Looking Back At Guard Dogs At The Art Institute
“Protecting the Art Institute’s vast and priceless collection is a responsibility many would shrink from,” posts the Art Institute with a selection of dog pictures. “But between 1922 and 1940, an elite and courageous team of German Shepherds selflessly performed its duty with faithful and steadfast determination.”
Landmark Elgin Mid-Century House Yours If You Come And Get It
“The modern home in Elgin, Illinois, needs to be moved to make room for new industrial developments,” reports Insider. It “was designed and built in 1967 by architect John Schmidtke as his personal residence. And similar to the other glass box modernist homes of the time, the low-slung residence was meant to fit into its natural surroundings, not take away from them… Industrial development has sprung up around the property, encroaching on what was once rural prairie in the 1960s. And in the coming months, a new industrial development is set to take over the site… The property’s owner and local stakeholders are working together in a final attempt in the effort to save the home and are offering it at a bargain price: $0… While the house itself is free, moving it may not be easy or cheap.”
Logan Square Skatepark Renovation Detailed
Initial details for the redesign of the skatepark at 2430 West Logan at the Kennedy Expressway are out, reports YIMBY Chicago. “The extensive remodel and redesign is led by community group Logan Boulevard Skate Park Committee who tapped Los Angeles-based Spohn Ranch Skateparks for the conceptual design.”
Sidewalk Signs Legal After Today
A-frame sidewalk signs will be allowed in the City of Chicago with a permit, the city reports. Low-cost permits here.
Chicago Hotel Revenue Shortfall Nearly $30 Million; Taxpayers Likely To Make Up Difference On Soldier Field Bonds
“Last year, the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority dipped into its reserves—refinancing $21.4 million in Soldier Field debt—to spare Chicago taxpayers from having to cover the hotel tax shortfall,” reports the Sun-Times. “Chicago taxpayers could be on the hook for a $29 million shortfall in hotel tax revenues needed to retire Soldier Field renovation bonds thanks to the pandemic’s lingering impact on hotels.”
Suggestions To Improve Present State Of The CTA
At Streetsblog Chicago, Mary Wisniewski catalogs things she finds bad on the CTA as pandemic persists: “I’ve never seen the level and frequency of antisocial behavior I’ve seen since the start of the pandemic, especially on the El at night. I’ve never witnessed so much threatening behavior, breathed so much secondhand smoke, seen such unsanitary conditions, and experienced so much general disorder.” If the CTA “becomes a mode of last resort for local residents—with more-affluent Chicagoans opting to ride in private cars, taxis, and ride-hail vehicles instead—there’s going to be a… cycle of falling ridership and revenue, and service cuts or fare hikes… known as a ‘transit death spiral,’ which will make crashes, pollution, and bus-slowing traffic jams worse. That won’t help anyone, least of all low-income and working-class residents who depend on transit to get around.” (Suggestions from San Francisco and New York City follow.)
More Contaminated Water Supplies In Michigan
“‘Benton Harbor Is Not Flint’—It’s Worse,” headlines the American Prospect in an investigative report. “Another poor, majority-Black city in Michigan is facing a lead contamination crisis brought on by gross apathy and neglect, but without sustained national attention.”
DINING & DRINKING
Bucktown’s Izakaya Mita Shutters
“Founded in 2014, Izakaya Mita emerged as a well-timed counterpoint to ultra-formal omakase and ramen mania. Touting one of the largest and most comprehensive sake collections in town, it enchanted locals with Japanese bar fare” writes Eater Chicago. “Though it wasn’t Chicago’s first izakaya—it opened around two months after Boka launched Izakaya at Momotaro—it accrued a loyal following among neighborhood residents for its friendly atmosphere and passionate chef.”
Why Isn’t Beer Sold In Plastic Bottles?
WGN-TV is on it: “Beer tends to lose its carbonation and become stale in plastic bottles, whereas soda does not. ‘Plastic is simply not a good package for beer,’ said Chuck Skypeck, the director of technical brewing projects at the Brewers Association. ‘The molecular structure of most plastics is not good at keeping carbonation in the project and package for keeping oxygen out to prevent staling.'”
