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New Master Plan For Chicago
“The 2024 Central Area Plan will guide Downtown development through 2044. Residents can weigh in through surveys and at public meetings through September,” patterns Block Club. The city will host a virtual community meeting Thursday on Zoom at 6pm to start the process. Register here.
CTA Costs Chicago
“The CTA’s struggles with service, rider concerns about safety and behaviors like smoking on buses and trains have meant time and money out of the pockets of riders,” frets the Tribune. “Employees have been late to work. They have switched jobs to ease commutes,” the paper claims in its overarching view, “and they’ve had to abandon plans to travel downtown for a day in the office because of transit delays. It’s a frustration and inconvenience for riders trying to get to jobs, appointments or social outings around ‘The City That Works.’ … Challenges getting employees and visitors downtown—including the tens of thousands expected as the city hosts the Democratic National Convention next summer—are a hit to the city’s economic heart.”
“The CTA has made strides to improve the reliability of bus and train service, and the violent crime rate on trains dropped in 2022, though it remained well above pre-pandemic levels. But the agency continues to contend with shortages of train and bus operators [and] sometimes longer wait times.” As residents “change the way they live and commute, CTA ridership in February was fifty-six-percent of 2019 levels.”
Evaluating Chicago’s Demolition Delay Ordinance In Its Twentieth Year
Elizabeth Blasius elaborates at length at Mas Context “about the successes and failures of this ordinance as well as the need to think about Chicago’s demolition problem holistically,” with images by Eric Allix Rogers. “As the 2003 Demolition Delay Ordinance turns twenty, the predictions made in ‘A Squandered Heritage’ have proved correct. The Demolition Delay Ordinance has allowed preservation groups time to mount public advocacy campaigns, to attract the attention of local media, and to communicate with building owners, neighbors, and aldermen on the financial and cultural benefits of preservation. It has provided landmarks commission staff with additional time to review and research red- and orange-rated buildings, and to coordinate with building owners on strategies to retain historic elements, either through revising building plans or, as a mitigation strategy, architectural salvage. Despite what it was created to provide the City of Chicago, the Demolition Delay Ordinance has saved almost no buildings from demolition.”
National Public Housing Museum Showcases Power Of Oral History in Preserving Community Histories
The National Public Housing Museum is hosting a showcase tonight, Tuesday, April 25, 6pm, featuring the innovative work of the inaugural group of its Beauty Turner Academy of Oral History, an eight-week, intergenerational, paid oral history training program for people with meaningful connections to public housing. Event attendees will reflect and engage with the inaugural [group’s] powerful narrative history projects that live at the intersection of storytelling, archiving, organizing and public history. The event is co-hosted with writer, scholar and cultural organizer Eve L. Ewing. Register via Zoom here.
Bed Bath & Beyond Shutdown Sudden; Buybacks Battered Bottom Line
“At a popular Bed Bath outpost in New York City, a since laid-off staffer recently told CNBC that workers were standing around not knowing what to do after the company suddenly cut off in-store pickup and deliveries at the location. The worker was told liquidators would be coming the following day and soon learned they wouldn’t receive severance after more than two decades with the company. ‘It was just so fast.'”
From Yahoo News in January: “Bed and Bath has spent more than $11.7 billion [since 2004] to buy back almost three-quarters of its own stock… at an average cost about fifteen times the stock’s current price… Only a couple of months ago, when it was already in desperate financial shape, it kept buying back its shares… If Bed and Bath had spent a few hundred million dollars less buying back stock, it would have [had] a lot more financial staying power. Staying power that it could sure use now.”
DINING & DRINKING
Marz Launches STOCK
Ed Marszewski announces STOCK on Instagram, a magazine with offshoots that has the mission “to encounter, exchange, and transform the conversations we have about food in Chicago and the broader Midwest. We hope it will be a home for work from new and emerging writers, artists, farmers, manufacturers, vendors, and other essential contributors to our regional food culture.” The first issue is titled “Next Generation.” Also set: a STOCK supper series at Marz; “Two Mondays per month, we’ll be popping up with community members, local chefs, food purveyors and beverage partners.”
Publication partner Erin Drain adds: “STOCK is a new (printed!) home to conversations about food in the Midwest. Join us to celebrate (plus get a copy of our first issue, some beverages from Marz Brewing, and a meal from Birrieria Zaragoza).” Marz Brewing, Monday, May 8, 5pm-8pm. Reserve here.
Whiting White Castle Preserved
The Whiting, Indiana White Castle that recently ended its run, as reported by NWI.com, will be preserved by volunteers at the Illinois Railway Museum, who “are working to incorporate the famous White Castle facade into a 1950s street scene,” reports Trains. “When volunteers realized that the oldest active Chicago-area White Castle restaurant in Whiting, was closing to be replaced by a new building on the same property, they sprang into action to ensure the piece of Americana wouldn’t vanish.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Disney Continues Thousands Of Layoffs
“Disney is initiating the second and largest round of its planned layoffs Monday and expects to reach 4,000 of its projected 7,000 staff cuts,” tallies Deadline of the firings workers have been calling “the big one.” From the memo to employees: “While we are confident that these efforts will better position us for the future, we realize this all takes a toll. We want to acknowledge the impact of this moment and simply reiterate our appreciation for all of you and the passion and dedication you’ve brought to the work we do every day. And for those who will be leaving the company, please know that your contributions are valued and appreciated–you have all played a meaningful role in making Disney what it is today.”
