Durbin Says Historic State Street Skyscrapers Cannot Stand
Does anyone ask why “vulnerable” federal courthouses aren’t relocated from the highly populated Loop to a remote area for safety? Could the Dirksen Courthouse constitute a threat to society? Senator Dick Durbin doesn’t think so, as he writes in the Sun-Times: “The Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, located on Dearborn Street in downtown Chicago, is the nation’s largest federal courthouse. Designed by famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the courthouse is home to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (NDIL), the NDIL Bankruptcy Court, the NDIL U.S. Attorney’s Office and other federal agency offices. Since opening in 1964, the courthouse has been a Loop landmark. However, the courthouse and the public servants who work there have also been… a target,” Durbin writes. “Ensuring the safety of the judges and employees who work in the Dirksen Courthouse must be a top priority in light of the acute security threats they face. After an individual was charged in 2004 and convicted of attempting to destroy the courthouse with a truck bomb, the federal General Services Administration acquired four adjacent buildings to create a security buffer zone. These buildings are so close to the courthouse that from the higher floors, it is easy to see directly into judges’ chambers and jury rooms.”
How Elk Grove Village Became The “Data Center Capital Of The Midwest”
Plentiful electricity and fiber optics, along with a state tax break, have made Elk Grove Village and its northwest suburban neighbors a hub of the growing market, reports Crain’s.
Grant Program Targets Southern Illinois Preservation Projects
Landmarks Illinois has launched a grant program to help preserve historic places in Southern Illinois in partnership with Banterra Bank, the largest locally-owned bank in the region. The Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program will provide monetary assistance to preserve or rehabilitate historic structures in downtowns and other commercial corridors of Southern Illinois to support economic development, with a minimum of $20,000 in grant funding for two years to historic preservation projects in the region. This is the first grant program Landmarks Illinois has targeted to a specific Illinois economic development region; it is also Landmark Illinois’ first grant program offered to private building owners, developers and for-profit business owners. More here.
“Americans Are Leaving Downtowns In Droves”
“What do the metros of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis–St. Paul, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., have in common? They are all among the twenty largest metropolitan areas in the country. All of their populations were growing in 2011. And then, in 2021, they all shrank by a combined 900,000 people… an urban exodus nearly the size of two Wyomings,” essays Derek Thompson at the Atlantic. “The rise of remote work has snipped the tether between home and office, allowing many white-collar workers to move out of high-cost cities. Nearly five million Americans have moved since 2020 because of remote-work opportunities… Their housing markets aren’t suffering the way you’d expect. In fact, rents and housing prices are going up in almost all of these metros. In the past year, rents rose thirty-three percent in New York City, sixteen percent in Los Angeles, and twelve percent in Chicago.” Among possibilities cited by Thompson: “My somewhat-dystopian prediction from 2019 is coming true: America’s densest cities are becoming playgrounds for the rich and mostly childless.”
Smashy Automotive Historical Elements Preserved After Fire
Multiple historic terra cotta elements from the Andersonville Smashy Automotive site were preserved after the weekend’s destructive fire, reports Uptown Update. “The wheels and other decorative elements were recovered by staff and set aside for safekeeping… The faces, wheels and decorative elements are preserved and can be restored or recreated.”
DINING & DRINKING
A Look At Pizza Friendly Pizza
WGN-TV likes Pizza Friendly Pizza: “Noah Sandoval, the executive chef of the two Michelin-starred restaurants Oriole and Kumiko… recently turned his culinary talents to pizza. Sandoval created Pizza Friendly Pizza with Chicago hospitality group 16″ On Center as a pop-up during 2020. It offered Sicilian-style pizza by the slice next to the Empty Bottle and [turned] the closed restaurant next door into a pizzeria that could employ furloughed staff. It became so popular that it became a permanent brick-and-mortar café with dine-in, pick-up and delivery in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood.”
Octopus Tacos Surface At Suburban Guanajuato
Tacos Guanajuato in Kildeer and Guanajuato in Winnetka have opened outdoor dining and added “one of Tacos G’s customer favorites,” octopus tacos by Chef Diaz. “Other Tacos G’s favorites include barbacoa, ribeye, lamb, bacon & chorizo, and al pastor. Pescatarians will love the fish and seafood selections: grilled shrimp, grilled mahi, tuna, and salmon as well as vegetarian tacos… All ingredients are made from scratch, including the mole sauces, tortillas and salsas, and the meat is freshly butchered. Chef Diaz learned firsthand from his father, who was a butcher.”
