Chicago Artists Coalition Names Coney Family Fund Awardees
Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) announces the Coney Family Fund awardees Unyimeabasi Udoh and Lola Ayisha Ogbara, who will each receive $5,000 in unrestricted funds during the 2021-2022 grant cycle. The funds are targeted to support outstanding Chicago visual artists who identify as Black or African-American. CAC has a history of supporting emerging Chicago-based visual artists through unrestricted grant funds and its artist and curatorial residency programs. More here.
Target Turns Down Water Tower Place
Water Tower Place, which opened in 1976 as a high-end, high-rise mall on Michigan Avenue, is looking for tenants, but departed anchor Macy’s won’t be replaced by Target, reports the Sun-Times. “The possibility of Target’s logo on the Magnificent Mile drew debate among area residents and business leaders. Some said the discounter would help the area recover from increasing vacancies attributed to the pandemic and last summer’s civil disturbances. Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas was a prominent critic of Target, taking to a radio station to say its presence on a premier shopping thoroughfare would be ’embarrassing to this city.’ Target also faced criticism for opening stores here in white neighborhoods while closing two that serve Black areas.”
Planning Department Slots Twenty-Four Member Volunteer Design Committee
“The city’s planning department is establishing its first design committee of outside experts to weigh in on major developments before they get built,” reports the Sun-Times. “The Committee on Design, appointed by the Department of Planning and Development, will advise the city and developers about innovative, attractive and cost-effective elements… The twenty-four unpaid members [with two-year terms] include architects, artists, academics and real estate professionals. The committee will be an extra stop for projects that already must get approval from department staff, the City Council and, in some cases, the Chicago Plan Commission. But officials said the committee will streamline reviews and approvals by clarifying designs early in the process.” Appointees include Catherine Baker, partner, Landon Bone Baker; Andre Brumfield, principal, Gensler; Nick Cave, sculptor and performance artist; Philip Enquist, partner, SOM; Bob Faust, designer and artist; Jeanne Gang, founder, Studio Gang; Theaster Gates, artist; Casey Jones, principal, Perkins & Will; Reed Kroloff, dean, Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture; Juan Gabriel Moreno, president and founder, JGM Architects; Maria Villalobos, assistant professor, Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture; Leon Walker, managing partner, DL3 Realty and Amanda Williams, visual artist.
Divvy Hopes Not To Divide City
Divvy is expanding across the Northwest and Southwest sides with more stations and bike lanes coming, Block Club Chicago reports.
Driver Shortage Slams Ride-Hailing Apps And Taxis
“Drivers of cabs and Ubers alike aren’t returning to the road as fast as customers—and that’s making for long waits and high prices,” reports Crain’s. “The trouble reflects a mismatch in supply and demand: Drivers aren’t returning as fast as customers. The city’s Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection estimates there were 27,000 active ride-hailing drivers on the road at the end of April 2021, down sixty percent from April 2019. There are 1,000 active cabbies—a decrease of eighty-two percent from 2019… Ride-hailing will remain dominant, as Uber and Lyft drivers vastly outnumber cabs. Taxi trips had been declining for several years, with many drivers pushed to bankruptcy by the dropping value of their medallions. But after years of ride-hailing having a price advantage, the two industries might be evening out.”
DINING & DRINKING
Addio, Spiaggia, Addio
Landlord issues: Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia depart the Chicago dining scene after thirty-seven years.“Spiaggia allowed Cathy and me to bring our beloved Italian culture and hospitality to Chicago,” founding chef Tony Mantuano tells the Trib, “and we will always be grateful for the guests and community who supported the restaurant. Many of the talented chefs and staff have gone on to make meaningful impacts on the culinary industry, and we know they will always have a piece of Spiaggia with them.” Reports Eater Chicago, “Ownership says they had the intention of reopening, but blamed the decision to close on the inability to strike an agreement with their landlord to restructure their lease ‘which was necessary to reflect the realities of operating a restaurant in an office building post-pandemic.'”
Dill Pickle Food Co-Op Workers Join Industrial Workers Of The World
“At Dill Pickle Food Co-op—a member-owned grocery store in the Logan Square neighborhood—workers unionized with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) staged a two-day strike,” reports In These Times [seventeenth paragraph]. “The IWW says Dill Pickle management has been violating the collective bargaining agreement that’s been in place since last November, and is refusing to settle over allegations of unfair discipline, retaliation and unilateral of implementation of new policies brought to the NLRB… ‘Dill Pickle Worker’s Union is on strike to save the co-op,’ the union said… “They demand that management settle rather than fight the National Labor Relations Board and bankrupt the store in the process.”
