Rensselaer, Indiana Has Sixty Murals
“More than sixty murals have gone up in six years in the small town about eighty-five miles from Chicago,” writes Robert Herguth in the weekly Murals and Mosaics column at the Sun-Times. “In 2016, when Ryan Musch helped commission the first mural in his town, the Rensselaer, Indiana, business owner [of eMbers bar, bistro and events venue] says his aim was for his community to one day have ‘the most concentrated amount of public art of any town in Indiana.’ … ‘It really surprised me that this took off the way it did,’ says Stephen A. Wood, the mayor of Rensselaer, population about 6,000.”
CHA Gives Up More Valuable Land; HUD Rubber-Stamps Deals
“Despite being years behind on obligations to build more homes, the city’s public housing agency gets permission to sell, lease and swap its property in gentrifying neighborhoods,” reports Mick Dumke at ProPublica. “The deal had been orchestrated by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, but even her allies knew the optics were bad: Land long set aside for low-income housing would be turned over to a professional soccer team owned by a billionaire. And criticism was intensifying… The outcome of the federal review is hardly in doubt. Over the last decade, HUD has never blocked a public housing land deal in Chicago… With HUD’s consent, the CHA has essentially become a land piggy bank for other government agencies and the private sector.”
Wright Building Conservancy Honors Riverside Couple
The Wright Spirit Award Winners will be presented this month, including one for Riverside resident Fanie Greef, who, “with his late husband, John Farneda, rescued and renovated the south wing of the main home at Frank Lloyd Wright’s sprawling Coonley Estate, which had been subdivided into several separate residences in the 1950s,” reports the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark. “The home was originally designed for Avery Coonley and his wife Queene Ferry Coonley from 1908 to 1912 and set on a ten-acre parcel at the southern tip of Riverside.”
High-Res Art Of Chicago Classic Skyscrapers
“Highrises,” an online art exhibition and history project celebrating historic skyscrapers across America, has added five classic Chicago buildings with more to come. The project features images by digital artist and architecture graduate Chris Hytha. Using high-res drone photography and artistic photo editing, each “Highrises” image gives a dramatic view of the top of signature buildings. Accompanying the art is a background story of each building by Mark Houser, architecture historian and author of “MultiStories: 55 Antique Skyscrapers & the Business Tycoons Who Built Them.” The collection launched this spring and currently has sixty Highrises from twenty cities, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Buffalo and now Chicago, releasing on October 19. More here.
Pauline Saliga, Former Executive Director Of Society Of Architectural Historians, Was Sixty-Nine
“As the longtime executive director for the Chicago-based Society of Architectural Historians, Pauline Saliga helped move the nonprofit into the digital age and also worked to maintain the society’s headquarters in the historic Charnley-Persky House on the Gold Coast,” reports the Tribune. “Earlier a curator at two prominent Chicago museums, Saliga was a fixture in the city’s museum community and an expert on architectural history.”
741 North Wells Begins
“Construction has gone vertical for 741 North Wells, a twenty-one-story mixed-use development in River North,” reports YIMBY Chicago. “The 201,000-square-foot development by Vista Property will yield 168 apartment units atop a ground-level retail component. The project will also preserve a two-story masonry building directly to the north.”
Chicago Expressways Could Become Tollways
“In order to ease congestion and create revenue for infrastructure improvements, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has new proposals… in its ‘On to 2050‘ plan update,” reports WGN-TV. “We’ve talked to a lot of people experiencing extreme congestion. Managed lanes are a way to think about how do you get to a free-flow traffic lane? Part of that has to do with pricing the lane,” Erin Aleman, executive director of CMAP, tells the station. “CMAP is suggesting adding… ‘managed lanes’ to several expressways. It would be a tolled express lane, where drivers would have to pay more to use it.”
