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. 


Monday, March 27

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At Street Level

Centerstage, the original events listings site (but don't tell Metromix), has started a blog. Hopefully they'll fix their comments, so we can respond to their call to "tell us more about [the city], in detail, with links."

Raeses Release Party

Raeses Skateboarding Magazine is having one hell of a party this Saturday for the release of the second issue. Part art show, dance party and chill out, it proves to be quite an event. Featured artists include the infamous Shepard Fairey (OBEY GIANT), Illinois' own Chuck Anderson (No Pattern) and many many cult artists active in the skate and graf scenes. $5 at the door, 7pm, all ages at Transmission Gallery.

One coupon to savor

Did you perhaps miss the cue on Valentine's day and not get the right gift for your honey? Fortunately, Sybaris has some great gifts at their online store. Your significant other will be bowled over when you get him/her one of these nice Sybaris deluxe gold roses? Impress your friends at your next dinner party with your complete collection of Sybaris glassware! And if you act now, you can get a $40-off coupon to stay at their elegant suites?

Rock the Vote... sort of

Metromix asks: who's the best new band in Chicago? Ten acts are featured on their site (heard of any of them?) with a sample mp3; vote for your favorite and they get a headlining gig at Metro on March 31.

Rive Gauche Free-for-all

Ever been to Rive Gauche? Well, tonight would be the night to do it. Club promoters Hypechicago will get you in for free (everyone before midnight, women all night long) and buy all your drinks, but only if you RSVP.

Do you like Spamalot?

Take heart, all you Python addicts: the Tribune reports that "Spamalot," a musical based on the classic comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, will be playing in Chicago at the end of the year. With words and music by Eric Idle, and directed by Mike Nichols (!), the musical will have a pre-Broadway run here in Chicago in December and next January. Spamalot will also have all-new songs and words, so you will not be able to recite the text of the movie along with the actors, alas.

Mandatory chipping for all ferrets!

The Tribune reports that a proposed ordinance going to the Cook County Board for consideration would require all dog, cat and ferret owners to have ID microchips implanted in their pets. The idea behind the law is to make it easier to identify lost pets, but detractors point out that pet licensing rates in Chicago are fairly low (25-30%), which would indicate that a majority of pet owners perhaps have other priorities than getting chips implanted in their ferrets.

Bird-feeding is not a crime

A woman in suburban Bridgeview was fined for having bird feeders in her backyard. But that's not the weird part. The weird part is that the fine was for $750. Outraged, she called up the mayor, who looked into the situation and ended up voiding the fine. The woman did agree, though, to remove two of the three feeders.

Who wants to write a musical?

The ASCAP Foundation and Disney, in association with the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, are holding a musical theatre workshop, and they're seeking submissions. The workshop, to take place in late April, will be conducted by theatrical composers Stephen Schwartz and Craig Carnelia. Submission deadline is March 19, so get composing!

Skyway construction starts Monday

As if we didn't have enough headaches in our commutes, Monday marks the beginning of construction on the Chicago Skyway. This construction on the Skyway's westbound portion is actually the latest in a series of constructions on the Skyway, and the projected finish date for the whole project is 2005. So you can look forward to reduced traffic flow on the Skyway for quite some time.

Cutting the Cord

Hey, I recognize those faces! GB's very own David Elfving and Sandor Weisz appear in a Chicago Tribune story about dropping "land-line" phone service in favor of wireless. "I thought about drawbacks, such as my cell phone battery running down," Weisz said. "So I decided to go six months using my wireline as little as possible. After I evaluated it, I canceled the service and haven't regretted it."

Mayors Against Guns

Hey, did you see the New York Times op-ed page on Tuesday? An article by Mayor Daley, along with the Mayors Bloomberg, Hahn and King of New York, Los Angeles and Gary, respectively, calling for stricter gun laws to help cut down on urban crime. [Free registration required.] (Thanks Seth.)

The last year for lilacs

Each May in suburban Lombard, a local gardening club hands out hundreds of free lilac bushes to its residents. Unfortunately, as the Tribune reports, this will probably be the last year for the free giveaway, due to a decrease in available funds and an increase in state fees. This will probably not hurt Lombard's standing as "Lilac Village," however; it still has Lilacia Park, which was started by residents William and Helen Plum as their own private garden in 1910.

SPEC event in Newcity

This week's Newcity mentions last Saturday's SPEC/GB reading! But for some reason, they don't mention that GB was a co-sponsor of the event. Only explanation I can come up with for the omission: sunspots.

There is another train directly behind this one

As you wend your way to or from work, and ponder the length of your daily commute, take some small solace in the fact that your commute is not yet the longest in the country. The longest commute, unsurprisingly, is in NYC, according to the Census Bureau. An average commute of 38 minutes in the Big Apple, beating out Chicago by six minutes. We're still above the national average of 24 minutes, though. The shortest commutes: Wichita, KS (16.5 minutes), Tulsa, OK (16.8 minutes) and Omaha, NE (17.3 minutes).

Chicago's "Block 37"

Straight from the mouth of Joe Dawson, "It appears that the development of Block 37... err I mean '108 N. State,' may finally be underway. Plans call for a variety of small retail shops, a new CBS 2 "showcase television studio" and a new CTA station with express trains to whisk travelers to and from O'Hare and Midway airports. has a great article (Feb 21) outlining the possibilities." Thanks Joe.

Children Love Ribbon Candy!

After reading Ray Pride's Newcity article "The City That Smells" last week I started sniffing around and happily followed the scent of peppermint to the Peerless Confection Company still churning out over 350 types of hard candy. Founded in Chicago in 1914, this relatively unassuming white building at 1250 W. Schubert in Lincoln Park makes the popular Starlight Mints that you might have fished out of a bowl at local restaurants, as well as an assortment of sugar-free and ribbon candies you can buy all over town at places like Trader Joe’s. At a time when the big stories are candy companies leaving Chicago, it’s nice to see, and smell, the sweet sweet Peerless candy every morning.

Kyan, the shaving master

The ever dreamy Kyan Douglas of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is going to descend on Loyola University on March 14th. Tickets are only $5 so you better get them quick. Trim your nose hair, exfoliate, apply styling gel, and maybe he'll notice you. If you're a Loyola student, you get in free. But you'll still need a ticket.


Lori Napoleon, who DJs locally as SubK, has begun a beautiful mapsproject. Check out what she has posted so far.

New musical venues

The folks over at the Empty Bottle are moving some of the live music overflow into some new spots in the city. The Logan Square Auditorium is quickly becoming a new venue for some great touring bands and the ever busy Open End is also opening up their space for some shows as well. Take a look at what's coming up and where. [ Hat tip to Simon ]

Tall, thin and full of history

Riddle me this: what's five stories tall and 20 feet wide? The forthcoming Michigan Avenue Bridgehouse Museum, which is soon to open in a river bridgehouse near the corner of Michigan and Wacker. The Sun-Times reports on the museum, which will contain historical information about the Chicago River and its value to the area.

Last Steve Bartman story ever, part 2

Let this be the end of the curse! Thursday night at Harry Caray's restaurant, the infamous baseball from the Cubs-Marlins playoff game will be destroyed. Although... Moises Alou's glove will still be around. dramatic music...

Bookslut: Craig Thompson

If you haven't heard of Craig Thompson or Blankets, his acclaimed graphic novel, then you should read the interview with him over at Bookslut.

Bad Parking Job

You've got to see this photo. It was taken over the weekend by a resident in Unkrainian Village from his porch. Note that the car received two tickets.

Jewel-Tea Building to See Wrecking Ball

The fight to save the Jewel Tea Building in Barrington has been lost, and the Art Deco structure, affectionately known as the "Gray Lady," is facing the wrecking ball to make way for a new park. Read more about the failed preservation efforts, and learn more about the history of the Jewel Tea Company, which later became the Jewel-Osco grocery chain.

Grey Tuesday

Today is Grey Tuesday, an online protest against EMI's censorship of the Grey Album: Danger Mouse's remix of Jay-Z's the Black Album and the Beatles White Album. Participating sites will post the Grey Album today, February 24, for download. If you don't have a copy of the Grey Album, you can obtain it at

Baby matinee

The Tribune has a report on theaters in Chicago and the suburbs that are offering matinees for parents of newborn babies. The parents get to take their child along to a movie without worrying that they're bothering other patrons, and the theater gets to sell tickets during weekday afternoons, normally a slow time for movie business. Everybody wins!

190 North

This past Sunday's episode of 190 North, the show where Janet Davies and her friends take you to all the 'cool' places around Chicago, featured a tour of the Chicago Pedway. Um, yeah. The episode will re-air on Sunday, February 29 at 11:00 am.

Make your own Blue Bag

Is the only thing stopping most Chicago residents from recycling the price of blue bags? That's what the city aims to find out, in a pilot program happening in the 47th Ward. Residents will be able to pick up free yellow stickers and blue ties that they can use to identify any ordinary garbage bag as having recyclable contents. (No word as to why they just didn't hand out free blue bags...)

Double-check that junk mail

If you get any postcard-sized pieces of white paper in the mail from "CD MAP Antitrust Litigation," you're going to want to open it. Chances are you signed a petition at and now your extra time at the computer signing online petitions is finally paying off. Your check may vary, but mine was for $13.86. If you threw out junk mail on Friday or Saturday, you might want to dig through your trash.


As we're slowly dragging through the ass end of winter there is no better tonic for all the gray skies and slush than a trip to the steamy greenery at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The Conservatory is currenly hosting an exhibition of African dinosaurs, most of which are arranged in ways you'll never see at the Field Museum. And if that's not enough reason, admission is free if your conscience will let you walk in without kicking in for the $3 donation. You're telling me you don't want free dinosaurs?

Give in to your music star fantasies

The first step on the path to the rich and rewarding career in music that you so obviously deserve is to learn how to play something. Lucky for you, Chicago has the Old Town School of Folk Music, which has been teaching music lessons for close to 50 years now. Guitar, bass, fiddle, harmonica, dobro, mandolin, percussion... if you can make music with it, the Old Town can probably teach you how to play it. A new session of classes starts on March 1, and if you sign up for a class by the end of day today, you'll get $15 off your tuition. So peruse the classes, see if something catches your eye, and sign up for something. You can buy your instrument at the school's store, or even rent one, so you don't have to commit to owning a guitar (or bass, or cello, or dobro, or...) And if you do happen to make it big someday, don't forget all us little people here at GB who knew you when you were just starting out.

"Fashion's new base"

Would you like to learn more about fashion in Chicago? Or where do fashion designers get together? Where are they? The Chicago Fashion Foundation answers.

One Stop Shopping

It's a pain having to go to all those little boutiques to find the gift you're looking for -- or that special something for yourself. Which is why urbanStyle is so great: browse and buy from more than two dozen local shops, all on one site.

Slow times on the Brown line

If you depend on the Brown line for your daily commute, expect delays for the next couple of weeks: a weekend fire has forced the CTA to run half as many trains as usual during peak hours for the next two weeks, while they make repairs to a substation on Lincoln Avenue that was damaged by the fire. According to this CTA press release, you should be careful during your commute out of the Loop in the evenings, as only half of the northbound Brown line trains will be going north of the Belmont station. Check the train's destination sign before boarding.

Throw a chair at your sister-wife in celebration

The British opera based on Chicago's very own "Jerry Springer Show" won some big fancy theater awards this weekend, including Best New Musical.

Chicago couple goes to SF for marriage

Robert Castillo and John Pennycuff, the first couple to sign up for Cook County's Domestic Partnership Registry, decided to fly to San Francisco to get married.

Angels Get Wings, Cabbies Get Medallions

Two cabbies received their own taxi medallions (estimated value: $53,000 each) from the city for their work with disabled riders. One teaches other drivers how to conform to the city's Taxi Access Program, the other picked up more than 1,300 disabled riders last year.

Photos of Iraq

The Saturnine Detractor features a photo essay of Northern Iraq by photographer Daniel Pepper. Good stuff.

Outside Travel Expo

Planning a vacation but not sure where to go? Head on down to the Navy Pier Convention Center this Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Outside magazine's Outside Travel Expo -- formerly known as The International Adventure Travel & Outdoor Sports Show, the world’s largest exhibition showcasing destinations, guided trips and products from all areas of the travel market including adventure, eco and active travel. Admission is only $10, which gives you access to hundreds of businesses and organizations. (Thanks Anne.)

You may already be a winner

The state government may owe you money! The Office of the State Treasurer is attempting to return unclaimed money (in the form of lost wages, forgotten bank accounts and security deposits, etc.) to its rightful owners, and to promote the giveaway released a top 10 "most wanted" list of the Illinois residents who are owed the highest amounts of cash. The values range from $100,000 to half a million dollars. Fortunately for you, Web surfer, you can check your own name at the State Treasurer's Website,

SPEC & GB in Reader

Tomorrow night's SPEC/GB event at Uncle Fun is one of the Reader's Daily Specials for this week. Make sure you arrive on time, because there might be a bit of a crowd. The fun starts at 7:00 at Uncle Fun (1338 W. Belmont). Be there or be non-read-to.

The dentists are coming to town

If you notice an unusually large number of people talking around downtown with little mirrors and dental picks, don't be frightened; the Chicago Dental Society is holding its 139th annual meeting tomorrow, and they're expecting over 30,000 dental professionals to attend from the US and abroad. In addition to the meeting, more than 600 vendors will attend the conference, making it one of the largest exhibits of dental products in North America. The meeting takes place at McCormick Place from 11:00 to 2:00, and there will be public tours of the exhibition floor, just in case you wanted to see the latest in dental technology. Now rinse.

Speaking of Billy Corgan, you might want to take a look at his new site. He's maintaining a sort of weblog/journal (though it's in Flash) and writing about his new kittens and seeing Urge Overkill. Oh it's definitely a blog then.

Daley OK with Gay Marriage

Mayor Daley went on the record yesterday in favor of legalizing gay marriage. Before you get visions of Chicago following San Francisco's lead, he also said the city has no legal authority to present marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (That doesn't mean you can't affirm your relationship with a domestic partnership certificate from the Cook County Clerk.)

First Bontecou Public Exhibit in Decades

In the 1960s, Lee Bontecou was heralded as one of the most important young artists of her time. Painstakingly crafted from castoffs--Army surplus and canvas conveyor belts from a neighboring laundry--her wall reliefs evoked a fearsome sci-fi world, a mysterious doom-filled terrain no one had ever seen before. In the mid-'70s, however, Bontecou disappeared from the art scene, declining to take part in exhibitions. Now, her work, including recent pieces, is the focus of an exhibit opening Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the first in which Bontecou's later works have been available for public comparison to her earlier pieces. The exhibit runs through May 30, 2004.

Strangler strangled

The good news: the Hillside Strangler, one of the most infamous features of the meet-up of 88, 290 and 294, has been improved so much by a 2001 renovation project that it is no longer on a list of the worst bottlenecks in the nation, according to the Sun-Times. The bad news: the Circle Interchange (the Kennedy/Dan Ryan/Eisenhower meeting in the Loop) is the third-worst bottleneck in the nation. It's going to be fixed, of course, but you'll probably have to put up with it till 2006 or 2007, when the Dan Ryan is scheduled to be renovated.

Corgan Comes Clean

It's been 3 years since the demise of Chicago's own Smashing Pumpkins. At the time, and in the years since, no one really knew why the band ended, but lots of rumors and ideas were hatched by the fans and media. Finally, Billy Corgan wipes the slate clean; he claims the break-up was the idea of the band's guitarist, James Iha. Is Corgan rewriting history? Hopefully not, and maybe he can get back on track in his new endeavors.

Damn Ryan!

As if the pending construction on the already infuriating Dan Ryan expressway [reg. required] won't be enough of a headache, some Chicago pols are insinuating an influential South Side congressman--who was left nameless--would be diverting the federal funds for some or other purpose. This could stall the effort, or, worse, prolong it. Time to invest in a Metra pass if you live in the South Suburbs.

The Till Murder

Black History Month has reached it's halfway point, and US Congressman Bobby Rush wants one defining moment of black history--the senseless murder of Chicagoan Emmett Till in Mississippi for allegdly whistling at a white woman--finally resolved by the US Justice Department. Congressman Rush wants the acquittals of the men who committed the murder--and later confessed to it--to be fully investigated. Till's murder is believed to be one of the sparks for the civil rights movement and it was certainly a mobilizing force for Chicago's South Side black community.

Farewell, Chris.

We mentioned earlier this week, that Chris Saathoff was killed on Valentine's Day. His parents have set up a tribute web page where you can leave your comments, see photos of him, and get info if you want to donate to a Chris Saathoff Foundation, as well as get details for the funeral.

Daley: "no problems" with gay marriage

Reacting to the same-sex marriages that have been taking place in San Francisco, Mayor Daley said today that he personally would have no problem with same-sex marriages in Chicago, if County Clerk David Orr wanted to start issuing licenses for them. "They love each other, just as much as anyone else. They believe that the benefits they don't have, they should have. And so I have a very open mind on it."

The Smelly City

Inspired by the recent exodus of candy manufacturers from the city, Newcity reporter Ray Pride seeks out the remaining scents of Chicago.

Welcome Back Mr. Maddux

Bringing joy to the hearts of Cub fans and unbreaking, soul-crushing sorrow to White Sox fans, the Chicago Cubs have signed first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux. I bet everybody on the North Side feels really special. Well, we got Shingo Takatsu! Just how much more active are the Cubs than the White Sox this offseason? Compare their transactions to date: Cubs...Sox

Rock Your Way to Riches!

Low on dough, high on...whatever? Head to Excalibur tonight. Everybody's least favorite downtown dance club is hosting the first night of the Malibu Rum $10,000 Entertainer Challenge. This karaoke contest won't be won because one participant sings better than another, no! This is an entertainer contest. So, go, rock hard, and when you win, don't forget where you heard about it.

4 - 1 walls

"ThreeWalls is a nonprofit organization dedicated to contemporary art and art education. Our mission is to provide workspace for emerging artists who are at pivotal points in their careers, and to offer the public new approaches to contemporary art-practices through unconventional exhibitions and educational programming." They've been busy.

City Boy: Is this our City?

A new book out by Jean Thompson, City Boy, uses Chicago as its setting. Not much really comes of this fact, aside from the mention of some street names and of Lake Michigan, but sometimes that's enough. Both and the Baltimore Sun recently reviewed this novel, each with a different take on the story. It's a story of two twenty-somethings trying to find their way in this city; sound familiar?


If you're looking for ideas for Chicago souvenirs for your out-of-town relatives or friends, this Metromix article should give you at least one or two new ideas. Who knew that you could purchase and ship Vienna hot dogs? (Of course, nothing really says Chicago like a Gapers' Block T-shirt...)

Chicago Photography Center

It's not too late! The 7 week winter session of photo classes at The Chicago Photography Center will be starting on February 23rd, and there's still time to register. The CPC is a wonderful and inspiring not for profit organization founded by a group of photographers and students in 2002. They offer weekday evening classes and single-session workshops on evenings and Saturday mornings. Their facility includes darkrooms, a gallery, a lighting studio and classroom space. Visit the center on Sunday, February 22nd to check out the inaugural gallery show. A selection of the beautiful photos taken by and of the founders of the center will be on display. The opening reception on Sunday will take place from noon until 4pm at the CPC space, located at 3301 N Lincoln.

Deprive yourself

After watching the horrible Daredevil a while ago, I was reminded of sensory deprivation tanks, otherwise known as floatation tanks. An article written by Brian Lewis in the Chicago teen publication New Expressions sheds a bit of light on what it's like. SpaceTime Tanks, the facility Lewis visited, is one of the better and well-known in Chicago.

Sound Canopy at State and Adams

If you're downtown, check out the Sound Canopy at the southwest corner of State and Adams. The installation, which began January 9, is composed of a 32-speaker soundsystem in a construction scaffolding structure. It's being curated by several local art and sound organizations; on rotation this week is "Somebody's Darling" by Jeremy Baguyos.

Guess Early and Often, Redux

As a follow-up to his quiz last week, Eric Zorn has a new "Are you a Real Chicagoan?" quiz up, this time asking questions from the '80s and '90s so you don't have to be 50+ to score well.

Chicagoland Bicycle Federation Conference

This March, the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation is offering a two-day conference on ways to improve bicycling and walking conditions in Chicagoland for transportation professionals, public officials and advocates. In addition, a Chicago bike lane tour and the fourth annual Bike Town Bash will take place in conjunction with the conference. Some of the events, including the Bike Lane Tour, have limited capacity, so register soon if this sounds like something for you!

Hola & tot ziens

Mexico's consulate in Chicago gets a new larger building which will hopefully become a focal point for the city's Mexican population. And in other international consulate news, the Belgian consulate is leaving after 150 years in the city. Belgium just can't afford to maintain a presence here, when they also have EU expansion to contend with.

Nude Furniture

The Modernist, a web publication created by one of the people behind Jinx coffeeshop and the now-closed Big Brother Video, is your one-stop shop for 20th century modernist furniture and, um, naked people. (Wait till you get home to delve into this one.)

One year after E2

One year after the E2 nightclub tragedy, the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times report on how the Chicago nightclub scene has changed. It appears that lines getting into clubs are longer, club owners are more reluctant to let their places fill to capacity, and the city is conducting more random inspections of venues. 

You vs. Ebert

Roger Ebert has his Oscar predictions up at the Sun-Times Website. If you think you can correctly guess more Oscar winners than he can, you can enter the Outguess Ebert contest, to possibly win a trip to Mexico. To refresh your memory, here's the list of Oscar nominees.

Mondo Bingo!

Mondo Bingo is a weekly event benefitting local arts or social organizations. Every Sunday, Rodan, the swanky new restaurant/bar on Milwaukee ave in Wicker Park, will be hosting the festivities. This Sunday, February 22, join the folks at Unit B gallery for a night of beer drinking, food eating, and bingo playing! Unit B is a fabulous artist-run gallery space located in Pilsen dedicated to highlighting new, emerging, and established contemporary artists. A portion of the evenings proceeds will help them continue on with their wonderful endeavours and secure a booth at the upcoming Stray Show. Bingo playing will start at 9pm. Come with a hungry belly and ready to play some serious bingo for art. Rodan is located at 1530 N Milwaukee.

Grub Hub

An interesting resource, provides a map, neighbourhoods and most importantly the listings of resturants that deliver in your area. While the site is a little non user-friendly (why can't I click on the cuisines?) and it takes three clicks to get to a listing of restaurants (hint: click on a street on the map), it's actually useful.

Trolley System Grant

Speaking of transportation, the Chicago trolley system will be expanded with the aid of a $600,000 federal grant. U.S. Representative Rahm Emanuel helped secure the grant and says the improved trolley service will connect museums and cultural centers in Lincoln Park to Michigan Avenue, Navy Pier, Chinatown and Metra and C.T.A. stations. The expanded service will bring riders to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago Historical Society during the holidays and in the summer.

Vehicles of mass destruction

It was not a good weekend to be a pedestrian. One of the weekend's three car-related homicides killed Chin Up Chin Up bassist Chris Saathoff (Friendster profile here). Blogger Mimi Smartypants was there. (Coincidentally, the Tribune's Transportation section on Sunday looked at what's being done to make cars less dangerous for pedestrians. Not enough, obviously. Cars kill more than 43,000 people a year in the U.S., and about 12 percent are innocent bystanders, the equivalent of one Sept. 11 every seven months.)

Haggis redux

Following up on the very important story of haggis production in Chicago: the Chicago Tribune took it upon themselves to hold a haggis taste test, to see if the product being produced at Vanee Foods in suburban Berkeley is worthy enough to be served. Their panel's verdict: the vegetarian haggis is a bit bland, but the regular haggis is authentic.

What's he doing out there?

The winners of the World Press Photo contest for 2003 are all jaw-droppingly amazing, especially this stunning shot taken from Lake Michigan of a thunderstorm receding from over Chicago. [via kottke]

Upcoming 2004 primary election

The Illinois primary election is Tuesday, March 16th, and if you're not registered for it, your deadline is Tuesday, February 17th (that's tomorrow!). The major appointments to be decided for this election: the Democratic Presidential candidate, and nominees for the Senate seat that will be vacated by outgoing Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. If you have questions about registration, the Sun-Times has a small FAQ page, including where to go to get registered. If you're already registered and want to see a list of candidates in your local area, can help you out. And finally, Chicago Public Radio has coverage on the primary election, including audio archives of candidate debates, a list of the Senate candidate list, and even a page where various voters talk about why or why not they're planning to vote.

But Those Skirts Are Adorable

The Associated Press is reporting that the Chicago Public Schools misspent $1.5m in federal funds earmarked for improving schools for impoverished children. Apparently, the money was spent on, among other things, cheerleading uniforms and floor waxers. Between the underfunding and misspending, it's a wonder our schools are in such poor shape.

The thaw begins

The most beautiful words in the English language are not "I love you," nor are they "Of course you can have seconds." They are "pitchers and catchers report." The Cubs' batteries do so Wednesday, the Sox on Friday, a sure sign that spring is just around the corner. Soon our sidewalks will again be populated by mango vendors and children jumping rope. As of Jan. 29, Vegas gave the North Siders 3:1 odds to win the World Series, compared with 15:1 for the White Sox.

Buy Some Broadcast History

Have you always wanted a framed production still of a "Cagney and Lacey" episode? How 'bout a large wall graphic of Fibber McGee and Molly? Now's your chance, friend! The Museum of Broadcast Communications is having a garage sale to raise money for its new building, scheduled to open in 2005. The sale will be held March 6 at the MBC's previous home, The Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, from noon to 8 pm.

Annoyance in Uptown

Legendary improv company The Annoyance Theater, which took up temporary residence on Lincoln Ave. in 2000 after being booted from its longtime home across from the Metro, has found a permanent spot. The troupe will soon be moving to 4840 N. Broadway as part of the Uptown Chamber of Commerce's plan to create an entertainment district in the neighborhood, which already includes hotspots such as the Green Mill, the Aragon and the Riviera.


If you want to look like a star on the dancefloor, or if you just want to get the basics down be sure to check out Blue Moon Groove. They offer Chicago's hottest Swing and Lindy Hop classes. Blue Moon Groove has some of the best dancers in town (who also happen to be super nice) teaching an excellent selection of classes ranging from Beginning Swing to Advanced Lindy Hop. They even offer Blues, Balboa and Latin dance classes! Beginning Swing is only $45, and all other classes are $50. All of the classes include 4 weekly 75-minute sessions. Visit their site!

Mr. Hyde Records presents:

"Going All The Way," a compilation of new music from bands located in Hyde Park. The goal of the compilation was to represent the best recordings of the best tracks of the most active bands in HP. A very limited number of copies are available free at independent record stores all over Chicago. MP3s are available to download for free.

Wicker Park Trading Post

Modeled after a premier flea market in Los Angeles, the Wicker Park Trading Post is an open-air market featuring bargain antique furniture, collectibles, vintage clothing, jewelry, and local crafts. The Trading Post will operate every other Sunday during the summer months in the MB Financial Bank parking lot at Division & Ashland. The tentative opening date is May 23rd. For additional information and vendor applications visit the West Town Chamber of Commerce.

Not in the top 10

This is one list that it is good to be near the bottom or middle of. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has ranked the top 50 cities with the worst allergy problems for Spring and for Autumn. Chicago makes it to 41 and 30 resectively. So keep wishing for all those flowers to bloom and be glad you don't live in Louisville, KY.

Buy Stuff!

Two local furniture collectors have launched an online store, Highrise, dedicated to 20th century modern art and design pieces. They have a wonderful selection of seating, storage, tables, lighting, art and design objects -- including a beautiful Castiglioni stereo/record player that is very droolworthy! Keep an eye out for them at the upcoming design show in April. Be sure to visit their "link" section, where they've compiled a nice selection of online stores carrying similar products.

Lee Bontecou @ MCA

Lee Bontecou sculpture and drawing retrospective opens tonight at the MCA. Bontecou was widely recognized in the early 60's for her welded steel sculptures, which incorporated various fabrics and found objects. This is her first major exhibition since 1972. Admission for the opening reception is free for members and $15 for non-members. Free appetizers and a cash bar will be provided. The reception will be from 6-9. The show will be running through May 30.

Tuman's Reopens

The bar formerly known as "Tuman's Alchohol Abuse Center" has reopened it's doors for the first time in a year. Tuman's, well known as one of the best dive bars in Chicago and loved for it's incredibly cheap beer, is now a shiny, new and very rehabbed bar with a full kitchen. The broken furniture is gone, and unfortunately so is the excellent jukebox. The beer is not quite as cheap, but for only about .50 cents more you can walk into the bathroom without feeling scared, it's squeaky clean! Visit the sparkly new Tuman's at 2159 W. Chicago.

Romeoville 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about Romeoville, Illinois.

The gift that keeps on ... freaking me out

Still looking for a Valentine's Day gift for your sweetie? You could get him/her a brick from the garage that was the site of the Valentine's Day Massacre from 1929 (it's the 75th anniversary!). A mere $800 will get you a brick and a certificate of authenticity, stating that the brick is from the original garage building at 2122 N. Clark (the garage was torn down in 1967, and the bricks were bought by a forward-thinking fellow from Vancouver).

Fumbling with the Bra

Lucky us: Chicago will be home to one of the four charter teams in the newly announced Lingerie Football League. The Chicago Passion, Los Angeles Dream, New York Euphoria and Dallas Desire will kick off their inaugural, three-game (including the second Lingerie Bowl) season next January. Don't expect to catch practices anywhere nearby -- this is a pay-per-view only event.
Not surprisingly, all this doesn't sit well with the members of the Chicago Force, our local Independent Women's Football League. "You know what I wish?'' said Dee Walker, a 6-1, 190-pound fullback and defensive tackle for the Force, in a Sun-Times article. "I wish they would have extended us the opportunity to come play at halftime of the Super Bowl. This is a kick in the teeth. They're always trying to hurt legitimate women's sports. Corporations won't even talk to us about sponsorship unless we can put 15,000 people in the stands. But if we played in our bras, our budget would be fat.''

Not So Green Gaia

They're all over the city: bright green clothing donation bins for Gaia-Movement Living Earth Green World Action Inc., an environmental charity. But, as the Tribune reports today, Gaia is giving little of the proceeds of all those clothes to the environmental causes it claims to support. Gaia is part of a shadowy Dutch-based organization called Tvind, whose leader was arrested in 2002 on fraud charges.

A Special Ride

Speaking of memorable cab rides: Tomorrow, the Chicago Carriage Cab company is giving out 500 roses to passengers in its maroon luxury taxis as a Valentine's Day publicity stunt (never mind that Saturday is the big day).

Chicago = Gotham?

Michael Caine gave a little boost to our city the other day. He is set to play Alfred, Batman's faithful servant, in the next Batman movie, "Batman: Intimidation". Over talks with online magazine 15 Minutes, Caine mentioned exterior shots of the film will be set in Chicago. The director quickly cautioned this is not a done deal, but if it all works out, Gotham will be Chicago.

You meddling kids

The Sun-Times reports that Chicago's enforcement of curfew has been temporarily suspended, because of problems with Indiana's laws. The 7th US Circuit Court ruled that Indiana does not give enough protection to minors who need to be out after hours, and since Chicago is part of the 7th Circuit, its laws need to be changed as well. So all you minors, this is your chance to stay out after 10:30 on weeknights (11:30 on weekends)!

Ashcroft Turned Down

A federal judge turned down a request by John Ashcroft's Department of Justice for the medical records of 40 patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Citing Illinois' strict patient privacy laws, a federal judge told Justice Department lawyer's they would not be receiving the medical records of patients who had received abortions by Dr. Cassing Hammond before the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 was passed. Why does Ashcroft want these records? To find out if Dr. Hammond's claim that the women's health was jeopardized was true. Oh! Dr. Hammond also happens to be a participant in a New York lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the ban.

More Wrigley night games

The city council today approved a measure allowing the Cubs to play more night games at Wrigley Field. The council also conferred landmark status on Wrigley, but with provisions that allow expansion of the bleachers section and the addition of about 200 new box seats.

Chicago: Rise Up

Following the #1 debut of Twista's album, Kamikaze, producer-turned-rapper Kanye West drops his new album this week, College Dropout. Super producer to the stars, and creator of Twista's big hit "Slow Jamz", Kanye is heavily favored to drop in at #1 next week - somewhat of a phenomenon for Chicago artists. A product of the South Side, Kanye experienced a life-changing accident in October 2002 which helped him move from beat-maker extraordinaire to a full-fledged MC.

Fresh-sliced Ts

T-Shirt Deli Co. in Bucktown makes custom shirts while you wait. Free bag of chips with every order! (Nice write-up in the Feb. issue of Chicago Magazine.)

Where you'll be sitting in traffic this year

The Sun-Times has a list of this year's road projects, giving us all an idea of where not to be driving this summer. Near the top of the list: a stretch of I-88 from Naperville Rd to Route 59 that's apparently like driving on a roller coaster. 

Meet your local music critic

The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop 2003 critics' poll has been released. In the spirit of Brandon's rock crit essay, I thought it might be educational to learn something about the tastes of our local critics by viewing their ballots: Jim DeRogatis and Lloyd Sachs (Sun-Times); Greg Kot (Tribune) and regular Trib freelancers Allison Stewart and Rick Reger; Kiki Yablon, Keith Harris and Peter Margasak (Reader); Keith Phipps (Onion AV Club); and Steve Forstneger (Illinois Entertainer).

The return of Carol Marin

You might remember, way back in 1997, that WMAQ news anchor Carol Marin left her job after the station hired Jerry Springer to do commentaries on the news program. Well, Carol Marin returns to WMAQ tonight, as a "special assignment reporter." Tune in to the 10:00 newscast to see her return.

Guess early and often

Eric Zorn wants to know: Are you a Real Chicagoan? (Don't worry if you don't score as well as you hoped. Zorn's lived here 24 years and still doesn't know all the answers.)

Help computer!

If you haven't already seen the GI Joe PSA's by Eric Fensler, run, dash, or sprint over there and check them out. There are new ones! And doesn't he look charming in his Cubs uniform? "Give him the stick, don't give him the stick!"

Lincoln Park Rapist

Ladies, make sure your doors and windows are locked at night: Police are warning of a serial rapist in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. This is apparently the second Lincoln Park rapist to be identified -- each has a different M.O. The newly identified attacker has also been linked to rapes in Lisle and Kenosha.

The SNL machine's gears turn...

...and once again, another Second City performer is plucked from a promising career on stage to move to New York and work on "Saturday Night Live" as a writer and, eventually, performer. This time, it's 26-year-old Liz Cackowski, who debuted on the Second City mainstage only last December. Thursday night is Liz's last appearance on the stage, in Second City's revue "Doors Open on the Right;" stop by and wish her well.

Free Booze!

Do you feel that Monday nights are boring nights to eat out? Well, the folks at Tizi Melloul feel your pain. To make it a little easier, they've decided to offer a free bottle of Bouchard wine to every table.
Server's request: "Just because my boss has decided to give you something for free, I still have to open the bottle and bring it to your table and refill your glasses. To thank me, please base your tip on the cost of the dinner plus the wine.

Saturday and Sunday Sunday Sunday

Oh, and when you're done with the muskrat love, you can feel the love a little differently on Valentine's Day at the Monster Trucks Race at the Allstate Arena. Gravedigger'll be there!

Which way the wind blows

I probably shouldn't be telling you this, since it'll just attract competition for me, but if you're looking for that breakout role, consider filling out an application to be an extra on The Weather Man, a new Cage/Caine/Verbinski movie filming in Chicago over the spring. The movie, oddly, doesn't seem to be about local weather superstar Tom Skilling or the '70s radical group, but rather just another melodramatic Hollywood rehash. Still: $100 bucks a day and a chance to be in smelling distance of celebrities!

Muskrat Love

Looking for something really unique to do for Valentine's Day weekend? How 'bout a hike to look for muskrats in love? The Lake County Forest Preserve District is offering a hike through McDonald Woods Forest Preserve this Sunday from 1:30-3pm, with the intention of seeking out the big, cute rodents. For more info and to reserve a spot (prepayment required), call 847/968-3321. $7 per person, $5 if you live in Lake County.


Most people associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, or perhaps Brazil, home of the largest Carnival in the world. Possibly last on the list would be the Germans, but the Karnevalsgesellschaft Rheinische Verein, otherwise known as the Mardi Gras Society of Chicago, has been celebrating the day before Lent with style since 1890. (They also celebrate Mayfest and Oktoberfest.)

They broke my watch!

If you thought the Blues Brothers were laid to rest for good after the 1998 sequel Blues Brothers 2000, you'd better brace yourself for the Blues Brothers musical. The Blues Brothers Revival opens April 7 at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, and it supposedly tells the story of Jake Blues (John Belushi's character) trying to get into Heaven, with a little help from his (living) friends. No word on whether there's going to be a chase scene on the way to Heaven.


The House Theatre (whose current show, "San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid," runs through March 6) has a special treat on its site: Valentine, a Frank Miller-esque comic book about a superhero with a heart on his chest.

More Yellow

The RTA, parent of the CTA, is mulling a plan to add two new stops to the Yellow line -- one in downtown Skokie and one near Old Orchard Mall, which would mean a 1.6-mile extension of the line. The latter would be great for citydwellers itching to get to a proper mall without a car.

Wax work

Bizarre, creepy but always fascinating, the 3-d figure works of Chicago artist Josef Seiganthaler is truly the showcase of a vivid imagination. The Figures section is highly recommended.

The hardest $125,000 you'll ever earn

$125,000 is the prize for the next Chicago Marathon, which is more than the prize totals for last year's marathons in NYC and Boston. On the down side, you have to run 26.2 miles to pick up the prize money. But hey, you've got till October 10 to get training! If you feel ready, you can even sign up already, eight months in advance.

Chico stands alone

Responding to a Tribune inquiry, all five major Democratic Senate candidates said they'd oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but only Gery Chico actually supports implementing marriage for same-sex couples. The rest all support the civil-union model.

No Candy = No Mojo?

The Christian Science Monitor discusses the impending departure of Fannie Mae and the loss of Brach's and Frango. Lacking our homegrown confections, they're worried we might get a bit down. Vosges anyone?

Theatre is big business

The League of Chicago Theatres recently released an economic impact study on live theatre in the Chicago area. Among the League's findings: member theatres had a total economic output of $347 million in 2002, the most recent year in the study; 2.4 million area residents attended at least one live theatre performance in that year; Chicago theatre audiences are 72% caucasian, with a mean age of 47.14; and the city is home to about 1400 professional actors and 500 behind-the-scenes artists.

Breathe a Little Easier

The City of Chicago is slightly healthier--our EPA air quality rating has slightly improved over previous years. This means saying you're going outside for a "breath of fresh air" won't be so ironic anymore.

Future of Futures?

Business Weekly is reporting that Swiss futures/commodities trading scrapper Eurex--once vaguely alligned with the Chicago powerhouse futures traders the Chicago Board of Trade and the Mercantile Exchange--has finally cracked into the Chicago markets and is looking to make trouble. Chicago is the birthplace of futures trading and still dominates the world markets in futures and commodities exchange, and Eurex' gambit is yet another chipping away at Chicago's homespun industry.

Basecamp Launches

37signals, Chicago's own web design and usability powerhouse, has just released Basecamp, a beautiful web-based project management system aimed at the freelance and small shop crowd. It's only been out a few days, and it's already racked up lots of praise. If you're looking for something to improve organization and communication among your co-workers, or beteween you and your client, consider checking it out.

