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Thursday, July 24

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Chicago Bandits stole my heart!

These Chicago Bandits are the city's only women's professional softball team. Their first game is at 7pm this Thursday at the Sports Complex at Benedictine University in Lisle, which is accessible by Metra. They're playing almost every Thursday-Sunday through August. And even though their ticket prices are $8-$10, they're running some cool promotions. On Fridays, all women and any man wearing a skirt (including a kilt) gets in for half price. Just in case you can't make the game in person, Comcast Sports Net will be broadcasting it.

Rabbits love Millennium Park, too

The rabbits that have historically infested Grant Park have recently found their way to Millennium Park. Fortunately, the Chicago Park District is keeping up with the invaders by trapping the rabbits and releasing them in the western suburbs. Still, several hundred plants and trees have reportedly been destroyed by the rabbits, and park officials describe the invasion as "serious."

Still challenging after all these years

After a storied career in local politics, Leon Despres is still going strong at age 97, having just released his memoir, Challenging the Daley Machine, published by Northwestern Univ. Press. He is profiled in the New York Times today, in a piece that highlights various seemingly incredible events from his life and also recounts his opinions on Daley the father and Daley the son. You can hear Despres read and speak for himself at various events in the future, including stops at U of C and the Printers Row Book Fair.

Money Matters

Chicago Public Radio's "Money Matters" series is finished for this year, but it's worth perusing the archives for some interesting looks at how Chicagoans interact with money. A couple of highlights (all in .RAM format) include interviews with street hustlers of various types, the goings on at a pawn shop and a sort of local radio version of the Where's George? website.

Fish on Form

When Stanley Fish, professor of English and former dean of Arts & Sciences at UIC, talks, people in higher ed tend to listen if only to argue about what he's just said. I figure folks around here may read his op-ed in today's Times from one of two perspectives: either as academics who want to get in on the fight or as former students who recall Fish announcing just exactly how he intends to teach them composition. Either way, let the "content" begin.

The new Segway, a Mars suit and the head of Philip K. Dick

Still trying to decide whether to go to NextFest? WiReD has helpfully posted a preview of some of the exhibited technologies that you'll be able to see at the three-day showcase of future technologies coming to Navy Pier in June.

Architecture Tuesday

Two architecturally/historically significant things are happening today. The first is the groundbreaking ceremony for the Art Institute's new North Wing, designed by Renzo Piano, starting at 8:30am. The second is the awarding of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, held in Millennium Park this evening. I don't mean to be a big geek, but I think I'm going to go. Your handy dandy Slowdown has all the details.

Three Lions Roll at Wembley West

Even without some of its star starters, England came, saw and conquered this weekend at Soldier Field. Although it was ostensibly a home loss for the USA, local soccer site The Fire Alarm notes not too many of the roughly 50,000 spectators seemed disappointed. (Sure enough, the prevalence of St. George's Cross in fan photos on Flickr [1|2|3] provides plenty of testament to that!)

What You're Doing This Summer

New City has a good round-up of this summer's events, organized into loose themes for each month, as well as movies, music and events. Get out your calendar and start filling up those weekends.

Another obit: Oscar Brown Jr.

Following his recent hospitalization, the AP reports that singer/songwriter Oscar Brown Jr. has died. The native Chicagoan began recording professionally at 15, eventually worked and played with jazz and blues legends like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, and had lately been touted and covered by huge fan Kelly Hogan at the Hideout. The two appeared together on Chicago Public Radio's Hello Beautiful! last November; listen in Real Audio here.
Update: The New York Times has now published a lengthy tribute, as have the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Tribune and the Sun-Times.

Obit: Arnie Morton, food guy

Arnold "Arnie" Morton, the guy who founded the Morton's steak house chain and who also came up with the idea for the Taste of Chicago, died this morning at the age of 83. So long, Arnie; we'll think of you whenever we're eating a lot of food.

Fire-water at Fort Dearborn

As the latest entry in its Empire archive, Harper's Magazine has posted "The Massacre of Fort Dearborn at Chicago." Originally published in 1899, the piece was written by Simon Pokagon, former chief of the Pokagon band of Pattawapomie Indians and known in his day as the "Redskin Bard." In his essay, Pokagon gathers oral and written accounts of the original attack on Fort Dearborn, and he offers a remarkable picture of the sad and troubling contingencies of history.

In Studio at the Apple Store

Local Mac geeks recently received an email like this one announcing the opening of The Studio at the N. Michigan Avenue Apple Store. Described as the store's "creative hub" and a companion to the signature Genius Bar, the new facility offers one-on-one instruction via a series of courses on various Mac applications -- or the use of OS X itself.

Tied Up at the Convention

What is it with Memorial Day in Chicago? IML isn't the only lifestyle convention this weekend -- Shibaricon is the "world's premiere international pansexual annual exhibition and conference that focuses on education and information exchange of rope bondage." It opened today in Naperville (who said the 'burbs are boring?) and runs through Monday; registration is still open in you're looking for something really different this weekend.

Calling all geeks

It's been a while since we let you know about this summer's WIRED NextFest, but if it's not on your calendar, now's the time to mark it down (maybe using Upcoming?). The event will be held the last weekend in June, and organizers are currently seeking volunteers. There are all manner of incentives, but you know you mostly want the badge that makes you "official."

Pornstarpalooza

Memorial Day weekend in Chicago means one thing, and it's not baseball, barbecues or parades: it's The Gay. We've already mentioned IML, for the homos and harnesses set, and Bear Pride for aficionados of beards and body hair. As if that's not enough, tomorrow night also brings an influx of gay porn stars to the Park West for the 2005 Grabbys, the Oscars of gay porn, with awards in categories like Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Three-Way Sex Scene. You can also get up close and personal with the beefcake tonight at Gentry on State's pre-Grabbys "talk show."

Just remember the sunscreen

Today marks the opening of the Lake Michigan swim season. The Chicago Park District's Swim Report has all the information a would-be bather could want, including a handy link to the current weather forecast. (Incidentally, this weekend's shows partly cloudy skies, with highs in the mid- to upper-60s). And, if you're looking for suggestions on where to take a dip, New City Chicago's Dave Witter has a few ideas.

You're Breaking Up

My cellphone has been flakey lately. I'm having all sorts of issues with service, and spots that didn't used to be drop-out zones suddenly are. It's partly the phone dying, but the Wall Street Journal reports that some cellular companies are letting their networks degrade in order to push customers to newer systems. If there are spots you know always kill your calls, submit them to the DeadCellZones.com database, which tracks bad spots in Chicago and other cities.

All Smiles

A couple 606 alums have created a new website, Smile Smile Smile, in which a question is asked and lots of random photos flash on the screen. Simple, somewhat Fluxist, definitely worth playing with.

No permit? No problem!

Remember the whole "No Pictures in the Park" controversy? Well, you'll recall the City said it was largely misinterpreted and that its security guards were being overzealous. Nevertheless, some professionals were still required to obtain permits. According to a report in today's Trib, though, that's no longer the case. Except for "large scale" shoots requiring crews of more than ten, everybody's welcome, permit- and expense-free. In other words, click away!

The best of Nightclubbing

If you've been watching the "Nightclubbing" series at the Siskel Film Center, you've seen rare early performances by Blondie, the Talking Heads, the Dead Boys, the Dead Kennedys, Suicide, the Go-Go's, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and many more. If you haven't been watching these weekly screenings of early 1980s footage recorded at NYC clubs like CBGB's and the Danceteria, you've got one final chance this week, as the Film Center presents a greatest hits show, with directors Emily Armstrong and Pat Ivers showing up in person at one screening. See Slowdown for details.

International Mr. Leather/ Bear Pride

I saw someone with a leash on Michigan Ave. this afternoon, and they weren't walking their dog. Yes! It's time for the annual International Mr. Leather! Thousands of gay leathermen have descended upon the city for a weekend of fun events culminating Sunday in a pageant where one lucky man will be crowned International Mr. Leather 2005. If leather's not really your thing, and/or your pecs have been somewhat neglected, this weekend is also Bear Pride weekend, complete with a chance to be named "Mr. Bear Pride 2005." Rarr.

