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Pickleman Art Auction In September
Wright will present “Every Day is Different: The Collection of Jason Pickleman” at auction on September 14. “Pickleman, a beloved member of the Chicago art community, is known for his artistic vision, playful demeanor and remarkable generosity,” Wright relays. “His contributions span artistic domains, including graphic design, public and private artworks, and the establishment of Lawrence & Clark, a non-commercial gallery that showcased the artworks he collected. Sharing art with the community is central to his ethos, and this special curated auction celebrates the brilliance and innovation that defines Pickleman’s spirited and democratic approach to art. With a range of pieces, the auction is a rare opportunity for art enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the creative world that Pickleman envisioned.” More here.
Preliminary Victory For Will County Courthouse
“Preservationists who want to keep the old Will County Courthouse standing won a tentative victory,” reports the Herald-News. “County board votes 10-9 to keep alive resolution for study on redevelopment… The vote was a far cry from a commitment to keeping the building. But it did show a willingness to reconsider a unanimous vote in 2019 to have it demolished.” (Ted C. Fishman’s Newcity feature from April on the history and the unique design elements of the Brutalist building is here.)
Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund Says No To Lincoln Yards Finance
“The Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund has declined an overture from Sterling Bay to back the Lincoln Yards megaproject,” reports Crain’s, “sending the developer back on the hunt for a financial partner to bail out the stalled $6 billion development. The pension fund said in a statement that it has ‘declined to take further action’ on a proposition from Sterling Bay to become the primary financial backer of the sprawling fifty-three-acre project. Sterling Bay pitched the $12.1 billion fund’s investment committee in May on its vision for the development along the North Branch of the Chicago River between Lincoln Park and Bucktown, hoping to win what could be as much as a $300 million investment to jump-start it.”
Tens Of Millions Of TIF Cash Flows Toward Lincoln Yards, “The 78” Developments
“For the Lincoln Yards project on the North Side, the city and not Sterling Bay could bear upfront costs for some road and bridge work,” reports the Tribune. “The two largest ongoing development projects in Chicago—one on the North Side, the other just south of the Loop—are primed to benefit from… fiscal maneuvers the city has quietly made, shifting nearly $140 million from under-the-radar public bank accounts to pay for infrastructure improvements in and around those developments… The moves are potentially beneficial for Lincoln Yards as its developer, Sterling Bay, has struggled with securing financing for the $6 billion project… The $139.8 million moved out of the neighboring TIF districts and into the TIF districts created for the megadevelopments could have instead been shared with every major taxing body in the city, including for schools, libraries and parks.”
Posts Blair Kamin: “Outrage with a capital O: Nearly $140 million in TIF funds flowing for Lincoln Yards + The 78, even though the mega-developments are years off. It wasn’t supposed to work this way. TIF funds were supposed to reimburse developers, not cover costs up front.”
Metra Makes Changes With Loss Of Nine-To-Five Commuters
“The nine-to-five, five-days-a-week office commuter is a species on the brink of extinction. And that reality poses an existential crisis for Metra,” reports the Sun-Times. The agency’s post-pandemic plans include “some increased fares [and] new ridership packages.” Ridership rose recently. “Metra registered 2.9 million passenger trips in June, which was the highest month since the pandemic began. By comparison, the agency counted nearly 6.4 million rides in June 2019.”
Not-So-Grand Old Flags
A gimlet eye is applied to the design of state flags in a New York Times interactive packet, including Illinois’. “State Senator Doris Turner, the Democrat who sponsored the flag bill in Illinois, said she was introduced to her state’s flag, which features a large eagle and the state name on a white background, in elementary school. But she did not think much of it over the years… She hoped to find something that would become more entwined with the state’s identity. ‘If you look at the Texas flag, no matter where you see that flag, if it’s flying, if it’s on a mug, if it’s on a postcard, you know the Lone Star State.’ But with Illinois, she said, ‘You wouldn’t know it was the Illinois flag other than the fact that ‘Illinois’ is [in bold] at the bottom of it.'”
