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Rahm Emanuel’s Legacy In Chicago Schools
“In the year before Chicago closed what would be an unprecedented fifty public schools in 2013, neighbors of many of the targeted schools offered a warning to then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Once emptied, they said, the buildings would only end up hurting their neighborhoods,” reports the Sun-Times and WBEZ in a huge enterprise. “These buildings, almost all on the South Side and the West Side, were mainly in communities already wanting for investment, already drained of residents. They were old and in need of costly repairs. And they were built to be schools. So finding any possible reuses for the buildings, let alone anything like the community anchors they had been, would be a gargantuan and expensive task… Over six months, reporters from the Sun-Times and WBEZ have visited each of the shuttered buildings. The closings of fifty schools, including four that shared facilities, left forty-six buildings empty. Reporters spoke with dozens of neighbors and reviewed thousands of public documents to learn what has become of the schools spread across twenty-one wards that were closed by Emanuel’s chosen schools CEO and school board.”
Mexican Investor To Unload Apple Store Lincoln Park Property
Mexican banking-fortune heir Moises Cosio Espinosa has hired CBRE to sell the 18,000-square-foot Apple Store that opened in 2010 at 801 West North, reports Crain’s.
“We Buy Ugly Houses” Company Tries To Bury Investigation
“HomeVestors of America executives held a virtual meeting for its nearly 1,150 franchisees. The purpose: Alert local ‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ operations about a forthcoming ProPublica investigation into their business tactics,” reports the nonprofit publication. “Our reporting found HomeVestors franchisees who used deception and targeted the elderly, infirm and those so close to poverty that they feared homelessness would be a consequence of selling. The franchisees were trained by HomeVestors to look for signs of desperation and pounce on so-called distressed sellers. Many used legal tactics, described as predatory by five experts, to trap sellers in below-market deals. A HomeVestors spokesperson said in a statement that ProPublica’s reporting examined a small fraction of the more than 71,400 homes bought by its franchises since 2016.”
The company did not respond to a question “about executives telling franchisees that they want to bury the story. But in a statement, HomeVestors wrote, ‘As a company, we embrace any opportunity to improve customer service and satisfaction. We used the meeting to reinforce our code of conduct and company tenets that emphasize the importance of doing the right thing for our sellers and our communities.'”
DINING & DRINKING
Too Good To Go Cashes “Cartoonishly Good” Food
“Every night at 8:19, a race begins across Chicago to be the first to grab a coveted item—a $9.99 bag of Eataly pasta. The bag is a surprise: Inside could be wrapped skeins of squid ink or spinach pasta, tucked rounds of focaccia, fig jam ravioli… all ‘cartoonishly good,’ according to a customer… It’s perfectly edible and freshly made, but the clock’s just past Eataly’s desired sell-by time, so they list the bag,” writes Eater Chicago. “The app, which launched in 2015 in Denmark and arrived in 2021 in Chicago… allows supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants to sell bags of food otherwise marked to be thrown out, like day-old pastries or misordered entrees… Nearly every night, Eataly’s bags—which [retail] for around $30—sell out by 8:20pm.”
Nick Kokonas’ “Eccentric” Deal To Sell Old Town Home
Alinea co-owner and former derivatives trader Nick Kokonas designed a “rare and eccentric” way to sell his Old Town home, reports Dennis Rodkin at Crain’s. “He’ll pay a flat fee to an agent who brings in a buyer at his price, more for anything above that… He’s not listing the house with a real estate agent and he’s not disclosing an asking price. If a buyer’s agent approaches him, he’ll tell the agent roughly a range… If that agent brings in a contract at Kokonas’ undisclosed price, the agent collects a flat fee. At any higher price, the agent gets a cut; a larger cut for a higher price. Kokonas calls it an ‘inverted commission,’ a process that gives the agent an incentive to bring him a higher price… The main house is made of two 1870s houses, connected by a six-foot-long glass bridge. Out back is a third house, also built in the years just after the Great Chicago Fire.”
