Gapers Block has ceased publication.

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


Thursday, August 18

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Not so Grand

Jonathan Messinger, of This is Grand, offers his opinions on the Campaign for Better Transit's report on the CTA. I've never found a grenade on a train, but how about no more than two Brown lines per Red line at transfer stations in the morning? Any morning in which I don't have a man's front area rubbing against my rear area with no room to move even my hand, let alone my entire self, makes for a pleasant CTA experience.


Author and historian, and beloved Chicago personality, Studs Terkel, was recently profiled in the Guardian. Still recovering from his "wild, jazzy, tumble", a fall that was mere inches from breaking his neck, the indestructible Studs talks with Martin Kettle. They discuss his most recent book, Hope Dies Last, his upcoming work, and the current political climate, "We're at a moment of unashamenedness. I call it the evil of banality."

Grapefruit, Juicy Fruit, and Old Style?

That might be the menu at Wrigley Field next year if Cubs President Andy MacPhail can bend Alderman Tom Tunney to his will and permit a "big" concert every other year at Wrigley Field. The rumored first act may be Jimmy Buffet which just might attract some Sox fans to the friendly confines.

All That Glitters

This weekend the Chicago Cultural Center is hosting All That Glitters: A Holiday Bazaar. At this two-day event you will be able to buy gifts from cultural organizations and local artists from all over the city. For those of you who remember, this event seems to be filling the gap left by the Newberry Library's defunct Very Merry Bazaar. Thank you City of Chicago! All That Glitters is open Friday 10am to 6pm and Saturday 10am to 5pm.

Laser Light Show

The Adler Planetarium has a neat looking show that updates the tired (oh, so so tired) psychedelic planetarium light show. Instead of the usual warhorse "The Wall", the Adler Planetarium is running a digital show with music from artists from - gasp - this decade! Moby, Coldplay, Audioslave, The Flaming Lips (among the proverbial others) contribute music to this digital "dreamspace". Looks pretty neat, and it has to be better than hearing about the Crab Nebula again. (If you insist on seeing The Wall or Srgt Peppers, you're going to have to wait til February. Otherwise, you could make your own laser light show.)

Current Crop At the MCA

If you are downtown this holiday season, the MCA has quite a few exciting exhibits worth checking out. Unfortunately their current headliner "Between Past and Future" stinks - the art seems to be on display more for its existence than quality. The Kai Altoff exhibit however, is fantastic and shouldn't be missed.
Why is "No Respect" a good exhibit? Much modern art is examined and consumed in seconds. Once you "get" the idea, there is little beyond the surface to study and examine. Kai's work, however, offers not only a chance to get below the surface with his varied and media and themes, but his technique is excellent. It's a fantastic show, and I even found myself enjoying the music from his band Workshop, playing anonymously on the record player in the background.

Signs of hula-hooping hippies in Chicago

The Sun-Times staff must be checking out, because today they printed a story about hula hoop decals being added to road signs in Chicago, apparently by fans of the Colorado jam band String Cheese Incident. This phenom was covered last week at BoingBoing, among other places. Be careful, SCI fans (and vegan activists); defacing a city sign carries a maximum punishment of a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Shop local! Buy independent!

Ahh, the holiday shopping season. Whether you love it or hate it, this is the time of year when we all find ourselves spending money. It's been proven that spending your money in locally-owned stores benefits the city much more than buying at a large retail chain. Thankfully Studio 9 Gallery is displaying more than a dozen local crafters goods through December 24th. And Depart-ment takes place this weekend which lets you buy more locally-produced goods. So go ahead and spend, but do it wisely.

Wanna Buy a House?

EBay Pulse is an interesting barometer of the online auction world. It also allowed me to learn that the current highest-priced item on eBay is a mansion in north suburban Highland Park. Million-dollar opening bid? Peanuts compared with its $6.995 million realtor listing.

Know Your Rights

Chicago-based web magazine Subsystence is at it again, releasing the fourth installment of their experiment in community publishing over the holiday weekend. Featuring a volume design from Rob Hamilton of LazyFM fame, Citizen showcases a variety of creative, politically- related content from music to photography, travelogues to fiction, poetry to movie reviews. GB contributors Jesica Davis and Anne Holub are among the nearly two dozen people who shared work this time around. If you're interested in getting involved, the mag has also opened submissions to their next issue.

One Man Star Wars

Charlie Ross is one man against an empire. Well, actually, he plays the Empire, too, in his One Man Star Wars Trilogy, running now through Valentine's Day at the Apollo Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $19 ($15 for students); may the Force be with you.

World Aids Day in Chicago

December 1st marks the Annual World AIDS day. The city will be hosting its events from 1 - 8pm at the Cultural Center and includes a speech by Rev. Jesse Jackson. If you are up on the North Side, There will also be a candlelight vigil at the Lakeview Lutheran Church at 8:30pm. Details at World Aids Day Chicago website. (Also - know about other events? Send them to inbox @

Vote for the next city sticker design

If you've ever wanted to have a say in the designs of the Chicago vehicle stickers, here's your chance. Yesterday's Sun-Times included the 10 finalists by artists from local high schools, and today you get your chance to cast a vote for the winning design at the City Clerk's Website. You can also cast your vote in person at City Hall (121 N. LaSalle) or by phone at (312) 744-2506. But hurry to cast your vote; the polls close tonight at 5:00 PM. The winning design will net its creator a $1,000 savings bond.

Oh those t-shirts!

A big thanks to the first few people who've bought the new sexy GB T-shirts, we hope you enjoy getting comfortable in them and the vast accolades of how sexy you look that will soon come your way. We'd also like to thank the people who wrote in and noted a few ordering snafus — we've now made it easier to order the shirts by placing a drop down so you can select your size right there and then! So go ahead — maybe someone you know would like their stocking stuffed with one of these, Christmas is just around the corner...

Ed Paschke passes on

Reuters reports that Chicago-area painter Ed Paschke has died of an apparent heart attack.

"Buddhism Today," Today

The Diamond Way Buddhist Center of Chicago presents "Buddhism Today," a lecture by Lama Ole Nydahl tonight at 8 pm. The lecture is at the Thorne Auditorium at Northwestern University's downtown campus (375 E Chicago Avenue, at the corner of Chicago Ave and Lake Shore Drive). The event is free and open to all.

Chicago to Los Angeles

You'll notice something different over there in Airbags on the right: a new column, "Chicago to LA." Sean U'Ren, one of the masterminds behind the Fast Forward Film Festival, has moved to Los Angeles in hopes of breaking into the film industry, and will be writing an occasional column for Gapers Block relaying his experiences. The first installment is titled "How Am I Driving?"

Oak Park's Great

The Project for Public Spaces has made a list of the 20 best districts, downtowns and neighborhoods in North America, and Lake Street between Harlem and Forest Avenues in Oak Park is number 13. (Thanks, Brenda)

Hot Doug's II

Just got word from Hot Doug's; the beloved hot dog emporium will be returning, after a fire closed the restaurant last April! The new home of Hot Doug's will be 3324 N. California, or about 1/2 mile west of the old location. The grand re-opening is set for sometime in early January; keep an eye on the Hot Doug's Website in the weeks to come for more details.

Ten Visions

Wonder what Chicago architects envision for the city's future? Chicago Architecture: Ten Visions opens today at the Art Institute, showcasing proposals from ten local architects with which to discuss issues such as housing, education, and the "impact of the information age." The interactive exhibition runs through April.

Yeah, they're just t-shirts, but they're really hip t-shirts

According to this profile of the brand in the New York Times, American Apparel will open its first Chicago retail store on Friday. Where? Wicker Park, where else? Future outlets of the Gap For Hipsters will follow in Evanston and the Gold Coast.

Music Madness, 15MB at a Time

15 Megs of Fame is a new site from the creators of Threadless, giving musicians 15MB of space with which to promote their work. Visitors to the site can download the music for free (under a Creative Commons license) and leave feedback for the creators. Pretty sweet!

November 24, 1884

On this day in Chicago history a judge directed the county clerk to produce the tally sheets, poll books and ballots of the Second Precinct, Eighteenth Ward, of the city in connection with allegations of tampering in the Leman (Republican) and Brand (Democrat) senatorial race. In March 1885, three men were convicted of falsifying returns to give Brand the edge over Leman. The race was closely scrutinized because the outcome determined which political party would have a majority in the state legislature.

O'Hare put to the test this holiday weekend

You've probably heard by now that the Skyway is re-opening in time for Thanksgiving travel. But the Skyway isn't the only travel route that's getting a test this holiday weekend. O'Hare will be experiencing its first major holiday season after flight limits were put into effect on November 1. (You may recall the news from last summer that the FAA was forcing O'Hare to reduce flights into the airport, because delays at O'Hare cause delays at other airports nationwide.) On the bright side, there's apparently already a noticeable improvement in O'Hare's on-time performance this month. You'll still probably want to bring that paperback book to pass the time, though; airline officials are still advising customers to arrive at the airport two hours before your flight.

If you are a dreamer, come in

The Theatre Building Chicago, at 1227 W. Belmont, presents An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein, focusing on the author's short plays. I still pick up my vintage Silversteins and admire the rhymes and line drawings - and also the pages wherein someone lovingly colored the Meehoo and the Exactlywatt. This show, however, is for a slightly older audience. The more mature Shel can be seen through December 18th.

Something to believe in

Bret Michaels' stolen guitar has been returned, thanks to an anonymous Chicagoan. (Yes, the Bret Michaels from Poison. Didn't you know he's on a solo tour right now?)

A Christmas (Tree Ship) Story

The Weather Channel will feature Chicago in a holiday edition of its Storm Stories premiering this weekend. It's the story of the wreck of the Rouse Simmons, the "Christmas Tree ship" that brought trees across Lake Michigan to Chicago and was lost in a storm in 1912. (Incidentally, Storm Stories is produced in Chicago.) "The Christmas Tree Ship: A Holiday Storm Story" premieres Sunday at 8:00pm (CT).

New Issue of Revol

Local web publication Revol has their fifth issue online, and it's well worth checking out. The November installment features work from Chris Luxton, Neil Collyer, Aaron Ruell, Mike Brodie, and Donald Dixon, and showcases the best design, photography, and illustration you've never seen. I think they'd like it if you had a look, and while you're there, why not buy a pin to wear on your new GB T-shirt?

Breathe Deep

There's something in the air -- or, more to the point, there isn't: Chicago and the collar counties now meet the EPA ratings in the one-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards. We also pass standards on airborne particulates (dust and soot) and are below limits for carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Woohoo!

Evita is the Pits?

Chicagoist reports on a bit of a mishap at last Friday's performance of "Evita" at the Auditorium Theater. Apparently the leading man misjudged a slide across the stage and ended up in the orchestra pit. Don't cry for him, though: the performance restarted ten minutes later.

"...any color so long as it's black!"

If you haven't noticed by the rather large ads popping up in the middle column over there, we finally got our t-shirts in. They look great, come in a variety of styles and sizes for women, men and everyone. Get yours today in the GB Shop (where we also have buttons, posters and free stickers!) Update: We apologize to those who've been trying to order shirts - our PayPal woes are now fixed!

