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. 


Tuesday, July 5

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The Foodie Year That Was

Tribune food critic Phil Vettel summarizes the year in restaurant news.

Music Lists

Radio Free Chicago is compiling "Best of 2004" lists from all sorts of Chicago music luminaries. Read the lists here and submit your favorites at rfceditorhotmailcom by Jan. 7.

Can I Borrow a Pencil?

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has been inviting visitors to take pencils from José Damasceno's installation, Observation Plan, this week. The artwork consists of nearly 30,000 yellow no. 2 pencils depicting several figures looking at art. January 2 is the last day to help alter the piece. Then the altered version of the work will remain up until January 16.

Only 445 Murders!

Chicago is on target to see the lowest number of homicides in 40 years. Although 445 people were murdered in the city so far this year, this is down from the whopping 884 murders recorded in 1992. We can finally retire our murder capital of the U.S. crown. Take that L.A. and New York!

Rock the cradle of Cubs

The Cubs have found a new way to recruit young fans before anyone else can get to them. Starting New Year's Day, babies born at Northwestern Memorial, St. Joseph, and Illinois Masonic hospitals will get a Cubs-logo knit newborn hat provided by the club. The team has purchased more than 10,000 hats for the hospitals. The first baby born at each hospital Saturday morning will also receive a gift basket of baby clothes from the team.

Chicago to Ukraine

There's another local connection to Ukraine besides the neighborhood named after it: Turns out the country's future first lady, Kateryna Chumachenko Yushchenko, grew up in the suburbs. [via 601am]

Still at the Ten Spot

Need to get a gift for your friend who surprised you with a great present? Local shirt shop Threadless has extended its $10 sale through the end of the year. Also up are the winner and runners up to their latest design contest. Since they're local, if you order now, you'll probably get the shirt in time to ring in '05. Or for other great local goods, check out some fly Gapers Block gear in our shop.

NYE2K5 In Evanston

If you're looking for something a little different this New Year's, something that probably doesn't involve alcohol but does involve banjos and mimes, have I got the thing for you: Evanston First Night, a celebration of visual and performing arts. They'll have a fireworks and a parade at midnight. (Thanks Pace Bus!)

Blue bags for everyone

The Christmas tree exchange for free blue bags previously mentioned on GB has been challenged and changed by a local athiest. The original exchange gave people who recycled their Christams trees a year's worth of free recycling blue bags. Now, anyone who visits one of the 22 tree recycling locations on January 8, and brings a large bag of recyclable material, can receive a year's supply of free blue bags.

Orbach, RIP

Jerry Orbach, star of stage and screen -- most recently on "Law & Order" and "L&O Criminal Intent" -- died yesterday from prostate cancer. Orbach grew up in Chicago and attended U of I and Northwestern before heading to New York to act. (Thanks, Bryan)

Sun-Times Fire

There was a fire at the former Sun-Times building this morning. It was put out an hour and a half later, and nobody was hurt. NBC5 has a slideshow of the smoke.

Making Cents

The CTA has announced that it will indeed be offering its "Penny Rides" this New Year's Eve, and has extended hours on some trains and buses. It's quite the community gift, given the CTA's notoriously bad financial situation. Catch a ride on the CTA for just $.01 from 8 p.m. Friday night until 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Just do everyone a favor and try not to boot in the train.

Lake.Sky.Vans live

Melissa Weimer, friend of GB, alerts us that the segment she did with Steve Edwards on WBEZ's 848 show will be re-airing today at 10am, which is like, now. It's in anticipation of her upcoming solo show for Lake.Sky.Vans -- her ongoing fascination with the three subjects that dot the Chicago landscape -- which will be hung in Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park from January 14th through February 19th. Opening reception is on January the 14th from 7pm till 11pm.

Call to Action

In the wake of the recent sexual assaults in the Lakeview and Lincoln Park area, Chicago NOW will hand out leaflets at local EL stations tomorrow night. The literature will contain information including police composite sketches of the two suspects, and important tips on how to keep yourself safe. According to Chicago NOW, New Year's Eve weekend is a historically high time for rapes. If you'd like to help out, email JKoehler23{at}aol{dot}com or call (312) 805-1503. Please also remember to stay safe and be smart this weekend.

Susan Sontag Dies at 71

Susan Sontag - noted novelist, essayist, social critic, and University of Chicago alumna - died today at 71.

Hey, You Got U of C in My Esquire!

So I'm reading my December Esquire and I come across the quote, "The hypothesis I put forward was that the reason crime had fallen was because of legalized abortion in the 1970s. Basically, we had aborted the generation of criminals who would have been active in the 1990s." And I think, well that's a very University of Chicago thing to say. I'm guessing U of C economics professor Steven Levitt, who is featured as one of the magazine's "Best and Brightest", would agree. (Unfortunately, you'll need a subscription number to view the link, but it's on page 225 if you've got an issue handy.)

Coctails Return

To celebrate the release of their box set, "Popcorn Box," The Coctails have reformed for a special show January 15 at the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. Dump, featuring James McNew of Yo La Tengo, opens. Tickets are just $10 in advance, $12 at the door, available here or 866/777-8932.

Tsunami Coverage

Chicagoist has a good round-up of local connections to the tsunami in Southeast Asia.

Daniel Givens at Sonotheque

Looking for something interesting to do this evening? Well, look no further. Joel Kriske of experimental pop group Pulseprogramming and Suji Lee present another installment of their excellent XOJK series at Sonotheque. Playing in support of his new release on Aesthetics, tonight features local favorite Daniel Givens alongside Josh Abrams of Town & Country, Jeff Parker of Tortoise, and Nikki Mitchell of Black Earth. Should be an excellent night of music. Opening DJ sets provided by Kriske himself and Monday's at Danny's creator DJ Bob. More information available in Slowdown.

#1 for New Year's

Chicago is this year's top destination for New Year's Eve, according to, beating out New Orleans and San Francisco. New York was seventh place this year. (This is all based on the number of hotel rooms booked on Hotwire, so take the news with a grain of salt.)