Woodlawn Tap Taps Seventy-Five
“Better known as Jimmy’s,” reports Hyde Park Herald, Woodlawn Tap has been celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary. “Owner Matt Martell says he’s expecting many regulars to drop by, many of whom have been going to the bar since the 1960s, as well as former bartenders and family members of the bar’s first owner, Jimmy ‘James’ Wilson. ‘For many people a lot of important things took place here, either when they were in college or at some point in their lives,’ Martell said. ‘We have people come in fairly frequently who either say that they met here at the bar, or they were engaged here.'”
Feds Indict Self-Identified “Wolf Of Rush Street”
Prostitution bust along the Viagra triangle: “Iman Bambooyani, Chicago’s self-proclaimed ‘Wolf of Rush Street’ and business partner of Joe Berrios’ son-in-law, has been indicted on federal charges alleging he arranged for high-paid sexual trysts for himself, an Arizona doctor, and ‘others,'” reports Jason Meisner at the Trib. “The indictment was a relatively rare invocation of the Mann Act, which makes it a federal crime to induce anyone to travel over state lines for sexual purposes.”
British-Style Pub Monarch and Lion Will Pour In Streeterville
For Streeterville’s Monarch and Lion, due this summer, London-based chef Jitin Joshi and Soirée Hospitality corporate executive chef Boo Kim are preparing a menu with roots deep in the history of Great Britain’s pub culture. The array will play on the classic flavors of this genre, but with fresh Midwestern ingredients. The beverage program will feature custom-distilled gin-based cocktails as well as traditional Pimms to honor the heritage. Chef Joshi has led kitchens across the world, including two Michelin-starred restaurants in London and the highest restaurant in the world in Burj Khalifa, Dubai.
Dishes will include Chicken Tikka Masala: Naan, Mango Chutney; Fish & Chips: IPA Battered Haddock, Mushy Peas, Samphire Tartar Sauce; and Slagel Farm Lamb Shepherd’s Pie: Lamb Mince, Buttered Mash. Cocktails include the Kensington Gardens: Hendricks Gin, Cucumber, Mint, lemon juice, simple, egg white, black pepper, Chartreuse spray; English Milk Punch: Rum, English Breakfast Tea; and Pimms Cup: Pimms No 7, soda. More here.
Wendy’s Maps Underground Robots For Mobile Pick-Up
“The Ohio-based fast food company announced a partnership with Pipedream, a hyperlogistics company, to test an underground autonomous robot system that can deliver digital food orders to your parking spot outside the restaurant ‘in seconds,'” reports NBC 5.
FILM & TELEVISION
Curator Named For Black Harvest Film Festival
The Siskel Film Center has appointed Jada-Amina as lead curator of the Twenty-Ninth Annual Black Harvest Film Festival, slated for November 3-16. Jada-Amina will lead the Film Center’s festival curation, creative direction, programming and related events. As a Chicago native, Jada-Amina grew up attending Black Harvest. The Siskel has also named Nick Leffel as coordinator of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Nick played a central role in programming the 2022 festival alongside the festival’s late co-founder Sergio Mims. Nick will support Jada-Amina in the curation of the festival and in coordination of community outreach, filmmaker discussions and other special events.
Chicago area writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait posts from the picket line: “Chicago is a Union town! So great to meet so many awesome folks supporting the WGA strike yesterday at NBC Chicago! Thank you IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters, Actors Equity, the electricians union and all the laborers and friends who made the protest over 800 strong! (Plus it’s also always awesome to hang with fellow WGA member Tim Kazurinsky!) And yes, holy sh*t, that’s Lilly Wachowski behind me!!”
Disney And Hulu Join Warner Bros. Discovery In Ditching Streaming Series To Eliminate Residual Payments
“Disney is starting to pull content from streaming globally, with dozens of series and specials slated to leave Disney+ and Hulu on May 26,” Deadline reports. “The move, which comes with a content impairment charge of $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion, was announced during the recent Disney earnings call on May 10. ‘We are in the process of reviewing the content on our DTC services to align with the strategic changes in our approach to content curation,’ CFO Christine McCarthy said.” A backgrounder on how slashing content (and contracts) saves money for entertainment conglomerates is here.
