Gapers Block has ceased publication.

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


Monday, May 23

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Universal Experience at the MCA

I love to travel. But, being only a humble librarian, about the only type of travel I can afford is the armchair kind. At the Museum of Contemporary Art, however, one can explore the ideas of travel and tourism without leaving Chicago in the museum's current exhibition "Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist's Eye." The show features over 70 artists from around the world and takes over the entire museum space. It is now entering its last month, so hurry over there before it closes on June 5, 2005. And, an alert reader points outs the show was just reviewed in the New York Times. (Thanks, Matt!)

Shhh... Spread the Word

A friend of GB just told us a secret, but he wanted us to tell you: Tonight at the Hideout, The Changes are playing a special set to help celebrate Life During Wartime's second anniversary. And tomorrow night? Supersystem, formerly known as El Guapo. The fun starts after 9pm both nights.

Imagine how much the CAR costs!

How high of a commodity is downtown parking? Well, last night 23 parking spots were auctioned off, and the total amount of cash raked in was.... $750,000. Gaaah. Guess we better stick to the CTA, right? Oh, wait...

Detroit Artist Makes Chicago Debut

The buzz around town is growing to fever pitch for tonight's Going Forward in Reverse event at Sonotheque. Time Out features headliner Anthony Shakir in their latest issue, and the party's promotional team has received accolades for the lineup from both Flavorpill and UR, among others. Why not stop by the GB get-together for a bit, then head down to Chicago Ave. for what proves to a memorable performance from one of the unsung heroes of Detroit techno? More information, as always, over in Slowdown.

Nightclubbing in May

It's a busy weekend for movie-goers (Todd Solondz's Palindromes, the movie version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the return of Heaven's Gate), but I did want to highlight an excellent-sounding series starting at the Film Center: every Sunday in May, they'll be showing a different episode from the New York cable TV show "Nightclubbing", which aired through the 1970s and 1980s and showed performance footage from local clubs like CBGB's and the Danceteria. You'll get to see footage of Blondie, the Dead Boys, Iggy Pop, the Dead Kennedys, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks (with Lydia Lunch), Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and quite a few more. Keep your eye on Slowdown for the scoop.

Sam's Wine and Extortion Ring Pt. II

As GB reported late last year, Sam's Wine & Spirits is in a bit of hot water with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. Officials from Sam's are to sit down with our state liquor regulators today, to discuss the 15 liquor violations filed last December. The delay in the meeting has only made the case against Sam's stronger, according to the chief legal counsel. If the talks go badly, look for the case to head to a hearing; bad news, as regulators might seek to revoke Sam's license. Better hop on that Weekend Warehouse Sale!

Where the Buffalo Roam?

Not sure what to make of this: the Bisonarium project wants to turn Northerly Island, former home of Meigs Field, into a preserve on which bison would graze. UPDATE: Reader Jeb points us to a similar proposal for the site of the World Trade Center made in 2003.

In the red

In this week's Reader, Michael Miner looks into a side effect of all those RedEyes and Red Streaks being handed out for free at train stations for the past two years: commuters are purchasing much fewer copies of the Tribune and Sun-Times, which is affecting the circulation numbers and income of station newsstands. Why pay for the news, when you can get it for free? (Tip from Bookslut)

Eat Out Tonight

You should be Dining Out for Life tonight -- if you haven't already made your reservations, here's a list of restaurants participating in this annual charity event benefitting AIDSCare, a home for HIV and AIDS patients.

Chicago Learning Guide

Want to take a class in drawing, writing, photography, acting or even sports? Then you want to bookmark this site. The Chicago Learning Guide is a directory of "professional, personal and recreational classes" available all over the Chicago area. Just click on a subject area to get a list of links to organizations offering classes in everything from architecture to yoga.

CTA questions answered

The great Chicago transportation blog CTA Tattler has an anonymous contact inside the CTA, and is starting to field questions from its readers for this CTA insider to answer. Today's question: what "waiting for signals ahead" really means. If you've got a burning question that only a CTA insider can answer, check this site out.

Washington Square Rises Up

Residents of Washington Square, the hoity-toity Gold Coast sub-neighborhood around the Newberry Library, are complaining of police harrassment after cops responded to complaints about dogs roaming free and owners not picking up poop in the park. The cops have been cracking down hard in recent months, go so far as to arrest two people who failed to provide proper ID. Alderman Natarus is now getting involved, promising to create "some sort of dog run" for the park. (Thanks, Jaime.)

NOVA Young Art Fair

Instead of trekking to the Art Institute for the ump-teenth time, why not check out something new? Organized by Bridge Magazine, the NOVA Young Art Fair is an independent exposition of young art displayed throughout the West Loop Gallery district -- this Spring's exhibition spaces are located at 840 and 850 W. Washington. The Fair starts today and runs through May 1; you can check the schedule of exhibitions for specifics and you can purchase tickets here.

City of Chicago Scared into Action?

An alert reader informed GB of an interesting case heading to the federal courts. In most other big cities, there is a very "demanding, specific, and rationally related basis for investigation", but not so in Chicago. The ACLU of Illinois and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) filed a petition requesting information about the infiltration by Chicago Police of the AFSC's planning meetings back in 2002. What was the outrageous purpose of these meetings? To stage a peaceful demonstration at a major international business conference. Even an internal audit by the police department found insufficient basis for such activities, and the ACLU wants to know why documents have been destoyed regarding this case. (Thanks, Mitchell!)

What's in a name (or photo)?

Frank Calabrese, a Chicago businessman, shares the name of a convicted mobster who was in the news earlier in the week. Unfortunately, the Tribune used a picture of the wrong Frank Calabrese in its paper on Tuesday. The Tribune regrets the error. Update: the Tribune also used another incorrect photo yesterday, showing a picture of Chicagoan Stanley Swieton and claiming it was Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo. Calabrese is suing the Tribune for defamation. (tip from Regret The Error)

Ask Carole

Tony of points out that CTA Board Chairman Carole Brown has created a blog to "answer some of the questions people have been asking about the CTA's funding situation. We on the board have asked many of these same questions, and we want to help get the word out." She includes an email address where you can direct questions and comments.

