Chicago City Council Committee Okays Loan Fund To Preserve SROs, Down From Eighty-One To Forty
“In 2014, Chicago was home to eighty-one single-room-occupancy buildings,” reports the Sun-Times. “Now, there are only forty SROs that, as one official put it, ‘help people living in tents get off the streets.’ … The City Council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate took a small but important step in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Despite concerns it was too little, too late, alderpersons signed off on Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to create a ‘Single Room Occupancy Preservation Loan Program’ seeded by a $5 million sinking fund administered by the Chicago Investment Corporation. To qualify for city loans, SRO developers first must obtain private loans covering at least half the amount they need. Construction financing would then ‘convert to a permanent, long-term mortgage,’ with proceeds from the $5 million fund used to ‘cut the monthly mortgage payment in half…’ ‘We’ve lost forty SRO buildings over the last few years. We don’t want to erode that number any more,’ Assistant Housing Commissioner Esther Sorrell said. ‘We want to be able to preserve that so they could continue offering a lower rent while we also continue to work on creating and rehabbing properties with other funds that we have in the department.’”
Mars Wrigley Expands Goose Island Candy And Gum Research Hub
“Candymaker Mars said it will start construction this summer on a $40 million expansion of its research center on Chicago’s Goose Island, making it the largest innovation hub in the world for the Mars Wrigley line of candy and gum,” reports the Sun-Times. “The expansion at 1132 West Blackhawk is expected to be finished in mid-2023 and create thirty permanent jobs [bringing their] total workforce on Goose Island to 1,000.” (Here’s Mars’ PR.)
Books Collected By The Gipper Up For Auction
Hindman Auctions will auction material from the private library of former President Ronald Reagan to benefit his alma mater, Eureka College, as part of a “Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana” auction. The assembly of more than fifty lots features books, most inscribed or signed, written by figures including Charles Schulz, William F. Buckley, Benjamin Netanyahu, Richard Nixon and Ed Koch. Catalogue here. Digital auction room here.
Military Defense Innovation Unit Opens In Chicago
Mike Brown, director of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit, was in Chicago “along with local military brass, Governor J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a couple hundred other invited guests to celebrate the opening of a DIU office in the city, the first in the Midwest,” reports the Sun-Times. “The unit works with commercial businesses to ‘rapidly prototype’ already available technologies to tweak them for military uses… Representatives from the unit said tech companies from Chicago and the rest of the Midwest have been ‘underrepresented’ in the military… ‘We do have a number of large installations in the Midwest, but we haven’t done a good job of reaching through those installations to engage communities here,’ said U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Ryan Whelan, DIU’s Midwest engagement lead.”
Gold Coast Condo Is Year’s Second Costliest At $17.4 Million
“A condo at super-luxury building No. 9 Walton sold in March for $17.4 million, the second-highest price so far in a year where the top of the market has been supercharged,” reports Crain’s.
DINING & DRINKING
El Ranchero Dismisses Workers Inspired By El Milagro Employees
“A few days after tortilla employees declared a partial victory over El Milagro after months of resistance against an abusive workplace culture, workers from a tortilla chip factory, El Ranchero on the Southwest Side, also held a protest outside their headquarters with similar demands,” reports South Side Weekly. “In early March, seventeen current and former employees of the parent company, Authentico Foods, which also owns La Guadalupana, a mass producer of tamales, began meeting in a church during their off time to learn about their rights… Sandra Fernández, a quality control worker who lives in La Villita, was one of three employees who were fired for ambiguous reasons shortly after getting in touch with labor rights organization Arise Chicago. She said workers reached out to their supervisors multiple times this year, and in March attempted to deliver letters and petitions to management but were ignored.” More details here.
Miko’s Italian Ice Opens Today For Twenty-Fifth Season
Buttons that mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of Miko’s will be available while they last, reports Block Club. “Neighbors can grab Miko’s Italian Ice beginning at noon today… Both Miko’s locations—Logan Square at 2236 North Sacramento and in Irving Park at 4125 North Kimball—will be open until 6pm… Lemon, mango, coconut, strawberry, raspberry, banana chip, passion fruit and horchata flavors will be available for opening weekend.”