Immigrant Restaurateurs On Reopening Chicago
Immigrant restaurateurs reflect at Borderless on the past year and what’s to come: “Nationwide, immigrants own thirty-seven percent of small restaurants and make up twenty-two percent of the workers in the food service industry. A 2016 study found that cooking is the profession with the highest concentration of immigrants in Chicago — with 4.6 percent of immigrants working as cooks… Borderless Magazine spoke to twenty immigrant-owned restaurants in the city about how they were recovering from the pandemic. About twenty-six percent of the restaurant owners we spoke to said they are struggling to pay the bills. Over half said they think they would have closed without government support. Confusion about how to find and apply for grants and other benefits were commonly cited as challenges.”
Tamale Guy Says New Venture “Completemente Great”
Tamale Guy Claudio Velez will return to his favored bar circuit with his red cooler, reports Louisa Chu at the Trib. After an ill-fated storefront partnership accompanied by contracting COVID-19, Velez takes over the kitchen at the Lone Wolf Tavern on West Randolph July 16 duly constituted as Authentic Tamale Guy. “He’s excited to go back out to the bars with his red cooler, which is what he loves,” Velez’s son, Osmar Abad Cruz told Chu. “Father and son plan to go out together beginning July 24, possibly hitting Damen Tavern or Rainbo Club on the old Tamale Guy route around the West Town area. The Lone Wolf partnership, billed as a residency, will continue at least through December, said Hannah Turnbaugh Compton, a spokesperson for Lone Wolf and its restaurant group, Heisler Hospitality… Turnbaugh Compton said. ‘Claudio will run the kitchen independently from the bar, however Lone Wolf guests will have front-row access to Claudio’s legendary tamales.’ Velez will have the option to renew the partnership every six months.” Adds Eater Chicago, “Obviously my dad, he doesn’t know a lot of English,” his son says. “But it’s hard, even for someone who can speak the language… it was extremely important to find a trusted partner.”
Logan Square’s Lardon Presents House-Made Charcuterie, Cheese and Sandwiches
Lardon, an all-day salumeria from Chef Chris Thompson and Steve Lewis opens July 16 with cured meats, artisanal cheeses, sandwiches, coffee and cocktails to 2200 North California. Inspired by old-world butcher shops, salumerias and cafes, Lardon specializes in charcuterie and salumi, all made on-site in their curing room. Thompson’s charcuterie program focuses on the whole animal, sourcing from local farmers and purveyors in the Midwest. Currently in the charcuterie cave are offerings like Spicy Coppa, Bresaola, Saucisson Secc, Genoa Salame and, ‘Nduja, all waiting to enter the lineup. Sandwiches will include the “Finocchiona and Butter,” featuring Lardon’s cured fennel seed salame with Wisconsin farm butter, arugula and sea salt on a rustic baguette.
State Social Cannabis Smoking First Sighted In Sesser
Sesser is 300 miles or so south of Chicago, near Rend Lake off I-57, and has a population of about 1,900, but also has Luna Lounge, Illinois’ first marijuana lounge, in a converted bank, reports the Tribune. “Luna customers pay a $4.20 entry fee… and may buy CBD, pipes and rolling papers and rent bongs out of the old bank vault. The lounge will provide entertainment, with bands, a fire eater and a tarot card reader for opening night, and comedians on other nights, plus video, cards and board games. [The owner] said she worked 10 years in the cannabis industry in California, as a dispensary manager and a cannabis chemist… The building, which was also once a bar, was renovated with what [she] describes as a mashup of Roaring ’20s vintage style, dark colors and funky accents of leopard print, velvet and damask. While the lounge may not serve alcohol or food, the block outside will be shut down for opening night for entertainment and a food truck.”
