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.
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Thursday, October 29

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Wisconsin Water Flap

For years, the state of Wisconsin--and more specifically, the city of Milwaukee--have complained about our fair city's monopoly on delicious delicious lake water. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has the latest diatribe against our hording of dihydrogen monoxide. As it turns out, the Supreme Court decided only we're special enough to lap up that clear gold, and the State of Illinois has been vehement in demands to keep other cities and states away from lake water.

Lincoln never said that!

Apparently, quoting Abraham Lincoln is a popular pastime. So popular, in fact, that the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency put together a page of quotations attributed to Lincoln, letting you know whether he actually said such things as "To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men" (he didn't). Also available: examples of facsimiles of Lincoln documents, so you can compare them to the copy of the Gettysbug Address that you've got lying in your junk drawer, to see if it's real or not.

Sort through Chicago's dizzying array of independent theater offerings at, sponsored by the League of Chicago Theaters. See all the openings and closings around town (as well as "what's playing tonight"), plus prices, locations, showtimes, and plot synopses. The site also sells Play Money gift certificates good at more than 75 local theaters and half-price tickets for 125 venues.

OHare and the Little Guy

O'Hare Expansion will no doubt be of long-term benefit to Chicago and the "airport suburbs." For now, however, a lot of the little people are feeling the squeeze. The City should seek to be more fair in its land-purchasing and demolition activities, compensating businesses for lost capital and relocation.


The weather outside is frightful, so its time to make that eyesore at Block 37 more delightful. Luckily the German-American Chamber of Commerce and the Goethe-Institut Chicago--celebrating its 25th Anniversary!--will be setting up the beloved and quite German Christkindlmarkt! The sweet strains of Christmas music and off-putting smell of lightly-grilled pork products can't be missed--and every time you're there, don't forget to stop by "Sweet Swabian" and pick up a package of those delicious cinnamon-and-honey dipped nuts.

Willy Wonka windows

Now that Thanksgiving's over, it's time to start thinking about December holiday shopping. And a grand tradition of December in the city is the annual holiday window displays at the huge Marshall Field's store at 111 State Street. This year's theme: Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Eleven windows along the State Street side of the store have been decorated with scenes from the book in the style of the book's illustrator, Quentin Blake. The windows will stay up through January 4, so you have quite some time to see them.

Assyrians of Chicago

...And you thought we were just on public access. The Assyrians are one of the oldest immigrant groups in Chicago, settling here in mass numbers beginning in the 20s. provides this report on Assyrians in Chicago. Although there are no definitive demographic reports, the most reliable estimate is roughly 60,000 Assyrians currently live in Chicago (generally in West Rogers Park), with an additional 25,000 or so in the north/northwest suburbs. You may have seen our beautiful church at 7201 North Ashland, and our smaller yet still lovely Church at 1421 W. Lawrence. We enjoy tomato-based stews and more discerning bigots.

Happy Turkey Day

Folks, hope you're having a good Turkey Day. Content in Merge will be a bit sparse over the next few days as everyone should be with family and friends. However, there is a new Ask the Librarian today, Airbags continues as usual, there will be a new Detour and some of the GB staff will still be posting for your enjoyment. Cheers!

...and they came out smelling like a rose

One good thing that came out of the recent garbage strike: a family who accidentally threw out a $10.5 million lottery ticket was able to retrieve it from the garbage still waiting pickup.

Working Studs

Chicago author and historian Studs Terkel is getting some good press on the heels of his new book, Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times. He's the subject of an interview at (Salon registration required, or you can get a free day pass for the article), and Hope Dies Last is reviewed favorably in this week's AV Club section in the Onion. If you haven't picked up your copy yet, you might want to stop by the Barnes & Noble at 1441 W. Webster on Sunday, November 30; Studs will be doing a discussion and booksigning at 3:00.

Chicago's Largest Employers

Interesting list - who are the largest employers in the metro region? Jewel unsurprisingly tops the list as the largest private employer. UIC tops out as the biggest academic employer, narrowly beating U of C; and while Target has a large number of employees, Wal-Mart doesn't make the list. The rest reads as pretty much a "who's who" of large corporations in Chicago.

The Octopus Prank

They have a lot of fun down there in Peoria. No really. See, this guy's girlfriend bought a boiled octopus from the local Chinese buffet and slipped it into his toilet. Hilarity ensued!

New productions

A note about couple of interesting theatre performances are going on right now: Are you my negative space? and The Girl in the Flammable Skirt.

Are you my negative space? is a show about comics, war, and love. The live action cartoonists ensemble founded by Northwestern alumni combines performance, onstage drawing, music, and interactive video Athenaeum Theatre, third-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500. Opens Friday, November 21, 8 PM. Through December 13: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 4 PM; no show Thursday, November 27. $15.

Palio Productions is having a cheap (or free) ticket special on Friday night's performance of their new show The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. If you tell them you celebrated Buy Nothing Day (and buy nothing on Friday), they'll let you in for free. Side Studio Theater, 1520 W. Jarvis, 8 pm, reservations at 773.972.0492.

F*cking Traffic!

Know before you go. Road ragers should check the traffic report before heading out for this extended T-Day weekend. Get updates at from UIC,, or the Trib.

Hitch a Ride

Need to get to grandma's house but your roommate backed out of loaning you the car? Check out the rideshare board on Craig's List for a last-minute hitch.

Benedicts au Poivre

Ever get the urge to find the best Eggs Benedict in your hometown? You could eat your way across your city, sampling and taking notes, or you could just click and read someone else's well-designed brunch notes comparing each element of the dish, including the garnish, complete with beautiful photos. And if you've digested your hunk'o'hollandaise'n'egg you just might be interested in finding out where you can get great steak au poivre for dinner. Yeah, SGR (like sugar without the vowels) tells us where to go in Chicago.

GB on 'BEZ

Hey, listen in to WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight program Wednesday morning at 9:35 for an interview with Gapers' Block editor-in-chief Andrew Huff discussing the site and weblogs in general as part of the show's series on the state of Chciago's media scene. 91.5 on your FM dial or on the web (RAM). is a "collaborative event calendar" -- in other words, you enter concerts or other events into its database, and other members can let you know they're coming, too. In theory, as the system learns more about your interests, it will recommend events to you. Chicago's listing is pretty thin right now, but you're going to help change that, right?

It's a wonderful movie

My soft spots for Frank Capra and for group singing intersect each year with the Music Box's Christmas double feature and sing-a-long, Dec. 19-24. Tickets are on sale now. Per tradition, the movies are "White Christmas" and "It's a Wonderful Life," and each showing is preceding by a round of Christmas carols, led by Santa Claus himself. Related: This will be the last Christmas for Music Box managers Chris Carlo and Robert Chane, who after 20 years have handed the reins to their landlord, who promises to maintain the theater's format and physical layout.

North Ave. Bridge Construction

Watch out! Next spring, the long-awaited construction begins to constrct a new, wider bridge over the Chicago River at North Ave. Don't fret, a temporary bridge will be built across the Chicago River to allow North Ave. to remain open to traffic traveling in both directions. The reconstruction of the bridge is the first in a series of steps planned by the city to help alleviate the chronic traffic congestion that continues to plague the North and Clybourn intersection. In addition to the reconstruction of the bridge, the city will install a new stop light at the intersection of North Avenue and Kingsbury Street.

Drivers, Check Your Parking Spot...

...for snow removal signs. The winter snow removal schedule begins Monday, December 1, which means those of us who park overnight on major streets (Clark, for instance) may wake up to find our car missing. The result is a minimum $200 fine and a trip to obscure corners of the city to pick up our vehicles. And no, it doesn't have to snow for the rule to be in effect. [Trib log-in: gapers/gapers]

Lead Contamination in Urban Plants

A new study by Northwestern University researchers shows that edible plants grown in urban gardens could contain potentially hazardous amounts of lead. Chicago has one of the highest rates of lead poisoning in the United States, an extremely persistent health problem that particularly plagues urban areas. While the majority of the lead was concentrated in the roots, some lead was detected in shoots, which is often the portion of the plant that people eat. Much of the soil's lead contamination comes from deteriorated paint, past use of lead-containing gasoline and industrial air pollution.

Browse Menus has a healthy number of Chicago-area restaurant menus scanned in and posted online. If your favorite restaurant isn't represented, there's an option to mail in a menu for inclusion in the collection.

Give a little you

If you find yourself with some time on your hands this holiday season (or whenever), volunteer with Chicago Cares. The group organizes more than 100 volunteer events every month in a variety of issue areas from education to hunger to technology. Volunteer events are structured to work with the average person's schedule, so almost everything is scheduled after 5 on weekdays or during the day on weekends. And you can sign up for single events or ongoing projects. Combat the winter chill by doing something that'll make you all warm inside!

Sports Wrap-up

After a dismal 4-10 start, the Bulls fired head coach Bill Cartwright today. Since Cartwright took over for Tim Floyd in 2001, the Bull's record is 51-100 -- and you thought the Bears were bad. (They won this weekend, by the way.)

In other news, the Fire lost the MLS championship to the San Jose Earthquakes 4-2.

Deadbeats and Sex Offenders

The Illinois Department of Child Support Enforcement has created a new website featuring photos and information about the state's worst deadbeat parents. And, while you're checking into nefarious characters, you may also be interested in the rapists and child molesters in your neighborhood, searchable by city or ZIP code. The Cook County Sheriff's Department has its own list.

Santa train is coming to town

This upcoming holiday weekend marks the return of the CTA Holiday Train, which is a regular El train festooned with festive holiday decoration, and includes Santa and his reindeer on an open-air flatcar. The train starts riding 'round the Loop the day after Thanksgiving, and then moves to different train lines through the next month; check the CTA Website to see what days you can expect a little extra holiday spirit during your daily commute.

New strips in the Trib

Hey, if you're checking in on Sunday, don't forget to pick up a copy of the Sunday Tribune; "Opus," the new Sunday-only strip by Berkeley Breathed, legendary creator of the much-missed "Bloom County" comic, starts today. The comic won't be on the Web anywhere, which means you're going to have to shell out the money for the paper to see it. Less heralded but also starting today is Darrin Bell's "Candorville." [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Increased security lanes at Midway

If you're flying through Midway as part of your Thanksgiving plans this week, here's some good news: there will be additional security lanes open in anticipation of a busy holiday travel weekend. The city estimates there will be 52,000 travelers a day coming through Midway over the holiday, which is pretty good but still doesn't match O'Hare, with an estimated 215,000 travelers per day.

Big Chicks in Trouble

Big Chicks, a gay friendly bar at 5024 N. Sheridan, is close to getting shut down on Tuesday by the city. They lost their patio liquor license last summer and have been fighting since then to get it back, as well as a liquor license for tweet next door (which is an awesome weekend-only organic brunch place). Michelle Fire, owner of Big Chicks for the past 18 years, has had her requests turned down by the city even though she had approval from neighbors, aldermen, state senators and representatives, and city committee members.
Big Chicks' next-door neighbor is a laundromat, which was recently purchased by a developer with plans to turn the location into a high-rise. Fire is hoping to get the order to close released, and to increase her chances she's asking for her supporters to join her at the hearing which is scheduled Tuesday morning at 9:30 am with the License Commission at the Daley Center (66 W. Washington, Room CL 95). If you want to show support but are unable to make the hearing, she'd love to have you address a letter as follows:
Winston Mardis
Mayor's License and Liquor Control Commission
66 W. Washington St. Room CL-95
Chicago, IL 60602
and fax it to Greg Harris at 312/744-0804 before 4 pm on Monday, Nov. 24. Alderman Mary Ann Smith will enter your letters into the record during her testimony. added 11/23 to add: You can also sign an online petition.

10 things for this weekend

Crain's Chicago Business posts their list of 10 things to do this weekend. Not quite so "underground" or "hip" but for a change of pace, interesting.


If you thought the DIY Trunk Show was cool, then you'll love the DEPART-ment concept. It will be a large space set up four times a year to provide local crafters and artists the opportunity to sell their items in an open-source "department store." They're still looking for vendors and they'll definitely be looking for shoppers. The first show will take place December 5-7 at 200 W. Fulton #310.

This Song Is Ribbiting

Want to hear some mp3s by some locals? Listen to the frogs. No, not The Frogs, these are real amphibians: the Chicagoland Calling Frogs.

Exploring Chicago, differently

In our latest Fuel, Tony points us out to Letterboxing, a site that guides those who wish to explore Illinois off the beaten path in search of hidden letterboxes. On a similar note, if you have a handheld GPS unit, you may want to do the same thing in search for hidden caches of goodies in an activity called Geocaching. People are hiding caches all the time.

P45: Clothes, Not a Gun

For the ladies, P45 is a homegrown designer label with a store in Wicker Park. Featured in Wallpaper, Lucky and In Style, P45 is definitely a boutique and they have some interesting fashions, clean cuts and offer something different than your Gap-dominated clothing. Though not quite affordable (comparable to some of the big names), it's nice to see Chicago represent. I am intrigued by this particular get-up. A few bondage-inspired pieces never hurt anyone.

Chicago: The Friendly Place to Work

A recent survey comparing office workers in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., found that "respondents in all three cities rate Chicago office workers as most friendly." Chicago tied with NYC as the most hardworking town and an unbelievable six out of ten Chicagoans claimed "they would rather have practical office furniture than a day off." Read the rest of the results here.

Talkin' Turkey

Thanksgiving is a week away, and vegan meals aside, most people will be roasting a turkey on that special day. (What? Ham? Unamerican.) But if you run into trouble with that gigantic bird, to whom can you turn? Butterball staffs a Turkey Talk-line every day from 8am to 6 or 8pm now through the day after Christmas -- a room full of home economists are waiting for your call in west suburban Downers Grove. And the fine people of America's Test Kitchen (editors of Cook's Illustrated) have created, full of thoroughly vetted recipes and advice. Good luck!

Peaceable Assemblies

Looking for a peaceful way to spend your free time? The American Friends Service Committee (our Quaker pals) maintains a regularly updated calendar of rallies, vigils, meetings, film screenings, and other events in Chicago and the suburbs for the rabble-rousing idealist in you.

Unturkey day

For those about to diss meat, I salute you! If the idea of a rather large steroid-pumped bird that's too heavy for one person to carry scares you or you're vegan/vegetarian, then perhaps these feasts may interest you: The Chicago Vegetarian Society is having its 15th annual vegan Thanksgiving dinner at the Hilton Chicago on S. Michigan. Old favourite The Chicago Diner has its annual Turkey-Free Thanksgiving Dinner as well, which is pretty damn tasty. Their menu for ths year is available for viewing (note: PDF file).

Green City Thanksgiving market

The Green City Market is having a Thanksgiving Market this Saturday at the Lincoln Park Zoo, 8am to 1pm. Entrance to the zoo is free, and the market will be held in the Lion House. There will be cooking demonstrations, children's activities, chestnut roasting, and of course, all the usual organic and sustainable merchants to shop from: fruits & vegetables, hormone-free meats (pork and beef), poultry (organic turkey chicken and duck), game, breads, artisanal cheeses, mushrooms, caviar, cider, vinegars, mustards, maple syrup, honey, organic Christmas trees, wild rice, and coffee.

Granddad vs. Methuselah!

Who's got the oldest living fish in captivity: the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco (which received an Australian lungfish named Methuselah in 1938), or Chicago's Shedd Aquarium (which received a lungfish named Granddad in 1933)? Not surprisingly, Chicago claims the prize, although there's truly no definitive way to know which fish is older (both fishes having conveniently lost their birth certificates).

Cost of Living Increases

Living in the city just got more expensive, thanks to the City Council. The good news: Owners of big-ass SUVs will have to pay $90 instead of $75 for their city stickers. The bad news: Eating at Chicago restaurants is going to cost you an extra .25% in sales tax in addition to the 8.75% you already pay for a meal away from home. [Trib login: gapers/gapers]

A Most Literary Email List

Want to be up on the city's literary scene? Subscribe to the email list, whose "announcements are for readings, signings, journal or magazine releases, discussions, lectures, symposia, special events and other activities in Chicago relating to books, authors and literature." It is, of course, free.

Latke-Hamentash Debate

For Jews, some questions stand eternal: what are the implications of God's covenant with Abraham? What is the relationship between Torah, Mishnah and Rabbinic commentary? Which are tastier, Latkes or Hamentashen? The latter question will again be answered at The 57th Annual University of Chicago Latke-Hamentash debate next Tuesday. Copied across the country, this perennial favorite got its start at the UofC when anthropology professor Sol Tax turned the long-standing disagreement into a formal event. Be sure to wear a Latke-related costume to show your support for the truly superior victual.

Discover the Hidden Gems

The Boston Globe has a weekend planner feature on discovering Chicago, specifically, those areas that are not on the beaten tourist paths. The article discusses the bounty of culture, shopping, entertainment and restaurants found along Devon Avenue, as well as the largest Mexican-American community in the city, Pilsen. Nice to see a travel feature step outside the usual spots in our fair city.

Reader facelift

The homepage (and only the homepage) of the Chicago Reader gets a bit of a facelift. The "face" no longer jives very well with the rest of it's "body" though I can see an attempt to conserve real estate and add ads down the side which really in the end just takes away from the esoteric charm of the site and it's 1993 old school web design. A peek under the hood also reveals font face tags and non stylesheet use. Ugh.


If you're into glittery glam-rock operatics, student-made films, improvisational dancing and other artsy goings-ons, swing by Hyde Park's Smart Museum of Art, Thursday from 8:30- 10:30 pm for "Synaethesia," a multi-dimensional event put together by a conglomoration of U of C student groups. P1xel (of P1xel and the Chronic Network) has requested that guests wear white to the event, which is free and open to the public.

Hollinger If You Hear Me

The Sun-Times' parent company, Hollinger Inc, seems headed to bad times -- and possible obliteration. Chicago-based Hollinger, Inc. owns the London Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post, among other papers. Its CEO, Conrad Black, has stepped down after a major financial scandal, and other board members were implicated as well. The company will try to sell off assets, including the Sun-Times. The Tribune gleefully ran the story on the front page [login: gapers/gapers]; the Sun-Times buried it on page 51.

A Puritan Chicago!?

A "little-known bureaucrat," Winston Mardis, has made it immensely difficult to obtain a liquor license of any sort in the City of Chicago, apparently at the behest of the Mayor. Don't they realize -- this is a steak and martini town! Apparently, the 43rd Ward (Lincoln Park) hasn't issued a tavern license in a decade. Originally stricter licenses were needed because mobsters were fond of using bars as a way to wash money; now it's because Daley wants a family town. Well, too bad: everybody knows conventioneers always move to vice-ier pastures.

A Literary Lottery?

The Globe and Mail reports that the debut novel of Chicago-based visual artist Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife, is set for a film treatment, by none other than Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, in connection with New Line Cinema. Niffenegger, 40, makes her career as a printmaker. She shows her work regularly, and balances her art with her work teaching for the master of fine art program at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College in Chicago. Certainly not a bad result for a debut novel!

O'Hare Expansion Begins

The demolition has begun: the first building has been torn down to make way for the expansion of O'Hare Airport. The office building had been vacant for several years and was sold to the city willingly. The rest of the buildings in the bulldozer's path won't come so easily.

Wireless Boozing

The Claddagh Ring, an Andersonville area pub, now offers free wireless Internet for customers. Puts new meaning in "working from home," doesn't it?

Beer Academy

The Goose Island brewery on Clybourn turns into Beer Academy this Wednesday at 6:30 pm. Learn from the Brewmaster, brush up on the ins and outs of brewing, and taste a dozen different beers while you're at it. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. To RSVP or for more information, call 312-915-0071.

Senate Nominations - Will on Ryan and the Dem Hopefuls

Lacker of lips and conservative pundit George F. Will thinks Republican candidate for the Senatorial nomination Jack Ryan is too good to be true; however, Mr Will is quite upset that African-American voters can't seem to vote for anybody but Democrats. How exquisitely unpatronizing. Ryan's internal polling reveals a double digit lead over the other Republicans; one campaign staffer for an opposing candidate laughed off the poll, asking, "Where was this taken, New Trier Township?" Besides, just how well can someone with the last name "Ryan" do in Illinois? Meanwhile, the Democratic field has grown more crowded, with stealth politician, sensible liberal and self-made ultra millionaire Blair Hull making excellent impressions across the state and city.

Anthros Invade Chicago

This week thousands of Anthropologists will descend on Chicago to attend the 2003 American Anthropological Association Meetings. So if you're wondering why all the restaurants in the loop are filled with frumpy professors wearing incongrously ethnic accessories and chit-chat on the el starts including phrases like "the (dis)locations of gender in dangerous spaces", that's why. Theoretically you've got to pay to sit in, but if you see something in the schedule that suits your fancy, I'm sure you could slip in.

Amajen Art Center

Maybe you've been thinking about taking an art class but are afraid you'll be surrounded by "real" artists who will intimidate you. Amy and Jen, two women with masters degrees in art and experience dealing with everyone from toddlers to Alzheimer's patients, joined forces to open Amajen Art Center on Chicago's north side. They offer classes for toddlers, kids, and adults. If you can't commit to six weeks of classes they'll let you you drop in for a session and they also have some great one day workshops. If you're thinking about making some of your holiday presents but aren't sure what to make, they have several workshops with that exact focus.

Get Out and Vote!

There were some Deansters hawking signatures at an event I attended this weekend and I realized that I couldn't sign - I wasn't registered to vote. I needed to remedy this and thought I'd share. The website is official but kinda sketchy - it redirects you to a poorly designed site. But it does include a form to complete online and mail in for your registration. The lovely League of Women Voters have a list of chapters in Illinois where you might find other sites, especially if you aren't in Chicago.

Blazin' a Trail to Naperville

You probably know about the Chicago Fire pro soccer team, but have you heard about the Chicago Blaze? They're our local National Women's Basketball League team -- not to be confused with the WNBA -- and they're apparently moving to Naperville.

Sun-times changes

If you haven't noticed yet, the Chicago Sun-Times has a new masthead for it's print version. The website has also been redesigned a little to reflect these changes. It looks...okay. Not a bad move, but I'm not particularly excited about the type. But then again, I'm a type snob. Thoughts?

The Fate of Stateway Gardens:

Soon, it won't exist. Six of the eight high-rises that once made up Stateway Gardens public-housing development have already been torn down, and another is being prepared for demolition now. The CHA is destroying 22,000 units and building only 8,000 new ones -- still enough, they claim, to house the 25,000 families currently living in Stateway, but critics say that doesn't take into account the thousands who were on the waiting list.

Free Self-Defense Training

The recently publicized rapists that have been attacking women in Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and other northside neighborhoods has drawn together Chicago NOW, Chicago CAPS, and Lakeview Alderman Tom Tunney to provide free self-defense classes. Representatives of 1000 Waves will be teaching the final class. You can attend the free session at Sheil Park (3505 N. Southport) Tuesday the 18th from 6-8 pm.

HP Goes High Class

If the University of Chicago has its way, Hyde Park may soon have a bona fide entertainment district. Plans are underway to relocate the famous, recently shut-down Checkerboard Lounge from its current Bronzeville location up to 52nd and Harper. The plan also includes turning a nearby defunct theater into a fine arts movie theater.

Wikitravel Needs Help

Wikitravel is trying to do for travel guides what the Wikipedia did for the rest of human knowledge - create an open-source, user-edited global travel guide under a friendly Creative Commons license. But alas alack their entry on Chicago is sort of Pure Suck (I just added something mentioning such obscure sites as 'Second City' and 'The Field Museum'). So go on over and give 'em some help - you'll be furthering the city's good name, giving googlejuice to your favorite spots, and increasing the total amount of public information in the universe. What's not to like?


GB staffers Cinnamon and Amy will be on WLUW from 4pm to 6pm today talking about the DIY Trunk Show on the "Full On Friday" show. Listen in at 88.7 FM or online.

Chicago's Food Superstars

The New City ranks Chicago's "food superstars" in The Big Heat. Celebrity chef Rick Bayless tops the list while last year's number one guy, Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, slips to number three.

Wolf Killed at Brookfield Zoo

Cinnamon Bear, an 11-year-old northern gray wolf, was shot and killed at Brookfield Zoo today when it grabbed the arm of an idiotic woman who "apparently hopped a 3 1/2-foot fence and reached through a second 10-foot chain-link fence to touch the wolf." Read the story in the Tribune. [Login: gapers/gapers]

Coke is it!

Marshall Fields on State Street is home to the world's only Coke soda shop. Aren't we lucky?

Fast Food Nation talk

Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, is speaking for free on Saturday at Northwestern's Ryan Family Auditorium at 7pm. The talk will "address the way the fast-food industry has transformed America's economy, workforce and popular culture."

Pow-wow This Weekend

The American Indian Center is having its 50th anniversary pow-wow this weekend at the UIC Pavillion tonight through Sunday. The event will feature Native American arts and crafts and lots of music and dancing. Tickets are $10 or $18 for a weekend pass. Here's the poster.

Cubs still can't win

Cubs pitcher Mark Prior came in third for the NL Cy Young award, announced today. He lost out to Dodgers closer Eric Gagne and the Giants' Jason Schmidt. He's also getting married this Saturday; I'm sure I'm not the only one a little sad about that news. [Trib login: gapers/gapers]

100 Bullets for Batman and Superman

Local comic writer Brian Azzarello, author of the acclaimed "100 Bullets," is taking a turn writing for DC Comics classic Batman and Superman comics. (via TMN.) [Trib login: gapers/gapers]

Support Arab Cinema!

The Gene Siskel Film Center is hosting an Arab Film Series. The series took a lot of doing to get together, including the hard work of a lot of highly placed cultural attache types, but attendance is threatening to be low, and emails circulating around the academic/arts community are urging people to come on out. So if you're interested in the art behind America's favorite Global Hotspot, be sure to check it out.

Ceci n'est pas un movement.

The Surrealist Movement in the United States is headquartered in Evanston? How surreal.

Bookslut in the Reader

Jessa Crispin, creator of the literary weblog and e-zine Bookslut, is on the cover of the Chicago Reader this week talking about her blog and her experience with incurring the wrath of writer Dale Peck. Jessa recently moved to Chicago from Austin, and we're thrilled to have her. This is also the Reader's Fall Books issue so run out and grab a copy.

Baby Face Nelson

Lester M. Gillis, aka "Baby Face Nelson," was one of Chicago's most famous gangsters. Few people realize, however, that he was killed not in the city but actually just outside Barrington, at what is now the intersection of Routes 14 and 22 in Fox River Grove.

Windy City?

You wouldn't know it if you've been outside today, but those pesky East Coast Bostonians claim Boston, not Chicago, is the windiest city in America. Much of New England's wind comes from the west. But the region is subject to many complicated weather patterns that give Boston an annual wind speed of 12.4 miles per hour, higher than any other major American city. Chicago, in fact, barely makes the top 10. Sure didn't seem like it this morning, though.

You can drive, but you can't hide.

If you've been putting off buying a city sticker, you might want to think about doing it soon: police and investigators will be able to ticket unstickered cars in licensed garages and parking lots, thanks to new legislation passed Wednesday by the City Council. City Clerk James Laski estimates the city could make as much as $10 million in the next two years. Although the legislation is already in effect, you still have a couple of weeks to get your sticker before the city starts enforcing the law. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Business--of Education?

The Society of Jesus--known to lay people as Jesuits and to Southern Baptists as Them Thar Agents of the Papacy--is trying to level the playing field for their students in poorer neighborhoods. By getting them jobs at downtown Chicago firms, they hope to give kids valuable work experience, help them make connections, and also procure funding for the schools themselves. Is this an altruistic concern for these kids futures, or evil exploitation of cheap labor? The students seem to think the former, so I'll go with them. Please ignore the eminently ironic picture of the hopeful kid in front of the Arthur Andersen sign.

Winter Solstice Burn III

It's a bit hard to think about Burning Man now - it's 296 days away. However, the Burning Man festival is trying to decentralize a bit and the Midwestern Winter Burn - a local Burning Man-like festival - has been scheduled. Winter Solstice Burn III happens in Wisconsin at an indoor facility. Not the same as running naked through the playa, but you don't have to travel 2000 miles to get there either. A great place to get your winter poi fix.

Le Masque à Gaz

...Otherwise known as, is a locally produced web magazine all about protective masks. More than you likely wanted to know about gas masks, created by No Future Productions.

Panhandlers Vindicated

A half-million dollar settlement has been reached in a court case on behalf of 5,000 panhandlers arrested in 1999-2002 under a repealed city ordinance that had classified panhandling as disorderly conduct. Panhandlers who were arrested are eligible for $400 compensation, while those who were only ticketed will receive $50. A spokesman from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless said it would remain to be seen how many claims would be filed, though.

Farnsworth House on Auction Block

On Dec. 12, Sotheby's of New York will place the historic Farnsworth House on the auction block. The only way to get a tour of the property? Call the head of Sotheby's and request a private tour; or, make a donation of $1 million or so, boosting the campaign by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois to buy the house. They believe the house is threatened, and you too can make a donation to save the Mies van der Rohe treasure (PDF).

I see...France! and stuff

Since ye olde grand consumerism fever is about to hit us soon in time for the holidays, I thought I'd drop in with some neat little designed items of clothing and "stuffs" from folks in Chicago. First up is I See France, a cute underthings concern for the lady in your life, from the same folks et al that brought you Threadless, which is a T-shirt concern where you should buy those cool t-shirts the kids are all wearing nowadays. And of course, do not forget to come with wallets loaded for the DIY Trunk Show this weekend.

Foul back.

Just when you thought you were going to put the recent Cubs unpleasantness behind you and move on, an Oak Brook auction house claims to have the infamous foul ball from Game 6 and is getting ready to auction it off next month. I'm guessing that bidding will be coming mostly from Florida.

Snobby Wine

If aged Bordeaux from Chateau Lafite-Rothschild is your standard wine purchase, then The Chicago Wine Company is more your style. They hold one live auction and one silent auction every month and you can place bids online. They also hold formal dinners/tastings. You just missed the November dinner, but at $595 per person did you really? They're also willing to help you sell off your wine collection, but Boone's Farm collectors need not apply.

Kafka never tasted so good!

Morsels also briefly reviews the most innovative small wine store in the city: Kafka. They claim to be "Cheap, Easy, Fun" and with most wine selections under $15, they are. But, they're knowledgable and friendly, too. Wine doesn't have to be intimidating and these guys prove that. If only they'd get their website working.

Rick "BK" Bayless

Rick Bayless, celebrity chef of Frontera Grill, etc., caught some flack for appearing in an ad for Burger King's new chicken sandwich. Morsels links to a letter Bayless posted on his website explaining himself, and points to a scathing comment from chef/author Anthony Bourdain (ninth comment down).

Hip Hop Theatre

A new genre, hip-hop theatre, may be coming our way. Expect the unexpected, as this new form of entertainment is making big waves in the Bay Area. The Hip-Hop Theater Festival, in its fourth summer in New York and second in Washington, D.C., plans to expand its reach throughout the country. The festival will premiere at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in May 2004. After that, it will develop shows and workshops in Chicago and Los Angeles. The University of Hip-Hop in southwest Chicago should take notice and work to bring this new form to Chicago.

Jazz Record Mart

Jazz Record Mart is one of the treasures of this city: the world's largest record store devoted to jazz and blues music. Wander its rows and discover the new soundtrack to your life, or take a look at this list of "killers" -- the albums JRM considers essential to any collection.

Frank Lloyd Wright Design Threatened

One of Wright's prefabricated homes built 46 years ago in Lisle is threatened with demolition. The previous owner made no provisions in his will to save the structure, in which walls are crumbling and the ceiling is cracked. However, while other homes of the same design remain, any demolition is an "emotional loss." The developer eyeing the property wants to replace the building with three new homes expected to bring $900,000 apiece.

Your morning CTA news.

The CTA approved an amended version of its 2004 budget on Monday, which includes a 25-cent increase to the base fare. The $1.75 price goes into effect on January 1. In addition to the increase, the price of a transfer will be decreased from 30 cents to 25 cents. While you let that news sink in, here's a bit of good news: Demon Dogs can stay open! The restaurant was supposed to close at the end of October, but it negotiated a new lease which will allow it to stay open through June of next year. Here's the kicker: its monthly rent has been raised from $630 to $2,500. Aie! That's a lot of dogs to sell!

Attack of the 2-ft. girls

I don't know whether to be terrified of the expansion or relieved that some of the pressure is off of us: the company behind American Girl Place opened a new store in New York this weekend. According to their press release, the Chicago Avenue flagship has seen six million visitors since opening five years ago. 

Outer Ear Festival

The Outer Ear Festival is "the only comprehensive interdiscplinary sonic arts festival in the Midwest." It got started this past weekend with some radio broadcasts, but the real action starts Thursday with a screening of sound-oriented films and videos at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Check out the rest of the schedule here.

But will it fly?

United used a guerrilla marketing campaign in Denver and a cryptic Web site to introduce Ted, its new low-cost airline. Ted will compete with the likes of Southwest, Jet Blue and Song. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

You can smell it from down the block...

Not only does the Spice House (two locations in Evanston and Oldtown) have a new website, they also have spice blends based on Chicago Neighborhoods -- Argyle Street Asian Blend, Back of the Yards Garlic Pepper, Bronzeville Rib Rub, etc.

Fashion Houses Scout Hotels

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. and Italian jeweler Bulgari SpA are doing their own shopping for hotel sites along the Magnificent Mile, part of a push to transform their high-end retail names into "lifestyle" brands. Polo has scoped out the Palmolive Building on Michigan Avenue, and both are eyeing a site at the corner of Rush and Superior streets.

Kup care.

Irv Kupcinet, long-time columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, is in intensive care after being admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with breathing problems. Kup has been with the Sun-Times since it began in 1948, and "Kup's Column" celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. Update: Irv Kupcinet has died of pneumonia at the age of 91.

When I hit the road, I've got no plan.

The punky QB known as McMahon was charged with drunk driving Sunday morning in Florida. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon failed a field sobriety test and had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. No word yet as to whether or not police caught him doing the Superbowl Shuffle at the time.

Lunar eclipse

If you're out tonight, don't forget to look up: there's a total lunar eclipse.

It'll make a great movie some day

Today the feds charged nine people, seven of them union projectionists from Chicago, with a wave of arson and assault at theaters across the country. In a twist befitting any bad heist movie, the arsonists are accused of leaving calling cards: CD covers from the band Chicago, "just so the notion of the city of Chicago would be planted in the minds of the theater owners," according to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. The conflict between movie theaters and projectionists has been simmering for years, and the union has a history of violence and crime that goes back to the '20s and continued into the '90s. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Kulture Kalendar

Have you ever found yourself wishing for a cool calendar that lists all the art shows, theater productions, book readings, etc. in one centralized location? Look no more! Actually, look here. Greg Gillam, local poet and general character, serves up cool goings-on. Lest you think he's not hip enough, you can read his email convo with his longtime good buddy Neal Pollack about Aylssa Milano.

People in Crab Costumes

Ever wonder who makes mascot costumes? Well, one of them is right here: Aardvark Mascots creates costumes for everything from baseball teams to paper towel advertising campaigns.

Tell Us The Truth!

Billy Bragg, Tom Morello, Lester Chambers, Mike Mills, and quite a few other musicians will be playing in town on Monday, November 10th, for the Chicago date of the Tell Us The Truth tour making its way across the country. According to the Website, the tour is to promote "the discussion of media consolidation and how it has affected the music industry. Common Cause [a group formed to reform government ethics -ed.] will be on hand with information about how to fight media consolidation in Chicago." The show is Monday night at the Park West (322 W. Armitage). Tickets available at ... Ticketmaster?!?!?!

Reeling 2003.

Reeling 2003, the annual Chicago gay and lesbian film festival, is under way! Opening night was last night, and the festival runs through Thursday, November 13. Check the Website for a calendar of films, and check with the always-dependable Chicago Reader for synopses and mini-reviews of the films.

You too can run for a countywide office!

The Cook County Republican Party is looking for a few good candidates. It issued a plea on Thursday to the general public: submit your resumes for running against Democratic candidates in next year's election. But be warned: as County GOP Chairman Maureen Murphy stated, "We don't have power. We don't have clout. We're not trying to offer jobs to people."

Cineme 2003

Cineme 2003, otherwise known as the first annual Chicago International Animation Film Festival, kicks off tonight, but the real action goes down this weekend, with showings of award-winning animated films Friday, Saturday and Sunda, primarily at the Biograph Theater. Covering everything from web animation to Bill Plimpton to contemporary Anime, this should be a visual feast.

Ned Rorem in Chicago

Chicago is currently in the grip of its annual Humanities Festival and the city is awash with lectures, dance, music, and art. The highlight of the festival will be a conversation with Ned Rorem, America's greatest living composer (and, incidentally, an award winning author). Afterwards there will be not one but two concerts featuring Rorem pieces. If you never went to go see Celia Cruz because you thought she'd live forever, this may be the opportunity you've been looking for to balance your karmic debt.

Film Critics Cancel Awards

The Chicago Film Critics Association, which does its own little awards ceremony every year, has announced that it is suspending its competitive awards this year in protest of the MPAA's decision to ban distribution of screener films to Academy members. The CFCA will still give out its honorary awards (which go to local productions and companies) and will still hold its annual bash.

CTA price increase delayed.

The Sun-Times reports that the CTA is delaying its vote on a fare increase from $1.50 to $1.75, to take into account public input on the increase. Unfortunately, CTA spokespeople are pretty much agreeing that the only options left are either fare increases or service cuts. Hmm. Where'd I put that bike....