Outspoken Chicago

The Newberry Library and the Chicago Historical Society join forces to present Outspoken: Chicago's Free Speech Tradition, an exhibiton celebrating Chicago as "a vibrant center for free speech and activism." The exhibition ends January 15th, but you can still catch the last two programs on media consumption and the Industrial Workers of the World. More information is posted in Slowdown on the 12th and the 15th, respectively.

Swimming Into the New Year

If you want to ride off that hangover on New Year's, you might want to join the Chicago Cycle Club on their annual Champagne Ride, where club members bike to the lakefront and take a quick dip. If you don't want to ride and still want to jump into the lake, the Chicago Polar Bear Club is having their Sixth Annual New Year's Swim. (Though the link's from a previous year, the details for this year's "swim" are the same.)

New Job in 2005

Are you looking for a new job in 2005? For the 19th year, the professional career counselors at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. will be offering free job search and career advice on December 29 and 30. Call their hotline at 312-332-5790 or email them at callin{at} between 9am and 5pm. Of course, this is the same firm that brags that they "founded outplacement." Um, yeah.

The year in wacky news!

The Sun-Times has a list of the wackiest Chicago stories that happened in 2004. Some were stories we mentioned during the year (the Steve Bartman baseball being blown up, Jays vs. Lay's, the Dave Matthews Band poo incident) and some were ones we missed (a Highland Park woman trying to sell the domain name for $500,000 and, not surprisingly, failing to do so).

Free Blue Bags for Recycling

The Department of Streets and Sanitation is offering a year's supply of free blue bags to folks who take their Christmas trees to be recycled at 22 Chicago Park Distrct locations. But only if you bring it in on January 8 between 9am and 2pm. Because they want to make recycling easier for us.

Wright Farmhouse B&B

Soon you'll be able to stay in the only farmhouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Muirhead House, in Plato Center in Kane County, is being transformed into a bed and breakfast by the owners. If the county board gives its approval at a Jan. 11 meeting and renovations are completed, the inn could open in summer, the Tribune reports.

Transit map socks!

The CTA Tattler reminds us that a good last-minute gift idea for the holidays is to visit the CTA's gift shop at 567 W. Lake, where you can score such items as a CTA cycling jersey, a silk tie with the transit map printed on it, and pieces of jewelry made from old CTA tokens (which, as GB noted earlier this year, have mostly been melted down for the metal, except for the few used to make these pieces).

Soundtrack to Our Lines

If you're heading to the airport over the next few days, you'll probably have wee bit of downtime while you're there. Lucky for you Chicago Public Radio will be serenading your ears. The station has an agreement with O'hare and Midway to be the official piped in tunes for your listening pleasure as a part of the Chicago Airport Music Program. Each featured album celebrates Chicago's great musical heritage and the current playlist features some holiday favorites. And if you hear something you'd like to know better, you can check out their featured artists online.

Obama in Newsweek

There he is on the cover of Newsweek, our own skinny guy with the funny name. While it's great that he's having a national impact, it's a bit of a bummer that he's gone "mainstream." It's like seeing your favorite band on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Red Hat Societies of Chicago

I noticed preponderance of red and purple at the florist section on a recent trip to Jewel. It turns out that it was for the Red Hat Society, a group for women who are over (or near) 50. They dress up in big red hats and purple clothing before going out and having a good time. Chicago has a number of chapters (well, 47), many with hilarious names. (Purple Passion Majesties makes me thing of something else, but it's a cute name.) So if you see older women out in crazy hats having fun, at least you'll know what they're up to.

Wounded Warriors

The Sun-Times is doing a multi-part report on the treatment of veterans by the Illinois office of the federal Veterans Affairs agency. Yesterday (PDF) focused on vets' difficulty receiving disability benefits; today (PDF) looked at the long-term care situation.

Turkey for the Holidays

Making a turkey for the holidays? A few weeks ago Anne Holub shared her Turkey 101 in One Good Meal. But if you're in need of extra help, check out the Turkey for the Holidays website from the University of Illinois Extension. You can find how to select a turkey, cooking techniques, carving tips and recipe suggestions for what to do with leftovers. And, if you want a really fresh bird for your holiday dinner, check out this list of local poultry farms in Illinois. Although most birds are sold-out for this year, farms are already taking reservations for 2005.

Chicago poetry resources

Golden Rule Jones is still my favorite resource for upcoming poetry/ literary events and news; however, Letter eX: Chicago Poetry is also a good resource. The Poetry Events dropdown on the left top corner has a comprehensive list of ongoing weekly open mics, as well as special events. The site also has a Chicago Poetry Blog and a lot of useful links to resources, including a the Chicago poetry scene's Top 50.

Putting the Park Back in Rogers

The Rogers Park Conservancy is a group dedicated to the preservation of the city's northern-most parks and beaches. They've just released a 60-page report on community needs in this fast-changing neighborhood, recommending several improvements, including a dog park, more and better cared-for parks and the protection of the lakefront from development. Interesting read.

A baby that fits in your pocket!

Not anymore, though. According to an Associated Press article, Rumaisa Rahman may be the world's tiniest baby -- and she's from Chicago! Rumaisa, whose parents are from Hyderabad, India, "weighed just 8.6 ounces and was no bigger than a cell phone" when she was born on September 19. She's packed on the ounces faster than a college freshman, though, and now weighs a whopping 2 lbs., 10 oz. Her fraternal twin sister Hiba, who weighed 1 lb., 4 oz., at birth and now weighs 5 lbs., is upset at all the attention and is quoted as saying, "What's all the fuss about? I'm twice the woman she is!" Okay, I made that last part up.

On the move

The NY Times tells the story of a Hyde Park couple whose move to New York was plagued by lying real estate brokers, hurricanes, and drained savings accounts in their quest to find the "greenery and neighborhood conviviality of Chicago."

Celebs Hit the Town

Reader TJT writes in to report seeing SPAMalot star Christopher Sieber shopping at Field's on State recently, and just today Kevin Spacey was eating lunch alone at Albert's Cafe & Patisserie on Elm, reading The Last Good Time. Take that, Michael Sneed!

