Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, July 18

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Whose democracy?

All next week, WBEZ will be airing a series of NPR programs under the title Whose Democracy Is It? This series of programs will cover a series of topics related to the political process, from the various voting machines used in elections, to various tapes recorded by US Presidents throughout history, to the daunting task of taking on Chicago's "political machine" to fight for one's cause. The programs will air Monday through Friday mornings at 11:00.

Drunken Writing Night

For those of you who think National Novel Writing Month is more than you can handle, you may find National Drunken Writing Night more up your alley. One drink an hour, one story an hour, until there's only one writer left standing - and it's tonight. So grab some candy and get writing!


Feel like wrapping yourself in tinfoil for a free burrito? If so, get to it and head on over to Chipotle today.

Sun-times Photo Galleries

The Sun-Times has a small section of Photo Galleries of Chicago, featuring both things close to home and other more artsy selections.

Smarty Smart Smart

You think you're so smart, don't you? Where's your Mensa membership card, huh smarty? You figure out all their little puzzles? Huh? Huh? Smarty?


Quizilla asks, "Which Chicago 'El' line are you?"

The fix is in

To help lower the stray and unwanted animal population, the city's Animal Care and Control Commission is tricking out a 30-foot petmobile to provide free spaying and neutering right there in your neighborhood. The van, donated by Chicago Wolves owner Don Levin, will be up and running once volunteer and staffing issues are sorted out. (Trib login: gapers/gapers)

Mesopotamian Artifacts

The Oriental Institute Museum at University of Chicago recently reopened the Edgar and Deborah Jannotta Mesopotamian Gallery after a seven-year renovation. Here are some highlights from the collection.

21 Under 21

Not old enough to get into the bars? Don't have a fake ID? New City has a list of 21 suggestions of things to do when you're under 21.

Another one bites the dust

Little Bucharest, the Romanian restaurant that would pick you up in a Limo for free, is closing. One Chowhound reports: "When we asked why, [owner] Branko replied: 'Yuppies. They don't buy goulash.'"

See shell?

The new band shell at Millennium Park will be named after the Pritzkers, Chicago's wealthiest family, according to the Sun-Times. The Petrillo family, whose name adorns the current band shell, doesn't feel too good about the change, and is warning the city that they might take the matter to court. The Pritzkers, who gave $15 million for the building of the $50 million shell, benefited from being able to have naming rights for donating a big wad of cash, a rule which is also apparently going to give us such lyrically named places in the park as the McCormick-Tribune Ice Rink, Bank One Promenade and BP Bridge.

Free Turkey Dinner

According to Rachael, Cousin's Turkish Fine Dining restaraunt (3038 W. Irving Park Rd.) is offering a free turkey dinner on Thanksgiving day. She's afraid no one will go, but you will. Won't you?

Hoot Night is back

Thomas Dunning's Hoot Night -- many bands, one theme -- returns tonight to Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, after a seven-month absence. The theme: "1969 vs. 1989." $10, 8 p.m.

I [heart] Beer

Are you a beer snob? You may be interested in joining the Chicago Beer Society, founded in 1977. In addition to monthly meetings (there's one next Thursday, 11/6, at Goose Island) the society also has its annual fall blind tasting and dinner coming up November 8 at Rock Bottom Brewery. Check their site or call their hotline for more information: 847-692-BEER.

Solar flares

Having a strange, disrupted day? Blame it on the solar flares that have been bombarding us with a powerful geomagnetic storm since early this morning. [login: gapers/gapers]

Chinatown Ghosts

According to local ghost hunter Richard Crowe, 22nd Place at Wentworth in Chinatown is the most haunted street in the city. The Triple Crown Restaurant has a friendly ghost that helps out in the kitchen from time to time, and watch out for the little Chinese woman who talks to you and then vanishes.

Oh, boy!

IIT's Shlomo Argamon helped write the algorithm behind the Gender Genie, this week's blog meme. Enter a passage of text and the Genie predicts the author's gender. I entered several days of Merge, the Proprietors page and the current installments of Detour, Airbags and Fuel, and the results were unanimous: Gapers Block is a boy!

Latinos in Dallas and Chicago

"Mexican food is different in Dallas," I said over dinner when visiting this weekend. "Come for the real thing, eh?" asked the waiter snarkily. I'm not sure what counts as 'real' ethnic food, but one thing's for sure: Chicago is home to 300,000 more Latinos than Dallas. Next time I want a big glass of horchata, I'm going down to Cermak and Damen to visit my aunt.

Bridge Release Party

Super-kewl lit/music/film magazine Bridge Magazine will be throwing an issue release party this Thursday. The issue is a monster 400+ pages and filled with great material - including the Advanced Artists and Alternos role playing system by Yours Truly. So if you've ever wanted to role-play a 6th level goth poet, come on by and pick up your copy!

Last Green City Market

Tomorrow is the last of this year's Green City Markets, the only completely organic and sustainable farmers market in the city. There's still an abundance of apples, squash, corn, late-season berries, greens, and other produce, as well as cider, crepes, breads, and pastries. In Lincoln Park on Clark just north of North, Wednesday, 7am-1pm.

Chicago By El

The Daily Northwestern, apparently concerned that not enough students were braving the El, put out a 16-page section on the city's train system. Articles range from cajoling to educational -- one includes a brief interview with the "voice of the CTA."

