Are Workers Opting Out Of Mass Transit?
“Systems are surviving hybrid work schedules, but personal and fleet safety issues also influence the transit options that riders use—or desert,” reports the American Prospect. “It’s the subway networks that have registered some of the biggest ridership declines. Social media from Washington to Boston and Chicago to San Francisco is overflowing with complaints about delays or crime—or both—that compromise systems’ ability to deliver on their core deliverable: safe, clean, reliable public transportation. Eno Center for Transportation principal researcher Phil Plotch argues that ridership may not return to pre-pandemic levels for at least another decade and observes that ‘perceptions about public safety are a serious challenge to increasing ridership.'”
Paper Prices Ripping Up Voting Materials
The St. Louis’ Fed has a vertiginous graph chart on “Producer Price Index by Commodity: Pulp, Paper, and Allied Products” here. The Center For Public Integrity sees a threat to American elections: “Each year, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project asks the Texas Secretary of State for about 25,000 voter registration applications, which it distributes as part of the organization’s efforts to empower Latinos to participate in the democratic process. This year, the organization received a surprising response: There weren’t enough applications to go around. A sweeping change to Texas voter laws meant that entirely new forms had to be printed. Supply-chain issues slowed that print job, prompting Texas to ration applications… Only one vendor bid on the job to print the new ones, and that company had staffing shortages on top of the supply chain issues. What might otherwise have taken two weeks dragged on for two months… A lack of paper forms is no trivial issue in Texas, the nation’s most populous state without widely-available online voter registration. Only when updating their driver’s license or state ID information can Texans register online. Otherwise, prospective voters have to fill out paper voter registration applications, then mail them to their county elections offices.” Wisconsin: The paper shortage “is weighing on the minds of some election officials in Wisconsin as clerks around the state prepare for the August primary and November general election when voters will pick their next U.S. senator and governor. ‘Just like there are shortages and supply chain issues with computers and technology, we’re also seeing that with paper supplies so that’s something we’ll keep working with the local clerks on,’ Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe told reporters.”
Rats Desert Pandemic-Emptied Food Joints For Residences
“In 2020 and 2021, there was an increase in complaints when restaurants were closed and more residents were working from home. Rats scurried away from empty businesses and into residential neighborhoods,” reports Crain’s. Rats repopulated “Clearing, Irving Park and Logan Square, though this doesn’t differ from pre-pandemic times… These three areas saw an average increase of 42.2% in complaints made from 2019 to 2021.”
River North Retail Landlords Feeling Good
“A rebounding River North restaurant scene is giving retail landlords in the neighborhood one reason to feel a little better about their lot,” reports Chicago Business. “The retail vacancy rate for River North fell to 19.3% in 2021, down from 22.0% a year earlier, according to a report from Stone Real Estate… The rate suggests that the market for store and restaurant space in the neighborhood has stabilized after suffering” the ongoing pandemic.
NOMA Megadevelopment Plan Shown
“Detailed plans for Shapack‘s West Town megadevelopment now dubbed NOMA have been reviewed by the Committee on Design for advisory guidance and recommendations,” reports YIMBY Chicago.”The proposed 3.25-acre assemblage in the River West area would yield 1,500 new residential units, a hotel, and a range of new commercial offerings like retail and dining…The assemblage revolves around the former Salvation Army Building, which Shapack plans to integrate by converting the structure into a 141-[room] hotel and restaurant venue envisioned by Eckenhoff Saunders Architects. The masterplan would comprise of four parcels, labeled A, B, C, and G, across five city blocks… Shapack is working with New York-based firm ODA to envision three different versions of the buildings’ massings, two of which have four towers and one having five…the scheme will be heavily geared towards walkability and public spaces. Shapack is spearheading a new network of corridors throughout multiple blocks in West Town and West Loop known as The Mews.”
Tenenbaum Hardware Latest Historic Signage Up For Sale
“Tenenbaum Hardware’s massive sign is for sale as owners clear out of longtime Lakeview home ahead of demolition,” reports Block Club Chicago. “The store, which opened in 1923, will be torn down [in favor of] condos. ‘I think it’s a part of Lakeview history, if not Chicago history,’ the owner said.”
DINING & DRINKING
Wicker Park Gets Jewish Deli
Helfeld’s Deli, a family-owned Jewish deli at 1750 West North, is opening in Wicker Park after more than a year of delays, reports Block Club Chicago. Featured will be “Jewish deli staples like pastrami and reuben sandwiches, matzo ball soup and homemade baked goods. About a dozen types of bagels will be sourced from New York Bagel & Bialy in Skokie.”