DINING & DRINKING
State Takes On Illinois Food Deserts
Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 850, which establishes the Illinois Grocery Initiative, the state alerts, “a multi-pronged policy designed to address food deserts across the state. It will support existing grocers and encourage new grocery stores to open through incentive opportunities. The legislation also allows grocery stores receiving grants as part of the program to be designated as High Impact Businesses, providing them the opportunity to receive tax credits and other incentives. ‘The Illinois Grocery Initiative is the latest expansion of our holistic approach to ensuring Illinois families can reach the big building blocks of a good life,’ said Pritzker. ‘When our residents struggle to keep a roof over their head, can’t put food on the table, or have to choose between paying for basic medical care and keeping the lights on—that’s a failure of the system. That’s why I’m proud to sign into law the Illinois Grocery Initiative—a first-of-its-kind $20 million investment to open or expand grocery stores in underserved rural towns and urban neighborhoods.'”
“The program will provide wraparound support to local governments and independent grocers opening grocery stores in food deserts, which includes providing technical assistance, feasibility studies and marketing, support with operational costs and access to capital funding for the acquisition of land, facilities or equipment. Up to twenty percent of program funding may be used for grants for energy-efficient equipment upgrades to existing independently owned, cooperative, and for-profit grocery stores.”
Restaurants Testing Fees For Credit Card Use
“Restaurateurs are increasingly adding fees for using a credit card or are offering a cash discount,” senses The New York Times. “An increasing number of restaurant owners [are adopting new policies] as inflation cuts into [their] bottom line and credit card fees rise.” Said a Wisconsin restaurateur, “I could have a full member on salary with insurance benefits on staff with what I’m paying in these fees. It kills you.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Chicago’s Oldest Movie Theater Goes Dark, The 111-Year-Old New 400
“Farewell Rogers Park,” the New 400 posted on Facebook. “The 400 served the community for fourteen years… We sold over one million tickets, not a single one for more than $10… A shout out to the memory of my great friend the late Tom Fencl whose wife Mary still runs The Davis Theater. That great man stepped up when the Village Theater had fallen into utter disrepair and opened up his world of contacts to so that The 400 had a shot at being successful, and for a time, thanks to him, it was… The Davis is the last small first-run neighborhood theater in Chicago, and those of you who still like small neighborhood theaters to take up residence there, and to eat and drink and be merry because its perpetual existence is not guaranteed.”
Adds Block Club, “The beloved Sheridan Road spot was one of the last remaining independent movie theaters in Chicago, and neighbors hope to find a new owner who will continue its legacy.” The Sun-Times: “The theater, which took on its current name in 2009, first opened as The Regent vaudeville and movie house in 1912.” Two pandemics later, The owner, “who owns the building housing the 400 [is] likely to sell most of the block, not just the theater. He said he’s put close to $1 million into the theater’s restorations and repairs.” Local news source, the Loyola Phoenix, caught the rumbling back in March.
Classic Cinemas Founder Willis Johnson Was Eighty-Six
“When Willis Johnson got into the movie theater business, ‘old downtown theaters were out of favor,’ remembered son Chris Johnson on Friday. The mall was king, and shoebox multiplexes of zero architectural distinction ran rampant,”reports Michael Phillips at the Tribune. “The elder Johnson’s perseverance and dedication to his hometown of Downers Grove led to the expansion of the regional theater chain known as Classic Cinemas, now with sixteen locations and 137 screens in Illinois and Wisconsin.” Writes the Sun-Times: “It began as a one-off with the residential Tivoli Hotel—Mr. Johnson began living in the historic location after splitting from his first wife. Unexpectedly, a difficult time in his life led to a life-changing new career path. The Downers Grove building included a theater and a bowling alley. But when the theater closed for remodeling, Mr. Johnson got the idea to buy the building. At the time, he owned a printing company with his brother, Ross, and movie theaters weren’t exactly where the money was… But ‘dumb luck’ led to success.”
Writers Guild To Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund: Rethink Studio Investment
“‘Ozark’ scribe Martín Zimmerman and ‘Eric LaRue’ writer and strike captain Brett Neveu appeared in front of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund board on Thursday, urging board members to tell the major entertainment companies to end the strike and come to a fair deal with the writers,” reports Elaine Low at the Ankler’s Strikegeist newsletter. “Your pension fund is invested in the media companies that are our employers—companies we are trying to negotiate with, and are striking against,” said Zimmerman. “Writers’ proposals would cost each company 0.2 percent or less of their annual revenues; yet this strike is now in its fourth month as the studios have yet to negotiate a fair deal, letting the whole industry—and the local economies that the industry supports—suffer.”