Scared of Santa

Kids + Santa = Fun! Or not. offers a gallery of kids frightened by Santa, and the first 25 photos are from the Tribune's 2003 "Scared of Santa" photo contest. (Thanks, Heather!)

Bundle Up for the Holidays

According to weather guru Tom Skilling, Chicago may experience record lows on Christmas Eve. He's forecasting the daytime high temperature on Friday to be just 2 degrees above zero. So bundle up!

Sweatin' Through the Holidays

As a bonus to a story about "holiday chic," the Tribune has posted a gallery of holiday sweaters. I won't make any judgements -- some people really love Christmas -- but you might want to rethink your wardrobe if "it looks like one big sweater with two holes for the heads."

Political Affairs

Jeff Berkowitz hosts a political affairs talkshow Monday nights at 8:30pm on CAN-TV Channel 21 called, appropriately, "Public Affairs." The show has a blog on which transcripts and teasers can be found -- not to be missed for serious political wonks. (The rest of us can ignore it.)

Wrigley nets still in play for '05 season

On Monday, Buildings Commissioner Stan Kaderbek received a draft report by engineers on the subject of the concrete that fell in Wrigley Field over the last year. The Sun-Times reports that the cause appears to be aging concrete, combined with the freeze-and-thaw cycles that you get in an average Chicago winter. The report recommends that the safety nets to catch falling concrete stay in place for the 2005 season, even though Kaderbek said earlier this year, "Those nets have to come down by April."

Berwyn Panoramas

It's nostalgic and pretty nifty: the Berwyn Development Corporation has posted block-by-block panoramas of two of that suburb's main biz districts: Roosevelt Road and Cermak Road. These are begging for enlarged versions, but in the meantime you can check out some old school Chicago architecture.

Download Rock/Rock the Download

The worlds of downloading and live music collide thanks to Schubas Tavern's new emusic offerings. You can now download songs by tons of bands who've played at Schubas recently. Artists include John Vanderslice, The Handsome Family and Southern Culture on the Skids. In addition, you can download songs from artists on Indy labels like Matador and other venues like The Metro and The Double Door. The best part? The first 50 downloads you make are free.

Get Guided By Voices

Want to impress your sweetie with some sweet music this New Year's Eve? Brett over at Reckless Records is giving away two tickets to the sold out (and the very very last) Guided By Voices show at the Metro next Friday. The Catch? You have to write and convince him and "a panel of Metro and Guided By Voices panelists" of your worthiness. Email Brett{at}reckless{dot}com by Sunday, Dec. 26th, and he'll let you know by Dec. 28th if you're the lucky one. Make sure to include your phone number and best contact information.

Metropolis turns one

Swell coffee shop Metropolis (in Rogers Park) turns one today (and I'm glad they were able to!) and during this anniversary week, they're giving away a free Metropolis poster for the first 50 people to buy a pound of coffee. Why is this important aside from celebrating another independent business? Well that poster's a Jay Ryan Bird Machine production.

Tolls Rise Skyway-ward

You knew this was going to happen: The new owners of the Skyway are raising tolls. Starting February 16, you'll pay $2.50 to the trolls under the bridge, instead of an even $2. At least they're waiting till after the holidays.

ACME Novelty Toy Gallery

Niem Tran, an illustration and animation student, has a wonderful gallery of revered Chicago graphic novelist Chris Ware's paper toys that can be found from several of his comics and books.

See Barack Run

Barack Obama will be the next celebrity type to pen a children's book. Part of a $1.9 million, three book deal, the book will be co-authored by Obama's wife and two daughters and will feature a boy who grows up to be senator. This could be cute, but man - first Madonna and now Obama. What's next? Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel churn out pamphlets for the fifth grade? 

The best and worst of 2004

Roger Ebert has published his annual list of the best films of the year. His pick for #1 is Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (currently playing at River East 21). Don't miss his worst of 2004 list, at the bottom of the article, for a flashback to films you almost forgot about. (Oh yeah, remember White Chicks?)

Angelic Organics 2005

It's hard to think about tomato vines ripening with tomatoes as the snow falls right now. But if you can take your mind out of January and and put it into July for a second, you might want to check out Angelic Organics. This organic CSA outside Rockford delivers a box packed with great herbs, melons, and vegetables. Buy now before the price goes up on the 31st.

Life After Hoop Dreams

The father of the star of the documentary Hoop Dreams was shot and killed in the alley behind his home in Berwyn, the night before his son was to arrive for a visit. The Tribune ran a story in March looking back at the film and the lives it touched 10 years later.

Project for Public Spaces - Hancock

The Project for Public Spaces " a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and sustaining public places that build communities." I love the idea behind this organization, dedicated to preserving and enhancing current public spaces to be better utilized for the general public. One of the nominees for their Great Public Spaces is none other than the plaza at the foot of the John Hancock building. I have to agree, in the summer, it's one of the nicer eat-lunch-ouside/people watching places to be.

5th Annual Santa Cycle Rampage

Every year, in cities around the world (and even Antartica), people dress up like Santa, get drunk, and hold a Santa Rampage. Last weekend saw one such event, and this weekend the kind people at Bike Winter are hosting another. The 5th Annual Chicago Santa Cycle Rampage meets on Saturday at the Twisted Spoke to get started. I think it's one holiday tradition we can all get behind.

Blood Simple Dance

Looking for something a bit more cultured this weekend? Estradanza performs tonight, Saturday and Sunday at 8pm (plus a 5pm show on Sunday) at the Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt. The performance features the premiere of artistic director Juan Estrada's "Blood Simple" (presumably not based on the movie), Dardi McGinley Gallivan's "Fete" and Shelby Kroger's "Mythical Mathematical Madness." $15 general adminission, $12 for students/seniors. Call 773/655-9165 for more info.

CTA service cuts experiencing a delay

It's official: the CTA board voted to delay service cuts and layoffs which were set to go into effect at the beginning of the new year. The board voted unanimously to delay these cost-cutting measures until July 1, encouraged by promises from Illinois Senate President Emil Jones and Governor Blagojevich. So now it's up to state leaders to come through with additional funding by the summer, a plan which CTA board members weren't exactly enthusiastic about (Chairwoman Carole Brown used words such as "faith" and "hope for the best" when talking about the plan). CTA President Frank Kreusi warns that, if this gamble doesn't pay off, "then we are really, literally are in the process of dismantling public transit in this region ... a terrible, terrible loss." Keep your fingers crossed, commuters...