Connecting You with Your Belly Dancer is the city's premier resource for belly dancing around the city. Find classes -- admit it, you've always wanted to learn -- and peruse the monthly calendar of belly dancing around town. Found via Arabesque, a new belly dance studio on the far Northwest Side, which is throwing a party this weekend at Fizz.

ISO Craig's List Success Story

CBS Sunday Morning is looking for folks who've had success on craigslist. They seem to be primarily interested in getting a wide range of folks who have had interesting experiences with Missed Connections. You can write them a brief account of your craigslist experiences, along with your name and telephone number at CBS_Sunday_Morning[at]hotmail[dot]com.

Fight. For Your Right. To Traaansit!

The Campaign for Better Transit is trying to help CTA riders control their transportation destiny. Check out their PDF report on whether your CTA train ride is worth the fare. (Short answer: no.)

There's still time to get turkey on Turkey Day

Are you stuck in the city on Thanksgiving, away from all your relatives? Does your Turkey Day plan involve a trip to Taco Bell? Yeah, I've been there. Which is why I was pleased to see both Metromix and Newcity come up with a list of restaurants that offer either a sit-down dinner on Thanksgiving, or take-out Thanksgiving food and trimmings. No all-day slaving in a hot kitchen required, and you still get that happy drowsy feeling from eating a lot of holiday food. Make your plans quick, though; many restaurants require reservations for their holiday servings, and the take-out ordering deadline for a lot of the restaurants is tomorrow.

NYT on Lincoln Square eats

The NY Times has discovered Lincoln Square: its dining options, that is. An article in yesterday's paper profiles Charlie's on Leavitt, Bistro Campagne, Tank Sushi, and Acqualina.

Third Coast Turkey Day

Those uninterested in the marathon of football on Thanksgiving might want to turn on the radio and listen to the Third Coast Audio Festival's presentation of the 2004's winning programs. The show runs 9-11am on WBEZ -- check here for stations and times outside of Chicago.

Old Town Performance Archive

The Old Town School of Folk Music has a video archive of many of the performers and workshops there over the last couple years. They're continuously updating the available performances, so if you missed a show, look for it there. Quicktime is required.

Sifting Through the Geekiness

Mike Skallas of Everything Isn't Under Control has created NerdFilter, "a MetaFilter clone for Chicago geeks." The focus is more on technology and the arts than politics and news.

Watch Your Step

Somebody's been stealing manhole covers -- more than 150 this month. Police say the rise in scrap iron prices may have driven demand for the 125-pound discs; iron drainage grates are also disappearing.

Columbian Expo Eye Candy

The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 inspired the building of some amazing structures, some of which were captured in this beautiful portfolio of lithographs. You may also be interested in IIT's Digital History Collection, one of the most comprehensive online resources on the fair.

The sound (and sight) of music

Two new musical documentaries begin showing tonight at the Siskel Film Center. There's Moog, an appreciation of musician and inventor Robert Moog. (You know, the Moog synthesizer guy.) And there's also a documentary about Christian rock music, Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? (This film was recently seen at this year's Chicago Underground Film Festival.) The directors of this film, Heather Whinna and Vickie Hunter, will be at the Film Center for audience discussion after tonight's screening. And if that isn't enough music for you, tonight's Film Center schedule also includes a screening of that hard-hitting look at the Hollywood music scene, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. So now all you fans of The Carrie Nations have something to do tonight!

Greenmaps of Chicago

Yahoo maps and their ilk are a useful resource, but not too effective when you want to walk or bike to a place. They provide little idea of how cultural attractions, transit stops, or bike parking integrate with the street network. There is a global project to build maps that do this - the Greenmap project. Chicago's Greenmap has a head start and has a few maps already out there - well known neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Wicker Park, and Rogers Park (which is incorrectly linked on the site).

Fannie May store opens today!

Good news for Fannie May fans! The store is opening up stores again in the Chicagoland area, and the latest opening happens today in the Loop. The Fannie May store at Michigan and Wacker Drive opens this morning at 10:00, and the first 500 customers get a free one-pound box of Pixies. So you better go stand in line right RIGHT NOW. (Thanks to Chicagoist for the tip.)


I was reminded of how to catch a squirrel at this past weekends kick arse DIY Trunk Show. As Pulaski Park is a haven for squirrels, it came up in a conversation with some friends. I then remembered my dear friend Annie's guide to catching squirrels or rather, Squirrelfishing.

Not R. Kelly This Time!

The Miami Herald published a fake story they got off the Internet about R. Kelly sexing up Ashanti's kid sister. A retraction ran today. (Considering the various allegations floating around, is it really a surprise that this hoax was believed?) [Thanks, Jenna]

Records to Buy!

A brand new record store is opening up in Hyde Park this week. Hyde Park records is celebrating its grand opening tomorrow night from 7-11. Go early and get the first peek at the best of the collection! DJ Meaty Ogre will be there spinning obscure soul 45's for most of the night. There will also be food, drinks...and so many records!

CTA service cuts on track for next year

The Illinois General Assembly has postponed talks on restructuring transit funding until the middle of next year at the earliest, which means that the CTA may proceed with massive service cuts in January, as the Tribune reports. CTA prez Frank Kreusi has asked state lawmakers to rework the Chicago mass transit funding formulas to improve the CTA's outlook, but this is considered a longshot strategy. So get ready for decreased bus and train service in January...

"Yep, sonny this is sure enough Injun summer."

Every year for 80 years, the Tribune ran "Injun Summer," a short story by John T. McCutcheon, about the last bit of warm weather in Fall (which we seem to be experiencing right now). In 1992, the story was retired, deemed offensive to Native Americans, but it lives on, of course, online.

