Lightfoot Proposes $850 Million Federal Funding For Amtrak, Union Station Renewal
“The proposed Chicago Hub Improvement Program would establish new passenger train routes into Union Station from the south and allow Amtrak and Metra trains to run more often,” reports Block Club. “More than fifty Midwestern mayors support the plan.”
Denison Renovates Mies-Designed IIT Dorms
“Buildings by Modernist master Mies van der Rohe have reached an age where they may require rehabilitation,” reports Architectural Record. “In Chicago, for the $70 million makeover of three dormitories, which form a quadrangle at the northeast corner of the Mies-designed campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, architect Dirk Denison took a different approach… Deferred maintenance had rendered these unhabitable. Water penetrated roofs, basements, and brick knee walls, which had no weep holes to let it out; radiant heating in concrete floors was beyond repair; and windows, badly corroded, single-glazed, and thermally unbroken, rendered interiors defenseless against Chicago’s weather extremes… The dorms sat vacant for ten years… ‘We needed to go beyond preservation into what we’ve been calling “heritage renovation.” Our first and most crucial decision was to set a constraint: we would maintain the exterior appearance in line with Mies’s design intent.'” More here.
Composting Pilot Launched
The Department of Streets and Sanitation has announced a long-in-the-works “neighborhood composting pilot that lets residents compost food scraps at local gardens,” reports Monica Eng at Axios Chicago. “Organic waste makes up nearly twenty percent of Chicago garbage. Composting it reduces powerful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.”
DINING & DRINKING
Bird Flu Cranks Cost Of Turkey
“Turkeys are running thirty-two cents a pound more this year after avian flu culled flocks in the spring. The outbreak also means that some turkeys showing up at stores are younger and smaller,” reports the Sun-Times.
Food Insecurity Maintains Inequity In Chicago
“Multiple stakeholders are making it their business—and a moral obligation—to bring food and related businesses to communities on the margins,” reports Crain’s. There is “a glaring racial and economic disparity [that helps] explain why some Chicago communities struggle more than others with food insecurity and convenient access to fresh and healthy foods… Chicago political leaders, activists and entrepreneurs have vowed to step up efforts to bring more healthy food to underserved areas.”
Black-Owned Yellow Banana To Get $13.5 Million City Subsidy For Six South And West Side Grocery Stores
The City Council Finance Committee has agreed “to give a Black-owned company $13.5 million in city subsidies to purchase and revitalize six shuttered or run-down Save A Lot grocery stores, but only after warning Yellow Banana about the need for some serious ‘rebranding,'” reports the Sun-Times. “West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, said the Save A Lot name… has been seriously damaged by grocery store closings on the South and West sides.”
FILM & TELEVISION
AMC Evanston 12 Opens
The Call Sheet Magazine Launches In January
The Call Sheet, a magazine with interviews and personal essays on film, a collaboration between Cinema Femme and Camera Ambassador, launches in January. “Working closely with some of the city’s creatives, our magazine takes you behind the scenes on the filmmakers of today. Through this unique partnership between two of the city’s femme-led film organizations, our magazine will spotlight some of the raw and powerful talent emerging from the current filmmaking landscape,” the publication relays. “The first issue’s theme is ‘healing through art.’ Each piece will center on how filmmaking helped the storytellers achieve catharsis of some sort.” More here.
Bookends & Beginnings Leaving Historic Evanston Alley
More than eight years after it was founded in the iconic alley space once occupied by antiquarian bookstore Bookman’s Alley, Evanston’s independent bookstore Bookends & Beginnings will move to a new location in January. Store owner Nina Barrett said the move was triggered by a drastic increase in rent demanded by a new landlord, who took possession of the property over the summer. “We had to face the fact that as much as this eccentric, back-alley ambiance had always been integral to our identity, remaining here was going to be unsustainable for us financially.” The store’s new location at 1620 Orrington is located in another of Evanston’s historic buildings—the 1927 Hahn Building, which holds official Evanston Landmark status. “As much fun as it’s been to be Evanston’s hidden gem all these years,” she says in a release, “in today’s retail environment, it’s an ongoing challenge to be as well-hidden as that.”
Meta Ditches Local News
The 11,000 layoffs at Meta/Facebook “are another step in Meta’s journey to get the heck away from news,” reports NiemanLab. “Meta, which promised $300 million in support of local journalism back in 2019 when it was still Facebook, has shifted resources away from its News tab, shuttered the Bulletin newsletter program, ended support for Instant Articles, eliminated human-curation in favor of algorithms, and stopped paying U.S. publishers to use their news content.” The conglomerate is instead “focused on competing with rising platforms like TikTok and trying to build” a so-called “metaverse.” The parent company “has spent $15 billion so far in its quest to become ‘a metaverse company’ and plans to spend billions more — plummeting stock price and legless avatars notwithstanding.” One observer tells NiemanLab, “Meta had the resources at its peak to do incredible things. Not just the dollars, but the encouragement to think of the best outcome possible, to make the biggest impact we could.”
Local Nonprofit News Outlets Doing Well
Block Club Chicago is not the only bright spot on the horizon – it’s a national thing – going by the recent LION Local Journalism Awards, reports NiemanLab. “The recent boom of local nonprofit news organizations is proving their model can serve smaller markets, too.”