Spaces, Chicago

You know, I've always wished there was a site which listed some of the more independent art gallery spaces in Chicago. Well, whaddaya know? There is. is a barebones site with upcoming openings and links and profiles to art spaces in the city concentrated to the burgeoning Pilsen artists area. There is also a link to, a searchable art database. Nifty!

Again, thanks!

A big cheer, three hips, three hoorays to donor Pete Anderson. We're much obliged.

Look! Cars!

The Chicago Auto Show opens tomorrow down at McCormick Place and runs till the 15th. Want to see all the cool new cars without having to brave the crowds? Car & Driver and Motor Trend have overviews. And next year, the show will be even bigger. In related news, Ford announced plans to add as many as 3,000 jobs at its plant on the Southeast Side.


One of Steppenwolf's most famous members, John Malkovich, will be returning to the Chicago stage in early 2005. Nothing is known about the play that he'll be in, except that it'll be written by London playwright Stephen Jeffreys (whose play "The Libertine" was staged at Steppenwolf in 1996, and featured Malkovich's most recent appearance at the theater company) and will run at Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre. Oh, and the play will include marionettes. (Not really.)

Weekend Records is Closing

Weekend Records and Soap is going out of business and will soon be closing their doors for good. Weekend specializes in underground electronic music (vinyl and cd) and handmade natural soaps. They stock an impressive selection of both. The store will remain open until Sunday February 22nd and everything is currently 20% off, that includes fixtures, turntables and computers. Get yourself down to 1919 W. Division for some low priced goodies and to say goodbye to a wonderful shop that will be greatly missed. Store hours are Tues thru Sat 11-8 and Sun 12-6.

Public Sculpture, Public Poll

Public sculpture can be controversial: Temporary Services posted clipboards requesting feedback on a sculpture at Grand and Western, then posted the responses online. (Via Coudal.)

What, no Demon Dogs?

Looking for a good place to go out to eat? Check out this week's Newcity; the cover story is "Chicago's 100 essential restaurants." Mini-review of each restaurant, and the places are categorized by neighborhood, so you'll know what's closest.

Rintaro in Chicago

Famed Japanese anime director Rintaro/Taro Rin (you know him from such anime as Metropolis) will present a free lecture at the Japanese Information Center from 6 - 8pm today with a reception after. A must for fans of anime. More info.

More $ to Smoke

Bad news for smokers (good news for the rest of us): the Cook County Board of Commissioners raised the county tax on cigarettes from 18 cents to a dollar, meaning smokers now pay a total of $2.53 in city, county, state and federal tobacco taxes. The new tax takes effect April 1.

The Blues is not a Museum Piece

As part of its Black History Month celebration, the Museum of Science and Industry is presenting Sweet Home Chicago: Big City Blues 1946-1966, a look at the history of the blues in Chicago. The exhibit was developed in partnership with Seattle's Experience Music Project music museum.

Chowhounds in the Trib

The Trib has a good article on Chicago's Chowhound community and some of the recent dinners they've planned together.

Terra's slow goodbye

You have only nine more months to visit the always enjoyable Terra Museum of American Art, which will close its doors on Michigan Avenue at the end of October. The museum is currently featuring a terrific collection of New York Times photographs from the 1950's; that exhibit closes this Sunday to make way for what will be the final exhibition, which looks to be a "greatest hits" of the Terra collection. A Narrative of American Art opens on Valentine's Day. Admission is always free. (See ArtNet for another opinion on Terra's downfall.)

Automotive Art

Last month a new, um, gallery opened on Chicago's Near North Side. The Legacy Automotive Art Gallery features limited edition prints and original works that capture "the thrill and drama of the most exciting cars, trucks and motorcycles of all time." View their online gallery or view photos of the gallery on Dayton Street.

injust-spring Returns!

After a long hiatus, local blogger and former GB staffer Alex Valera has restarted her blog, injust-spring. Welcome back!

Pledge Time

It's pledge time again for your favorite independent radio station, WLUW. Donate $35 or more and get the basic member package; give $60+ and get an Archer Prewitt-designed t-shirt (etc. -- you know how it works).

A subtle twist on Valentine's Day

Looking for something different this Valentine's Day? Something better than just heading out to dinner? The Chopping Block is offering some classes that not only serve a delicious meal, but have it prepared before you! Current Valentine's Day offerings include A Romantic Dinner for Two, Champagne Brunch, and classes on how to woo your favorite girl or guy. You can either choose the hands-on menu where you and your sweetie cook together in Lincoln Square, or the demo meals at either Lincoln Square or their Webster St. store.

'Perfect' exhibit at Cultural Center

The Daily Northwestern reviews the opening of a new exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. Titled "Perfect: A Group Exhibition," the show features the work of 11 artists who transform "ordinary images and objects into something unrecognizable and fantastic." The show runs through March 21.

Poundy Book!

Wendy McClure, writer of Pound, has a book deal! Her upcoming book, tentatively titled "I Am Not the New Me," has been picked up by Riverhead Books, home of Nick Hornby and ZZ Packer. Huzzah!

Homicidal City

As part of an ongoing series, the Tribune is taking a look at what has made Chicago one of the most murderous in the country. Today's feature is a profile of the deadliest beat in the city: Logan Square Beat 1413. [Trib login: gapers/gapers]

Sun-Times for Sale

The Chicago Sun-Times: 35 cents an issue, a few hundred million for the whole thing. Crain's reports that the second city's second paper is officially up for sale, along with the rest of Hollinger's Chicagoland newspapers.

No heat for bus stops

As you're standing at the bus stop this morning, you might be asking yourself why CTA el stops have those heat lamps, but CTA bus shelters don't. This Sun-Times story explains why.

Big-time Bucket Boys

Those talented teens who play their makeshift drums along Michigan Ave. are getting their big break: They're heading to LA to perform at the NBA All-Star Game's pre-game event. If they do well, they'll be playing during the game itself. [trib login: gapers/gapers]



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