GB Mail List, back in full effect

Many of you may have woken up to an email asking you to confirm your subscription to "The Party Line" our weekly mail list written by Brian (you really should subscribe, it's hilarious and poignant). When we moved servers a few weeks ago, we also decided to use a much better, faster, stronger mailing list system, and thus, you've all been asked to confirm your susbscriptions due to strict anti-spam policies. The Party Line is back this week and a glorious email will be sent out this evening.

For That Mad Scientist on Your List

Clearly, Chicago needs more places to find robot parts, cheap, and American Science and Surplus is here to meet those needs. You can shop the catalogue online, and find lab supplies, motors, optics, and tons of other things that can make one quite giddy with possibility, or you can visit their Chicago store on Milwaukee just north of Foster, or head out to their Geneva store. [Thanks, Melissa!]

Bpitch Returns to Chicago

Tonight, local electronic gurus Meiotic welcome back Bpitch Control labelhead and Berlin resident Ellen Allien for her debut Smart Bar performance. Unfortunately, some unpleasant Visa trouble prevented her last scheduled tour of the States, but apparently she is in town this time and ready to perform. Expect a set of varied electro, techno and abstract beats, while Chicago's very own Kate Simko (of Detalles fame) warms things up with a live show of dubby, atmospheric IDM. Personally, I'd get there early, as Simko's performance will likely be the highlight of the evening. Meiotic resident DJs Audiophile and m50 kick things off with a tag team set. More info is available here.

Calling all Chicago photobloggers

If you're a photoblogger in Chicago, consider checking out and contacting Chicagoland photobloggers. Still in its nascent stages, the goal of the site seem to be fostering a community, while sharing ideas and information. The creation of the site seems to be inspired by

Attention SearsMart Shoppers

Kmart and Sears announced today that Kmart would buy the 118-year-old Chicago company, creating the world's third-largest retailer. The newly merged entity will use the Sears name, as Sears Holdings Company, and will be headquartered at Sears' current digs in suburban Hoffman Estates. Kmart's recent bankruptcy was handled by the Chicago-based corporate restructuring practice of Skadden, Arps. For more Sears history, visit the Sears Archive (which we told you about just last week). 

Illinois poets

The Illinois poet laureate site has audio and video of Illinois poets reading their work at a 2002 conference at Bradley University. It also has a Featured Illinois poet section; currently featured is Li-Young Lee, who recently read some of his amazing work at a Guild Complex event.

We Wanted Names, We Got Names

Following up the story yesterday about the arrest of Derrick Mosely on blackmail charges, it turns out the unnamed, high profile athlete whose wife supposedly had an affair (possibly with R. Kelly?) is Gary Sheffield of the New York Yankees. And apparently there may be a videotape.

A Few Media Blogs

It's interesting to watch old media dip their feet in the blogging pool, and how each one goes at it. The Trib's Eric Zorn has been at it with his Notebook awhile now, and his colleague Maureen Ryan now has a TV blog (and someday the Tribune will give them permalinks). Jack Mabley, the 89-year-old editor emeritus of the Daily Herald, has his own blogspot, though it's been quiet in recent weeks. And Chicago Public Radio has gotten into the act with a "Pledge Blog" with their current pledge drive.

White Castle Stuffing

In today's Sun-Times food section, you can score Sandy Thorn Clark's father's recipe for White Castle Stuffing (5th paragraph). "Enjoy its oniony fragrance and remind yourself that Thanksgiving was created for carb-laden recipes just like this." Yum, White Castle Stuffing.

Where the West Elm Grows

If you watch enough Queer Eye, you'll recognize the furniture and tables that they decorate with from the urban home store West Elm. Until recently, you had to shop online or order their print catalogue to achieve that same level of hip sofa action. But now, West Elm has hit Oak Brook with a store of its own where you can peruse, fluff and lounge. Ooh, and hey, they're hiring.

November 16, 1944

Today in Chicago history 750 non-operating employees of the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee and the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Electric Railroads were laid off following a week of strikes by 500 operating employees of the railroads. The workers went on strike to demand a wage increase of nine cents an hour -- four cents more than they were initially offered. Outraged commuters sent telegrams to the White House, pleading for President Roosevelt to intervene and end the strike.

We Want Names!

The media is now naming names in the recent arrest of "community activist" Derrick Mosley. Mosley was charged with extortion for allegedly threatening to distribute a video of a certain athlete's wife with a certain Chicago-area musician. Media sources are now revealing that the musician involved may be R&B singer R. Kelly.

National Geographic Goes Green

Yet another glowing review of Mayor Daley's "mandate" to continue the trend towards environmentally friendly green roofs. Nat'l Geographic News runs a feature which talks about the benefits of our green roof initiative, and why other cities should take notice. Da Mare also gets in some nice talk regarding why it's so important to talk about these issues, "The environmental movement often seems like it's happening somewhere else and people forget about our own community. We need to be sure that we're planning well."

Is Wal-Mart Good For America?

We have discussed whether Wal-Mart is right for Chicago many times on Gapers Block. Read columnist Ramsin Canon's Kill the Juggermart and his Part 2 follow-up for an overview. Then, watch Frontline tonight on PBS as the program asks "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?"

Adopt a Pet

If you've been thinking about getting a cat or dog, this is the time: The Department of Animal Care and Control is inundated with pets eligable for adoption, and will soon be forced to euthenize. The DACC is located at 2741 S. Western and is open from noon to 7pm every day. Every pet is spayed or neutered for free.

Special Cinemas

Cinema Treasures is a site devoted to movie theater preservation and awareness. There are 365 theaters listed for Chicago, 796 for Illinois. [via Coudal]

So What Else Is New?

