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Van Gogh Painting Settlement Reached Over Painting At Detroit Institute Of Arts
“The dispute over Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Liseuse de romans’ (‘The Novel Reader,’ 1888) has been resolved out of court by the parties who had been claiming rightful ownership of the work,” reports The Art Newspaper. “The loser in the case may be the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), which an appeals court ordered in January to hold onto the painting pending the resolution of the ownership dispute—it had been loaned to the museum for its blockbuster ‘Van Gogh in America’ exhibition,” which closed in January. “Brokerarte Capital Partners, the Miami-based art brokerage of Brazilian collector Gustavo Soter, had purchased [the painting] in 2017 for $3.7m from Torrealba Holdings, a company owned by Brazilian thoroughbred horse collector Goncalo Borges Torrealba. Brokerarte then loaned the painting to an unnamed third party, who ‘absconded’ with it, as Soter’s original complaint stated… ‘Consistent with the confidential settlement, Brokerarte no longer seeks injunctive relief’ … lawyers for Soter wrote in a court filing.”
Clean Your Own Room, Do You Think This Hotel Is A Hotel?
“In the early days of the pandemic, the daily cleaning of hotel rooms was among the many routines disrupted. Even people who dared to travel blanched at the idea of a stranger entering their rooms. Many hotels started cleaning only after guests checked out, even letting some lodgings sit empty for a day,” reports the New York Times. “Guests staying at midlevel hotels run by Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, Walt Disney World Resorts or other major brands are finding that if they want complimentary daily housekeeping, they need to request it—or clean their own room.”
The Siege Of The “Fifteen-Minute City” Man
“For most of his forty-year career, Carlos Moreno, a scientist and business professor at Sorbonne University in Paris, worked in relative peace,” reports the New York Times. “Many cities around the world embraced a concept he started to develop in 2010. Called the fifteen-minute city, the idea is that everyday destinations such as schools, stores and offices should be only a short walk or bike ride away from home. A group of nearly 100 mayors worldwide embraced it as a way to help recover from the pandemic… In recent weeks, a deluge of rumors and distortions have taken aim at Moreno’s proposal. Driven in part by climate change deniers and backers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, false claims have circulated online, at protests and even in government hearings that fifteen-minute cities were a precursor to ‘climate change lockdowns‘—urban ‘prison camps’ in which residents’ movements would be surveilled and heavily restricted.” Moreno “was accused without evidence of being an agent of an invisible totalitarian world government. He was likened to criminals and dictators. ‘I wasn’t a researcher anymore, I was Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler,’ Moreno said. ‘I have become, in one week, Public Enemy No. 1.'”
DINING & DRINKING
James Beard Finalists Announced
“The James Beard Award Foundation has narrowed the list of finalists for its 2023 awards,” reports Crain’s, “and five Chicago names have risen to the top. Obelix, a new French spot in River North, was nominated for Best New Restaurant; Damarr Brown, chef de cuisine at Virtue in Hyde Park, was nominated for Emerging Chef; and Sepia, a fine-dining spot in the West Loop neighborhood, was nominated for Outstanding Hospitality. Chicago has two nominees in the Best Chef in Great Lakes Region category: Tim Flores and Genie Kwon at Kasama, and Diana Dávila at Mi Tocaya Antojería.” Writes Nick Kindelsperger at the Trib: The list “comes with some pretty big surprises. Chicago chefs didn’t completely dominate the Best Chef: Great Lakes region category, as they largely have for the past decade… This means a chef from somewhere other than Chicago—the region includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio—has a real chance to win the award for the first time since 2015, when Jonathon Sawyer won at The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland.”
Daisies Gets Big
Pasta restaurant Daisies reopens today “in a much larger Logan Square location after months of renovations, a big expansion for the family-run eatery,” reports Block Club Chicago. The 5,500-square-foot restaurant with coffee bar, to-go area and thirty-seat dining room “found a new home in The Radler’s former spot at 2375 North Milwaukee, which is more than three times the size of its original location.” Reservations here.