Journalist Danny Fenster In Fiftieth Day Of Myanmar Custody
Columbia College graduate Danny Fenster remains in custody of the Myanmar military dictatorship. Michigan Congressman Andy Levin reports on his status: “The U.S. embassy in Yangon was granted consular access to Danny by phone… Danny seems OK. Our embassy was granted permission to attend Danny’s July 1 court hearing but not to speak with Danny there. There is still no in-person contact with our embassy allowed, which is unacceptable… U2 joined our call for Danny’s immediate release. I’m hopeful that this high-profile recognition of Danny’s case will bring much more attention to it… Some media reports on Danny’s latest hearing include the fact that Danny formerly worked at the news website Myanmar Now, which the coup regime banned for its reporting on post-coup events. What is significant here is that we now have court documents confirming the government knows that Danny used to work for Myanmar Now but left well before the coup. This bodes well for Danny’s release.” Sam Weller’s June report on his former student is here.
What Happens When Local News Stays Behind Paywalls?
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Nikki Usher’s book “News for the Rich, White, and Blue: How Place and Power Distort American Journalism” gets the rundown in Brian Stelter’s exhaustive “Reliable Sources” newsletter: “Usher talks about how journalism perpetuates ‘existing power structures,’ sometimes in ways that discourage readers who are willing to pay up and put capital into newsrooms. On the subject of power, she says there has been ‘systemic institutional racism that these news organizations have helped to perpetuate, sometimes even in their very own editorial pages.’ How can local news outlets regain the trust of citizens who never trusted them in the first place? … Usher tries to distinguish between what’s worth saving, like hungry reporters at city council meetings, and what’s not, like greedy owners. She makes the point that tone-deaf national coverage of local issues is a tremendous turn-off: ‘If national media is the only news media that’s able to survive — and continues to cover places that they have limited familiarity with, in these ways that really ring inauthentic to the people living in them—then you’re setting up an even worse kind of disaster for a media trust.’ … As more and more paywalls protect primary source material and expensive-to-produce news, more casual consumers end up reading regurgitated, aggregated, unsourced, stories instead. Hyper-partisan and hateful content thrives in a world where more costly news is ‘for’ the rich, White, and blue. There’s still plenty of ‘free’ news available, but ‘you have to work a lot harder to find the really high-quality news.'”
Jessica Hopper On The Language Validated By Song
Jessica Hopper is touring for the amplified “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic,” and LitHub has a taste of “an insatiable appetite for rapture that cannot be coaxed by any other means. It’s the exhaustive chronicling of what it is that artists possess that we mere mortals do not, what it is that they offer up that we are unable or unwilling to say ourselves. Offering connection to the disconnected, their songs make our secrets bearable in their verses and choruses: ornate in their undoing; gambling with their happiness, their personal irredemption, their humility; using failure to build a podium to reach god; their faked orgasms amid in-between-song skits; their solos, clever rhymes, crippled expectations, spiritual drift, still-unmet Oedipal needs, fuckless nights, not-so-gradual disappearance from reality, rodeo blues, unflagging romantic beliefs; being an outlaw for your love; a love supreme; Reaganomics; the summer they’ll never forget; the power of funk; hanging at the Nice Nice with the eye patch guy; American apathy; taking hoes to the Cheesecake Factory; getting head in drop-top Benzes; isolation; the benefits of capitalism; screwing Stevie Nicks in the tall green grass; the swirling death dust; the underground; and none of the above.”
Attorneys Given More Time To Prepare R. Kelly’s Sex Trafficking Case
“Lawyers for R&B singer R. Kelly were granted a little more time Thursday to prepare his defense for his upcoming sex-trafficking trial in New York City,” reports the Sun-Times. “At a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly said jury selection would go forward on August 9 as originally planned but agreed to delay opening statements until August 18 rather than start the openings right after the panel is picked. The jailed Kelly switched legal teams less than a month ago. His new attorneys had asked a judge to postpone the New York trial for a longer period, saying they couldn’t adequately prepare.”
Mercury Theater Chicago Announces 2021-2022 Season
The Southport Corridor’s Mercury Theater Chicago returns in November with “Sister Act,” directed by Reneisha Jenkins and featuring Alexis J. Roston and Hollis Resnik, followed by a tribute to “Women of Soul,” written and directed by Daryl D. Brooks. A musical based on the movie “Priscilla Queen Of The Desert” will be directed by artistic director Christopher Chase Carter featuring Honey West; and the Chicago premiere of murder mystery “Clue” will be directed by executive producer Walter Stearns. Details here.
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