The Sun-Times reports that Loop Capital Markets, a Chicago-based investment firm involved in the lucrative deal to privatize the Skyway, just happens also to be "at the center of a federal corruption case in Philadelphia."

Dame Couture

I've got a huge problem fitting into off-the-rack clothes. I've got some pretty good sewing skills, but every time I've tried sewing my own clothes I've wished there was a cool place where I could learn some tips and tricks to make it go easier. Thankfully the proprietresses of Dame Couture are willing to rescue me from having to take a quilted vest or an applique sweatshirt sewing class. These stylish mavens are offering classes that range from how basic sewing, to pillow-making, to make pajama pants.

Skim the Fat

If you're looking for a constantly updated and comprehensive list of skateboarding videos, you need not look further than Skim the Fat. Pete and Jerry and The Army have reviewed (at this count) 542 skate videos. That's a lot. Some nice features include a tracklist of the soundtrack featured in a video, which as many skaters know is great because some videos don't list those and when you're trying to find out what song that was during that one skater, it's bloody nice to have that. Also send a buck in to the HQ (local, of course) and get some hilarious stickers.

Mapping the Cameras

Open-Loop is an ongoing project aimed at mapping all 300-plus videocameras that monitor our every move in the Loop. And not just city-installed cameras, either -- the vast majority of unblinking eyes are in private hands, and they're on the map, too.

In related news, the City is considering using its traffic cameras at intersections to catch speeders in addition to light-runners. More than 67,000 tickets have been issued for running red lights in less than a year, which bodes well for city coffers if speed monitoring is added.

Wrigley Gets Minty and Fruity

The Wrigley Company announced today that it's buying the Altoids and Life Savers brands from the Kraft Company. This doesn't mean that these candies will be produced in Chicago, but it does help boost our candy capital a bit. I hope that Wrigley keeps these cool online arcade games when the transaction's over.

Illinois wants to give you money!

The state government has $35 million, mostly in unclaimed tax refunds, that it's trying to give to its rightful owners. The State Comptroller's Website has a form that you can fill out to see if your name is on an uncashed state check. (Note that you do have to give your Social Security # on the site, and it doesn't appear to be a secure site. If you have reservations about giving out your SSN on the Web, you can also call the Comptroller's office at (217) 785-1128 during business hours.)

Yearning to contribute?

Our pals over at Chicagoist are hiring. Well, maybe hiring is the wrong word, since I'm pretty sure they (like us) are an all-volunteer army. At any rate, if fine arts, food and restaurants, or GLBT happenings are your forte, then Chicagoist would like to hear from you.

Amateur night

The always entertaining Chicagomuzik brings us an early guide to "where not to be" on New Year's Eve.

Bolshoi Ballet Hits Chicago

Beginning this week, the famed Bolshoi Ballet and Orchestra sets up shop at the Auditorium Theatre, rotating between performances of two Marius Petipa classics, Don Quixote and Raymonda. If you like dance, or can at least appreciate a beautiful, technically-precise spectacle, this will be worth checking out. And, as the Reader suggests, it seems fortunate that the company isn't staging their modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, so I'll gladly take what we can get. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.

Add It to Your Wish List

Amazon now has a page set up for Wendy McClure's forthcoming book, I'm Not the New Me. Pre-order it now!

Theater for the kids

Can't attend the trunk show tomorrow, because you're stuck at home watching the kids? Why not take them to the theater? The Neo-Futurists are starting a kid-friendly version of their long-running late-night show "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind", and the first performance is tomorrow afternoon at 2pm. Kids age 6 and over are invited to attend, and since the regular "Too Much Light" show includes a lot of audience participation there should be plenty for the kids to do. See the Neo-Futurist website for more details.

Stop By Saturday

You were planning on checking out the DIY Trunkshow tomorrow, right? If you do, come see us -- we'll be in the "Cafe Room" upstairs, and we'll have the brand-new GB t-shirts for sale, along with the various other goodies currently for sale in the shop. See you then!

You're invited to The Party

A very unusual Peter Sellers/Blake Edwards film at the Siskel Film Center tonight. The Party has Sellers playing an Indian actor who inadvertently destroys a film version of "Gunga Din" (Sellers' filmed death scene at the beginning of the movie is hilarious), and then is accidentally invited to a party at the producer's house. Some very funny sight gags in the film, mostly centering around Sellers trying to be inconspicuous at a party at which he doesn't know any of the attendees. The film is being shown as part of the Film Center's American Film Comedy series, and will be screened again next Tuesday with an accompanying lecture.

Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith in Stripped Books

The November edition of Bookslut is out and has a brand new "Stripped Books" on a store appearance by children's book creators Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith from a few weeks back. (Yeah, it's by me -- sorry about the blatant self-promotion.) The new edition also features interviews with Caitlin R. Kiernan, Jennifer Weiner, Amy Sohn and Arthur Phillips, as well as a new installment of Sharon Adarlo's "Judging a Book By Its Cover" feature and reviews galore.

Dining Events Next Tuesday's Dish column points out two food events next Tuesday:

1. Head to the Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr., and "eat scorpions, rattlesnakes, crickets and other exotic munchies" at the "Taste of Adventure." Free, but reservations required: call 888/281-8502.

2. Watch Rachael Ray film an episode of Food Network's "Inside Dish with Rachael Ray" at Piece, 1927 W. North Ave. She'll be talking with Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen. (Shouldn't they be in Rockford, then?)

Recycle Used Computers

Who doesn't have a box -- or even a whole closet -- full of used computer stuff? Don't throw it away! Computers, monitors, cell phones, etc. contain toxic chemicals like chromium, lead, mercury, and more. Check out this list of local businesses and recyclers from the National Recycling Coalition. They'll see that your old equipment get reused, remarketed, or safely recycled.