Uncle Nearest’s Tennessee Distillery Has World’s Longest Bar
Any Chicago publicans care to compete? “Nearest Green Distillery, the Shelbyville, Tennessee, producer of award-hoarding Uncle Nearest bourbons and ryes, is opening an on-site restaurant and music venue dubbed Humble Baron,” reports Garden & Gun. “Inside that venue is a winding, 518-foot-long bar that surpasses the previous record holder by more than one hundred feet.” (That would be Beer Barrel Saloon of Put-in-Bay, Ohio.) “If you look at our operation, Uncle Nearest is the most-awarded bourbon the last four years running and the biggest-selling Black-owned spirits brand in history,” Nearest Green cofounder Keith Weaver tells the magazine. “As an extension of that, we’re wired to run fast and break records, to go bold or don’t go at all.”
Community Effort To End Cairo, Illinois Food Desert
“Rise Community Market in Cairo, Illinois, is expected to open before summer in this hard-hit river city, which has lost eighty-nine-percent of its 1920 population. Cairo fits the federal government’s definition of a food desert, [with] no grocery store since December 2015,” reports the Southeast Missourian.
FILM & TELEVISION
Billion-Dollar Bets On Theatrical Exhibition By Both Apple And Amazon
Prevailing sentiment is that streaming services need to create awareness for their individual attractions, not just for the service itself… just like the movie industry has sold its wares for a century. Amazon Studios releases its Ben Affleck-directed “Air” to theaters next week, for more than a cursory few days. Apple has announced that its first worldwide theatrical release, in partnership this fall with Paramount Pictures, will be Martin Scorsese’s quarter-billion-dollar-budgeted “Killers Of The Flower Moon,” after a likely debut at an autumn festival such as Venice or Toronto. “This is a big one in a loaded slate for Apple, which became the first streamer to win the Best Picture Oscar two years ago with ‘CODA,'” writes Deadline.
“Apple plans to release its biggest movies in theaters at least a month before they appear on its streaming service, Apple TV+,” reports Bloomberg. “Amazon released one of the biggest box office draws of the year in ‘Creed III’ and is about to put a Ben Affleck movie on more than 3,000 screens. Both Apple and Amazon are going to spend $1 billion a year on movies that get proper theatrical releases… The Scorsese movie was destined for theaters when it was at Paramount. But when that studio got cold feet, Apple was willing to step up and meet Scorsese’s desired budget.”
But there is also “a compelling business rationale as well: marketing. Apple TV+ has about one-eighth as many users as Netflix. Amazon’s video service accounts for less than half of the viewership of Netflix in the US. If you are going to spend nine figures on a single movie and you don’t have a large and engaged streaming audience, you need to find a way to make sure more people see the film. When studios release movies in theaters, they tend to spend millions of dollars to promote the title and drive people to leave their homes opening weekend. That generates awareness for the title, which often benefits the film when it appears on streaming service a month or two later.”
Disney CEO Dumps “Metaverse” Unit Championed By Predecessor
The Disney unit, seen by an earlier administration as developing a new form of storytelling, had about fifty employees, reports the Wall Street Journal. The division’s mission was to find “ways to tell interactive stories in new technological formats using Disney’s extensive library of intellectual property.”
A White Parent’s Complaint In Florida Banishes “Ruby Bridges” Movie
“The Disney movie ‘Ruby Bridges,’ which tells the tale of a six-year-old who integrated New Orleans schools in the 1960s, has been a staple of Pinellas County Black History Month lessons for years,” reports the Tampa Bay Times. “A North Shore Elementary parent who would not allow her child to watch the film when it was showing in early March later complained that it wasn’t appropriate for second graders.” The mother “wrote that the use of racial slurs and scenes of white people threatening Ruby as she entered a school might result in students learning that white people hate Black people.” Judd Legum of Popular Information learns about the process that led to this result.