Keep Yer Hands in Da Stands!

...will be chanted throughout Wrigley in 2004. Apparently, these special jackets will be given out to the first 10 rows next season. Gapers' Block — for all your sporting news.

Meningitis vaccination program over.

The city has wrapped up its emergency meningitis vaccination program, after determining that they had pretty much reached their target crowd. Total vaccinations: more than 14,000.

American Diner Museum

A few months ago on Gapers' Block, Brian Sobolak picked his Six Qualities of a Good Diner. For anyone interested in diners, check out the American Diner Museum. Although the physical museum has not yet opened, the website includes a variety of resources including news and events, sponsored diner tours, diner history and culture, and even listings of diners for sale.

Neo's Far Out Costume Contests!

I like totally know you've still got your pegged jeans and plastic bangle bracelets from the '80s and Neo like totally is giving away $250 to the most rockinest '80s/New Wave costume this Thursday. Fer sure!

DC Video Shoot / Halloween Party

Chicago band Dolorous Canter is filming a music video and because one of the main scenes requires a party of sorts, the band has decided to hold a Halloween party. The party will be held this Friday Oct. 31st at a secret location in the city (think large warehouse). There will be good times, some food & beverages and you'll be in the video. Because of the nature of this project, dislosure of location, time and details will be via e-mail. If you're interested, drop a line to naz at absenter dot org.

A farmers market of your own

More than 6,000 New Yorkers subscribe to organic-produce buying clubs, and it's not just the yuppies. In Chicago, one can still subscribe to the 2004 season of Angelic Organics at a discounted rate or look into King's Hill Farm. Related: USDA info on Community Supported Agriculture.

Black Chicago Memories

Timuel Black's upcoming book, "Bridges of Memory: Chicago's First Wave of Great Migration," narrates the history of African-Americans in the city from the 1920s to present. The Sun-Times has an interview and review of Black and the book.

Sound Opinions on TV

Sound Opinions, "the world's only rock'n'roll talk show," airs every Tuesday night at 11pm on WXRT (93.1 FM), but did you know it's now also on TV? Catch hosts Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis (rock critics for the Trib and Sun-Times, respectively) on WTTW Channel 11 Sunday nights at 10:30pm.


Stitch-n-Bitch isn't just the name of a group of knitters who get together once a week. Its now the title of a knitting book written by Debbie Stoller, the co-founder and editorial director of Bust magazine. While Debbie founded the New York knitting group, Brenda Janish (whose knitted catbed pattern appears on page 228) founded the Chicago chapter. There are more than 500 members on the list-serv, the group just celebrated its third anniversary and it's outgrown several coffee shops. (They're together every Tuesday night from 7-9 at the Art Gallery Kafe.) Jennifer Mindel, a Chicago graphic designer and s-n-b member, designed the "Windy City Scarf," which appears on page 159 and seems perfect for the weather headed our way.

Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks was one of the best comedians of his generation, with innate talent and a searing wit. He died in 1994 at age 32, but his influence can still be seen in comedy clubs everywhere. has several of his gigs available in streaming video, including one from Chicago's now-defunct Funny Firm in 1989. The Bootleg Archive has several more shows available for download as mp3s.

Everybody cut Footloose!

Wheaton College is preparing for its very first on-campus dance, ever. The Tribune has the story. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]


Speaking of Halloween, if you haven't figured out what you're going to wear yet, you'd better hurry. To help you pick out the perfect disguise, here's a list of costume shops in Illinois.

Halloween events.

Still looking for something to do on Halloween? This week's Newcity has a nice rundown of events happening next Friday, including stage, live music and club happenings.

Homeless coffee

WomanCraft Inc. and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless are selling coffee-themed cards and organic, Free Trade coffee beans as a holiday fundraiser. Studs Terkel thinks their coffee "tastes better than (a pricey, name-brand brew)!"

Does one carbo load for this?

Chicago's Chowhounds know how they'll be using their extra hour this weekend: eating. Their 13-hour Allnightathon will dirty tablecloths from Hyde Park to Uptown and at many points between. The fun ends with an early-morning stroll through the buffet line that is Maxwell Street Market. Related: 24-hour diners and greasy spoons.

Room 209

Chicago blogger and l33t M3nn0n1t3 Trevor Bechtel's wife teaches second grade at a Chicago public school. The class has just started a blog. I don't know what's more fascinating -- the über-cuteness of kids blogging questions like "Second graders are studing animals. We want to know if you need to eat meat to stay healthy?" or the way A-list bloggers like David Weinberger and Joi Ito put on their "talking to kids" voice when they respond in the comments.

Dollar Smoothies!

For those of the smoothie persuasion, this is big news: from 3-6pm today, Jamba Juice is offering a "free" 16-ounce smoothie for a $1 charitable donation to Children's Memorial Hospital. (Find the one closest to you.)

Asian American Jazz Festival

Hothouse is hosting the Asian American Jazz Festival this Friday and Saturday night. Catch some great performances at a great price -- $18 for each day's line-up ($15 for students over 21).

Cabbies: not all bad

Despite my annoyance with most cab drivers in this city, there are a few "gems" -- the Tribune has a nice little human interest story today [login:gapers/gapers].