It's Friday, what can I say?

Are you a true Chicagoan? I am.

Santaland Diaries

I hate almost all holiday-related events, but David Sedaris I can get down with. Theater Wit is performing the writer's Santaland Diaries at the Raven Theater Complex. The show is running at 6157 N. Clark, until January 8th, excluding December 23rd-26th; call 773/506-8150 for tickets. The Sun-Times gives it a review.

Buy the Mirth Mobile

If you're ready to head out on the highway with style, you can grab your checkbook and buy the AMC Pacer used in Wayne's World from the Volo car museum in Volo, Illinois. The car, which in the movie Wayne and Garth tooled around Aurora and the Kennedy, is up for grabs for a measely $15,000. If you have a little more cash burning a hole in your pocket, spend $1.2 million on a prototype Shelby GT-500 convertible Mustang, or spend some dough on a 1951 Studebaker painted to portray a Gotham City police car for the Batman movies. Excellent!


" examines Chicago's status as a global city. The current condition of the Chicago Megalopolis is revealed with maps, diagrams and statistics." An incredible collection of info about our city, beautifully presented by UrbanLab. [Via Fueled By Coffee]

Sleep-deprived improv? Sweet.

Looking for something to do next Tuesday, for oh, say, twenty-four hours? The Second City is presenting its third annual benefit performance, "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters To Santa." Beginning at 8:30 Tuesday night, a group of Second City all-stars takes the stage—and doesn't leave it until 8:30 the next night. Proceeds go to gifts for needy Chicago-area kids. (If improv isn't your bag, you might be enticed by the prospect of Jeff Tweedy in your living room. The Wilco frontman does a guest spot during the evening, and there'll be a silent auction to win a private performance for you and twenty of your friends.) Further details in Slowdown.

Brown Extra Crispy

The UPS processing plant in south suburban Hodgkins was the site of an exta-alarm fire last night. Several truck trailers burned after a fire started in the receiving area. Lots of destroyed or damaged packages -- hopefully none were yours. (Apparently the Hodgkins facility is UPS's largest, containing 2 million of the company's 25 million square feet of floorspace.)

Spamalot In Depth

If you were too late to get Spamalot tickets this fall, you can at least read about the makings of the theatrical adaptation of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail in this week's New Yorker. Investigated back in its early rehearsal stages by Chicago-native writer man Dave Eggers, the musical looks to be full to the brim with Python laughs (and whether you find those laughs funny is up to you). A bonus to online readers is a special Python Q & A with Eggers and Matt Dellinger. Spamalot opens at the Shubert Theater on December 21st.

Sing Along to the Radio

Looking for something to do tonight? Head to the Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., for WLUW's 4th annual Holiday Sing-Along! Join the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Lesser Birds of Paradise, Clyde Federal, Canasta, Tijuana Hercules and the Astronomer featuring Charles Kim will perform "seasonal favorites," and host Elizabeth Conant will lead the crowd in holiday songs between acts. The merriment starts at 9pm. Admission is $10, 21 and over.

What's In It For Us?

The Tribune is running a new ad campaign to try to rebrand itself as a hip newspaper. The ads feature the tagline, "What's In It for You?" and were designed by J.J. Sedelmaier, who's best known for TV Funhouse skits on "Saturday Night Live."

PhotoBlogger Directory

Local photobloggers Rod from and Bob from have launched Chicago.Photobloggers.Org, a new directory whose purpose is probably clear from the title. Check it out -- and if you're a photoblogger, join up.

Wingman for Hire!

Seems that lots of people are getting into the matchmaker business these days. Now, you can hire a wingman (or wingwoman) to chat up someone who strikes your fancy up in the club. One Chicago business that's doing well is Mr. Right Now, Inc. which hires out wingpersons for $50 an hour (though they don't seem to have a web presence). Now if only I could get that Coors Wingman song out of my head.

CTA's budget cuts may experience delay

The service cuts and layoffs that the CTA has been warning us all about if it doesn't get additional funding may be put off for a while, according to the Sun-Times. Illinois Senate President Emil Jones said that funding the CTA is going to be a "top legislative priority" for next year, and with this promising development the CTA board is expected to delay cost-cutting measures for at least six months when it holds a meeting tomorrow.

New Urbanism in Grayslake

Fantastic architecture community site Archinect points us to this article from today's Daily Herald about anti-sprawl development in Grayslake. "Interspersed with about a dozen shops, the buildings will be grouped around an open area .... Energy-efficient and oversized by traditional condo standards, the allure is expected not only to be the space within, but that without — an open environment with trails and lakes in a protected natural habitat." Fantastic. Hopefully, this type of planning will continue to grow in popularity.

Winter Solstice in Chicago

Celebrate the Winter Solstice with Chicago. They'll provide: shadow puppetry, chestnuts (yes, roasting on an open fire), a gospel choir, and a big bonfire. You just bring your bad self over to the North Park Village Nature Center this Saturday.

Is it just me, or is this kind of messed up?

Today's "Rattle & Reel" Movie Matinee for parents/caretakers and babies at the Landmark Century is Vera Drake. Great movie, jaw-dropping performance by Imelda Staunton, but the idea of sitting next to a baby during a movie about abortion seems weirder than watching a porn with your parents. Anyway, the show starts at 11:00 AM. Tickets are $7.50 for grown-ups, but the little ones are free.

For Those Who Know

As we've mentioned previously, Chicago is enjoying a bit of a renaissance within its electronic music community. With consistently varied nights happening at spots like Sonotheque, Rodan, and Danny's Tavern, radio shows on WNUR and WLUW, as well as solid press coverage, more and more people seem to be supporting local promoters. But, where does one go for updated information on area happenings? Luckily, the folks at Chi-Tech, Modsquare, m50, Subsystence, Chicago Modular, and Upcoming do a good job of covering these frequently-esoteric events. Also, like we do with Slowdown, most of these sites accept submissions, so be sure to share your listings!

