Rebuild Illinois Downtowns And Main Streets Program Sends $106 Million To Communities
Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced $106 million in capital grants awarded to revitalize fifty commercial corridors and main streets throughout Illinois, the state relays in a release. In addition to the $106 million in state funding, projects offered an additional $109 million in matching grant funds, for a total investment of $215 million. “The historic Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets Capital program represents the largest-ever RBI investment focused on community revitalization. Projects will revitalize commercial hubs, beautify and modernize downtowns, address critical infrastructure needs, boost jobs and improve the quality of life for residents.”
Picturing New Gates At Graceland Cemetery
Uptown Update is shutter-bugging at the west gate of Graceland Cemetery, where renovations are under way.
DINING & DRINKING
Fanfic Cuisine With Iliana Regan
“By recreating dishes from popular media like ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Twin Peaks,’ the chef Iliana Regan didn’t just turn fine dining on its head at her restaurant Elizabeth—she cooked fanfiction,” writes Eater. “The chef, Iliana Regan, has seemingly never done anything half-assed or half-hearted in her life; if she was bothering to cook a [‘Game of Thrones’ menu], there was going to be a chest of handmade dragon eggs next to the duck press near the kitchen. Regan is a gatherer, of both what she serves for dinner and details from the stories she interrogates through her cooking. At Elizabeth under Regan, her use of these sources transcended dining room cliché.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Malkovich Plots Film Studio In North Macedonia
“On a recent visit to Serbia, John Malkovich announced plans to team with D.W. Moffett and Matt Dillon to build a state-of-the-art film, music and media production facility in North Macedonia, a small, mountainous country of just two million inhabitants,” reports Variety. “Malkovich–a self-described ‘son of the Balkans’ whose father is of Croatian descent–insisted that the studios have the potential to transform film and television production in the region.” The project, Stonebridge Studios, “awaits approval from the government of the ex-Yugoslavian republic, which according to the studio’s backers stands to gain €1.6 billion ($1.6 billion) in GDP [if] international productions flock to the country.”
MoviePass Plots Return With Tiered Service (And Waitlist)
“Stacy Spikes, the former studio marketer who co-founded MoviePass only to be ousted as its CEO, outlined revival plans for MoviePass during a panel at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. Spikes and his business partners acquired the brand out of bankruptcy and have hired a number of former employees, including engineers,” reports Business Insider. “‘We’re going to make mistakes,’ Spikes said while discussing his planned reboot of the service. ‘We’re not going to get it right out of the box. It’s going to be trial and error.'”
“The subsidized ticketing subscription service will relaunch in beta form on Labor Day, though potential users will have to join a waitlist,” reports Variety. “MoviePass will allow customers to sign up on its website for a standby list, which will be open for five days. Anyone who makes the cut will be notified on September 5… Prices will vary based on the customer’s ZIP code—and general tiers will be $10, $20 or $30 a month. Each option will give the user a number of credits each month… MoviePass has not specified the amount of credits that come with each plan, nor the number of credits required to reserve a movie ticket. There are plenty more unanswered questions. Will first-run movies be included? (In the final days of MoviePass 1.0, users weren’t permitted to get tickets to new blockbusters.) And which theaters will be participating? MoviePass says it has partnered with twenty-five-percent of movie theaters in the U.S., but it’s unclear if that includes major chains like AMC Theatres or Regal Cinemas.”
Printers Row Lit Fest Announces Select Programming
The thirty-seventh annual Printers Row Lit Fest, presented by the Near South Planning Board, has announced a sample of participating authors and programming highlights. The festival kicks off with Evanston-based Pulitzer Prize-winner and two-term United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, who will be awarded with this year’s Harold Washington Literary Award. Chicago authors and stories include dozens of books and anthologies focused on Chicago, from columnist Neil Steinberg’s “Every Goddamn Day: A Highly Selective, Definitely Opinionated, and Alternatingly Humorous and Heartbreaking Historical Tour of Chicago” and Ray Long’s “The House that Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois’ Velvet Hammer,” to fiction set in Chicago neighborhoods such as Toya Wolfe’s “Last Summer on State Street,” Joe Meno’s “Book of Extraordinary Tragedies,” and “One Book One Chicago” author Eric Charles May’s “Bedrock Faith.” Printers Row Lit Fest, one of the three largest and oldest literary festivals in the U.S., will stretch across five blocks, along South Dearborn from Ida B. Wells Drive to Polk and on Polk from State to Clark, in Chicago’s historic Printers Row. ” The outdoor event is accessible via public transportation and takes place rain or shine, Saturday-Sunday, September 10-11, 10am-6pm. Much more here.
Storyteller Juel Ulven Mourned In Aurora
“Friends and family are mourning the death of Juel Ulven, a man known for his work with the Fox Valley Folklore Society and for his involvement in many events in the area including the annual ukulele festival in Aurora,” reports the Aurora Beacon-News (via the Trib). The seventy-five-year-old “also served as the president of the Fox Valley Folklore Society, a non-profit charitable organization that has also been helped by Naperville resident Cheryl Joyal… ‘He was the Midwestern linchpin of folk music and storytelling… I’ve worked with Juel the past twenty-two years with the Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival which is our largest annual event… He founded the Fox Valley Folklore Society in 1975… Juel had an immense knowledge of folk music and history.”