The city from the sky

Revealing Chicago: An Aerial Portrait is a collaboration between the Openlands Project and Chicago Metropolis 2020, and it showcases the amazing work of photographer Terry Evans. Currently viewable on the web, you can also see the images at Millennium Park throughout the summer (from June 10) or in book form (available from Amazon). (Thanks, Todd!)

Blago makes deal on budget

CBS 2's headline says it all: "CTA Saved, Schools Cut." The station is reporting that, in a last minute deal, the governor and various leaders of the state legislature have crafted a way to bail out the CTA. Nevertheless, it's an arrangement that requires sacrifices elsewhere, including the Illinois public schools budget request. And, although they don't have the numbers to do much, Republicans are apparently unhappy about some aspects of the deal, including the impact it will have on state pension plans. Given that the RTA funding formulas apparently go unchanged, transit will no doubt rear its head next year. For now, though, the much-touted "doomsday scenario" seems to have been averted.

The Cabinet is still open

Just got word from Redmoon Theater that their amazing puppet show "The Cabinet" (an adaptation of the classic silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) is now playing an open run at Redmoon's home theater space (tickets are currently available through the end of June). If you missed this show when it was playing at the Viaduct, you've got a second chance to check out this creepy tale of puppetry, somnambulism, and murder.

Third graders visit; cuteness ensues

If you're looking for a pick-me-up this afternoon, you could do worse than this story in the Des Moines Register. There's not much to it except for an account of some kids' trip from Iowa to Chicago, mostly in the interest of paying a student visit to the Art Institute. Typical anecdote: "The next morning the students had planned to visit the Sears Tower, but very cloudy skies derailed their plans for a while. Instead they loaded the bus and traveled to Wrigley Field. 'I'm a Yankee fan, but I was just excited to be at a baseball field,' Parker said." Ah, yes. Out of the mouths of babes...

Check that receipt!

The Chicago Department of Consumer Services recently completed an investigation involving 73 hardware and home and garden stores, more than 1/2 of them were found to be ripping off their customers. Charges range from not having enough of advertised sale items in stock to not having register prices match up with prices on the shelf. These investigations happen frequently, and often find the same types of violations everywhere, so it's always a good idea to make sure the price you think you're being charged is indeed the price that's printed on your receipt. If not raise a complaint at the store and feel free to give them a call: 312-744-9385.

Art Classes at Lill Street

The folks at the Lill Street Art Center in Ravenswood are now accepting registrations for summer classes. Check out the full line-up of summer offerings on their website. They have a wide variety of courses for beginners and advanced artists in ceramics, jewelry-making, drawing, painting and textiles. And, the schedules frequently include weekend and evening classes. Look for me in one of the drawing classes this summer!

Toronto Sun hearts Daley

While Mayor Daley may be losing ground in local popularity, he's sure got a fan in the Toronto Sun's Sue-Ann Levy! The mayor was in town to talk shop with his Torontonian counterpart, helpfully pointing out that the city had at least 60 years to catch up with Chicago on its waterfront development, and, according to this report in the Toronto Star, interview with Fashion Television's Jeanne Beker. As for Levy, well, she paints such a rosy, almost hagiographic portrait of Daley that you'd think all this recent business about scandal and corruption in City Hall was so much stuff and nonsense.

Squaring the Online News Game

Online News Squared is a newly public blog from Tribune Interactive, covering the field of online news. (They say it's been around since late 2003, but the archives only go back to April '04.) UPDATE: Author Scott Anderson explains that the blog started on Blogger, and he never imported them to Movable Type. So there you go.

Kraft Foods vs. AFA -- Round 2

Earlier this month, there was the revelation that certain political groups were unhappy with Kraft's sponsorship of next year's Gay Games in Chicago. An exec with the company has responded with an email to employees (reprinted here at Outsports), which basically says that there will be no change in the company's support of the event that "will bring together thousands of athletes in a competition that will take place in our corporate hometown." Something tells me this will not be the end of this, um, debate.

Antiquing Time

This Sunday is the first Chicago Antique Market of the year. Held on the last Sunday of the month, it's the perfect way to spend an afternoon entertaining your parents this Memorial Day weekend.

There's a new knitter in town

Or several actually. Eight Chicago-area knitters have teamed up to create The Daily Knitter. And it's pretty good and certainly worth adding to your list of knitting blogs to visit. Just because it's warming up outside doesn't mean knitting season is over. Quite the contrary, it's a good excuse for sucking up air conditioning in coffee shops.

Cloud Gate Unveiled... Partially

Looking for an excuse to start the Memorial Day weekend a little early on Friday? Head down to Millennium Park, where the newly polished Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, will be partially unveiled. The end of its cocoon-like tent will be removed so we can finally see and "interact" with about 13 feet of its fresh mirror finish. A plastic screen on the remaining tent will allow a view of ongoing work.

Sam's Wine & Spirits: Web Updates

GB reported on the various violations and allegations against Sam's Wine & Spirits over the last few months. After a visit to the website to check on scotch prices, it is apparent many changes were made. First off, the Rosen family addresses the charges in an open letter to all customers. Next up, online shopping is expanded and customer accounts allow for easier searching and shopping. Lastly, the wine blog has moved locations, which means our old link is no longer active.

Bridgeport: The Next Art District?

The Times of Northwest Indiana says Bridgeport is becoming the next hot arts neighborhood, as Wicker Park and Pilsen become too pricey for artists. One of the driving forces behind the change is the Zhou Brothers, who have invested heavily in the neighborhood. [via FlowFeel]

The Science of Taste & Smell

You've got to love the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. They're constantly pumping out bizarre factoids about how taste and smell affect our perceptions. The latest: the smell of grapefruit makes women appear younger. Oh, and as if you couldn't have guessed, caffeinated cola may make kids hyperactive.

Podcast Defender

The Chicago Defender is poised to become the first African American-targeted newspaper to offer podcasts. On Thursday, the paper will launch its weekly "Inside Black America" audio program, which will feature interviews about current political and cultural events, as well commemoration of the Defender's centennial anniversary. Not surprisingly, the program will be available from the paper's site: ChicagoDefender.com.

Chicago Bikeshops Online

Some members of the Chicago bicycle scene have collaborated to create chicagobikeshops.info, a new site that has a directory listing of bicycle shops in Chicago. In addition to having some handy info (Do they offer rentals? Can one get a discount?) there is also a place where users can leave comments Amazon-style to know who out there is worth your hard-earned money when buying new equipment.

Hedgehog Olympics

Brandy at Loosetooth.com recently got a hedgehog, Numo, and last weekend she entered him in the "Hedgehog Olympic Gym-Bar-E." Cute pictures ahead in her Numo Blog.

Hot Tix? That's Hot

Hot Tix, the League of Chicago Theatres' discount ticket office, is opening its new Loop location today at 72 E. Randolph. Stop by between now and 5pm for free Starbucks coffee, ticket giveaways, and performances by the casts of shows like Wicked and Whose West Wing is it Anyway. Hot Tix offers half-price day-of and week-of tickets to shows at 125 Chicago-area theatres; the list of available shows is posted every day at HotTix.org, but must be purchased in person at the Hot Tix booths in the Loop, the Water Works Visitors Center, the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, or any Tower Records location. (Thanks, Fil.)

Button Contest Winners!

Those of you who missed the party on Friday missed the announcement of the winning designs from our Button Contest. Yes, that's right, designs -- two buttons were so popular among the staff that we went with both. Congratulations to Anthony Lewellen and Andy Matznick, who each won a $20 gift certificate to Reckless Records and 10 copies of their button designs. And thanks to all who entered, who will each receive a button set as consolation. The new buttons will be available in the shop soon, and you can see the designs by clicking on

Anthony Lewellen

Andy Matznick

24-Hour Citizen Filibuster Cancelled

The Citizen Filibuster sponsored by MoveOn PAC announced in Merge yesterday has been canceled because Democrats and Republicans have come to an agreement for filibusters to continue under "extraordinary circumstances." The compromise was reached when Democrats agreed not to filibuster what MoveOn calls "three bad judges." If the Republicans go back on their word, both parties agree, then full filibuster rules will be reinstated. As such, MoveOn PAC feels that it is time to, er, move on to other issues.