Touring Chicago With Paul Octavious
The FT’s How To Spend It In magazine takes a tour of the city with photographer Paul Octavious. “It’s kind of stupid how good the food is here… I like Cherry Circle Room, the restaurant inside the Chicago Athletic Association, a gorgeous hotel near Millennium Park. It used to be a gentlemen’s sports club and the current owners have created something that recalls the look of its 1890s heyday; I go with my dad and order steak, sauce and some bubbles… Chicago isn’t known for its fashion as much as other places, but we’re getting there. My favourite shop is Notre… offering independent designers like Craig Green, Reese Cooper and Wales Bonner.” It’s “in a beautiful shop in the West Loop that’s made entirely out of Chicago common brick, the historic clay bricks we started making after the Chicago Fire of 1871. Shopping-wise, I also love Merz Apothecary, a pharmacy that might prescribe you mandarin oil for a mild cold and stocks amazing fragrances and candles.”
The New York Times Headlines “The Rent Revolution Is Coming”
“For the forty-four million households who rent a home or apartment in the U.S., inflation keeps pushing costs higher and higher. Anger is rising too. It could be a breaking point,” writes the New York Times. “That unhappiness extends across the economic spectrum. At one end are renters who aspire to buy a home but have had their dreams dashed by high home prices and, now, rising mortgage rates. At the other are low-income tenants who make up the bulk of the eleven million households who spend more than half of their income on rent. In between is a hollowed-out middle class that is steadily losing ground, although not enough to qualify for much sympathy or help. The confluence of all these forces has fueled a swell of tenants’ rights activism that has brought organizing muscle and policies like rent control to cities far beyond the high-cost coasts.” (ProPublica reports that a single company’s algorithms could be creating chaos in distorting rents: “Texas-based RealPage’s YieldStar software helps landlords set prices for apartments across the U.S. With rents soaring, critics are concerned that the company’s proprietary algorithm is hurting competition.”)
Surveillance Designed To Protect Private Property Used To Manage Workforce
“At the Digital Doorstep,” a thirty-nine-page report by Data & Society Labor Futures program director Aiha Nguyen and research analyst Eve Zelickson, explores how surveillance designed to protect private property is used to manage the workforce outside of it. “The doorstep has emerged as the new physical locale of consumption—the threshold at which purchased products become personal property,” they write. “In this transformation, the porch has become a contested space: it is at once private property and, for delivery workers, their workplace. The growing popularity of Ring and other networked doorbell cameras has normalized home and neighborhood surveillance in the name of safety and security. But for delivery drivers, this has meant their work is increasingly surveilled by doorbell cameras and supervised by customers. The result is a collision between the American ideals of private property and the business imperatives of doing a job… The growing popularity of networked doorbell cameras has normalized home surveillance in the name of safety and security. As customers install doorbells for protection from an absent criminal figure, they end up surveilling those actually present: delivery workers… a new form of retail and worker surveillance. And they enable a new form of ‘boss behavior,’ giving customers control over a low-wage workforce that mirrors that of a traditional manager.”
DINING & DRINKING
What The $25-Billion Merger Of Kroger-Mariano’s And Albertsons-Jewel-Osco Means
Not cheaper groceries, no. The movers behind the deal to merge Kroger and Albertsons say they need to be bigger to compete with Walmart and Amazon, reports the New York Times. “Both retailers are facing new challenges as they grapple with rising inflation and prolonged supply chain delays. While Kroger’s most recent financial results were strong, Albertsons stock has fallen about ten percent over the last year… They will be able to save millions in operating costs and have stronger bargaining power with suppliers. Analysts said total cost savings, which the retailers said could top $1 billion, was likely a driver for the deal… lawmakers, regulators and consumer advocates often worry that companies will simply redirect any increase in profit to shareholders.” Senator Bernie Sanders calls the notion an “absolute disaster”: “At a time when food prices are soaring as a result of corporate greed, it would be an absolute disaster to allow Kroger, the 2nd largest grocery store in America, to merge with Albertsons, the 4th largest grocery store in America. The Biden Administration must reject this deal,” Sanders tweets.
SNAP Benefits Can Be Used For Hot Food At Five Chicago Restaurants
Link Card users who are elderly, homeless or are disabled qualify, reports WBEZ, to buy hot food at five participating restaurants in Chicago: a single location of JJ Fish & Chicken, BJ’s Market, Firehouse Bakery and Grill, Doughboy’s and S2 Express Grill. “Illinois joined six states—Arizona, Michigan, California, Rhode Island, Virginia and Maryland—in the restaurant pilot program.”