Glenn’s Diner Out Of Ravenswood After Seventeen Years
“Glenn’s Diner was [once] the hottest restaurant in Chicago, a neighborhood spot that became the talk of the town,” but now it’s posted a closing notice for July 31, reports Eater Chicago. “The neighborhood restaurant, known for seafood and cereal bowls, is closing” after a seventeen-year run.
The Science Of The “Chicago Mix” From Garrett Popcorn
“Chicago-based Garrett Popcorn makes nine different flavors, but the Garrett Mix—that combination of caramel and cheese—is the company’s best-seller, said Garrett co-owner Megan Chody. It’s popular enough that locals refer to it as ‘Chicago Mix,'” reports WBEZ’s Curious City. “So just why is that cheesy, caramel-y combo so compelling? … The first—and perhaps unsurprising—reason… is that humans are programmed to like different flavors paired together… While caramel and cheese popcorn may not seem like it’s got much in the way of health benefits to offer, the sweetness of the caramel and saltiness of the cheese activates primal nutrition-seeking instincts.”
Stroh’s Returns To Draft
Stroh’s, “the iconic Detroit beer brand, owned by Pabst Brewing Company since 1999, announced its classic lager will return to draft taps in Detroit for the first time in two decades and will relaunch its classic logo and look on bottles and cans for distribution, harkening back to its look from the mid-1980s,” reports the Detroit Free Press. Brewed out of Pabst’s Milwaukee facilities, “Stroh’s classic lager will be available in twelve-ounce bottles and cans, as well as half-barrel kegs” across the Midwest.
Little Goat Moving From West Loop To Former Southport Lanes
“Little Goat, the bustling all-day diner from ‘Top Chef’ champion and celebrated Chicago chef Stephanie Izard, will leave its decade-old home in the West Loop in early 2023 for new digs, [joining] two other Boka Group restaurants—GGs Chicken Shop from Boka executive chef Lee Wolen and an as-yet-unannounced venue—inside the 122-year-old building that previously housed the historic Southport Lanes,” reports Eater Chicago.
Chatham Slated For Chicago’s First Fatburger
Kilwin’s franchisee Jacqueline Jackson received a substantial grant to “transform a vacant bank in Chatham into a Fatburger and Buffalo Wings with an outdoor patio, drive-through and indoor eating area,” reports Block Club Chicago. She will bring “a 3,175-square-foot Fatburger and Buffalo Wing Express restaurant to a closed bank in Chatham this year. She received a $1 million grant from the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund to make it happen.” Fund details here.
FILM & TELEVISION
“The Bear” Opens Second Season
Shooting until March 31, sneaking up in July, taking FX and Hulu audiences by storm, the stealthy “The Bear” will reopen for a second season sometime in 2023, reports Variety. The paper quotes FX Entertainment president Eric Schrier, “‘The Bear’ has exceeded our wildest creative, critical and commercial expectations. We can’t wait to get to work on Season 2.” Our review and report of all things “Bear” is in the “Stream Life” section of the “Talking Screens” column in the film section here.
Career School Librarian On Book Bans And Library Closings
Retired New York state school librarian Marilyn Elie replies to the New York Times’ July 7 front-page story about the assault on American libraries in a letter to the editor at the New York Times. “I am appalled at the growing rightwing movement to ban and burn books. While this is not the first anti-intellectual, anti-diversity book banning movement in American history, it is the most vicious and vociferous in my career of thirty years… There are procedures in place for those who disagree with a librarian’s choices. Running roughshod over these procedures is both thoughtless and anti-democratic… Make sure you know the name of your librarians. Talk to them when you go to the library. Tell them you want to show support for all they bring to our communities. Ask your local elected officials about their position on censorship. Write a letter of support to your local library board… Take action to support democracy and freedom of expression—our First Amendment right.”
Pro-Pritzker Presidency Memes Proliferate
Are the memes what they seem? Gawker checks into the odd online positivity for a JB Pritzker presidential run. “In less than a month, Socialists for Pritzker has become an online mouthpiece for the governor’s still-hypothetical presidential campaign, racking up thousands of followers in a matter of days… The account—a mix of Chapo-inflected jokes, fairly sincere political commentary, and memes about Pritzker’s Midwestern, average-guy affect… resembles the stunt campaign to get former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel on the debate stage during the last Democratic primaries. [But] he has never pushed any kind of social-democratic theory of change. The admin of Socialists for Pritzker knows this; he’s made jokes to that effect.” (There are dozens of other accounts.)
