Landmarks Panel Opposes Demolishing Historic State Street Edifices
“Moving toward a potential standoff with the federal government, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voiced tentative support for preserving two State Street buildings that the U.S. District Court here” hopes to demolish for avowed “security reasons,” writes David Roeder at the Sun-Times. “The buildings” are the twenty-two-story Consumers Building at 220 South State, built in 1913, and the sixteen-story Century Building, dating from 1915, at 202 South State. Both are clad in terra cotta. Supporters say they are examples of how architectural trends in Chicago skyscrapers evolved… The panel asked city staffers to prepare a report that could lead to official landmark designation for the buildings.” A petition was signed by more than 22,000 people. “The federal government owns the buildings, which abut the Dirksen Federal Building. Congress has appropriated $52 million to tear down the buildings, but preservationists argue they contribute to State Street’s character and that demolition would hurt a stretch of the historic retail corridor.”
Celine To Join Brunello Cucinelli, Versace And Dior On North Rush
“The thriving Gold Coast shopping district is adding another high-end retailer: French fashion house Celine, which is opening a boutique near the Waldorf Astoria hotel,” reports Crain’s.
Supreme Wicker Park Store Rumored
The next Supreme outlet could open at 1438 North Milwaukee in the former Hollywood Cleaners building, ventures Hypebeast. Also rumored: “Supreme could be releasing the ‘MCA’ Box Logo T-shirt that was famously worn by Chief Keef at Virgil Abloh’s exhibition, which back in 2019, sparked speculations of a Virgil Abloh x Supreme collaboration.” Another report is that the “store-exclusive T-shirt could be a Supreme photo tee depicting Chief Keef wearing the bogo.”
Union Station Looking Toward $418 Million Facelift
“This time I think you are going to find out it’s real,” Senator Dick Durbin said at Union Station, reports the Sun-Times. “It’s real because a president of the United States, Joe Biden, decided it was long overdue for us to have a national infrastructure bill.” “That plan would funnel more than $251 million in federal funding into Union Station that would expand platforms, ease congestion and make much-needed repairs. Another $83.7 million will come from local sources such as the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Chicago Department of Transportation. Amtrak will also put up $83.7 million.”
JW Marriott Foreclosure Auction Bad Sign For Downtown Hospitality
“Wells Fargo Bank took control of the JW Marriott Chicago hotel with a bid of nearly $251 million during a foreclosure auction,” reports the Trib. “Orlando-based owner Estein USA hadn’t made a payment on the [$203 million debt] tied to the property at 151 West Adams since last summer.” “JW Marriott may not be the last hotel to find itself in the soup,” Maverick Hotels and Restaurants CEO Robert Habeeb tells the paper. “If a prominent hotel like that can fall into foreclosure, it’s a sign of some weakness in the market.”
Supply Chain Issues Improve
Shipping rates are “falling globally, and the supply chain is righting itself,” reports Alex Kantrowitz at Big Technology. “Flexport, a tech-enabled freight forwarder, has seen rates drop from highs of around $20,000 per container to $10,000… Also encouraging is that Flexport has seen a thirty-five-percent reduction in shipping transit times… So those long waits for living room furniture might start abating. And now that congested ports are loosening up, prices might fall further as idle ships come back into service. ‘It’s still much higher than historical averages,’ [an executive] said. ‘But it’s pointing down, which is exciting.'”
DINING & DRINKING
Climate Chaos Makes Its Way To The Bakery
“Over the past forty years,” reports Aimee Levitt in an anecdote-laden takeout at Eater Chicago, “the climate across the Great Plains, where most of the nation’s wheat is grown, has become more extreme: wetter winters and springs, dryer summers, more droughts, and a shift in growing areas, perhaps restricting the amount of land that can support wheat.” Marty Travis of Spence Farm in Fairbury, Illinois, about a hundred miles southwest of the city, has for several years been growing wheat for Publican Quality Bread. “One of the things we learned on our farm is that Mother Nature bats last,” he tells Levitt. “However great our plant health is, however great the seed, no matter if we do all the right things, we’re still at the mercy of the environment.”
Irish Oak Closes After Twenty-Four Years In Wrigleyville
After twenty-four years a local in Wrigleyville, The Irish Oak, owned by Big Onion Tavern Group, which is also behind Hopsmith Tavern and FatPour Tap Works, posted their closing notice on Facebook.