Blue Ribbon Radio

WPBR is on the air! Well, online at least. Wicker Park's pirate radio station (which uses call letters that technically belong to an AM station in Palm Beach) is available to stream at from 4pm until "late at night." Anyone know if they've got an actual radio signal as well? Email inbox[at]

Bridgeport To Bloom

In what will certainly be a huge boost to the South Side, the quarry at 28th and Halsted will become a natural park sometime next year according to The Gazette. The development craze that swept Pilsen will surely continue to Bridgeport now. (via Payton)

How much was that bungalow on the corner?

If you're in the market for buying a house or condo, one incredibly useful too is the Trib's home purchase price database. It lets you narrow your search to neighborhood, zip code, even city blocks. (Also handy if you're nosy.)

A History of Encased Meats

Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's, at 3324 N. California, recently revealed a major addition to Chicago history -- Critical Links: A History of Encased Meats. Displayed in the store, Hugh Musick's research depicts "the most extensive history of encased meats ever conducted." Yum! It's all about bringing the history that matters to the people who care.

Farewell to the Honeysuckle Shop

We're sorry to report the recent closing of the Honeysuckle Shop, a Wrigleyville lady-friendly sex toy and lingerie shop run by a husband-and-wife team. Leigh Anne Wilson, the public face of the shop and proprietress of the popular blog One Good Thing, shuttered their store after a bout with pneumonia. The Honeysuckle Shop remains alive online as well as in Wilson's garage. (Thanks, Marie)

Take me out to (and back from) the ball game

The Sun-Times reports that a new trolley service running between Wrigley Field, Michigan Ave. hotels and the Ravenswood Metra station is set to start running on May 7th, when the Cubs play the Phillies. The trolley will be running during night games and weekend games, so all you Cubs fans who come to town just for the games now have a new option to parking near the field.

Da Mob Cleaned Up

No doubt you've heard by now about the federal indictment of 14 Chicago mobsters. There's a great resource for information on local organized crime: Illinois Police & Sheriff's News, which is collecting articles and info on "Operation Family Secrets."

Moving the Velvet Lounge

There's a great post on MetaFilter about the Velvet Lounge's pending move to a new location. There are a couple fundraisers (PDF) coming up in May — can't-miss shows for fans of experimental jazz.

Listen to This

Radio Free Chicago, one of the many fine shows on WLUW, informs us that there are three record listening parties happening tonight: New Order at Smartbar; a whole bunch of CDs -- and ping pong! -- at Shubas, brought to you by Reckless Records; and the new Eels disc at Long Room. And on Wednesday, RFC itself is hosting a listening party for the new Stereolab box set at aliveOne, after which a whole bunch of DJs spin.

Mmm, fudge chunks...

The Tribune reports on a new Ben & Jerry's flavor that's unlikely to sell big in Chicago: Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies. The deal for the flavor ("vanilla ice cream with fudge brownie chunks and raspberry swirls") was apparently signed long before the infamous poo incident from last year linked the words "Dave Matthews Band" and "800 pounds of raw sewage" in the minds of Chicagoans. (Thanks to Amy C. for the tip.)

Hangin' with the Block

It's the last week of the month, which means it's once again time for the GB Get-Together. This Friday, meet us over at the Ginger Man Tavern, 3740 N. Clark (next to the Metro), from 9pm till midnight or so for some drinks and probably a little pool.

Recycle Your Batteries

The city has started a new battery recycling program in an effort to keep them out of landfills. Drop your dead batteries off at any Walgreens or public library -- there's a list of locations on the linked page.

The video behind the music

As Wilco tour the country (and get ready for a four-night stand at the Vic next week) they showcase the work of Chicago artist Deborah Johnson, who has created a series of video projections that are shown during the concert. Deborah travels with the band and works with them to create new animations for the music, and "performs" the animations live by computer during the shows. An NPR interview with Johnson is available at NPR's site. (Thanks to for the tip.)

TV-Turnoff Week

Today kicks off National TV-Turnoff Week and while I won't be participating because, hey, I loves me some TV, Oak Park resident Jean Lotus probably will. An antitelevisionist and founder of White Dot, Lotus was recently profiled in the April issue of Chicago Magazine (p. 30). She also has an anti-TV guidebook called Get a Life! Hey, man...I do have a life. Gilmore Girls just happens to be a part of it. (Thanks, Heather!)

Infinitely cool

The annual 2005 Nebula Awards are hosted in Chicago this upcoming weekend. And for those of you who don't want to pony up the bucks to see your favorite SF authors at the Hotel Allegro, there are going to be two events that you'll probably want to attend; two massive multi-author book signings have been scheduled for the Borders bookstore on State Street. If the thought of meeting such luminaries as Anne McCaffrey, Ellen Datlow, Joe Haldeman, and Cory Doctorow makes you excited, see the listings in Slowdown for more details.

Nikki Giovanni @ U of C

Tonight, the renowned and award-winning poet and civil rights activist Nikki Giovanni will appear at the University of Chicago to deliver the annual George E. Kent lecture. Presented by U of C's Organization of Black Students, the lecture begins at 7pm, at International House, 1414 E. 59th St. A book signing follows at the university's Barnes & Noble; the lecture is free and open to the public.

