West Side Police Academy Will Build City Block For Training
Construction on a $33 million “tactical scenario village” for police and fire training at the West Side’s new police academy will include a fake city block, a six-story burn tower, a car crash rescue area and settings and props to simulate the real world, reports Block Club Chicago.
Resistance To Downtown Property Taxes Funding Far South Side Red Line
“A proposal from Mayor Lightfoot’s administration to use property tax revenue generated downtown to fund the $3.6 billion extension of the CTA’s Red Line from 95th Street to the city’s southern border near 130th Street faces an uncertain future amid opposition from Chicago City Council members,” reports Heather Cherone at WTTW.
Bosses Anticipate Leverage To Return Employees To Office Work
“The power balance swings back to employers when the economy slows. That will test the cultural awakening that many corporations professed to experience during what’s been called the ‘Great Resignation,'” opines Joe Cahill at Crain’s. “As bargaining power shifted from employers to employees to the greatest extent in modern memory, companies found themselves in the unfamiliar position of having to compete for the workers they needed to achieve their financial objectives.” Workers “served notice that they would no longer put up with long-standing abuses of corporate life. [But] with revenue declining and profits at risk, executives under pressure to hit earnings targets may revert to an earlier attitude toward employees… Truth be told, many if not most CEOs dislike work-from-home. Many already are salivating over the possible return of job insecurity, believing it will give them the leverage to order workers back to the office.”
DINING & DRINKING
Cellar Door Reopens
Cellar Door Provisions will return in Logan Square, reports Eater Chicago. The restaurant employed twenty-three people at the start of 2020, “serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in the small Logan Square space… Chef Ethan Pikas was nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2019 and 2020. But Pikas and his business partner Tony Bezsylko felt overwhelmed… Pikas has softened the restaurant’s focus on local sourcing. While all vegetables, dairy, and proteins are still coming from Midwestern farms, Cellar Door is now flying in seafood via Regalis Foods (a renowned gourmet food purveyor), seasoning dishes with lemons, and substituting Italian olive oil… Most of Cellar Door Provisions’ menu is inspired by Spanish, Italian, and French dishes that incorporate just three or four main ingredients and are meant to pair well with wine.”
On The Times’ “Bear” Beat: New York Paper Sees Beef Sandwich Surge
Remember when the HBO series “Girls” was featured in the New York Times eight or ten times a week? Enter: “The Bear.” “The FX series has fueled a spike in sales of the sandwich at Chicago-specialty restaurants across the country,” avers the New York Times. “Last month, Dan Michaels, an owner of Gino’s East of Chicago in Los Angeles, watched as orders for Italian beef—the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef and tangy giardiniera piled on a roll—suddenly soared to 300 a day, from 150 a day in June… Search interest on Google… nearly doubled after the show was released on Hulu on June 23, and Chicago-style restaurants across the country are feeling the effects… Jarret Kerr, an owner of Dog Day Afternoon, a Chicago Italian beef and hot dog restaurant in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, said he had seen at least a fifty-percent increase in orders of hot Italian beef sandwiches—at $15, the most expensive item on the menu… The cramped shop used to sell up to a dozen a day; the staff is now slinging thirty or more a day and selling out daily. ‘It’s been a godsend… Now every day we say, well, thank you to ‘The Bear,’ thank you to ‘The Bear.’”
Amy Morton’s first eatery, Evanston’s Found Restaurant, will close in October, reports Eater Chicago. “Since opening Found in 2012 in Evanston, Morton has debuted two more suburban restaurants: The Barn Steakhouse in Evanston and Stolp Island Social in Aurora… After ten years, Morton says she’ll close Found on Sunday, October 2 as her lease expires with developers set to demolish the building.”
Fighting Those Who Ban Books
“Almost every day we see a new story about conservatives attempting to stigmatize or outright remove a growing list of books from school or public libraries,” writes columnist Margaret Sullivan in the Washington Post, offering context and suggestion about battling those who ban books. “Walking last week through a New-York Historical Society exhibit, ‘A Century of Defending the Written Word,‘ related to PEN America’s centennial, I was struck by one photograph in particular: a disturbing black-and-white image of books being destroyed in a large bonfire in 1933 Berlin as a bystander raised his arm in a Nazi salute… Have we been here before?”
