Unearthing Forgotten Chicago Neighborhood Names
“Experts say every corner of the city is awash in defunct names and neighborhoods that disappeared. The names come from old settlements that preceded modern Chicago. Some were communities built on commuter transit lines in the rapidly expanding city. Others were the creations of real estate agents eager to create branding for new housing construction,” surveys William Lee at the Trib. “’It’s layers-upon-layers of names, often overlapping and in conflict with each other. All come from different origins, circumstances and periods of time,’ said Tim Samuelson, the city’s emeritus historian, who has done exhaustive research on neighborhood names and how they came to be. It was a daunting task given how many cropped up across the city and how some disappeared completely while others lingered.”
Mayor Daley’s Seventy-Five Year Parking Meter Deal Gets Worse And Worse For Chicago
“With sixty-one years left on the seventy-five-year lease, Chicago Parking Meters LLC now has recouped its entire $1.16 billion investment and $502.5 million more,” reports the Sun-Times. “The parking meters, the downtown garages and the Skyway were all unloaded by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, who used the money to avoid raising property taxes… Though Chicago Parking Meters LLC lost a third of its annual revenue in 2020, the system still generated enough money that year to spin off a $13 million distribution to investors… Investors were recouped another $6.7 million through a contract provision requiring the city to reimburse investors for every space taken out of service. That includes temporary street closures for special events… construction projects and street closures that allowed restaurants and bars to serve more customers outdoors when indoor capacity was restricted, if not prohibited… The company should end up making at least six times more than investors put in over the life of the deal.”
Abbott Laboratories Crafting Monkeypox Test
“Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox. The U.S. has been preparing for a possible smallpox outbreak for decades, so there is an ample supply of vaccines and therapeutics that should be effective,” reports Bloomberg. “Abbott Laboratories is also working on coming up with a PCR test for monkeypox, a spokesperson said.”
New York City Wants The Democratic Convention, Too
“Four cities submitted bids to host the 2024 Democratic convention by Friday’s deadline, with Chicago’s front runner status challenged by the emergence of New York City’s bid,” reports Lynn Sweet at the Sun-Times. “Chicago and New York City are run by Democrats with the state governors also Democrats who champion abortion and other rights. The Big Apple and the Second City also have major contributors for the host committee that will raise millions of dollars to bankroll convention activities. New York City disclosed details from their bid, with Madison Square Garden as the primary site with various convention-related events at the Jacob K. Javits Center. Chicago is pitching the United Center, McCormick Place and the Wintrust Arena, among other venues, all close to the Loop—but not walking distance.”
Behind the Growth Of Sheltering On CTA Trains
“CTA has long been a shelter of last resort for homeless riders, especially in cold weather and especially on the Red and Blue lines, which offer 24-hour service. But passengers sheltering on trains have become more visible during the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of office commuters dropped and as finding space in shelters or other typically reliable options became challenging. Homeless passengers have drawn heightened attention from the city, CTA and other riders over the past two years,” reports the Trib.
It’s Not Just Chicago: Pools And Other Summer Staples Lack Workers Nationwide
“Many Americans hoped this would be the first normal summer after two years of COVID-19 disruptions. A chronic labor shortage means it probably won’t be,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “The scarcity of available workers first emerged a year ago… vaccinations became available, businesses reopened and the economy rebounded… Now, shortages are not only persisting, in some cases they are deepening, at a crucial time for many businesses that depend on a summer boom… Two key factors are at play… Employer demand for workers remains red-hot, with job openings double the number of unemployed individuals looking for work. Second, workers continue to switch jobs and quit lower-wage industries including restaurants at high rates, leaving businesses scrambling to fill vacant positions.”
Is Water Tower Place “The Saddest Place On Earth”?
“That’s where we would go,” Sara Homrok, forty-seven, who grew up in Naperville, tells WBEZ. “My mom would get annoyed, she wanted to take us to the museum. We wanted to go to Water Tower Place. It was ahead of its time; it was like an event. You go in now, and it’s the saddest place on earth.” Brookfield Property Partners “acquired Water Tower Place in 2018 from Chicago’s General Growth Properties, [and planned] to ‘repurpose and rebalance'” the mall in 2021, “including tearing out the escalators. Target floated taking over Macy’s space… The property was valued at $810 million in a 2013 transaction but after ten more retailers left, Brookfield decided to cut its losses. With the glut of space up and down the Mag Mile, there was little hope of getting the kinds of returns that Brookfield’s investors demand… The mall property is now managed by Chicago firm M & J Wilkow on behalf of MetLife Investment Management, but neither are talking. Ald. Brian Hopkins, whose district includes the mall, did not return calls for comment.”