City of Chicago Names avery r. young Inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate
Mayor Lightfoot, in partnership with the Chicago Public Library, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Poetry Foundation, announce avery r. young as the inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate. An award-winning poet, educator, composer, performer and producer, avery r. young’s work spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts and literature. He is co-director of The Floating Museum, a Cave Canem fellow, Leader for a New Chicago 2022 awardee and performer with his band, de deacon board. With more than two decades as a teaching artist, he has mentored generations of young poets. In the foreword of his most recent book, “neckbone: visual verses,” Theaster Gates called avery “one of our greatest living street poets.” As Chicago Poet Laureate, young will serve a two-year term and be awarded $50,000 for the commissioning of new poems and to create public programming, including programs for youth and students. The Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador for the city’s literary and creative communities.
“I am proud to name avery r. young as the first-ever Chicago Poet Laureate,” said the Mayor in a release. “As a multifaceted, boundary-breaking poet and transformational youth educator who was born and bred in Chicago, avery will serve and strengthen our city’s literary and creative communities.” Erin Harkey, DCASE commissioner: “As the first Chicago Poet Laureate, avery will play an important role in helping to build and shape the program. We’re honored to support him, and experience what he creates and catalyzes through his tenure as Laureate.” Young’s first appearance as Chicago Poet Laureate will be at Poetry Fest at the Harold Washington Library Center in conversation with Dr. Eve L. Ewing, Saturday, April 29, 2-3pm.
Florida District “Pre-Crimes” Books, Foreseeing Future Legislation
“A Florida school district has banned dozens of books based on proposed legislation… Administrators are keeping them off the shelves because they might be prohibited by future laws,” charts Judd Legum at Popular Information. “A Clay County schools’ spreadsheet on the status of challenged books lists fifty-five titles as ‘Pending Legislative Update’… Those books are unavailable to students while the ‘district is monitoring the current legislative session.’ In other words, the school district is anticipating new legal restrictions and is withholding titles even though they do not run afoul of current law. Among books that are no longer available are critically acclaimed novels like ‘A Fault In Our Stars’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ Previously, challenges were always considered by a five-person committee which included a student, a parent, and a school-based librarian. The new Challenge Oversight Committee is comprised of three administrators empowered with the unilateral authority to ban books.”
Manhattan Swagger: New York Library Hours To Be Cut To Five Days
“A fresh round of budget cuts from Mayor Eric Adams could bring an end to six-day service at the New York Public Library and its counterparts in Queens and Brooklyn,” reports Gothamist. From a letter to staff by NYPL President Anthony Marx: “This would result in the elimination of Sunday service at all eight current locations, the reduction of hours, and moving to a five-day service schedule at a majority of locations… All of this is, of course, truly awful to even contemplate, and we still hope, and will do all we can, to avoid these cuts.” “The system would also slash its collections budgets and hold off on certain repairs at facilities, in addition to delaying reopenings for recently renovated locations.”
Fox News Aftershocks Begin: Tucker Carlson Fired
Fox News has unceremoniously fired prime-time talker Tucker Carlson, reports the Los Angeles Times, only days after its nearly $1-billion Dominion Voting Systems outlay. Carlson was not permitted a final on-air harangue. The New York Times: “Mr. Carlson, fifty-three, had helmed his prime time show ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ since 2016. In 2021, he signed a new deal with Fox News expanding into podcasts and a series called ‘Tucker Carlson Originals’ for the streaming service Fox Nation.” Stay tuned, as late-middle-aged pundits like to say.
Don Lemon Fired From CNN
Don Lemon uses the Post app on Twitter (Helvetica, two spaces after periods): “I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN. I am stunned. After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network. It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.” The New York Times: “Lemon, one of the network’s most recognizable stars, had been under scrutiny since making remarks about women and aging in February that were widely perceived to be sexist.” Stay tuned, as late-middle-aged pundits like to say.
“Wang Dang Doodle” Makes Library Of Congress National Recording Registry
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has named twenty-five recordings as audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage. The 2023 list also includes the first sounds of a video game to join the registry with the Super Mario Bros. theme. From Chicago: Koko Taylor’s 1966 single, “Wang Dang Doodle.” “The hard-charging authentic Chicago blues sounds of ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ made for an unlikely hit in the spring of 1966, when poppier sounds from both the U.S. and England dominated the charts. But when Koko Taylor, born Cora Walton in Tennessee in 1928, teamed up with blues composer, bassist and producer Willie Dixon to record it, they hit pay dirt and made a blues standard of a song that had not clicked with audiences even when the great Howlin’ Wolf released a version five years earlier. Taylor sang the lyrics with gusto, backed by a crack team of players that included Buddy Guy on guitar, and the song’s rogues’ gallery of party guests that included ‘Automatic Slim’ and ‘Razor Totin’ Jim’ rocked jukeboxes and radios around the country. Taylor went on to become one of the great voices of Chicago Blues, recording more than a dozen albums and performing around the world until her death in 2009.” More here.
Sandra Delgado Developing New Chicago Musical
The Latiné Musical Theatre Lab, a home for developing and advocating new works of latiné-written musical theater, and the theater department at California State University Fullerton have announced the development of Sandra Delgado and Michael McBride’s new musical, “The Boys and The Nuns.” The partnership will include a reading of the show from April 24-May 6, and a workshop in the fall on the campus of California State University Fullerton. “In 1986, a group of LGBTQ activists from Chicago’s Boystown are weary–they have been fighting City Hall to pass a gay rights ordinance since 1972. Enter a group of Catholic Sisters who band with the activists while embroiled in their own fight for equal rights within the church. Inspired by true events, ‘The Boys and the Nuns’ is an examination of identity, belonging and faith woven together with music of the eighties, from Spanish language power ballads to synthy new wave to Chicago’s home-grown house music.” Delgado’s website is here. More on the lab here.
Raven Announces Forty-First Season
Raven Theatre’s forty-first season opens this fall with a revival of Lucille Fletcher’s drama “Night Watch,” directed by Georgette Verdin. The season continues next winter with Paul Michael Thomson’s world premiere “brother sister cyborg space,” commissioned by Raven. The season concludes next spring with another Raven commission, a yet-to-be-titled world premiere by Chicago playwright Joshua Allen, the third and final installment of his “Grand Boulevard Trilogy,” which also includes “The Last Pair of Earlies” and “The October Storm.”
“Raven will continue to produce a combination of revivals and new plays that speak to our moment,” says Raven interim artistic director Sarah Slight. “In addition to the gripping revival of the 1970 hit Broadway play ‘Night Watch,’ we will produce two of our four commissioned plays. Thank you to the generous donors who support our new play fund for making these exciting world premieres possible.” More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Streetsblog Founder Greenfield Out Of Coma After Southern Illinois Bike Accident
Streetsblog Chicago editor-in-chief and co-founder John Greenfield rode Amtrak from Chicago to Carbondale on Thursday to begin a Midwest bike tour, reports Streetsblog. He “was in a medically-induced coma for most of Saturday as a precaution because of a possible head injury.” Greenfield “appears to be slowly awaking,” with details to come.
Composting Remains Of People
“Illinois legislators are considering a bill that would make the state the seventh in the U.S. to codify the composting of human remains,” lays out the Tribune. It’s called “natural organic reduction.” Early last year, Representative Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, tried “to push through legislation that would codify natural organic reduction as an alternative to handling human remains. That effort failed, but Cassidy reintroduced the bill and, after a debate that included references to the 1973 dystopian thriller ‘Soylent Green,’ the Illinois House last month narrowly approved the measure, which is now before the Senate.”
Real Estate Multibillionaire Sam Zell: Remote Work Is “A Bunch Of Bullshit”
“Remote work is ‘a bunch of bullshit,’ according to Sam Zell,” writes Fortune. “One of the biggest lies in the world is that people working from home are more productive than people working in the office,” the billionaire founder and chairman of Equity Group Investments told a New York University luncheon. “You have much less productivity if you’re working from home in your pajamas with three little kids running around than if you’re in an office.”
“Zell, of course, is not a neutral observer. The shift to remote work has hammered commercial real estate, where he made much of his fortune, leading to rising vacancy rates and falling property values… Zell criticized online meetings, too, arguing they can’t replace face-to-face ones: ‘There’s an enormous difference between a Zoom board meeting and a meeting in person. A Zoom board meeting is a board meeting where everyone sits and listens to recitations. An in-person meeting is where the real discussion takes place.'”
Secretive Group Behind Rush To Legalize Child Labor Nationwide
The Foundation for Government Accountability “drafted state legislation to strip child workplace protections,” reveals the Washington Post. “The Florida-based think tank and its lobbying arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, have found remarkable success among Republicans to relax regulations that prevent children from working long hours in dangerous conditions… The FGA for years has worked systematically to shape policy at the state level, fighting to advance conservative causes such as restricting access to anti-poverty programs and blocking Medicaid expansion.”
Schoolchildren’s Pandemic-Era Chromebooks Dying
As the “pandemic drove classrooms online, school districts found themselves needing to bulk purchase affordable laptops that they could send home with their students. Quite a few turned to Chromebooks,” reports The Verge. “Three years later, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund concludes in a new report… that many of these batches are already beginning to break… One of the big problems is repairability. Chromebooks are harder to upgrade and repair, on average, than Windows laptops.” Some IT departments “have resorted to buying extra batches of Chromebooks just for their components. ‘These high costs may make schools reconsider Chromebooks as a cost-saving strategy.'”
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