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. 


Sunday, June 16

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Fancy Shoes and Booze

Through the holiday season, hip shoe store eSpace (1205 N. Milwaukee Ave., at Division St. 773-252-6994) has declared Sundays "mimosa days!" As if it couldn't get any better, eSpace will also offer you an automatic 15% off on anything you buy for yourself (if you're shopping for someone else).

As You Dish, So Shall You Take

Move over, as-seen-on-Check, Please! signs and Steve Dolinsky glossies: Chicago's is currently accepting nominations for the second round of their Great Neighborhood Restaurants program. Like last year, inductees will receive a little laminated rectangle to hang in the window and represent what will surely be a contentious few weeks of back-and-forth internet bickering. Discussion closes December 18 (see FAQ here).

Design Tastes Like Expensive Alcohol

Do you like sophisticated and well-designed technology? Do you like free alcohol? If you answered yes to at least one of the above questions (and I'm guessing most of you drunk nerds said yes to both), you might be interested in checking out WIRED magazine's "Taste of Design" event tonight at Enclave, a freshly renovated and redesigned lounge/club in River North. If you don't typically hit up spots like this, this is your chance to check out what's normally a posh hotspot and geek out over some consumer electronics with a drink in your hand. Slowdown has the details.

Our Fallen Spacemen

Speaking of public art installations, have you spotted these posters on Brown Line trains over the past six months or so? There have been multiple sightings of these works, signed ARD, on trains, as well as a series titled "Our Lesser Known Presidents" and perhaps some involving wordplay. If you're the artist, let us know the deal and email inbox{at}

Aloha, Trader Vic's

The Chicago outpost of Trader Vic's, the Polynesian-themed restaurant that started in 1934, will be closing at the end of this year, according to Bill Zwecker. The Chicago location opened in 1957 and just this past summer was one of the venues in the local exotica music festival Luau by the Lake. For those of you that'll be looking for a tiki bar in the new year, you'll have to drive to River Grove to go to Hala Kahiki (but please see their dress code first). Update: Tiki Talk reports that Trader Vic's plans to reopen in another location in 2007. Hooray!

We Are Beautiful

The folks behind You Are Beautiful (you know, the numerous stickers all over the city) have been evolving their work constantly. Currently it seems they're moving toward a more open and loose collaboration aesthetic — allowing the audience to participate more and more. Take a look at some of the stuff they've been doing this year, which is of course, beautiful.

Share, Share Alike

First, there was I-GO; look soon for Zipcar. Today's Times has the story on emerging competition in the car-sharing market and the "free satellite radio, iPod connections and access to convertible Mini Coopers" that come with it.

Chicago Vs. Atlanta: Aquarium Edition

Seems the ongoing feud between O'Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson for the busiest airport title isn't the only way that Chicago and Atlanta will be butting heads for bragging rights. The Sun-Times reports on the slightly silly struggle between the ATL's newly opened Georgia Aquarium and the local Shedd to claim the mantle of World's Largest Aquarium.

Now She Can Rest in Peace

I can remember hearing news reports as a kid about the rape and murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico. It ranked with the Brown's Chicken Murders in notoriety. Yesterday, 22 years later, a grand jury indicted convicted murderer Brian Dugan of the crime. For more info about the case, see Eric Zorn's backgrounder and his 1994 series of columns.

Hillary Times Two

If, say, crobar ain't your thang, but chillin' with Hillary is, you can also catch Senator Clinton at the Midwest Regional Youth Summit where she'll give the opening speech. Free with registration at Roosevelt University this Saturday. And you say Slowdown's just a friend.

"A Brand. Like Coke."

Chicago Magazine calls Roger Ebert a bigger star than many of his subjects. And, for good measure, gives you that celebrity profile staple: baby pictures!

The Last Shall Be First

When it comes to that notorius Times story, we'll let Women & Children have the last word.

Da Bears: Ride A Bike!

Here's a nice little story from August about how the Bears, working in conjunction with a local bike store, donated some bicycles they didn't need any longer to local youth south of Chicago. The best part: the whole reason they had the bikes in the first place was to get coaches up out of the golf carts to be more active. "It's pretty hard to preach getting in shape when you're riding around in golf carts."

Choose to Donate

Looking for an alternative to gift cards for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list? Consider DonorsChoose, a non-profit that allows donors to choose (duh) which education-related project they would like to fund. Currently, there are 655 Chicagoland proposals for your perusal. DonorsChoose now offers gift certificates, so you can give a gift that gives again!

Oh Hillary Youuuuu... Got What I Need

Hillary Clinton may be a senator in New York, but that doesn't mean she can't fund-raise in Chicago. This Saturday, she's taking over crobar for "Saturday Night Live," a $50/ticket event featuring the former first lady and, of all people, Biz Markie as special musical guest. No idea if there will be any lame sketch comedy, like on the real SNL, but here's hoping. (Thanks, Brandon)

Winter Parking Rules

Do you like to find your car still in the place it was last parked? Of course you do! Therefore, you might want to take note that the winter overnight parking rules take effect on Wednesday night at 3 a.m., unless you want to pay $150 for the tow and $50 for a possible additional ticket. Time to pull out those buckets, lawn chairs, and any other junk you have lying around that you can use for "spot saving"; the winter parking games are about to begin.

The Girls' Guide to Reading and Writing

A friendly reminder that our own Anne Holub will be moderating a panel discussion on the Chick Lit phenomenon tonight at Women & Children First. She'll be joined by an academic and an author, a blogger and a bookseller. All the details are here; as for the the most important among them: the event is free and starts at 7:30pm.

Dead in the Water

This is probably not the sort of thing you'll see featured on that TV trip down the Chicago River: this weekend, in the span of three hours, two bodies were found in the water.

Neil Steinberg is on the wagon

And I'm hoping he stays there. I wrote a few months ago about how he was arrested for hitting his wife. She called the cops, they arrested him, and he spent some time in the klink. He then went to rehab, got out, and wrote a column all about it. He gives kudos to his wife for fielding the publicity and running the household and raising two boys alone, but he promises not to become a self-actualized, soft-hearted guy. Good luck, Neil.

Shop Online Locally

Since today is supposedly "Cyber Monday," it's probably the best day to point out that Threadless is currently running a holiday sale. Literally every t-shirt in stock is currently $10.

John Q Plagiarism

Ever seen the movie John Q? A Chicago man believes Denzel Washington's role in the 2002 film was stolen straight out of a screenplay he wrote years before, about his own experience paying for a child's medical care. He's filed suit against New Line Cinema.

The River Revisited

Ten years after the initial airing of Chicago by Boat on WTTW, Architecture Foundation docent Geoffrey Baer revisits the Chicago River on a new boat tour that explores how the waterway helped shape the city's development. The documentary will be encored several times over the next weeks, but set the recorder to catch it on the first broadcast: tomorrow night at 7:30pm. Details here.

Chicago by the Book, 2005 edition

As the winter holiday season gets in full, post-Thanksgiving swing, gift buying becomes an ever-pressing issue. While we can't do the shopping for you, if you're looking on behalf of a book lover (or are one yourself), just ask Alice. Our librarian has compiled two extensive lists of locally connnected work published this year; amongst the non-fiction, which ranges from memoir to photography, and the fiction, there's bound to be something for everyone.