6.02214199 × 10^(23)

Happy Avogadro's Day! Amedeo Avogadro theorized that equal volumes of all gases at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules. His law enabled the calculation of the number of molecules in a cubic centimeter of gas: 6.02214199 × 1023, which is known as Avogadro's Number; it also led to the definition of the commonly used mole unit. So why is today Avogadro's Day? It's 10-23. Go kiss a physicist.

Last days of Demon Dogs

It's time to pay final respects at Demon Dogs, for 20 years an institution under the Fullerton El stop. It will close Oct. 31 as part of the CTA's Brown Line expansion.

Kids Films

The Chicago International Children's Film Festival, which opens tomorrow night with a gala featuring Jane Seymour and Maggie Daley, is the only children's film festival recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as an Oscar qualifying festival. Take a look at the schedule.

Elliott Smith RIP

Sadly, they've been dropping like flies lately. While not from Chicago, Elliott Smith is a beloved indie music icon to many a music appreciator in this city, and we're sad to say there won't be anymore music coming from his way.

Bigger, Better Boxes

Now that the Cubs season is over, you have a whole new reason to suspect that traffic will totally suck on Addison Ave: the new Target Greatland is open. What could possibly make this worse? Why the Home Depot coming in down the street. Note to self: avoid Addison Ave at all costs unless riding bicycle.

Alloy Orchestra and Nosferatu

Alloy Orchestra, called "the best in the world at accompanying silent films" by Roger Ebert, is accompanying a screening of the 1922 vampire classic Nosferatu. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street, October 22, 8 p.m.

Steve Scott on NPR

Steve Scott's work isn't just reconfiguring our understanding of technocratic culture and the gray market in water in La Paz - he is quite possibly the cutest hombre ever to grace the halls of the anthropology department at the University of Chicago. And now you can hear him being interviewed on NPR about political turmoil in Bolivia. Good luck Steve - every one in Chicago hopes you are doing well and keeping yourself safe in La Paz.


The illustrations and artwork of 20-year old Matthew Woodson, a SAIC student simply floor me. Reminiscent of much loved here in Chicago and honoured at the AI, artist Raymond Pettibon (you may know him for his covers for seminal punk band Black Flag), you should go through his archive or look at this, this or that.

The Ministry of Housinge

To raise some much-needed cash, Alderman Shirley Coleman (16th) is proposing a $5 universal pet license to cover Chicago's dogs, cats, ferrets, snakes, rabbits, and (presumably) fish called Eric. According to the Sun-Times: "We all know the economic condition of the city. When we talk about layoffs and cutbacks, $5 is not a hardship for cat-lovers. We're just looking at ways to generate revenue. . . . We could generate almost $3 million" from cats alone, Coleman said.

Stanley Fish on Tuition Increases

We all know that college tuitions continue to grow every year. But why, and what should we do about it? The House of Representatives has just written a report on the matter, but academic celebrity and UIC prof Stanley Fish has his doubts.


Only 10 days to go until National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, Nov. 30. Chicago participants will be having a kick-off party at 6 p.m. at the Ten Cat, 3931 N. Ashland.

The thing with feathers

Studs Terkel has a new volume of oral history, "Hope Dies Last." Here's a fantastic Onion interview: "Hope is very personal. What's the alternative to hope? Despair. Well, if you despair, then put your head in the oven. What's the point? Am I sanguine about the future? Hell, no, I'm worried stiff. But I think the American people basically are decent. This I know."

Read Regular for dyslexia

Read Regular is a typeface that helps with visual dyslexia by differentiating reversable characters. Check out some samples in English or Dutch.

What are you going as?

The Sun-Times has an article about what's popular this year for Halloween costumes. I mean come on, Saddam? Soooo last year. Surprisingly, it doesn't mention the one costume that all my friends seem to want to go as this year. All you need is a pair of glasses, a green turtleneck and a Cubs baseball cap. Oh you know who!

311 at Block 37

A tipster has informed us that 311, the raggae/metal/rappish party band, are playing a surprise free after-work live performance at Block 37 (State St. between Washington and Randolph) tonight at 5:30pm sharp. Be there at 5 or even a little earlier if you want to get close.

Falling off the cliff

About 45 percent of young black men in Chicago are out of school and out of work. The New York Times' Bob Herbert writes: "Many of them are leading the kinds of haunted lives that recall the Great Depression."

Potential laureates reading

Michael Anania and Haki Madhubuti, two of five finalists for the vacant position of Illinois Poet Laureate, are reading tonight in the Ballroom of the School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan Ave, 6:30 p.m.

Current Exhibitions

There's plenty of color on the trees, but you should also head indoors to check out some great exhibits. The Art Institute currently features the photography of Lewis Carroll plus a Manet retrospective; Terra is running Debating American Modernism: Stieglitz, Duchamp and the New York Avant-Garde; and U of C's Smart Museum showcases meditative traditions in Japanese Buddhist art.

Two dollars!

The Sun-Times is reporting that CTA president Frank Kruesi is planning two rate hikes in the next two years: a 25-cent increase at the beginning of 2004, and another 25-cent increase in 2005, bringing the ticket price of El and bus rides to a cool $2. If these plans are followed, Chicago would have one of the highest transit rates in the country. Start saving your quarters, kids.