Donald Breede, Seventy-Seven, Part Of Hagen’s Fish Market Family
Donald Breede, part of the second of four generations of the family that has run Hagen’s Fish Market since 1946, has died at age seventy-seven, reports the Sun-Times. “Breede used to say he believed in the Portage Park store’s founding motto: ‘Never sell anything you won’t take home to your own family.'”
Don Jose Moreno, Pioneer Little Village Businessman And Fixture At Moreno’s Liquors, Was Ninety-Nine
“Don Jose Moreno was a well-known presence at Moreno’s Liquors, a popular Little Village store run by his family,” reports Block Club Chicago. “Moreno helped his son, Mike Moreno Sr., and grandson, Mike Moreno Jr., open and close the store at 3724 West 26th, chatting with neighbors who stopped by. Before that, he’d spent decades working on his own businesses in the neighborhood… Jose Moreno was born in 1923 and immigrated to the United States from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, in 1941 through the bracero program. He moved to Chicago in the late ’50s to work in the railroad industry and pursue his dream of starting his own business one day, his family said. That dream came true when Jose Moreno opened a grocery store, La Escondida, at 2411 South Central Park, in 1966. It was one of the first Mexican businesses in the neighborhood.” More here.
Chicago Journalists Address Reader Co-Owner Len Goodman
Chicago journalists sign an open letter to Reader co-owner, multimillionaire lawyer Len Goodman, published at Medium: “For many of the journalists who have signed this letter, the Reader was the first publication that took a chance on a long-form narrative investigation, personal essay, music review or photo story that let us stretch our wings, try new ideas and find our voice. For long-time readers and Chicagoans, the Reader has been a stalwart and freely available window into the city’s underground music culture, inner workings of city government, and romance ads. It is unconscionable that the publication that broke the Jon Burge police torture story, tirelessly covered TIF deals, and has lovingly and carefully chronicled so much of the city’s beauty, difficulty, and strangeness for five decades has an uncertain future because of one powerful, wealthy man… We demand that Len Goodman and his representatives on the Reader LC3 board allow the sale of the Reader to the Reader Institute for Community Journalism to go through at once.” Adds fifteen-and-a-half-year former Reader editor Alison True: “An independent media org is being held hostage by a rich, butthurt babyman who believes that ‘an entire fact-checker industry has emerged to check your opinions, making sure you have not strayed beyond acceptable limits for public discourse’… It’s pathetic.” Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa checks in: “Powerful rally to #SaveTheReader outside of Len Goodman’s home today. Mr. Goodman, you’ve stood on the side of justice many times, stand with the Reader Union and do the right thing to ensure this Chicago institution survives for many more generations.” (Here’s video from Thursday’s protest in front of Goodman’s home.)
Profiling The New Top Editor At The New York Times
At New York magazine, Shawn McCreesh (former assistant to Maureen Dowd) profiles company man Joe Kahn, newly elevated executive editor of the New York Times (and heir to the Staples office supply fortune). “’It’s just a big responsibility,’ said Kahn, 57, looking trim in a blue polo shirt, gray cardigan, and jeans. ‘I’ve been Dean [Baquet]’s partner for five years now, and I’ve seen the way that he navigates the challenge of editing the Times when we’re under as much, or more, scrutiny than we ever have been in history.’ Baquet will be a tricky act to follow. His origin story—he mopped the floors of his family’s New Orleans restaurant and scaled the heights of American journalism to become the Times’ first Black editor—could hardly be more compelling. Baquet is an operator, a politician who likes being liked… He wears Acne, smokes cigars in Washington Square Park, knows art and books, and wears good cuff links… Kahn, a fabulously wealthy Bostonian, is, arguably, a throwback to a more patrician leader of the paper.” Christopher Ingraham asks what happens when multimillionaires decides what’s news: “Kahn grew up in an environment of staggering wealth, and almost certainly has a net worth running into the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars himself… Kahn’s father was Leo Kahn, a grocery store magnate who in 1984 sold the Purity Supreme chain for a sum of $80 million, when Joseph would have been twenty. At the time the company was doing about $800 million in sales per year. Leo turned around and plowed some of that money into his most famous venture: he was one of the founders of office supply giant Staples, which at the time of his death… was pulling in $27 billion in sales annually. It’s not clear how large Leo’s personal fortune was… or how much of it he passed on to his son Joseph. But it’s quite apparent that Joseph Kahn grew up in an environment of extreme wealth, and barring some incredibly unusual circumstances he almost certainly inherited tens of millions of dollars, if not more.” Kahn owns an “‘opulent’ property in upstate New York, hangs out with billionaires, and is an investor in trendy New York restaurants… When asked if he was the first top editor with more money than the Sulzberger family which owns the paper, Kahn batted the suggestion away but didn’t deny it. Plutocratic involvement in the news industry is nothing new—Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, for instance. But these days it’s unusual to have a member of that class actually running the newsroom.” James Fallows calls for the return of a public editor at the Times: “The lack of a public editor is a real problem. From the outside, it makes the Times seem even more aloof and unaccountable than it inescapably will, given its power and the range of people with an axe to grind about it. Please, new regime: Do a favor for yourself, and the audience, by looking seriously into re-creating the job, or something like it. The only person who might regret this is whoever ends up in that hot-seat role.”