The mother “also objects to the movie being ‘very aggressive’ about ‘the anger/racism of these white people.’ She also admits to only watching the first fifty minutes of the movie.” Despite standards that material under “review” remain available, in response to the mother’s “objection, North Shore Elementary banned the film from its school… This isn’t the first time that Pinellas schools have ignored procedures and banned material. Earlier this year, the district banned ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison based on an email from one parent who claimed it was pornography.”
“Best American Essays” Include Two From CQR
Chicago Quarterly Review relays that two of their nonfiction pieces—“Dreams Awaken” by Scott Spencer and “A Fist of Muscle” by Sam Meekings—have been chosen by guest editor Vivian Gornick for inclusion in “Best American Essays 2023.”
Latest Brand Management Recipient: Agatha Christie
“Several Agatha Christie novels have been edited to remove potentially offensive language, including insults and references to ethnicity,” reports the Guardian. “Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries written between 1920 and 1976 have had passages reworked or removed in new editions published by HarperCollins to strip them of language and descriptions that modern audiences find offensive, especially those involving the characters Christie’s protagonists encounter outside the UK.” According to the Telegraph: “The character of a British tourist venting her frustration at a group of children has been purged from a recent reissue, while a number of references to people smiling and comments on their teeth and physiques, have also been erased… Dialogue in Christie’s 1920 debut novel ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ has been altered, so where Poirot once noted that another character is ‘a Jew, of course,’ he now makes no such comment… A young woman described as being ‘of gypsy type’ is now simply ‘a young woman,’ and other [such] references… have been removed.”
Open Letter: Pause Giant AI Experiments
Over a thousand signatories, including leading artificial intelligence researchers, are affixed to an open letter from The Future Of Life Institute that begins, “We call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least six months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.”
“AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs. As stated in the widely-endorsed Asilomar AI Principles, ‘Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources.’ Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening, even though recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one–not even their creators–can understand, predict or reliably control… Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders. Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable.”
The six-month “pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium…This does not mean a pause on AI development in general, merely a stepping back from the dangerous race to ever-larger unpredictable black-box models with emergent capabilities. AI research and development should be refocused on making today’s powerful, state-of-the-art systems more accurate, safe, interpretable, transparent, robust, aligned, trustworthy and loyal… Humanity can enjoy a flourishing future with AI… Society has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects on society. We can do so here.”
Phil Rosenthal Remembers Pal Bill Zehme
“Filmmaker Cameron Crowe, once a fellow magazine writer, dubbed Chicago’s Bill Zehme ‘the King of the First Sentence,’ but the sentences that followed were awfully good, too. Like the one for Esquire, wherein Zehme told of Frank Sinatra learning Dean Martin had at last succumbed to illness,” writes Phil Rosenthal at Crain’s. “‘He was not surprised by the bad news, but the sorrow was pounding him in slow waves.’ Which is also how word of Zehme’s death Sunday at age sixty-four, ending his decade-long standoff with colorectal cancer, washed over his own supersized Rat Pack of pals and fans… A great writer-for-hire has to be able to win over subjects, their associates and readers, but also editors, and whatever complexities lay beneath the surface, Bill was a good time. People relaxed around him. This resulted not only in great stories for publications such as Esquire, Playboy and Rolling Stone, but great nights at places such as Jilly’s and Morton’s.”
Susan V. Booth Announces Her First Goodman Season
“From a highly comic debutante ball to the heart-pounding spectacle of lucha libre, it’s an epic inaugural season for new Goodman Theatre artistic director Susan V. Booth,” the Goodman announces in its ninety-eighth year. In her first curated line-up, voices familiar and new align for eight plays—seven world or Chicago premieres, plus one major revival—the forty-sixth annual production of “A Christmas Carol” and the nineteenth New Stages Festival. “Whether thinking about our country, our field, this theater or the season ahead, the common denominator is paradigm shift,” says Booth. “The opportunity and responsibility of curating for a legacy institution in a time of radical shift comes down, for me, to interrogating point of view. To tell a familiar story from an untold perspective. To dive head-first into a polarizing topic via a subversive and deeply irreverent new musical. I’m delighted and grateful to produce a slate of plays that celebrate the mess and the magic of all of us in my first season.”