Cary Starbucks First In Chicago Area To Unionize; Peoria Gets One, Too
“A Starbucks store in suburban Cary has become the first in the Chicago area whose employees have voted for union membership,” reports the Sun-Times. “The Cary workforce joins Starbucks baristas in at least fourteen states who have voted for collective bargaining rights.” And the Trib reports on the successful vote for a union at a Peoria Starbucks: “’The wins that we are seeing at Starbucks are proof that no massive corporation is invincible,’ said barista Jon Gill, who has worked at the Peoria location since December. Gill said they would like to see wage increases as well as a contract with guaranteed hours so employees’ access to the company’s benefits is protected. ‘Workers do have power, and if they organize, they can reach that power.'”
A Century Of Family Cheese At Widmer’s Cheese Cellars
Tiny Theresa, Wisconsin’s Widmer’s Cheese Cellars has been in its family for four generations and is celebrating its centennial, reports MKElifestyle. “It’s currently run by Joe Widmer, whose grandfather John purchased the cheese plant in 1922. ‘John immigrated from Switzerland to America in 1905 at age eighteen… When he immigrated, the local population was heavily German. The market for a cheese such as a surface-ripened brick was strong’… Joe and his team make a wide range of cheeses, including traditional stirred-curd Wisconsin colby, aged cheddar and the classic Wisconsin aged brick. Widmer’s specializes in brick cheese, producing 360,000 pounds of it per year, and the plant’s throwback twentieth-century techniques provide a solid anchoring point for its quality… ‘We still use the same open vats in our 19,000 square-foot facility that my grandfather purchased in 1922 and the same well-worn bricks that he used to press the whey from the cheese in the forms… We’re the only cheesemaker in the country to use real bricks as part of our cheesemaking procedure.'”
FILM & TELEVISION
“Cooley High” Cast Looks Back To Making A Chicago Classic In The 1970s
“‘Cooley High’ stars look back at ‘glorious experience’ of making an enduring Chicago favorite,” reports Laura Emerick for the Sun-Times. “A chapter and corner of Chicago history shared a moment in the spotlight at the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival. ‘Cooley High’ (1975), the made-in-Chicago, coming-of-age comedy, often cited as a breakthrough title in Black-produced cinema, received a tribute at the thirteenth annual festival” in Los Angeles. “Director Michael Schultz and the ‘Cooley High’ stars—Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris, Cynthia Davis and Steven Williams—appeared for a pre-screening talk, moderated by TCM host Jacqueline Stewart.” “I grew up in Chicago, where ‘Cooley High’ was considered Black national cinema,” said Stewart, who’s also chief artistic and programming officer of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. “If you were from Chicago, you knew this film.”
Alex Thompson’s Latest At Tribeca
“Rounding,” the latest feature from Chicago filmmaker Alex Thompson [Newcity Film 50] is among the virtual selections programmed for the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in June: “In Alex Thompson’s follow up to his highly acclaimed ‘Saint Frances’ (2019), he achieves engrossing psychological horror through assured visual language anchored by a captivating lead performance by newcomer [Namir] Smallwood in his first feature film. After her breakout performance in ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ (2020), [Sidney] Flanigan delivers an understated emotional performance as Helen.” Details here.
Adrian Matejka Named Editor Of Poetry Magazine
The Poetry Foundation and Poetry Magazine announced that Adrian Matejka will join Poetry as the new editor. Matejka is the first Black editor to lead Poetry. “As an accomplished poet, educator, and past poet laureate, Adrian brings invaluable talent and experience,” said Michelle T. Boone, Poetry Foundation president. “I couldn’t be more humbled or excited to be the new editor of Poetry. The nineteen-year-old version of me, thumbing through the magazine’s pages with wonder, would have never imagined that he would one day be part of such a vital literary institution,” Adrian Matejka says in a release. “It will be my duty to work with the brilliant staff at the magazine and the Poetry Foundation to continue transforming the magazine into an engine for twenty-first century poetry. I am committed to reimagining Poetry not only as a venue for poetics, but more importantly, as one that is in service of poets and treats writers as the gifts that they are.”
