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Will Google Convert Distinctive Thompson Center To “Mylar Balloon”?
“Google has a ‘build-to-suit agreement’ with JRTC Holdings to buy the Thompson Center once renovations are complete. The internet giant is expected to begin occupying the building in 2026, the company said in July 2022,” reports the Trib. “Continued demolition and remodeling might significantly alter the historic building, said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago… ‘From what we’re seeing, there’s a chance that this building could really lose its integrity and look like a Mylar balloon if we’re not careful,’ Miller said. [He] praised JRTC and Google’s decision not to demolish the building but criticized them for not sharing more recent renderings… He shared hopes the redevelopment would maintain the building’s plaza, colors and atrium.”
LaSalle Street Residential Conversion Plan At Risk
“Alderpersons Bill Conway (34th) and Brendan Reilly (42nd) sounded the alarm about the future of ‘LaSalle Street Reimagined’ during Wednesday’s budget hearing, seeking assurances from city planning officials that developers now fronting huge costs can count on the city to be their partner,” reports the Sun-Times. The pair say that Mayor Johnson’s “plan to use a record tax increment financing (TIF) surplus threatens to deprive developers of the subsidies they need to transform LaSalle Street office buildings into residential use.”
Benedictine Sisters To Sell West Ridge Campus Of A Century-Plus
“The Benedictine Sisters of Chicago have lived on a sprawling [fifteen-acre] West Ridge campus since 1906. Due to age and declining ranks, they are… looking to sell the property,” reports Block Club. “The finances of running a large campus have become too much of a challenge for the [nineteen] women who remain” of what was once a 200-nun order.
Alinea Co-Owner Nick Kokonas’ Old Town House Yours For $7 Million
“After five months trying to sell his artful Old Town home using his own eccentric method, Alinea restaurant co-owner Nick Kokonas is now putting it on the market in the conventional way,” reports Crain’s. “The biggest change from his method is that there’s a published asking price, $6.84 million.” Kokonas and his wife are now listing the property with an agent, Jeff Lowe of Compass. “In May, Kokonas put the Eugenie Street property, made up of two nineteenth-century houses connected by a glass bridge, a third post-Chicago Fire house out back and a garage, up for sale with no agent representing it and, far more unusual than that, no asking price. Kokonas calls the method an ‘inverted commission’ model, in which the higher an offer a buyer’s agent brings him, the bigger the agent’s percentage gets. He told Crain’s at the time that he had sold three properties that way.”
DINING & DRINKING
Ferrara Candy Buying Jelly Belly
“Ferrara Candy is buying jelly bean maker Jelly Belly Candy for an undisclosed amount,” reports Food Dive. “The proposed deal would combine Jelly Belly, whose roots date back to 1869, with Ferrara’s broad portfolio of candies such as Laffy Taffy, Red Hots, Brach’s and SweeTarts.” Since 2017, Nutella maker Ferrero Group has owned Ferrara. (The corporate press release is here.)
Coca-Cola Offers Lou Malnati’s Slice In West Loop For An Empty Bottle
Coca-Cola is giving out a free drink and a slice of pizza if you turn in an empty plastic beverage bottle at Lou Malnati’s West Loop location (1235 West Randolph) on November 7. It’s to promote bottles made from one-hundred percent recycled plastic, reports CBS 2.
Taco Bell Goes Fastest Through Drive-Through
“The industry insiders at QSR Magazine have released the annual Drive-Thru Study, sharing the lowdown on which fast food chains have the fastest drive-through lines, which ones prepare the most accurate orders, and which are the friendliest while they’re doing both of those things,” reports Food & Wine. “Taco Bell has the fastest drive-thru for the third straight year. On average, it took customers 278.84 seconds to receive their orders, almost half a minute faster than Carl’s Jr. (303.74 seconds), the next-speediest.”
FILM & TELEVISION
True/False Film Fest Assesses Fire Damage
“About a month out from the office fire, we are getting a handle on the loss,” the Columbia, Missouri-based nonfiction film mainstay reports on Instagram. “We are likely facing about $75,000 in loss, including projection equipment, computers, furniture and supplies. While we have insurance to help offset hard costs, that process, as most know, is tedious and protracted—and at a time when we are heading into our busiest festival season. The building is, at this time, unusable, and we are in search of a temporary home for our year-round staff that can also be a base for the seasonal Fest team members who will be working hard in January and February. We’re hoping to get back on our feet so we can continue to do what we do best: connect cinema and community. We love being intricately woven into the Columbia arts scene, and we’re deeply touched by the folks who have helped us get here, and help us stay here.” More here.
“Barbenheimer” Crush Sparks Movie House Worker Organizing
“For movie theater owners around the country, the same-day release of ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ this summer meant record box-office sales and a gratifying sign that the public still craved entertainment on the big screen,” reports Associated Press. “But for some employees at the Alamo Drafthouse in Manhattan, ‘Barbenheimer’ was the breaking point.” Says a guest attendant, “It was just the constant understaffing and the emotional exhaustion.” Dozens of workers at the Manhattan theater decided it was time to form a union. “Alamo employees worked with United Auto Workers Local 2179 and this week voted to unionize, with nearly two-thirds in favor. They join Alamo employees at the Brooklyn theater, who voted last month to become part of Local 2179.”