Writes Low, “CTPF trustee and former Chicago Public School teacher Jay Rehak also spoke before the board, nodding to the WGA’s recent efforts to nudge the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) into similarly re-examining their investments in companies such as Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and other Hollywood stocks.”
Writers Guild Reports On “The New Gatekeepers: How Disney, Amazon, and Netflix Will Take Over Media”
Fifteen pages make the case here. “Over the past decade, deregulation and the growing dominance of streaming video have laid the groundwork for a media landscape where just three companies—Disney, Amazon and Netflix—are poised to be the new gatekeepers. This report from the WGAW details how these three companies have amassed power through anticompetitive practices and abusing their dominance to further disadvantage competitors, raise prices for consumers, and push down wages for the creative workforce. Pay and working conditions for writers have become so dire, and media conglomerates so unresponsive, that 11,500 writers went on strike in May 2023. Without intervention from antitrust agencies and lawmakers, consolidation will continue to snowball, leaving the future of media in peril. The report concludes with policy recommendations to protect creativity and diversity of choice in content.”
Serious Series All Autumn Long
Chicago Film Society has announced its fall offerings across four locations, including the second convocation of the invaluable film-and-workshop cornucopia and Chautauqua, Celluloid Now. “Cinema’s been dying so often, maybe it’s due for a resurrection?” asks CFS. “Look beyond the multiplex and the noise of new releases, and you’ll see that cinema is alive and well, even the millimeter-denominated, analog variety that was left for dead a decade ago. If cinema was dead, where did we dig up brand-new 35mm prints of ‘Crime Wave,’ ‘Doctor X,’ ‘Mystery of the Wax Museum,’ and ‘The Plot Against Harry’? Where did we find a print of the original 150-minute premiere version of Terrence Malick’s ‘The New World,’ which was already cut by fifteen minutes by the time it reached Chicago in January 2006?” Answers in the form of a full roster running from September 6-December 19 here.
The Film Center’s “Contra/Banned” series runs September 1-11, featuring ten films that riled the keepers of outrage across the past century. Consider a series pass that includes “The Last Temptation Of Christ”; “RoboCop”; “Ekstase”; “The Girl on The Motorcycle”; “Scarface” (1932); “Pink Flamingos”; “Flaming Creatures” and “Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.” Tickets here.
The Bride Of Music Box Of Horrors has opened its first grave of undead offerings spilling out onto the thirty-one days of October. Titles include “The Mothman Prophecies”; “Near Dark”; “The Crow”; “Aliens”; “Bride Of Chucky”: “Anaconda”; “The Tingler”; “Young Frankenstein” and “The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari” with a live score by the Invincible Czars. Full calendar September 8. Ten-film pass and more here.
Thirty-Year-Old “The Fugitive” Anointed Best Chicago Movie
“Chicago is just as much a character as the fine character actors in the film. Chicagoans are brutal critics when our city is on the screen. One wrong intersection or misplaced neighborhood, and we turn up our noses,” writes Natalie Y. Moore at the Sun-Times. “‘The Fugitive’ director Andrew Davis, a Chicago native, took care by showing the skyscrapers and the single room occupancy buildings. Davis crisscrosses the city, and I appreciate that the movie isn’t making a bold statement about a definitive Chicago. He shows a slice, just like recent television shows ‘The Bear’ and ‘South Side.’ Both so very Chicago, but showing very different city experiences. That’s what I love about ‘The Fugitive’—a big diverse city that goes beyond Buckingham Fountain.”
Anchorman Corey McPherrin Retires After Twenty-Eight Years At Channel 32
“I’m in love with the city and always have been,” retiring Fox News anchorman Corey McPherrin tells the Sun-Times. The sixty-eight-year-old personality “anchored the sports desk at WBBM-Channel 2 for four years, before moving to WFLD-Channel 32, where he’s stayed for twenty-eight years and co-anchors the 5 and 9pm news Monday through Friday.”