Be in a Wilco Concert Video

Wilco is doing a four-night stand at the Vic May 4-7, and the concerts will be filmed for an upcoming DVD. Somehow (at this writing, according to their site) there are still tickets available -- get'em while they last! (via

Chicagopalooza lineup announced

The Chicago-only Lollapalooza announced much of their lineup in a press conference this afternoon. The bigger names include Death Cab for Cutie, Liz Phair, the Killers, the Pixies, Weezer, and a reconstituted Dinosaur Jr(!), plus quite a few of-the-moment hipster music nerd bands. Only 30-odd bands out of a reported 60 were named, so there are presumably more to come (we're crossing our fingers and chanting "beck beck beck" under our breath). Tickets are once again on sale at the site.

Going Forward in Reverse

On Friday, April 29, a diverse array of Chicago promoters and electronic musicians invade Sonotheque to present an evening of abstract techno and forward-thinking house. Featuring performances from globe-trotting artists such as Detroit legend Anthony 'Shake' Shakir (in his first Chicago performance), Residual Records owner Titonton Duvante, and underground electro producer Silicon of Vmax fame, this will be a refreshingly varied dance music showcase. More information is available in Slowdown.

Tour of Shadows

Kevin Guilfoile is writing a diary of sorts for The Morning News about his book tour in support of Cast of Shadows; the second installment came out yesterday.

Improvize Your Weekend

There's so much going on in the city right now that we somehow missed putting the Chicago Improv Festival on the list. Starting tonight and lasting all week long, this is the time to see Chicago's homegrown brand of theatrical comedy (and sometimes tragedy, but mostly comedy) from many of the nation's best troupes. Here's the whole schedule in PDF format.

Walk Into Summer

If you enjoyed the book The Devil In The White City, you might consider one of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's tours that explore places mentioned in the book. Burnham's offices atop the Rookery has a tour; the site of the fair, Jackson Park, has a tour as well.

Bush a Chicago resident?

President and Mrs. Bush live in Chicago—at least that's what their tax return says. The Bushes' 1040 lists a Chicago P.O. box, not a Crawford ranch, as their home address. A White House spokesperson says that's because Northern Trust handles the blind trust in which the Bushes have their holdings. The spokesperson also said it doesn't mean they have to pay Illinois income tax. Hey, thanks.

(Jane) Ad(d)ams Street

Just when you thought there couldn't be more honorary street signs in Chicago, we get another one. But this one should be a no-brainer, and maybe should have existed for decades. There is now a Jane Addams-Hull House street which also happens to be a stretch of South Halsted Street between Harrison Street and Roosevelt Road. Hopefully this will make it easier for tourists to find the Hull House since you can't get nearer Mesopotamia on King Sargon Drive.

Iraqi Street Reporter Visits Chicago

On Saturday, April 23rd, independent street reporter Dahr Jamali visits Chicago to present thoughts on the war in Iraq, photos and video from inside Fallujah, and to give an analysis of the "mainstream media's successful efforts to whitewash the Iraq catastrophe for the Bush administration." The event is being held at Sonotheque, and starts at 6 PM. You can find more information about the talk (entitled What NPR and Fox News Get Wrong About Iraq) and about Jamali's work through his website, at Voices in the Wilderness, or over in Slowdown.

Goose-Rage arrest

This bizarre article of an arrest in Buffalo Grove after a goose-beating has some funny bits. Am I the only who snickers at the idea of someone having "unlawful taking of a goose" on his record?


It's yet another year for Version, now in its fifth incarnation, and the program and multitude of events is vast. Beginning this Friday and spanning 10 days, the festival features some recent projects and artists that have been making news in Chicago. There's a lot of stuff to wade through, so get cozy and intimate with who and what you want to see when.

Break a Mies Window

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Crown Hall on IIT's campus is going to be restored starting this summer, and the university is raising money to help fund the project by auctioning the chance to break a window in the national historic landmark building on eBay. Current bid is $2,550 -- you have until 9am tomorrow.

Save the CTA

SaveChicagoTransit is a new site providing information about the current CTA budget crisis -- which will help you bone up for the Rally for New Transit Priorities and Funding taking place today at 3pm at City Hall, corner of Clark and Randolph. Bring your bullhorn. (Thanks, Matt and Leah.)

Trotter's Does It Again

NPR has republished a Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants in the World, and our very own Charlie Trotters made an appearance at #14. Did you know that they also offer food to go?

Jeff Citation nominations

The nominees for the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Citations Wing Awards were announced Wednesday. The Jeff Citations Wing honors productions from Chicago's unique and thriving non-union theatre scene (union shows have a separate awards ceremony in the fall). TimeLine and Circle Theatre lead the way with 14 nominations each, followed by Bailiwick with 13 and the House Theatre, in its first year of eligibility, with 12. The full list of nominations can be found at Playbill. Awards will be presented June 13 at Park West.

USA, Baking Champions of the World!

Following up on our previous post, the US Bread Bakers Guild team has won the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (the World Bakers' Cup) in Paris. Here's a short Quicktime video montage. Team member Jory Downer will soon be back in his home kitchen at Bennison's Bakery in Evanston -- stop in and meet a true champion!

Carson's on the Block

The fate of Marshall Fields is still up in the air, but in the meantime the other State Street department store is now up for sale. Saks has put Carson Pirie Scott & Co. -- along with several other store chains -- on the block. Hopefully we won't have to worry about a name change at 1 S. State.

New things to stick

Because I am so very very fond of the You Are Beautiful project, I am pleased to announce that they now have new white on clear stickers. They're sexy. I'm getting some. You should too and then spread the love.

Hyde Five!

Mr Hyde Records will be releasing its fifth compilation of Hyde Park music at tonight at the Subterranean (details in Slowdown). Rumor has it that the compilation record, entitled "Hyde Five," will showcase as many as nineteen active Hyde Park bands. Stop by the Subterranean tonight after 9 pm to get your hands on a copy. If you can't make it, keep an eye on the Mr Hyde website-- like with previous Mr Hyde releases, once the limited-edition discs are sold out, you can download the mp3s for free.

