DINING & DRINKING
Esquire Lists Two Chicago Restaurants Among Best New Spots
Kasama is tabbed at number seven nationwide as “Chicago’s most-talked about dinner” by Esquire in the magazine’s annual new restaurant round; Indienne notches number thirty-six. “In a city where you could build the most credit-card busting culinary vacations around high-end tasting menus outside of San Sebastian, Indienne’s is a steal at $90.” As for Kasama: “You bite into the humble lumpia, which arrives early, and think, This might be the best lumpia ever. The nilaga, composed of cabbage, bone marrow, and fluffy short-grain rice, has the uncanny ability to evoke what you would eat on a rainy day as a kid.”
Prices Rise At Manny’s, Lou Malnati’s, Golden Nugget
“The quintessential Manny’s order is a corned beef sandwich boasting a pile of meat stuffed between two pieces of rye with mustard and a pickle on the side,” reports WBEZ’s Michael Gerstein at the Sun-Times. “Two years ago, that sandwich cost $15.95. Today, it’s $17.95.” Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association says, “When you’re working in an industry and it’s just pennies—you gotta cut corners here or there a bit… You’re seeing price increases everywhere.” Reports Gerstein, “With higher costs, sixty-eight-percent of Illinois restaurants have cut hours, and forty-one-percent have closed on days they’d normally be open… ‘It’s hard for all of us,’ Golden Nugget owner Cathy Guzman says. ‘For people coming out to eat, for people just trying to run a business… There’s no margin anymore.’”
Mauro Mafrici Closing Pelago Ristorante After Fifteen Years
Pelago Ristorante relays that it “has come to the end of its fifteen-year run serving fine-dining Italian cuisine and will serve their last meal on New Year’s Eve 2022. Chef Mauro Mafrici will be serving dinner nightly through December 31. Michelin-starred chef Mafrici’s cuisine has been defined as ‘sapori veri’: true, honest, genuine flavors used masterfully to create new sensations, forms and colors. Fresh seasonal ingredients from Italian and local sources tantalize every taste bud as Mauro allows each bite to speak for itself in a clean, straightforward flavorful vocabulary. Chef Mafrici’s traditions of Italian cooking from the North to the South of Italy have been translated with a regional twist and modern cooking flair to create a contemporary menu for an outstanding culinary journey.” There will also be a special menu for Vigilia di Natale, Feast of the Seven Fishes, on December 24, and Capodanno New Year’s Eve, December 31. More here.
Chicago’s Grace And EL Ideas On “The Menu”
“The Menu” screenwriters Will Tracy and Seth Reiss, former writers for the Onion, based their deadly satire partially on Chicago experience and research, Bon Appétit writes. Chef Curtis Duffy’s Grace “informed the kind of fine dining restaurant they’d set out to both celebrate and sear. ‘That, to me, was the epitome of fine dining,’ says Reiss. ‘Everything is synchronized. Everything makes perfect sense, top to bottom.’ Another key influence was EL Ideas, a Michelin-starred Chicago spot headed by chef Phillip Foss. Apparently a fan of The Onion, Foss had asked to sit in on a pitch meeting for the satirical news website. He then allowed Reiss and Tracy into his restaurant kitchen, where they noticed similarities in the ways that ideas were pitched in writers’ rooms.” Reiss says, “That’s when I saw the chef as an artist, or the chef as a collaborator.”
Starbucks Workers’ First National Strike At Over 100 Locations, Including Two In Chicago
On the occasion of Friday’s nationwide Starbucks strike, In These Times “spoke to strikers in Boston, New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh about their fight to bring the multi-billion dollar company to the bargaining table…The strike was strategically timed. Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day is a late fall tradition where customers can get certain beverages in reusable, limited-edition holiday cups. The marketing muscle that goes into Red Cup Day and the popularity of the cups makes it one of the company’s busiest and most lucrative days in a year. ‘We would probably make between $8,000-$9,000 just at this store… So they’re losing a lot of money from all these stores being shut down,’ said Nicole Deming, who has worked at the Starbucks store in Chicago’s Bucktown since January. ‘It’s really a great way of saying we hold the power and your profits come from us.’ Red Cup Rebellion shuts down a day that workers normally find ‘tedious and stressful,’ according to Aaron Cirillo, a barista who has worked for Starbucks for a year-and-a-half. ‘We all hate Red Cup Day,” echoed Kylah Clay, a barista at New England’s first-ever unionized Starbucks store in Boston… ‘Customers are coming in nonstop and we are always understaffed.’ Reed Essex, a barista at the Bucktown location, said workers did not receive overtime pay on Red Cup Day despite the extra work expected of them.”
Adds the Defector website, “Starbucks is facing hundreds of unfair labor practice accusations, which include firing workers involved in union efforts, cutting the hours of union leaders so they don’t qualify for healthcare, promising workers better benefits if they refrain from unionizing and intimidating workers by closing certain stores. Workers also say the company purposefully understaffs union stores to make shifts more difficult for unionized employees.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Douglas McLaren To Run Film Studies Center At UChicago
Cornell Cinema cinema manager-acting director and former Music Box head projectionist Douglas McLaren posts, “I’ll be returning to Chicago in January to run the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago. I’m absolutely over the moon at the prospect!”