Vic Mensa And Chicago’s First Black Brand Of Weed
“Vic Mensa has launched 93 Boyz, a ‘premium gas’ weed brand aimed at reinvesting in communities hit hardest by marijuana criminalization,” reports Block Club Chicago. “After more than two years of legal weed in Illinois, the shelves at Chicago’s dispensaries are finally stocked with cannabis products made by a local Black-owned company. The company [is] making the rapper’s line of weed products the first Chicago-based, Black-owned brand to get a foothold in the city’s recreational cannabis industry.”
Riot Fest Apologizes
“With a community-led movement to evict big-ticket music festivals from Douglass Park gaining steam, Riot Fest management has let go its event organizer and apologized to the community for his ‘tone’ at a neighborhood meeting last week that only seemed to exacerbate the festival’s fraught relationship with residents,” reports the Trib.
Riot Fest Aftershows Include Thursday, Action Bronson, Jimmy Eat World And Sunny Day Real Estate
Riot Fest has announced aftershows for venues across Chicago from September 15-18, and tickets go on sale today at 10am. Select shows will donate $2 (per ticket) to support humanitarian relief efforts and aid to the people of Ukraine. “Riot Fest will match all donations, with the proceeds going to local community organizations at our home, Douglass Park.” Highlights include The Get Up Kids, Thursday, Alkaline Trio, Action Bronson, Jimmy Eat World, Jawbox, Alexisonfire and The Academy Is…, along with The Maine. Full album plays include Thursday performing “Full Collapse” and Jeff Rosenstock performing “SKA DREAM.” Tickets are on sale at 10am on Thursday, and Riot Fest site is here.
Orchestra Workloads Chafe
“New programming initiatives mean musicians are rehearsing more unfamiliar works, and, come curtain time, standard repertoire sometimes ends up underrehearsed,” reports San Francisco Classical Voice. “Shutdown-induced layoffs mean remaining administrative staffers do the work of two or more people. They’re burning out, and management’s biggest concerns seem to be elsewhere… The stress and strain of the current situation have contributed to an increased number of musicians taking retirement or, in some cases, simply quitting. This, in turn, requires management to find and hire replacements—a condition one Bay Area musician feared was turning an iconic institution into ‘a pick-up orchestra.'”
Third Coast Percussion Concert Season Includes World And U.S. Premieres
The Third Coast Percussion quartet of classically trained percussionists announces its Chicago concert season, including a new arrangement of the Brazil-inspired “Aguas da Amazonia” by Philip Glass in his eighty-fifth year; a pair of world premieres by renowned contemporary composers Missy Mazzoli (“Millennium Canticles”) and Mark Applebaum (“Gauntlet”); and “Metamorphosis,” a collaborative program featuring Chicago premieres of new percussive scores by Jlin and Tyondai Braxton with choreography by the Los Angeles-based street dance duo of Lil Buck and Jon Boogz; as well as a third world premiere by Third Coast Percussion. Details here.
Remembering Former Music Of The Baroque Chorus Director William Jon Gray
Music of the Baroque notes the passing of William Jon Gray, “our esteemed chorus director from 2010 to 2019. While Bill worked most closely with singers during his tenure, we all benefited in some way from his deep love of music and superlative scholarship.” Principal guest conductor Nicholas Kraemer writes, “I am very saddened by the death of Bill Gray. We will all miss his enthusiasm, humour, his love of music, and his meticulous attention to detail. He was one of those rare choral conductors who made you feel that what you were asking for interpretatively was the only way, even if another conductor might ask for a different approach the next time. He provided the same impeccable service to us all.” Gray’s obituary is here.
Navy Pier Noche Caribeña Celebrates Puerto Rican Culture
In partnership with the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Navy Pier will host the “Noche Caribeña” concert on Saturday, August 13 at the Lake Stage. This concert celebrating Puerto Rican culture features multiple music genres, including Puerto Rican and Afro-Caribbean folk, popular Latin American, big band, salsa, ballads, bomba and plena interpretations, featuring artists Carpacho y Super Combo and Son Divas. Details here.