Cynthia Albritton Was Seventy-Four; Better Known As “Cynthia Plaster Caster”
Cynthia Plaster Caster, born Cynthia Albritton, a seminal figure of 1960s rock, was seventy-four, reports documentarian Jeff Economy on Facebook: “In the late 90s Jessica Everleth, Brian R. Johnson and I spent a couple years making a cocumentary film about Cynthia Albritton, who you might know better as Cynthia Plaster Caster. When you make a project like this you learn that it’s going to be very difficult to proceed if you don’t have a deep love for your subject, and I adored Cynthia. When people asked me what she was like I often said she was the worlds oldest teenager—she had the life experience of someone in her (then) fifties but filtered through the goofy filthy-minded enthusiasm of someone just hitting puberty. She could be exasperatingly immature one moment and shockingly incisive the next, sizing someone up in a flash while drinking wine from a straw because she didn’t want to mess up her lipstick. She was funny as fuck and a goofball to the end, cracking hilariously rude jokes with me last week just a day before she fell into a sleep from which she did not awaken. Rest easy, dawl — thank you for making my world a better, sexier, less serious place. I’m going to miss you something awful.” Martin Atkins: “I’m so very very sad to learn of the passing of Cynthia – groundbreaking artist and GTO girl. I was cast #0054 in 1996. Say hi to Jimi ! Xxxx.” Chicago Underground Film Festival’s Bryan Wendorf: “I’m on my way to Delilah’s to have a drink in her memory now.” (Trailer here; Ray Pride’s February 2001 Newcity coverage of said documentary is here.)
TimeLine Theatre Company Names Executive Director
TimeLine Theatre Company has named Mica Cole as the company’s executive director. A Chicago native raised on the South Side, Cole brings nearly two decades of experience as an arts administrator and changemaker, including as a national consultant providing executive coaching and strategic planning for cultural institutions working to embrace an antiracist leadership paradigm. She has served for eight seasons as the repertory producer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and in Chicago as executive director of Free Street Theater and director of education and engagement at Writers Theatre. Cole will become the co-equal leader of TimeLine alongside PJ Powers as artistic director, guiding the company’s strategic and financial direction, board and staff development, productions, and its many other organizational goals. Cole’s appointment is part of a planned leadership expansion for the company, as former managing director Elizabeth K. Auman takes on the new role of Director of New Home Development, focusing on managing TimeLine’s development project in Uptown. More about TimeLine here.
Northlight Theatre Announces Season
Northlight Theatre, under the direction of artistic director BJ Jones and executive director Timothy J. Evans, announces its 2022-2023 season, opening with the buddy comedy “The Garbologists” by Lindsay Joelle, directed by Cody Estle; followed by “Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley” by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, directed by Marti Lyons; a new play by Brent Askari, “Andy Warhol in Iran,” directed by BJ Jones; “The Porch on Windy Hill,” a new play with old music, conceived and directed by Sherry Lutken; and closing with “Marie and Rosetta” by George Brant, directed by E. Faye Butler and featuring Bethany Thomas. In a release, Jones says, “This season we bring you both the familiar and the fresh, work that lifts us up and reflects our world. We’ve emerged from the last two seasons with renewed vigor and a refreshed vision. I believe we all have a new and powerful appreciation for live theater, and understand what we have all been missing, the shared artistic experience.” More here.
