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Boston’s Gentrified Artists Push Back
Boston artists resist: “With its low rents, ample space, and dedicated parking, 119 Braintree is just the sort of erstwhile light industrial building that has long attracted an eclectic mix of artists, musicians, and arts-related businesses. It is also, in the bruising calculus of today’s real estate market, slated for demolition, yet another artistic enclave destined to become lab space and housing,” reports the Boston Globe (via MSN).
“The building, which houses other businesses as well, is a prime example of the stubborn thicket of impediments that surfaces as acute needs for affordable housing and cultural space in Greater Boston run headlong into sky-high property values, a competitive field of private developers, and a hodgepodge of municipal rules. Despite a pledged relocation payment of $1 million, tenants may have to disband as an arts community entirely, a testament to the seemingly intractable nature of the problem.” (More narrative at the link.)
St. Adalbert’s Gets Preliminary Landmark Status
“The city’s Landmarks Commission announced that St. Adalbert, as well as a few adjacent structures in the 1600 block of West 17th Street” in Pilsen, “will get a preliminary landmark recommendation—a move that is just the first step in the landmarking process but protects the building from being sold or dismantled,” reports the Sun-Times.
Pritzker Signs Bill To Look Into Redesign Of State Flag
Governor Pritzker has signed SB1818, which creates the Illinois Flag Commission for the purpose of exploring the creation of a new state flag and developing new state flag designs, his office relays. The commission will make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning whether the current State flag should be replaced with a redesigned flag. By September 2024, the Illinois Flag Commission will select no more than ten potential flags and submit a report to the General Assembly by December 2024. Pritzker: “Throughout our 205-year history, Illinois has boasted two official state flags—and it may be time we create a new one that exemplifies the values of our great state.”
InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile Shows Off $40 Million Renovation
“A renovation project that began in March just finished at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile hotel. The cost was $40 million,” reports Crain’s, offering pictures of the new insides.
AI Plans Afoot At Mute Disney; Pope Concerned
CEO Bob Iger’s Disney has another controversy: the entertainment conglomerate is looking at job-killing AI, but won’t talk about it, reports Reuters. “Walt Disney has created a task force to study artificial intelligence and how it can be applied across the entertainment conglomerate, even as Hollywood writers and actors battle to limit the industry’s exploitation of the technology. Launched earlier this year… the group is looking to develop AI applications in-house as well as form partnerships with startups.” Says one anonymous Disney source, “media companies like Disney must either figure out AI or risk obsolescence.”
Even the Pope expresses concern, reports Ars Technica: In a communiqué, “Pope Francis’ office called for ‘an open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies, endowed with disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects.’ Echoing common ethical sentiments related to AI, he said society needs to be vigilant about the technology so that ‘a logic of violence and discrimination does not take root in the production and use of such devices, at the expense of the most fragile and excluded.'”
Fifty Years Of Green Inc.
“Inara Carroll opened Green Inc. in 1973 with Jean Alan at the corner of Dickens and Clark [and] moved to its storefront at 1718 North Wells a year later,” tallies Block Club. “The shop was run almost entirely by women, who worked barefoot as they potted plants and served customers… Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, Green Inc. has since expanded into the adjacent corner store and started offering flowers… Its sky-blue walls—and many of its original customers—remain.”
DINING & DRINKING
George’s Hot Dogs Sizzling At Seventy-Five
“The restaurant opened in 1948 on Damen Avenue near Cortland Street, where it’s since become a go-to for Chicago dogs, Italian beef, as well as gyros and other Greek dishes,” savors Block Club. “Beyond a few building additions, it has stood mostly unchanged as the surrounding neighborhood has experienced widespread gentrification.”
