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County Executive Grants $1.5 Million Contract To Demolish Will County Courthouse
“A contract has been awarded to American Demolition Corporation of Carol Stream for nearly $1.5 million to demolish the former Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet,” reports the Daily Southtown. “It is expected the company will begin work in November to strip the interior and remove furniture before starting its demolition work… The county needs to apply for a routine demolition permit from the city of Joliet and a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources because the courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places… Last month, the Joliet City Council voted against designating the building a local historic landmark.” (Ted C. Fishman’s April Newcity feature on the history and the unique design elements of the Brutalist building is here.)
How Long Until The Bean Reopens?
“Construction at Grainger Plaza started over the summer and will last through the spring of 2024,” reports NBC 5. “Grainger Plaza, the area surrounding Cloud Gate, will be subjected to ‘necessary maintenance’ including replacing pavers and making other repairs to increase accessibility.”
City Of Chicago Tree-Trimming On The Rise
“Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Cole Stallard said Friday his crews have trimmed 53,188 trees since January 1, a vast improvement over the 19,525 trees trimmed during the same period a year ago,” reports the Sun-Times.
Latest Target For Private Equity: HVAC Installation
“A report finds that corporate consolidation, an aging workforce, and high costs could keep heat pumps, a key technology of the Inflation Reduction Act, out of reach,” as says the American Prospect. “Market analysts predict double-digit growth in energy services over the next decade, with commercial, industrial and residential clients seeking to reduce their energy consumption and become more resilient to extreme weather… Private equity infrastructure investors have defied the overall slowdown in leveraged buyouts to double down on what was already, even before the clean-energy subsidies of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), an aggressive spree of acquisitions. HVAC engineers… describe a sector increasingly buffeted by rapid buyouts, as Wall Street eyes a historic growth opportunity in energy services.”
Westin Michigan Avenue For Sale
“After selling a Magnificent Mile retail property and putting a River North hotel up for sale earlier this year, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust is looking to exit the Chicago market,” reports Crain’s. The Bethesda, Maryland-based real estate investment trust hired a brokerage “to seek a buyer for the 752-room Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago at 909 North Michigan… The listing comes about seven months after Pebblebrook sold off the hotel’s ground floor retail space for $27.3 million.”
DINING & DRINKING
What’s The Bourbon Industry Do Without White Oak?
“Bourbon barrels are made from fresh white oaks, but we’re running out of viable trees,” reports Modern Farmer. “Now, the very industry that contributed to the problem has the most invested in finding the solution.”
Olive Oil Remains Dear Worldwide
Prices of olive oil “have more than doubled as extreme weather hit crops in Spain, Italy and elsewhere. The upcoming harvest isn’t looking much better, so that drizzle of oil on your salad may remain costly,” reports the New York Times. Prices have climbed “to dizzying heights, well over $9,000 per metric ton, which filters through to pricier bottles of the oil [in] American households… A 750-milliliter bottle of Bertolli’s extra virgin olive oil that cost around $9 at the grocery store last October is around $11 today, a nearly twenty-two percent increase.”
Maple & Ash Sets White Truffle Dinner
Maple & Ash chef-partner Danny Grant “is ringing in his most wonderful time of the year (white truffle season) with a four-course, truffle-centric dinner. This intimate gathering will commence with a cocktail hour to help guests ease into the festive spirit while indulging in an iced seafood tower adorned with elegant fixings like white truffle bluefin tuna nigiri and black tiger prawns with white truffle aioli. Main course offerings include White Truffle Raviolo All’Uovo Ricotta, Tournedos Rossini Wellington with Madeira truffle jus, and for the grand finale, a White Truffle & White Chocolate Souffle.” Monday, November 20, 6pm-9pm. Tickets, $375 plus taxes and service fees, are here.
Spirit-Free Speakeasy At Milk Room
The Chicago Athletic Association‘s Milk Room launches a monthly spirit-free speakeasy in their prohibition-era haven. During a one-hour seating, guests will be guided through a curated tasting menu of crafted cocktails. The libations are composed from an array of zero-proof spirits, apéritifs and bitters. Guiding this month’s Speakeasy is a facilitator from In Good Spirits, which is committed to creating spaces for sober gatherings. Thursday, October 23, 5pm-6pm and 6pm-7pm seatings. Tickets ($45), with three spirit-free cocktails plus samples of products, here.
Novelist Scott Blackwood Was Fifty-Eight
Novelist Scott Blackwood, whose notice for his work included nominations for a National Magazine Award in feature writing and a Grammy for liner notes, has died from ALS at the age of fifty-eight. Blackwood’s books include the novels “We Agreed to Meet Just Here” (2009), which won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for the Novel in 2007 and “See How Small,” which won the 2016 PEN Center USA Award for Fiction. Blackwood also published a short-story collection, “In the Shadow of Our House: Stories,” in 2001.