Poet Laureate avery r. young On Getting Poetry Done
“The hardest part about being a poet is getting yourself in a position to dedicate the necessary time it takes to actually do the craft. I don’t know no other way to do poetry but to be still and listen, and write it down, type it out,” Chicago’s poet laureate tells South Side Weekly. “You crazy to think that you can write a book and you live on a main city street with all these cars and trucks passing by… The hardest part is really getting yourself in a position where you can just do the work. You don’t feel like you have to work another job to pay bills. [It’s] giving you a space where your talent makes room for you. Getting yourself where you understand your value, so you don’t have to accept a gig just to accept a gig. You know what I’m saying? You should be doing nothing for exposure. You should be doing everything with a plan and that is what I would tell anybody.”
Resignations Roil Minneapolis’ Coffee House Press
“Two editors and the publicist resign their positions” at the Minnesota-based press, reports Publishers Weekly. Coffee House Press will “lose about one-third of its total staff as two editors—senior editor Lizzie Davis and associate editor Zoë Koenig—and publicist Daley Farr have submitted their resignations. The three will leave Coffee House’s by the end of the month, leaving seven employees, plus interim director Linda Ewing… Coffee House Press has been roiled for the past few years by turnovers in its leadership… Several Twin Cities industry veterans who have worked with Coffee House over the years expressed their concerns… regarding the direction the press is moving in due to the combination of a young staff—many of whom have worked there for only a year or two—an interim director without publishing experience, and a board that skews towards corporate leaders who lack knowledge of the publishing industry.”
NYSE Delists Audacy, Owner Of WXRT, WBBM And The Score
“A financial catastrophe for the company that owns WXRT, WBBM-AM & FM, WUSN, The Score, and 104.3FM,” reports Rick Kaempfer. A statement: “The staff of New York Stock Exchange Regulation has determined to commence proceedings to delist the Class A common stock of Audacy, Inc. … Trading in the Company’s Class A common stock will be suspended immediately.” “At the time of the announcement, the stock was trading for less than ten cents a share.”
Marla Krause Retires From DePaul And The DePaulia
“I will be retiring from DePaul at the end of the school year,” posts Marla Krause, Chicago Tribune alum and DePaul journalism instructor as well as faculty advisor to student newspaper, The DePaulia. “The last sixteen years have been a great run and I’m proud of the work done in the classroom and The DePaulia. Thanks to so many amazing students and colleagues for making it happen.” (Much praise for Krause’s accomplishments follows in the thread after her entry.)
Tribune Critic And Writer Clifford Terry Was Eighty-Six
“The word ‘gentleman’ is not ordinarily attached to newspaper writers but it, along with such other descriptions as ‘witty,’ ‘incisive’ and ‘stylish,’ peppered conversations in the wake of the death of Cliff Terry,” writes Rick Kogan at the Chicago Tribune. “His byline topped thousands of stories over the more than three decades that he wrote for the Tribune. He interviewed the major celebrities of his time, such people as George Halas, Mel Brooks, Harrison Ford, Jack Lemmon, Jerry Reinsdorf, Eugene McCarthy, Studs Terkel, Shirley MacLaine, Woody Hayes, Harry Caray and Roy Rogers. ‘I knew Cliff for fifty years,’ said former Tribune book editor and writer John Blades. ‘That seems miraculous in retrospect, as does becoming not just a colleague of Cliff’s but a close friend. For me, he was the real standout, his astute taste and humor marked everything he wrote.'”
Chess Records Session Guitarist Gerald Sims Was Eighty-Three
“Beside playing with many blues, soul greats, Gerald Sims also owned a music school and store near 79th Street and Cottage Grove where he gave Howlin’ Wolf guitar lessons,” reports Mitch Dudek at the Sun-Times. “As a session guitar player for Chess Records, Gerald Sims played with blues and soul royalty on hits that keep people grooving to this day—among them Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’ and Fontella Bass’ ‘Rescue Me.'”
Bandcamp Workers Get Union
“We at Bandcamp United are happy to announce that we’ve won our union, 31 to 7! We’re excited to work with leadership to build a better Bandcamp!” the workers post, announcing their Tech Union 1010 affiliation.
Illinois Phil Awards 2023 Michuda Award For Lifetime Service
At their season finale concert last week, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra honored Carole Brejcha with the 2023 Leo Michuda Award for Lifetime Service. One of the highest honors the group can bestow upon an individual, the qualifications for the Michuda Award include excellence in leadership, securing resources vital to success of the orchestra, and the application of extraordinary efforts to enhance the image or promote the artistic mission of IPO in the greater Chicago area. More on IPO here.