People For The American Way Contests Scholastic’s Segregation Of Books
Following reports that children’s book publisher Scholastic will banish books about race, gender or sexuality to a separate section at school book fairs to accommodate local and state restrictions on materials that can be taught, People For the American Way President Svante Myrick said in a release, “There are almost no words to describe the harm that will come from Scholastic’s decision to segregate or eliminate books dealing with race and gender from its book fairs. Putting these books in a separate section will send an unmistakable message to kids that being Black or LGBTQ is so wrong, so out of the mainstream, that it belongs in a separate room. That the books consigned to this Siberia will include books about icons like Ketanji Brown Jackson and John Lewis is even more incomprehensible. We are urging Scholastic, in the strongest way possible, to reconsider this decision. The hurt and pain it could cause to kids would be lifelong.”
Iowa Censors Use Of “Sex Act” As All-Purpose Weapon; Huntington Beach, California Creates Twenty-One-Parent Review Board
“Kim Reynolds, Iowa’s Republican governor, signed a law in May that, among other provisions, requires schools to remove books that depict a ‘sex act.’ That statutory phrase has now helped unleash a frenzy of book-banning across the state, one that illustrates a core truth about these types of censorship directives. Their vagueness is the point,” reports Greg Sargent at the Washington Post. “This week, the Iowa City Community School District released a list of sixty-eight books that it removed from schools to comply with the law… The Iowa law requires K-12 schools to remove materials that depict any one of a series of sex acts that include intercourse and other types of genital contact… Beyond Iowa City, the Des Moines Register reports that school districts across the state have removed hundreds of books from their school libraries, also in response to that law. Among these titles: ‘1984’ by George Orwell, ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley, ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut and ‘Forrest Gump’ by Winston Groom.”
Reports the Los Angeles Times, “A community parent advisory board will be tasked with approving children’s books that hit shelves in the Huntington Beach Public Library, a move critics say is a book ban and takes power away from trained and educated librarians.” Of those who contacted City Council, “more than ninety percent [were] against the idea of a council-appointed board screening children’s books for sexual content.”
Ebony Relaunches As “One-Stop Shop For Upward Black Mobility”
A history of the Ebony-Jet empire, with its plans for the future, reported by the Columbia Journalism Review. “There was nothing inevitable about the persistence of Ebony, and the fact that backers keep investing in it—specifically, Black patrons attached to its historical significance—reflects its importance to Black identity in the United States and, perhaps more broadly, what brand power a magazine can have. Yet as Ebony transforms—the editorial team’s direct involvement in partnerships and other business arrangements marks a departure from traditional journalistic norms—so does its brand.”
“‘In the old days, we would say that the firewall kept advertisers from having any say in the development of the content we ran,’ [former editor Charles] Whitaker [said]. Now that advertising models have changed, he said, ‘the ethical thing to do is make sure that content is labeled as “sponsored” and acknowledge any other appearances of a conflict of interest. The publisher also should fight for as much editorial independence as possible. The entire magazine shouldn’t be full of sponsored content—because then it’s a catalogue.'”
Postage Hike To Community Newspapers Punitive?
“The proposed Jan. 21, 2024, postage increase for community newspapers is nearly four times the rate increase proposed for other users of the mail,” the National Newspaper Association writes in a release. “The United States Postal Service announced it expected a 7.3 percent increase for the local Within County mailing rate for newspapers.” The Postal Service is “guided by the Delivering For America plan introduced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to [attempt to help] the Postal Service compete for the package and parcel business. Twice-a-year postage increases have been part of the DFA plan, which allows USPS to raise rates to the fullest extent allowed above inflation.”
Joe Shanahan Remembers Shelley Howard
“Today begins with a deep thought of a friend who was part of our community and gave to us in many ways, seen and unseen,” Metro’s Joe Shanahan posts on Facebook. “Shelley Howard was a man who covered the music community like an archivist with his trademark Reader ads for Jam Productions as well as his own ‘Shelfies,’ photos of any and all with in arms reach before the iPhone came along. He was out almost every night at show, restaurant or gallery covering the scene. I first met him years before smartbar / Metro opened at one of his Memorial Day / Bday parties and first experienced ‘Shelley Vision’ in his home. That moment took route to welcoming ‘Shelley Vision’ to a smartbar evening with stacks of TV monitors on the dance floor in smartbar for one of his installations.”
“This then grew to a larger format of large screen projections and additional stacks of tv monitors in Metro Chicago as the video dance party he helped create and bring to fruition in Chicago. He was a pioneer and perfectionist with the event and we collaborated on ‘Video Dancestand’ for years to come in Chicago. He was always committed to the best presentation and high quality sound / vision. We were proud and honored to have worked with him for many years as our venue grew. Shelley also knew the quality of friendship and being there for his family as well as others… One of [his] sayings that rang true and will always remain with me: ‘Enjoy Every Sandwich.’ Thank you Shelley for all you gave to us all.”