Free Yoga

Hyde Park's newish Three Pillars Wellness Center offers a free community yoga class on Sundays from 1:30 - 2:30 PM. Who knew?

Sleestack Art

This has nothing to do with Chicago but is too cool to pass up: Land of the Lost Art. "Most are with the Sleestaks and crystals and stuff," says artist Adam Furgang. I really want this one. It would go perfectly with my framed picture of Bea Arthur strangling a Velociraptor, done by my other favorite artist and fellow-Sacramentan Brandon Bird.

Early Music in Chicago

Chicago's thriving Early Music scene now has a web presence. Early Music Chicago may not be the most snazzily-laid out site, but it is the only comprehensive site on the web about people in Chicago who make music of the Baroque and Renaissance. With everyone from Bella Voce to the University of Chicago Motet Choir, the site has got the scene covered.

Ooh signage!

Oh you gotta love signs. Chicago signs no less. Presented by Loyola and gleaned from Typographica.

Chicago Wilderness

Cook County has an incredible amount of green space, despite the concrete jungle in the middle of it, and there are thousands of acres of protected lands in the collar counties as well. So it seems, er, natural that Chicagoland would have its own nature conservancy organization -- which has a nicely designed quarterly magazine.

Architecturally Stylish

Ever wonder whether that cool old house on the corner is Arts & Crafts or Craftsman? Or if the skyscraper you work in is Chicago School or more International? The city's Landmarks Style Guide can help.

Meningitis Vaccinations

After an unusual outbreak of bacterial meningitis in the gay community, the City Health Department is offering free meningitis vaccinations for gay and bisexual men on the North Side. (Everyone else can get vaccinated, too, but it'll cost you upwards of $50 a shot. No word on how they'll determine the sexuality of those who show up.) Here's a list of inoculation sites.

Bitch is Back!

The lovely ladies of Bitch Magazine are coming to our town! Enjoy Bitchy readings at Barbara's Bookstore (November 6, 7:30 pm, 1350 N. Wells) and Quimby's (November 8, 8:00 pm, 1854 North Ave.), plus an open house at Women and Children First (November 8, 1-2 pm, 5233 N. Clark). Sponsored by Chicago NOW.

Save the Velodrome

After more than 40 years, the Northbrook Velodrome needs a complete resurfacing. Volunteers and fundraisers have managed to come up with half the cost, but $150,000 is still needed. This outdoor cycling track serves professional racers as well as kids and hobbyists. A golden donor has come forward who is willing to match all donations, so give, give, give!

Tango in Chicago

Chicago has had a small but thriving Argentine Tango community for over a decade, complete with their own newsletter. A bintillion times better than the ballroom-style tango you see in the movies, Argentine is a notoriously difficult but intoxicating dance. All the more reason, then, to take lessons with an anthropologist - in this case Sarah and her partner Misha. They teach over at Dance Connection, where you can learn a thing or two about salsa in chicago there as well.

Chicago Bike Map

You can't go wrong without one. You can't leave home without one... (if you bike that is).

Funeral Mini Golf

It's the season for spooky, which means it's time for funeral parlor mini golf! Ahlgrims Funeral Home in Palatine boasts what is probably the world's most macabre miniature golf course, nine creepy holes meandering through the basement of this active funeral home. Anyone can play, as long as there's no funeral in progress. Call 847/358-7411 for more info.

Hollywood Ending

As if Steve Bartman's troubles weren't enough, now someone wants to make a movie based on his involvement in the Cubs' downfall.

Try to sit, he’ll tax your seat

Mayor Daley's budget proposal makes drivers of large SUVs pay $15 more for their city stickers. Parking fines would also go up, and a .25 percent restaurant tax would add a nickel to a $20 tab. Read the official overview. Related: area bike shops and cooking classes. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Sisyphus and Tantalus

Sisyphus has been a figure who has never ceased to fascinate us. As an image of resignation to inevitable failure, he has served as a metaphor for everything from the Greek underworld to the philosophy of French Existentialism. Tantalus' fate is no less evocative - who among us hasn't been tantalized before? As particular as our own individual torments seem, we can take comfort in the fact that dissapointment and recovering from it are something we all experience.


GoogObits are Google-enhanced obituaries, written by local poet Daniel X. O'Neil.

Science Fiction Double Feature

The musical stage version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show debuts tonight at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, with none other than Mancow Muller, Q101's morning shock jock, as The Narrator. If that wasn't strange enough, Jerry Springer replaces him on November 20. The show runs through the end of November. It's hinted that other guest stars, local celebrities and surprise guests will pop up during the run.

The Tomato Lady Talks

The Tomato Lady, a local expert and cultivator of 75 heirloom tomatoes in her small backyard, is giving a talk Saturday morning. At the Culinary Historians of Chicago meeting, Aggie Nehmzow will discuss organic farming of heirloom varieties of produce, biodiversity, community gardens, and teaching children about the importance of organic gardening. Saturday, October 18, 10-noon, at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark St. $10 for the public, $5 for students, free for Culinary Historians. To reserve a spot in the lecture, email rsvpchc[at]

Field Museum to Return Human Remains

The remains of 150 Haida Nation members from the Queen Charlotte Islands in northern British Columbia will be returned to their ancestral home this week for re-burial. The Field Museum is returning the remains to a delegation of Haida as part of a voluntary repatriation effort. A ceremony is being held this Friday, October 17 at the museum from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. to mark the event. Read more about it at the museum website and in a report from CBC British Columbia.