Free WiFi, coffee for bloggers

Continuing with the filibuster awareness theme, any bloggers in the Evanston area that are going to be following the filibuster proceedings might want to head on over to Pick A Cup Coffee tomorrow, which is offering free WiFi and a bottomless cup o' joe for "any blogger needing a base" during tomorrow's Senate proceedings.

Ireland's Best

Maybe in celebration of four awesome nights, or maybe because it's just really cool, Metropolis Coffee Company, 1039 W. Granville Ave., is hosting an exhibition of thirty 3-D photo prints by Daniel Teafoe. The subject of the prints? U2 on their 2001 Elevation Tour. Now that's how I like to start my morning. (On display through June 19.)

In the interest of public safety

On the heels of chicagocrime.org et al., Harper Reed has created a mapping application that locates sex offenders in Chicago who are registered with the Illinois State Police. He encourages you to read the ISP's disclaimer, which, paraphrased, warns that the information is historical, makes no claims about possible recidivism, and should not be used to harass, threaten, etc. (I point that out because, well, I grappled for a long while with whether it was right to post this at all.)

24-Hour Citizen Filibuster

MoveOn PAC is sponsoring a 24-hour Citizen Filibuster to raise awareness of and protest the Senate initiative to limit the capacity of the filibuster in American law making. The event will take place in a Loop location that has yet to be determined (watch for a Merge follow-up later this evening once the MoveOn-sters have recieved their permit) beginning at noon Tuesday and wrapping up by noon Wednesday. Members of the community are wanted to read (essays, poetry, etc.) and speak at the event to keep the momentum running throughout event--sign up here. Or just show up and offer your support for the democratic process.

Black Sox Lore

Stephen Dubner, who co-authored Freakonomics with U of C economist Stephen Levitt, examines a bit of Chicago sports history in the Freakonomics Blog: did the 1919 White Sox get their nickname, the "Black Sox," due to their throwing of the World Series or for their notoriously dirty uniforms?

Up Their Sleeve

Here's an exhibition that's close to my heart: the folks at Dublab have put together a show based on the work of over 500 artists who've created album covers for records that, well, don't really exist. Entitled Up Our Sleeve, this unique show has already been to the coasts, Europe, and the Far East, and will end here at Chicago's very own Open End Gallery. Be sure to check it out soon, though — it's only around from Friday 'til Sunday. (Thanks to Cody for the tip.)

It's Just a Shirt

An off-duty police officer attended yesterday's Cubs-Sox game up at Wrigley wearing a Red Sox jersey. After the game, some drunk-ass Cubs fan took offense and started a fight -- despite being told that the BoSox fan was a cop -- and ended up tasered. Lesson to hooligans: no shirt is worth getting zapped over.

Naperville library to patrons: give us the finger

The public library system in suburban Naperville got some attention this past week when it announced that it would be installing fingerprint scanners on their computers with Internet access. Of course, despite the library's assurances that the fingerprint data will be kept confidential, privacy experts are concerned about the message being sent by a library asking its patrons to be fingerprinted to use its services. Tip for Naperville library users: fingerprint scanners can be fooled.

Lead in the clip

NPR's Scott Simon spent a few moments on Weekend Edition yesterday talking about Chicago's "Politics Unusual." As you might expect, Blagojevich's now-infamous "testicular virility" remark serves as the commentary's impetus. What you might not expect, however, is its invocation of Freud...

Wish You Were Here

Delivr combines the power of Flickr and Creative Commons to create what may be the largest single repository of online postcards. So, if you're looking to share the wonder of the Field Museum, the vistas of the Sears Tower, the sheen of Millennium Park, the grittiness of the CTA, or a picture of just about any other keyword you can imagine, you're in luck. (NB: To use your own photos, you'll want to make sure that your CC license setting -- either at the default or individual image level -- is one of those that allows derivatives.)

The beautiful game(r)

Fans of the England Team will be happy to learn that David Beckham has fouled out of Real Madrid play for the rest of the season. As such, he should be available to take the pitch when his national squad takes on the US Men's Team at Soldier Field next weekend. This will be the fifth match and fifth European opponent the U.S. has played in Chicago since 1992; the most recent was against Poland last July. The game, scheduled for May 28th at 2pm, will be broadcast on ESPN, and tickets are available via Ticketmaster.
Update (23 May 2005): Well, with the dust settled, it seems there will be no Becks, after all. Even though he can't play, Madrid want him to stick around to train, meaning he'll not be in America at the weekend. Bummer.

The Case of the 29 Words

As the AP reports, the Chicago Tribune has won its first libel trial in nearly 40 years. Trib columnist Eric Zorn, who had taken a break from his blog for a few weeks as the matter went before judge and jury, returns with a "WHEW!" and an archive of his paper's coverage of its day in court.

Exploratory committees forming now

According to a poll recently conducted for the Tribune and WGN, the ongoing troubles in Mayor Richard Daley's administration appear to be catching up with him. While it may seem like only yesterday when almost three quarters of respondents approved of the mayor's job performance, the number now stands at just 53%. Which, obviously, has to sting. The article mentions several potential rivals in the 2007 election, but also notes "the list of possible Daley opponents could grow if a perception takes root that the mayor has become beatable." In other words, if you've got political aspirations, now's the time to start fertilizing those perceptions.

God bless boxer briefs

You may have heard about Crunch Fitness's convoluted marketing campaign—you know, the one with the underwear, where the people in their skivs somehow represent the liberation of no long-term contracts, and bringing in a pair of new underwear (to be donated to the homeless!) waives the initiation fee? I know, it makes me tired too. But all was forgiven this afternoon when I saw the hot, underwear-clad Crunch models roaming Wrigleyville. Now I say Crunch can market to me anytime. Aaron of Chicagoist spotted them in the Loop yesterday, and snapped a picture. The briefs brigade is scheduled to be popping up around town through tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled.

Bikes On Metra -- Victory!

Metra has finally announced today that bikes will be allowed on non-rush hour trains. This is a significant victory for bicyclists in Chicago, as Metra had been a stalwart on the issue for years and only recently took up the issue after legislation was considered. There are some restrictions - two bikes per car, not during rush hours (reverse commuters are ok), and many popular weekends are excluded. For many this represents a significant step forward towards making Chicago the best city for bikes in the country.

Mega Mystery Animal Maze

Let's say the concept of giant mazes doesn't totally scare the bejeezus out of you. If that's the case, you might be interested to know that next week the Notebaert Nature Museum is opening their Mega Mystery Animal Maze. It's a life-sized, interactive maze where kids search for "mystery animals," and a special component asks them to guess names for animals native to the state. Sounds interesting and educational, but, um, I'm a big sissy so you probably won't see me there. The Museum is located at 2430 N. Cannon Dr. and you can all 773-755-5100 for more information. The exhibit will be on display through September 5.

"Be" Came Home for Inspiration

Next Tuesday, Common's new album, "Be" drops, with upcoming shows at the House of Blues in June. Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, decided it was time to come home to find inspiration for this album. He paired up with our city's hottest producer, Kanye West, and some great local talent to record his new album. The result is a return to his underground roots, including a collaboration with John Mayer.

It's a Normal Part of Growing Up, Bobby

Chicago Stoner Rock noticed that a whole lot of bands come through Chicago on their way to the Emissions from the Monolith festival in Youngstown, OH. So they've put together the Premature Emissions festival, starting tonight and running through June 5, featuring dozens of local and touring bands. Being stoners, they forgot to put up a schedule, but you can check the listings for the Double Door and The Note for your favorite acts.

(not so) Great Scott

A few weeks ago, when "neo-soul diva" Jill Scott was slated to read from her new book of poetry at a much-publicized Poetry Center of Chicago event, it went relatively unreported that the songstress bailed out at the 11th hour. Now, in the print edition of this week's Chicago Reader, you can check into what went down. The story begins with dreams of forming a new relationship between the Poetry Center and Chicago's African-American readers, and ends with refunded tickets and not but a little bit of outrage from both sides of the diva divide.

Paper Sons in Chinatown

After a year of building renovations, The Chinese-American Museum of Chicago officially opens tomorrow with an exhibit called "Paper Sons" that focuses on the Chinese immigrant's experience in the Midwest of the 19th and early 20th century. See Slowdown for details.