Legislation Could Help Illinois Wineries
A bill has been introduced that could help Illinois wineries hurt by the pandemic, reports the Alton Telegraph. While “Illinois is one of the top wine-drinking states in the country, the state’s wineries are prohibited from producing and selling wine at levels that compare with their peers in the beer and spirits industries… ‘If we had the ability to increase the volume of wine that we’re distributing, we could expand our coverage area and better serve retailers with more product variety at a lower price–all of which would benefit our consumers,’ said Jim Ewers, general manager of Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda. ‘Allowing us to produce and directly distribute more would also lead to more work, more jobs, and greater benefits to our local economy as well.'”
Organizing Spreads At Chicago-Area Starbucks
Is the nationwide increase of union organizing at Starbucks a bellwether for food and drink chains? “Employees at the Starbucks at 155 North Wabash were the first in the area to file for a union election… Staff at two more Chicago stores and two in the suburbs have requested elections,” reports the Sun-Times. “The Chicago stores are in Logan Square, 2543 North California and Hyde Park, 1174 East 55th. The suburban sites are 38 South La Grange Road, La Grange and 620 Northwest Highway, Cary.” A Starbucks in Calgary, Alberta, awaits its ballot results. “Union organizers overwhelmingly won a vote Friday to represent workers at a Starbucks in Mesa, Arizona, giving them their third win in an effort to organize the sector,” CNN reports. “The union, Starbucks Workers United, had already won the right to represent workers at two stores in Buffalo, New York… The union has also filed to hold additional elections at more than a hundred Starbucks stores across twenty-six states… Company filings show Starbucks had 235,000 employees at nearly 9,000 company-operated stores… The company is throwing significant resources, including visits by top executives to stores holding votes, to convince employees not to unionize… Those who study labor movements say this is already a significant union effort given the difficulty that labor has organizing new businesses, especially at restaurants and bars.”
Old Town Independent Grocery Scene Catches Fire
The CEO of Old Town grocery store Plum Market says that Dom’s casts “a dark shadow on independent grocers,” Crain’s reports, saying that Bob Mariano’s “newest venture moving into the same building is driving them out of business.” Matthew Jonna sent a letter to customers, “saying that its Old Town location will close in June. The closure was not in the company’s plan. ‘The truth is, there was a quiet back-door agreement that took place between our landlord… and Dom’s,’ Jonna said in the letter. ‘Those clandestine dealings resulted in the termination of our lease, without Plum Market ever having an option to negotiate or keep our store open.’” WGN-TV: “Plum said that the impending closure will cost 120 employees their jobs.” A further statement from Plum’s CEO: “Simply put, our landlord’s decision to terminate our lease without even having the decency to reach out to us, and Dom’s decision to pursue our location are unconscionable, dishonorable, and disgusting.”
2Bears Tavern Uptown Opens In March
“2Bears Tavern Group—which owns and operates Andersonville’s The SoFo Tap and Meeting House Tavern and Rogers Park’s Jackhammer—will open 2Bears Tavern Uptown on March 10 at in the former Nick’s on Wilson space at 1140 West Wilson,” reports Uptown Update. “Located on the first floor of the FLATS’ ‘Bachelor’ residential building, this LGBTQIA+ tavern will boast free pinball, video games and darts; seven TVs; cocktails, CBD beverages and eight rotating drafts; be dog-friendly and have a late-night tavern license.”
Albion Manor And The Parlour At The Albion Set Lincoln Park Opening
The Albion Manor and The Parlour at The Albion will be home to an English pub and cocktail parlour over two levels at 1480 West Webster, the partners announce in a release. “Married partners Julia Shell and Jamie Hale have blended their personalities from their two other restaurant concepts, AJ Hudson’s Public House and The Dandy Crown to create The Albion Manor and The Parlour at The Albion. Albion was the archetypal name for the island of Great Britain, referencing the chalk-like white cliffs of Dover, and The Albion Manor is a warm and welcoming English pub. The first-floor bar is nearly the room’s length, complemented with high-top tables in the front and six custom-built English snugs in the rear. The Albion Manor will show live international sports on the telly, particularly footy, along with other local and national sports.” More here.