Twenty Percent Of New York Daily News Staff Quits
“Twelve journalists have resigned from the Daily News over the last three months. That’s about twenty-percent [of] our newsroom. Staffers are quitting in droves. Our owners—Alden Global Capital—don’t seem to care. New York City should care,” the New York Daily News union posts on Twitter. “We’re down to two staff reporters to chase crimes on the street. Our sports department has been gutted. We lost our longtime back page editor. Our Metro editor left. We were already hanging on by a thread after Alden issues buyouts last year. Now we can barely put out the paper. Some of these positions have been backfilled, but the mass exodus from the Daily News has a single, clear reason: Alden has made the paper a worse place to work. Alden emptied out our printing plant in New Jersey, outsourced the work to a plant farther away from the city. They’ll likely sell the former plant—but we don’t expect they’ll reinvest those profits into more journalism New Yorkers desperately need. This is their playbook.”
“Big Tech” Could Have To Pay Publishers For News Aggregation
“The newspaper industry, which has been struggling with deep ad revenue declines in the digital age, is backing proposed legislation that would force Big Tech to pay publishers for aggregating their news stories online,” reports the Trib. “The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act seeks to level the playing field by allowing local newspapers, broadcasters and other online publishers to negotiate collectively for an annual content fee from Google and Meta/Facebook, which dominate the digital advertising market.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
City Mental Health Resources For The Arts Community
“The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been working to increase coordinated access to mental health services across the city and to ensure that resources are available to all Chicagoans regardless of insurance status, immigration status, or ability to pay,” the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special events reminds in a release. “CDPH developed Unspoken, a dual English and Spanish-language website and campaign, to provide crucial resources and connections to mental health support.” DCASE also passes along a link to a printable one-page flyer that describes CDPH’s Mental Health Equity Initiative, including details on the Trauma-Informed Centers of Care (TICC) network, CDPH Mental Health Centers, and Unspoken Campaign.
Co-Founder Of Chamber Opera Of Chicago Transfigures $1.6 Billion Company Tax-Free Into Political Dark Money
“A new conservative nonprofit group scored a $1.6 billion windfall last year via a little-known donor—an extraordinary sum that could give Republicans and their causes a huge financial boost ahead of the midterms, and for years to come,” reports the New York Times.” The source of the money was Barre Seid, ninety, “an electronics manufacturing mogul, and the donation is among the largest—if not the largest—single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit.” The contribution involves a tax-free donation of his holdings in the Tripp Lite corporation to The Marble Freedom Trust, which “is a new political group controlled by Leonard A. Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules and climate change policy. This windfall will help cement Mr. Leo’s status as a kingmaker in conservative big money politics. It could also give conservatives an advantage in a type of difficult-to-trace spending that shapes elections and political fights.”
Salon described Barre’s activism in 2010: “The elderly and press-shy Seid is president of Tripp Lite, a large Chicago-based manufacturer of power strips that got into the personal computer market on the ground floor back in the 1980s. Seid has personally poured millions of dollars into Republican campaigns and conservative causes, and his foundation has given generously to the Cato Institute, the Americans for Limited Government Foundation and the David Horowitz Freedom Center.”
The Times again: “The Marble Freedom Trust could help conservatives… surpass the left [in] dark money, [so-called] because the groups involved can raise and spend unlimited sums on politics while revealing little about where they got the money or how they spent it.” (The Times goes into depth on the likely legal, but torturous financial wrangling.) ProPublica writes in a concurrent report with that of the Times: “Some more details on the $1.6 billion donation to a new conservative group, including: a tax law change signed by Obama in 2015 opened the door to massive tax savings and public subsidy of such political gifts.” “To my knowledge, it is entirely without precedent for a political operative to be given control of such an astonishing amount of money,” Brendan Fischer, a campaign finance lawyer at the nonpartisan watchdog group Documented tells ProPublica. “Leonard Leo is already incredibly powerful, and now he is going to have over a billion dollars at his disposal to continue upending our country’s institutions.”
The creators of the Marble Freedom Trust “shrouded their project in secrecy for more than two years. The group’s name does not appear in any public database of business, tax or securities records. The Marble Freedom Trust is organized for legal purposes as a trust, rather than as a corporation. That means it did not have to publicly disclose basic details like its name, directors and address… His family foundation has supported the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics, named after two of the Chicago school’s intellectual leaders, Gary Becker and Milton Friedman. He has also donated to the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit that has a history of using inflammatory rhetoric and misleading tactics to undermine climate science… There are no art galleries, opera companies or theaters or university buildings emblazoned with his name in his hometown of Chicago.”
Seid co-founded the Chamber Opera of Chicago, of which he was longtime director, and as recently as 2019, granted $1 million to the group. Seid has also supported Shimer College, and has been connected to many anonymous donations, as well as hundreds of smaller donations. Seid told the Chicago Tribune in 1987, “I’m a successful adult male who gets pleasure out of seeing nice things happen.”
Triton Introduces Cannabis Cultivation Course
“Triton College students will have the opportunity to learn how to grow, care and manage cannabis plants,” reports the Wednesday Journal. “The cannabis cultivation course is folded into the college’s greenhouse grow operations certificate program where students learn about the cultivation of cannabis plants, which can be used for recreational and medicinal purposes, as well as high-value crops and ornamental plants. The certificate program, which can be completed in five classes which can spread across two semesters, allows students to understand the cannabis industry and production of urban food products or tropical and herbaceous plants and what career paths are available.”
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