How Supply Chains Got Railroaded
The latest in the expansive series on how supply chains work and how they have failed is at The American Prospect magazine. It’s the railroads, too: deregulation led to massive profits for the handful of remaining rail shippers and ever-worsening service. Matthew Jinoo Buck cites “two fundamental sources—excessive consolidation and the railroads’ version of just-in-time, called precision scheduled railroading (PSR). In 1980, at the dawn of rail deregulation, there were forty Class I railroads. Today, there are just seven. Of those seven, four have eighty-three to ninety-percent of the freight railroading market. Wall Street took notice of railroads’ growing market power and pushed them to implement PSR, which meant running faster, longer trains, and skimping on service, spare capacity, systemwide resilience, and safety.” Railroad management today uses PSR to “drive down the ‘operating ratio,’ or operating expenses as a percentage of revenue. In other words, Wall Street judges railroads’ success based in part on spending less money running the railroad and more on stock buybacks or dividends. Theoretically, focusing on lowering operating ratios pushes railroads to be more efficient, to do more with less. But when railroads have the market power they have today, they can instead ‘do less with less,’ as shippers and workers put it.”
Chicago Magazine Checks In With Fashion Designer Cynthia Rowley
“When I first got to the School of the Art Institute, fashion was a side interest,” Cynthia Rowley tells Mike Thomas at Chicago magazine. “I was more interested in painting and drawing. Then I worked in an art studio as a summer intern and hated it. So I was like, Let’s explore this fashion thing a bit more, it will be an easier way to make a living—which is a joke in itself. I was really, really naive. I didn’t even know there were factories that made clothes. But I think my naiveté might have been what got me through—the pathological optimism and not taking no for an answer.”
Renderings Revealed For Mixed-Use Development In South Loop
“Updated renderings have been revealed for a mixed-use development at 630 South Wabash,” reports YIMBY Chicago. The project is a high-rise near the intersection with Harrison, rising atop a vacant lot and will be nineteen stories and 218 feet tall. “The revision also saw a small increase in units from 151 to 164 residential units split into eighty studios averaging 500 square feet, twenty-four two-bedrooms averaging 800 square feet, and sixty four-bedrooms averaging 1,200 square feet.”
“Doll Lady” Merle Glickman Was 78
Merle Glickman was a contestant on game shows including “Password,” “Jeopardy,” “The Who, What or Where Game,” “The $20,000 Pyramid,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “The Challengers,” Maureen O’Donnell reports at the Sun-Times. “She used her winnings to help finance her doll collecting. From squishy Cabbage Patch cuties to manikins made of antique porcelain, the Skokie resident appraised, repaired, bought, sold and collected dolls as old as the eighteenth century. Visitors to Merle Glickman’s home might have felt as if they were being watched—by dolls… In Mrs. Glickman’s death notice, her family said her survivors include thousands of dolls, ‘who will hopefully find good homes soon.'”
DINING & DRINKING
Publican Stephen Cunneen Was 86
“Stephen Cunneen, owner of Cunneen’s Bar, a comfortable, memorabilia-filled Rogers Park dive beloved by neighborhood residents and generations of Loyola University students” was 86, reports Eater Chicago. Cunneen “took over the bar in 1972, and in later years could be found there every afternoon doing the crossword puzzle. Bill Savage, a Northwestern professor who worked as a bartender there for twenty-seven years, has started a campaign to erect an honorary street sign at the corner of Devon and Newgard to honor Cunneen’s contributions to the neighborhood.” (The clock over the bar at Cunneen’s still boasts the visage of Mayor Richard J. Daley; a local posted a tipple of Schlitz on the day of Cunneen’s passing.)