Reconstruction Room vs. Hermit Arts

Got a hankerin' for some poetry and performance by local Chicago up-and-comers? Then stop by the Black Rock Bar at Damen and Addision at 8pm today and join the Reconstruction Room. There's no admission -- save the price of a beer or two. Tonight's activities are heavy on the performance when local Performing Arts Chicago alums Hermit Arts collaborate with the Rec-Roomers. More info in Slowdown.

You'd think we could buy a pennant

The Chicago-based sports marketing firm Team Marketing Research yesterday released their 2005 MLB Fan Cost Index, comparing the cost for a family of four to attend a game at each of baseball's thirty parks. Their methodology, which accounts for average ticket prices, food, parking, and merchandise, puts both of Chicago's teams in the top five most expensive. A trip to a Sox game will run $188.07 (fifth), while a day at Wrigley comes in second at $210.01. Both clubs raised their ticket prices by more than 12% this year. (Thanks, Damon.)


Imagine walking into your music composing class at the University of Illinois at Chicago and being told that your class is being filmed for a promotional university project. And then you see Sting walk in followed by an MTV film crew. Not only did he play music and answer students' questions, he also invited them to play along and even picked out some students for solos. The episode will air Monday on MTVu's Stand-In only available on college campuses. The line-up sounds a heckuva lot better than most of the shite they have on regular MTV. (Thanks, Roni.)

Google Maps Hack

Adrian Holovaty has created a snazzy trick for Chicagoans using GoogleMaps -- provided you use Firefox. It changes the map of the city from Google's map to the CTA version. Don't let the scary techie stuff scare you, it's really easy to implement. (Thanks again, Matt!)

Cubs Fans and Wagner's "Ringheads"

Last week, the New York Times reported a piece on the similarities between those dedicated fans of Wagner's four-opera "Ring des Nibelungen" and our own die hard Cub fans. Turns out, even Plácido Domingo was talking about the many years of frustration suffered by longtime Cub fans. The tie between the opera and baseball has been studied for ages; with Chicago seeming to have a more intense connection than other places like NYC. Domingo even offered up a request, to sing the national anthem if the Cubs make the playoffs. It would mark his first visit to Wrigley Field.

A lot of parrotheads in Chicago

Tickets for the Jimmy Buffett Labor Day concerts at Wrigley Field went on sale yesterday. And... both shows are already completely sold out. Wow.

Birth Control Not So Much in Control

"From Chicago the fight goes national," says Matt Peck, alerting us to a story in the New York Times on the continuing fight for timely access to birth control. Seems like Gov. Blagojevich's efforts to make his emergency rule permanent have sent pharmacies throughout the country in a tizzy, especially over the morning-after pill.

Free Cone Day!

Reader Cara alerts us to the fact that today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. Free ice cream! Whoo! Check here for a listing of shops in Illinois participating in the 12-8pm happening.

Not to be confused with Resurrection Mary

Seen the image of the Virgin Mary on the Kennedy Expressway underpass wall? Rob Ray of Metroblogging Chicago is not amused, refers to her as "Underpass Mary," and crushes her head. Crush, crush!

Pharmacist Refusal Rally

We told you a couple of weeks ago, about a rally to protest pharmacists refusing to fill birth control perscriptions. We then told you that pharmacists have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Blagojevich for making them *ahem* do their job. Now Planned Parenthood has organized a rally in Springfield for May 11th. Wanna go?

NYC looking to Chicago for Inspiration

Everybody's favorite mayor, Mayor Daley, has another fan on his side. Majora Carter, writes a piece for Newsday citing Chicago as the leader in the "green" city movement. The article sums up the tie-in to the Time article, "Behind environmental innovation, there must be policy innovation; and behind policy innovation there must be a strong mayor. Mayor Daley ensured that the dream of a greener Chicago became a reality because he charged his administration to come up with policies that actually have teeth." Majora is a resident of South Bronx, pushing for a bicycle/pedestrian greenway along the South Bronx waterfront to provide open space, waterfront access and opportunities for mixed-use economic development.

"Where Are All the Faces?"

Former GB staffer Luke has a challenge to all the photobloggers and Flickr-heads out there: more people in your photos. "Chicago is a city of 3 million people, but you'd never know it from its photoblogs and Flickr entries...The facelessness that results approaches misanthropy, and it gives the false impression that Chicago is a cold, vacant and inanimate place." Hop to it, photogs.

"Now It's Bucktown's Turn"

Those of us who are whining geezers and remember when Wicker Park was actually kinda cool (including the requisite stories about Urbus Orbus and Buzy Bee) will groan when you read this one: major retailers are itching to move onto Milwaukee Ave. Crain's notes that Gap, J. Crew and Urban Outfitters are looking to move in. With rents doubling, that means boutiques will move out. When Myopic goes, you'll know Wicker Park is Officially Dead.

King Richard the Second

Time Magazine named Mayor Daley as one of the top five mayors in the country this week, and the Tribune has jumped all over it. Dan Mihalopoulos thinks Time needs to read the papers more, while Eric Zorn points out that only about 10 percent of the Daley profile is negative. The Sun-Times notes that there has been more corruption under Daley than in the previous 70 years.

Neighborhoods, photos of

An ambitious photography project but stunning and vast nonetheless, Chicago Neighborhoods: Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago deserves your attention and a lengthy look-see.

R is for Ray

Mayor Daley has proclaimed today Ray Bradbury Day in Chicago, and to celebrate the Waukegan, IL writer's career there will be a program this evening at the Harold Washington Library featuring an interview with Sam Weller, author of the new biography The Bradbury Chronicles, as well as a Q&A session with Bradbury via telephone. See Slowdown for details.