The Salt Shed Announces Indoor Lineup Starting In February
The Salt Shed, the newest venue from 16” on Center (the team behind the Empty Bottle, Thalia Hall, Evanston SPACE, Beauty Bar and The Promontory) has announced the opening of The Shed, the indoor performance space at the historic Morton Salt Building. Shows begin Friday, February 17 and include The Flaming Lips celebrating the twentieth anniversary of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” Bikini Kill’s first Chicago show since reuniting in 2019, Fever Ray, Mountain Goats, The Hold Steady, a three-night King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard residency, Guatemalan-American house producer-DJ Gordo, and the “Godfather of Punk” himself, Iggy Pop. “These are musicians that started at the Empty Bottle, grew to Thalia Hall, and we now look forward to hosting at the Salt Shed,” says Bruce Finkelman, managing partner in a release. “I remember the Flaming Lips at the Empty Bottle way back in 1994, stopping their show mid-set to walk across a sea of fans and play a solo set on a rinky-dink piano that I think came with the bar. I have never experienced a crowd so captivated, and it’s a moment that reminds me why I have the best job in the world. It’s just one of the many stories of live music magic that make our places so special.” Tickets go on sale Friday, November 18 at 10am here.
CSO Budgets Today And Tomorrow
Ticket sales are up, and the Chicago Symphony ran a $1.7 million surplus in the most recent fiscal year. But next year’s budget, minus $10 million in COVID relief cash, is of concern, reports Crain’s.
WFMT Launches “Sounds Classical”
WFMT premieres an hourlong weekly series, “Sounds Classical,” on Friday, December 9 at 8pm on 98.7 WFMT and streaming on wfmt.com and the WFMT app. “In this innovative and immersive radio program, ‘Sounds Classical’ hosts Kristina Lynn and LaRob K. Rafael present a range of musical works that include well-known composers and discoveries alike. The program will feature surprising and personal takes, lean-in interviews and exciting new works composed and performed, in many cases, by local artists. Along the way, the hosts will share lively and insightful commentary, providing context for the listener that makes this beautiful and dynamic art form fresh and accessible. ‘We are hoping to surface and share new ideas, and bring those memorable sounds we know and love into a twenty-first century conversation,'” Rafael says in a release. “This series is less about needing to define what classical sounds are, and more about listening for what sounds classical,” Lynn adds.
“Mary: A Holiday Dansical” Returns
Black Girls Dance, which allows young women of color to pursue professional dance, presents “Mary, A Holiday Dansical,” choreographed, written and directed by BGD founder Erin Barnett. Following its 2021 world premiere, “Mary” returns for one night, Sunday, December 18 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. “Mary, A Holiday Dansical” is “a modern twist on the traditional Black Nativity told through ballet, hip hop, tap and contemporary dance. The first act focuses on the struggles of a typical teenage girl searching for her purpose in life. She is visited by an angel (ballerina) and learns she will conceive and bring forth a child who will be the Savior. Mary turns to her mother and close circle of friends for support, similar to today’s teenagers. The second half includes Christmas songs such as ‘Mary, Did You Know’ and holiday favorites like ‘Joy to the World.’ The cast of seventeen dancer-actors includes Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep senior Meika Haywood as Mary; professional dancers Mekeba Malik as Joseph and Erica Wade as Prophet Tina, Mary’s mother; student dancers from The Chicago High School for the Arts and Asia’s Dance Factory; and Black Girls Dance students.” More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
State Street Holiday Market Starts Friday
State Street welcomes over eighty-five small business owners to its one-of-a-kind holiday market, starting this Friday and running through December 18. The State Street Holiday Market is a project of Chicago Loop Alliance made possible through a Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Small Business Storefront Activation Program grant, and all participants are Chicago businesses that were affected by the pandemic. More here.
Al Capone Letters Coveted; Revolver, Too
A rare collection of letters by gangster Al Capone achieved exceptional prices in Hindman’s November 8-9 Fine Books & Manuscripts auction. Books and manuscripts authored and signed by presidents and world leaders from the Patrick Atkinson Collection also saw significant attention, with auction records set for books signed by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi. The total sale nearly doubled its estimate, and realized over $1.2 million, representing one of Hindman’s most successful multiple-owner Books & Manuscripts auctions. Highlighting the Capone selection was a letter written by Capone two days after the January 1925 assassination attempt on his life, which soared past its $10,000-$15,000 estimate to realize $53,125. Another handwritten letter from Capone, written from Cicero in 1924, more than tripled its presale estimate to sell for $43,750. In this powerful letter, Capone writes urgently to Bill asking him to ‘find that bootlegger… tell him I want him to come right away to Chicago,’ and noting that he ‘[has] a big order for him.’ A Colt New Army & Navy Revolver Model from 1896, believed to have been owned by Capone, sold for an impressive price of $43,750 against a presale estimate of $5,000-$7,000.”
Forty States Get $392 Million Privacy Settlement From Google
Illinois is not the only state with digital privacy settlements in the works: “Google agreed to a record $391.5 million privacy settlement with a forty-state coalition of attorneys general for charges that it misled users into thinking they had turned off location tracking in their account settings even as the company continued collecting that information,” reports the New York Times. “Under the settlement, Google will also make its location tracking disclosures clearer” sometime next year. Illinois is one of the states leading the investigation in the settlement.
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