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News Thu Apr 18 2013

Bye Bye, Congress Theater?

6307806574_03e46c7315_z.jpg(Photo credit: Hane C. Lee under Creative Commons)If you're a frequent reader of WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis or just have a mild interest in the city's music scene, you're probably aware of the fact that Logan Square's Congress Theater has had some recent problems. That's actually an understatement. The 87-year-old, 3,500 capacity theater and its unpredictable owner Erineo "Eddie" Carranza could easily be the center of a drama fueled reality television show -- one that's about to have its season cut short.

Yesterday DeRogatis' blog "Pop N Stuff" reported that at 11am today, April 18, Cook County Circuit Court will rule in the case of an emergency injunction filed yesterday following the Congress' most recent round of inspections. If the court rules against Carranza, the theater's owner will be prohibited from "renting, using, leasing or occupying" the Congress and police force will be used if he does not immediately vacate the property. As DeRogatis notes in his report, this type of action by the city against a music venue is "without precedent."

In the past, complaints about the Congress Theater have ranged from poor condition of the bathrooms to rampant drug use at concerts to neighborhood safety to poor insulation. The city motion filed yesterday detailing the many, many safety violations puts the Congress' problems in a scary new perspective.

Reading through the list of 26 violations one thing is frighteningly clear: should the Congress Theater ever fall victim to a fire, its patrons are screwed. These violations could not only lead to fires ("There is water in the basement near an open live front electrical panel."), but they also confirm that suffocating potential flames would be an issue (fire extinguishers are absent throughout the venue). As if that's not bad enough, the motion also describes "...beverage dispensing stations and bars installed...which obstruct access to exit doors."

Motion by Chicago Public Media

The Congress' cosmetic shortcomings are apparent to anyone who walks through the doors but pale in comparison to these complaints -- especially when you consider the fact that this is a venue that consistently packs itself.

Should the city rule against Carranza today, weekend programming -- including a CIMM Festival appearance by the Funky Meters on Friday -- would be canceled.

UPDATE: Under an agreement reached at today's hearing the Congress will be allowed to remain open, but may not sell any additional tickets until the violations are remedied and the venue passes inspection, the Sun-Times reports.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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