Wintering Ducks Arrive in Belmont Harbor

Amid the usual gulls and mallards, we spotted a half-dozen Common Goldeneyes and a couple of Hooded Mergansers in Belmont Harbor this morning. The sight was cheering not just because these birds exhibit some rather entertaining behaviors but because it signals that even as Chicagoans hunker down for winter, dreading the cold, some creatures find a welcome respite in our neighborhood's climate.

November Festivity Leads to December Women's Performance Art Festivals

December 2nd, set your cultural event compass towards Links Hall, as the 6th Annual Women's Performance Art Festival begins. This year's theme is "...Destination...Excavation..." Opening night features Jennifer Karmin's "Revolutionary Optimism" (a text-sound composition) and "Roses Aren't Red" (a modern dance piece) by Subtext Dance Projects. Other festival highlights include spoken word performances and Adler Danztheatre Project's "Unraveling." The Sun Times has called this annual festival sponsored by the Stockyards Theatre Project "the purist woman's performance event in Chicago."

U of C's Best and Brightest

For the second year in a row (that I'm aware), Esquire's Best and Brightest issue includes a University of Chicago mind. This year it's assistant professor of human genetics Bruce Lahn, lauded for his investigations into human evolution. Sometimes that school of mine does make me proud. (You need a subscription to finish reading the article, but it's on page 241 if you head to your newsstand instead.)

Black Friday Forecasts

Amidst brisk State Street winds, Marshall Field's opened its doors at 6am this morning with warm, welcoming arms of Frango Mint Chocolates, Thomas Pink oxfords and Christian Louboutin pumps. The Sun-Times reported today that during this holiday season the average American will spend $780 on gifts, while the average Chicagoan just $686. What's cuter than a thrifty city? A city with heart. We budget a nationwide high $311 on charitable contributions.

Free Grub(Hub)

We've told you about GrubHub before, a site that lists local restaurants' menus and delivery options. Recently, the site made their services free and opened themselves up to user entries. Know of a good restaurant that deserves a mention? Now you can put in all the data youself and make sure everyone knows about your favorites.

Prune or Potato? You Make the Call

Earlier this week, the University of Chicago hosted its 59th annual Latke-Hamantash Debate; as is often the way, the eyes had it. Okay, bad joke, but still, it was the latkes that won. There's the Times account of this latest installment or, now, the debate's "official" history, newly out from U of C Press. Further details at the book's website, which features recipes, as well as a recording of philosophy professor Ted Cohen's pro-potato pancake pronouncement.

The Weekend Gets off to a Rough Start

We can all be thankful no one died in the collision of a Metra train with several cars last night: looking at the wreckage depicted in these photos, it almost seems a miracle.

Get Your Leather (And Chicken) On

Do you have a fetish? Sure we all do. Now you have your own place to buy the tools of the trade at The 4th Annual Leather SINS Midwest Holiday Fetish Fair & Marketplace. The event is Sunday from 10am to 6pm at the "Purple Hotel" in Lincolnwood (corner of Touhy and Lincoln). Last Years Event drew close to 600 kinky folks from all over the Midwest. Goody Bags with free samples of WET will be given to the first 500 attendees.

Eliminating Old Computer Equipment

Working on model similar to the very successful Working Bikes, some local computer types have gathered to take old computers and rebuild them for people who need 'em. Calling themselves Free Geek Chicago, they also recycle the parts they can't use, so nothing is truly wasted.

Red-Line Portraits Of People

The Beautiful People Take The Red Line. Interesting B&W portraits of red line riders from 97-98. Be patient with the navigation.

Out of the House, Into the Clubs

Besides the electronic stuff Jes mentioned, there is all manner of music to keep you occupied this weekend, either with or without the relatives. Illinois Entertainer has a run-down.

It's not Thanksgiving without a hangover

Thanksgiving to me means old friends back in town, and everyone wants to party because they have Thursday off work. Fortunately, there are at least three events tonight where you can go dancing and ensure a proper hangover for tomorrow's dinner. First, the annual Superjane Night Before Thanksgiving Soiree at Smartbar, with DJ Heather, Colette, Lady D, and Dayhota. Or, if you want your house music more classic, Derrick Carter is spinning at Zentra. Finally, for something a little bit ravier (and if you're under 21), there's a huge lineup at the Logan Square Auditorium featuring DJ Funk, Paul Johnson, Danny the Wildchild, Delta 9, and more. Full details in Slowdown.

Chicago-wide Buy Local Day

If you've ever worked retail, you probably called the Friday after Thanksgiving "Black Friday", or maybe you have heard it called "Buy Nothing Day". Well I'd love to see the friday after Thanksgiving be called "Buy Local Day". I could rant about why it's better to give your money to a local business, artist, crafter, bread-maker but instead I'll just encourage you to go to MINT on Friday and give some of your hard-earned cash to Tammy Terwelp. She only buys items from local artists, crafters, designers and she has a keen eye for finding the best stuff. You'll get to shop (there's free coffee and treats), you'll save up to 40% off select items, and you'll know that you're keeping Chicago in business without supporting any evil empires.

Bring the Political Noize

Folks interested in local and state politics now have a one-stop blog: Rich Miller, publisher of the Capitol Fax, has launched Illinoize, an aggregator of posts from more than a dozen blog-pundits. (via Zorn)

Video Killed the Podcast Star

If hearing your favorite local webloggers isn't enough, find some to watch at Chicago Videobloggers.

On, Specialized and Cannondale!

This morning's snow makes for a good time to remember BikeWinter's events, designed to keep you cycling year-round.

I'll Tumble For Ya

Chicago Public Radio recently completed its pledge drive, but we wanted to point out the great set of This American Life-themed tumblers illustrated by Chicago area cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier. If you are a fan of his work, you should definitely pick these up, all while supporting a great cause. Also, look for this weekend's Life Weekend magazine insert in the Chicago Tribune for a Thanksgiving-themed article and illustrations by Hornschemeier.

DIY Sweater Design

I'm somewhat impervious to cold, but I have to believe someone with better knitting skills than me has designed a sweater with built-in scarf and mittens. Any knitters out there know of an existing pattern for this? (Alternatively, you could enter the contest to make it. There's a PRIZE you know.)

Blow it out your Glass

Chicago Hot Glass, a glass blowing studio located in Humboldt Park, has a new series of classes starting in the coming weeks, which would make a great gift for the crafty loved one in your life. Classes range from glass blowing to glass fusing for artisans of all learning levels. Also, every Thursday they feature Jazz music and glass blowing demonstrations, and are open to the public every day from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Dear Bobby,

I see from your letter that you've been a good boy this year. I'll pass the word on to Santa that you deserve an extra present under the tree.
Merry Christmas,
Volunteer Santa Letter Responder

Hilarious Water Cooler Conversation

Hey, has your employer violated basic workers' rights, exported jobs overseas, or otherwise been naughty? I bet you'd love to know. Now here's a useful tool to help you do that: the AFL-CIO's "Job Tracker." Currently, 180 Illinois firms are reported as having violated the National Labor Relations Act. Wow your coworkers!