About 1,600 Book Bans By Conservatives In School Districts Over Past Nine Months
“Nearly 1,600 book bans often targeting race- and LGBTQ-related titles were carried out in school districts across the country during the last nine months, with Texas leading the way, a new report from PEN America found,” writes Business Insider. PEN “identified 1,145 unique titles affected by the bans in school libraries and classrooms in twenty-six states as controversial books in schools have become a common flashpoint in political culture wars over the teaching of race, gender and sexuality. The top three banned titles focus on LGBTQ+ individuals or touch on same-sex relationships: ‘Gender Queer,’ ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ and ‘Lawn Boy.'”
Reader Co-Owner Steps Down, Clearing Way For Non-Profit Conversion
Chicago Reader co-owner, local attorney and billionaire Crown family member Len Goodman and three board members stepped down Tuesday, reports the Tribune, “freeing the embattled alternative newspaper to [make the] transition to a nonprofit organization… The Reader has been stuck in limbo since December, when a planned transition to a nonprofit model was delayed over concerns about alleged censorship of an opinion piece written by Goodman, who pushed for an investigation into the matter and more representation on the successor board.” In a statement, Goodman said he could not continue his “fight without destroying the Reader… I am stepping aside. I will sign off on the sale so that the Reader can [move] immediately to NFP status.” “I am relieved and grateful and looking forward to the challenges ahead,” publisher Tracy Baim said. “I am very grateful for the support Len has given to the Reader the past three -and-a-half years. It has been critical to take us to this point. And this decision will get us to the next phase of the Chicago Reader.” Baim tells the Sun-Times: “This dispute puts us four-and-a-half months behind in our financial plans. We have a lot of work ahead of us.” The Reader posts: “Goodman’s move means the Reader Institute for Community Journalism (RICJ) will run the Reader as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit governed by a board of directors but owned by no one… RICJ board members and Goodman sympathizers Dorothy Leavell, Sladjana Vuckovic, and Carol Bell announced they were also stepping down immediately.”
What Royko Had
New York Times Opinion newsletter columnist Jay Caspian Kang writes that Mike Royko had it easier than he does, after buying “a lot of books from famous newspaper columnists of the past. I was particularly taken by the work of Mike Royko, the Chicago newspaper columnist. During a thirty-three-year run for three [different] papers, Royko created a language deeply rooted in local familiarity and peppered with dialect from all the city’s ethnic enclaves. In his early work, Royko presented his fellow Chicagoans in sketches: Here were the wiseguys, the truckers, the police and the hypocritical politicians, in about 800 words or less. This efficiency came from his confidence that the reader could follow along with the references to State Street department stores, the ‘Puerto Rican neighborhood’ and the way Chicagoans walk in the cold.”
“It’s hard to find such familiar writing these days. Newspapers have been gutted and most media is crafted to generate clicks from across the globe. This newsletter, for example, is written in my basement in California under the banner of a New York newspaper and reaches readers in India, Australia and South Korea… Nearly everything and everyone needs to be introduced. These conditions make it difficult to replicate a tone like Royko’s. If I have any general critique of myself and many of my colleagues who write opinion pieces for a living, it would be that the form tends to be a bit pedantic these days. This, I believe, comes from the fact that we don’t really know our audience in the same way Royko knew his. And so, we are constantly explaining ourselves to you.” (He’s just one member of the Times Opinion flotilla; the Times employs over 150 workers in that section today.)
Second-Richest Billionaire Chips At World’s Richest Billionaire On Twitter
The world’s second-richest man was quick to comment on the advancing privatization of Twitter by the world’s richest man: Jeff Bezos tweeted of Elon Musk’s vastly leveraged deal, “Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” Bezos references a tweet by New York Times reporter Mike Forsythe: “Apropos of something: Tesla’s second-biggest market in 2021 was China (after the US). Chinese battery makers are major suppliers for Tesla’s EVs. After 2009, when China banned Twitter, the government there had almost no leverage over the platform. That may have just changed.” Adds Bezos: “My own answer to this question is probably not. The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter. But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.” The Washington Post talks to technologists: “What Musk seemingly fails to recognize is that to truly have free speech today, you need moderation,” said Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public policy director… “Otherwise, just those who bully and harass will be left as they will drive others away.” … “Critics say his ambition for what the platform should be—a largely unpoliced space rid of censorship—is naive, would hurt the company’s growth prospects and would render the platform unsafe… Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have spent billions of dollars and employed armies of people to create and enforce policies to reduce hate speech, misinformation and other toxic communication that degrades public discourse.”