The Great Chicago Fire Sale continues

In case you haven't been keeping up with The Great Chicago Fire Sale, a bunch of new items have been added to the eBay auction in the last week. Among the new items you can bid on: a behind-the-scenes tour with the gardener from the City Escape retail store; a concert dedicated to a person of your choice at the Chicago Botanic Gardens; and a Lake Michigan cocktail party/cruise (watch out for bridges!). Oh, and in case you were wondering, the original Playboy Bunny costume sold to someone on Sunday for $6,000.

Still Not Posting Bills

Peter Margasak, former music columnist (and still reviewer) for the Reader, has a radio show on WLUW (Tuesdays, 11am), and it's about to get bigger, according to Chicagomuzik. The show, "Mosaic," will double to two hours starting January 3. Margasak also has a blog, Worldly Disorientation, in which he talks about music and doles out mp3s -- for "auditioning purposes only." Right.

More power than anticipated

This morning two people took a cop car on a brief joyride downtown, and ended up crashing it into the front door of City Hall. Atomly saw it all happen, and took pictures of the wreck. Update: NBC has the story.

Pedway navigation

Winter is descending; if you work downtown it's time to consider the pedway again as a slightly warmer means of getting around. Last year, Alice Maggio did a two part article on the pedway that's worth revisiting. Or, if you want a printable version, check out this pedway map.

Holiday Greetings from Chicago

If you haven't sent out your holiday cards yet, you're cutting it pretty close. Head over to Paperboy for some kooky cards. Or hit the Art Institute Museum Shop for some more traditional ones. Or, for a non-religious option, you could pop over to the Chicago Architecture Foundation's gift shop and pick up some of their great "Build Your Own Chicago" postcards and send those out (they've got some Chicago-themed holiday cards, too).

A professional opinion on a big pile of food

You may have heard of Hardee's new sandwich, the Monster Thickburger, a frightening contraption made of meat, cheese, mayonnaise and bun that totals a diet-killing 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat. The Tribune's restaurant critic, Phil Vettel, bravely sampled one (outside of Chicago city limits, because there are no Hardee's in Chicago) and gives it a positive review. In fact, he says, "I may have another one next year."

Career and Planning (Dis)Services

The first thing my Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) advisor asked me was where I was from. I answered, "New Mexico." She then proceeded to search for jobs in NM. Was I planning to return to NM upon graduation? No. So you can imagine that the rest of my CAPS experience was a rapid downward spiral from there. The University of Chicago Maroon investigated what I learned the hard way: CAPS just plain SUCKS.

Why did the chicken cross the city?

Not too far from where I live is a place where I can pick out a live chicken and have it butchered and dressed while I wait. I've wondered how many people have found a chicken building a nest in their flower garden, 'cause I'm sure at least a few of them have to be smart enough to get away. I'm pretty sure the ones Kristin found weren't all that smart, but it makes for a good story.

An Uncommon Auction

First Chicago, now Chicago Uncommon: head to eBay to bid on photos by Dawn Mikulich, with starting bids at 50 percent of normal price. Still too rich for your blood? Consider a calendar, available in black-and-white or color. [Via Chicagoist.]

Chicago newspapers, discussed

For those who grew up reading their news on paper, and those who still do: check out the Chicago Newspapers blog. Written by an ex-newsman who worked for the Chicago Daily News 1968-78, the site discusses newspapers "with full understanding of their virtues and faults, with special attention to Chicago's, finding good and bad writing free or not of bias with an eye to literacy and accuracy and clarity."

O'Hare busiest, most delayed airport

If you've been following the rivalry between O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for this year's title of the world's busiest airport, good news for you! The Sun-Times reports that O'Hare pulled ahead in November, and is set to hit a record of nearly one million flights this year. Of course, with this number of flights there are still quite a few delayed flights, and O'Hare will also take the title of world's most delayed airport with nearly 30% of its flights delayed.

Water Wars

While we Chicagoans enjoy the fresh, clean water of Lake Michigan, our neighbors in Indiana and Wisconsin are unable to tap that huge resource because of laws governing access to the lake. The Northwest Indiana Times has a couple of interesting articles on the issue, focusing on tiny Lowell and St. John.

Buddy Guy, Hall of Fame inductee

Buddy Guy, the current king of Chicago blues, will be inducted into the 2005 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also to be inducted: U2; The O'Jays; Percy Sledge; and The Pretenders.

Cat Skilling

We had a vet appointment this morning, and who should walk in while we waited but Tom Skilling and his cats, Hercules and Vorticity. He's taking them along up to his vacation home in Alaska and needed to get certifications of health before they could travel. (Incidentally, did you know Tom is the highest paid weatherman in the country?)

A t-shirt deal of sorts

If you come to tonight's get together, not only would you get some free stickers, or a button, but you could purchase a t-shirt (limited quantities on hand of course) for $15 in person. Save $3 bucks! Otherwise, see you there, drink in hand.

Spamalot Around Town

As the Christmas-week premiere of Monty Python's Spamalot approaches, we're starting to get sightings of the show's stars. GB staff members have spotted Hank Azaria and David Hyde Pierce at Monday's showtune night at Sidetrack, and Tim Curry at the Art Institute. Now who's seen Mike Nichols?

Edith Frost is coming to town

Chicago singer/songwriter and blogger Edith Frost gets a very friendly write-up in this week's Chicago Reader, on the eve of her latest performance in Chicago (tomorrow night at the Empty Bottle, opening for another Chicago act, Manishevitz). Edith is working on a new album for next year, but a collection of demo recordings was released earlier this year on the net label Comfort Stand. (Edith also makes a cameo appearance in the photocollage calendar of Phineas X. Jones, which as far as we know is still for sale.)

Objectivism for You

Speaking of clubs at local universities, you might be interested in the U. of Chicago Objectivist Club, which meets every Monday night and is open to non-students. (The group probably wouldn't be happy to know that I found their site by googling "Chicago silliness.")

