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Norfolk Southern And The Hammond Train Crossings
“Norfolk Southern is addressing blocked train crossings in Hammond, Indiana,” reports ProPublica. “The railroad company has delivered on early, short-term fixes for the trains blocking kids from getting to school, but some officials are skeptical it will follow through on bigger, permanent changes… Norfolk Southern, whose trains routinely stretched across multiple intersections, halting traffic and preventing pedestrians from crossing, committed to stopping its trains east of the Chicago suburb and splitting any that blocked crossings for more than forty minutes. It also pledged to issue email alerts to help school, fire and police officials work around disruptions. The company made an even larger commitment it has yet to follow through on.”
Can A 121-Year-Old West Chicago Rail Depot Be Preserved?
“Built around the turn of the twentieth century, a weathered brick building just north of Wheaton Academy is slated for demolition. But a group is trying to preserve the historic spot, which served as a passenger depot and power substation for the electrically-operated Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railway,” writes the Daily Herald.
Inside Lake Geneva’s Latest $10 Million-Plus Mansion
Nearly $11 million is being asked for the property of a high-level executive at Naperville-based Calamos Investments, reports Crain’s. “The gated estate, called Stoney Hollow, has 128 feet of Lake Geneva shoreline, a pier, a boathouse and a guest house with a simulated thatched roof. The five-bedroom mansion, built in 2007, has a stone and timber Tudor exterior. Inside is a great room two stories high with arched ceiling beams and a tall bay of leaded glass windows framing a view of the water. A sitting room has an unusual barrel-vaulted ceiling lined with brick, and several rooms have carved fireplaces of wood or stone.”
Microplastics Contaminate Great Lakes
“Microplastics [are] now pervasive in Great Lakes, with ninety percent of water samples surpassing safe levels for aquatic wildlife,” says a report from the International Institute For Sustainable Development. “Data spanning the last ten years reveal that the Great Lakes basin is widely contaminated with microplastics, with potentially dangerous consequences for the wildlife that live within. However, if Canada and the United States act together soon, we can develop systems to monitor and reduce the risks that these pollutants pose to the health of these critical ecosystems.”
DINING & DRINKING
The Hunger Vs. Hungry Hound Food Guy
Michael Nagrant puts it up front in his lede in a history of one man’s eating out: “Steve Dolinsky, aka the Hungry Hound Food Guy, has always been a fraud. I’m not saying he’s not good at his job as a food reporter. He’s one of the best to do it in Chicago.” At his subscription newsletter, The Hunger, Nagrant takes up a case against the Dolinsky enterprise, Pizza City Fest, “which has now been compared to [the] Fyre Fest of pizza.” “When Phil Vettel and Pat Bruno were acting as de facto cheerleaders throwing out stars to big restaurant groups like New Orleans krewes tossing out party favors during Mardi Gras parades, Steve was burrowing into every cuisine in every corner of the city. Before I became a food writer, I even admired him. As far as his food reporting goes, I still admire him.”
“But admiration, as vendors at Pizza City Fest this weekend and every restaurant who ever got taken advantage of during his pre-pizza food tour business, and honestly any food business whose bills he avoided or walked out in his career know, comes at a cost… There is no joy that thousands of customers had an awful experience yesterday. It is horrible that businesses who are just getting on their feet post-pandemic are now associated with a logistical nightmare… I call on my fellow food journalists to also tell this story. I hope they do.”
Workers At World’s Largest Starbucks Reject Union
“Workers at the Starbucks Chicago Reserve Roastery have voted to reject union membership,” reports CBS 2. The vote was ninety yes, 119 no. “The vote marks a setback for Workers United, which has won union representation elections at 355 Starbucks stores across the country as opposed to eighty-one defeats.” The Sun-Times: “Workers United said in a statement that the outcome was influenced by Starbucks’ ‘unprecedented and aggressive anti-union campaign.’ It said it has filed with the NLRB charges of unfair labor practices.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Strike Landscape Barren
“There is no date to return to the negotiating table as the Writers Guild strike heads into its eighteenth week,” writes the Hollywood Reporter. Actor Addie Weyrich “articulated the anxiety and fear that is mounting for creatives as the writers strike goes well past the hundred-day mark and the actors strike now marches on through Month Two,” writes Elaine Low at the Ankler’s Strikegeist newsletter. “On the heels of the pandemic, ‘the thing that’s frustrating is that it’s halted all momentum again,’ said Weyrich, [who] sees a dead zone for the rest of the year, even if the strikes are resolved soon. ‘This year doesn’t exist for me, career-wise… the whole year is fucked. The sentiment is that everyone’s fucked for the whole year. It’s really dark, it’s really anger-inducing. No one can afford to go to therapy, so that’s bad. It’s really bad.’ … The ‘starving artist’ trope lives on… It’d be one thing ‘if Bob Iger was like, “And I’m a starving CEO! We’re all doing this for the love of art,’ Weyrich [said]. ‘It’s a stereotype that someone who is an artist also doesn’t want a basic standard of living.'”