Chicago’s John Kessler examines savor sensation Warlord and writes, lo, it is good: “With a constantly changing menu and zero ego, Warlord is the city’s most exciting new place to eat… a meal of shared plates with zero spiel from our server…. simple and deftly seasoned dishes that pulled us in and made us pay attention. It was ‘Oh wow, try this’ over and over. There was a bowl of raw and pan-wilted arrowhead spinach that was mineral and buttery, with a tense shot of vinegar. There was a chunk of grilled pork shoulder that had spent a month in the dry-aging fridge (a focal point of the dining room), leaving the fat as dense as the meat, so fun to cut and swipe through its sauce of beets and butter… There was no parsing of fourteen ingredients in the dish, no shout-out to Chef’s grandmother or lacto-fermentation. Without any metanarrative coming between us and the food, the only story being told was one of flavor.”
5000 Years To Des Plaines
“A Chicago kimchi manufacturer’s plan to relocate to Des Plaines got a green light from officials in that suburb,” reports the Daily Herald. “After two months of discussions, the city council approved a conditional use permit that allows 5000 Years Foods to operate… The building last was occupied by Illinois Carpet and Drapery, which closed in 2022.”
To Small-Town Detriment, Tyson Foods Shutters Chicken Plants
“Tyson Foods is shutting four more chicken plants—in Arkansas, Indiana and Missouri—to cut costs, a blow to small communities in the heartland that depend on the meatpacker for nearly 3,000 jobs,” reports Reuters. “The company, which reaped big profits as meat prices soared during the pandemic, is adjusting to a decline and to slowing demand for some products. Tyson closed two other chicken plants, in Arkansas and Virginia, with almost 1,700 employees this year, and has also laid off corporate employees.”
Anheuser-Busch Offloads Eight Beer And Beverage Brands
“Tilray Brands, Inc., a leading global cannabis-lifestyle and consumer packaged goods company, announced that the Company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire eight beer and beverage brands from Anheuser-Busch: Shock Top, Breckenridge Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Square Mile Cider Company and HiBall Energy,” the concern offers in a release. “The transaction includes current employees, breweries and brewpubs associated with these brands. The purchase price will be paid in all cash.”
FILM & TELEVISION
AMC Newcity 14 New Chicago Film Fest Hub
The newest venue for the Chicago International Film Festival in its fifty-ninth outing will be at AMC Newcity 14, the fest unspools. Festival venues include the Music Box Theatre, Siskel Film Center, Chicago History Museum, and pop-up screenings in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Chicago Park District. Passes go on sale August 15; movies will be announced September 18. The event is October 11-22. More here.
Vancouver’s “Hollywood North” Also Grinds To A Halt
It’s not just Chicago, reports the CBC. “Canadian productions still rolling, but union leaders say they face the same issues as U.S. counterparts… U.S. writers and actors are striking over issues like residuals in the streaming ecosystem and the use of artificial intelligence. This means foreign film and TV shoots in Canada have ground to a halt. While domestic production continues, union leaders say that eventually many of the concerns driving the U.S. strikes will need to be negotiated here as well, albeit in the context of the Canadian system.”
Another Take On “Tommy Chicago” Palazzolo
“In spite of Chicago’s social hierarchy, there’s an entertainment value in each of Tom Palazzolo’s shorts,” writes Edward Frumkin at the International Documentary Association. “They are acts of showmanship; Palazzolo’s deft framing turns American denizens into stars. Figures such as Ron, the manager of an exotic wet T-shirt contest in ‘I Was a Contestant at Mother’s Wet T-Shirt Contest’ (1977), and Chicago’s Nazi czar Frank Collin in ‘Marquette Park II’ (1980; co-directed with Mark Rance) display their organizing skills and gather an audience to assist their respective visions, whether admirable or deplorable. Palazzolo suggests that every place, even mundane ones such as delis and the street, can inspire art.”