Tiny Soldiers Made of Plastic

You may have seen some little green men around town, especially if you're in Evanston. No, not Martians -- plastic soldiers. NPR's Jason DeRose spends an afternoon with Sallie Gracht as she carries out her own covert operations.

A Little History with Your Humor

Pete Lit excerpts a couple of anecdotes from Herbert Asbury's Gangs of Chicago.

Abundance Demands Storage

Aleksandar Hemon has a new, laugh-out-loud funny short story in the New Yorker entitled "Love and Obstacles." Required reading.

"The Zenith of Indian and Jewish Life"

I've spent the last three days trying to establish what, exactly, is offensive about this (there must be something), but I've come up dry, so I guess I can recommend the sixth annual Indo Jew Bowl as wholesome Thanksgiving entertainment. Sikh and Semite alike don fantastic jerseys and go head-to-head to establish who the pillars of the community really are. It all goes down at noon at Niles North High School, with a canned-food drive and t-shirt sales to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Best fan query: "If the Indos win, will there be a trip to New Delhi? If the Jews win, will there be a trip to the new deli on Oakton?"

Bad at Sports. Good at Art.

Art scene dish on the latest Bad at Sports Podcast includes an interview with Oak Park artist, critic, gallerist, teacher and writer Michelle Grabner and reviews of so many local shows that I lost count. In other words, Just Tune In.

Who's Your New Egg Producer?

Man, I wish I was in town this weekend. Andrew Bird and Sam Prekop are playing an early show on Saturday before Bird's sold-out gig with Head of Femur later in the evening. The show starts at 6:30pm at the Logan Square Auditorium. Tickets are $15 in advance and are expected to sell out — get yours quick!

Score Some Dinosaur Jr Tickets

Want to see Dinosaur Jr next week at the Metro? First person to correctly answer the following question via email to wins two free tickets: Before Lollapalooza this summer, when was the last time Dinosaur Jr played in Chicago? UPDATE: We've got a winner! The correct answer was Halloween, 1997, at the Metro.

Make plans for Turkey Day

For you late planners who haven't made Thanksgiving Day plans yet, Metromix comes through for you with a list of restaurants for either attending for Thanksgiving Day, or ordering Thanksgiving takeout from for your own Turkey Day at home. Many of these restaurants are still taking reservations, but only through today, so you'd better make some plans soon.

Pick up a Cat

Lonely? Think a companion might cheer you up? How 'bout a cat? The city's shelters are overloaded with felines right now, so the perfect one is sure to be out there. Links to a few local shelters after the jump.

- PAWS Chicago - Harmony House - Felines, Inc. - Cats are Purrsons, Too - Furry Friends Foundation - Lake Shore Animal Shelter - Tree House Animal Foundation - Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society - Chicago Animal Care & Control

Eat. Drink. Play. In Chicago

To supplement your entertainment planning needs, American Express' In:Chicago card has launched a blog:

Shimer on the Move?

Tiny Shimer College is contemplating a move to the big city from its campus in Waukegan. Apparently the liberal arts school, which has just 110 full-time students (many more go part-time), has been invited to move to IIT's campus on the near South Side. A decision is expected in the coming months.

Stuff Yourself With Unique Cable TV Programming

Beginning tomorrow, this next week is bursting with engaging literary programming on Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV). Supplement your growing Laguna Beach and Being Bobby Brown obsession with Poetry Center events like MacArthur "genius grant" winner Aleksandar Hemon and cowboy poet Baxter Black. Other CAN TV don't misses include Illinois Creates: Art Education in Public Schools and Los Ninos del Vallenato. CAN TV's Community Partners Project "provides Chicagoans with access to information they may not otherwise have through commercial television."

Patrons of the Year Named

Recently we told you that Preservation Chicago had identified the city’s seven most endangered significant buildings and places. On a more hopeful note, at least interesting structures are still being built. The Chicago Architecture Foundation has just announced its Patrons of the Year for 2005. These awards honor the “individuals or organizations that have fostered the creation of innovative architecture in Chicago.”

Lights Festival on N. Michigan

Depending on your point of view, you’ll want to avoid or make a beeline for N. Michigan Avenue this weekend. If thoughts of a Mickey Mouse parade, ice carving demonstrations, holiday lighting ceremonies, and carolers—especially before Thanksgiving—make your skin crawl, then give the Magnificent (3/4) Mile a wide berth. But if Christmas can’t start too soon for you, check it out and have fun.

Free Cocoa Alert

Today and tomorrow, the Pump Room at the Omni Ambassador East Hotel is giving away hot chocolate between 1 PM and 10 PM as part of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. So is Harry Caray’s. For details about these and related discounts and deals, click here.

Web 2.Showdown

Early next month, two major figures in the development of Web 2.0 architecture will square off at DePaul University. Snakes and Rubies will give Chicago residents Adrian Holovaty of the Django Project and David Heinemeier Hansson, the guy behind Ruby on Rails, a forum to debate their approaches to making over the internet. Event details are here; potential discussion questions are being taken via the website now.

E. B. Forum

The Empty Bottle has introduced a new online message board. Not much there as yet, but they promise users "all sorts of insider information – giveaways, love letters, philosophical remunerations, show announcements and the like."

It's a CD release party

Singer/songwriter/musician/blogger Edith Frost has been collecting quite a few positive reviews for her brand-new album It's A Game, released this week on Drag City. The Tribune calls it one of the year's best albums, and the Reader refers to the music as "elegantly restrained". Even Entertainment Weekly gave the album a good grade. You'll get a chance to hear Edith's new music tomorrow night at her CD release party at the HotHouse; see Slowdown for details.

One Last Taste of Heaven Follow-up

Michael Miner has a good overview of the Taste of Heaven controversy and its aftermath in this week's Reader. He gets comments from the article's author -- which I haven't seen up till now -- as well as most of the major characters. Good stuff.

Talk to an Artist

Here's a reason to get up early on Sunday: WBEZ's Hello Beautiful!, which starts at 10am, will feature Laurie Anderson, artist and musician. She's in town to perform "The End of the Moon," a new work created for NASA, at the Art Institute, and she'll be answering caller's questions live on the air.

A Really Good Apple

Autumn may be leaving us, but the web makes it possible to hang on a little while longer with, well, some photographs of fall fruit. Over the past couple weeks, Thrown for a Loop has been "appleblogging." He finished yesterday with the Cameo variety, one he claims is hard to top. Makes a person wanna dash to the produce market while there's still time.

Poetry Out Loud

The Poetry Foundation and the NEA announced that last year's pilot recitation contest for High Schoolers, the National Recitation Contest, (held only in Chicago and Washington D.C.), will hit all 50 state capitals in Spring 2006. Play AP English and visit Poetry Out Loud's website to to browse poems enriched with audio links.
The Chicago winner from last year recited "Susie Asado" by Gertrude Stein. Excited about the educational possibilities, NEA chairman and poet Dana Gioia said to the AP, "I think the competitive energy you see in sports can be brought into the English classroom . . . And you'll have a different set of stars than you find on the basketball court or baseball field."