Wherewithall Introduces Brunch And Kimchi Soju Bloody Marys
“Wherewithall, the second Avondale restaurant from the James Beard Award-winning team of Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark that opened in July 2019, is open for dine-in and carryout brunch service,” reports Eater Chicago. “The brunch menu, developed by Kim and Clark in collaboration with chef de cuisine Tayler Ploshehanski will, like Wherewithall’s prix-fixe dinner menu, be small and change… depending on the season and what’s available at market.” Opening salvos include “soft scrambled eggs with truffles, a Monte Cristo sandwich filled with pork shoulder and aged gouda, and seeded rye with various sweet and savory accoutrements, such as cured fish, jam, and cheese. There will also be special brunch beverages, like a kimchi soju Bloody Mary and purple sweet potato-toasted grain lattes.”
Behind The Truncation Of Taste Of Chicago
“The decision to shrink Taste of Chicago to a ‘bite-sized’ three July days in Grant Park—preceded by three neighborhood Saturdays in June—was as much about lessening the drain on diminishing police resources as it was about arts equity,” reports Fran Spielman in the Sun-Times, taking the line that there aren’t enough police to keep the peace. “Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Erin Harkey acknowledged that Taste of Chicago was once the city’s premier food and fun festival. It spanned 10 days, including the Fourth of July. But that was before a tidal wave of police retirements left a [reportedly] demoralized and overworked Chicago Police Department with more than 1,000 vacancies struggling to tame a… crime wave.”
Illinois Restaurant Association Hosts Annual Meeting; Lightfoot Anticipates Lifting Indoor Dining Vaccination Requirements
The Illinois Restaurant Association on Friday hosted its 2022 Annual Meeting at the Union League Club of Chicago. Remarks included a keynote speech from Mayor Lightfoot, in which she spoke of the need for “resilience and continued hope despite recent setbacks,” the IRA relays in a release. “She also commended the restaurant industry for taking steps to keep their diners and team members safe, and noted possible changes on the horizon for vaccination requirements for indoor dining in Chicago. ‘I am confident in the future of our restaurant industry. That’s because I believe in the IRA’s vision and can clearly see the tenacity of its members. We have faced innumerable challenges, but I could not ask for a better partner than the IRA to help ensure a strong recovery for the greatest restaurant city in the world. As long as we continue to make progress with a downward trend in the city’s overall COVID-19 metrics, we will be able to lift the vaccination requirement for indoor dining in a matter of weeks.'” IRA site here.
Starbucks National Union Drive Mapped
Sixty-four Starbucks stores in nineteen states have filed to form a union, relays A More Perfect Union with an updating map. “We’re tracking every Starbucks location where workers have announced plans to unionize.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Alamo Drafthouse Slotted For Wrigleyville Ground Zero
Chicago is slated to be one of multiple new locations for the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain that has about forty locations today, reports Variety. “The news comes as North American movie theaters mount a recovery from COVID-19, which brought the industry to a near standstill. Prolonged theater closures and lack of new product forced Alamo Drafthouse to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2021. The company has… plotted significant growth plans in 2022… For its first Chicago theater, Alamo Drafthouse will set up shop in Wrigleyville by this fall. The six-screen theater will be located directly across the street from Wrigley Field in the Addison and Clark development.” (The story of the chain’s bankruptcy is here.)
Apple TV Plus “Presumed Innocent”
Apple TV Plus has announced production of an eight-episode series from Scott Turow’s [Lit 50 Half of Fame] Chicago-based 1987 novel, first made as a movie in 1990 by Alan J. Pakula. David E. Kelley is the showrunner, relays The Hollywood Reporter, and one of the list of producers that includes JJ Abrams. No word yet on casting or whether it will still be set in Chicago. The sixty-five-year-old “Kelley plans to ‘reimagine’ ‘Presumed Innocent’ to explore ‘obsession, sex, politics, and the power and limits of love, as the accused fights to hold his family and marriage together.'”
Disney Channel “Saturdays” To Film For Months In Chicago
Disney Channel has ordered fifteen half-hour episodes of “Saturdays,” “a coming-of-age roller-skating comedy” created by seventeen-year-old “Black-ish” actor Marsai Martin and writer-executive producer Norman Vance Jr. (“Roll Bounce”), reports Screen, with Chicago production running from May to September.