Camera Clubs

Chicagoland is very photogenic. For those photographers who want to meet with other shutterbugs, there's the Chicago Area Camera Clubs Association, ready to connect you to your local photog clique.

The Foul Ball

"Moises Alou expected to catch it. One Cubs fan in the first row near Aisle 4 got his hand on it. After that, every Cubs fan wanted to get his hands on him." For the 2 people who didn't watch the game last night (whether you're a fan or not), here's a short look at the scandal of the fan and the foul ball in the Daily Herald.

Through rain, snow, sleet and hail

Not even a Chicago winter should be an excuse to stop commuting by bicycle. The good people at Bike Winter know all the ways to keep you warm, clean and safe on two wheels while everyone else is shivering on the El platform. Nov. 1 at 1 there will be an educational expo in the field house at Daley Bicentennial Plaza, 337 E. Randolph Drive.

Chicago Graffiti

Our very own Jes Davis, has a stellar photo section of graffiti from around the world that's worth exploring in-depth, including 11 pages of Chicago's stylings.

Original Sewing & Quilt Expo

The Original Sewing & Quilt Expo is coming to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL this weekend, October 16-18. Daily general admission is $10 at the door for access to the exhibit hall. Or, register for any one of the over 100 different classes and workshops in sewing, embroidery and quilt making being offered. View the full schedule at the website.

Chicago Rope & Mummification club

Everyone has their kinks. The members of CRAM are into being tied up or wrapped up like a mummy. Their site, while definitely not safe for work, is filled with useful information about this fetish -- and you might find some useful knot-tying techniques, too. (Part of the BDSM Chicago supersite.)

Backgammon, Anyone?

Chicago Point is your "prime source for backgammon information," as well as backgammon fiction, art, computer wallpaper with pretty girls (and dice) on it...


Never heard of Northwest Chicagoland Regional Airport? It's out in Rockford, and it's hoping to beat Peotone to become the area's third major airport. It has a head start: it's already built, for one, and TransMeridian Airlines already flies to Orlando and Las Vegas from there. Another big bonus: free parking.

60 minutes of history.

The Neo-Futurists theater company is starting its 2003-04 season Thursday night at 8:00, with the premiere of the new play A 60-Minute History of Humankind. The show will tackle the entire history of the world, and feature practically everything the Neo-Futurists are known for: straightforward acting, abstract performance pieces, singing and dancing, and a snazzy multifunctional stage set. Plus pennies. Lots and lots of pennies. See the Neo-Futurist Website for details, or call up their hotline: (773) 878-4557.

Billy Corgan lost his keys

Comedian Stephen Lynch does a similar thing to Weird Al/Adam Sandler on SNL by using songs and a guitar for his comedic routine. And in the funniest thing I've heard all morning, Lynch sings the tale of "What If That Guy From Smashing Pumpkins Lost His Car Keys?". [Hat tip to ex-Chicago brethren Jason]

Calling all Chicago Bloggers

This week is the third Wednesday of the month which means it must be International Blog Meetup Day! Come meet some of your fellow bloggers this month at Southport Lanes located at 3325 N. Southport, Chicago, IL 60657 starting at 7pm. Let us know you're coming via RSVP at Hope to see you there.

Fast Forward Film Festival

There's still time to register at Atomix for the next Fast Forward Film Festival. Participating teams are assigned a topic for a 3-minute video on Friday night, with the completed result to be screened on Saturday at 8pm. I participated in the last festival, and it was a blast. A hectic whirlwind, but a great time. Even if you don't sign up, it's fun to view the final results, see how well people dealt with time constraints. DVDs with a "best of" compilation from the previous 9 contests will be for sale afterwards. Open End Gallery, Saturday October 18, 8pm, 2000 W Fulton, $5, BYOB.

Humanities Festival on the Horizon

Mark your calendars, The Chicago Humanities Festival is rapidly approaching - it's the last week of this month. While only a few events will be SRO, it always pays to get tickets before hand for the super-popular events.

Apron designer

Think you could design an interesting and original apron? If so then you should send an email to Jenny from PISTIL magazine. They're looking for national and Chicago creative types who can take the idea of an apron and turn it into something that deserves to be published in their "Domestic" issue. So take a peek at the website, buy the zine in your local bookstore, and send an email to Jenny if you're interested in participating.

Free flower bulbs

Do you participate in a community garden? Would you like free flower bulbs to plant? Then print out this application and fax it to 312-746-9778 before October 16. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinth and crocus bulbs are donated by Greencorps Chicago.

Bands Against Bush

The Chicago chapter of Bands Against Bush presents the "THIRD PARTY" party as part of today's International Day of Action. Performers include DJ Brock, Tobias, and DJ Transid. 1538 W. Chicago Ave., 10pm-2am, $7 suggested donation. You must RSVP through

Uh Oh

Miller Brewing Company has recalled a batch of twelve oz. cans of Sharps non-alcoholic beer sold in Illinois. Due to "a filling error," the cans may contain real, fully alcoholic beer. All you under-21ers out there: Run, run to your nearest convenience store before this supposed "error" is corrected!