Lampo and the Audible Arts

Looking to expand your musical horizons beyond mainstream song structures and into new forms of music? If so, you might be interested in Lampo, a local presenter of "experimental music and intermedia events" that brings in a global set of sound-artists for monthly performances. This weekend Berlin-based artist Stephan Mathieu will be performaing "Radioland", a suite of computer-processed live AM radio, accompanied by a fast, random video flicker of 256 colors. So if you don't mind loud sounds, not so comfy chairs, and a limited color palette, you may be interested in what Slowdown has to say.

Da Monsters of the Gridiron

We give you Sports in Five once a week. Say, though, you want more. One of Deadspin's recurring features is running down "Blogdom's Best"; today, it tackles the Bears.

Read It, See It

Sam of Golden Rule Jones has a new Flickr account where he's posting literary-related photos from his travels around the world. Ever wonder what James Joyce's school looks like? Sam can show you.

I was Meant for the Screen

As Steppenwolf's star rose in the '80s, so did John Malkovich's. But don't go looking for him on stage any time soon. As he tells the Guardian, these days, movies are much more his speed. And not just any movies, mind you: Malkovich says he dreams of "appearing in a film so brilliant and obscure that no one will ever see it."

Neo-bohemian Rhapsody

Richard Lloyd's new book, "Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City," is a study of "neo-bohemian" neighborhoods and their place in the post-industrial economy, focused primarily on Wicker Park. Salon is running an excellent review of it that makes some interesting observations of its own, particularly about the myths of gentrification.

High-Minded Podcasts

Podcasts aren't just for wannabe DJs. There are also a number of 'casts about literature and the arts. Check out the Bat Segundo Show and Likes to Do Other Things, for a start.

We're Just Muggles in Their Midst

If you're a real Harry Potter fan, you know that there's just a few hours until GOF (that's Goblet of Fire, for those who don't know) opens at midnight tonight. If you're a fan, you also know all about The site was founded by 18-year old Emerson, who lives in Indiana "near Chicago", who's helped out by his brother, and a team of Potterfans around the world (including one in Buffalo Grove). They have a virtual treasure trove of interviews, film clips, stills, and one very important countdown clock. Get your wands at the ready.

It's 1987 All Over Again

Despite not releasing any new material since 1991, the band Chicago will be releasing a new album. The yet untitled work was produced by Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus. Their current touring season has them in Texas with Earth Wind and Fire and there's talk of yet another tour with Huey Lewis. Future headline: Ghost of Johnny Cash Summons REO Speedwagon To Studio For Possible Recording.

Wal-Mart Watch Radio Ad

Activist group Wal-Mart Watch has released a new radio ad and a delightful holiday parody. You can get the mp3 here. I happened to hear it on WBBM, which has a pretty decent selection of podcasts if you want to download some Chicago radio.

The Diner Takes It All

Just in time to make plans for a turkey-free Thanksgiving, voters in the VegNews 2005 Veggie Awards have named the Chicago Diner the nation's favorite vegetarian restaurant. Plus, the magazine's editors handed out their own prizes and picked the restaurant as their "ideal eatery for down-home cookin'" — which obviously depends on your definition of "down-home."

Coctails Scoop!

You heard it here first: The Coctails are reuniting again for another show at the Abbey Pub December 18. Tickets on sale now. Even cooler, though, will be the show they play at Rotofugi on December 15 for the release of the new line of Coctails action figures by band member and artist Archer Prewitt.

The Roof, the Roof...

I keep telling myself this isn't funny, because people could have been hurt, but apparently someone is setting fires in buildings throughout the University of Chicago campus. Scorched buildings include Kent Hall, home to many an 8:30am chemistry lecture. It's not funny, but if I were to set a blaze during my U of C stay, yeah, that's about where I would start.


It's best not to mess with Mimi Smartypants. Or, at least, best not to mess with yourself while in her Red Line car. She's seen this kind of thing before, and she's not gonna put up with anymore nasty shenanigans.

Get Your Skates Out

Perfectly timed with the first flurries of the season, the Millennium Park ice rink opened today, a few days behind schedule thanks to the warmer-than-usual weather last week. Skating is free till 10pm most nights, and you can rent skates for $7.

So Alive With The Sound of Music

Mayor Richard Daley has clearly had at least a spoonfull of sugar. He proclaimed yesterday "Julie Andrews Day" in Chicago. Andrews is in town directing The Boy Friend at The Chicago Theater. Andrews will also participate in Columbia College Chicago's annual "Conversations in the Arts: Up Close With ..." series. Next week marks the 40th anniversary of the release of The Sound of Music.

I Always Thought Of It More As Girlstown

It will come to the surprise of just about no one that Cheetah ranks among's most gay-popular gyms. What may surprise you (but perhaps shouldn't given the way the national media can't seem to get details about Chicago right lately) is that Boystown "surrounds" Andersonville.

Just How Many Will West Win?

You've only got until Sunday to vote for the Chicago Music Awards. Best get crackin'!

Will Capone Be Allowed?

The Park District is considering a plan to add a Hollywood-style "Walk of Stars" featuring famous Chicagoans to Grant Park from Harrison to 11th St. The granite stars would cost $15,000 apiece, including installation, upkeep and a party -- to be paid by private donors.

Illinois Leader Dead

The Illinois Leader, the former Illinois GOP rag of choice, has died according to many sources. The website still works, but since there's no content, it leaves a slightly empty feeling. Illinois Republicans can go to GOPUSA ILLINOIS website, where I learned that I missed the GOP Chicago happy hour tonight, "Millionaire Republican : Why Rich Republicans Get Rich--and How You Can Too!" Sometimes jokes write themselves.

The White Stuff

Keep your eyes on the ground tonight as the area is expected to get its first flakes of snow (along with some possibly severe thunderstorms). The weather forecast is still developing, but it does make sense to bundle up tomorrow morning for what's supposed to be the coldest day in almost 8 months.

Bear-on-Bear violence

The news out of the Bears camp this weekend wasn't all rainbows and record-setting touchdown runs. Offensive linemen Fred Miller and Olin Kreutz admitted yesterday that Kreutz broke Miller's jaw in a fight on a day off last week; they'd been covering it up by claiming Miller hurt himself in a fall at home. Details of what happened are still sketchy: the Tribune story says the two "spent the off day at an FBI shooting range in North Chicago," and that tension escalated "as more alcohol was consumed." Y'all, I can't help but think that if you've got a bunch of pro football players getting liquored up at a shooting range and a broken jaw is the worst thing that happens, that's a good day.

This Chicago program

The Tribune carries a story today on the 10-year anniversary of Chicago Public Radio's "This American Life", outlining the possible future venues for TAL stories (there's the TV show, of course, but TAL host Ira Glass is also working on a movie script). The Trib article also points out the influence TAL has on other radio shows and reporters, and includes this warning to Ira's imitators from NPR host Terry Gross: "The real message isn't to copy his voice or his style of writing; the real lesson is that there's room to create something new."

Taste of Heaven: The Continuing Saga

Eric Zorn posts what will hopefully be at least close to the last word on the scandalous New York Times article about Taste of Heaven's sign. He includes a lengthy comment from Alison Miller, one of the mothers quoted in the NYT article, who indicates she was taken out of context a bit. (See previously: 1, 2, 3.)