Starbucks Closing Unionized Location In Edgewater
“Starbucks is closing a store in Edgewater that last May was one of the chain’s first locations in Chicago to unionize,” reports the Sun-Times. Madison Lisle, an organizer, tells the paper that employees “feel management retaliated against workers for supporting the union but that the store also had serious problems involving customer behavior and the condition of the building.” “Lisle said the location near the CTA’s Red Line had several police calls involving aggressive customers, some stealing tips and leaving hypodermic needles in the washroom.”
Alaska Cancels Snow Crab Season After A Billion Disappear
“Alaska will cancel the upcoming winter snow crab season in the Bering Sea for the first time, and bar fishers from catching king crabs in the Bristol Bay for a second consecutive year, because of a sharp decline in their estimated population,” reports the Washington Post.
FILM & TELEVISION
Netflix To Offer Lower-Resolution $6.99 Subscription With Ads
Beginning November 3, “Netflix will offer a $6.99 advertising-supported subscription called Basic With Ads, a lower-cost option that will show people four to five minutes of ads per hour of content they watch,” reports the New York Times. The resolution will be a lower 720p resolution. “Ads will be fifteen or thirty seconds in length and will play before and during Netflix’s content. Companies will have the ability to prevent ads from appearing on content they deem unsavory or unsuitable,” reports CNBC.
Marc Kelly Smith Receives Insignia Of Chevalier Of The Order Of Arts And Letters
Poetry Slam originator Marc Kelly Smith was bestowed with the Insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Consul General of France in Chicago, Mr. Yannick Tagand on October 12, 2022, poet Mike Puican relays. “The award is given to those ‘persons who have distinguished themselves by their creations in the artistic or literary field or by the contribution they have made to the influence of the arts and letters in France and around the world.’ This was awarded in recognition of Marc Smith as the originator of the Poetry Slam and for his long-term involvement in broadening the interest in poetry and the Poetry Slam throughout France. The award was given at the residence of the Consul General among a small group of friends and supporters.”
Twenty-One Chicago House Artists Sue Trax Records
Artists claim the iconic Chicago label engaged in fraud and copyright infringement and are suing Trax Records for decades of alleged illegal business practices, reports Michaelangelo Matos at Rolling Stone. “Many artists who made Trax Records happen have claimed that they were never paid for their work… ‘We didn’t have record companies in Chicago,’ Marshall Jefferson recalls. ‘It was totally uncharted territory. We didn’t know how to do record deals or anything like that, so we were basically lambs to the slaughter. He wouldn’t tell us anything. We got no statements. We just wanted to get our music out.’ … Jefferson, who is a plaintiff, asserts that he was never paid by Trax Records for his classic house anthem ‘Move Your Body’—and that it was released by the label without his consent.”
Totalling Touring Travails
Multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, known as L’Rain, has joined the musicians’ discussion of touring troubles. “I’m begging you: do not add to the touring discourse with something as heinously naive as ‘buy merch and wear masks!’ Know that it’s much more complicated than that… This touring discussion is not particularly new. It’s just gotten worse for many reasons, some related to this specific time like war, borders, supply chain issues, audience attrition… and age-old structural issues worsening. Some structural issues: popular bands have BIG expenses, smaller bands are given bad rates to open ($250 is the starting rate and it has not increased in forever). But booking agents aren’t making much and indie venues aren’t either—they’re counting on precarious bar $. ‘New music’/’jazz’ has slightly more infrastructure for grants/residencies. Musicians in other genres mostly tour and record. I was skeptical about how important touring is to a musician trying to find an audience but I was wrong. It’s essential work but has become a privilege. To make $ on tour musicians sometimes rely on merch. Sustainability aside, it’s precarious and ridiculous. Musicians really get $ from corporations and by finding proximity to other industries w/ more accessible allocations of money: fashion, booze, the art world, tech, etc. … We need to keep talking, but change will be tough. Aside from the crumbling planet and issues endemic to the industry, at the core of the problem is capitalism, celebrity worship, and other Big Things that are not easy to fix.” Sudanese American musician Sinkane: “To hear that even sold out tours for bands aren’t enough to tour is so sad. To our fans it’s one less time y’all get to see a show. To us musicians it’s scrambling to figure out how to pay our rent, bills. It’s incredibly demoralizing.”