Oh, bugger.

An Asian longhorn beetle was found on the North Side yesterday. It was outside the established quarantine zone. Hopefully this was an isolated incident. Hopefully.

The Closing of a Restaurant

Sadly we report the demise of The Making of a Restaurant, a weblog by Sandor Weisz and Luke Seemann. On a happier note, we'd like to officially welcome Luke to the staff here at Gapers' Block! (Not that we had anything to do with them shutting down MoaR.)

Ryan Loses Nobel Prize

Despite taking a strong stance against the death penalty, and even being nominated for the nobel prize, George Ryan did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. Instead they gave it to Shiran Ebadi for reconciling Muslim theology with a liberal theory of human rights, particularly for women. Hmm... what sorts of geopolitical events would get the Nobel committee thinking about the world-historical importance of reformed Islam, I wonder...?

Blaze Destroys Historic Park Facility

A five-alarm fire near Garfield Park yesterday destroyed one of the few Jenny buildings left in the city. Designed by turn-of-the-century architect William LaBaron Jenny, there were plans to transform the building into something special. The blaze appeared to start in the repair area of the building and is believed to be accidental in nature. "It was the one building in the park district that was a Jenny building. It was beautiful. It used to be a stable building and we were going to turn it into this wonderful education center and we had big plans for it", Schwerner said, of the Park District.

Artistic Haunted House

The North Lakeside Cultural Center, 6219 N. Sheridan at Granville, is hosting the "Lakeside Mansion of Doom: Hell's Gallery," a haunted house designed by local artists. It's open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting tonight, and becomes daily from the 24th through the 31st.

4 Highly Effective Habits:

The Christian Science Monitor comments on the mojo behind the Cubs. And those other teams are mentioned too.

Blogs: flush with talent?

The Chicago Tribune has an article concerning possible talent being picked for "real" jobs from weblogs as was the case with former Gawker editor, Elizabeth Spiers. [Trib login: gapers/gapers].

WiFi Evil

The Oak Park Elementary School District is being sued by a group of parents who claim the wireless computer network in the schools could harm their children. (Wonder how many of those parents gave up their cancer-causing cell phones.)

A breath of fresh air!

Tenatative agreement reached in Chicago garbage strike! The populace cheers!

Said Memorial Concert

Literary critic and Palestinian political activist Edward Said died recently to the dismay of scholars and activists world wide. Israeli Daniel Barenboim, grand maestro of the CSO was a close friend of Said and they worked together to examine how art could overcome the Palestinian-Israeli divide. This weekend Barenboim will lead an orchestra of Arab and Palestinian musicians in a free concert in honor of Said in Hyde Park. This unique event will be musically and emotionally extraordinary. Definitely my pick of the month.

Fall Colors

This weekend would be a good one to travel to Wisconsin or Michigan to see the fall color change -- the trees in Wisconsin are reportedly at their peak color right now, and in Michigan it's just getting started.

flesh-free feasting

Looking to strap on a meatless feedbag, but don't want to go to Chicago Diner again? Go Veggie has a list of nineteen all-vegetarian joints around the city and suburbs. Crunchy! Update: VegChicago just launched, offering not just a list of restaurants but vegetarian/vegan friendly groceries and catering companies, too.

Cubs fever: pray for it!

Ever ready to tackle the hard-hitting issues of the day, the Chicago Tribune presents another scorching exposé: Is it OK to pray for the Cubs? [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Ladybugs Attack!

As noted in Fuel today, Chicago was invaded by Asian ladybugs yesterday. According to a spokesperson at the Field Museum interviewed for this story, "the reclusive bugs get restless as the days grow shorter, and a sudden onset of warm weather can set them to swarming. Cued by a hormone that prompts them to gather together, the insects assemble in huge numbers for some pre-hibernation socialization."

Chicago House

The Second City has been the home of many a musical movement over the years, from blues to jazz to Chicago House. Many credit the Chicago House sound as the beginning of the modern electronic dance. Learn a bit about the history of the Chicago House here and here. You might also tune your radio or computer to WIIT, the Illinois Institute of Technology's student radio station, which programs probably more electronic music than any other station in the city.

I Was Born, But...

Roger Ebert has posted his personal pick for the screening to see in this year's Chicago International Film Festival: tonight's showing of the 1932 silent film I Was Born, But... Considered one of the best films of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, it will be accompanied by a benshi, which is a person giving a running translation/commentary during the film. Those of you who like your cinematic experiences unique might wish to check it out. Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport), 6:30PM.

Get your peach panties on!

Just when you thought politics couldn't get any weirder, Mel Reynolds wants to run for Congress again. Reynolds did a stretch in the big house after having sex with an underage campaign worker and misusing campaign funds. Trib login: gapers/gapers


Awww, looks like the Northside Boys in the Sleepy Bear Pyjamas dropped Game One of the NLCS to the Florida Marlins, 9-8 in 11 Innings. Game Two is scheduled for Wednesday, when ace Mark Prior will pitch against the The Fish.

