NIAM Opens “Desi Roots And Wings”
The National Indo-American Museum (NIAM), which connects cultures through the diverse colorful stories of Indian Americans, is presenting “American Desis: Roots and Wings,” an exploration of the heritage and experiences of Indian Americans in the United States. The exhibition comprises a set of twenty-four interpretive panels, the first of which reads, “The first Asian in Congress. The creator of Hotmail. Athletes. Doctors. Cab drivers. Musicians. Activists. Today, one out of every hundred Americans traces his or her roots to India. From Silicon Valley to Smalltown, U.S.A., the lives and stories of America’s 3.3 million Indian Americans are woven into the larger story of this nation—and have shaped what it is today.” The exhibition opens with a free reception Friday, July 29, 5-7pm. All events are at NIAM’s home, the Umang and Paragi Patel Center, 815 South Main, Lombard. More here.
Google Gets Landmark Thompson Center For $105 Million
“Google will be moving into the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago’s Loop in a revamped deal of the state’s sale of the Helmut Jahn-designed building to a developer,” reports the Trib. “Amending previous plans, the state will sell the entire 1.2 million-square-foot building for $105 million and purchase an office building at 115 South LaSalle for $75 million, said Michael Reschke, chairman and CEO of real estate developer The Prime Group, [which] is leading the purchasing group.” At a press conference in the building’s atrium, reports the Sun-Times, “Governor Pritzker said the deal will save money for state taxpayers, certify Chicago’s appeal to the tech community and revitalize a section of downtown.”
Adds Block Club Chicago: “The famed building will be sold to the tech giant, which will ‘entirely’ redevelop the Thompson Center into an office suite for its workers.” From Google’s corporate blog, by Karen Sauder, Google Chicago Site Lead and Global Clients and Agency Solutions President: “In 2000, Google’s Chicago office consisted of two people in River North. Now, that presence has grown to more than 1,800 employees in Fulton Market… This will support engineering work in Chicago and helps advance the growth of Google’s partners and customers across the Midwest and nationally. It also helps us meet the future needs of our flexible hybrid workforce. By establishing a presence in Chicago’s central business district, we will be getting in on the ground floor of a broader revitalization of the Loop. The Thompson Center will provide employees with unparalleled public transit access as the only building in the city where six L train lines converge, easily connecting Chicago’s South, West and North sides. Once renovated to a Class A environmentally friendly office building, we anticipate occupying the Thompson Center starting in 2026.” Comments Micah Uetricht, editor of left-leaning Jacobin magazine: “An architecturally stunning building in the heart of downtown Chicago formerly owned by the public that is directly across from city hall and features crucial public space inside and out is now going to be owned by [Google]. A travesty.”
Chicago Will Benefit From Infrastructure Billions
A federal “initiative, included in last year’s infrastructure law, makes $1.75 billion available for cities to make transit stations more accessible to disabled people,” reports the New York Times. “When the A.D.A. was enacted thirty-two years ago, only six percent of Chicago’s rail stations were compliant. Now, about seventy percent of its stations have been updated, but the remainder face technical and financial challenges…” “Some were never designed to hold an elevator or other accessibility structure. Others are located on either small pieces of land or in the median of expressways,” a statement from the CTA read. “Rehabbing those stations takes considerable time and money.”
Massive “Matrix Club” Space To Open In Naperville
The Matrix Club, a multicultural convention, banquet and performing arts venue will open in late summer in Naperville. “The Matrix Club promises to bring high quality social and corporate events, concerts and other forms of entertainment which the community can enjoy regularly,” the 75,000-square-foot establishment relays in a release. The restaurant, The Matrix Room, will be “an eclectic and immersive fine dining experience with a live music stage.” Michelin starred Chef Yanni Sanchez will provide “a bold mix of international cuisines and modern American fare.” Other attractions: banquet halls, a performing arts center, an art gallery, yoga studios, a state-of-the-art music sound lab and the 210-seat Dhrishti Center for Performing Arts. “When designing and building the club, conceptualizer Madan Kulkarni worked with Raffi Arzoumanian, principal of a+c Architects, to create a welcoming space with an international vibe and every conceivable amenity.” Kulkarni says, “The Matrix Club will challenge the way people think about designing, planning and executing events. When someone entrusts us with their special day—be it a wedding, birthday, corporate gathering, school proms or concerts–our goal is to transcend their expectations.” More here.