It Has Mini-Blinds and a Turret

A year from now, if you happen upon the corner of Lawndale and Parkview Terrace on the Northwest Side and see a castle-like house with a turret, do not be alarmed. It is simply the home of Legion Records owner Rudy Acosta. Sure, the house will be 16 feet taller than all other houses and will be 5 feet closer to the street, but this man has a dream and a permit. Acosta wants to build a 6,700-square-foot limestone home resembling a medieval castle but his neighbors aren't too keen on the idea.

A Million Words

Music site Coolfer introduced Damian Kulash of Chicago's OK Go as a guest blogger over the weekend. Kulash will be reporting from the road as his band finishes its current tour; today, he takes on DRM. OK Go will play a local show on Friday, with a 7pm signing at the Tower Records on Clark. Fans or the merely curious can email Kulash: damian at

You + orchestra = Messiah

Handel's Messiah will be performed at the Civic Opera House on the evenings of December 20 and 21. The performance will feature a full orchestra, four soloists, and a chorus made up of the audience. The "do-it-yourself Messiah" is sponsored by LaSalle Bank, and today is the first day that you can purchase tickets for this event. See the LaSalle Bank Website for full details, ticket purchasing, and tips on preparing for the concert.

Live in Chicago, Relived at Home

No need to hold the cell phone in the air to broadcast your live music experience to friends elsewhere: today sees the release of recordings of two major rock concerts that took place in Chicago in the past year. We've mentioned the Wilco CD Kicking Television previously, but there's also U2 on DVD with their Vertigo 2005. "City of Blinding Lights," indeed. And, lest we forget, on a non-musical note, there's the Oprah 20th anniversary collection — although, if you're in the market, you probably know that, don't you?

Sketchy Saturdays

Watch out Twisted Spoke Smut and Eggs, a new contender for late Saturday eve fun has emerged: The 5 & Dime Comedy Hour. From this Saturday until Saturday, December 17th, indulge your temptation to skip the porn for 5 & Dime's sketch comedy come absurdist theater. Featuring Megan Bell, Molly Hale and John Pattavina, the hour is directed by Don Hall (of WNEP fame). See you at The Trapdoor Theater this Saturday at 11. Check the details in Slowdown.

Meet Ray St. Ray, The Singing Cab Driver

I'm not big on cabs. If I were, I'd want Ray St. Ray. I'd be treated to his one-man show; an ongoing performance piece called The Singing Cab Driver Show. As Ray himself would say, "it's part vaudeville, part inspirational seminar and "More than a ride...It's a trip!" Check out the videos.

The Longest Drive

Bears cornerback Nathan Vasher caught a failed field-goal attempt by the 49ers yesterday near the back of the endzone, and ended up running it all the way for a touchdown, cementing the team's fifth win in a row. The 108-yard drive is the longest touchdown play in the history of the NFL.

Tony Danza In Chicago

Today through Wednesday, former Taxi and Who's The Boss star turned talk show host, Tony Danza, will be taping his show from the NBC tower. Guests and segments include Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, an interview with Chicago actor Gary Sinise, a tour of the city (get ready Pizzeria Uno and Rock & Roll McDonalds) and cooking with various local chefs such as Rick Bayless, Mindy Segal and Chris Rook. Pinch me.

Who Wants To Be A Chicagoan?

Test your knowledge of local history with this interactive quiz. You can even play against a friend. It's part of the detailed site for the PBS American Experience film, Chicago: City of the Century.

Dig the Roots

Well, ?uestlove, anyway. Radio Free Chicago has the 411 on his DJ appearance tonight at Sonotheque. The event promises "special guests" and is free, but you've got to get yer name on the list.

Design And The Art Institute

Architecturally, it's interesting to consider what kind of "conversation" the new Art Institute expansion will have with its neighbor, Millenium Park. The new curator of architecture and design at artic, Joseph Rosa, discusses this question (sort of) and outlines his plans for an expanded design department at Art Insitute. (And if you like urban design, Metropolis Magazine should be purchased to be truly experienced. It's lucious and lovely. Even though most of the ads are for floor tile, it's a great read.)

Children are the Future

Citizens of Chicago that is. And not everyone wants to see their friends with children fade off into suburbia. But if your friends with tykes are discussing the merits of larger yards and being closer to a mall, maybe you should buy their kid this shirt.

New city motto: Expect delays

If you thought that the city had finished work on the Chicago Skyway at the end of last year, you're in for a surprise; work on the Skyway will continue for the next two years, as a series of viaduct repairs that had been postponed in 2003 are now scheduled to occur. Said one transit official after hearing of the new construction, "Didn't the city just rebuild the skyway?"

Images of Industrialization

The November issue of First Monday includes an article comparing two online photography collections: the U.S. Steel Gary Works Photograph Collection, 1906–1971 and the National Child Labor Committee Collection. Although the authors somewhat obviously conclude that the collections show very different views of industrialization, the photos of Gary, Indiana, are well worth checking out.

I Ain't Saying He's A Gold Digger

Chicago DJ Eric "E-Smoove" Miller has filed a 10.5 million dollar countersuit against Kanye West. The DJ and the rapper are battling over a ten-track album West recorded during the '90s. West's legal team contends that E-Smoove shopped the tracks with a contract featuring a fake West signature. In other Kanye news, this is the 10th straight week "Gold Digger" has topped the Billboard Hot 100.

Join the Ranks

The Phalanx Artist Network, a new group hoping to energize and organize Chicago's arts and entertainment scene, is throwing an introductory party at Smartbar, 3730 N. Clark St., Sunday night from 8pm to 10pm. Join them for drink specials at the bar, free apps, music -- and some discussion of how to make Chicago a force to be reckoned with in film, theatre, arts and entertainment. Tickets are $12 in advance. 21 and over.

Photobloggers Catch Flak

The 7x7 exhibit by several local photobloggers runs through next week at the Lincoln Park branch of the Chicago Public Library. If you can't see the images in person, however, Flak Magazine has posted a review and a commentary-accompanied slideshow. (At least a couple of these photographs have appeared previously in Rearview, another gallery that makes for a nice visual distraction on a lazy Friday afternoon.)

The Mysterious Production of Lyrics

Joan Anderman of the Boston Globe interviews Andrew Bird and says he sounds "desperate for soup and a nap." For his sake, let's hope Bird gets some rest when he's back in Chicago for the Thanksgiving holiday. For our sake, too: he's set for two shows at Logan Square Auditorium that weekend. Tickets are apparently going fast; might want to order them soon.

Don't Call Them Yuppies

The Lincoln Park Urban Professionals are throwing a warehouse party of sorts, and you're invited. It's next Wednesday at 600 W. Chicago, the old Montgomoery Ward warehouse (hey, that's not in Lincoln Park!), from 6pm to 9pm. In addition to margaritas and martinis in the lobby, you can visit Japonais for sushi and sake, Kitch'n River North for beer and hors d'oeuvres, Motel Bar for mixed drinks and David Barton Gym for wine and massages. All for $20 in advance, $30 at the door.