Amsterdam of the Midwest

Saturday morning, the Garfield Park Conservatory will host the Chicago Park District's 2005 Tulip Bulb Give-Away. The event starts at 9am and runs 'til 1pm, but would-be green thumbs are encouraged to get there early. It's an easy, free and fun way to make our city more beautiful. Plus, it gives little girls like those in this photo flowers to stop and smell, and that's definitely something special.

Dining about Architecture

Metromix has an odd little article for those of you who get hungry thinking about buildings: they've paired local architectural gems with nearby matching restaurants, as you might wine with a meal.

Left behind

The Morning News handed out its 2005 Editors' Awards for Online Excellence today, and there's one category that especially deserves your attention: Favorite Online Newspaper Redesign. Why? Because it points out that, while the other major newspapers in the country have revamped their sites, the Tribune's remains stuck in 2001. The only change they seem to have implemented lately is splitting stories into multiple pages, and who likes that? Plus, they don't offer RSS feeds. Come on, Trib! Chicago deserves better! That said, on a happier note, Basecamp, a venture by local web outfit 37signals, gets props as Favorite Tool for Handling Projects. If you're not familiar with their products -- Backpack, say -- there's no time like the present.

Two Tons of Fun

Dick "Two Ton" Baker was a local legend from the early days of broadcasting, but is largely forgotten by anyone younger than 40. This site catalogs a vast amount of information about Two Ton, including several mp3s of his humorous songs for kids and adults alike. [via MetaFilter]

Rejected!

Say you're at a bar, and some total freak decides you are their next date. You try everything to shake'em off, but they don't take the hint. They ask for your number, so you tell them it's 773/509-5027. They call, and get a message from RejectionHotline.com, informing them that you've blown them off and saving you from an ugly scene.

On Chicago's streets

The photography of Gary Stochl gets profiled in the New York Times today. Stochl has been capturing images of Chicago for forty years, and his work has recently been published by the Center for American Places and Columbia College in On City Streets: Chicago, 1964-2004. An online gallery of Stochl's photos can be viewed here.

Anonymous no more

Yesterday we noted the newly launched chicagocrime.org. Those who looked at the site closely might have read that its developer stated a wish to remain anonymous. That's evidently no longer the case. Adrian Holovaty has spoken up to claim credit, and, accordingly, you can now read his account of the site's aims, as well as get in touch to make suggestions.

Whither the West Side?

Elwood Grobnik notes the shrinking and shifting borders of the West Side as various neighborhoods flee its negative connotation. He's tried to figure out where the true West Side borders ought to be and comes up with Belmont south to I-55, from the Kennedy/Dan Ryan west. (For reference, here's a collection of city neighborhood maps compiled by Eric Zorn for yesterday's column discussing this topic.)

Prefab is fab

A lot of hype has surrounded pre-fabricated housing lately. From IKEA's venture into mass-produced homes to Dwell Magazine's most recent issue dedicated to it, it is quickly becoming a lower cost alternative to building your first modern home from scratch. As another (and to me, preferred) option to the condoliths (as coined by Andrew) that are spreading all over the city, you may want to look into it. Fortunately, The Field Museum think it's important too and has a temporary exhibit about it called "Design Innovations in Manufactured Housing."

It's funny

Local music rag Pitchfork Media asked funny boy David "Tobias" Cross to write up a top ten list for their site. Cross, wondering why Pitchfork asked him to contribute to the site after they roasted his last album It's Not Funny, contributed a hilarious essay that mingles outrageous excerpts from actual Pitchfork reviews with descriptions of made-up CDs to listen to whilst reading those reviews. Tip from Salon.com's Audiofile column (subscription req'd).

How To Find Cheap Gas

Gary must be good for something besides cheap gas, right? Well if you're just interested in the cheap gas, check out this neat Google app that searches for cheap gas prices around a region. If you're in Chicago, think Lombard, and ignore Lake County.

BER-wyn?!

Good news for Svengoolie fans! (I know you're out there, somewhere...) Not only has Chicago's long-lived late night TV horror movie show host produced a new T-shirt design for fans of the program, but he'll also be appearing at the Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles at 2 PM this Saturday. (He won't be permitted to sell the new shirts there, but there will be some giveaways, so you might want to warm up your swag-grabbing arm.) And then tune into Channel 26 Saturday night at 11 for Svengoolie's take on the rap/voodoo flick Ragdoll.

"It's the drug, stupid"

This week's New Yorker runs an article no gay man in America will want his parents to read. "Higher Risk" focuses on how crystal meth and the internet are contributing to an upswing in transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STDs, particularly in urban centers like ours. Chicago's Windy City Times has been on this story for some months now, especially after the high profile arrest of a Howard Brown development officer for possession with the intent to distribute. In March, the paper ran a two-part series (1 | 2) on "breaking the crystal grip," which details struggles with meth as an epidemic and outlines local treatment options. Attempting to step up their campaign, the CPD and Howard Brown are now encouraging bars and clubs to distribute information about how to become "Crystal Clear."

The Other Marathon

It's hard not to know about the Chicago Marathon, but few outside the running community have ever heard of the city's other marathon, the Lakeshore Marathon. Run on Memorial Day, there's also a half-marathon and a 5k run/walk at the same time, so just about anyone can participate. Registration is still open, so jump in! (Thanks, Leslie)

Crane Climber

Some guy climbed one of the cranes on the Trump Tower construction site this morning. He has been brought down and taken into police custody, so not much to see anymore, but Chicagoist has a couple photos of the drama, and a few more have shown up on Flickr.

Crime wave or media trend?

If you picked up RedEye or visited the Trib's website yesterday, you might have been a little freaked out. Your iPod! A potential crime target! Leaving aside that just about anything is a potential crime target, a closer inspection of Alison Neumer's column reveals that, "so far, Chicago Police and the CTA report no noticeable trend of stolen iPods here." So, presumably, the piece was meant to sound a warning bell. Or maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy: "I'd bet thieves will soon tune in to this simple crime." Neumer's apparent sources in the Times and the Post, though, expose her tone as a bit hysterical: despite her claim that iPods are natural "street targets," according to the New York Police Department, "rarely have the iPod thefts involved physical assault." In other words, people, just be aware and, for heaven's sake, ignore most of, in Neumer's words, "the media's disproportionate interest in the story [that] plays off fear more than anything else."

Hearty Boys: HB, TV

Chicago Magazine's Dish column informs us that Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, aka The Hearty Boys, are remodeling the cafe into HB, which will be slightly more upscale. Why? In anticipation of more business driven by their appearances in the upcoming show, "The Next Food Network Star." The show debuts June 5, and apparently HB will open a bit before that.

Yet More Public Transit Battles

The usually circumspect Metra fired another salvo at the CTA recently, laying out its case in a special edition of its newsletter, On The Bi-Level (pdf). Meanwhile, Carole Brown shows how the collar counties are using transit dollars they aren't paying for. Despite both agencies talking about how everyone needs to work together to improve the RTA, that seems to have seriously fallen by the wayside.

Out of the Vault

Fans of the cinema will be interested in the upcoming Out of the Vault Festival next week, put on by the new Chicago Film Archive. The festival (and the organization) features educational, industrial and experimental films made in the Midwest. It's at the Chicago Cultural Center, so it's free -- what's more to love?

Crime on the Map

If you've ever tried to use the Chicago Police Department's Citizen ICAM, you know what a lousy interface it is. Fear not, citizen, for chicagocrime.org is here! The site takes the info from ICAM and puts it into an easily searchable -- by crime type, street, date, district or location type -- along with a Google Map for more clear reference. Now you can really see what's happening in your neighborhood.

How not to impress a food critic

Debra Pickett of the Sun-Times was given the assignment to take former New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl out to lunch. Debra decides to take her to Karyn's Cooked, a vegan restaurant. Hilarity ensues. (Reichl: "People take me to great places all the time. But I hardly ever get a meal like this.")

Transmission Putters Along

New music from local electronic musician Atomly is up as this week's Transmission feature. Have a listen and, if you like, come hear him perform this Friday night at the GB 2-year Anniversary Party, taking place at the Hideout. Should be a good time, but only if you like to have fun. If not, well, you're outta luck.

Saints preserve us

If you're a theatregoer in Chicago, you've seen members of The Saints, the 25-year-old volunteer organization for the performing arts. They're most visible as ushers at nearly every nonprofit theater in the city, but they also provide other services. Ushering through the Saints is a great way to help out up-and-coming theatres, and you see the shows for free! Membership for the year beginning June 1 is only $50 before May 31, or $25 for students; you can join online here.