Takin' It to Paris

Over the next couple days, the US Bread Bakers Guild team goes up against competitors from around the world in the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie -- the World Bakers' Cup -- in Paris. The three-man team includes a local guy: Jory Downer of Bennison's Bakery in Evanston will be holding down the Viennoiserie (a type of pastry) category. Go USA!

But will there be background music during the ceremony?

Sorry, ladies, he's taken; Ira Glass, host of the long-running "This American Life" from Chicago Public Radio, is getting married this summer to Chicago writer Anaheed Alani, according to this interview in the Boston Globe. Just in time for TAL's 10-year anniversary! (According to the show's site, the show premiered on WBEZ on November 17, 1995.)

Car Blog Geekout

I have a friend who can identify a car by sound -- the purr of the engine, the growl of the muffler. He'd no doubt enjoy Chicago Car News, a relatively new blog about automobiles. (And did you know the author of Autoblog is local?)

Renegade Craft Fair

Whether you're a person who makes crafts or a person who enjoys others' crafty endeavors, the Renedgade Craft Fair is the perfect place for all DIY-inclined to converge. This year's fair, the third of its kind, is now accepting applications from those who wish to participate in the September event. Check out the FAQ and then apply. The deadline is June 15.

Lunch Break Juvies

Police investigating a rash of attacks on pedestrians in Hyde Park noticed an interesting trend: many of them happened when nearby public schools were on lunch break. Sure enough, nearly a third of the 33 people arrested so far were high school or elementary school students.

Mmm, anniversary burgers...

Today is the 50th anniversary of McDonald's. The first restaurant in the chain was opened on April 15, 1955 in Des Plaines, and the latest one, a two-story restaurant with a retro design, will be opened this morning at 10:00 on the site of the old Rock'n'Roll McDonald's (600 N. Clark). In case you can't attend the opening in person, McDonald's is thoughtfully providing a Webcast preview of the restaurant; see the McDonald's site for details.

Deep in the heart of taxes

For those who are just now starting to fill out their tax forms, the Sun-Times has a list of post offices that are staying open late tonight, should you need a few more hours to complete and mail them out by the April 15 deadline. And the Tribune has some tips for late filers, such as a toll-free number you can call to get a filing extension. Good luck!

Road Trip Nation, U of C

Three University of Chicago students joined PBS for their new documentary show Road Trip Nation, slated to begin airing this summer. The U of C Maroon reports on miles traveled, interviews conducted and lessons learned on the students' trip. Among the lessons learned: that contrary to the U of C mindset, apparently, you don't have to have it all planned out yet. Wish someone had told me that when I was in undergrad.

Survey: college students like red things

An academic study of the RedEye and Red Streak papers has determined that Chicago college students are aware of or are reading the papers, and rate them as having medium or high value as news and advertising sources. The author of the study plans to continue his testing later this year, and sample a larger number of readers (this report comes from a survey of only 112 Chicago college students). Link found at Bookslut, where Jessa notes: "There goes all of my faith in humanity..."

Six Points Times Four

Ted Whalen is really into the six-pointed star of the Chicago flag. We wrote about his first foray into the star's geometry last year around this time; he recently investigated its design further, based on a mention of the original city flag, which had only two stars. (Thanks, Phineas.)

Dining out for life

Two weeks from tonight, the annual event Dining Out For Life happens, in which a number of Chicago-area restaurants either donate a percentage of their day's proceeds or make a single donation to the local charity AIDSCare. If you've been looking for a good excuse to try a new restaurant, check out the list of participating restaurants on the Dining Out For Life site and make your reservations for Thursday, April 28.

Name That Bin

According to Chicago Magazine's Dish column this week, Bin36 is planning to open a third location in Wicker Park. They're having trouble coming up with a name, though: email danbin36com if you've got a suggestion. (Please, serious suggestions only. Be a grown-up.)

Pharmacists sue for right to deny service

A pair of pharmacists from downstate Edwardsville have filed suit against Gov. Blagojevich over his emergency rule on birth control, filed April 1. Blagojevich's rule requires drugstores to fill all birth control prescriptions, including emergency contraceptives, or find other accomodations for their patients. The two pharmacists are being represented by the right-wing American Center for Law and Justice, an anti-choice, anti-gay legal organization founded by Pat Robertson.

Welcome to Doomsday

Crain's Business reports that the CTA board today voted to slash service and raise fares, unless they get a $55 million cash bailout from state lawmakers in the next few months. Check the article for the gory details, which include severe crowding and doubled delays for rush hour commuters, a 68% increase in average wait times for all services and the elimination of over 50 bus routes and the Purple Line train from Evanston. (Thanks to CTA Tattler for the tip.)

Wait Wait In Person

Hey, for $20 bucks a person, you can go view a live taping of National Public Radio's fabulous quiz show Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me. If you can't catch the local taping, maybe you can make it to the tapings in glamorous places like San Diego and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Alienation of Affection

Apparently in Illinois, if your wife leaves you for another man, you can press charges against that man for alienation of affection. This holdover law from the 1800's when women were seen as property has been turned over in England, Canada, and most states in the U.S., but not here in Illinois. A Chicago man named Steve Cyl has dropped his suit against a Chicago firefighter, who convinced Lupe Cyl, that he could make her happier. Steve says he though they had a happy marriage. Dude, if she leaves you, it's not a happy marriage.

No Goonies, Just Music

DJ Chester Copperpot got a nice write-up in the Reader's "The Meter" column last week. Copperpot's in high demand right now -- he just finished recording an album with rap legend KRS-One, and his own debut LP, Chapter Seven, is getting great reviews. You can check him out for free every Thursday night at the Morseland, 1218 W. Morse Ave.

Eat, Drink and Be Murray

On the one hand, I'm a big Bill Murray fan. On the other, I'm not a fan of chain restaurants. So the news that Murray and his siblings are scouting locations for two outposts of their Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurants in the Chicago area (the first ones are in Florida) has me a bit torn.