“Libraries. The Last Place in America Where You Are a Person, Not a Customer”
Writer-activist Córy Doctorow examines the impulse to destroy public libraries in America: “These conspiracists are part of a small but vocal minority of people who’ve been hoaxed by deep-pocketed right-wing media barons, who have propagated a lie that libraries are full of ‘groomers’ who expose children to ‘inappropriate’ materials as part of a program of sexual abuse… The ‘groomer’ panic is all astroturf. It’s a cynical ploy to whip up scared and easily confused people and point them at libraries, and not just libraries that have ‘Genderqueer’ on the shelf or host Drag Queen Story Hours. They’re targeting all the libraries. They’re targeting the very idea of libraries.” Doctorow looks at “why wealthy rightwing media barons would want to destroy them.” “Libraries are the last place in America where you are valued for your personhood, rather than the contents of your wallet. At the library, you are a patron, not a customer.”
Casino Pays $200 Million For Freedom Center
Rhode Island-based Bally’s has bought the thirty-acre River West site from Nexstar Media Group, “with plans to transform it into a $1.74 billion casino complex,” writes the Tribune. “What becomes of the Chicago Tribune’s forty-one-year-old printing plant remains to be seen.”
More Gannett Layoffs Coming December 1
About 200 more workers for publishing conglomerate Gannett are expected to lose their jobs December 1, reports Poynter, the third such mass layoff this year. Journalists were informed in a note that “did not specify a number, but [the corporate communications chief said] that the target was a six-percent reduction. With a headcount of 3,440, that would amount to roughly 200.” The news division interim head “said that he had conferred with other executives and decided, ‘While we have taken several steps already, we must enter the new year in a stronger economic position, and the reality is that our News cost base is currently too high for the revenues it generates.'” Education reporter Kati Kokal of Gannett’s Palm Beach Post: “Journalists already have to convince so many people that the work we do matters. The owners and leaders of this company (the biggest newspaper chain in the U.S.) shouldn’t be on that list.”
Board Of Directors Set For Reader Institute For Community Journalism, Inc.
Reader Institute For Community Journalism’s “current chairperson Eileen Rhodes, has been reelected, along with secretary Kim L. Hunt,” reports the Reader. “New board member Reese Marcusson has been elected treasurer. Returning at-large board members are Alison Cuddy, Vanessa Fernandez and Robert Reiter. New at-large members are Daniel Dever, Matt Doubleday, Torrence Gardner and Christina Crawford Steed. The board has engaged The Morten Group to assist in its search for a new CEO and publisher. The current president and publisher, Tracy Baim, will step down once new leadership is onboarded. Baim, who was hired in fall 2018 when the Reader was two days from being shut down, has transformed the paper’s revenue streams, avoided layoffs during the pandemic, and diversified staff during her tenure.”
Twitter: Global Community, Going, Going… Gone?
“Millions of people came together to build a global community…and the world’s richest man destroyed what they built in two weeks,” writes economist Umair Haque in a post, “Why Twitter Dying This Way Feels So Wrong.” “This moment is so poignant because in another way, it really was a high point for our civilization. The first something-like-a-global-utility in history, really. Where else, after all, could you go and just… interact… with people from around the globe, renowned, accomplished, intellectuals, journalists, writers, thinkers, artists, scientists, athletes, people living the experiences you were hearing about… getting information directly from them? Nowhere, really. We underestimate just what an accomplishment Twitter really was—and I don’t mean that in just the technological sense, that part was relatively easy. I mean it in the sense of millions of people came together to build something like a global community, which transcended boundaries of every kind.”
At the New York Times, says Kara Swisher, “I spent the last day talking to smart folks who know Elon to try to grok why it feels capricious and what the method is to the seeming madness. Here you are for those who care and for those who don’t, good for you for ignoring chaos monkeys.” Journalist Adam Davidson: “This (probably) won’t be a sudden implosion. It is, clearly, a totally different company with different goals and resources and decision-making processes. It seems very unlikely that new company will support and strengthen the things you liked about Twitter. I find the battle lines weird: either there’s a total collapse or Elon really is a genius. He is precisely who he says and shows he is. That person doesn’t want to run the thing we liked. He wants a different thing. He will either succeed at getting what he wants or he’ll fail. But he never wanted the thing you like about twitter. So, that thing is dying and will be gone.”
Meanwhile, after Elon Musk’s protracted public wooing of returning the former president to the platform, the Palm Beach exile says, “No, thanks.” Bloomberg: “Donald Trump said he sees ‘a lot of problems at Twitter’ and will stick to his own social-media platform, offering an initial response to Elon Musk’s poll on whether to reinstate the former president’s account. ‘I hear we’re getting a big vote to also go back on Twitter. I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it… It may make it, it may not make it.’” But TIME reports the former president can’t use that franchise: “According to filings made by Truth Social with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Trump is ‘generally obligated’ to post on Truth Social, and cannot post a message to another site for six hours after first posting on Truth Social.”