Beyond Baroque Music Festival Cancels
Third Coast Baroque’s inaugural Beyond Baroque Festival, which was scheduled for August 31-September 3, has been canceled, owing to “unforeseen circumstances beyond our control.” A 2023-2024 concert season will be announced soon. “Third Coast Baroque remains committed to ‘reframing early music.’ Beyond Baroque was envisioned as a multi-genre event that would connect Baroque music with the sounds of today and spotlight neglected and often hidden origins of African and Latin American influences on the era’s European composers.” More here.
Tangerine Dream Scores Chicago
Electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream embark on a full North America tour this fall, closing in Chicago at Metro on October 5. After Edgar Froese’s death in 2015, Tangerine Dream’s line-up now consists of Thorsten Quaeschning, Hoshiko Yamane and Paul Frick. Tickets here.
$100,000 Donation Toward New TimeLine Edifice
TimeLine Theatre Company has gotten a $100,000 grant toward its future Uptown home from the TAWANI Foundation, a philanthropic 501(c)(3) organization founded by Jennifer Pritzker, reports Uptown Update. “TAWANI provides support in the areas of arts and culture, historical preservation, health and wellness, LGBTQ+ and human rights, education and environmental initiatives.” The foundation “is including an additional $100,000 in matching funds.” The space is a 1910 storage building at 5035 Broadway and a vacant lot immediately south.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Friday Morning Swim Club Under Fire
“Has Friday Morning Swim Club gotten too big for its own good? As more people join the early morning plunge, the club is breaking almost every rule the park district has about swimming—and getting away with it,” reports the Sun-Times. Chicago Park District officials claim “they approached organizers… about getting the event permitted—but never heard back from the group.”
Nonprofit Street Fests Compete For Cash
“Street festival operators across the city say they are struggling with rising costs as fans complain they feel forced to pay to enter the free street fests,” reports Block Club. One example given: “Silver Room owner Eric Williams said he was fronting the cost yearly for the event that attracted nearly 20,000 attendees. ‘Last year, I was paying thousands of dollars for port-o-potties and sound equipment… The generators were over $100,000. It went from costing me $500 to $5,000 to $50,000 to $1 million last year. I was losing money, and no one wanted to donate.'”
Pickleball Investors Revving For Big Bucks And Televised Competition
“Investors are pouring money into the less exclusive cousin of tennis,” surveys the New York Times. They’re “pouncing on the opportunity to turn a favorite casual pickup game into a massive professional sport… Major League Pickleball, one of the sport’s two professional leagues… co-founded by the Texas-based billionaire Steve Kuhn [who began as a hedge fund manager], has grown from one event and eight teams in its 2021 debut to six events and twenty-four teams.” Television success is a great hope of early, zealous investors; observers say pickleball has as much televisual appeal as ping-pong.
Illinois Paying For Burial Of Toddler Who Died On Texas Governor’s Bus To Chicago
“Jismary Alejandra Barboza González, who would have turned four next week, died August 10 while on a chartered bus, part of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s [ongoing] program… of sending migrants crossing into the state to Democratic-led cities across the country,” reports AP. “The Illinois Welcoming Center, a partially state-funded program, will cover burial costs.”
A 150-Year-History Of Hazing At NU
“Accusations of hazing on Northwestern University’s football team have sent shock waves across the school,” reports the Trib, “fallout that continues as former players from… sports come forward with new allegations of abusive behavior, bullying and a toxic culture. Yet the prestigious university has been grappling with hazing for well more than a century, from cases involving athletic teams and Greek life to class warfare between sophomores and incoming freshmen.”
Chicago Hotel Workers Get Contract
“Chicago hotel workers at Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt-operated hotels have ratified a new contract two weeks before the existing agreement expires August 31,” the Sun-Times reports. “Workers represented by Unite Here Local 1 will see their minimum wage rise to $25 an hour for non-tipped workers, a $2 increase.”
Water For Voters Again Legal In Georgia
A Federal Court blocked the Georgia state ban “on providing food and water to people waiting in line to vote beyond 150 feet of polling places,” relays Democracy Docket.
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