Everything you knew before is wrong

Contrary to prior announcements, the Intonation Music Festival, organized by Chicago-based Pitchfork, will be selling tickets in advance. Pre-sales begin this Wednesday, May 18th, at noon via the web. There's a limited quantity of 2-day passes available for $22, or you can purchase single-day admission for $15 (which, we should note, represents another adjustment -- the originally announced price was $10/day). The other major switch is the venue: rather than Pulaski Park, the concert will now be held in Union Park. So basically everything is different, except maybe the acts, and even they are "subject to change without notice."

Not just here -- everywhere

We all know the CTA's in a bind. As the Christian Science Monitor makes clear, though, it isn't alone. Across the country, cities like D.C., Philadelphia and San Francisco have seen the same ultimatum: fare hikes or service cuts. And, according to William Millar, president of the American Public Transit Association, while either option is apt "to make riders leave," the combination can be disastrous. So that's good.

Northerly Island Worth A Visit

This weekend saw a visit by me to the very cool Northerly Island. If you see what the site used to look like, it's quite amazing that it's lovely and quiet and grassy already. Especially neat is the former airport building, which is now an exhibition hall. Peek in the windows and you can see the former cafeteria and all of the tasteless and bland 1950s architecture. There's a lot of construction going on, so get out there before the site is 'improved' for Clear Channel concerts.

Happy birthday, Studs

Today is the 93rd birthday of Chicago author, historian, and all-around living legend Studs Terkel. Studs is still doing regular work, in part for Chicago Public Radio's program Eight Forty-Eight; in 2002, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, they assembled a huge list of interviews that Studs has done for the station, from poet Langston Hughes to actor John Mahoney.

Oh! The Brilliance

Creative Behavior has an interview with 19-year-old Chuck Anderson, whose amazing design- and artwork has graced the ad campaigns of Absolut and Audi, among others. He lives in the southern suburb of Frankfort, creating beautiful imagery and playing around with The Brilliance.

Google Maps, twice mashed

In the past month, we've told you about lots of ways to hack the Google Maps: apartment hunting, CTA trip planning, and, in a special 2-for-1 post, tagging your Flickr photos and tracking local traffic. But maybe you found it all just a bit too intimidating. Never fear: an article from today's Wired News makes getting in the GMaps game a little less scary with lots of testimonials and pictures. (Kinda like Friendster. Only not.)

U2 and You, Too

Those lucky fans who actually got tickets to nights two and three of U2's four-night stand in Chicago have another reason to be happy: Billboard reports that the band filmed the shows for an upcoming DVD. A bit more info is on U2.com. (Those who didn't make it should look on the bright side; the DVD will no doubt be cheaper than those tickets.)

CTA losing money in new and different ways

This is just not turning out to be the CTA's year. Despite an increase in ridership, the CTA continues to lose money, and is using that as further incentive for a bailout from state legislators (a move that the state is still looking into, as it schedules an audit of CTA books to make sure that the CTA really is $55 million in the red). Meanwhile, some of the CTA's smart cards are giving free rides to customers (over $4,000 in uncollected fares so far), and the CTA's retirement fund is set to run dry as early as next year.

Turn on the bright lights

As the always useful WGN Weather Center Blog notes, Chicago witnessed an episode of the aurora borealis last night. They've posted two gorgeous photos of the northern lights over Woodstock (1 | 2), and, according to meteorologist Steve Kahn, "it is possible the aurora may be visible again tonight, especially in Canada, Alaska and areas north of Chicago." Keep your eyes peeled.

United We Fall

In the wake of the latest development in beleagured United Airlines' bankruptcy restructuring, The New York Times wonders, briefly, if it would be such a bad thing just to let the airline fail. Its 61,000 employees might have something to say about that. In the Trib, meanwhile, Jon Hilkevitch worries about the fate of the United archives.

"Somebody like you"

The AP profiles efforts by the Broadway Youth Center to assist local transgender youth in this article. The Center is sponsored by the Howard Brown Health Center and other organizations, and the consensus among the clients Martha Irvine interviews is that the support of friends in a similar situation helps. A lot.

Easier read than done

If you follow U of C professor Daniel Drezner's blog, you'll know he drafted a tag team of substitutes to fill in while he was away on holiday. Drezner offered a "farewell warning" that the pair were of a different ideological stripe than that to which readers were accustomed, and, in his absence, commenters kept things plenty lively. David Greenberg, one of Drezner's fill-ins, describes the experience in the New York Times and concludes he's just "not cut out for blogging."

33 1/3 Books

Continuum Books has a new series of music related books called Thirty-Three and a Third. They're short books about the past 40 years most seminal albums, everything from The Beatles to The Velvet Underground. Chicago author J. Niimi writes on R.E.M.'s Murmur.

Exercise and a healthy diet

Last week, 20 lucky folks were on the ball enough to register for the second annual Veggie Bike & Dine, to be held July 23rd. Those earlybirds sold out the first round of registration, but EarthSave Chicago and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation can accomodate another 25 people on this progressive dinner of vegan-friendly places downtown. The next chance for signing up is May 29th. So, if biking and dining with a bunch of vegetarians sounds like something you could get into, you'll want to register for the event's email notifications -- they'll send a friendly reminder so you can get one of those remaining golden tickets. Incidentally, the 29th is also the day of Bike The Drive, details about which are here in Slowdown. (These events are just two of the many affiliated with Bike Chicago 2005.)

Free 'Finger Free' Frosty, Please

To thank customers for sticking with them during the "I found a finger in my chili" hoax, Wendy's is giving free Frostys to everyone who asks for one this weekend.

Rock Your Body

The Museum of Science and Industry is offering a special sweepstakes in conjunction with their Body Worlds exhibition: by entering you can receive a one-week health club pass and $50 off a new health club membership. Winners will receive a one-year health club membership, personal fitness training sessions and more goodies to keep in shape. In case swimsuit season ever arrives. Go here to find out more about the contest.

Circus Team

CircEsteem is a non-profit aimed at "building self-esteem through circus arts" in kids from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds. The group's annual Spring Circus is this Sunday at Alternatives Inc., 4730 N. Sheridan, at 11am and 3pm. Call 312/593-4242 for more info. (Thanks, Christopher)

Who loves Chipotle?

Kyle Smith does. The Northwestern student has eaten a Chipotle burrito every day, for 34 days in a row. He's visited the original Chipotle restaurant in Denver, eaten a Chipotle burrito at a movie screening (he's the film columnist for the Daily Northwestern), and when he went to Boston, where there are currently no Chipotle restaurants, he "nearly fainted." Plus, according to him, the burritos "satisfy me in ways a whore never could." Uh...

EL BARRIO CLOCKS OUR BEATZ N RHYMEZ PHASE III

The Kuumba Lynx Interdisciplinary Ensemble (of Truman College) is offering its current Hip-Hop Theatre production, El Barrio Clocks Our Beatz N Rhymez Phase III. Described as a Chicago-rooted journey "fusing the elements of spoken word, urban dance, turntabilsim, social commentary, rhythm, and personal stories... [blending] humor and emotional truth," this certainly isn't your average out-of-the ordinary hip hop production. Shows run at Truman College's Novar Hall Room #3246 (1154 W. Wilson) tonight at 10am and 7pm and Saturday at 1pm and 6pm. Tickets are $12, $5 for school matinees.

Expect delays

The start of the CTA's Brown Line expansion project could be delayed even further, as the Sun-Times reports that the CTA has purchased less than half of the properties it needs for station improvements. The paper's report also includes a list of dates that each station would be worked on, which range from this August (for the Belmont and Fullerton stops) through 2007 (for the Paulina and Wellington stops). Oh, and don't forget the service cutbacks, which are scheduled to go into effect on July 17. Happy commuting!

The pathos of the Park

In a case of better late than never, Slate's architecture critic pays a visit to Millennium Park. He reads the space from the interesting perspective that it represents a "theme park for adults" with various appealing attractions, but one ultimately troubled by a lack of cohesion and the micromanagement of leisure.

Pretty birds or Weight Watchers cards?