Mies Appeal

Fans of steel-and-glass skyscrapers should be interested in the Mies van der Rohe Society, which is not surprisingly connected to IIT, one of the architect's best-known projects. The society offers group tours of the new McCormick Tribune Campus Center and State Street Village. For the more independent, there's also a downloadable (PDF) Green Line architectural tour that runs from Oak Park to Hyde Park.

Two choices for holiday transportation

The CTA's Holiday Train has been in the news recently, but there's another CTA holiday transportation option: the Christmas bus. Check out the photos on Flickr, courtesy of Chicago blogger Jasmine.

Blacklist: December Issue Online

Ray Noland, Darlene Jackson, and the folks at Blacklist Magazine have just released the December issue of their quality web publication. A primarily interview-based installment, Volume 4 puts HeavyWeight Production House, Wing Ko, MC Longshot, as well as DJs Miles Maeda and Josh Werner under the microscope. Art and photography from Pars, Fette, and Mireya Acierto are also on display. For the designers, Ray includes a free download of his Black Crusader typeface. The whole issue is available online, or in PDF format.

Winter Festival of Art

Head on down to the Chicago Arts District this weekend at South Halsted and 18th Street for their gala Winter Festival of Art. More than 50 artists will have their galleries and studios open all weekend long. The monthly Second Friday gallery openings will kick-off the festival tomorrow starting at 6pm. Then the event continues Saturday from 12-7pm and Sunday from 12-5pm. Visit the website for more information.

Mason Jennings @ Schubas

Singer-songwriter/Minnesotan heartthrob Mason Jennings performs three consecutive shows at Schubas this week with Haley Bonar: Tonight at 9pm, Friday at 10pm and Saturday at 10pm. Mason is earnest, literate, Dylan-esque, and, um, really really cute. Check it out.

Bridging The Drive

Some of the pedestrian bridges that span Lake Shore Drive are being replaced. The Chicago Architecture Foundation has been holding a design contest to build replacements for the North Ave, Chicago River, 35th and 41st St. bridges. The finalists have been announced if you want to imagine the future.

Local craft fair hits the Big Apple

The creators of the Renegade Craft Fair are expanding their crafting empire and holding a show in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact. They'll be setting up on June 25th and 26th which means you've got plenty of time to get your crafty self together so you're prepared for when they start taking applications.

Wes Anderson Rocks

You're not a hipster if you're not a Wes Anderson fan. Here's your chance to see some of the lovely music from his films live -- for free. Performers include Andrew Bird, The Safes, The Autumn Defense, and more. Join Metromix and RedEye at the Metro next Wednesday, December 15. Print your free ticket now.

New Knittery

If you're a knitter (or crocheter, or latch-hook rug maker), and a LYS (local yarn store) lover, you'll want to head right out to the latest Chicago yarn seller, Nina in Wicker Park. Daily Candy ventured there this week, and loved it. Unfortunately, Nina's website only has basic store information, but I'm hoping for some updates once the dust settles at the new space. Check Nina out at 1655 W. Division, (between Marshfield and Paulina).

Chicago Eatathon

Eat Chicago points us to a tour of Chicago dining written by a foodie in Portland, OR. ExtraMSG's "Chicago Eatathon" took him to a wide range of the city's ethnic offerings, reviewed under some interesting categories: Superfly Soul Food, Los Hermanos Azules, Thai Me Up, Thai Me Down, La Dolce Vita, A Passage to India and A Tale of Two Pueblas. More entries may be on the way.

I-Pass, You-Pass

Remember when you heard that you might be paying double at Illinois tolls if you don't have I-Pass? Well, you will, starting January 1st. Motorists who do not have I-Pass will pay $.80 at Illinois tolls in 2005, so folks are out scrambling to pick up that little black box before the year's out. Problem is, it doesn't work on the windshields of some car models. Those folks will have to get an I-Pass that screws into their license plate. That sounds like a fun way to spend New Year's Day.

reVerse for the Holidays

If you've got a writer on your shopping list, you should check out the totally cool, and totally cheap ($12) poetry and music collaboration titled reVerse. The brainchild of Poetry Center of Chicago Director Kenneth Clarke, reVerse features poem-songs, spoken word, and music by 14 artists, from Chicago and beyond including Li-Young Lee, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Lou Reed. Engineered by Wilco's Mikael Jorgensen (who also plays on a few tracks), reVerse is certainly a fine melting together of poetry and songwriting. You can listen to clips, check out artist bios, and purchase a copy online.


Tired of overhearing other people's cellphone conversations? Don't want to know what the doctor said? You may be interested in joining a new organization, the Society for HandHeld Hushing, just launched by Coudal Partners and Draplindustries. Just download this handy PDF and get to work on a quieter tomorrow!

Holiday Shopping Guide #3

Still trying to come up with a holiday gift? Consider locally created art! The Lill Street Art Center has an awesome gallery, and so does the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. You might also consider giving someone the gift of learning how to make art themselves.

The Real Art Chicago

Running through December 18th is an excellent show at Columbia's Center for Book & Paper Arts, featuring work from Chicagoans Jay Ryan, of Dianogah fame, as well as Archer Prewitt, of local favorites The Sea and Cake. There is a massive amount of work on display here, showcasing Prewitt's Sof'Boy creation as well as a comprehensive selection of Ryan's work as The Bird Machine. If this doesn't manage to satiate your desire for local art, head on over to Foundation Gallery for their new exhibit, Drawing to an End. A theme of time permeates this fantastic group show, highlighting work from gallery staples Jay Ryan, Nick Butcher, Dan Grzeca, Justin Fines, and Seripop.

Another Way Home

Ronne's Hartfield's book Another Way Home receives two extolling reviews in the Tribune. Part personal memoir and part Chicago history, the book centers on Hartfield's mother and her life as a mixed race American living in the city.

Drunk, well fed Vikings

With good eats and good drink, what's not to love about Andersonville? Pismire, proprietor of another fine local blog, has written up an excellent review of some of the highlights. While you're here, be sure to pick up a couple bottles of Mr. Hans' Andersonville Glögg at the liquor store at Foster and Clark. Nineteen percent alcohol by volume, it keeps us Vikings warm on those sub-zero Chicago nights.