Blackwood’s latest book, published a few months ago, is the creative nonfiction “The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records: A Great Migration Story, 1917–1932.” He and his brother Dean Blackwood (Revenant Records) spent years working to preserve the recordings and legacy of this landmark recording company—a project on which they collaborated with the rock musician Jack White, founder of the White Stripes, and his Third Man Records label.
Chicago Public Library Hosts Conversation with Pulitzer Prize-Winner Hernan Diaz
Hernan Diaz, winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for the novel, “Trust,” will appear at the Harold Washington Library (with streaming option), Thursday, October 26, 6pm-7:30pm. (“Trust” was also on President Obama’s Favorite Books of 2022 list and is being developed as a limited series for HBO). More here.
Libreria Giron, Little Village Spanish-Language Mainstay Of Sixty-Six Years, To Close
“It’s the end of an era as a Little Village institution, a family-run bookstore on 26th Street that’s operated for half a century, is closing its doors,” reports CBS 2. “We’re closing because technology has really eaten us up… People are in digital… and it’s not the same. Also, the economy.”
Fiction Great Marilynne Robinson On The “Dismantling Of Iowa”
“The governor and the legislature of Iowa are stripping away legal limits on child labor. At the same time, they are undermining Iowa’s long-respected public school system,” writes novelist Marilynne Robinson at the New York Review Of Books. “I once loved Iowa. I read about its early days as a part of the great mission field where, beginning in the 1830s, settlers from the Northeast came to establish towns and colleges to create an antislavery culture that would resist efforts by the slave states and interests to claim the new territories for their system. These settlements were utopian societies of a kind [but] Iowa has become a theater and a laboratory for root-and-branch retrogression. I am glad for Iowa’s sake that nationally so few people know or care what its legislature does. At the same time, there is benefit to be had in watching how this important faction governs, given a free hand.”
“What do these people want? If it happens that their goal is to create a permanent underclass, they are doing many things right. This is not at all the objective they claim for themselves. They pose as champions of the people. But they are making a wholesale attack on the basic institutions of the country, by policy and by the spread of pernicious distrust that undercuts the authority of institutions they do not control. This has led to an important reconfiguring of society on the basis of nothing worthier of respect than anger and resentment.”
Chicago’s Cameo Gets Times Business Close-Up
“A decade of near-zero interest rates, abundant venture cash and a steady tech boom gave no indication otherwise. A company like Cameo could afford to lose money forever, as long as it kept getting bigger. And American culture produced few things with such regularity as it did new celebrities. What could go wrong?” asks the New York Times in four-thousand-plus words (free link). Crypto, NFTs and D-list celebrities like Don Trump were part of the drag: “There was actually someone at an all-hands that said, ‘I feel Cameo is gaslighting me by letting Donald Trump Jr. on because his father killed my father,’” its now-thirty-five-year-old co-founder and chief executive, Steven Galanis, tells the paper of an employee. “Her dad had passed away from COVID. So that’s the type of just crazy activism that was happening at the company, and this wasn’t just one person.”
Says the Times, the company “operates as a husk of its former self. Its nearly 400 employees have shrunk to thirty-three, plus a handful of contractors, after three rounds of layoffs… Cameo is just one case study in the grim awakening for the start-up sector writ large, and an especially familiar tale among pandemic darlings like Zoom and Peloton that couldn’t maintain their rapid growth. Still, Mr. Galanis argued that Cameo was thriving and ‘absolutely’ still on track to become the next Disney.”
Illinois Facebook Users Get Third, Itsy Payment For Privacy Violations
The $650 million Facebook-Illinois biometric privacy settlement is coming to an end, reports the Tribune. A “third and final” payment of $7.20 was sent out last week. Previously, a $30.61 payment was sent out in February, following an initial $397 check last year.” The eight-year legal odyssey “has led to challenges of privacy practices at companies nationwide.”
Chicago Broadcaster Harry Porterfield Was Ninety-Five
“Beloved Chicago television news broadcaster Harry Porterfield, who for years shared the unique tales of hundreds of area residents through his signature ‘Someone You Should Know’ series,” was ninety-five, reports the Sun-Times. “Porterfield started his Chicago broadcast career at WBBM-Channel 2 in 1964 and spent twenty-one years at the station before moving to WLS-TV Channel 7 in 1985, where he worked for twenty-four years. He returned to WBBM in 2009 and retired in 2015 at age eighty-seven.”
“Dead Ringers For Dead Singers” Costume Party Benefit Returns To American Blues Theater
American Blues Theater exhumes “Dead Ringers for Dead Singers,” the annual costume party with live entertainment to benefit the establishment. “Dead Ringers for Dead Singers” features cocktails, prizes and live music from beyond the graves with musical host “Bloody Holly” (ensemble member Zachary Stevenson) and featuring ensemble members and artistic affiliates. Guests are encouraged to wear costumes, and prizes will be awarded. October 29, 6pm-8pm at the American Blues Theater office space, 4809 North Ravenswood. Tickets, with a suggested donation of $25, are here.