Ticketmaster Fails Swift; Federal Investigation Revealed: Monopolies In The Spotlight
“The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the owner of Ticketmaster, whose sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets descended into chaos this week, said two people with knowledge of the matter. The investigation is focused on whether Live Nation Entertainment has abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry,” reports the New York Times. “The inquiry appears to be broad, looking at whether the company maintains a monopoly over the industry.” Writes WIRED: “Swifties didn’t uncover a new problem—people have complained about Ticketmaster’s poor service and high fees for years. And the basis for the DOJ investigation likely isn’t the failed ticket run, but rather ongoing problems surrounding Ticketmaster’s 2010 merger with Live Nation, which is a major player in the global touring business. Swift isn’t the first artist to be entangled in the ticketing drama, but she might be one of the last.”
The Guardian takes it farther: “While concerns about Ticketmaster’s dominance aren’t new, it looks like the collective power of millions of irate Swifties means something might now be done about it… Politicians have chimed in to express their concern about the situation… The Swift ticketing debacle is just one high-profile example of the fact that the US has a major monopoly problem. Across numerous industries, monopolies are preventing healthy competition, which hurts consumers and lines the profits of a few chief executives. Remember the baby formula shortage earlier this year? That was partly due to the fact that just two companies–Abbott and Reckitt Benckiser–control about eighty-percent of the U.S. market… Extortionate broadband and phone bill prices are another example of how monopolies hurt the average American… Monopolies are also one reason Americans pay ridiculous prices for healthcare.”
Encores At An End?
“Once a given in live concerts, the encore is now seen by some as an artifact of old-school showbiz, rather than an authentic exchange between performer and audience,” reports Travis M. Andrews at the Washington Post. “If a band walks offstage these days, they might stay there. Some bands have grown weary—not of the love an encore elicits, but of the charade that came to define the tease.”
What Did The Victory Gardens Board Crisis Show Other Nonprofits?
“An influential Washington theater is asking other companies to publicly reaffirm their commitment to their artists,” writes Peter Marks at the Washington Post. “It was the actions over the summer of one company in particular, Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, for half a century a mainstay in one of the nation’s most vibrant theater cities, that has heightened the alarm. In response, Woolly Mammoth’s board is seeking co-signers for a letter that delineates the scope—and limits—of what theater trustees are expected to do, to bolster the groups that they had pledged to assist.” From the letter: “As volunteers who dedicate our time to beloved cultural organizations in our respective cities, let us ensure that what happened in Chicago is an anomaly, not the norm. While we do not speak for every theater, we have seen how easy it is for boards to silo themselves from the needs of the artists, administrators and technicians who work to create the theater they love and support. This is not serving us and our field.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
CTA Announces Schedules For Holiday Train And Buses
“Transit vehicles are ready to light up the streets and tracks beginning November 25, the day after Thanksgiving,” reports the Sun-Times. “Decked out with lights and holiday scenes, Santa Claus and his reindeer will ride on the train cars with commuters… The holiday train will run on all eight lines, and the holiday bus will run along sixteen routes.”
Former Rainforest Cafe Cleared To Become Dispensary
“Plans for a cannabis dispensary at the former Rainforest Cafe in River North got a green light from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals early Saturday,” reports the Sun-Times. The ruling came “despite residents’ concerns it would turn the area into a ‘pot district,'” reports the Trib. Despite being within 1,500 yards of three extant dispensaries, “Social equity companies, generally defined by state law as having a majority owner who’s had a prior low-level cannabis arrest or conviction, or having lived in an area with high poverty or a large number of cannabis arrests, generally are exempt from the distance requirement.”
Field Museum Declines To Recognize Union
“The Field Museum will not voluntarily sign off on an effort by employees to form a union,” reports the Sun-Times. “The denial comes three days after workers delivered a letter to museum CEO Julian Siggers asking for union recognition. Leaders of the union effort said they have the support of a majority of the 330 employees whose jobs would fall under collective bargaining.”
“The Problem Of Whiteness” Postponed At UChicago
“A University of Chicago instructor is postponing a class called ‘The Problem of Whiteness’ after a student launched an online campaign to cancel it, sparking a wave of online harassment and death threats,” reports WBEZ via the Sun-Times. “Rebecca Journey, a teaching fellow who earned a doctorate in anthropology from the university, said her class analyzes whiteness as a social construct and dismissed ‘disingenuous’ claims that it stokes ‘anti-white hatred.’ She’s pushing the course to the spring quarter to give university officials time to develop a safety plan for her and her students.”
2,400 Artists Get New York State Guaranteed Income
A different approach from the limited Cook County and Chicago basic income programs: “The Creatives Rebuild New York initiative has announced that it is spending $43.2 million to distribute monthly payments of $1,000 to 2,400 artists and other creatives living across the state,” reports Artnet. “Lasting for eighteen months, these cash payments come with no strings attached.”
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