Kanye's Got Two Hands Full

The 47th Annual Grammy Award nominations went out today for 2004, and Chicago-native Kanye West leads the pack with 10 nominations including Song of the Year for "Jesus Walks", Album of the Year for "The College Dropout," and Best New Artist. You can check out all of the categories (including Best Hawaiian Music Album) at the Grammy site. The awards show takes place on February 13, 2005.

Recorded Live!

I've been digging through the Internet Archive's Live Music Archive, grabbing concerts from my favorite bands. There's around 500 concerts recorded in Chicago -- lots of jam bands, but also local acts (such as Andrew Bird, Local H and Dolly Varden) and out-of-towners of various genres (Southern Culture on the Skids, Hank Williams III, Los Lonely Boys and more).

You Are Beautiful: Inspiring Works

The people behind You Are Beautiful are spreading their message further — with the help of some friends. Inspiring Works is a must see. Be on the lookout, a few You Are Beautiful installations are still up around the city (hint — an excellent one on Ashland, south of North Ave., look closely).

More Theories About the 'Windy City'

I grew up believing Chicago had been dubbed "The Windy City" because of our long-winded politicians. Later I learned that historians claimed Charles A. Dana of the New York Sun gave Chicago its famous nickname during the competition to hold the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. But a New York parking ticket judge says that story is untrue. And Chicago really received its nickname from -- Cincinnati?

Sam's Wine and Extortion Ring?

Sam's Wine & Spirits got hit by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission with a 15-count citation for violations including extortion, running an illegal warehouse and selling to other retailers, the Tribune reports. The ILCC is hoping to settle for a (big) fine, but might revoke Sam's liquor license if the case goes to court.

I Rock in Iraq

Friend of GB Alicia Frantz is creating a care package for her brother, who is currently stationed in Iraq. In keeping with her orientation toward audio, she's sending him a bunch of minidisks, including one containing messages from random people back home. She's soliciting contributions: record a short message in .mp3, .aiff or .wav format and either email it to her or tell her where online she can grab it at, or in the comments of this entry. The deadline is tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.

Poetry Not Heavy

Just because it's humorous doesn't mean it's not art: Light Quarterly, a journal of light verse, got some attention from the Reader's Hot Type column this week.

Check out Free WiFi

Chicago Public Library now offers patrons free wireless internet access, becoming the first major urban library system to do so. You can check out necessary computer settings, and find the nearest CPL branch online.

Hormel's Bias Against Chicago

While not quite worthy of a protest, I'm a little miffed: Even though SPAMalot, the musical, is opening in Chicago, Hormel Foods is giving ticket holders to the New York show a free can of Honey Grail SPAM (well, the first 100 anyway). Who in your opinion is more likely to eat and create buzz about SPAM - a Chicagoan or a New Yorker?

Chicago Blogmap gets its own domain

Chicago Blogmap, one of two online collections of Chicago area blogger links that categorizes its entries by stops on the CTA train lines (the other one being Chicago Bloggers), has moved to its own domain,, after being hosted at Paul Goyette's site for well over a year. Adjust your bookmarks.

A Wedding at the Lyric Opera

In yesterday's Sun-Times, Roger Ebert published an essay on the rehearsal of an opera version of Robert Altman's 1978 film A Wedding. The film, shot on location in Lake Forest, told the story of two rich families getting together for a wedding, one old-money family from Lake Forest and one nouveau-riche family from Louisville, Kentucky. Robert Altman had a hand in the libretto of the opera version, which premieres Saturday night at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. More info has been posted at Slowdown.

Shop, Drink, and Be Merry

Wow! There are places to shop outside of Michigan Ave.! Metromix offers a helpful little guide to navigating some of those neighborhood shops. And, because holiday shopping begets holiday drinking, recommendations on where to get frosty beverages follow each store description.

Art of the Past, Architecture of the Future

Chicago Public Radio's "Hello Beautiful" this Sunday included a tribute to recently departed artist Ed Paschke. The week before featured a visit to the Chicago Architecture: Ten Visions show as the Art Institute. Listen here (RealAudio files).

Blue Frog, Red Lizard

And you thought the election season was over: The Brookfield Zoo is asking for your vote for official state amphibian and reptile. (Thanks, Fil)

ACM 2005 Chicago Literary Awards

Another Chicago Magazine is hosting the 2005 Chicago Literary Awards. The prize is $1000, plus publication in the magazine; deadline for submissions is January 15th. Guidelines for 2005 are yet to be posted, but the entry fee is $12 per story or 3 poem set, with $5 for each additional poem and the work must not be previously published. Entries go to Chicago Literary Awards, Another Chicago Magazine, 3709 N. Kenmore, Chicago, 60613.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Local promotional outfits Interrupt Media and Covalent team up once again to present Going Forward in Reverse, an electronic music series tonight at Chicago's acclaimed Sonotheque. This installment features performances by local house favorite Diz, Gramaphone stalwart and Antennae label head Josh Werner, Crosstalk's Brian Borden, and an opening set by Audiophile of Meiotic. Doors at 9 pm, Tickets are $5 before 11pm. 21+, $2 PBR. Sonotheque is located at 1444 W. Chicago Ave.

Twentyseven FM

NineFM, the "we play anything" station, has expanded onto two additional frequencies: 92.7 in the north and 92.5 in the west in addition to its original south suburban 99.9, which barely reached the North Side. There's a write-up in yesterday's Trib, and the station is getting slammed on the Radio-Info message boards.

Don't throw Santa from the train

Two days ago we were mourning the loss of the CTA Holiday Train due to the transit authority's well-known budget issues. Turns out that if you threaten Santa, CTA board president Carole Brown gets pissed. Thanks to Brown's intervention, the holiday train is back on track. Apparently threatening to lay off 1,200 employees and to cut bus routes and overnight train service is all cool, but Santa? Don't f$ck with Santa!

The Obama episode of "Check, Please!"