Women & Children, Wrongly

Cinnamon investigated the depiction of bookstore Women & Children First in a recent New York Times article that was, in essence, about parenting practices in Andersonville. Accordingly, today's correction to that story won't come as much of a surprise to Gapers readers:
"Because of an editing error, an article on Wednesday about rules for children and parents in restaurants and other businesses misstated the site of an incident in which a woman was asked to stop breast-feeding in a store in Chicago. It was not the Women and Children First bookstore but another business in the neighborhood. The article also misstated the bookstore's policy for children who break rules for story time. Parents are asked to take them away from the reading area; the children are not ejected."

Olive and Mason: Bookmark It

If you thought blogs were just for people with cats, kids or catastrophes, then think again. Because Olive and Mason (two co-workers, who are secretly dating) are here, detailing their lives of working, betting and eating lunch. Required reading.

Endangered Architecture

Preservation Chicago has released its annual list of the city's seven most endangered architectural elements, and the big surprise is the inclusion of an entire neighborhood. Pilsen as we know it is in danger due to UIC's south campus expansion and the general condo boom. Listen here (RAM) to Preservation Chicago's Jonathan Fine run down the list on Wednesday's Eight Forty-Eight.

Come to Mecca, Little Ones

If you are a fan of the incredible, awesome stationery store Paper Source, then you've got to hightail it to a holiday cardmaking demonstration this November. Check out their site to find workshops this weekend and Thanksgiving weekend.

Mad for McCartney (And We Don't Mean Paul)

Right. So, like Lagerfeld before her, Stella McCartney recently designed some stuff for H&M. The Guardian called the clothes "the most eagerly anticipated collection of the year," and the Times described her fandom as a "cult." Think any of that is exaggeration? Read the Drunken Bee account of the line's local launch (and subsequent sell-out) today, and, well, you're apt to think again.

The Chicago Googler

SearchEngineWatch reports that Google will soon be testing a print ads in an as-yet-named Chicago newspaper. Details to come...

No such thing as a free withdrawal

If you're a non-Washington Mutual customer who's been inclined to seek out WaMu ATMs because they don't charge you a fee, be warned that the honeymoon is over. Crain's reports that WaMu will begin charging non-customers $2 a pop just like every other bank, starting November 17.

Yes, We're Obsessed with Maps

A new book looks at our city's history from a cartographic perspective. Chicago in Maps : 1612-2002 includes 74 "powerful and evocative documents [offering] an unprecedented avenue to the city's past — a fascinating collective portrait of the evolution of one of America's great towns." (Thanks, Atul)

River North Case Study

An interesting new construction in River North caught my eye the other day: 156 West Superior is a boldly modern condo midrise whose facade is defined by its beautifully exposed structural frame, metal screen walls, and a sheer glass curtain that opens the units to the outside world. The building was designed by award-winning Seattle-based architects Miller-Hull, who are bringing their unique contemporary aesthetic to Chicago for the first time. Certainly a commendable design in a sea of banal bland beige boxes all over the near North side.

CTA fare increases for some

Today the CTA approved a 25-cent fare increase for riders paying cash, starting in January. The CTA will also stop giving transfers to people paying in cash. Time to get yourself a Chicago Card, and make sure it's always got money on it!

New York Times: The Paper of Incorrect Record

We posted earlier about a "no screaming child" policy at Taste of Heaven in Andersonville. Halfway through the New York Times article, there was a paragraph about a male Women & Children First employee kicking a nursing mother out of the store. Needless to say, the staff at Women and Children first have been fielding emails, phone calls, and visits all day about this. They've released a statement saying that since there was no male employee at the time, the story is obviously inaccurate. And the alder(wo)man Mary Ann Smith even says her quote as reported "Didn't happen." Maybe the reporter thought Women and Children First had a "No New York Times Reporters Who Don't Fact-Check Allowed" sign on their door.

Bloggy McBlog-a-little-less

Chicago-area blogger Mandy Stadtmiller (aka: Bloggy McBlogalot), has accepted a position as a features reporter at the New York Post, starting in mid-December. Previously, Mandy penned (or typed them using a word processor) articles for The Washington Post, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, The Des Moines Register and did PR work for Northwestern University. Did I mention she is funny as hell? Read her.

Excuse Me, Have You Seen My Stapler?

Yes, that's right, Office Space is coming to a theater near you -- in musical form. The New Millennium Theatre Company is performing Cubical: An Office Space Musical at the National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, starting Nov. 18. You're going to have to get your tickets now, yeah.

The Hidden Loop

Blogger Devyn takes wonderful photos of some of the lesser known or "unknown loop streets" and posts them on his site. This makes a nice companion to the alley series currently running in the Tribune [Thanks, Mike].

Abducted Santas and evil elf puppets

The Neo-Futurists' latest prime time show, The Santa Abductions, begins preview shows tomorrow night and opens on Saturday. The story of a disillusioned young man in search of the real Santa Claus, this is the first holiday-themed show for the Neo-Futurists, but is definitely not for the kids. See Slowdown for the full scoop.

A Taste of Turmoil

Whether spread by indoor voices or not, the controversy surrounding that sign in the window of Andersonville's A Taste of Heaven has gone so far as to catch the attention of the Times.

Authors with Borders

I support my independents whole-heartedly, but here's the thing about Borders -- sometimes they have really good guests. Thursday night they host none other than President Jimmy Carter who will discuss his book, Our Endangered Values. And on Tuesday they'll set a place for Oprah favorite Nate Berkus, whose book Home Rules features gorgeous pictures of his gorgeous, um, interior decorating projects. (Did I mention the gorgeous?) Both at Borders Michigan Ave. and both can be found on Slowdown.

Sounds of the Underground

In her blog, Julie Shapiro of the Third Coast Festival previews the birdcall-themed work that will kick off the Outer Ear Festival of Sound on Sunday, describing it as "an experimental sound installation in the fern room of a historic conservatory." What more to say, except, perhaps, that it's free? For information about this and other events that are part of the month-long festival, look no further.

Surfacing Value

The Tribune Co. without the Tribune? Merrill Lynch says it could happen. (Not surprisingly, the company had no comment.)

New Buses on the Way reports that the CTA today received its first New Flyer D40LF 1000 series, which may replace half of the current fleet. Twenty of the new buses will be diesel-electric hybrids. Here's a video (.avi) of the bus pulling away from this morning's press conference.

Cows in Italy

I never expected to see the day when the cradle of the Italian Renaissance would be borrowing a page from Chicago. But, Cows on Parade, meet the Florence CowParade.

Turn Right at the Alley

Did you know Chicago has more than 1900 miles of alleys, more than any other city in the world? The Tribune is doing a special weeklong series on the city's alleyways.

Finding the Right Pitch

Are you a member of a band, looking to get hyped in the local media? Check out Scott Smith's helpful write-up of last night's Chicago Music Commission panel on pitching to the press.

Lay's vs. Jays, a new beginning

So do you remember last year's tussle between Lay's and Jays? Where Jays took Frito-Lay to court, disputing their ads that Chicago prefers the taste of Lay's potato chips over Jays? Well, it looks like Lay's might have some more ammo to boost their claims: the Sun-Times reports on a new snack food survey conducted by Chicago-based Information Resources that indicates Lay's outsold Jays in Chicago, $17.1 million vs. $13.3 million, based on 2005 supermarket sales data. The survey also indicates that cookies are the top-selling snack food in the city, with Oreo cookies #1 here and nationwide.

