Street Smart Chicago

The Pursuit of Chicagoist: Sheffield’s hosts a Trivial Pursuit bash

City Life, Events, Media No Comments »

“I will play. I will lose, ” Lucas Shelton says. He peers over the rim of his glasses at a Trivial Pursuit board. “But I will learn a lot.” It’s Thursday night, and Shelton sits with a raucous group from (“Simmer down, Chicagoists!” shouts the waitress). They gather in the candlelit back room of Sheffield’s for a Trivial Pursuit smack-down. It’s a Herculean match that snowballed online, culminating in the brave dismissal of their screen names and treasured anonymity. At long last, they are meeting face to face.
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411 Seven Days in Chicago: Dance, Dance

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If you’re a true TV-loving Chicagoan, you are sure to have seen the city’s most popular cable-access show, “Chic-A-Go-Go,” a “Soul-Train”-meets-“Sesame Street” dance show where everyone from toddlers to grandparents to popular local musicians can let go and cut loose to a cornucopia of musical styles as diverse as their target audience. “There’s something wholesome about fun even if it’s weird,” says producer Jake Austen about the show’s quirky content. With no aspirations of commercial success and after more than ten years of airing on Chicago’s Channel 19, producers are taking the eccentric show a step further with “Chic-A-Go-Go—The Movie,” featuring hosts Miss Mia, her puppet sidekick Ratso and, of course, the dancers. Although the show is often misunderstood by viewers, Austen and the rest of the participants in the film are just artists with a genuine mission to make art that is innocent, light and fun for everyone. “Even though this is a ridiculous and absurd sort of TV show it’s also a chance to do something slightly experimental,” says Austen. The debut screening of the film is Sunday at the Portage Theater.

Painful Reality: MTV comes to Goose Island

Events, Media, Wrigleyville No Comments »

A taxi screeches to a halt on Clark Street in front of Goose Island Wrigleyville, where a patient crowd of teenagers and twentysomethings are lined up. Out steps a gentlemen in his early twenties who wears faded jeans, Armani sunglasses and what appears to be Derek Zoolander’s “blue steel” pose. The sad reality is that he is strutting towards the line to audition for the twenty-first season of MTV’s “The Real World,” and he probably has a decent chance at making the cut.
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The Beautiful People: Clamoring for a bit of reality on “Beauty and the Geek”

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Beauty—how to describe such a boundless thing within the narrow confines of a page? It is a question with which many a great poet has struggled. It’s obviously giving these girls some problems, too. Brows knitted and shivering in the brisk autumn breeze, they’re hunched intently over clipboards searching for just the right words with which to fill the blank page. The guys have fared better. They’re done, for the most part, and stand waiting patiently, applications in hand. “I’m gonna keep them out here a little longer,” says a guy who emanates L.A. from every pore. “The longer they stand here, the more the anticipation builds.” This is an open casting call for TV’s hit reality-show “Beauty and the Geek.” Everybody standing in line outside of Martini Park on this cold Saturday afternoon is hoping to be officially designated one or the other.
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411 Seven Days in Chicago: Caught in the Web

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Not many TV shows have four exclamation points in their titles, but for Tom Seymour’s web-based comic review series “Bif! Bam! Pow! Wow!” at, the punctuation is apt. Through quick five-to-eight-minute episodes, Seymour—who manages Lincoln Park’s Graham Crackers comic book store—enlightens his audiences on what’s underrated, what’s overrated and what they totally need to keep out of the “Iron Man” movie. “I suppose the bulk of it is me ranting about stuff, but we try to have at least one guest interview,” Seymour says, who has welcomed graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown and Marvel artist Scottie Young to the show. “It’s better than working in an office building for me personally,” he says of his job. “I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else. I’m not really qualified for anything else.”

Talk Hard: FCC for you and me

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A loud chatter of several hundred people echo off the walls and high ceilings of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH headquarters in Kenwood. Technicians mill around the stage area, hooking up mics and speakers around the middle and two diagonal tables on the stage. Finally, the chattering reduces to a low hum and the four FCC commissioners and chairman take seats in front of an anxious audience. Behind them, an enlarged black-and-white photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., mid-speech. And so begins the Chicago FCC Public Hearing on Media Ownership, fifth out of six being held around the country.
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Who are the 100 Most Famous Chicagoans? Inside the enigmatic culture of celebrity

Essays & Commentary, Media, News etc., Politics, Sports 2 Comments »

By Brian Hieggelke

I found myself among the reporters on the red carpet at Macy’s Glamorama party this fall, watching as a march of B- and C-listers chatted up the fashion and lifestyle press who’d lined up to collect quippage for transmission to their audiences, while waiting for the night’s sole A-lister, the mega-wattage Beyonce Knowles, to make her last-minute arrival. At some point, I overheard someone exclaim in surprise, “Billy Dec is on the red carpet.”
By crossing the ropes to the other side of the red carpet, the nightclub impresario, “Bachelorette” employer and frequently photographed pal of David Schwimmer crossed the line, so to speak. I had the same reaction until I realized that, unlike many of those being paraded before us, I’d actually heard of him. The problem with Dec, it seems, is that he is one of ours—a Chicago celebrity.
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Life without Newspapers: Are dailies dead?

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By Brian Hieggelke

I am a lifelong newspaper junkie. Growing up, my dad always read the newspaper, and when his dad was around, he read the newspaper. I understood implicitly that grownup men read newspapers.

After school, I went to work for Goldman Sachs, where it was drilled into the trainees that keeping up with news was a fundamental component of success. I indulged, almost excessively. In my twenties, I subscribed to the daily editions of the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. And, because I “covered” Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa for my sales job, I subscribed to both Milwaukee dailies, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Des Moines Register. I think I personally took down a tree a day.
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