Classic Championship Wrestling

Don't have the cash to spring for expensive WWE Events? The Woodstock VFW Post 5040 is hosting Classic Championship Wrestling this Saturday out in McHenry County. CCW WrestleRage II (Revenge is SERVED!) will feature classics like a steel cage match, tag team, and the crowning of the CCW World Heavyweight Title. It's only $10 in advance and the fun gets started at 7pm.

Chicago jest Polskie!

The Daily Herald this week has been running a special feature on Chicagoland's Polish community. "The Path from Polska: Stories of Suburban Immigrants" examines different aspects of life for the 900,000 Poles who live in the city and collar counties -- still "the second largest Polish city after Warsaw," according to the Polish American Association. The series finishes Friday.

U-Tuesday on XRT

Do you like U2? If so, tune in to WXRT now. Starting at 9:45 am, the entire new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, will be played in its entirety. Also, check back throughout the day, the album will be spinning all day. Enjoy!

Schooling the Electoral College

John Mark Hansen, one of the nation's leading political minds, is both a Distinguished Service Professor and Dean of the Social Sciences Division at the University of Chicago. In a pre-election piece published in the Chicago Sun-Times, Hansen argues for the dissolution of the Electoral College, painting it as a thoroughly outdated and indefensible system. With Nader now asking for a recount of ballots in the state of New Hampshire, one begins to wonder what role the College actually plays in a contemporary presidential election. Are we missing something?

Whatever You Do, Don't Get Towed

It's happened to me: the spot looked safe, but the next day my car was in a tow lot in an isolated part of town, waiting for me and $165 to show up. Good thing I quickly did. About 40 percent of cars towed in 2003 were sold as scrap, some within less than a month of being picked up. And the nicer ones didn't get scrapped, but rather were sold to used car dealerships at a steep profit. Even if you get your car back quickly, you might be screwed: police recently busted two tow-truck drivers for stealing contents of towed cars.

BikeTraffic's Top 10

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the region's primary bicycle organization, has released their Top 10 Priorities for the coming year. Apparently CBF is doing really well and is looking to expand beyond their bicycle roots to include pedestrians. They have some goals you would expect - bikes on Metra, safety campaigns - but they also have some exciting new ideas. They are looking to have some city streets shut-down for automobile traffic on Sundays to encourage bicycling as well as reaching out to encourage cycling among minorities and women.

Center For UFO Studies

Chicago is home to CUFOS, or the Center for UFO Studies. They have a library where they study the reports of UFO sightings and abductions on Peterson Ave. The site has some neat information if you're into UFO; they also offer advice on what to do if you have been abducted by aliens. Try to remain calm...

Preserve Maxwell Street

Preserve Maxwell Street is a site chock full of content with the goal of bringing back the now mostly-condoized Maxwell Street. There's updated news, too, but I loved this series of photographs the most.

DIY Trunk Show II

In less than a week, almost 100 individuals are going to be gathering at Pulaski Park to show and sell what they've spent the last several months feverishly making. This Do-It-Yourself effort takes place just before the holiday shopping madness so you can check everyone's name off your list, know exactly who gets your hard-earned dough, and be able to kick back and relax for the next month and a half. If you'd like to help out, some volunteers are still needed. Aw, c'mon! You'll get a button and Amy and Cinnamon's gratitude.

The Desk Project

Luckyface is requesting photos of people's workspaces for The Desk Project. Send yours to photoluckfaceorg.

Death and Taxes

Think the sales tax in Chicago is high now? How does 9% sound? That's what Mayor Daley is proposing in order to make up the current $220 million budget deficit. Expect to pay even more for concert and theater tickets, too, as the entertainment tax may increase from 7 to 8%. Find out how many other ways you can squeeze blood from turnips by reading the full story here.

Yoga Chicago

Yoga Chicago is just what it sounds like: a fairly comprehensive site for yoga resources in Chicago. Plus, it mirrors all of the articles run in the print version of the magazine. The directory of classes is a nearly complete listing of all yoga studios and classes in Chicago. However, if you know you are interested in a particular style of yoga, Centerstage has a good breakdown of yoga styles offered by each studio.

New Stadium in Hoffman?

Hoffman Estates is considering a plan to build an 11,000-seat entertainment arena on the village's west side -- not far from where the old Poplar Creek Music Theater once stood. The plan is backed by the town's mayor, some developers and Sears, whose headquarters are nearby the proposed site.

Chicago Fact Book

Need to grab some quick statistics about the city? Or perhaps you've always wondered exactly how many people do live here? Or how many people live in your neighborhood? The Chicago Fact Book, put together by the city, has all sorts of trivia about our city. (Oh, and as of the last census, 2.89 million people live in Chicago.)

Sun Times Photo Collection

The Sun-Times is offering some of their better pictures for sale from their site. The categories baffle me (airshow?), but the weather ones are really neat, as are the colors.

The Blogging Revolution

Daniel Drezner, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago, examines political blogs and asks, "Can blogs affect politics in regimes where there is no thriving independent media sector?"

Defender Relaunches Website

The Chicago Defender, the country's oldest black newspaper, has relaunched its website. Though it's not quite daily yet -- the front page still shows election coverage articles -- it's a step forward for a publication on the verge of closure not too long ago, and a huge leap better than the old site.

Northern lights this far south

If you were outside Chicago's sphere of streetlights last night, you might have seen an impressive Aurora Borealis. Extreme geomagnetic storms made the Northern Lights visible as far south as Decatur. There's a chance they'll be active again tonight, so if you're someplace where you can actually see stars (not within Chicago's limits -- it doesn't get dark here, it gets orange), look up.