Chinese in Chicago Public Schools

Today's Monitor runs a story that puts Chicago in the vanguard of US language education trends: teaching Chinese. 3000 students in twenty local schools are learning to speak Mandarin, helped in part by watching Jackie Chan.

Your Daily dose of Obama news

Tonight on Comedy Central's The Daily Show: Senator Barack Obama! Set the VCR...

Help study the CTA

Tired of late-running buses, or buses that arrive in bunches? Take some action against the problem! The Campaign for Better Transit, a group of people trying to improve Chicago's public transportation, is starting a new study of the reliability of CTA buses. In 2004 the group released a study called The Late State of the Buses (PDF link) which documented the problems people have with the buses (late arrivals, bus bunching, etc.). This year's study will attempt to find out if there've been any improvements since the previous study. See this post at Chicago Indymedia for details on how to volunteer your time on the study to hold the CTA accountable for its problems.

File Fast for Fast Forward Film Festival

The latest crop of Fast Forward Film Festival shorts will be screened this Saturday at 8pm at Open End Gallery, but there's still time to join in the action! This round's theme is "about your weird childhood" -- sign up for just $20 at Atomix Cafe, 1957 W. Chicago Ave., and then create a three-or-so minute flick in just 24 hours. More info here.

Who's Your Fave Derby Dame?

Are you a fan of the super-hot roller derby dolls in the Windy City Rollers? Yeah? Then vote for your favorite girl today. The voting ends November 9, so click now.

Save the Adelphi!

I've been waiting for the Adelphi Theater up in Rogers Park to have its "grand re-opening coming soon," as promised by the marquee, for a couple years now. Now I know why the wait's been so long: a developer plans to tear it down for more condos. There is, of course, an organization fighting to preserve the 1917 theater.

I had a nightmare I was a Brunette

Speaking of girl power, everyone's favorite soroity girl clothier, Abercrombie & Fitch has agreed to remove offensive T-shirts after a 'girlcott' led by the Women and Girls Foundation of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The foundation targeted A&F shirts like "Who needs brains when you have these," and "I make you look fat." Illinois State Senator Steve Rauschenberger introduced a resolution that called on A&F to remove the shirts, or face an organized boycott of their 14 store locations across the state. Want a shirt with a slogan everybody loves? We've got you covered.

Education Matters

Throughout November and starting tomorrow night, Chicago Public Radio will be hosting community meetings to solicit input for next year's Chicago Matters series. Producers are curious what local citizens believe constitutes a quality public education. Renaissance 2010 has recently unveiled some ideas; what are yours? For the meeting schedule and other information on how you can be involved, there are all manner of details on the web.

The Reincarnation of 7L39

New York taxis never die, they just ship out for Chicago... Follow their journey in text and images in today's Times. (Bonus fun fact: when it comes to cabs, yellow in the Big Apple is different than yellow in the Big Shoulders.)

Kozol Redux

If you missed Jonathan Kozol's Humanities Festival talk at the Chicago Temple on Sunday afternoon, you still have a chance to hear the author of Death at an Early Age, Savage Inequalities, and—most recently—Shame of the Nation, when he speaks at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on Tuesday evening. Kozol's talk, which is sure to be impassioned and inspiring, will focus on the de facto segregation of America's public schools. Details in Slowdown.

American Girl Power

We're not generally fans of American Girl Place, but there's one good reason to applaud the creepy doll manufacturer: they're standing up to nutty right-to-lifers. The Pro-Life Action League of Chicago and other groups have organized a boycott of American Girl because of a fundraising bracelet that benefits Girls Inc. (formerly Girls Clubs of America), which supports abortion rights and homosexuality. PLALC is supposedly planning a protest at the Chicago Avenue store around Thanksgiving; expect a nice counter-protest to further gum up traffic.

"Let's Learn to Read!"

Copy Goes Here: Coudal Partners, the folks who help to bring you Transmission, have made a funny little movie.

Windy City Weblogs

Chicago Bloggers, updated and online.

Sample This Weekend

Chicago shopping can be as magnificent (and pricey) as the mile, until the weekends, that is. To the fashion (and budget) savvy Saturday and Sunday are sample sale days. This Sunday, check out another big bad Beta Boutique Sample Sale at Equinox Fitness Club, Chicago's newest upscale gym with in-house full service spa. Equinox will offer a special 3-day, all-access pass to Beta Boutique shoppers. Beta will have on hand its usual array of designer apparel, including Three Dot, Ambre Babzoe and Beaumenay Joannet and Margaret O'Leary.

Return of the Crafters

Get a jump-start on holiday shopping this weekend by hitting the DIY Trunk Show. Running from 10am to 4pm Saturday at the Pulaski Park Auditorium, 1419 W. Blackhawk, the show features more than 80 local crafters and artisans offering their wares. We'll be there with a booth, so stop by and say hi!


Barrington resident Megan Kearney is traveling around the world, and documenting it on her site, So far, she's covered Asia from Japan to Thailand; I can't wait to see where she heads next. You can follow along through her blog, photos and sketchbook.

Dive Bar Divisions

Chicagoist got an earful when it critiqued Citysearch's list of the city's top 10 dive bars. Many of their criticisms were spot on — the Cubby Bear is in no way a dive — but as GB found out awhile back, Chicagoans have strong opinions about dive bar delineation. (You might also be interested in this feature about the disappearance of tap rooms.)

Mmm, chocolate respiratory ailments...

The Blommer Chocolate Company, the place that blankets the River North area with a chocolate smell, was cited by the EPA this week for clean-air violations stemming from excessive dust coming from the company's machinery. The company has been working with the EPA to reduce emissions (but not the sweet-smelling ones, please) and has 30 days to address the citation.

SWM for SWF on CTA

Ride the CTA all by your lonesome no more: "The Front 'L' Car is for Singles Only!"

Better Water Tanks

Challenged by the Chicago Architecture Club to put disused water tanks (those ugly things you see on towers - particularly in industrial areas) to good use, designers came up with all sorts of good ideas. The winning proposal (pdf) suggested a means of turning them into wind turbines for clean power generation. Via: We Make Money Not Art and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Men DIY too!

Now I'm sure you've heard of the DIY Trunk Show even if you haven't been to one yet. (It happens again this this Saturday. And since it is all about craft with a "c" and not a "k", you might be just as fascinated as I was to listen to an interview with Jeff Faye yesterday on 848. I know I'm excited to see some of his items in person.

Casting for Podcasters

Do you have a podcast? If so, wants to hear from you. The site is looking for "podcasters in the Chicago area to interview and submit stories from the people in their lives." Now if someone could just put together a directory of local podcasts... for now, this will have to do.

Have Your Cupcakes (And Own it, Too)

Remember back in August when Lakeview went crazy for Cupcakes? The story goes that the folks behind the bakery devised their plan somewhere between here and Alaska, so it's only fitting that, just four months later, they're selling the joint to split town and study abroad. True to form, Craigslist has the details. (Thanks, Paul!)

Hats Off to Chicago Milliners

If the very idea of milliners seems awfully 19th century, how about the idea of a Milliners Guild? This is the weekend to learn something new about hats. Chapeau, Chicago’s own Milliners Guild, presents Falling Head First, a series of events demonstrating that the art of hat making is alive and thriving. See Slowdown for details.