DINING & DRINKING
Intelligentsia Workers Line Up To Unionize
Intelligentsia employees in Chicago might vote to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, reports the Sun-Times. “The union organizing drive involving coffee chains in Chicago amounts to more than a hill of beans. First there was Colectivo, then Starbucks and now workers at Intelligentsia Coffee have voiced interest in unionizing. John Rizzo, business manager of Local 1220, said ‘Coffee is its own community.’ The workers talk to each other about what’s going on at the different chains. ‘We know these companies are extremely profitable. We know there is money to be given to the workers.’”
“The Similac Debacle” And Corporate Concentration
“Here is a terrific test case for Jonathan Kanter, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, who says he wants to crack down on concentration and other abuses by private equity. As the shortage demonstrated when one major plant shut down, the baby formula industry is one of America’s most concentrated, with a duopoly controlling most of the market. The last thing it needs is private equity ownership,” writes Robert Kuttner at the American Prospect. “So consider: Of the two giant companies that control manufacture of this vital product, one is cavalier about sanitation and safety, and the other doesn’t want to be in the business at all. The government has a huge amount of leverage because the WIC program buys more than half of all infant formula.”
Virginia Republicans Make Demands On Books At Barnes & Noble
“Two Virginia Republicans have asked a court for restraining orders that would prevent private bookseller Barnes & Noble from selling two books to minors, marking an escalation in the conservative campaign to limit students’ access to literature,” reports the Washington Post. “The two books are ‘Gender Queer’ by Maia Kobabe, a memoir about identifying as genderqueer or nonbinary, and ‘A Court of Mist and Fury,’ a fantasy novel by Sarah J. Maas. The two Republicans, Del. Timothy Anderson of Virginia Beach and Tommy Altman, a congressional candidate, requested the orders from Virginia Beach Circuit Court as part of their larger, ongoing lawsuit targeting the books. The requested restraining orders would also prohibit distribution of the two books by Virginia Beach City Public Schools. The board of that school system voted to remove all copies of ‘Gender Queer’ from its libraries over its sexual content.” Bookstore owner Candice Huber posts a report that “the judge will decide if these books can be sold or owned by minors or adults. If the books are ruled ‘obscene,’ not only will booksellers not be able to sell them, readers can’t own them, & if you do either, you risk criminal prosecution.”
The American Booksellers for Free Expression responds: “ABFE strongly condemns a Virginia judge’s tentative opinion that the books… might be ‘obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors’ and the petitioners’ preliminary injunction against Barnes & Noble and other booksellers to prevent sales of books. The judge has ordered the authors and publishers of the books to present more evidence so that she can make a final decision regarding whether the books may be sold or possessed in Virginia, by either minors or adults. The last time a book was banned for being ‘obscene’ was in the 1960s. Then, in 1973, the Supreme Court provided a three-question test to determine if a particular material is obscene: Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the ‘prurient interest’; whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct; and whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value… The Virginia judge’s opinion is troubling in that the order could threaten the First Amendment right of a bookseller to sell a book, and that it does so based on the subjective point of view of a few citizens—one of whom in this particular instance is running for office.”
Gene Pesek, Sun-Times Photographer Who Shot The Mirage Tavern, Beatles, Bears
“Gene Pesek viewed the world as if he were a camera,” writes Maureen O’Donnell at the Sun-Times. “‘I see photography no matter where I am… I see pictures. I can be driving on [the] Dan Ryan and looking straight ahead, and I’ll see a picture.’ … Mr. Pesek chronicled the beautiful and the bestial in a nearly forty-year career as a Chicago Sun-Times photographer. Some days, he’d be assigned to shoot movie stars or spring flowers. Other times, he shot crime scenes, plane crashes and political conventions.”
How City Bureau Measures The Impact Of Civic Media Strategies In Chicago
The Institute For Nonprofit News outlines what City Bureau is doing in Chicago: “Before we could measure impact at City Bureau, we needed to acknowledge the history and limitations of how the media industry has framed impact in the past—and come up with new questions to guide our learning. Do media outlets see themselves and their reporters as change agents? Do they see themselves as part of an ecosystem rooted in the public interest? What would a theory of change for journalism as a public good look like in practice—and how would it manifest in peoples’ lives? Over an eleven-month period in 2019, our staff, board and members of our community engaged in deep conversations, interactive activities, working sessions and group reflection in an effort to align, and re-commit to, our values. These conversations were the building blocks for our current strategic plan.” More here.