Ben Folds Performs With CSO
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has announced singer-songwriter Ben Folds will make his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Steven Reineke on May 30, 2023. The concert is in support of the CSOA’s thirty-second annual Corporate Night. Concert tickets start at $49 here.
The Daily Ye
JPMorgan cut ties with Kanye before his Antisemitic tweets, reports the Daily Beast. “JPMorgan ended its banking relationship with Kanye West last month, weeks before the rapper and fashion designer lost access to his social media accounts over an antisemitic tweet.” At the New York Times, Vanessa Friedman predicts a break between Ye and high-end Balenciaga. “The fashion brand and the rapper have had an intense love affair. But after Ye’s White Lives Matter shirt and antisemitic comments, the company may need to be heartless… Ye gave Balenciaga the aura of relevance and a new audience; Balenciaga provided the high-fashion embrace Ye craved. Together, they became a viral sensation.” For Balenciaga, “it could turn out to be a very dangerous liaison… Not to mention a case study on the problems of mixing business and friendship as disparate creative worlds meld.”
Equity Jeff Awards Are Tonight
The fifty-fourth Jeff Equity Awards ceremony returns to the stage tonight at Drury Lane Theatre. In support of the Chicago theater community, celebrities, including Sean Hayes, plan to turn out. The evening will begin at 6:15pm with a Red Carpet event featuring nominees, theater industry luminaries, and future stars of the Chicago theater community. Jeff Award members Jody Greenspan and AJ Wright will serve as greeters and interviews can be seen on Instagram here before the program begins at 7:30pm. More here.
Visceral Dance Announces Tenth-Anniversary Season
Visceral Dance Chicago, an internationally recognized force in contemporary dance, is celebrating its tenth anniversary with performances at the Ann Barzel Theater within Visceral Dance Center, highlighted by a tenth anniversary performance April 28 at the Harris Theater. “I’m extremely proud of the extraordinary growth of both the company and the school,” founder and artistic director Nick Pupillo says. “I look forward to our future and continuing to expand our impact in the community.” Performances and other details here.
“Jane” Play Benefits Women’s Reproductive Rights
The Coalescence Theatre Project and Cats Cradle Theatre present Paula Kamen’s “Jane: Abortion And the Underground” on Friday, with proceeds going to WRRAP (Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project), an abortion fund which is based in Los Angeles and serves the entire country. Details here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Adrienne Brown Named Director UChicago’s Arts + Public Life
Adrienne Brown, who has served as the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life’s interim director since 2021, is now director. Brown is an Associate Professor in the Departments of English and Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity, and in the College, her scholarship focuses on American and African American cultural production in the twentieth century, emphasizing the history of perception as shaped by the built environment. Under Brown’s leadership, APL opened the L1 Creative Business Accelerator and Retail Store and expanded projects in creative entrepreneurship and community wealth creation. In collaboration with the APL team, she helped lead the development, design, and programmatic vision of the Arts Lawn, the latest addition to the Arts Block, opening in 2022. Brown also led the implementation of APL’s strategic framework and worked closely with the South Side Home Movie Project team to strengthen APL’s focus on archiving and cultural preservation. Brown succeeds Jacqueline Stewart, Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and in the College, as Director of APL.
Lowe’s Workers United Forms In New Orleans
Another sector sees union activity: “172 workers at a Lowe’s in New Orleans are forming a union as Lowe’s Workers United,” relays the Daily Union Elections Twitter account. Observes Hamilton Nolan, who writes for the Guardian and Chicago’s In These Times, “Incredible to see the pace of new union drives at major companies. There should be meetings at every big union about why so many of these historic campaigns are independent. It’s a major, major indicator of the failure of existing institutions.” Meanwhile, notes Huffington Post labor reporter Dave Jamieson, “Medieval Times has sued its workers’ new union, alleging trademark infringement with the name ‘Medieval Times Performers United.’ Far as I know, no other company with a ‘united’ union name (Starbucks, Trader Joe’s) has done this.”
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