Victory Gardens Theater “Wall-To-Wall” Unionization With IATSE
“The remaining full-time staff of Victory Gardens Theater (also known as The VGT 9) have officially begun the process of unionization with IATSE, including the part-time staff of the organization. The Board of Directors has refused to communicate with the staff since they publicly demanded the Board’s resignation on July 6, 2022 and has repeatedly ignored staff requests for discussions,” the group announces in a release, linking to an “exclusive” given to the Los Angeles Times about the developments at the historic organization, headlined “A Chicago theater’s staff unionizes amid protests of its board of directors.” Writes the staff collectively, “The power imbalance between board, staff and artists is one of the pervasive problems facing the American theater industry. The entire Victory Gardens staff (full-time and part-time) is unionizing. We aim to build a more just and equitable theater ecosystem. Now the board can no longer be silent—they must finally talk to us.”
Board chairman Charles Harris II tells the Times, “We stand by the difficult and significant decisions we have made as a board that have kept this theater financially solvent for so many decades, including through the unprecedented COVID shutdown.” Write the employees: “In no other sector does a group of people have so much power yet so little expertise in the field. Our staff has people with decades of theater experience and master’s degrees in theater, yet a board made up of lawyers, oil executives and real estate moguls is playing puppetry with our livelihoods as their volunteer hobby. This power imbalance is plaguing regional theater across America. While we cannot tear down the broken 501(c)3 non-profit model at this time, perhaps this is a new way to rebalance power structures in the American theater.”
Afro-Puerto Rican Dancer And Folklorist Tata Cepeda Presents Workshops And Performances
Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, Chicago’s longest-standing Latino cultural center, is partnering with legendary Afro-Puerto Rican dancer and folklorist Tata Cepeda and a six-piece ensemble of master bomba practitioners for workshops and performances. “La Mariposa de la Bomba” (“The Butterfly of Bomba”), as she is affectionately known in the Afro-Puerto Rican and folkloric dance community, comes to Chicago for the first time to work with Chicago-based youth in the development of talent to preserve Puerto Rico’s oldest form of music and dance. The first event open to the public in the eight-day series is at SRBCC, 4048 West Armitage, on Friday, August 12, 2022. RSVP for this event here.
SRBCC also partners with the Chicago Park District and Night Out in the Parks to bring a free outdoor show, featuring Tata Cepeda’s ensemble with an opening act by SRBCC’s youth jazz ensemble, Ruiz Belvis Collective, to Addams/Medill Park, 1301 West 14th, on Sunday, August 14, no RSVP required. Brenda Torres-Figueroa, director of educational programming at SRBCC, says in a release, “The historic visit of Tata Cepeda to Chicago encompasses our entire vision, continuum and fierce practice of our Afro-Puerto Rican heritage through Bomba and also the new sound of resistance as a culture. We’re delighted to work with an artist whose mission is so evidently compatible with ours.”
Congo Square Theatre In Residence At Lookingglass For Remount Of “What to Send Up When It Goes Down”
Single tickets are on sale for Congo Square Theatre Company and Lookingglass Theatre Company’s remount of Congo Square’s production of “What to Send Up When It Goes Down,” in residence at Lookingglass Theatre Company’s Water Tower Water Works theater from September 24-October 16. “Congo Square presented the Chicago premiere of playwright Aleshea Harris’ powerful play-pageant-healing ritual this past spring, with performances on the West Side at GRAY Chicago and on the South side at Stony Island Arts Bank. While in residence at Lookingglass Theatre Company, Congo Square extends its citywide tour into the heart of downtown Chicago; continuing Congo Square’s commitment to community engagement, half of the tickets for each performance will again be donated to local community groups.” All tickets are $35 here.