Two authors with Chicago connections are reading tonight at two different bookstores. Choice one: NPR host and former Chicago bureau chief Scott Simon, appearing at the Borders on Michigan Avenue at 7:00 to promote his new novel Pretty Birds. Choice two: Chicago blogger and GB contributor Wendy McClure, appearing at the Barnes & Noble at Webster Place at 7:30 to promote her book I'm Not The New Me. Choose wisely! (If you're fans of both, you should see Wendy tonight, and then catch Scott on Sunday, when he does another reading. See Slowdown.)

A coming of age story

Tonight marks another installment of Scared to Dance, The Opaque Project's monthly night at Liar's Club. The theme this month is "A coming of age story"; the last theme party they threw at the Jerkstore brought out droves of costumed hipsters. DJ's for tonight are Johnny Love, Joel Brown, and Matt Roan. 1665 W. Fullerton, 21+, 10pm, no cover, $1 PBR.

From PB&J to sponge cake

If you've been following the reports on Alinea (aka Chicago's gift to the culinary world), and are wondering exactly what the 28-course meal looks like, take a peep at this thread on the eGullet discussion forum, which contains detailed shots of every course. And then head on over to the Alinea section of eGullet, which contains loads of information about the restaurant and the development of its menu, the serviceware and even the restaurant's logo.

Quite a fall

A local woman, Gloria Jummati, was preparing to fly north for the summer, when she took a tumble from the ninth floor of her Ft. Lauderdale condo. Somewhat miraculously, Jummati was saved from injury by landing on an awning. Lance Arthur offers a retelling of the event in his typically wry way but fails to mention that, not only was the 69-year old spared a serious hurtin', she was also spared an immediate return to this interminable winter we've been having. Today's high in South Florida: 83F with patchy clouds. We're looking at 20-30mph winds, a 50% chance of rain, and possibly hitting 55. I'd say Ms. Jummati's lucky in more ways than just one.

Heard It Through the VINELink

Wanna see when your babydaddy is being released? Need to know when your stalker gets parole? Check for yourself on VINELink, a new online search site that allows you to "check the custody status of your offender." Starting in July, users will be able to check court dates, too.

Button Contest Deadline Looms!

Just two more days to get your design in for the Gapers Block Button Contest! Fame, honor and a $20 gift certificate to Reckless could be yours!

Don't wait

Fans of the locally-produced NPR program Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me probably already know that, starting tonight, the show will be recorded here in Chicago at the Bank One Auditorium. What you might not know is that tickets are still available for tonight's premiere show! Go to the Chicago Public Radio Website for a link to purchase tickets. Many upcoming dates have the show's panelists listed, so you can pick a night when, for example, hometown celeb Richard Roeper will be on the show.

A not-so-lonely goatherd

From the New Yorker to Nerve, John Darnielle sure has been getting a lot of press lately. And for good reason: critics agree that his latest album, The Sunset Tree, is great. So, when he's playing at Logan Square Auditorium with his Mountain Goats Friday night, you know you should be there to watch. The details are in Slowdown. Just don't forget to holler for his classic paean to wishful thinking, "Cubs in Five."

Yikes! Penang Closed

We were just there last week and the food was fine, but reader Bill emailed us to say that Penang in Chinatown has been closed by the city due to major health code violations. Hopefully they'll fix everything quickly so Naz can get his cendol fix again!

Hang up and drive, part 2

The recently proposed ban on hand-held cell phone usage while driving was passed today by the City Council. It goes into effect July 1.

A Science Fair or Marathon Dining?

Not one, but two large scale articles on the latest food trend in Chicago, matching science and dining. First, the NYT ventures into the recently opened Alinea and also hits up Moto. Then, read further into chef Homaro Cantu's Moto, over at the LA Times. Both restaurants use science to craft unforgettable meals, which can stretch upwards of seven hours. The prices are sky-high, but then again, where else can you find sushi flavored paper and liquid chocolate desserts?

DIY Raiders

In 1982, three friends decided to remake Raiders of the Lost Ark shot by shot. Seven years and $5,000 later, they finished it, and now you can see the product of their work. Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Adaptation will make its Chicago premiere this Friday at 8:30pm at Columbia's Film Row Cinema as part of the Future Filmmakers Festival. The filmmakers Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala will be in attendance. Tickets are $20/$10 students.

The city's history, available online

An online version of the Encyclopedia of Chicago (published in book form last fall) goes live today. Over 1,400 entries, from the Chicago Fire to Millennium Park, plenty of maps, illustrations, glossaries and timelines of Chicago history. If your knowledge of city history is lacking, this is the place to go.

Rotary carries on the Salk legacy

It's now been just over 100 years since the Rotary Club was formed in Chicago, and, next month, around 40,000 folks will flock to town to celebrate that fact. They'll especially be cheering the success of their anti-polio initiative, which has contributed to a 99% reduction in annual cases world-wide. Today's NY Times runs an op-ed "Appreciation".

Not All Fun and Games

Blogger Andy Towle points out that next year's Gay Games, to be hosted here in Chicago, are already facing their share of political controversy. It seems the American Family Association is calling for its supporters to contact locally-based Kraft Foods and "tell them to pull their financial support." Given that the festival won't take place until next July, this could just be the beginning of the contentiousness. Meantime, the Games are hoping to boost early registration with parties this weekend at which attendees will save $25 on their fees. Interested? Get more information by phone (773/907-2006) or by e-mail (info[at]gaygameschicago[dot]org).
[Updated, a day later: Well, that sure didn't take long. This morning, the Illinois Familiy Institute introduced its "e-byte" service with the announcement that they aren't concerned about Kraft alone. Nope, they've got a bunch of axes to grind, namely with all of "the (non-homosexual) corporate sponsors ... for the Homosexuality 'Games.'"]

Boulez quatre-vingts

Next Monday night's performance of the Berg Chamber Concerto with Daniel Barenboim and Pinchas Zukerman marks the end of the CSO's celebration of Pierre Boulez's 80th birthday. Thanks to the iTunes Music Store, though, the music doesn't have to stop. The complete Deutsche Grammophon catalog is now available, including lots of unreleased and out-of-print material. Boulez's history with the CSO is a long one, and he has been the Orchestra's principal guest conductor for the past 10 years. He's clearly loved in Chicago, but for opinions outside the city, there's this career retrospective in the Guardian.

The Suburbs Go Beep

Beep is a new weblog published by the Daily Herald in collaboration with Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism as part of "a larger effort by the Daily Herald to attract non-graying readers." They're also building a directory of suburban blogs (within the Herald's distribution range), which is kind of nice.

Pineapple sponges and bottomless bowls

The group food blog Too Many Chefs posted a rave review of Alinea, the newest restaurant sensation in Chicago. If you want to check it out, make your reservations very soon; they're booked through July.

SummerDance schedule

The schedule for this year's SummerDance series in Grant Park is out, and looks quite promising. Last year's well-received addition of DJ Wednesday's is back, with artists like Paul Johnson, Superpitcher, Jeff Mills on the lineup.

Scale Tales

Chicagoist has a brief interview with Erin Shea, another local blogger turned author (and also a Chicagoist contributor), about her book, Tales from the Scale. She'll be reading from it tomorrow night at 7pm at Transitions, 1000 W. North, and Friday at 12:30 at the downtown Borders.

Tadao Ando...on Wrightwood?

Ever walked down Wrightwood (near Clark) and, like me, wondered who designed that incredible concrete home on the south side of the street? Well, maybe I'm behind the times, but it's a genuine Tadao Ando. One look at photos from in and around the residence and you'll agree, it's a complete masterpiece. Also, check this site for more images of the architect's work.

A different kind of transmission

A recent graduate has sued several teachers and an administrator at Mother McAuley High School for spreading rumors that her case of Mononucleosis was a "whore's disease." Mono is most easily spread through kissing, but can also be transmitted by sharing food, drinks, and coughing. The school is fighting the suit.

Transmission Launches

After a few months of preparation, and some communal laziness, we're proud to announce a new addition to the site! Entitled Transmission, this weekly MP3 blog is dedicated to exploring the music of up-and-coming Chicago artists. Sponsored by our good friends at Jewelboxing, this week features local favorites Zelienople. So, take a look under Slowdown, and come back every Tuesday for more free music.