CSO MusicNOW Announces Season
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has set the 2022-23 season of CSO MusicNOW, the CSO’s contemporary music series, which is curated by CSO composer-in-residence Jessie Montgomery. The series marks its twenty-fifth season and returns to Symphony Center, where it was first presented in Buntrock Hall in 1998. The four programs in the series will highlight the connections between celebrated living composers and their kindred spirits, artists who have either been inspired or influenced by their visionary predecessors. Details here.
Actors’ Equity Blacklists Producer Garth Drabinsky
The long history of financial troubles with productions from Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky continues. “The actors and stage managers of [“Paradise Square”] asked for [producer Garth] Drabinsky to be put on the ‘Do Not Work’ list due to ‘outstanding payments and benefits, and a continued pattern of abuse and neglect that created an unsafe and toxic work environment,'” writes the Hollywood Reporter. “The decision comes after the cast and stage managers in the Broadway show initially reported not receiving their weekly direct deposit Thursday morning… Company members were previously told to report to the theater… to receive physical checks, in lieu of the direct deposit… but members were concerned about the checks bouncing… Money was then wired to Actors’ Equity members Thursday evening and the cast was poised to go on as scheduled. Other members of the production still planned to receive paper checks.”
“Seagull” Supports Ukraine Relief
Steppenwolf Theatre Company, in partnership with the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (Illinois Division), has raised more than $12,600 to support the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Funds were collected during each performance of ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Seagull.” The proceeds include a generous matching gift from Deborah and Stephen Quazzo. Throughout the run of “Seagull,” Steppenwolf also illuminated the edifice of its Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center in blue and yellow light as an act of solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Funds raised support two relief efforts: the Ukrainian Freedom Foundation’s Fund for Ukrainian Widows and Orphans of fallen Ukrainian Territorial Defense heroes and President Zelensky’s Charitable Fund for Defense and Demining, Medical Aid and Rebuilding. More on the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America here.
Victory Gardens “Dire” Warning For Regional Theaters?
“The board of the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago has not just stumbled, not simply fallen down, but taken a dire plunge from a high ledge,” writes New York arts administrator Howard Sherman in the UK’s The Stage. “The Victory Gardens trainwreck brings to the fore important questions of where the primacy in institutional theatres lies when dissension grows too great: is it with the professional leadership, the volunteer board, the affiliated artists, the donors, or the audience? Successful organisations hold them all in balance. The denouement of the Victory Gardens saga, whether it is final or just the close of another ugly chapter, will surely be dissected and studied for some time to come… The Biograph Theater, which Victory Gardens calls home, is landmarked through its own infamy: it was outside the Biograph in 1934 that the notorious bank robber John Dillinger was killed in a fusillade of bullets by FBI agents. In that case a crime spree was stopped. Eighty-eight years on, the situation may not be violent, but a forty-eight-year-old theatre company may be dying from a multitude of wounds, risking the end of a worthy artistic legacy.”
Chicago Playwright Anne McGravie Was Ninety-Six
“Anne McGravie, who came to the U.S. from Scotland after World War II, started out her working life in educational publishing but after a midlife career shift became an award-winning playwright whose work was frequently seen on Chicago’s stages,” reports the Tribune. “‘Anne’s plays had a huge following in Chicago,’ said Chris Jones, the Tribune’s… longtime theater critic. ‘They were beautifully observed, compassionate, warm-centered and, of course, drawn from a fascinating life.'”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
El Gran Festival Colombiano Returns
The Midwest’s largest celebration of Latino culture and music, El Gran Festival Colombiano (Colombian Fest Chicago), returns to Humboldt Park from July 22-24, celebrating the eighth year of presenting the best of Colombian culture and music. This festival, which coincides with Colombia’s Independence Day “20 de Julio,” also commemorates 200 years of diplomatic relations between Colombia and the United States. The festival is a family-friendly event featuring live music, food, artisans, dancing, and a kid zone with circus arts and portable Lazer Tag Arena designed especially for younger attendees. The entry gate is at 2800 West Division and opens at 3pm on Friday. More here.
Chicago Seven Activist John Froines Was Eighty-Three
“‘They’ll probably put it on my tombstone that I was one of the Chicago Seven,’ he told the Sun-Times with a laugh in 1979,” reports the Sun-Times. “Dr. Froines, along with six other anti-war activists, faced charges of conspiracy to incite a riot after protests outside Chicago’s 1968 Democratic National Convention devolved into chaos that put a national spotlight on police brutality, amplified criticism of the Vietnam War and highlighted a growing divide between the establishment and a burgeoning counterculture… ‘I think it was very successful, although obviously [it] had a reputation that was probably greater than it actually accomplished, but I think the trial really did affect people’s lives, and it affected the anti-war movement,’ Dr. Froines said last year on a Chicago Bar Association podcast.”
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