South Chicago Dance Theatre Debuts Major Commissions And Collaborations
South Chicago Dance Theatre, which fuses classical and contemporary dance styles, proudly announces its performance season featuring commissions by, and collaborations with, some of Chicago’s most prominent arts organizations. Among season highlights: “The company’s first collaboration with Music of the Baroque. Its Baroque Heroes program in October opens with Praetorius’s ‘Dances from the Terpsichore,’ featuring world-premiere choreography by South Chicago Dance Theatre executive artistic director Kia S. Smith. March 2023 is the world premiere of a new work by Smith commissioned by Giordano Dance Chicago and featuring artists from both companies. This is the first collaboration of its kind in GDC’s sixty-year history of creating and presenting innovative jazz dance choreography. The piece will honor Homer Hans Bryant for his lifetime of contributions to the dance world locally and globally. South Chicago Dance Theatre will end its season with the debut at the Auditorium Theatre in June 2023 with the world premiere of ‘Memoirs of Jazz in the Alley,’ an evening-length work celebrating the legacy of renowned saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, the father of Kia S. Smith.” More here.
Winifred Haun & Dancers Mark A Quarter-Century
Winifred Haun & Dancers will celebrate twenty-five years of creating, presenting, and teaching innovative dance with a “Moonstone Season,” which will include three major performances, an expansion of community programming, and online events. The gem Moonstone “represents light, hope, and new beginnings. Moonstone is also associated with inner clarity, femininity, and cyclical change,” the company relays in a release. The season opens November 5 at the Athenaeum Center, with the premiere of “When day comes,” a group work choreographed by Winifred Haun. The full program will feature excerpts from a retrospective of Company works including, “Promise,” “Bento,” “I am (not) this body” and “Love Not Me,” a solo choreographed originally for Winifred Haun by Randy Duncan in 1989. Tickets here. More on the company here.
Joffrey Season Begins
The Joffrey Ballet begins its 2022-23 season with “Beyond Borders,” “a mixed-repertory program that pays tribute to the Joffrey’s maverick legacy with works by artists of its past and present.” It includes a second original work commissioned from choreographer Chanel DaSilva, in addition to favorite works by critically acclaimed choreographer Liam Scarlett and Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino. “Beyond Borders” will be presented at the Lyric Opera House in ten performances only, from October 12-23. More here.
Broken Nose Theatre Presents “Bechdel Fest 9: Next Level”
Broken Nose Theatre presents “Bechdel Fest 9: Next Level,” the company’s annual festival of new, short plays featuring an ensemble of femme, female-identifying, non-binary, trans and queer actors talking about things other than men. Bechdel Fest will play four performances, August 28–31, 2022 at BNT’s resident home The Den Theatre, 1331 North Milwaukee. Tickets for all BNT productions are pay-what-you-can, with $25 suggested. Details here; tickets here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Visiting Oak Street Masseur Bruce Groeper
“Chatting with Bruce Groeper is like consuming a fully dipped Italian beef—uniquely Chicago,” Mitch Dudek leads off a Sun-Times profile. “For the past sixteen years, the armored truck driver turned massage therapist has been kneading flesh from a cabana at Oak Street Beach in the shadow of the Gold Coast.” Colorful Chicagoan ensues.
Twenty-Seventh Black Women’s Expo At McCormick Place
The 27th Annual Black Women’s Expo runs August 12–14 at McCormick Place with the theme, “The Legacy Continues.” Merry Green, creator and executive producer of the largest expo for Black women in the country, says in a release, “We chose this theme in tribute to the thousands of Black women, men and families that have supported us over the years without fail. This weekend has always been about celebrating the greatness of the Black woman. As a team, we strive to make every moment spent at Expo uplifting, empowering and just plain fun.” “Attendees can expect three days of informative seminars, guest speakers, a youth summit, live demonstrations including a fashion show, hair show, job fair and main stage entertainment. More than 400 exhibitors will be on the main floor, showing products and services. Headline entertainment includes balladeer El DeBarge, DJ Mannie Fresh, R&B singer Montell Jordan and performances by local artists. Actress Brandee Evans and singer, writer/producer Nicci Gilbert will be featured speakers.” More here.
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]