Garth Greenwell On The Thought That Books Are “Dangerous”
“We’ve become comfortable with thinking of books as dangerous things to which we’re vulnerable. That troubles me whether it’s coming from the right or the left,” says fiction writer Garth Greenwell in the “fiction/nonfiction” podcast at LitHub. “Greenwell discusses the ideological roots of book bans targeting Black and LGBTQIA+ writers and describes how books like ‘Giovanni’s Room’ gave him hope and inspiration as an isolated queer teenager in the South. Finally, he talks about the need for generosity and patience in this debate and why we should all be willing to have hard conversations about what is, and is not, appropriate reading material for students.”
Block Club Chicago Adds Two More Full-Time Reporters
“With the addition of two new reporters, Block Club Chicago just expanded its full-time staff to twenty-two,” reports Robert Feder. “That’s nearly a threefold increase since the nonprofit neighborhood news site launched in 2018. The latest to sign on are Melody Mercado, who… was a reporter for the Des Moines Register, and Mack Liederman, former per-diem news writer at WGN-Channel 9 and freelance contributor to Block Club.”
“Black Panther” In Concert At Chicago Theater
Ludwig Göransson’s Oscar-winning score to “Black Panther” will be performed live-to-picture for the first time, via the Chicago Philharmonic, at the Chicago Theatre on June 18. Tickets here.
“Vertigo” Redux?: Ye Luxury Shopping With Kardashian Lookalike
“Kanye West was spotted on a shopping spree with Kim Kardashian look-alike Chaney Jones in Miami,” reports the New York Post’s Page Six. He and Jones, “who bears a striking resemblance to West’s estranged wife, were seen stopping in a Balenciaga store before grabbing sushi for lunch. ‘Kanye was surrounded by fangirls at Bal Harbour Shops wanting photos, and he took a few but seemed disengaged.'”
Consummate Chicago Actor Larry Neumann, Jr.
Chris Jones remembers the great Chicago actor Larry Neumann, Jr., “a gruff, gritty Chicago actor widely regarded as quintessential,” who succumbed to complications of diabetes at sixty-two. “Neumann’s contributions to the Chicago theater stretched back decades and are without an obvious peer. He was mostly known as an actor, although he also served for a while as managing director of the Famous Door Theatre Company… In an off-Loop world dominated by young actors with an eye on what might be ahead, Neumann was something of an anomaly. As such, given his affinity for curmudgeons and his focus on the work even at the expense of personal career development, Neumann worked constantly…’There was a time when I don’t think there was a theater in Chicago where Larry hadn’t worked,’ said Marc Grapey, formerly the artistic director of Famous Door. ‘He was part of the fabric, he was part of the landscape. He was also a true original.'” From tributes on Neumann’s Facebook page: Anthony Moseley: “Twenty years ago, I was auditioning actors for Collab’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and Larry Neumann Jr walked into the room and owned it in a pea green suit and without his fake teeth and just took the role of Bob Ewell, the racist antagonist in the play. Larry set the bar high for both onstage acting and alley antics at the Chopin Theatre and it turned out the guy with the most chops and the scariest onstage presence was the sweetest gentleman who always made me feel like a Brother. Pound for pound, there isn’t an actor on the planet better than Larry. A true Chicago talent who reminded us that world class talent could stay in Chicago and build a career and crew of collaborators as beautiful and complex as his snickering laugh.” Dado Gyure: “Love you Larry. What a great man and a great actor. Trying to wrap my head around it all.” Christian Gray: “I met Larry doing ‘Ghetto’ at Famous Door. It was an intense experience for the cast and the entire production team, to put it mildly. Larry, however, always kept matters grounded with a twinkle in his eye, and a perspective that came from more than just theater experience. We would smoke on rehearsal breaks, and outside the Theatre Building during tech, and during the run, and Larry was always honest, gracious, funny, and willing to impart his pearls of wisdom (or just some general complaints) to a young actor.” Marj Halperin: “I knew Larry only through his talent, in the unforgettable ‘Mockingbird’ and so many other shows. Truly one of Chicago’s greatest.” John Fenner Mays: “Cat was the consummate character actor.” Ann Filmer: “Larry always had a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous grin. But not like he was up to anything. I got the sense he just was able to find joy in every moment. I met Larry when I was in my early days of Chicago theater. You know those days when one doesn’t have a clue. He let my company The Aardvark rent space from Famous Door when they were at Hull House on Broadway and he ran the facility and he was a kind and patient mentor to me. Ever-present. He just let us do our thing and supported our ideas and was really open and let us stay in the space all night painting the set and floor. He had that laugh where he would chuckle through his teeth. I spent many nights talking to him and it was just so easy being in his presence. He made me feel like I was on his level even though I was not at all. He had such an ease about him. And every time I saw him act on stage he completely transformed into another body. It is hard to think of all the roles I saw him play because he so wholly became those characters. Like I wasn’t seeing Larry up there. He embodied another being. How did he do that? Oh, Larry.” (From Neumann’s website, a summation of his work.)