Black Ensemble Theater Plans Revealed
Black Ensemble Theater purchased the former home of the Japanese American Service Committee at 4427-4459 North Clark for $5.5 million, with plans to replace it with a mixed-use development. From the zoning application, as reported by Uptown Update: “Plans call for a six story-plus residential building with fifty units (a mix of one- and two-bedroom units) and a plaza separating the residential from [the] live theater that would stretch north toward Sunnyside… Plans also call for a restaurant (possibly the oft-rumored soul food restaurant?) and retail space… The architects of the project are Gensler and NIA. The new buildings will make this stretch significantly taller and more modern, complementing the newly built buildings on the 4500 block.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Tallying TribCo Failure But Also Zell Political Cash And Family Philanthropy
Axios Chicago tallies the still-eddying destructiveness of Sam Zell’s cavalier purchase and dismemberment of the Tribune Corporation. At Crain’s, Marcus Gilmer looks at Zell’s political contributions: “Zell largely donated to Republican causes… He was a big backer of former Governor Bruce Rauner and later gave to Aurora mayor Richard Irvin’s campaign for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. (See contributions, including $100,000 to Irvin, here.) In 2020, Zell joined Ken Griffin in donating to the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike Amendment; Zell gave $1 million [to the] group focused on blocking Governor Pritzker’s graduated income tax proposal.” His cash “found its way to Democratic power brokers, too, like the $125,000 to Bill Daley during the 2019 mayoral race and $75,000 in June 2019 to then-mayor Lori Lightfoot. In 2023, though, Zell gave to Lightfoot opponent Paul Vallas.”
Crain’s also writes of how Zell dispensed his business gains: “While his giving is headlined by large donations to the University of Michigan, which has received more than $150 million… tax filings show the bulk of Zell’s philanthropy focused on Chicago-area organizations… Through his philanthropic Zell Family Foundation, which he headed along with his wife, Helen, Zell donated millions annually to nonprofits, schools and organizations throughout the Chicago area, revealing a strong philanthropic commitment to the city’s arts scene and education, including large donations to Jewish schools. In its 2020 tax filings [the Zell Family Foundation] reported $279 million in total assets, which would rank it as the tenth-largest foundation in Chicago that year… The nonprofit donated more than $55 million to Chicago organizations and causes that year, including committing over $20 million to the CSO and over a million each to the MCA Chicago and Steppenwolf.”
“‘The impact of the Zell Family Foundation on Chicago’s arts and culture landscape is profound,’ said Brooke Flanagan, executive director for Steppenwolf Theatre… In addition to endowing the CSO music director position, the Zell Family Foundation has provided ongoing support for additional Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association activities, including concert sponsorships… and commissioning new music… In 2012, Zell’s foundation gave a $10 million gift to the MCA, which museum head Madeleine Grynsztejn described as a ‘game changer’ at the time.”
Illinois All-Gender Bathroom Legislation Met With Republican’s Threat Of Violence
“State Senator Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, told lawmakers that he would ‘beat the living piss’ out of any man who walked into a restroom with his daughter,” reports the Sun-Times. “State Senate Majority Leader Kim Lightford said GOP critics ‘don’t understand that life is evolving.’”
Small Methodist University Fires Two In Upstate New York For Including Pronouns In Email
Administrators at Houghton University in upstate New York, “which was founded and is now owned by a conservative branch of the Methodist Church, asked Raegan Zelaya and Shua Wilmot, two residence hall directors, to remove the words ‘she/her’ and ‘he/him’ from their email signatures, saying they violated a new policy,” reports the New York Times. “When they refused to do so, both employees were fired, just weeks before the end of the semester… Ms. Zelaya and Mr. Wilmot, neither of whom is transgender, said they had professional and pastoral reasons for including their pronouns, but also a practical one: They both have uncommon, gender-neutral names, and said they have often been misgendered in email correspondence.”
Homeland Security Uses AI On Social Media To Track Citizenry
“Customs and Border Protection is using an invasive, AI-powered monitoring tool to screen travelers, including U.S. citizens, refugees, and people seeking asylum, which can in some cases link their social media posts to their Social Security number and location data,” reports Joseph Cox at Motherboard.
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