Tactille

Now you know that crafting is H-O-T-T-T, right? Well, Josi Hannon Madera of Weird Mirror wants to prove how S-E-X-X-Y crafting is, too. She's creating an adult DIY magazine, called Tactille which will blend the sexy best of handmade, independent designers: "from the semi-nude to the simply silly". The first issue isn't available until November, but to get folks interested, she's challenging you to create an Ass Hat and send it in. The winner of the contest gets a prize, but I think the readers will be the real winners.

But it's only 2.42 days a year!

According to the latest national Urban Mobility Study, Chicago ranked 7th in one of those contests no one wants to win: annual traffic delays. Based on 2003 figures, local drivers spent 58 hours in gridlock during peak travel times, which is three hours more than in 2002. If that sounds high, count your blessings you don't live in LA, where you'd have waited in traffic for 93 hours. Of course, if the proposed CTA cuts go through in a few months, I hate to imagine what our roads will be like. Given that the study's authors, the Texas Transportation Institute, estimate Chicago's road congestion cost a cool $4.3 billion in wasted time and fuel, one might think that the Legislature's coughing up a few extra bucks for transit would be money well-spent. Or not?

"The Future of Law Enforcement"

Wired takes a look at the way the police may be looking at you -- i.e., by Clear, the CPD's digital panopticon. Chicago's network of surveillance cameras and electronic databases continues to grow and is inspiring other municipalities. Although the system has shown crime-fighting promise, it has some community activists concerned. The mayor's response? "We own the streets."

T.H.O.N.G. Strikes Again!

T.H.O.N.G., Topless Humans Organized for Natural Genetics, staged another protest Saturday, this time targetting Eddie Bauer on Michigan Avenue to protest products lines coated in Teflon and NanoTex. The Sun-Times has crowd reaction.

Stitch and Bitch Threatened with Lawsuit

Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard of Stitch 'n' Bitch, a common name for a knitting group that's been actively engaging stitchers in Chicago for at least the past four years and many other parts of the country as well. Debbie Stoller, editor of Bust magazine, has written two books with that title. Brenda Janish, ex-GB staffer and creator of the Chicago group, has been sent a cease and desist letter from a company called Sew Fast, Sew Easy in New York City saying that her use of the Stitch and Bitch name in her Cafe Press shop is an infringement on their trademark. Think this is bogus? I sure did. So I told them what I thought.

Online community-building... for live theatre

The House Theatre of Chicago isn't only the most-hyped young theatre company in several years (and current recipient of 12 Jeff nominations). They may also be the most web-savvy theatre company anywhere, ever. In addition to their well-designed website, they have a 3-month-old blog, a new Flickr account for posters and production photos, and now even a podcast. Their newest show, Dave DaVinci Saves the Universe, opens Saturday (see Slowdown).

Black is Beautiful

The latest issue of Blacklist is out, and it is, indeed, beautiful. Interviews with Derrick Carter, RJD2 and Chester Copperpot, among others, plus art by Wafaa Bilal. Read it online or download the PDF.

Clean & Green 2005

Mayor Daley and the Chicago Park District invite you to participate in the 2005 Spring Clean & Green Day. Come out, meet your neighbors, and help beautify your local parks. Dress for the weather and bring work gloves. Tools will be provided. Meet at the fieldhouse at any of these parks. GB reader, Robyn, will be planting flowers at the Logan Square Blue Line station; go out & lend a hand if you're free!

Learn More About Your Neighborhood

The Chicago Rehab Network, an organization aimed at preserving affordable housing in the city, now offers its Affordable Housing Factbook online. Register for free basic access and search fact sheets and demographic maps of various neighborhoods, or pay for premium access and get a whole lot more info.

Reg Book Sale

What day isn't a good day to snag some books? If you're in the area, head over to the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library, 1100 E. 57th St., to pick up some decently priced used books. The sale runs through May 13, 9:30am-4:30pm, with prices dropping each day. Lovely.

DIY TML

Have you ever wanted to turn your own personal experiences into a play? Did you see the Reader's recent cover story on Neo-Futurist founder Greg Allen, and become intrigued by the tenets of his theater company? Or do you just want to stand in front of a large crowd for two minutes, and pay for the privilege? The Neo-Futurists are willing to oblige, as they present this year's fund-raising activity for the theater: a chance for you (yes, YOU) to write and perform your very own play, in a special performance of their long-running show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind.
Here's how it works: call up the Neo-Futurist office at (773) 878-4557 to reserve yourself a spot in the show. (You may also email the Neo-Futurists at development[at]neofuturists[dot]org.) Then, start attending Neo-Futurism workshops beginning on Thursday, May 19, to learn how to develop your own TML play. Finally, on Friday, June 4, you and 29 other people who have signed up will perform a special one-night-only edition of TML, for an audience of your family and friends. The experience will cost you a $100 donation to the theater, but will give you bragging rights for years to come. Sign up soon; there are only a few slots left for this unique theatrical experience!

The Return of Underpass Mary

Two car wash employees cleaned off the brown paint and shoe polish off the salt stain that sorta looks like the Virgin Mary. So if you missed out on seeing Mary, now's your chance.

Advanced Placement

Newsweek has just published the latest edition of one of those educational ranking surveys that people seem to either love or hate: its list of "America's Best High Schools" for 2005. Out of 27,468 public high schools in the US, Chicago's Lincoln Park appears at no. 31; Stevenson High in Lincolnshire, the only other Illinois school in the top 100, shows up at 86.

Designers, Start Your Button Designing Engines!

See that ad just above this post? We're having a design contest for a new GB button! Go here to read the full details, and get your design in by next Friday, May 13, for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate to Reckless Records! The winning button design will debut at our 2nd Anniversary party on May 20 at The Hideout.

Take your mama out

You know that Mother's Day is this weekend. (You do know that, don't you?) If you're looking for a way to treat Mom nicely, the Trib notes that the Field Museum will stay open an extra hour on Sunday. That's so good sons and daughters can accompany their folks to the hugely popular Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years exhibition. Of course, even if your madre is elsewhere (or is, say, staunchly Republican), you might consider going, as this is the show's last weekend. Some other ways to show your love: Andrew's Mother's Day Tart or maybe some chocolates -- today's Daily Candy has a suggestion.

Defender Archives to Go Online

The Chicago Defender, which yesterday celebrated its 100th anniversary, will put its substantial archives of photos and news from the black community online sometime in the next year.

Check Before You Eat

Ever wonder about that sketchy restaurant down the street? How safe is it, really? Well, the city's Food Inspection Data Search is the place to check. For restaurants famous or not, any health code infraction shows up, whether serious or not.

Sic Transit Maria Salata

Underpass Mary is no more. A passerby defaced the salt stain on Thursday night by writing the words "Big Lie" in shoe polish on the stain, and this morning IDOT workers painted over the graffiti and the stain. Oh well, at least we have our memories. And some Flickr photos. (Thanx to Amy C. for the tip.)

News to go

Even as local radio personalities have their podcasts shut down, local news channels are embracing them. NBC5 claims to be "the first major market TV station in the country" to be getting in the game, and they're offering three flavors: news, as well as health and entertainment segments.

Poster makers making posters

This Friday, Foundation Gallery opens their latest show revolving around stellar (and my favorite) poster makers Aesthetic Apparatus, who have strong roots in the Midwest. Of course there's The Bird Machine here in Chicago, too. But there's more: The Heads of State make some beautiful stuff, and there's quite a few Wilco posters that they've done -- this one just about makes me cry. Speaking of posters, we'll have a nifty one done by Crosshair here in Chicago for our 2nd Anniversary Party on the 20th.

This American TV Life

Showtime Networks has picked up a pilot for a TV version of Chicago Public Radio's popular "This American Life." The show will be hosted by Ira Glass, who says the radio show will continue even if the TV show moves beyond pilot. (Apparently a TV show has been in the works for quite some time, if this 2001 article is any indication or you can read his Salon Diaries from 1999 chronicling his trip out west for just that.)

Houseblogs in Your Neighborhood

The folks behind House In Progress have launched HouseBlogs.net, an aggregator of, well, exactly what it sounds like. A very cool feature is this map of house bloggers worldwide, including a half-dozen in Illinois, mostly in Chicagoland.