Victory Gardens Theater To Livestream Closing Performances Of “Queen Of The Night”
The final five performances of “Queen of the Night” will be streamed from Victory Gardens March 9-13. “The pilot program includes cameras that have been mounted in the theater and throughout the set for superior livestream capabilities and making the live performance simultaneously available to patrons at home and in the theater. This is the first program of its kind in Chicago.” Artistic director Ken-Matt Martin says in a release: “With livestream performances, we will be able to reach a broader audience than ever before, and share work by Chicago artists with theater-lovers around the world who may never have the opportunity to visit Victory Gardens in person.” The $24 streaming tickets are here.
Backstage At “Trial In The Delta”
“Dozens of people were on site at a space on the University of Chicago campus on a recent February evening to work on the production of ‘Trial in the Delta: The Murder of Emmett Till,’ an immersive stage adaptation of the 1955 trial transcript featuring Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, white Mississippi men found not guilty of murdering Black Chicagoan Emmett Till,” reports Darcel Rockett at the Trib (via MSN). “Days after Till was killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman, his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, where it was tossed after being weighted down with a cotton gin fan. Months later, Bryant and Milam confessed to the killing in a paid interview with Look magazine. WMAQ-Channel 5 news anchor Marion Brooks found the transcript in her research of Till and wanted to get the information out—but she wanted it to be read, as opposed to words on a screen.” More story here.
Definition Theatre Opens Tenth Season With “White”
Definition Theatre opens its tenth season with the Chicago premiere of “White,” by ensemble member James Ijames and directed by Ericka Ratcliff. Produced in partnership with Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s LookOut Series, the play will run in Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theater from March 10–April 10. “After much anticipation, we are elated to present this incredible piece of theater from Definition ensemble member James Ijames,” artistic director Tyrone Phillips says in a release. “I am also looking forward to collaborating with director and Chicago theatre treasure Ericka Ratcliff, who is embarking on this new journey with us. Much like ‘America V2.1,’ the theatrical film production Definition released in fall 2021, ‘White’ invites the audience to grapple with themes of power and authorship. This hilarious, thought-provoking piece holds our society accountable to artists as it asks, ‘Who is allowed to create art? And how do we decide what creative work is worth?’” Tickets here.
ARTS & CULTURE
Navy Pier Celebrates End To Mask Mandate With Free Ferris Wheel Rides
Navy Pier will extend free rides on its Ferris wheel on Monday, reports Block Club Chicago. “Guests who show off their best grins 11am-7pm… will get free rides on the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier… They’ll also receive a free photo of their smile” taken by a company on site. “Guests are welcome to wear masks as they see fit, according to Navy Pier.”
Wolverine State Weed Prices Plummet
“Michigan’s marijuana prices hit all-time lows in January, which is great for retailers and customers but has smaller growers sounding alarms,” reports Bridge Michigan. “Record marijuana supply is driving down prices so much customers are buying it at record rates. There’s fifty-five times more pot on the market and people are purchasing it at sixteen times the rate since marijuana hit the market two years ago… Prices are now lower than they were thirty or forty years ago when pot was illegal: The average price for an ounce, twenty-eight grams, fell seventy percent to $152 in January from $516 in December 2019. Some dispensaries in Kalamazoo are selling an ounce for as low as $50, while the average price for a gram in Michigan is $5, less than half the national average.”
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