A while back, Newcity mentioned that there was a pilot episode of WTTW's killer restaurant review program "Check, Please!" that featured an appearance by then State Senator Barack Obama. On yesterday's Eight Forty-Eight, the aired an interview with the show's producer, David Manilow, and aired segments from that episode, featuring Obama and the other guests talking about the Hyde Park restaurant Dixie Kitchen. You won't see this episode on the air, though; not only was this a pilot episode for the program, but the other guests on the program said very little, allowing Obama to pretty much carry the entire show. The interview is archived at Chicago Public Radio's Website, and it's required listening for fans of the program. UPDATE: Obama's appearance on "Check Please!" will air on Jan. 16, 2009!

62 years of going nuclear

The Chicago blog farkleberries reminds us that today is a solemn day in Chicago history: on December 2, 1942, at the University of Chicago, physicist Enrico Fermi and scientists from his laboratory achieved the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction, which led to the creation of the atomic bomb and nuclear power plants. At the Library of Congress' Today In History page, they've got some related scanned documents and photographs, as well as a bunch of links guaranteed to help you kill the last hour of work.

Resfest Digital Film Festival

From the collective mind of the folks at Res Magazine, Resfest 2004 hits town this weekend. Setting up shop Friday through Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the production is self-described as a "global touring festival exploring the dynamic interplay of film, art, music, design, and technology." This year's lineup features work from Sexy Beast director Jonathan Glazer, British video artists Shynola, audio terrorists EBN, and more. Tickets are available through the Resfest website and the MCA; more information on the specific schedule has been posted in Slowdown.

Great Chicago Fire Sale Scandal!

You know that "Great Chicago Fire Sale" city memorabilia auction that was supposed to start today? There's no sign of it on eBay. Reader Natasha contacted eBay and got this reply: "It should be on the eBay site but we have not been given any information on the user ID or the item numbers yet. So you may want to keep checking that site and contact the email address on that page or the phone number to when exactly they will post the items for sale on eBay." Her calls to the Fire Sale coordinator got a busy signal.

UPDATE: Natasha writes: "I just checked my mailbox again and got this reply from Joan Greene, the [Fire Sale] Director:"

UPDATE: The auction has launched.

NYT Found Dirty

The New York Times profiled Jason Bitner, one of the creators of Found Magazine and editor of the new Dirty Found (NSFW). "People seem to see it as a sort of mini-Kinsey Report," Bitner said. "Or maybe it's more like the letters in Hustler. I don't know."

Return of the mummy

Remember when King Tut toured the country in 1977? Well, he's coming back, and the Field Museum is going to have him. In 2006, the museum will host the Chicago visit of about 130 treasures of the ancient boy pharoah and his relatives. I have a feeling that 2006 will also see the release of a remix version of Steve Martin's "King Tut" single.

They've Got Great Wings...In Rockford

While looking for something else, I stumbled upon this: Hooters Air has signed a deal with the Rockford airport to fly to Denver, Atlanta, and Las Vegas. With departures from Rockford and Gary, who could resist the appeal of Hooters Air? Pluh-eez.

All Aboard the Humbug Train

Apparently, the impending CTA budget cuts left no funds to support this year's Holiday Train. No more poles striped like candy canes. No more elves manning the car doors. No more Christmas music pumping through the PA system inspiring riders to clap their hands and sing along. Ah...I think my commutes will feel just a little bit safer this holiday season.

Christmas Openings

Not into the whole unwrapping presents/tinsel/eggnog thing? There's a ton of movies opening on Christmas Day. Plan a movie marathon and don't look up until the mistletoe is gone. Among the films in theatres opening on (or just before) Dec. 25 are: Wes Anderson's latest, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fat Albert, Meet the Fockers, The Phantom of the Opera, Darkness and more. Check the Reader for listings.

Another Sign of Winter

Don't forget that December 1st also marks the day when the speed limit on Lake Shore Drive is lowered from 45 to 40 mph. And natives know the police love to pull people over on the Drive, so slow down! The lowered speed limit remains in affect until April 1st.

Sexy Burlesque for the Holidays

The Lavender Cabaret brings back its sexy show, Femme TV! After a successful run at the Lakeshore Theatre, LavCab is moving to the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts. Femme TV is a sexy, sizzling send-up of pop culture nostaligia featuring very lovely ladies. The show opens December 3 and runs through the end of the month. Get tickets and more info.

Holiday Shopping Guide #2

Looking for some extraordinary gifts for family and friends? The 4th Annual One of a Kind Show runs this weekend at the Merchandise Mart, with a First Look preview Thursday night. Hit up the 8th floor location sometime this weekend for "thousands of gifts made by hand by North America's most talented fine artists and fine craftspeople." The Mart's superb customer service includes free on-site childcare, as well as coat and package check, and package carryout service, all included in the $10 ticket fee.

Fare Strike!

Think the requests to have CTA riders complain to legislators and the city about threatened service cuts and fare increase is a bunch of hooey? You're not alone. The folks at Midwest Unrest aren't the type of people to complain about something, they're the type of people who do something about it. What do they propose? A fare strike on December 15th.

The Oldest Bulletin Board

Did you know Chicago has the home of the world's first BBS? In 1978, a couple of computer programmers developed CBBS in about two weeks. It took off, and the rest is history. The whole story and more is at

Holiday Shopping Guide #1

'Tis the season to shop like mad, and it just so happens that many local purveyors of goods are offering discounts. For instance, Brilliante Records, home of The M's, has a three-CDs-for-$20 deal, and I See France has discounted its "cute underthings." Daily Candy has a list of sample sales, too.

Another Blog in the City

BlogChicago is a new site started by a journalist and a couple copy editors. The content is currently made up mostly of music and movie reviews, as well as an "e-poll" asking random questions to local media and celebrities. However, the site also offers a Forum in which to discuss topics of the day.

The first real sign of winter

The winter parking ban goes into effect today. No parking on designated snow routes between 3 and 7 AM. If you do, you're looking at a $150 towing fee and a $50 ticket. And do you really want to tangle with Chicago tow trucks right about now? No, you don't. Also be aware that there's another parking ban that goes into effect for the 500 miles of Chicago's snow routes, barring people from parking on them when there's at least 2 inches of snow on the street. $30 ticket for that violation.



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