Publisher Simon & Schuster Bought By KKR
“In a move that some in the industry will welcome as putting at least a temporary stop to industry consolidation, the private investment firm KKR has reached an agreement with Paramount Global to acquire Simon & Schuster for $1.62 billion in an all-cash transaction,” reports Publishers Weekly. Paramount expects to “‘yield approximately $1.3 billion in net proceeds’… which the company reiterated would be used to pay down debt… The $1.62 billion sale price plus the $200 million termination fee paid by Penguin Random House after last year’s deal was blocked by regulators, plus the cash flow gained from strong sales from S&S over the last year, means the company will ‘realize approximately $2.2 billion of gross proceeds’ from the S&S sale.”
Shakespeare Joins List Of Florida No-Gos
“Hillsborough schools cut back on Shakespeare, citing new Florida rules,” writes The Tampa Bay Times. “Students will be assigned pages from the classics, which might include ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Hamlet’ and the time-honored teen favorite, ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ But if they want to read them in their entirety, they will likely have to do it on their own time. School district officials said they redesigned their instructional guides for teachers because of revised state teaching standards… In staying with excerpts, the schools can teach about Shakespeare while avoiding anything racy or sexual… ‘There’s some raunchiness in Shakespeare,’ said a reading teacher at Gaither High School. ‘Because that’s what sold tickets during his time.'”
Washington Town: If We Can’t Ban Books, We’ll Close The Library; Potential “Criminal Liability” For Arkansas Librarians
“In Dayton, Washington, about halfway between Seattle and Boise, when the public library’s board refused a demand to remove or sequester a list of books that’s now grown past a hundred titles, rightwing activists began working on a ballot measure to dissolve the public library system,” reports the Nation. And it’s not just in one or two places: “Attempted book bans in libraries and public schools have proliferated in Republican states, complaints made on grounds of history, race, gender, LGBTQ+ rights and more,” reports the Guardian.
“Attempts to ban titles by high-profile authors (Maya Angelou, Amanda Gorman, Art Spiegelman) have attracted national headlines… In Arkansas, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a bill into law that would have done a number of things, including creating the potential of criminal liability for librarians. The law, Act 372, would make it a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500, for librarians and booksellers to furnish minors with materials deemed ‘harmful’ by authorities. The law also provides for challenges to materials in public libraries.”
Illinois Freelance Writer Act Signed
Governor Pritzker has signed the Freelance Worker Protection Act (HB1122) into law. “The National Writers Union (NWU) celebrates Illinois setting a nationwide standard as it becomes the first state to enact legislation protecting freelance workers.” Under this act, “freelancers who live in Illinois or perform work for an Illinois-based employer are guaranteed the right to a written contract and timely payment within thirty days of completing their work. Employers cannot ask freelancers to accept less pay in exchange for timely payment.”
Is It The Dearth (Or The Death?) Of Arts Criticism?
“While readers see less coverage from traditional outlets, arts critics also find it harder to earn a living in the field. Many have moved from print to the internet, in hopes of finding greener pastures–or at least a more appreciative audience,” writes journalism site Quill. “Third Coast Review specializes in Chicago-area arts and culture coverage—everything from theaters to video games to food. Founded in 2016,” the site’s stories also bore far deeper into the [local] cultural scene than The Chicago Tribune typically did.”
“‘I think absolutely this is a response to a need to fill in the gaps in coverage,’ said managing editor Lisa Trifone. ‘Also, where Third Coast Review is concerned, everyone who’s on the site and everybody with a byline is there because they want to be, and it’s a place where they want to contribute.'” But money’s scarce. “‘That’s the conundrum,’ said Trifone (whose own day job is ownership of a marketing and publicity agency). ‘We have a business model that’s more of a labor of love than a business.'”
PornHub Exits Censorious States
“Pornhub has pulled out of multiple states rather than comply with age-verification laws,” reports Politico in a lengthy, contentious report. “So though the ACLU and the $100 billion porn industry are against the laws, they seem to be largely alone in that position. By January 1, 2024 (when the Montana law goes into effect), around fifty-four million Americans will live in states where they are required to upload their identification to access pornography websites, if those pornography websites choose to operate there at all… Though the first of its kind, Louisiana’s age-verification bill was not the last. Nearly identical bills have passed in six other states—Arkansas, Montana, Mississippi, Utah, Virginia and Texas—by similarly lopsided margins. In Utah and Arkansas, the bills passed unanimously. The laws were passed by overwhelming margins in legislatures controlled by both parties and signed into law by Democratic and Republican governors alike.”