Columbia College Tenured Professor Sam Weller Fired At End Of Sexual Assault Investigation
Columbia College fired Ray Bradbury biographer and writing instructor Sam Weller from a tenured professorship, described in an email sent out by president and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim on Friday afternoon. The letter reads, in part, “I am writing to update you on the investigation that Columbia launched this past February into allegations of sexual misconduct made against Sam Weller, associate professor of English and Creative Writing… Based on [Mayer Brown LLP]’s findings that Professor Weller engaged in conduct that violated the college’s sexual harassment and other policies, Provost Marcella David concluded that the conduct warranted termination. In accordance with the college’s process for termination of tenured faculty, Professor Weller was issued a Notice of Dismissal today, July 8… I urge all members of our community to assist us in these efforts by embracing a culture that refuses to tolerate sexual misconduct in any form.”
A 6,000-plus word Medium post, “What Happened To Me,” was published on February 12 by Cara Dehnert. “Because of this piece, many other women have now come forward, sharing their nearly identical experiences at the hands of Sam Weller (beginning as early as 2008). I’m told they’ve formally reported to the college as well,” Dehnert writes, adding to her original narrative. “And, all of these other victims were his students. His. Students.” (Her narrative includes explicit description of sexual assault.) Dehnert on Friday told the Columbia Chronicle: “I am proud of the institution from which I graduated and for which I worked for 15 years for holding true to its stated values and beliefs… I hope this decision brings solace and healing to us all, and I hope it sends a message to would-be abusers that using their power and influence in ways that are coercive, manipulative or improper will no longer be tolerated.” (Weller started his career as a staff writer at Newcity in the nineties and continued freelancing for the publication for many years after that time.)
Bookstores: Booming And More Diverse
“More than 300 bookstores have opened in the past couple of years — a revival that is meeting a demand for ‘real recommendations from real people,'” reports the New York Times. “Laura Rodríguez-Romaní, the founder and owner of Los Amigos Books in Berwyn, Illinois, opened her bookstore this past June. A former dual language elementary schoolteacher, Mrs. Rodríguez-Romaní started by selling books online, then hosting pop-up events. She used her government stimulus check to buy books and start a website, and then found a physical space after she won a contest for local entrepreneurs and got money for furnishings from the Berwyn Development Corporation. She knew it was a risky investment, she said, but she felt the community needed a space that offered children’s books in English and Spanish.”
John Kass Claim: I Was Secret Advisor To Lightfoot Mayoral Run; Former Trib Editor Appalled
“Here’s John Kass admitting that when he was a news columnist for the Chicago Tribune he served as a secret political adviser to now-Mayor Lori Lightfoot,” posts Mark Jacob on Twitter. “Highly unethical and Hannity-esque. If I’d known about behavior like this when I was his editor, I would have turned him in.” From Kass’ July 8 confession on his blog: “I supported Lori Lightfoot. We were friendly once. I defended her and she’d give me big hugs at parties. I remember that during her first campaign, when former Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed out and threw the election up for grabs, she was depressed and wanted to quit… I called her and heard the exhaustion in her voice. She wanted to quit. I was one of those convincing her to stay in the race and fight. I remember it was hot outside, I was on my deck in the sun telling her not to give up. So I suppose I bear some responsibility. I backed her. Though our politics differ, she campaigned as a breath of fresh air. Because she was a former federal prosecutor, I hoped that she had some respect for law-and-order.” Most of the rest of Kass’ entry betrays his gift for hyperbole: “And a great city hollows out. Chicago dies before our eyes.”
Reader Hiring Editor-In-Chief, Culture Editor
A listing is up for jobs at the Reader, including editor-in-chief, via managing editor Salem Collo-Julin on Twitter.
WTTW Lists Jobs, Including Investigative News Producer
WTTW social media producer Michael S. Zquierdo posts on Twitter, “Do you have fond memories of when the acronym ‘PBS’ pops in your head? Well, you’re in luck! WTTW has open positions from investigative news producers to fellowships for early-career journalists!” Fellowships, reporter and producer jobs listed at the link, as well as a call for freelance workers.
Is The Future Of Opera In Detroit?