Scavengers, Scavenge! Scav Hunt Begins.

The University of Chicago's famous Scavenger Hunt began last night at midnight. Participants have until Sunday to fulfill a long list of zany and obscure items in order to earn points and, more important, nerd credibility. The University's Hyde Park campus serves as the epicenter of scav insanity, but each year's hunt includes stunts that take place throughout the city, as well as an array of items and objectives scattered along a road trip route across the country. Getting ahold of the list is the first puzzle each team has to solve before they can start hunting, building, waxing, tattooing, etc. Previous years' lists are available online. U of C students may already have a reputation for being a little weird, but if you see any running around your neighborhood dressed as Care Bears, erecting scale models of famous landmarks, or acting otherwisely absurd, don't blame the school-- blame scav hunt.

Architecture Days

We're a little late in reporting, but yesterday kicked off Chicago's Architecture Days program, featuring a week of tours, events and lectures focusing on the design of our great city. Go here for a listing of the events and to purchase tickets.

Caldecott Art

This week the Art Institute opened Fantasy, Facts, and Furry Friends, an exhibition of forty Caldecott Medal and Honor Award books from the past four years. Panels from the distinguished picture books are on display in the lower level where you can also purchase the books to take home. (Whatever you do, don't let the pigeon drive the bus!) The exhibition runs through October 30.

Geotagged: 41.876, -87.633

Yesterday, the FlickrBlog mentioned a new web app that pinpoints properly tagged photos on Google Maps. A few Chicagoans have quickly gotten in on the act, as Downtown is already very well represented. You simply click on one of the markers, the map recenters, and you see a linked description and thumbnail. The GMaps features we know and love function as usual, so you can also zoom in or switch views. The satellite images provide an interesting contrast to the photos, especially in the cases of Millennium Park and other spots that have since been developed. To join the fun, geocoder.us provides a handy way to find coordinates for your pictures. And, if you're looking for another way to put Google Maps to use, check out this mash-up with Yahoo!'s traffic reports.

Don't even think about it.

Slats.org documents Chicago block club signage and offers a glimpse into neighborhood priorities; each image features interesting differences in both the prohibited activities and their presentation. Perhaps because of these variations, the signs apparently work: in a 2003 article, the Chicago Reporter described block clubs as central to the success of Chicago's community policing strategy.

Steve Dahl's Foray in Podcasting

In other radio news, it appears that WCKG afternoon host Steve Dahl tried to launch a podcasting service only to have it shut down due to intellectual property issues. I, for one, would love to be able to have professional-quality radio in my iPod, and I'll pay for it too. (Note to the Steve Dahl show: Add RSS to your blog. And if you don't know how - inbox at gapersblock dot com)

Golden Opportunity

This year's Chicago Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament gets underway this evening with bouts at St. Andrews Gym, 1658 W. Addison. The competition has seen a number of future boxing champions over its 82-year history, including Joe Louis, Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier. (Thanks, Eamon!)

Your Star Baseball Team

After last night's win over Kansas City, the White Sox now not only have the best record in baseball, but also broke another long-standing record: they've led in all 26 games they've played this year, breating the record previously held by the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. Oh, and the Cubs lost again.

Return of Air America

Air America, the "progressive talk radio" network that briefly broadcast here before payment disputes took it down, returns to Chicago tomorrow on WCPT, 850 on your AM dial. Eric Zorn wonders if this is a good thing. (Thanks, Robin!)

We're Better than Harvard, Nyah Nyah

I was one of the few University of Chicago students who didn't go there because she got rejected from Harvard. As a student, however, it's pretty easy to tell that the U of C is just as difficult as Harvard, maybe more so because we also have to prove our worth. Finally, Michael Steinberger at the Wall Street Journal gives us some props, writing that we've "wielded much more influence in recent decades." So there. Now quit punishing yourselves and go have some fun.

Sufjan's Illinois

Sufjan Stevens' soon-to-be-released album all about the Land of Lincoln gets a big thumbs up from Stereogum today, and we get to hear a couple tracks. I'm looking forward to hearing "Casimir Pulaski Day."

Dave's stories

From Cake & Polka Parade comes the compelling tale of Dave's Stories, a CD put out by the local art group Temporary Services of a homeless guy named Dave who had plenty of interesting stories to tell about living on the Chicago streets. Dave has since disappeared, but his stories remain, and you can hear some samples and get a free copy of the CD at the Temporary Services site.

Photos from the Inside

Here's an interesting collection of photographs taken by prisoners at Joliet Prison between 1890 and 1930. (For a bit of background, here's a curatorial statement from a 1996 exhbition that included the collection.) You might also be interested in this site from SuburbanChicagoNews.com about the prisons in Joliet.

Chicago Pushing Ahead with Wi-Fi

Chicago has created a task force to study the feasibility of a city-wide Wi-Fi service, and the city drafted legislation to preserve the right to permit installation before the General Assembly can pass a bill that would preclude municipalities from doing so. Currently the biggest provider of Wi-Fi in our city is the public library system. Wi-Fi installation would place approximately 7,500 small antennas on street lights every few blocks, at an estimated cost of $18.5 million.

Trib tumbles further

Editor & Publisher reported yesterday that, like most newspapers in the country, the Chicago Tribune has taken yet another fall in circulation. In fact, the 6.6% loss on its daily edition figures was sharp enough to rank among the highest in the country. The Sun-Times? Well, after providing inflated data in the past, it's been excluded from study, though E&P suggests it hasn't been immune from the trend, either. There is little hint in the Tribune account of what the paper might do to stem this slide, but given speculation about the possibility of its adopting a tabloid format, it'll be interesting to see what happens next.

Electric Encyclopedia

This just in: the Chicago Historical Society is planning on releasing an electronic copy of the Encyclopedia of Chicago on May 11th. All the Daley quotes I can eat!

Subsystence: Balance

The new issue of Subsystence — the fifth volume and first anniversary edition — is now online. It features a redesign by Anthony Vitagliano; artwork from Nick Butcher, Suzy Poling, and Nazarin Hamid; writing from Martin Cockroft, Israel Vines, and Jennifer Hawe; original music from Cepia, Sienna, and Detalles; and more. Released as part of the 2005 May 1st Reboot and CSS Reboot, the launch party for the new volume takes place Tuesday, May 3rd at Sonotheque. For more information on that, check out Slowdown.

R.I.P Wankie

The last elephant at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Wankie, had to be put down today after she fell ill en route to her new home at a zoo in Salt Lake City. Animal-rights activists have spoken up regarding animal treatment, especially this year after several other animals died at the zoo. I'm just waiting for Gillian Anderson to make a statement again.

Chris Ware, Arteest

Fans of Chris Ware (you know, the Jimmy Corrigan guy?) should beat a path this month to Carl Hammer Gallery, 740 N. Wells, to see an exhibition of inked panels from his comics. Here are some works from a previous show -- got $3600 you could lend me?

Hot gossip

Vancouver artist Kyla Mallett is the latest to take up residency at ThreeWalls, a non-profit gallery in the West Loop. During this Chicago stint, she's putting together an exhibition to be called "Gossip" that will feature, not surprisingly, "bits of anonymous gossip" collected and then reperformed by the artist. That's where you come in. To gather the scoop that'll eventually comprise her work, Mallett and ThreeWalls have set up both a tip line (800/874-3185) and an email address (gossipthree-wallsorg). Consider this your chance to be part of "a potentially disruptive, pluralistic and ultimately feminist social practice" and then check out the exhibition; it'll open May 20th and run through late June.

Steven Levitt on The Daily Show

If you missed it last week, tonight's your chance to see it again. At 10:30pm, University of Chicago professor Steven Levitt sits down on The Daily Show couch to discuss his book Freakonomics with Jon Stewart. Sigh...someday that will be me.

Give some love to a nonprofit and to Mom

Now I'm not saying that I think you forgot that Sunday is Mother's Day, and I'm certainly not suggesting that you're procrastinating about finding a gift, but I am saying that Urban Meadows lets you not only get your the mom-figure in your life something pretty and keeps you from getting a guilt phone call Sunday afternoon. But Urban Meadows helps people with mental illness learn job skills. And if you work in the loop, stop by 120 S. LaSalle and pick up some flowers to hand deliver to Mom.

 

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