Ben Vereen Joins Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Advisory Board
Porchlight Music Theatre’s 2023 ICON Award-recipient, musical theater veteran of many decades Ben Vereen, is the newest member of the theater’s advisory board, which “consists of seasoned professionals who have excelled in their theatrical disciplines and who have a vested interest in the artistic and professional advancement of the company.” (Membership includes artists from Chicago and across the United States including Wm. Eric Bramlet, John Bucchino, E. Faye Butler, Cheri Coons, Kevin Depinet, William Finn, Joel Grey, Larry Grossman, Linda Kline, Jesse Klug, Sean Allan Krill, Donna McKechnie, Dominic Missimi, Jill Moore, Lonny Price, Chita Rivera, Bill Russell, Chuck Smith, L. Walter Stearns, Bob Walton, Jim Walton and Maury Yeston.)
“What The Constitution Means To Me” Season’s Most-Staged Play
Heidi Schreck’s “What The Constitution Means To Me” is credited with at least sixteen productions around the United States to be the season’s most-produced play, accounts American Theatre in an annual survey. (Newcity’s review of the current Paramount Theatre production is here.)
Repertory Theatre Of St. Louis Needs $2.5 Million
“The Repertory Theatre of St Louis has announced it needs to urgently raise $2.5 million to continue its programming in the second half of its 2023-24 season,” the Tribune’s Chris Jones posts on Facebook. The Rep, a “theater company in Missouri with a six-decade history, has cancelled two productions and replaced its annual production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ with ‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.'”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
St. Louis Could Take In Thousands Of Migrants Bused From Texas To Chicago
The vice president of Latino outreach for the International Institute of St. Louis “visited Chicago this week to explore the possibility of bringing migrants to his city, perhaps thousands of them,” reports the Sun-Times.
Ida B. Wells Among Women Featured On 2025 Quarters
“Five women will feature on the back face of quarters to be minted for 2025,” reports The Hill. “The group includes journalist and NAACP co-founder Ida B. Wells, Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, astronomer Vera Rubin, disabilities activist Stacey Park Milbern and tennis and golf star Althea Gibson… The 2025 coins will be the final set in a four-year, twenty-coin production run of quarters honoring significant women in American history.”
Event Ticket Prices Out Of Reach For Most; NEA Study Says In-Person Attendance In Decline
“Ticket prices for live entertainment events, from Taylor Swift concerts to National Football League games and high-season Disney theme-park visits, rose at a startling rate this year, triggering a phenomenon [a Bank of America analyst] dubbed ‘funflation,'” reports the Wall Street Journal. “Live music in particular has undergone supercharged ticket-price increases because of strong demand from some consumers who are still willing to pay up.”
Research released “by the National Endowment for the Arts found that significantly fewer American adults are attending cultural activities such as classical music concerts, theater productions and movies than they did before the pandemic,” reports the Washington Post. “The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which sampled 40,718 U.S. adults at a roughly fifty-nine percent response rate, found nearly universal declines in fine arts attendance from 2017 to 2022. The adults who reported seeing a musical theater production fell from about seventeen percent to ten percent; the number for nonmusical plays dropped from about nine percent to five percent. Attendance for ballet, opera and classical music performances saw similarly dramatic decreases.”
Two New Trustees For Zoological Society
The Chicago Zoological Society Board of Trustees, which manages Brookfield Zoo, has appointed Michael C. Drai and Elizabeth S. Quinn to its board. Drai is a managing partner for Rising Point Capital, a Chicago-based private investment firm. He received a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Quinn is senior vice president of administration for Northwestern Memorial Health Care, leading human resources for the Northwestern Medicine healthcare system, which is made up of more than 35,000 employees and 7,000 aligned physicians across eleven hospitals and more than 200 ambulatory and diagnostic sites. Quinn received bachelor’s degrees in public relations and business administration from Valparaiso University. More Brookfield Zoo here.
Amazon Has 10,000 Rivian Electric Vans On The Streets
“Amazon has a plan to deploy 100,000 electric vans to its delivery fleet by 2030,” reports Ars Technica as “it announced that it now has 10,000 Rivian electric delivery vans in service—up from 5,000 earlier this July.” (Rivian trucks are manufactured in Normal, Illinois.)
Retail Spaceflight Purveyors Push Against Human Safety Regulation
“There are three U.S. companies capable of flying people into space—SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic—and representatives from those three companies told lawmakers that the industry is not yet mature enough for a new set of federal safety regulations for their customers,” reports Ars Technica. “A nearly twenty-year moratorium on federal regulations regarding the safety of passengers on commercial human spaceflight missions is set to expire on January 1.”
Tyson Foods Workers Oppose Children Working In Slaughterhouses
Tyson Foods workers “rallied outside the U.S. meat company’s headquarters in Arkansas earlier this week to protest child labor and push for improved working conditions in processing plants,” relays Reuters. The Biden Administration has “pressured the U.S. meat industry to adopt safer labor policies after children hired by contractors were found doing dangerous jobs cleaning slaughterhouses.”
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