“Yuval Sharon is the most visionary opera director of his generation. He founded an experimental company, cheekily named the Industry, in Los Angeles in 2012, and was met with near-immediate acclaim for stagings so wildly inventive they often dispensed with stages altogether,” reports Mark Binelli in a lengthy profile in the New York Times Magazine. “In 2017, Sharon was awarded a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grant; the following year, he became the first American to direct at Bayreuth… And yet Sharon’s boldest venture may have been the announcement… that he would be accepting a position as artistic director of the Michigan Opera Theater—since renamed, at Sharon’s insistence, Detroit Opera… Nearly two years into his five-year contract, Sharon has already radically elevated Detroit Opera’s status.” Sharon said that “Detroit might actually be ‘the perfect place to really push for what the future of opera can be.’ He is not interested in a universalist, one-size-fits-all approach, where ‘La Bohème’ ends up the same in Detroit as it does everywhere else: ‘No, it’s got to be totally of Detroit in the end. That, to me, is the path forward.’ Couldn’t—shouldn’t, Sharon insisted—opera in Detroit look and feel and sound like nothing else in the country?”
So-Called “New Normal” Hangs Over Summer Fests
“Leaving collective safety in the hands of 100,000 individuals is doomed to fail, of course—the whole problem with infectious disease, as Americans seem very slow to learn, is that other people’s choices affect you and your choices affect other people,” writes Leor Galil at the Reader, while surveying sixteen local music congregations. The experts he surveys “recommend getting booster shots. Until the pandemic ends, assuming it can end, large groups (including outdoor music festivals) won’t be completely safe… Vaccination is a great safeguard against serious illness or death, but it’s less effective against infection by newer variants and can’t control the spread of COVID all by itself—and there are still extremely compelling reasons to want to avoid the virus, even if you’re pretty sure it won’t kill you.”
Victory Gardens At Standstill; “Cullud Wattah” Pulled; Calls For Board To Resign
“As a result of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal values espoused by the Board of Directors at Victory Gardens Theater, I have pulled the production of my show, ‘cullud wattah,’ effective immediately,” writes playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza at the Victory Gardens website. “The Board of Directors’ oppressive values were grotesquely displayed through their recent actions, including but not limited to the removal of brilliant, compassionate and radical cultural worker Ken-Matt Martin as Artistic Director; resolute opposition to and dismissal of the arts professionals on staff, Acting Managing Director, Roxanna Conner, and Ken-Matt Martin, as well as acquiring additional property—a capitalist venture that undermines land acknowledgements, offers no path toward indigenous rematriation and strains the institution’s current structural needs… As a Black radical leftist playwright and womanist cultural-memory worker, I do not shrink from my responsibility to make an incisive, principled decision in alignment with the revolutionary goals of the liberation of Black people, especially Black women…”
The Victory Gardens Facebook page: “The remaining performances of ‘cullud wattah’… have been canceled. We will ensure that every member of the cast and crew will be paid out through the end of their contracts… We are exploring the possibility of finding a new theatrical home in Chicago to finish out the run of this phenomenal 4-star production, written, directed and starring incredibly talented Black women.” Actors’ Equity Association statement: “It is deeply disheartening to see an organization that has very publicly wrestled with institutional racism in recent memory again be perceived as unable to support workers of color without whom Victory Gardens Theater could neither exist nor thrive.” The Chicago Inclusion Project Staff have a Change.org petition, which may already have passed the goal of 1,500 signatures: “In the midst of the Executive Director search, the Board purchased the storefront next to Victory Gardens over the objections of the artistic leadership; meanwhile, the existing theater building is in a state of disrepair… as well as major technical issues in both theaters… WE DEMAND: Ken-Matt Martin reinstated as Artistic Director immediately; The Board of Directors announce the intent to resign in full and assist with a peaceful transition of power… The Board has until July 18 to make these changes.”
Chicago Figures Remember Director Peter Brook
Tarell Alvin McCraney, Tina Landau, Gregory Mosher and Robert Falls are among the voices in a remembrance of groundbreaking director Peter Brook by Laura Collins-Hughes in the New York Times. Robert Falls: “I saw ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in its American tour. It remains to this day the most mind-blowing experience of the theatrical event, of how theater can be made: circus, magic and absolute clarity of a text, and joy, actually, and surprise—again, terror. He really did, I think, change the way we look at Shakespeare.” Landau: “He really catapulted us into the modern era of how we experience space when we sit down and collaborate. And that theater is a collaborative form, and that the greatest and ultimate collaboration is between the performers and the audience.” McCraney: “Peter would attract a whole room full of folk. But the room understood that there was a space for everybody here. He was showing us that that is the practice: You have to practice making room for everyone.”
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]