Chicago has a healthy toy scene, with shops like Rotofugi supporting plushie creators like FizzieFuzzie, Spasmodica and Shawnimals. You can add CutieCooties to that list. The sister duo make all kinds of crafty goodness (methinks Chicago is a hotpot for crafty folks) but I'm most taken with the Plush Toys.

Axis of Evil visited by Secret Service

The current art exhibit at Columbia College's Glass Curtain Gallery, "Axis of Evil: The Secret History of Sin," got some visitors even before it opened. Secret Service agents visited the gallery last week shortly before the show was to open, and (according to the Sun-Times' account) took pictures of some of the art on display, including some stamps designed by curator Michael Hernandez de Luna (whose stamp with the word "anthrax" shut down Chicago's main post office in 2001). In case you wanted to see what the fuss is about, "Axis of Evil" runs at the Glass Curtain Gallery through May 11.

April GB Photo Roundup

So, you missed out on the inaugural installment of the Gapers Block Book Club? Didn't make it to the art and design edition of Influence? What about the last GB get-together? Well, lucky for you and thanks to Flickr, we now have a place to put photos from those events. Got a good GB-related photo to share? Send it our way: inbox at gapersblock dot com. That is, unless I'm in it.

Endangered Photography

Brian Palm is fighting a battle against time: He's trying to photodocument as many historical buildings as possible before they're demolished to make way for new high-rises and condoliths in such neighborhoods as Roscoe Village and the Near West Side. His efforts have saved at least one building, and hopes are that more will be saved from the wrecking ball as their beauty and architectural importance is realized. (Thanks, Pete!)

Chicago, S.A.L.

Jim Nowlan, director of the civic leadership fellows program at UIUC, thinks the name of the state of Illinois should be changed to the State of Abraham Lincoln. Nowlan's reasoning? "Few in the world know what or where Illinois is. Some have heard of Chicago. Yet the world knows Abraham Lincoln..." And the Trib, bless their hearts, put a poll on the editorial page: "Should Illinois be renamed the 'State of Abraham Lincoln'?"

Lincoln Square Acquires Small Portion of Texas

The transformation of Lincoln Avenue north of Irving Park continues. In addition to the shoddy old Jewel being rehabed, the neighborhood now has a country bar where you can dance dance dance! If you're tired of going to Carol's Pub for your country tunes, you can now give the Horseshoe a shot. (And if you missed Antje this weekend, I hear you missed quite a show.)

Darkness is for the birds

Chicago blogger Jennifer Roche alerts us to an article she wrote about Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a group started in 2003 to prevent migratory birds that fly at night from striking buildings in the Loop by having the building owners turn off the lights after 11 PM. Jennifer's article is in the April issue of Conscious Choice.

And you thought unions were dying

Not so. The Service Employees International Union Local 880 has succeded in signing up 50,000 home-based childcare workers. Essentially these are people who get paid by the state to take care of kids in their home. Unless they're licensed, they get less than $9.50 A DAY to take care of each kid in their home. They don't have health insurance, and they don't get paid in any timely manner either. This major success may help other the SEIU create unions in other states. And some of the credit for this goes to Chicago blogger and a GB staffer.

Ride Share

The group behind the Chicago Area Transportation Study has launched, a site where interested parties can find a carpool. The goal is to help reduce traffic congestion by reducing the number of single-passenger vehicles on the road.

Ask Mr. Bike

Now that the weather is warmer and more people are riding again, Mr. Bike, aka Chicagoan Dave Glowacz, has some great tips for urban biking on his site. He also writes a weekly cycling advice column that covers anything from fitting bikes for short women to dealing with the police.

Looking to move

Just in time for the big May 1st moving day: a new site uses Google Maps to locate Craigslist listings for a number of cities, Chicago included. Both apartments and condos are mapped out. [via TMN]

Tune In, Turn On, Wake Up

Looking for something low-key to do this evening? Well, look no further. About Sounds and Subsystence bring local DJs Atomly, Ken Meier and Matt Hellige to Wicker Park's very own Subterranean for an evening of abstract electronic music. Despite the location, the night should be surprisingly devoid of jukebox rock and hipster disco. No, honestly. And best of all, it's free. More details over in Slowdown, if you feel the need.

Backhair You Have To Blow Dry

Ron of Bighappyfunhouse (and known friend of GB) posts a hilarious picture that is so reminiscent of summer. Sitting around with your buddies, having a beer, taking your shirt off. I can't decide what part is my favorite: the Pabst hat, pulled up tube socks, the gorilla, the bandage over the jeans, that man's camel tongue...

Be In Stranger Than Fiction

The movie Stranger Than Fiction, directed by Marc Forster and starring Wil Ferrell, begins shooting in Chicago April 25, and they're holding an open casting call for paid extras at Smartbar, 3730 N. Clark, next Tuesday from 8pm to 11pm. People with tattoos and piercings and of any ethnicity are encouraged to show up with a recent color photograph -- it doesn't have to be a professional headshot. You do have to be 21 or older, but it's otherwise free.

Bye-Bye, Baby Factory

Once upon a time, many of Lincoln Park's infants were manufactured at the Rubens Baby Factory at Racine and Fullerton right next to DePaul University. Unfortunately, the demand has shrunk as the industry moved to China and India and interest in home-made "boutique" babies rose, and Rubens closed for good in November. The Sun-Times reports that the Baby Factory has just been sold to DePaul, which plans to build administrative offices on the site.

Chicago gets Beard nominations

This year's James Beard nominees have been announced [PDF], and Chicago got a lot of nods. Among the nominations, Avec got one for architecture, Everest got the expected outstanding restaurant nomination, and Chicago restaurants hold three of the five spots for outstanding service (Spiaggia, Topolobampo, and Tru). For journalism, the Tribune's habitually lackluster Good Eating section did not win any nominations, though local NPR show 848 did.