Richard Roeper Tours “Wayne’s World” At Thirty
“Valentine’s Day, 1992. That was the release date for an unassuming, relatively low-budget and very silly comedy based on an SNL sketch that was based on a Canadian TV segment and featured two guys who appeared to be in their thirties but acted like teenagers and peppered their conversation with catchphrases,” writes Richard Roeper at the Sun-Times. “‘Wayne’s World’ grossed $183 million worldwide and remains the most successful SNL feature adaptation… With Wayne’s thirtieth anniversary around the corner, let’s pull up a couple of stools at Stan Mikita’s Donut Shop and revisit his world…”
Would Authors Welcome Virtual-Only Book Tours?
“Even as international travel restrictions are being lifted, some writers say they will continue to carry on with virtual events because they are more convenient and accessible,” reports the BBC. “They say this has the additional benefit of leaving them with more time to focus on their craft. ‘I have been able to do all the promotion for everything on Zoom… or on the phone,’ says seventy-nine-year-old Isabel Allende, who is in the midst of online promotional work for her latest novel, ‘Violeta.’ ‘It has been great because I have had [more] time, silence and solitude to write.'”
Art Spiegelman Counts Snowflakes
Art Spiegelman talks struggles at the Guardian, starting with the Garbage Pail Kids trading cards he authored: “They were swiftly banned in a slew of schools. To this day, Mexico has a law restricting the import and export of Garbage Pail Kids material. ‘You know how Joe Manchin is a thorn in our side?’ Spiegelman asked in a phone interview… ‘His uncle, A. Jamie Manchin, was the state treasurer of West Virginia in the 80s. He said that Garbage Pail Kids should be banned because they’re subverting children. It runs in his family. It reminds me that things keep changing, but we’re still dealing with permutations of the same struggles.”
Book Burnings Commence In Tennessee
The Tennessee Holler reluctantly posts video of a local book-burning: “Desperate for attention, MAGA Grifter ‘Pastor’ Greg Locke just held a literal book burning. (We were torn on posting, but feels like y’all should see how low a guy who calls the pandemic ‘fake’ as his own congregants die and says [the former president] is still president can go).” David Yankovich pictures historical precedent. Nashville Scene has more on the burning and the burners.
Activist-Turned-Historian Todd Gitlin Was 79
“Todd Gitlin, whose immersion in the student rebellions of the 1960s laid the foundation for his later work as a writer, a cultural historian and both a voice and a critic of the left” was 79, reports the New York Times. “Dr. Gitlin personified the cultural and political ambitions of the 1960s, with a continuous readiness to confront orthodoxies of whatever stripe. He was a president of Students for a Democratic Society, the national flagship student organization that called for constructive social change, whose ranks swelled with protesters against the war in Vietnam and then collapsed into factionalism… Calling himself ‘a not very private intellectual,’ he wrote nearly twenty books over half a century, many of them with sociopolitical themes. His first was ‘Uptown: Poor Whites in Chicago’ (1970), written with Nanci Hollander, his first wife; one of his more recent was ‘Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street’ (2012).”
Clarence Major’s “Dirty Bird Blues” Reissued
“’Man couldn’t feel much because he was still sailing high, the good liquor coating him from the hawk, the howling, now the gunshot wounds. Snow up-to-the-ass cold, colder than a witch’s behind up here, cold as embalmed lovers still locked together, colder than Stagger Lee’s grin.’ That’s page one.” Penguin Classics will reissue 85-year-old painter-poet-lexicographer-academic-writer Clarence Major’s “Dirty Bird Blues,” reports Christopher Borrelli at the Trib. “At the risk of sounding flip, there are two kinds of people: Those who have never heard of Clarence Major. And those who sometimes wonder: Whatever happened to Clarence Major? Some of that is natural, to be expected, the not-at-all surprising narrative of an artist once described by World Literature Today as an ‘iconoclast, Black esthetician, modernist, surrealist, postmodernist and deconstructionist…'” Dirty Bird Blues will be reissued this month “as the latest member of a venerated literary tradition. It becomes a Penguin Classic, which, by nature of that hallowed, seventy-six-year-old imprint, lends a degree of posterity and indelibility. In other words, whether Clarence Major likes it or not, ‘Dirty Bird Blues’ now becomes a signature work. For the record, he likes it.”