“In just over a year, age-verification laws have become perhaps the most bipartisan policy in the country, and they are creating havoc in a porn industry that many had considered all but impossible to actually regulate.” These laws “are having real effects on how the massive online porn industry does business.” According to “the private equity company that owns Pornhub, traffic in Louisiana has dropped eighty percent. In the other three states where the laws have been in effect for months—Utah, Mississippi, and Virginia—Pornhub… simply stopped operating.”
Riot Fest Aftershows Announced
Riot Fest aftershows from September 13-17 will include The Interrupters, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Ride, Tegan and Sara, Pup, Frank Turner, Thursday, Kim Gordon and Danzig. Tickets go on sale Thursday at 10am here. General tickets for all three days and more here.
Multimedia New Music Experimentation At Comfort Station
Trombonist Riley Leitch will play at Comfort Music on Thursday, along with work by Gordon Fung, “a transdisciplinary artist who primarily works with multimedia and new media performances, experimental film and video, noise music, DIY electronics, installations and media archaeology. His works highlight unconventional executions like equipment misusing, noises, lo-fi presentations and glitches. Fung intertwines both analog and digital technologies—also to signify the co-existence of mundane and spiritual worlds. By overloading software and hardware, he collapses the two worlds to expand the audience’s perception of reality. As a new media artist, he performs with a wide range of gears: synthesizers (audio and video), analog camcorders, webcams, video projections, experimental films, CRT TVs, and Max/MSP/Jitter programming.” Comfort Station, Thursday, August 10, 7:30pm.
Doug Bragan, Seventy-Nine, Once Owned Ivanhoe Theatre
“A lot of people weren’t sure what to make of Doug Bragan when, in 1982, he bought the Ivanhoe Theater—the castle-looking structure at Clark Street and Wellington Avenue in Lake View,” reports Mitch Dudek at the Sun-Times. “He was a successful commodities broker at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange… The Ivanhoe was a single-stage, 500-seat theater when he bought it. Mr. Bragan added a 150-seat auditorium and a fifty-seat basement stage… Mr. Bragan’s talent didn’t lie in the artistic side of theater. He was good at finding others to put in the spotlight by renting space to theater companies that produced their own shows.”
“‘He wanted to keep theater alive and develop and promote and watch little theater companies succeed and there isn’t anybody like that now,’ said Vicki Quade, whose hit show, ‘Late Nite Catechism,’ had a long run at the Ivanhoe. ‘What mattered is what was in his heart and that was this really abiding love of theater and entertainment and actors, and he really wanted to help and foster that in Chicago.'”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Thoughtworks Will Fire Hundreds
“Chicago-based technology consultant Thoughtworks said that it would cut about five-to-six-percent of its workforce, which appears to be about 600 to 700 jobs,” reports Crain’s. The company “has more than 11,500 employees.”
Metra Board Members Go On Train Ride, $10,000 Cost Includes Private Security
“Metra board members, executives and staff took an educational train trip to Joliet, where they held a board meeting. Records show it cost at least $10,836,” reports the Tribune. “They saw the work from a special observation car lent by BNSF that… allowed for better views of the projects and planned sites than a typical Metra car. Use of the BNSF car didn’t cost Metra extra money, but it did lead to the single largest expense associated with the board meeting: $5,208 for security at two Metra train yards.”
“The payment went to an outside security firm the agency sometimes uses for special events or construction projects, which was tasked with guarding the BNSF train car while it was on Metra property for three days. Metra has an in-house police department, but using the outside firm for security for the car was cheaper than paying Metra police for the work, and kept officers free for their regular duties.”
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