Mere hours after the AMPTP hired a crisis management firm, the New York Times served up a sweetheart profile of Carol Lombardini, the studio “enigma,” the fourteen-year president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and her “life’s work.” (For a testimonial, the piece pulls up a 2014 email from a disgraced, fired studio head from the Sony Pictures hack.)
Screenwriter Aaron Stewart-Ahn on former Twitter: “Woke up asking myself ‘how can the AMPTP be this bad at business’ then remembered that one guy paid himself $246 million in the year his greatest accomplishment was ditching the name HBO, one of the most valued, prestigious brands in TV history.” “Beavis and Butthead” and “Futurama” writer Lew Morton, via former Twitter: “They really think the best way to make money is to make all of the shows and movies a little cheaper and a lot worse. It’s depressing.” Tweets uber-producer Jason Blum: “Someday we’ll go back to work.”
Teachers Fear Teaching
“A climate of fear for teachers and librarians has led to the departure of seasoned educators across the country,” reports PENAmerica. “Many who remain express anxiety about losing their job or facing legal action for raising race- or gender-related topics in the classroom… About a quarter of teachers surveyed in a recent RAND report said limitations on topics related to race or gender influenced their teaching or materials. About one in ten expressed anxiety about losing their job or license or facing legal action for raising race- or gender-related topics in the classroom.”
The Effigies’ John Kezdy, Who Survived Highland Park Shooting, Dies After Bike Crash With Stopped Amazon Van
“The Chicago punk rock community has lost a key member to a bike crash caused by a negligent driver,” relays Streetsblog’s John Greenfield. “On Saturday morning John Kezdy, sixty-four, the singer for The Effigies, founded in 1980, and an attorney, died from injuries sustained after a collision with an Amazon delivery van illegally stopped in a bike lane… in north suburban Glencoe… Kezdy and his wife Erica Weeder, who lived in nearby Highland Park, survived being injured in the 2022 mass shooting at that suburb’s Fourth of July parade.” (More from the Sun-Times here.)
Steve Albini: “John Kezdy was a hero of mine. Effigies were the first great band from Chicago’s scene, his stern, declamatory style influenced a generation and he helped me in material ways. Not overstating to say that without John and the Effigies, I would never have made any records.” Sun O)))’s Tim Midyett: “Requiescat John Kezdy—singer of the Effigies, Illinois state’s attorney, father, husband, pal. I met John in September 1987 at WNUR, as an MT hick mostly out of my element at Northwestern. He was my ‘mentor’ DJ, a seasoned Chicago ur-punk ten years my senior. I liked him immediately. John was a punk rock combo of Jack London and Camus, a thinker, comically gruff but generous with his time and ideas. We were friends from that point forward.”
Taylor Swift “Eras” Tour Puts Five Billion Dollars Into The Economy
“You don’t have to be a Swiftie to have been touched in some way by Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras Tour,’ a stadium arena experience that kicked off in March. The tour, which pays homage to every era of the artist’s illustrious seventeen-year career, is set to become the biggest tour of all time only a third of the way through its run,” relays TIME. “The impact of the Eras Tour is starkly reflected in the numbers: a projected gross of $2.2 billion in North American ticket sales alone… ‘If Taylor Swift were an economy, she’d be bigger than fifty countries.'”
A Look At Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project
“The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project [is] an initiative that strives to help sustain Black dance makers in the city and offer lasting acknowledgment for their contributions,” reports the New York Times. “The companies involved in the project—established in 2019 by the Joyce Foundation and the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago—have all persevered in the face of significant disparities in funding. A 2019 report, titled ‘Mapping the Dance Landscape in Chicagoland,’ showed that organizations like the Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, in predominantly white sections of the city, have been the major recipients of grant dollars, even as more than thirty percent of dancers and choreographers in Chicago identify as Black.”
Night Of Remembrance For Black Theater Alliance Awards Founder Vincent E. Williams
There will be an evening of remembrance for the Black Theater Alliance Awards’ president and founder, Vincent E. Williams, who for nearly thirty years served as the guiding force and inspiration of the local arts organization and who died in April at the age of sixty-four. (Albert Williams remembers the man’s work here.) “Please join us on this night of remembrance as we laugh, cry and complain about a young man who started an arts organization (The Black Theater Alliance and Ira Aldridge Awards) and passionately operated it for almost thirty years without ever making a dime.” Monday, September 18, 7:30pm, National Women Veterans United, 8620 South Pulaski. Tickets here.
Ballet 5:8 Campus In Lakeview
Ballet 5:8, a resident company at the Harris Theater, is launching a ballet school campus in Lakeview on August 29 at the Athenaeum Center, the group advises. “The Lakeview Campus offers aspiring dancers a comprehensive and immersive learning experience, drawing from ballet and contemporary dance traditions. Located on the second floor of the Athenaeum, the beautiful facility nurtures creativity, discipline, and passion in young dancers, preparing them for successful careers in the performing arts.” More on the group here.