YEEZY Day Chicago Declared
August 2 will be YEEZY day at the Promontory. “Join The Dott Daley and K Moon for the celebration of one of the most famous shoes of the decade—The YEEZY,” reads the invitation. “Music by Chicago’s hottest DJs! Food vendor will be in the building! Specialty YEEZY drinks crafted by our in house mixologists. We encourage everyone to please wear your YEEZY shoes to this event.” Details and tickets here.
DINING & DRINKING
Chef Whitney McMorris Moves To Michigan Avenue’s Brasserie, Venteux
Whitney McMorris, who was the opening executive chef of South Side fine dining locale Bronzeville Winery, has taken on the mantle of executive chef of Venteux, the brasserie at Pendry Chicago. “McMorris jumpstarted her career with an internship at Alinea’s The Aviary before moving on to Michelin-starred Moto, where she worked under late molecular gastronomist Homaru Cantu,” Venteux relays in a release. “She also held positions in the kitchens of Acanto, Terzo Piano and Quartino Ristorante.” Says McMorris, “I’m excited to focus on French cooking—classic techniques, artful plating and of course lots of butter and cream! As a child I was captivated watching videos of Julia Child in the kitchen, it was one of the things that initially sparked my interest in becoming a chef and attending Le Cordon Bleu. There is a nuance about this style of cooking that’s really exciting; it gives me the freedom to get creative with different flavors and influences from all over the world.” The Venteux site is here.
What “The Bear” Knows About Black Chefs
“Black creativity in restaurant kitchens large and small is not a new concept. Our genius can be experienced in a variety of restaurant settings: from fast casual spots and food trucks to bakeries and upscale restaurants. And while they may not always be recognized with endless Michelin stars and James Beard Awards, Black chefs continue to [influence] restaurant culture and culinary art on a global scale, demonstrating their ability to adapt quickly and apply innovative thinking,” writes Chasity Cooper at The Triibe, talking to Black chefs about their own experiences similar to those in the FX series. “While all chefs—no matter race, gender or background—are expected to perform with excellence, there is still an unspoken level of perfection that Black chefs in predominantly-white spaces know they have to uphold, which is expressed by both Marcus and Sydney throughout ‘The Bear.'”
More “Bear” Love And Beef Love And Chicago Love
At the Sun-Times, Miriam DiNunzio talks authenticity with showrunner Christopher Storer. “‘Chris Zucchero [the owner of Mr. Beef] has been a dear friend of mine since we were kids, so I’ve spent a lot of time at Mr. Beef… A lot of [the culture] is rooted in tradition and in family, which are the same themes the show deals with. Every family, or restaurant, has their own unique way… Their own recipes, their own secrets,’ said Storer, who grew up in Chicago and admits Italian beef is really his favorite sandwich… Joanna Calo, co-showrunner, writer and director of the series, said there were a lot of taste tests… ‘During the writing process in Los Angeles, [we] would talk at length about the different ways to eat beef and the differences between… Johnnie’s, Mr. Beef and Portillo’s. The writers had the chocolate cake from Portillo’s delivered for inspiration. We all arrived in Chicago a month before production and I tried beef everywhere. I gained ten pounds in the first two weeks, though most of that came from Kasama breakfast sandwiches.'” Jeremy Allen White shouts Chicago: “I grew up in New York and I live in L.A… And I love those cities. Chicago is another city that I now feel very at home in. I love the people there. And it’s a wonderful food city, obviously. And the city is keeping me employed, so I’m very grateful for Chicago.”