Sam's Expands to NYC

For once, Chicago is sending something (besides Broadway musicals) to New York instead of the other way around: Sam's Wine & Spirits is planning to open a store on Manhattan's West Side, the first of potentially many new stores around the country.


See, Business and Professional People aren't all bad--especially if they're Business and Professional People for the Public Interest. BPP-PI is a group of, well, business and professional people who dedicate their business, legal, and financial resources to aiding the causes of social justice--segregated housing, public education, etc.--in Chicago. Going strong for 30 years, they could always use your support.

Postal Chess Tournaments

Nothing is better at making you feel stupid than playing chess against smarter people. Interested in the self-abuse? Contact the APCT--American Postal Chess Tournaments--headquartered in Western Springs, Illinios. They'll set you up, and the check-mating can begin!

Bitchin' Weeners!

We've already told you that the editors of Bitch magazine are going to be descending on Chicago this weekend. The sponsors for this appearance are Chicago NOW and WeenerWare. If you get a NOW membership and subscribe to Bitch at any event, you'll get a free collection of WeenerWare gear. If you can't make it to one of the events, you'll be able to purchase their stuff at next weekend's DIY Trunk Show.

Jewelboxing by Coudal

No, it's not the latest online Flash game where you get to beat up popstar diva Jewel, but the latest endeavor by the folks at Coudal. Entitled Jewelboxing, it's a different way to present your next DVD/CD project. While I'm not a huge fan of jewel cases or media packaging (dig the artwork/liner notes, hate the mass/volume), this is pretty neat for those who need to present stuff in a cool way.

Not For Sale

Alderman Ed Burke introduced to the city council yesterday a proposal to ban For Sale signs from cars parked on city streets. The proposal isn't intended to go after individuals, but rather out-of-state used car dealerships who park cars in (mainly South Side) neighborhoods hoping to get a sale.

My Kind of Town

Scientists have determined that areas of the Lake Calumet region of southeast Chicago contain microbial communities where the water can reach extraordinary alkalinity of pH 12.8 far beyond known naturally occurring alkaline environments. The closest known relatives of some of the microbes are in South Africa, Greenland and the alkaline waters of Mono Lake, California. Among the possible harmful things microbes could do is collect and distribute hazardous materials to nearby lakes and wetlands. Yummy!

Lindy like Mad This Weekend

This weekend is The Fifth Annual Windy City Lindy Exchange. Over four hundred dancers from all over the country will come to juke and jive to the Lindy Hop. These people are so serious about dancing that the Sunday Recovery Brunch includes massage therapists. So put on your Bobbysox and Zoot Suits and come on out! 

Chicago: A Cinematic History

A wide-ranging article in the USA Today covers everything from the studios that once dotted the Northside, gangsters, Siskel and Ebert, film festivals, Doc Films, new theatres, and famous movies made in Chicago. It's a hodge-podge of an article, but contains some interesting stuff.


I'm sure none of you have forgotten that the last installment of the Matrix trilogy opens tomorrow. I noted in the trailer during a brief oncoming train shot that its destination read "Loop" and the sign was sort of brown. It was in the subway though; I suppose in the Matrix, the Brown Line runs underground...

Ozzie! Ozzie!

Ozzie Guillen, the former White Sox shortstop, is returning to the team, this time as manager. Apparently he got the news while riding through Disneyworld in the Marlins' victory parade (he was their third base coach).

Kendall College Chicago

The Daily Northwestern reports Kendall College is finalizing plans to move to a new near-Lincoln Park location, possibly located on Goose Island. Residents near the college fear its leaving could create a messy zoning war with Northwestern, with the university eyeing new high-rise dormitories. But the former Sara Lee location seems too good to pass up for Kendall.

Mama Smartypants

My all-time favorite Chicago Blogger Mimi Smartypants has been silent lately since she's flown off to China to meet her new adopted daughter. But now Chicagoans everywhere can rejoice - Mimi is back and has adorable adorable pictures of her newest bundle of joy. Congratulations Mimi!

Sculpture Unveiled in Naperville

A new sculpture and fountain celebrating the city's "progressive recycling efforts," was unveiled yesterday in Naperville. According to the Daily Herald, the 11-foot, $120,000 sculpture "honors the work of former Naperville resident Barbara Sielaff, who helped launch the city's recycling program about 30 years ago."

Music Box Theatre to be Sold

Crains Chicago Business reports this week that Chris Carlo and Robert Chaney are negotiating to sell the Music Box movie theatre to to building owner William G. Schopf. Luckily, Schopf says he has no current plans to close the theatre.

Noise Chicago

Another show resource, this time from the folks at No-Nothing Rock, which features some of ther goodies. Noise Chicago is a database of shows in the city, moreso of the independent variety. The site has a list of all shows happening on the day you visit, with a recommended list on the side.

3 days and 15 big ones

So if you were asked to spend three days and $1500 in Chicago, what would you do? The New York Times travel section answers such pressing questions.

City Timeline

Did you know Chicago's history goes back to 1673? The Chicago Public Library offers a Timeline that takes you from the "discovery" of the area by French missionaries all the way up to 1998's asian longhorn beetle invasion, with plenty of stops in between.

Bear Down

Don't look now, but the Bears have somehow managed to win two games in a row!

Alex Ross: Superparty

Noted and famous comic book artist Alex Ross (from here no less) had without a doubt the coolest Halloween party this year. (Well, maybe not, but certainly if you love comics). Now who knows where he lives?



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