Hooray for Bollywood

Hollywood isn't the only movie-making capital that's taken an interest in Chicago. Suburbanite Aleeza Ali stars in Ho Jata Hai Pyar, a "clean love story" from Bollywood to be released this December. (In India, that is. We'll have to wait a bit longer for the state-side release.)

Cataloging Sears

Sears Roebuck and Co. has launched the Sears Archives, an online archive of more than 100 years of photos, product info and historical documents from the company, from its first stores here in Chicago to today.

Hear ye, hear ye ...

Apparently a group of Northwestern University neuroscientists and their colleagues have identified a protein that may eventually lead to gene therapies for deafness. Now, if only they could identify the protein for dumbness.

Firemen vs. Policemen Boxing

Ever fantasized about watching Chicago's burliest firefighters duke it out Muhammad Ali-style with Chicago's toughest policemen? Ok, that's just me then.

Anyhow, Saturday is Chicago's Third Annual Battle of the Badges, a charity-boxing event between the Chicago Police and Chicago Fire Charities. Tonight's bouts get going at the De La Salle Institute (3455 S. Wabash Ave) at 6 p.m. Chicago Park District amateur boxer bouts will begin at 6:30 p.m. Chicago Police and Fire bouts will begin at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. Pow!


Topless Humans Organized for Natural Genetics (THONG) Presents: BUSH/NO BUSH, a post-election fundraiser to support THONG's efforts to keep our food supply free from GMOs. The event features bands, body painting, naked Twister, organic foods, election healing, and naked Twister. Naked Twister? Naked Twister.

There is a suggested donation of $5 with costume, $10 without, admission is FREE if you're naked (score!). The ball gets rolling Friday night at 9 pm at Transamoeba Studio (1325 S Wabash #101). Check out for more info.


The latest play in the Neo-Futurists' 2004-05 prime time series officially opens tomorrow night (although there's a preview performance tonight). Windmilled takes as its inspiration Cervantes' novel "Don Quixote", and mixes in personal stories from the actors about their fights against insurmountable odds. "What makes us fight these battles and how do we learn to lay down our arms at last? When you set out to be a hero do you always end up an ass?" These and other questions are pondered in Windmilled. See the Neo-Futurist Website for further information and to purchase tickets.

Jay Ryan Show

The walls of the gallery space at the Center for Book and Paper arts are currently covered from ceiling to floor with an overwhelming display of incredible silkscreened posters by Jay Ryan, founder of the Bird Machine. The Center will be featuring an exhibition of a hefty chunk of his work, which literally surrounds you on every wall, through December 18th. The opening reception takes place tonight from 5:30-7:30.

Fabulous Film Fest

This weekend marks the start of the 23rd Annual Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival which runs through November 11. Featuring films, ranging from zany comedies to psychological thrillers, being shown at the Music Box, the Landmark Century, and Chicago Filmakers Theatres, the centerpiece screening this year is a Russian film You I Love on Sunday. As the second oldest film festival of its kind in the world, this great fest is certainly a powerful reason to head to the movies this week. Tickets range from $6 to $9 per screening.

Felix @ Crobar

Legendary house DJ Felix Da Housecat is spinning tonight at Crobar, 1543 N. Kingsbury, and you and your friends can get in for free: email now with your first and last name and number of guests. Show up at the club and tell them you're on the Exact Events list. You're in!

Hot Tickets At Cool Prices

Something you've probably heard of, but worth repeating: if you wanna see some cheap (or discounted at least) theater, go to Hot Tix. I saw some tickets for 2nd City for $6.50 this morning. (Oh, and if you're really a night owl, remember the last set at Second City is free. So if you're around at 12:30 on a weekend in Old Town, stop in and see the Second City.)

Cellular Hell

Which cellular service do you have? Hope it's not Sprint or Cingular: Channel 2 News did a cellphone comparison and found that those two services were at the bottom of the heap in Chicago. Tops? Verizon and US Cellular. You can read the companies' responses to the test here.

"To the Guy Running Against Obama"

Was Alan Keyes eating alone at Star of Siam on the eve of the election? This Craig's List post seems to say so. (Via new-to-Chicago 601am.)

Illinois Artstour

The Illinois Arts Council is now taking applications for its 2005-2007 Artstour Program, which "links arts presenters with Illinois' wealth of touring artists as well as quality visual and media arts exhibits." So if you're into dance, mime, multi-disciplinary performance, music, performance poetry/literature, storytelling, theater and/or traditional ethnic and folk arts and want to tour the state giving subsidized performances, the application deadline is December 1. Download the application, or call 800/237-6994 for more information.

And the Winner Is...

Last month, to celebrate the publication of the Encyclopedia of Chicago, a Chicago trivia contest, hosted by NPR's Peter Sagal, took place at the Harold Washington Library. Sadly, the winner of the contest was not a Chicago native. Instead, the grand prize went to New Jersey native, and University of Chicago undergraduate, Evan Druce. Read more in the U. of C. Chronicle.

Indie Press Awards

The Utne Reader has announced the nominees for its 2004 Independent Press Awards, and several local publications made the lists. Punk Planet is the powerhouse, nominated for General Excellence: Magazines, Cultural/Social Coverage and Political Coverage. Pistil was nominated for Best New Title, while The Reader and Chicago Reporter were nominated for Local/Regional Coverage and Pitchfork Media is in the running for Online Cultural Coverage. Congratulations and good luck!

Who Needs Books?

The former director of the Homer Township Public Library in Lockport, IL was recently found guilty of stealing over $100,000 from the library between 1992 and 1999. Regetta Meyers remains free on bond but faces an additional lawsuit filed by the library district.

Find that ballot receipt!