Lonesome Rose Serves Its Own Choco Taco
Farewell, Klondike Choco Taco, but as Mina Bloom reports at Block Club, Chicago goes you one better. “You can still get a version of the beloved frozen dessert at a Logan Square restaurant and bar. Lonesome Rose at 2101 North California serves a version of the creation—dubbed the Chaco-Taco—with house-made horchata ice cream and a peanut-pretzel crumble, an elevated take on the classic ice cream truck treats. The dessert’s waffle cones—made to look like a taco shell, of course—are also made in-house.” Writes Kate Kassin at Bon Appétit of the original: “Those of us who love the Choco Taco will always remember our first. We tore open the crinkly metallic wrapper to reveal the thin and crunchy waffle cone shell coated inside with milk chocolate, its brain-freeze-inducing vanilla ice cream, and the thick and gloppy fudge top studded with peanut shards. It was a revelation: like a sundae, but every bite filled with the perfect ratio of ice cream, cone, chocolate, and nuts.”
Grill On 21 Opens At LaSalle Hotel In Financial District
Grill on 21, the latest venture from the Roanoke Hospitality Group, has opened its doors in the heart of Chicago’s Financial District. Named for its location on the twenty-first floor within The LaSalle Hotel at 208 South LaSalle, the restaurant is a modern interpretation of the American grill. “We are thrilled to invite locals and visitors alike for a grand dining experience and exceptional menu items,” director of operations Antoine Gaillard says in a release. “Whether guests are looking for a nutritious breakfast, an efficient and polished business lunch or an indulgent and special night out, Grill on 21 is the perfect option right in the heart of Chicago.” “Deftly paying homage to tradition while acknowledging contemporary dining trends, the menu features a diverse array of grilled steaks, chops, hearth-roasted fish, poultry, locally grown produce, and plant-based items, sourcing the menu’s high-quality ingredients from environmentally responsible local family farms, ranchers and sustainable fisheries.” More here.
Can Google Prevent Scammers Extorting Restaurants With One-Star Reviews?
Here’s a survey of restaurants victimized across the country, including in Chicago: “In the grand scheme of stupid things that restaurant owners have to deal with, this is just one more stupid thing,” reports Bon Appétit. “Parachute was just one of the Chicago restaurants targeted by scammers in attacks that spanned the country… Weeks later, some targeted restaurants, including Parachute, have found the one-star reviews are finally gone. Still, the scammers found an easy target in independent restaurants that faced headaches [trying] to have the reviews removed. Weeks after the scam began, it’s revealed… how reliant restaurants are on review platforms like Google, and how little power they have to respond to bad actors. It’s a fragile system that restaurant owners rely on heavily to succeed, and one that has few checks and balances to ensure they aren’t being taken advantage of or extorted… For internet savvy restaurant owners… putting out an online call to customers helps lessen the blow of these one-star reviews. But for restaurant owners that don’t have a social media presence or aren’t comfortable on the internet, the situation could cause strife and serious loss of business without the recourse of a loyal group of online followers to step in and help.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Life Lived Underground For Twenty-Nine Years
Michael Phillips checks into the Chicago Underground Film Festival’s latest incarnation at the Tribune. For CUFF artistic director Bryan Wendorf, online editions aren’t the thing for the event in its twenty-ninth year, the longest-running underground fest on the planet. “Meeting the filmmakers, the audience, getting those people together in the same room. That’s what’s interesting about a film festival. Being present in the world. Looking people in the eye. And not when they’re on a computer screen.” CUFF is at the Logan Theatre and runs through Sunday, with multiple events and afterparties. The complete schedule, afternoon and evening, is here.