The attractions include “The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years,” a comedy by Pearl Cleage; “Highway Patrol,” an otherworldly story with “text arranged and curated by Jen Silverman, based on the digital archives of Dana Delany”; Margaret Atwood’s “The Penelopiad”; a major revival of August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” directed by Chuck Smith; and a musical comedy from the head writers of “Seinfeld” and “Veep,” “Female Troubles: A Period Piece,” music by Curtis Moore, lyrics by Amanda Green and written by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden. The season runs September 2023-August 2024. Single tickets for some productions go on sale beginning in July. Memberships, including flexible packages, are available here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Street Sweeping Begins
Helen Schubert, Ninety-Two, Was Longtime Chicago PR Exec
“Helen Schubert owned a public relations firm in Chicago for more than fifty-five years and also taught PR at Roosevelt University,” reports the Tribune. Schubert “started in 1962 as the public relations director and administrative coordinator for the four-level National Design Center, which opened in 1964 and was located in Marina City. A March 1965 Tribune article described Schubert as a ‘pixyish whirlwind with all the diversity of talent her job demands.’ In 1967, Schubert opened a public relations consulting firm bearing her name.” Her client list included the “interior design, furniture and apparel industries, although she also represented nonprofit clients… Clients over the years included the American Society of Interior Designers and the Midwest Bookhunters’ Fair.”
Houdini Appears At Potter & Potter Auction House
Potter & Potter Auctions is hosting a s 345-lot sale of Harry Houdini-themed merchandise, live at their West Belmont gallery. Lot #1, Houdini’s Strait Jacket Escape, is estimated at $50,000-$100,000. “This heavy canvas jacket is reinforced with leather across the neck, back, arms and waist. It measures thirty inches from its base to the top of its collar. The fabric is worn from use, but overall intact and well-kept.” This remarkable piece of magicana history is “accompanied by numerous documents, newspaper articles and photographs tracing the ownership of the jacket from Houdini to his brother Hardeen, and then to Hardeen’s assistant, magician Armand Landry.” Lot #6, “Houdini’s Strait Jacket Packing Crate,” is estimated at $40,000-$80,000. This circa 1915 wooden crate was used by Houdini to transport his props and personal articles on two transatlantic voyages. It retains trip labels as well as a notation in Houdini’s hand, reading, “All Strait Jackets, Oct. 1920.” It measures 24 x 42 x 34 inches and is accompanied by a protective wooden and plexiglass display stand. Phone and absentee bids are welcome. The auction is Saturday, April 8, starting at 10am and will be livestreamed here.
Investigation Reveals Illinois Sold Eighty-Three Kinds Of Lottery Tickets After The Top Prizes Were Won
Television news loves to cover lottery draws and wins, and now, the way the state continues to take money for nonexistent jackpots. NBC 5 Investigates obtained public records “showing that the Illinois Lottery kept promoting and selling eighty-three of its instant games since 2020, even though buyers had a zero chance of winning the advertised top prizes, because they’d all been claimed weeks or even months before… This, despite the fact that the Lottery’s written policy says it is supposed to discontinue a game as soon as the last top prize is claimed.” NBC 5 quotes historian Jonathan Cohen, an expert on state lotteries: “It strikes me as certainly dishonest on the part of the Illinois State Lottery… Scratch tickets are the bread and butter of state lottery commissions, so I’m not surprised that this drive for revenue, no matter where they can find it and how they can find it, has led the Illinois Lottery to cut corners or… treat its players unfairly.” Cohen “points out that because the Lottery is a state agency, it is immune from federal truth-in-advertising laws that could prohibit the sales of tickets that advertise a non-existent jackpot.” (The Instant Game Closure policy is here.)
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