Silver Room Sound System Block Party Is Back
“We’re back for year seventeen and better than ever,” the Silver Room Sound System Block Party relays of its July 16-17 dates. “It’s the same South Side summer energy with some major upgrades from previous years. We’ve gone from a one-day party to a two-day celebration. And, get ready for a change of scene from the streets to the beach! We’ve outgrown our home in Hyde Park, so we’re relocating to the more spacious Oakwood Beach! So this year we’ll be partying with the skyline in our sights and the Lake by our side. And of course you can expect the usual dope musical lineup across multiple stages, but we’ve added local food trucks, a health + wellness area, a design pavilion, beach volleyball, and even more to come.” More details and tickets (available at noon today) here.
Lollapalooza Announces Lineup By Day
Four-day tickets to Lollapalooza are available now; single-day tickets go on sale this morning. The complete list is here.
West Siders Question Fest In Douglass Park Instead Of Juneteenth Events
“West Side residents have asked the Park District Board to boot the Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash festival from Douglass Park so residents won’t be fenced out during Juneteenth weekend,” reports Block Club. Since its 2018 launch, the festival has annoyed neighbors over “noise, parking, traffic, damage to the park and the displacement of sports and youth programs. But neighbors have an additional concern this year: The music fest headlined by Post Malone and Playboi Carti is happening two months earlier than normal, meaning residents will be unable to use parts of the public park to celebrate Juneteenth.”
The B-52s “Farewell Tour” Includes Chicago
“No one likes to throw a party more than we do, but after almost a half-century on the road, it’s time for one last blow-out,” said Fred Schneider, co-founder and singer for The B-52s. Their North American farewell tour will dance across ten cities, including Chicago. Supporting on tour: The Tubes or KC & The Sunshine Band. Tickets here.
Skylight Music Theatre Announces 2022-2023 Season
Artistic director Michael Unger unveiled Skylight Music Theatre’s 2022-2023 plans for what he described as “an unforgettable, not-to-be-missed season” at the Milwaukee mainstay. “Highlights include a Broadway-bound new musical, the regional premiere of a sparkling revue celebrating Disney’s Broadway hits, and the Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber blockbuster ‘Evita,’ presented as a full production following two pandemic delays. ‘Last season showed us that audiences are ready, willing and eager to enjoy live music theater again,’ said Unger. ‘We have put together a thrilling season. It features some exciting firsts–premieres, blockbusters, major partnerships and surprises that let us spread our wings and soar.’” More here.
ARTS & CULTURE
City Intends To Name Casino Site “Within A Month”
“A virtual meeting of Special Committee on the Chicago Casino found aldermen pushing back against the three proposed finalists, amid growing concern from residents about locating a casino in their backyards,” reports the Trib. The city, which is banking on gambling “to generate $200 million in annual tax revenue to plug its public pension funding holes, plans to submit its choice to the Illinois Gaming Board for approval in time to include upfront payments from the winning bidder in the 2023 fiscal budget this fall, said Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, chairman of the committee. ‘We would like to be able to… within the next month, get narrowed down to one and then obviously go through this process with the nominee,’ Tunney said.”
UIC Grad Student Workers End Strike
Graduate student workers at the University of Illinois-Chicago, represented by the Graduate Employee Organization, have ended their weeklong strike after agreeing to a new, three-year contract, reports the Sun-Times. “The Graduate Employee Organization Local 6297, which represents 1,500 grad students who work mostly as teaching and research assistants, said the union and UIC administration reached a tentative agreement just before midnight that includes a sixteen-percent pay increase over the life of the three-year contract. The raise will boost minimum pay to around $24,000 per year from $20,000.” “Graduate workers still do not make enough for [the cost of living] in this city, but we are happy,” GEO organizer Zoe Fox told the paper. “But we are closer to a living wage.”
Adler Hosts Exploration Of Weekend’s Close Conjunction Of Venus And Jupiter
Conjunctions of Venus and Jupiter occur about once a year, but not all of them are as good as one this weekend will be, the Adler Planetarium relays. “Venus and Jupiter will be less than a full Moon diameter apart a little before sunrise on April 30 and May 1, and the Adler will host a special Sky Observers Hangout virtual program on April 29 to show how to view it. Conjunctions occur based on where objects are in their orbits and how we see them from Earth. This conjunction will be a good one due to the brightness of both planets, how close they will be in the sky, and because they will be visible before the glare of the Sun blots them out.” More here.
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