Guv Rod and the Rx

Good Ol' Rod Blagojevich in keeping with Illinois tradition of vanguardism (as with Fmr. Gov. Ryan's death-sentence moratorium), has led the charge for cheaper prescription drugs by sending a "fact-finding" mission to Canada. The FDA, as expected, is not too happy.

Hop On Top Cop

Over protest from Rainbow-PUSH, Mayor Daley appointed Phil Cline, the current acting superintendent of Police, as the new superintendent. Cline has a great on-job performance record and is well-liked among CPD rank-and-file. He appointed the Commander of the notorious Harrison District Dana Starks, an African-American, as First Deputy.


As birds begin to migrate south, now is a great time to keep your eye out for unusual species passing through Chicagoland. The Chicago Ornithological Society is a good resource for bird-watching in the area.

Wait till...

Next Year is the increasingly less-aptly named portfolio of Christopher Schneberger, a photographer who documented the Cubs' 1998 season (the last time they made it to the play-offs).

More Nobels for Illinois scientists!

The Nobel Prize in Physics went to three scientists who separately developed theories on the behavior of supercooled materials were jointly awarded the Nobel in physics. One of the scientists works at Argonne National Laboratory, and another is on the faculty of UIUC.

Running promotion

Hyatt is offering free hotel stays to the first 1000 people who start and finish the Chicago Marathon. What's the catch? You have to wear a tie from start to finish and register with them after you cross the finish line. But, they don't say where you have to wear the tie.

Eat and Surf

Chicago Magazine's Morsels column tells us that just-opened Darwin, the new restaurant from the owners of Orange, will be serving up a free WiFi connection along with its upscale burgers and beer. Darwin's at 1935 N. Damen Ave.

Bar Garage Sale

Stuff from several local bars will be on sale this coming weekend at a bar garage sale. Expect to find chairs, computers and cables, neon signs, bar stools, props, tables, glassware, lighting, bric-a-brac, and sound equipment. Located in the alley behind Get Me High Lounge, the sale is on Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12, at 11am. 1758 N. Honore.

Socially Single

Hey, are you single and interested in changing that without paying tons of money to some dating service? Are you under 30 and trying to find time in your schedule to do some volunteer work? Well, you can meet up, help out, and maybe hook up if you attend an event sponsored by Social and Service Chicago, which is Chicago's only singles volunteer organization. Good luck!

Mr. President, welcome to the Dollhouse


Genius in Chicago

While some of us are out atoning those wacky folks at the Macarthur Foundation are handing out genius grants. This year one goes to Northwestern prof Amy Rosenzweig for her contributions to biochemistry. Go Amy!

Greatest Living American Blog Satirist

Former Reader and McSweeney's writer Neal Pollack returns to town to promote his latest book, "Never Mind the Pollacks." Thursday, Oct. 16, there will be a free reading at Quimby's (1854 W. North) at 7:30, followed by a 9:30 show at the Subterranean (2011 W. North) with his band, The Neal Pollack Invasion ($8). Friday at 12:30 he'll read at Borders (150 N. State), then at 9 open for comedy troupe Schadenfreude at the Athenaeum (2936 N. Southport; $20).

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy cow!

And if we're the first to tell you, you don't care anyway.

CTA to riders: Take a hike

The next bum to ask you for a quarter on the El may well be CTA President Frank Kruesi. This week he'll propose raising the regular fare from $1.50 to $1.75 to help deal with a massive deficit. Other changes and increases are in the works, too, including encouraging more off-peak travel, but the monthly passes will remain $75. He also promises no service cuts. It's the first increase since 1991 -- first person to name something whose price hasn't gone up in 12 years wins a prize -- and it's still cheaper than New York ($2), though not Boston ($1) or L.A. ($1.35). [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

What's Elvish for "sore butt"?

AMC River East 21 is the only Chicago theater screening the extended editions of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Dec. 5-11 will be "The Fellowship of the Ring." Dec. 12-15 will be "The Two Towers." On Dec. 16, the entire trilogy will be shown in a movie marathon, one day ahead of the national release of "The Return of the King." Tickets go on sale this Thursday.

Pug Crawl

Yes, you read that right: a pug crawl. This Saturday from 1-5pm the streets of Lincoln Park will be mobbed by 250-300 pugs, tongues hanging everywhichway. The action starts at The New City YMCA, 1515 N. Halsted and makes its way north. All people welcome, but only pugs (no, not even weiner dogs) can join the crawl.

Do You Smell Chocolate?

If you're in the River North area and you catch a whiff of chocolate in the air, it's not your imagination - it's Blommer's Chocolate Co. on Kinzie Street. The Columbia Chronicle profiles the company that has been sweetening the air in Chicago since 1939.

Chicago International Film Festival.

The 39th annual Chicago International Film Festival is under way. Two weeks of films from all over the world, showing at the Music Box Theatre and Landmark's Century Centre. Check the CIFF site for a complete schedule. If you're wondering what to check out, check out these best-of articles by Metromix, Newcity's film critic Ray Pride, and this essay by the Reader's Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Local Calls

If you have SBC phone service but don't subscribe to their "saver pack," any call you make outside a 15-mile radius of your house will incur extra charges. This could add up quickly if you're using a dial-up Internet connection outside that range. Joe Chellman did some digging and found SBC's Local Call Tool, which gives you a list of prefixes within your range.