Dax Aid

A number of benefit concerts and club gigs have been announced to help out musician Dax Pierson, who was seriously injured in a car crash in February. There are two Chicago benefits scheduled at Sonotheque, the first of which happens tonight and features editors from Fader Magazine and Pitchfork Media doing DJ sets. Doors open at 9:00, show starts at 10:00. The second benefit is scheduled for June 10, and apparently features a DJ set by none other than David Cross. See the Sonotheque site for full details on tonight's show, and the Dax Pierson site for more info on his condition. (Thanks to Jessica for the tip.)


It's been a busy and stressful week for the CTA. At a public meeting to try and drum up support for their doomsday plans to deal with budget shortfalls, the audience booed each of the plans and instead called for CTA officials to cut their own pay.
Meanwhile, Mayor Daley said on Wednesday that he doesn't care about a Chicago casino; he just wants funding for education and the CTA, and did not rule out increasing the region-wide sales tax to get it. And Alderman Eugene Schulter and state rep John Fritchey, not wanting to rely on funding just from the state budget, are going to be asking Illinois' two US senators for federal funding for the Brown Line reconstruction, so that the CTA won't have to temporarily shut down stations during construction. Oh, it's going to be a long hot summer for CTA riders.

Richard J. Daley Urban Forum

Richard J. Daley served as mayor of Chicago from 1955 until his death in 1976, and was a major figure in national politics throughout his career. At the center of interest for the Forum is the history of Chicago and of American cities during the period of the mayor's public service, and the issues that concerned him during his life and that concern urban policy-makers and scholars today. Speakers include current Mayor Richard M. Daley, former US Senator Walter Mondale, former US Senator Adlai Stevenson, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, and journalists Carol Marin and Robert Novak.

Patriots & kids at the Neo-Futurarium

The Neo-Futurists have a busy weekend, as they're previewing a new prime-time show tonight (Patriots, a look at people who really love their country) and bringing back an old show on Saturday afternoon (Too Much Light Kids, a child-friendly version of their late-night show; the previous run was reviewed for GB by Alejandra Valera). See Slowdown for details on these new shows.

Gary 'n' Rich's Blog

The Tribune has a substantial feature on The Becker-Posner Blog, a weblog written by Nobel Prize-winning professor Gary S. Becker and US Appellate Judge Richard A. Posner. Trib columnist Eric Zorn, however, takes the pair down a notch on his blog: "Don't swan in like an opera singer deigning to lend his talents to a lurid minstrel show."

The illustrated man

Ray Bradbury has been publishing his sci-fi and fantasy stories since the early 1940s, but only now has an official biography been written. The Bradbury Chronicles was written by Chicago journalist Sam Weller, and Bradbury himself gives the book a thumbs-up in this week's Newcity. Weller celebrates the publishing of the book with a release party and reading tonight at Sonotheque; see Slowdown for details.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Fast Forward

Attention filmmakers: It's time once again for the Fast Forward Film Festival. Sign-ups are going on right now for this festival, in which teams have 24 hours to make a short film based around a theme. The filming takes place next weekend, so get signed up and get ready.

Asianmack, now powered by Jeepney

Your favorite local-based music filter/reviewer and mine, AsianMack has returned with a fresh, fun and new design. I'm overly fond of bright, eye-catching designs that make me feel all warm inside and this new design makes the good content stand out even more. Nice job Jamie & co. They've also started making free legal mixes available for download -- a great idea. You can start with their latest.

CTA Board Meeting

Today the CTA Board will hold a meeting to discuss the upcoming proposed service cuts and fare increases. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at CTA offices, 567 W. Lake St., at 4pm. If you can't make the meeting you can submit your comments through Friday via email at ctaboard[at] Reader Sarah Southcott also offers to compile letters and notes for those unable to attend. Email them to her at southie[at] and include your full name, address and phone number so she can try to make those opinions heard.

Cheesy beading technique

For all of you with a Tivo or a day off tomorrow, you might want to tune in to Home and Garden Television's Crafters Coast to Coast at either 11 am or 4 pm CST. GB staffer Cinnamon Cooper (me) will be showing off her cheesy sense of humor (it's more akin to spray cheese than a fine smoked gouda) while she demonstrates how to make this purse. She's also continuing to donate 25% of all her profits to Naz's Brainfund cause even though he's feeling better, the bills just keep on coming. You can also see her purses in person at this weekend's WLUW Record Fair. Note: There are several other Chicago crafters who will be popping up over the next few months. Keep an eye on the schedule to see them keeping it real! Or at least keeping it real cheesy.

Copia - NotIfButWhen

Brial Ulrich/NotIfButWhen, who we had the pleasure of meeting face to face last night, presented a stellar slide show of his latest project, Copia. Luckily for us, he also has the project on his site. So, so worth a look.

Transparent Signage

If you use Flickr, you may have come across the Transparent Screens project. Local artist Tano does it with street signs. (Via Coudal, who got it from Unbeige.)

"Delocating" Your Local Starbucks

Put down that Starbucks. You should be drinking local coffee. And to help you do that, I'm pointing you to Delocator, a directory of independent coffee shops searchable by zip code. (If you really insist on drinking that Seattle sludge, they also include a list of the Starbucks in the area.)

Saul Bellow, 1915-2005

Acclaimed author Saul Bellow has passed away at the age of 89. Bellow was a longtime Chicago resident, remembered for his lengthy tenure at the University of Chicago. Read the obituaries at the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, New York Times and Boston Globe.

Chagall Coming Down

I posted a little joke about this on April Fool's Day, but it's true: the Art Institute's Chagall Windows are coming down. Starting May 2, the windows will be deinstalled to protect them during the construction of the new Renzo Piano wing, scheduled to begin this summer and end in 2009. Which means I have less than a month to make that Matthew Broderick fantasy come true.