Free Cocoa Alert

Throughout November and December, the Pump Room at the Omni Ambassador East Hotel is giving away hot chocolate between 12 and 2pm as part of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. And, if you take a copy of this holiday guide with you to the Museum of Contemporary Art, you get 2-for-1 admission as well as free hot chocolate at Puck’s Café. For details about these and related discounts and deals, click here.

The Divestiture of Jeanne & the Juggler

Yesterday, the Times ran an op-ed that condemned museums like the LACMA for selling off pieces from their permanent collections as if they were "investments." We noted last week that the Art Institute had similar, though far less extensive plans; the Sun-Times later received assurances that proceeds would only support the curatorial collections from whence the work came. Last night, for better or worse, the paintings saw a highly receptive market: the Renoir went near the top end of its estimated selling price, while the Chagall significantly exceeded expectations, bringing in over $4 million.


When some people hear they word "craft" they think of paint by number style kits, construction paper, and bits of yarn. Others think of ingenious ways to create beautiful, useful, creative items. And many of those people in the second group use craft as a method of expressing their activism, their desire to change the world. Cinnamon Cooper, Alejandra Valera, and Annie Tomlin are three such people. You can hear them discuss how feminism, activism and craft combine to create craftivism. Annette Ferrara of will moderate the discussion from 6-8 pm this Thursday. By the end of the night you'll be writing your own Craftifesto.

Chicago, home of the nation's favorite gay bar

The Chicago Free Press reports that Sidetrack was named the best gay bar in the country by readers of OutTraveler magazine. Indeed, Sidetrack tied for the top spot with NYC's Roxy in the magazine's readers' poll; as the editors aptly put it, "Either invite 1,200 of your closest friends over for a night of trash TV or meet them all at Sidetrack, Chicago’s sleek, supersize video bar."

Outdoor Art Or Walks Or Stories Or?

Two artistic resources that are very exciting: in the weather, the creation of Melinda Fries and Bonnie Fortune, where individuals have uploaded memorable and unique walks, some you can follow, some you can't. All are delightful, personal portraits of the city. [Note: an earlier version of this post erroneously credited the Center for Neighborhood Technology.] If you want even more, check out the This Dream: This Frequency piece from Links Hall. A soldier's tale is broadcast from microtransmitters throughout Pilsen, always telling his story for anyone who might listen...

The "Life of the Mind" goes brain-dead.

University of Chicago students throw a lame, racist party. Letters to the editor are written. Naomi Wolf is cited. Arguments rage on Live Journal. The Chicago Tribune picks up the story.

Reading, Writing and Rum

You know what goes great with reading? Drinking, of course! If you're interested in either (or both), you may want to head to Sheffield's tonight for RUI: Reading Under the Influence. Tonight's theme is banned books. If your weekend's looking a little slim, why not trek to the Hideout on Friday for the Dollar Store's Very Special Anniversary Show? You can come help the Dollar Store kids celebrate their first year of readings. Slowdown is all you need.


Sound Opinions, the rock-n-roll talk show hosted by rock critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis that's been running on XRT, will be moving next month to Chicago Public Radio, a station known more for its jazz programming than its rock blocks. The Sound Opinions home page lists some reasons why the show is moving: a larger budget for the program, the use of Chicago Public Radio's performance spaces, and the chance to take the show to a national audience with podcasting and syndication.

Sing a Song of Gangsters

Coudal's Fresh Signals points to this amazing 1931 map of "Chicago's Gangland." That Encyclopedia is something else, huh?

Fixie on the Radio (again)

While this was originally aired on WNYC's Studio 360, a radio piece produced by Jonathan Menjivar that features me waxing poetic about fixed gear bikes will air shortly on WBEZ's 848. If you miss it, I'm sure the archive will provide otherwise, listen in online.

Obama speaking at Parks funeral

Illinois' junior U.S. senator Barack Obama will be speaking at Rosa Parks' funeral this morning in Detroit. For a preview of what Obama might be saying, check out his podcast page (previously mentioned here) for an entry on remembering Rosa Parks.

Less Taxes, More Rock

In case you missed the 300 point font on the front page this morning, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Chicago Park District is revising their budget for the year. It appears, at least for now, that Chicago taxpayers will be spared a park district property tax increase. To make up for the lost tax revenue, certain fees will be increased and the city will hold more rock concerts which have been a rarity for the last decade or so.

Sox Series Stats

Eighty-eight years, 1,064 batters, 518 pitchers...'s Useless Information Department compiles the figures separating then from now.

Dorkbot Is On Tonight!

Do you like to do strange things with electricity? Maybe Dorkbot is for you — their motto is "people doing strange things with electricity." Per their web site, Dorkbot is a meeting where interactive artists, scientists, robot builders, mechanics, engineers, and freaks-in-general come to co-mingle. Normally two people/groups present interesting things they are doing while all the other people drink beers and ask questions. So rub a bunch of balloons all over your car (or your Chuck Taylors) and meet the local chapter at Deadtech, 3321 W. Fullerton Ave., from 8pm to 10pm tonight.

All Ages Chicago

Finally, underage music lovers (well, the punk ones, anyway) have a venue to replace the Fireside: The Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave., puts on shows Thursday through Saturday with ticket prices generally $10 or less, perfect for a high school/college budget. The venue also offers $2 off admission if you become a member -- $10 for three months.

Halloween is over, time for NYE plans.

Everyone’s favorite indie-snark news clearinghouse Pitchfork Media will be having a two-night 10th anniversary/New Year’s Eve party at the Viaduct Theater on 12/30-31. Tickets go on sale November 12th, and the NYE show, featuring Wolf Parade, is only $35, which is probably about as cheap as your New Year’s Eve is gonna get unless you stay home, watch New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and drink Boone’s Farm.

Finally, A Podcast To Love

Finding good new music is always a challenge. After a tip from Eric, I downloaded and listened to the most recent podcast from some former WLUW DJs who staff the 75 minutes website. It's a great site with a weekly podcast filled with lots of independent music - a whole 75 minutes worth. It's like listening to delicious indie radio -- with a fast forward button if you need it.

Chi-Rock Rumble

Twista is in the news again today: This time, members of the Chi-Rock Hip Hop Nation, a South Side hip hop collective founded in 1985, accuse Twista of infringing on their name for his new label, Chi-Rock Entertainment. No litigation yet, but just you wait.

About That Wilco Live Recording

CD? Yes! DVD? Not so much. Meantime, the band are playing a sold-out benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims tonight the Auditorium tonight. As you might expect, the Craigslist action is hot and heavy.

Cub Foods Goes Biometric

I'm excited to see innovation come to grocery stores, from the self-checkout to this latest trick from Cub Foods. Yes, if you do shop at that behemoth of a store, you'll soon be able to pay with just the touch of a finger.

Gays on Film

Reeling starts later this week, kicking off Thursday night at the Music Box with German film Summer Storm. The 24th installment of Chicago's festival of GLBT cinema runs through the 12th with screenings at several venues around town; tickets are already available. For previews of select opening week features, check out the Windy City Times run-down.



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