Joffrey Reaches Five-Year Collective Bargaining Agreement With American Guild Of Musical Artists
The Joffrey Ballet and the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), the union that represents the Joffrey’s forty-six Company artists and Joffrey stage management, have reached a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, beginning July 1 and running through June 30, 2027, the Joffrey relays in a release. This agreement is a tentative agreement, “pending ratification by the AGMA Board of Governors. After only one week of negotiations and open dialogue, Joffrey leadership and representatives for AGMA came to a mutually beneficial contract that resulted in the Joffrey’s second consecutive five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement—the first of which came in 2016 and was extended one year due to the pandemic. Both parties agreed to pursue an interest-based model of cooperation, one in which issues and interests (both joint and separate) are identified and discussed at the outset, in contrast to the more traditional bargaining model in which demands are announced from the start.” “There is no Joffrey without our artists,” Joffrey president and CEO Greg Cameron says in the release. “Our goal from the beginning was to support the lifeblood of this great company–the artists, our stage management, and everyone that makes the magic of live performance come together so seamlessly. They inspire us daily and will continue doing so with the benefit of a new contract that spans the next five years. We are grateful to the entire company and its AGMA representation for a productive week of collaboration and partnership.”
South Chicago Dance Theatre Celebrates Five Years
South Chicago Dance Theatre (SCDT), a multicultural organization that fuses classical and contemporary dance styles while preserving historic dance work, announces “An Evening with the South Chicago Dance Theatre: Celebrating Five Years,” featuring five world premieres by five dynamic choreographers—Ron De Jesús, Stephanie Martinez, Crystal Michelle Perkins, Wade Schaaf and Kia S. Smith (SCDT founder and executive artistic director). “SCDT is committed to commissioning Chicago choreographers, and this celebratory production is no different,” Smith says in a release. “I can think of no better way to celebrate our first five years than by featuring the works of these five incredibly diverse choreographers whose movement styles range from ballet and jazz to afro modern.” The ninety-minute celebration will be the group’s first-ever production at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, May 20, 7:3opm. Tickets here.
ARTS & CULTURE
Night Of Ideas Returns To Chicago
Chicago History Museum, Villa Albertine and the Consulate General of France in Chicago announce the in-person return of Night of Ideas, an annual evening marathon of philosophical debates, performances, readings, and more, coordinated worldwide by the Institut Français. The event will take place in nineteen U. S. cities and more than a hundred countries, around the theme “Where Are We Going?,” “celebrating resilience, uplifting democracy, and interrogating the path forward for a world in crisis.” Chicago headliners are Erin Harkey, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Michelle T. Boone, President of the Poetry Foundation, Villa Albertine French resident Chayma Drira, social justice artist Tonika Johnson and Chicago historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas. Museum spaces will also come to life with performances by French artist and physicist Baudouin Saintyves, Cellist Katinka Kleijn, and dance performances by Danceworks Chicago and Chicago Dance Crash. Interactive happenings will punctuate the evening, including workshops with the Alliance Française and artist William Estrada, as well as conversations on poetry, yoga and philosophy. Full program here. The free event is at the Chicago History Museum, May 12, 6-11pm; RSVP here.
Reps Of Affected Wards Reject Casino Plans
“Walter Burnett Jr. is the latest alderperson to say he doesn’t want a gambling mecca in his ward. Bally’s is lobbying to build a casino at the Tribune Publishing Center, a prime riverfront site in River West,” reports Block Club Chicago. “Bally’s $1.7 billion casino proposal for the Tribune Publishing site along the Chicago River [promises] a 3,000-seat entertainment center, a 500-room luxury hotel, a museum, public green space and a 2,100-foot extension of the Chicago Riverwalk. The casino itself would include 3,400 slots and 173 gaming tables. The Bally’s site would also bring in the most tax revenue… up to $192 million in annual tax revenue. Burnett acknowledged the city needs a casino to pay for its police and fire pension obligations… ‘Really most of us really don’t want to bother with it. So if it don’t happen in my area, that’s fine.'”
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]