Red Kite’s Flight
“In serving constellations of disability, Red Kite, a growing program within Chicago Children’s Theatre builds confidence, celebrates joy, and fills a gap in support networks,” alerts American Theatre. The Red Kite Project, named after a Sufjan Stevens lyric, houses “programs for kids with autism, developmental disabilities, and other accessibility needs. Since it began in 2005, Red Kite has offered radical belonging to more than 5,000 families, proving that programs centering populations with disability are not liabilities but needed investments for theatre companies everywhere.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Sun-Times Columnist Sees A Great Migration Of 2023
“Chicago needs every busload” is the headline on the latest from Neil Steinberg at the Sun-Times. How in 2023 is Chicago “in agony over a daily busload of immigrants, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s quotidian middle finger to tolerance and decency, a jeer of Texan regret that they didn’t die tangled in the miles of razor wire Texas has strung across the Rio Grande? Their arrival is a logistical nightmare. It has to be, for the city to house refugees in police stations, as if they were public facilities designed to help communities deal with crisis.”
“Assimilating immigrants is Chicago’s brand… ‘Immigration from abroad,’ The Encyclopedia of Chicago notes, ‘has been the city’s hallmark characteristic in the public mind.’ We’ve got it light, relatively. In 1890, sixty-eight percent of people living in Chicago were born abroad, a situation so chaotic that three years later, Chicago threw a fair for twenty-five million visitors.”
“The city pays out $30 million a year litigating and settling police misconduct cases. Yet you never see an angry public meeting decrying that expenditure. You could buy a lot of motel rooms and toothbrushes for $30 million a year… We shouldn’t let the terrified bleats of some parts of the city drown out the chorus of welcome from the rest. Brandon Johnson… seems to be trying to get it done—he appointed the city’s first deputy mayor for immigrant, migrant and refugee rights… Jane Addams is smiling down upon you.”
Labor Day Weekend In The Loop
Chicago Loop Alliance lists all the things you could be doing downtown over the coming holiday weekend.
Taste Of Iceland Tempts Chicago
Taste of Iceland stops in Chicago September 7-9. “Chicagoans can transport themselves to Iceland through events inspired by and in celebration of Icelandic culture through food, beverages, music, film and literature,” Business Iceland relays. For a taste of yesterday’s Iceland, the New York Times takes in Washington Island, Wisconsin: “In the fall of 1870, four young bachelors from the Icelandic fishing village of Eyrarbakki landed on Washington Island. Their arrival, in turn, drew more immigrants from their homeland. By the end of the century, the island had become a center of Icelandic culture.”
Museum Of Illusions Closes For Expansion
The Museum of Illusions is expanding and updating its location at 25 East Washington, reopening later this fall with a larger space and new illusions, exhibits and installations. The expanded attraction will be thirty percent larger and feature more than twenty new illusions and exhibits with floor-to-ceiling upgrades throughout the space. “The immersive experiences will enhance the already existing visual and education exhibits designed to tease the senses, challenge the mind, and bring out playfulness in visitors of all ages and backgrounds.” More here.
Movement Organizers Measure Mayor’s First Hundred Days
“Johnson’s win against the city’s most formidable political insiders, including former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas who he faced head-to-head in the second round of voting, represented a rejection of the status quo for a city that’s facing crises ranging from the pandemic to police abuse to pay-to-play politics and decades of disinvestment in Black and Latino communities,” writes Taylor Moore at In These Times. “The hundred-day milestone, though arbitrary, has traditionally been a temperature check on the policy priorities and leadership style of a new administration that has moved from campaigning to governing.” The publication “spoke to more than a dozen movement leaders, elected officials, researchers and political strategists, including Johnson himself. ‘We’ve laid a real clear foundation that we’re going to need in order to build a better, stronger, safer Chicago, and we’ve done that in the collaborative spirit which we promised we would do.'”
Tribune Takes Temperature Of Mayor’s First Hundred Days
Moments “interacting with people in the community, appearing at celebratory events… are the ones the mayor prefers to focus on when recalling his first hundred days in office, listing Lollapalooza, Sueños music festival and the Bud Billiken parade as personal highlights in a brief interview with the Tribune. He clearly takes pride in having become a role model for kids, especially Black youth,” the Tribune team-reports. “Asked about how his first hundred days have fared, Johnson’s answers paint a picture of a new chief executive who hopes to keep the fire that ignited his grassroots campaign burning while revealing few details about how his progressive agenda will unfold. He and other City Hall mainstays have characterized his style as more diplomatic than his predecessors, but the new mayor also balked at the mention of critics who say he has not moved quickly or forcefully enough on issues ranging from cracking down on crime to passing legislation championed by leftists [sic].”
Is Pickleball Really A “Garbage Psy-Op NFT”?
“Tennis—because of the pandemic reminding people to dust off racquets or buy one for the first time—reminded people it’s actually a cheap and fun and intergenerational sport so we have ALL these new recreational players and fans, largely driven by young non-white people,” Racquet tennis quarterly co-founder Caitlin Thompson tells Semafor. “Meanwhile, because the tennis establishment is so ossified and beset by infighting, all the VC money that wants to go somewhere has propped up a garbage psy-op NFT… VC took a backyard hobby for retirees and is trying to fuel it into a pro game with leagues and TV rights even though it’s about as compelling to watch as darts.”
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