Fray Day 7

Fray Day is upon us, and this year there's an event happening in Chicago. Head down to the Noble Fool at Randolph and State this Sunday at 7pm for some storytelling action.

Pondering the Shaw Brothers

Oh. My. God. UIUC is having a two day conference on the Shaw brothers. How unbelievably cool is that? Sir Run Run and his brother are the people who are responsible for producing the 800 million 'bad martial arts films' that you watched on the Sunday Afternoon Cinema growing up. The Shaw brothers revolutioned Asian cinema, played a vital part in forming the Hong Kong cinema scene, and began the revolution that put Wu Shu on screen that eventually led to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, or Let Li (not to mention the Wu Tang Clan). 'Bout time they got some academic attention.

Author wins Nobel Prize ... in Chicago.

Congratulations to South African writer J.M. Coetzee, who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Mr. Coetzee is currently teaching at the University of Chicago, also home to a series of Nobel-winning economists. The moral here: if you want a shot at a Nobel, try teaching at the U of C. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Thank you, again

Thanks to 37 Signals for their donation and support. Remember, you too can help Support the Block.

Stank in the Streets

3,300 garbage collectors in Teamsters Locals 301 and 731 walked off the job yesterday when contract negotiations broke down. What's that mean for you? If you live in a single-family home or a building with fewer than four units, your trash will still be collected. However, if you live in the suburbs or in a larger building, limit your consumption. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Duck fat fries get a Gourmet nod

Hot Doug's is the only Chicago restaurant to get a nod in Gourmet magazine's article, Restaurants We Love. The blurb, which you have scroll down to read, focuses mainly on Doug's Friday- and Saturday-only duck fat fries.

Rem Koolhaas opening at IIT

IIT, known for its architecture by Ludwig Meis Van Der Rohe, is having a grand opening this Saturday for a new student center designed by Rem Koolhaas. Check out some of the pictures. There will also be a lecture at 2pm, free for IIT students, $10 for the public, with live streaming.

UniverSOUL Circus!

The UniverSOUL circus is in town! Billing themselves as "the best in urban family entertainment", the country's only black-owned and operated circus features Chinese acrobats, Siberian white tigers and Colombian motorcycle daredevils. Check it out through Oct. 19 at Washington Park, 5531 S. King Dr. ($10) (Note: PETA has a few things to say about UniverSoul's treatment of their circus animals.)

Working Bikes

If you're in the market for a bicycle, the Working Bikes cooperative on Western is a wicked-cool place to get one. They salvage bikes, fix 'em up and sell 'em cheap. Everything is volunteer-run, and the proceeds go towards paying to ship loads of bikes as humanitarian aid to Ghana, Nicaragua, and other needy countries. Check it out.

Domestic partnership registry.

The Sun-Times is reporting that the Cook County Clerk's Office is now issuing certificates of domestic partnership for same-sex couples. Though the certificates are largely symbolic and confer no real benefits, many couples have apparently expressed interest in signing up (possibly in the hopes that, someday, there will be real benefits).

Students Hypnotized, Then Assaulted

Police in Evanston are investigating a bizarre series of incidents in which several Northwestern University students reported they were hypnotized, then sexually assaulted in the University Library. Read the story in the Daily Northwestern.

Howard Street: Yesterday and Today

The Daily Northwestern takes a look at the past, present and future of Howard Street, and the El stop that bears the same name. While some see the improvements to the area as a sign for safer streets, others feel too many local residents will no longer afford to live in this area. Did you know this is the busiest CTA hub in the city?

Spit away

Just so you know, spitting in the city of Chicago is legal. Despite the repeal of a ban on spitting in 1997, 211 tickets have been issued since December 2000 for spitting in a public way, ranging from $1 to $5. The family of a recent spitting victim is considering suing for an alleged civil rights violation. Even so, spitting on the CTA is still prohibited.

Hip Hop and Social Change

So check it out - the Field Museum is holding a two day conference on Hip-Hop and Social Change with a key note by Mos Def and Talib Kewli no less. It looks like the conference will feature rappers, activists, and academics and will cost no more than US$100 to attend the entire thing. Too rich for my blood - but it is always heartening when conferences like this come along that cross the academic/popular culture boundary and then commence to rawk out.

Chicago Artists Month

October is Chicago Artists Month, and all across the city studios, galleries and other art-related things are holding events and open houses. More information is available on the mayor's Department of Cultural Affairs site, and Chicago Gallery News has a schedule and map of events.

Merriam Webster

You'd think Merriam-Webster, the maker of dictionaries, would be stodgy and uncool? Wrong! Much like Spinal Tap, they go to 11.

Ferris Bueller's Time Off

A Mr. JL Moss wrote a humorous essay concerning why quintessential teen film Ferris Bueller's Day Off has serious timeline problems. The film shot in Chicago by Brat Pack director John Hughes (stop all the Home Alone's and Beethoven's for the love of all that is good!) is of course a classic Chicago institution. I wonder if someone could live the movie for a day... [via Kottke]

Garbage Workers Declare Strike

Teamsters announced early today that they intend to strike. Nearly every home, business, and institution in the Chicago area using a private service is affected by the Teamsters contract. Also, commercial and multi-unit residential customers in the city are affected. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]



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