How Will Nonprofit Journalism Blossom In News Deserts?
“Jump-starting journalism in smaller, economically depressed places requires a degree of patience, and some tolerance for risk,” reports Clare Malone at The New Yorker. But while “news deserts remain in much of the United States, where two-thirds of the nation’s counties don’t have a daily newspaper, a new crop of nonprofit media models aim to change that.” Malone enumerates several newsrooms, which she describes as “part of a proliferation of nonprofit media models that have sparked hope of late. The Salt Lake Tribune, for one, became a nonprofit in 2019. This year, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Public Media’s WBEZ announced a merger, with $61 million in philanthropic funding. The Baltimore Banner, a site with $15 million in funding from the hotelier Stewart Bainum, Jr., will soon be up and running.” She quotes researcher Joshua Darr that local news “offers Americans a connection beyond party-line issues. ‘When people read news about their neighborhoods, schools and municipal services, they think like locals… When they read about national political conflict, they think like partisans.’ Local coverage allows readers to fight over the best deer-population-control methods or property taxes in their town rather than the latest Supreme Court nomination battle.”
Jill Hopkins Joins Metro As New Media And Civic Events Producer
“Jill Hopkins is a Chicago broadcaster, DJ, writer, musician and storyteller. After an eight-year stint at Vocalo Radio, Hopkins kicked off 2022 by joining the Metro family of venues (which also includes Smart Bar and GMan) as their new media and civic events producer,” writes Jamie Ludwig at the Reader. The job, she says, “is equal parts more exciting than I can express and stomach-churning terrifying. Getting to carve your own path is a dream, and getting to work for this venue is a dream. Me, Joe Shanahan, [talent buyer] Joe Carsello and the marketing team are working together to make something special that other clubs may not have. We’re making video content, we’re making podcasts, we’ll be doing a lot more nontraditional events on the campus. And we’ve got the Metro’s fortieth anniversary coming up in July. This project isn’t just my own, but our own, because I’m roping everybody into the weird stuff that I’ve planned. I want to curate audience experiences that feel special and inclusive, and to help people who may not be comfortable yet going to shows feel less like they’re missing out.”
Seeking The Women Of House
“Black women helped build house music [but] their credit is often left off records,” writes Renee Jarreau at Zora, talking to some of the pioneers. “Many Black women were… quietly plying their trade in DJ booths and behind the boards in cities around the U.S. In house’s hometown of Chicago, DJ Lori Branch was one of the pioneers of the genre. ‘Disco’ Toni Shelton, besides her work as a DJ, also made her mark as a party promoter. DJ Heather held down residencies at the Artful Dodger and Red Dog and DJ Celeste Alexander emerged as a protege of [Steve ‘Silk’] Hurley.” More here.
ARTS & CULTURE
First Black-Owned Ice Skating Academy Opens In Detroit
Flagged by Pam Grier, PhD on Twitter: “Dream Detroit Skating Academy (DDSA) is the first Black-owned ice skating academy based in Detroit, Michigan,” reports Shoppe Black. “DDSA was founded by Angela Blocker-Loyd and Candice Tamakloe, two of only a few competitive African American skaters in the metropolitan Detroit area.” “There has never been a skater at the national or international level to come out of the city of Detroit,” Tamakloe told the Detroit Free Press. “We want to bring that quality back into the city.”
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