Blackstone Publishing Will Issue Ramsey Lewis Memoir
Blackstone Publishing has announced the October 2023 release of Grammy Award-winning pianist and NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis’ memoir. Lewis will co-write the book with award-winning jazz journalist and author Aaron Cohen. For sixty years, Lewis has been one of the most popular pianists in jazz. He has released more than eighty albums performed on a regular basis at the world’s largest and most prestigious concert halls and festivals. A National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, Top 10 hitmaker and winner of three Grammys, Lewis has also hosted popular television and radio shows. “His influence not only reaches today’s younger jazz artists but the beats he created decades ago can also be heard across R&B and hip-hop,” the publisher writes. “Through it all, Lewis has remained grounded, never leaving behind his roots in Chicago.” Lewis says in the release, “I would like to leave behind something that tells my story. Who I am, where I’ve been, what I think, what I feel. Something for my kids, grandkids, great grandkids and everyone. So that thirty years from now people will say, ‘Let me check his book out, my mom and dad used to talk about him.’ Through this book, I would like readers to come away with how commitment and honesty are combined to make your life what you want it to be.”
Hyde Park Herald Donated To South Side Weekly
The owner of the Hyde Park Herald, Bruce Sagan, has retired after sixty-nine years. Sagan “has been at the helm of the oldest community newspaper in Chicago since taking over in 1953,” the paper relays in a release. Sagan has donated the paper to the South Side Weekly, the Woodlawn-based journalism nonprofit founded in 2013. South Side Weekly has committed to preserving and continuing the legacy of Hyde Park Herald, and both the Herald and the Weekly will publish without interruption. An upcoming keepsake edition will feature photos and stories of Sagan’s days at the Herald, exploring his role in the community and newspaper publishing. This special tribute edition with a run of 15,000 copies will be published Thursday, July 28 in both Hyde Park Herald and South Side Weekly. The paper’s site is here.
Babes With Blades’ “Richard III” Makes Moves
Babes With Blades Theatre Company launches their season with “Richard III,” in partnership with the University of Illinois Chicago’s Disability Cultural Center. “The pandemic has brought many of the inequities that exist in professional theater to centerstage,” BWBTC says in a release. “Artists took the time during lockdown to protest and educate the professional theater community on a litany of ways it has failed members of their own community. As one of the many identities underrepresented on American stages, actors with disabilities have had to prove themselves capable in auditions as well as in the everyday world, but their efforts are frequently unacknowledged by the general public. BWBTC Shakespeare is proudly contributing to the movement towards a more equitable industry with the production of ‘Richard III.'” Richard Costes, the director and a deaf artist, says, “Shakespeare wrote this play as propaganda and the ableism inherent in the text doesn’t disappear. In 2022, we are morally obligated to battle outdated stereotypes. One tactic is to cast other disabled actors—and to be dramaturgically specific about the roles they are cast in… By featuring two or more actors with disability onstage, in polar-opposite roles, we can confront the trope of disability as a metaphorical mark of Cain.” The production runs August 25-October 15 at The Edge Theater, 5451 North Broadway, with select live-streamed performances. All performances are presented with open captioning. Tickets go on sale Monday, August 1 here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Chicago Loop Alliance’s First 2022 Sunday On State Draws 113,000
Chicago Loop Alliance’s first Sundays on State event of the year attracted 113,362 people visitors on July 24. Over 200 pop-ups filled State Street, nearly eighty percent of which featured underrepresented business owners. Based on preliminary data, CLA advises, “the program has accomplished its goals of accelerating the economic recovery; uniting the community; positively shaping public perception of the Loop; and creating joy.” The August 7 Sundays on State lineup is here.
Far-Right Groups Target Familiar Chicago Drag Events
“Kid-friendly drag performances and story hours have been held in Chicago for years, particularly during Pride Week in June. The events, replete with colorful costumes and makeup, offer children a chance to see free expression and broken-down gender norms, according to those that host them,” writes Madeline Buckley at the Tribune. “Though kid-friendly drag performances are modified to be appropriate for children—more akin to Disney than anything risqué—extremist groups have seized upon the events across the country as inappropriate and harmful to children.”
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