something concertgoer started smacking a 60-something patron in the head as they tussled over a box seat during a March performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 2.
When pop stars review their own concerts: Justin Bieber vomited twice onstage during a Phoenix concert and afterward claimed he had abused a substance: milk. Never one to be outdone, Lady Gaga considered what best goes with milk and tossed her cookies four times on a Barcelona stage a week later.
Plus, it was an "Exorcist" tribute without barfing: We're used to wacky Grammy Awards performances, but our heads are still spinning 360 degrees from Nicki Minaj's exorcism-and-levitation rendition of "Roman Holiday." That was even more over-the-top than Minaj's subsequent feuds with Mariah Carey, Barbara Walters and Steven Tyler.
At least no naked wrestling was involved: The spoof Kazakhstan national anthem from Sacha Baron Cohen's 2006 comedy "Borat" mistakenly was played to honor the Kazakh gold medalist at a shooting competition in Kuwait in March; she stood there with her hand over her heart while the following lyrics came over the speakers: "Kazakhstan's prostitutes cleanest in the region/ Except of course Turkmenistan's."
Working out the kinks: At "Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody," a performer wandered out into the Royal George Theatre audience with a microphone — because when you go and see a show about a racy erotic book, you're just dying to be in the spotlight. You've never seen a crowd sink deeper into its seats …
Ridiculing the Chanel No. 5 ad: Inevitable: "It's not a journey. Every journey ends, but we go on. The world turns, and we turn with it …" Seriously, Brad Pitt, what the hell were you talking about, and why should it make us want to buy a ladies fragrance?
Yes, this is the network formerly known as The Learning Channel: Bad enough that TLC gave us the exploitative "Toddlers & Tiaras," but in August it spun off the bottom-feeding "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," which celebrates, among other things, a flatulent mom giving her now-7-year-old beauty-pageant-contestant daughter "Go Go Juice" made from Red Bull and Mountain Dew.
2 bad 4 U: The excitement over Prince's first Chicago concerts since 2004 fizzled quickly at the first United Center show as the Purple One barely played guitar, took a back seat to his band, loaded his set with covers, prompted the audience to do much of the singing and then left the stage for almost an hour before a two-song encore. Then fans who attended that night's House of Blues after-party had to wait till 3:30 a.m. to hear Prince announce that he wouldn't be playing with his band there after all.
Not so effin' Golden: It was nice of Paramount to tout Barbra Streisand's Golden Globe nomination in ads for "The Guilt Trip" earlier this month, but it would have been even nicer had the Globes actually nominated her performance.
The Neverending Story, part whatever: Is it piling on to ridicule Lifetime's "Liz & Dick" biopic and Lindsay Lohan's woeful Elizabeth Taylor impersonation in it as well as her lackluster "Saturday Night Live" hosting turn in March and her November arrest for punching a psychic who should've seen it coming and her continued pileup of legal woes and family dysfunction and Charlie Sheen (Charlie Sheen!) helping bail her out of a six-figure tax debt? Thought so.
Soon he'll be paying Lindsay Lohan's taxes: Angus T. Jones, the 19-year-old who makes a reported $300,000 per episode to play half a man, said in a church video: "I'm on 'Two and a Half Men,' and I don't want to be on it. Please stop watching it. Please stop filling your head with filth." Subsequently he fine-tuned his message to say: "I am grateful to, and have the highest regard and respect for, all of the wonderful people on 'Two and a Half Men' with whom I have worked and over the past 10 years who have become an extension of my family."
That Cubs series hasn't worked out so well either: After 2011's poorly received debuts and quick cancellations of locally shot "The Playboy Club" and "Chicago Code," 2012 gave us the ridiculed and quickly canceled Chicago-set "The Mob Doctor," while Starz pulled the plug on "Boss" after two seasons. Couldn't someone have convinced "Nashville" to shoot here?
At least his tweets are shorter than his novels: Bret Easton Ellis, who last wrote a good book … um … wait … still thinking, took to Twitter to trash actual talented people such as the late David Foster Wallace ("the most tedious, overrated, tortured, pretentious writer of my generation") and 61-year-old "Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow ("since she's a very hot woman, she's really overrated"). Funny how that word "overrated" is top-of-mind for him.
When art gets tired: We dug Jessica Stockholder's "Color Jam" installation that added bright, geometrically arranged colors to the drab intersection of Adams and State streets in the Loop, but it's too bad the contractor couldn't come up with a sturdier material to lay over the sidewalk and streets than the foil-backed stuff that began flaking off almost immediately after pedestrians and vehicles began traveling over it.
Who could've seen this coming? The musical duo known as the Civil Wars — aka Joy Williams and John Paul White — canceled all tour dates and split due to "internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition."
I'm mad as hell, and I'm going to be preachy about it: On Aaron Sorkin's HBO series "The Newsroom," men got to say important things about the sober job of reporting the news and cutting through political clutter while the women mostly wandered around flustered, unable to figure out how to send emails from their BlackBerrys. The sanctimony spilled into real life as Sorkin told a Globe and Mail reporter, "Listen here, Internet girl, it wouldn't kill you to watch a film or pick up a newspaper once in a while" — to which she pointed out in her story: "I'm not sure how he's forgotten that I am writing for a newspaper."
Ex-factor: Lauryn Hill's train wreck of a Congress Theatre set in November was yet another grim reminder that this former Fugee has endured too much "miseducation" since her solo debut 14 years ago.
Do ya feel lucky, chair? Winning Oscars in his 60s and 70s and continuing a prolific filmmaking career into his early 80s, Clint Eastwood was the poster boy for aging wisely and gracefully. Then he started arguing with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention.