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“Billiken”‘s Back On THE MART
“Billiken,” the Bud Billiken-themed projection that premiered as part of summer 2022 programming at ART on THE MART, has returned for a limited engagement leading up to the ninety-fourth annual Bud Billiken Parade. Through August 12, the two-acre façade of THE MART will light up at 9pm, showcasing imagery of Chicago’s annual Billiken Parade. Billiken was directed by fourth-generation youth dance troupe leader Shkunna Stewart and Chicago filmmaker and scholar Wills Glasspiegel, produced in partnership with the Chicago Defender Charities’s President and CEO Myiti Sengstacke-Rice. The 2023 Bud Billiken Parade is at 10am on Saturday, August 12.
“Raising up local Black artists and performers has been a cornerstone of ART on THE MART’s mission since the project’s inception,” says Cynthia Noble, executive director of ART on THE MART. “Billiken is a tremendous presentation demonstrating the strength and vitality of Black culture in Chicago, and we are proud to give audiences a chance to see it again as we near the ninety-fourth annual Bud Billiken Parade.”
Billiken features performances from Bringing Out Talent, K-Phi-9, Silent Threat, Empire, Goon Squad, Legacy 2.0, Dance Force, Geek Skquad and the Jesse White Tumblers. Glasspiegel, the artist behind ART on THE MART’s 2021 “Footnotes” projection, “partnered with dance group leader Stewart to direct this large-scale work composed of video footage and animated imagery that celebrates the talented youth dance groups and marching bands that participate and compete in Chicago’s annual Bud Billiken Parade, the largest and longest-running African American parade in the U.S.”
Sterling Bay Courts Mayor Johnson For Lincoln Yards
After a “contentious relationship” with former Chicago Mayor Lightfoot, reports Crain’s, Sterling Bay “works to jump-start the stalled $6 billion Lincoln Yards project… hoping newly elected Mayor Brandon Johnson will be more accommodating than his predecessor was.” His support “could be the difference-maker in Sterling Bay’s efforts to finance critical infrastructure improvements for the ambitious redevelopment of fifty-three acres along the Chicago River between Lincoln Park and Bucktown.”
Construction Will Close Canal Street Outside Union Station For Eighteen Months
“A section of Canal Street has closed for a year and a half of construction as the city replaces hundred-year-old streets that double as the roof of the popular station,” reports the Sun-Times. “Crews will tear apart the street that’s technically a viaduct, all while keeping the station beneath running smoothly, said Moira Kent, a civil engineer at the Chicago Department of Transportation. ‘It’s the roof of Union Station… It’s a station we need to maintain operating while we work.'”
Wilmette Board Unanimously Against Allowing Concerts At Northwestern’s $800 Million-Plus Stadium
“Wilmette board members voted to unanimously oppose zoning changes proposed by neighboring Evanston that would allow concerts at a renovated Ryan Field at Northwestern University,” reports NBC5. “The proposed $800 million project has drawn further scrutiny amid numerous lawsuits stemming from a hazing scandal within the school’s athletic programs.”
Ventra Cards To Some During School Bus Driver Shortage
“CPS families who don’t qualify for school bus service can apply for free CTA Ventra cards,” reports CBS 2. “The district is giving $35 per month so students can take the train or CTA buses… because of the school bus driver shortage.” Families have until Friday to apply.
Chicago “Bikeability” Wobbles
“Chicago has work to do to make its city streets more friendly to cyclists, according to two recent studies of how accessible cities are by bike,” reports the Sun-Times. One ranked “fifty U.S. cities by their ‘bikeability’ and put Chicago in the middle of the pack.”
Zoom To Its Workers: Get Back In The Office
“Zoom joins Amazon, Salesforce and Google in stepping up return-to-office policies despite backlash from employees,” reports AP (via the Sun-Times). Zoom is “asking employees who live within a fifty-mile radius of its offices to work onsite two days a week.” A spokesperson says that the company has decided “a structured hybrid approach–meaning employees that live near an office need to be onsite two days a week to interact with their teams—is most effective for Zoom.”
WeWork Likely Won’t
“WeWork, which lost billions of dollars building and operating a global empire of co-working spaces, warned investors on Tuesday that it might not be in business for much longer,” reports the New York Times. “‘Substantial doubt exists about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,’ the company said in a financial filing.”
Inventory In Only Seven Of Nation’s 200 Largest Housing Markets Back To Pre-Pandemic Levels
“The surge in housing demand in 2020 and 2021 was so substantial that… housing supply would have needed to increase by a staggering 300 percent in order to match the pandemic’s housing demand surge,” reports Fortune. “This surge was primarily propelled by the shift to remote work and the household formation boom triggered by the separation of roommates seeking greater space. At the peak of the pandemic housing boom, only 546,151 homes were available for sale on Realtor.com in July 2021, a sharp decline from the 1,239,298 homes on the market in July 2019.”
DINING & DRINKING
Lincoln Park Neighbors Review Wieners Circle: “Too Loud”
“The Wieners Circle needs to address and abate noise, loitering and littering,” neighbors are saying, reports Block Club. “A meeting was called by the area’s alderman in an effort to settle the dispute.” The famous hot dog eatery “opened the backyard patio in late 2021, expanding the stand’s capacity by a hundred… while adding a back bar, more [washrooms] and a basketball hoop. But neighbors in the nearby Wrightwood Commons building, 630 West Wrightwood, said the expansion has led to excessive noise from the stand’s outdoor speakers and increased customer base.”
West Side Nightlife Patrol To Launch In Midst Of Robbery Wave
“Officers will be dedicated to overseeing clubs, bars and other nightlife spots in the Near West (12th) Police District—and a similar patrol specifically for the West Loop may not be far behind,” reports Block Club.
Seven Treasures’ Farewell To 554
“Chinatown’s Seven Treasures restaurant, known for its popular barbecue pork, egg and rice plate called the 554, is closing its doors,” reports the Sun-Times. “The 554 consists of two fried eggs, barbecue pork, rice and soy sauce. It was originally offered for $5. It is so well known that it has an entry on Urban Dictionary… The dish is popular among late-night patrons and takes its name from an old menu. The eatery is open until 2am most days unless the kitchen runs out of food.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Reeling Announces Opening Night
Reeling 2023’s opening night will be at the Music Box, Thursday, September 21, with a reception and screening for “The Mattachine Family,” featuring Nico Tortorella (“The Walking Dead: World Beyond”) and Juan Pablo Di Pace (“Mamma Mia!”) in a family story loosely based on the life experiences of couple director-writer Andy Vallentine and writer Danny Vallentine. It’s co-produced by Zach Braff. Opening night tickets here.
Film Industry Strikes Continue Past Hundredth Day
“Every day these strikes continue is a fresh reminder of the void of ethical, moral, and business leadership at the top of the AMPTP. They are inadequate custodians of a great industry, chasing the chimera of endless Wall Street growth at the expense of decency and common sense,” opines film historian Mark Harris. “It seems obvious, but again: Studios and streamers can afford to pay writers and actors fairly. Making less of a profit—if that even happens—is not the same as losing money. And ignoring that while blithely allowing your workers to suffer is morally and personally repugnant.” The recalcitrance of the AMPTP has even helped birth a new union: “VFX on-set workers announced the formation of our union with the IATSE by officially filing for an election with the NLRB. We are now prepared to VOTE YES and finally join our film/TV kin at the bargaining table.”
Sound Of Box Office At AMC Theatres
“Cinema giant AMC Theatres swung to a second-quarter profit as revenue jumped 15.6 percent to $1.35 billion and touted its highest quarterly attendance in years, but also issued a warning of possible liquidity challenges ahead,” writes the Hollywood Reporter.
Hoosiers Boot “Fault In Our Stars”
“‘The Fault in Our Stars’ has been removed from the YA section in the suburbs of Indianapolis and is now considered a ‘book for adults,'” posts author John Green. “This is ludicrous. It is about teenagers and I wrote it for teenagers. Teenagers are not harmed by reading TFIOS. This is such an embarrassment to the city of Fishers, Indiana. I only have a small voice in these decisions, of course, but you won’t catch me alive or dead in Fishers, Indiana until these ridiculous policies are revoked. Which I guess means no Top Golf or IKEA for a while.”
Will Private Equity Do A Toys R Us Maneuver With Simon & Schuster?
“Last week, Paramount announced that it was going to flip [publisher] Simon and Schuster to KKR, one of the world’s most notorious private equity companies. KKR has a long, long track record… and its portfolio currently includes other publishing industry firms… raising similar concerns to the ones that scuttled the PenguinRandomHouse takeover last year,” writes media observer Cory Doctorow. “Most spectacularly, [KKR] are known for buying and destroying Toys R Us in a deal that saw them extract $200m from the company, leaving it bankrupt, with lifetime employees getting $0 in severance even as its executives paid themselves tens of millions in ‘performance bonuses.'”
At The Ankler newsletter, Claire Atkinson writes, “Already, the mild-mannered staff at stalwart book publisher Simon & Schuster… are quaking at the imminent arrival of their new owners, private equity giant KKR… The legendary firm, once a symbol of Gordon Gekko-style 80s excess and corporate raiding, today employs a more traditional P.E. playbook with its $519 billion of assets under management: growth investments, often in distressed properties that require capital to grow—and deep cuts to increase value… with the ultimate goal to parlay a business into a higher sale price to another player—i.e., the exit.”
At Hip-Hop’s Fiftieth, The F.O.R.C.E. Live Lands At United Center With LL Cool J And Common
“For nearly five decades, LL Cool J—the two-time Grammy Award-winning, 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and original hip-hop G.O.A.T.—has maintained an expansive legacy as big as the genre itself,” reports the Sun-Times. “And for the first time in thirty years, he’s hitting the road, with The F.O.R.C.E. Live tour (Frequencies of Real Creative Energy), which arrives at the United Center Sunday,” which is also his first show at the United Center. “Along with the legendary pioneers he’s bringing with him to Chicago—including Rakim, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick—the tour is also bringing rap legends from across the South, Midwest and West Coast, with Chicago playing host for hometown hero Common and Grammy Award winners Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, the first and biggest rap group to come out of Cleveland.”
“Cha Cha Slide”‘s DJ Casper Was Fifty-Eight
“Willie Perry Jr., also known as DJ Casper, turned his dance song ‘Cha Cha Slide’… born in an Englewood basement… from a South Side staple into the anthem of countless weddings and the Olympics,” reports Block Club. “When I first did it, I did it as an aerobic exercise for my nephew at Bally’s,” Casper told ABC 7. “‘From there, it just took off. Elroy Smith from WGCI grabbed ahold of it.’ Casper has performed the popular line dance all over the world. ‘I have one of the biggest songs that played at all stadiums: hockey, basketball, football, baseball; they played it at the Olympics. It was something that everybody could do.'”
Death-Rock Band Cemetery Front Man Dies
“Danny Gallegos, who cofounded Cemetery in 2010 and fronted the Chicago death-rock band for its entire history,” has died, reports Gossip Wolf at the Reader. “The group’s most recent show was in October 2021 at Oozing Wound’s Ooze Fest at the Empty Bottle. Cemetery had been working on a new album for five years [and had] recorded forty minutes of material but no vocals.”
Riot Fest Memorializes 2004 Dave Matthews Bus Sewage Incident With Historical Plaque
“In honor of the events of August 8, 2004 the Riot Fest Historical Society has dedicated a plaque on the Kinzie Street Bridge,” posts Riot Fest, “to remember those we lost during the Dave Matthews Band incident.”
Not Making A Living In Canadian Theatre
“Actors, writers, directors, producers are struggling to tell stories about the marginalized, but is it a sustainable career choice?” queries the Toronto Star. “Most people making theatre can’t pay their rent with the work. Actors who book multiple plays a year. Writers with rave reviews. Award-winning designers. These people are performing at a professional level while living like hobbyists, putting together a mishmash of odd jobs outside their art to provide for themselves while anxiously waiting for a next gig that may or may not come. It’s a sacrifice to the romantic notions of theatre, a little bit of blood for the sake of the stage. Still, such a precarious lifestyle is limited to the people who can afford the risk. That means a dwindling scope of both who creates art and the viewpoint they’re creating from.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Obama Foundation Assets Near Billion Dollars
“The Obama Foundation raised $311 million in contributions and grants in 2022, according to the foundation’s annual IRS filing,” reports the Tribune. “Net assets at the end of the year stood at $925 million. Since 2017, they’ve raised just over $1.1 billion. Their goal, set in the summer of 2021, was to raise $1.6 billion over five years to pay for the presidential center and an endowment to sustain it for years to come.”
Disney Bets $1.5 Billion On Online Gambling; How It Affects Fulton Market’s Barstool Sports
“Walt Disney’s ESPN and casino owner Penn Entertainment have agreed to jointly launch a sports betting business under the brand ESPN Bet,” reports Reuters. Penn is selling “all of its Barstool Sports Inc. subsidiary to David Portnoy, who founded the sports and pop culture media company, in exchange for a non-compete and other agreements. Penn has the right to get half of the proceeds received by Portnoy in any subsequent sale of Barstool,” adds Fortune. “Jimmy Pitaro, the chairman of ESPN, said in the news release that he believed ESPN’s strong brand, combined with Penn’s technology and experience running a sports book, provided a ‘tremendous opportunity to serve the ever-growing number of consumers interested in betting,'” reports The New York Times.
No word on how this affects Barstool’s property lease in Fulton Market: Barstool Sports “leased most of a warehouse property just west of the Fulton Market District [at 400 North Noble] where [they] will move some operations from New York City,” reported Crain’s in April. Writes Dan Primack at Axios: “The controversial Portnoy, who once had his own failed partnership with ESPN, will own one-hundred-percent of Barstool’s original media business, which includes a popular website and podcasts. He’s subject to certain non-compete agreements, and would provide Penn with fifty-percent of any gross proceeds were he to resell Barstool—however, Portnoy said yesterday that he’ll ‘hold it ’til I die.'”
Chicago Mail Carriers Call For Security
“Chicago mail carriers are calling for better security after a rash of armed robberies, including one last week that ended with a carrier shot in the leg,” reports CBS 2.
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