The new name in food: Alinea

Metafilter points us to a rave review of the highly anticipated new restaurant started by Chicago chef Grant Achatz: Alinea, at 1723 N. Halsted. The dishes listed in the article sound like Achatz is trying to out-weird the Surrealists at Moto: lacy toast wrappings that taste of peanut butter and jelly; atomized shrimp cocktails; exploding ravioli filled with hot truffle broth; and Instant Tropical Pudding that arrives at your table in powder form. Alinea opens in May, but the word is they're booked solid through June. Start saving your pennies now, if you want to go; food this weird isn't going to be cheap.

Sleeping at O'Hare

At The Budget Traveller's Guide to Sleeping in Airports, visitors can share their stories about trying to catch some shut-eye while waiting to catch a flight. Airports are also ranked by the relative quality of sleeping experience. Coming in at number 10 on the "most popular airport to sleep in" list is O'Hare International. It is great fun to read everyone's travel horror stories, which include brillant lines like, "6 days later MY BACK STILL HURTS!!!" Awesome.

Talk Radio Shake-Up

It seems that Q101 isn't the only station that shook things up recently. Kevin Matthews left 105.9 WCKG recently over an argument about money apparently (according to Steve Dahl's new blog). Good riddance - despite his many fans, I was tired of Kev's Clinton jokes in 2005. Pete McMurray (though not on at the same time) is much better.

Upcoming Chicago has a bunch of new features to help coordinate with friends. You can now search venues, events and people, send email invites to friends and grab RSS feeds for venues and tags. Pretty cool stuff.

A Different Shade of Orange

Keep your eye out for the president of Ukraine while you're out and about today: Victor Yushchenko and his Chicago-born wife Katereyna ("Kathy" to her old classmates at U of C) are in town as part of a US tour. Although they had a big reception at the Palmer House last night, their itenerary doesn't seem to take them to the neighborhood named for their country.

Hang up and drive

The city is moving closer to a ban on cell phone usage by drivers. Drivers would be permitted to use hands-free devices, and would be allowed to use handhelds while parked or while calling 911, but use of a regular cell phone while driving would cost a $50 ticket ($200 if an accident is caused by a cell-phone-using driver). Not surprisingly, cellular service providers Sprint and Verizon Wireless objected to the plan, saying the city should enforce reckless driving laws instead of cell phone bans.

Edgebrook to Get Bar?

In the continuing quest to ensure that every urban citizen on the planet is within walking distance of an Irish pub, the far Northwest Side neighborhood of Edgebrook will be getting a bright red Irish pub named Moher, nearly across the street from the Edgebrook library. Those of us who live near Edgebrook are excited: the seemingly dry precint could use a nice neighborhood pub. Next up: a few more restaurants. Dare to dream?

Legend of New Repute

"There was a house in New Orleans/they call the Rising Sun" and nobody knows where it was. Local scholar Shannon Dawdy, an assistant professor in the anthropology department at the University of Chicago, and several of her students have completed an excavation of a parking garage which just may have been the site of the famous brothel from 1808 to 1822, when it burned down. Hopefully her findings help her with that book she's writing on French colonial New Orleans.

Kotlowitz at

Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and Never a City So Real, is the latest person to answer "Slightly Less Than Twenty Questions" at

Cubs Podcasting

If there's something new in the world, you know a Cubs fan is going to try it. Enter Cubscast, a new podcast feeding the daily fix for those unable to make it to the Friendly Confines.

Art + Design Panel @ Sonotheque

Tuesday, April 5th, Interrupt Media Group and Subsystence present the next installment of their monthly INFLUENCE night at Sonotheque, this time with a focus on the local art and design community. Cody Hudson, Ray Noland, Chris Silva, and Juan Chavez will DJ after an informal preshow discussion about the state of the Chicago creative scene. Panelists include Jim Coudal, Brian Ulrich, Michael Coleman, Elizabeth Cline, and GB's very own Naz Hamid and Andrew Huff. More information is available in Slowdown, or on the INFLUENCE website.

Heritage On Your Back

Want to wear your city's colors on your back? Check out this 'Chicago-style' messenger bag. (via Chicago Cycling Club mailing list, who also have neat Chicago swag.)

Where there's a will

Alderman Ed Burke, taking a cue from the Terry Schiavo story that played out in Florida in recent weeks, is planning to introduce legislation to the City Council that would make living will forms available at Chicago public libraries and allow them to be kept on file with the city clerk. And he feels to strongly about the topic that he's going to have the forms available at his ward office on 51st Street, so interested parties don't have to wait for the council debate on the issue.

Protection for the Pill

We've reported in the past on pharmacies unwilling to fill women's contraceptive prescriptions. On Friday Gov. Blagojevich filed an emergency rule requiring pharmacies to fill these prescriptions without delay. The Gov. has further introduced a toll-free number (1-800-280-4149) to lodge complaints against pharmacies, saying, "If this has happened to you...we want to know about it -- and we'll help you." (Thanks Kerry!)

Google Finds You a Cab

This is almost too cool to be real: Google is working on a project called Ride Finder, which shows you the real-time location of taxis in the city. Check the map and see whether there's a cab nearby, then call the provided dispatch number to bring it to your door. There are only three cab companies participating right now, but that should change quickly. (Thanks, Atul!)

Be HardPressed

Tonight at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, PISTIL, Venus, Punk Planet and In These Times are putting on HardPressed, a benefit for the Independent Press Association of Chicago. The line-up features Hot Love, Idris Goodwin, Us and the Guns, The Reptoids, The Love Movement and The Royal Scheitzmen, with a late dance party by DJ G8 and DJ how could god let this happen? Plus a raffle with subscription giveaways, gift certificates and more! 18 and over, doors open at 8:30pm. $8 cover.



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