At least something good can come out of this election (besides Barack Obama, of course). ShoreBank is apparently donating one dollar to Chicago schools for every ballot receipt they receive by Friday. Take your receipts to their Nonprofit Service Center at the Music Mart, 333 S. State.

A Hero from Chicago:

Vic Sage leads a double life. As a reporter, he prowls the stockyards in the tradition of Upton Sinclair, as a hero, he walks the streets; a faceless defender of justice known only as The Question. Meanwhile, things are getting ugly in Metropolis. Unable to manage on his own, Superman calls for help. The Question hops a train, bringing his brand of justice to that "other" city. Check it out at Chicago Comics.

SOFA, So Good

Tomorrow night is the kick-off of SOFA Chicago at Navy Pier. Officially known as the "International Expo of Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art," SOFA is one of the best ways to find out what's going on in the art world today -- and buy it, if you've got the money. The show runs Friday and Saturday, 11am to 8pm, Sunday noon to 6pm -- tickets are $12 a day or $20 for a weekend pass. Thursday night's public preview is 7-10pm tomorrow; tickets are $25 at the door.

Chicago voted

For a roundup of Chicago blogger voting activity, check out this post on Chicago.metblogs. Of the 596 sites listed on Chicago Bloggers, 107 had voting stories posted.

Retail Therapy

Need some new threads, fast and cheap? Head over to local shirt stylists Threadless for their "Nude No More" sale. Every week until Christmas, they're going to launch five new Tees and sell them for $10. Best of all, if you order before noon, you could be wearing your new shirt tomorrow. That's some fast fashion.

Chicago diners tip well

Chicago ranks high up on yet another national list, this one being a list of the nation's most generous tippers. We're tied for 4th place on the list released by Zagat; Chicago diners tip an average of 18.8%, a bit above the national average of 18.6%. In addition to generous tipping, Chicago diners are also paying more for their meals; the current average meal costs $31.64, up from $29.29 in 2002 and $28.25 in 2001.

See the Lake from Your Desk offers views of lakes across the country -- including one trained on Lake Michigan from the North Avenue Beach House.

After school creativity

Tech37 is a blog showcasing the work of students at Collins High School (at Sacramento and Roosevelt) as part of the After School Matters program, backed by Gallery 37. The theme of the class is "Promoting social change through arts and technology," with curriculum by Lacey Graves and Misha Maynerick. Students are blogging about what they discuss and create in class; it's pretty neat to watch creativity being encouraged.

Dirrrty Pictures

From the creators of Found Magazine comes Dirty Found, a collection of "pervy Polaroids, sleazy birthday cards, raunchy to-do lists, nasty poetry on napkins, illustrations -- anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's sex life." has an interview with editor Jason Bitner about the new mag (available now in these fine stores).

Vote, Then Rock.

If you're still undecided on how to vote at this point, you might want to just flip a coin. Afterward, you can pick up the Voting Coin to commemorate your indecision. Designed by local firm Condon Randis, it's sure to be a collectible someday.

Whatever you do, vote. Otherwise you can't get into the free Vote the Rock show down at the Park West tonight at 7pm. Poi Dog Pondering and DJs Jesse De La Peña, Madrid and Dayhota will entertain confirmed voters -- you must have your voting receipt to get in.

Suburb resident to neighbors: drop dead

A resident of the western suburb of Bloomingdale, apparently in retaliation for the complaints his neighbors had made about the RV parked at his house, set up a Halloween display that included tombstones with the names of his neighbors. Long story short, the police were called, words were exchanged, and now the guy is now suing the police (TWO YEARS after the original incident, for some reason) for First Amendment violations, alongside compensation for the "mental anguish, stress and feelings of helplessness" that he says he got when the police handcuffed him. Well, good luck on that lawsuit, although this story sounds more suited to Jerry Springer than the courts.

WGN Weather Blog

I was excited when I read that WGN's new Weather Blog would give a "behind the scenes" view of the weather. But so far the majority of entries seem to just be lifted from the Trib's weather page -- and not a single picture of Tom Skilling's cat! But hey, it's on MT and has RSS.

29 Days Till... Novel!

In just one month, you could write a novel. At least, that's what the folks at National Novel Writing Month say. NaNoWriMo is a motivational contest, of sorts, where willing writers begin their novels only at the stroke of midnight on November 1, and stop at midnight November 30, hopefully with 50,000 words to show for it. Last year, there were 25,500 participants and about 3,500 of them made it to the goal. It's free, and once you register, you'll be put in touch with other NaNoWriMo's in your area, for information on meet-ups and other activities. So get going, you're late already!

Rollergirls Take Over the City

In case you missed the party last week, the latest issue of 606 Magazine has a story on the Windy City Rollers, the Chicago's new female roller derby league.

Influence: Election Edition

Are you into music and movies? What about politics? Do you like it when these things awkwardly come together? If so, come out to Sonotheque tonight for a special pre-election installment of Influence, featuring a screening of Kubrick's classic anti-war trilogy (Dr. Strangelove, Paths of Glory, and Full Metal Jacket) accompanied by a handpicked selection of quality protest songs. No cover, 21 and up. More information available in Slowdown.

Election Madness: Bet On It!

A local Republican is so behind his candidate, he flew to London to bet $25,660 on Bush to win. Check the current odds here.

Non-Stick Gum

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. and the University of Illinois are working on some serious science: How do you make biodegradable gum that'll stick to itself but nothing else? Janitorial staffs across America eagerly await their success.

New Server, Slight Wonkiness

Hi everybody, welcome to our new abode! We switched servers over the weekend, and almost everything is back to normal, but there are a couple things still a bit wonky. Let us know if you find any bugs: email us at Thanks.



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