Minnesota Public Radio Drops Award-Winning “APM Reports”
Award-winning program “APM Reports” has been shut down by Minnesota Public Radio after seven years, reports the Star-Tribune. Minnesota Public Radio e-mailed and made Zoom calls to its workers. “This change means that colleagues, who’ve invested their energy, skills and passion with us, will be leaving our organization,” MPR said in a release. “The St. Paul-based ‘Reports’ specialized in long-form, investigative journalism. Its signature podcast, ‘In the Dark,’ won a pair of Peabody Awards—one for its in-depth look at the kidnapping and murder of eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling and the other for the investigation of the case of Curtis Flowers, a Mississippi man who was tried six times for the same crime.”
Steppenwolf Sets “Choir Boy” Casting
Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced casting for its staging of Tony-nominated “Choir Boy,” by Oscar-winning Steppenwolf ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney, which will run June 16-July 24. Directed by Kent Gash, the production features La Shawn Banks, Sheldon D. Brown, Richard David, William Dick, Gilbert Domally, Tyler Hardwick and Samuel B. Jackson. “Choir Boy,” “threaded throughout with soul-stirring a cappella gospel hymns, is the story of a young gay Black man and his battle between identity and community. Pharus Young is a senior at the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, an institution committed to building ‘strong, ethical Black men,’ where he endeavors to be the best leader of the school’s prestigious choir in its fifty-year history. But in a world built on rites and rituals, should he conform to the expectations of his peers in order to gain the respect he desperately seeks? … An elegy to quiet rebellion, filled with the sound of longing and aspiration.” Single tickets start at $20 here.
ARTS & CULTURE
Melrose Park Man Charged In Setting Fire To Joseph Kromelis
Joseph Guardia, twenty-seven, of Melrose Park “was charged with attempted murder and arson after pouring a flammable liquid on Joseph Kromelis, seventy-five—known as ‘The Walking Man’— and igniting it Wednesday morning in the 400 block of North Lower Wabash,” reports the Sun-Times. “Guardia was also wanted on two separate arrest warrants for burglary,” adds the Trib. Richard Roeper writes: “It’s been nearly thirty years since I first wrote about the Walking Man, who cut a striking figure with his long flowing hair, his 1970s mustache and his spiffy sports jackets and was always just … walking. Zipping along at a brisk stride in his prime, not so swiftly as the years went by, and moving with painful slowness in recent years… Joseph Kromelis is seventy-five. He’s been walking the streets of the city for at least half his life. I’m not sure he would care what any of us think about him, but I hope he realized you never heard anyone speak with the least bit of condescension or cynicism when they reported a sighting of the Walking Man. We appreciated Kromelis just doing his thing as a hometown original. Whether it was his design or not, he carved out his own unique space in Chicago lore.” Block Club Chicago reports from bond court: “The Melrose Park man accused of dousing [him] with gasoline and setting him on fire as he slept on Lower Wabash Avenue showed ‘a special kind of evil’ when he staged his unprovoked attack, prosecutors told a judge Monday.” He “was burned over fifty percent of his body… He is currently sedated at Stroger Hospital with ‘non-survivable injuries,’ the prosecutor said.”
Millennium Park Announces Summer Season
The 2022 Millennium Park Summer Season highlights include free programming celebrating the “Year of Chicago Dance;” the return of the Millennium Park Summer Film Series, Summer Music Series and Summer Workouts; the Chicago Gospel Music Festival; Chicago Blues Festival; Millennium Park Summer Music Series; Chicago Jazz Festival; Chicago House Music Festival and Conference; and the SummerDance Celebration in addition to dozens of free concerts, performances, special events, family activities, nature programs and public art. Complete attractions here.
Would The World Be Better Off Without Philanthropists?
Nicholas Lemann surveys at the New Yorker: “In real life, the interaction between big-money philanthropy and philanthropy-reliant institutions like universities, charities, and museums is more of a business negotiation than a morality play. Philanthropists rarely make the large, unrestricted gifts that the receiving institutions really want, and so the two parties bargain: over the purpose and the control of a gift, over the form of credit, over how much the institution has to raise from other sources as a condition of the gift’s being made. In the world of philanthropy, all this is just another day at the office… As big as big philanthropy is, it’s dwarfed by both government and business. If you want to give a hundred dollars to a scholarship fund at a school, the money will almost certainly go into the fund and then be disbursed as scholarships…. But gifts that have a truly broad and undeniable effect? Those are rare, especially when they entail, as they usually do, funding one thing (like an activist group) in the hope of achieving another (like a substantial policy change). That’s why one sees a familiar set of philanthropy success stories repeated endlessly, like the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations’ initial funding of the Green Revolution or the Carnegie Corporation’s role in establishing the public broadcasting system.”
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