“Duke It Out! Nutcracker” Returns
The Music Institute of Chicago presents its annual performance “Duke It Out! Nutcracker,” featuring the classical (Tchaikovsky) and jazz (Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn) versions of the holiday favorite in a music and dance performance. The Music Institute’s ensemble-in-residence Quintet Attacca and guests Braeburn Brass team up with Dance Chicago in a family-friendly, one-hour version of “The Nutcracker” that splices Tchaikovsky’s original score and the jazz version by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. There will be an “interactive musical instrument petting zoo” for children between performances. Saturday, December 9, 10am and 1pm, at Nichols Concert Hall in downtown Evanston. Tickets are $15 here. Livestream viewing is available at $49 for the season, $15 per event here.
National Theatre In London Sets Earlier Curtain
London’s National Theatre is piloting earlier midweek performance times of 6:30pm, starting in February, reports the Guardian. The experiment “is in response to audience research it undertook to understand [pandemic-altered] lifestyles and habits, including… working patterns and journey times, particularly for those living outside of London.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Sun-Times, WBEZ Investigate Chicago Police Officers Who Are Members Of The Oath Keepers
“Reporters with the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ filed more than 200 open records requests with the Chicago Police Department and other law enforcement agencies across Illinois,” the news group reports of its investigation of officers connected to the Oath Keepers. “To verify the identity of the officers allegedly involved, the reporters then compared the records obtained from police departments against the information that the officers themselves had given to the Oath Keepers when they signed up, finding in case after case that they matched. The reporters then examined thousands of pages of records from scores of misconduct cases involving the cops who had ties to the Oath Keepers. Those documents included details of the complaints against the officers and all records of how police investigated those cases.” (Much more of the process at the link. The SPLC lists a minimum of thirty-five extremist or hate groups active in Illinois, mapped here.)
The extensive multimedia version of the investigation, bylined by Dan Mihalopoulos, Tom Schuba and Kevin G. Hall, is at WBEZ here. “Many of the cops on the Oath Keepers’ rolls worked in the Special Operations Section, which was disbanded amid revelations that some members committed brazen robberies and the purported ringleader plotted to murder a colleague… An investigation by WBEZ, Chicago Sun-Times and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found allegations of excessive force, improper searches and racist comments on the job.”
What Happened To The Eastern Bering Snow Crab?
“Marine heatwaves, a component of our impact on the Earth’s climate, can bring both expected and unexpected environmental change. Between 2018 and 2021, after a period of historically high crab abundance and a series of marine heatwaves, the population of snow crab in the Bering Sea declined by ten billion,” reports Science. A key report “found that the temperature of the water was not above the species’ thermal limits, but it did increase their caloric needs considerably… This increase, in conjunction with a restriction in range, led to an unexpected mass starvation event.”
How Much Sway Should Donors Hold Over University Policies?
“After the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, some major donors are aiming to shape the free-speech values and top leadership on campuses,” reports the New York Times. For instance, “at Harvard, the Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer and the Victoria’s Secret founder [and decades-long Jeffrey Epstein collaborator] Leslie Wexner have cut ties with the school after student groups signed a petition blaming Israel for the Hamas attack… Big donors to universities have long expected special treatment, like preference for their children’s applications. But these demands aim to shape the universities’ core values and unseat top leadership.”
Mayor Johnson Hints Extension Of Guaranteed Income Pilot Program
“A pilot launched under former Mayor Lightfoot provided 5,000 residents with $500 a month for a year with no strings attached,” reports the Sun-Times. “Johnson said he would like to bring back a version of the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, though he did not provide figures for how much it would cost or how the program would work.”
Ann Arbor Names A Hundred Entrepreneurs To Guaranteed Income Pilot
A thousand people applied for Ann Arbor’s guaranteed income pilot, a two-year program to provide monthly payments of $528 to one-hundred entrepreneurs with low and very low incomes, reports Michigan Live. “To be eligible, applicants must live in the city, be at least eighteen, have an income at or below 225 percent of the federal poverty line and be engaged in some type of entrepreneurial work or side hustle. The program is officially dubbed Guaranteed Income to Grow Ann Arbor, or GIG A2.”
Audubon: A Vision No More; Molts Into Chicago Bird Alliance
“Leaders of the bird conservation organization Chicago Audubon Society have taken up a new name,” reports the Sun-Times, “after grappling with the legacy of John James Audubon, the namesake of Audubon societies even though he wasn’t their founder. Audubon was a well-known early American birdwatcher and a wildlife artist during the 1800s who created ‘The Birds of America’ [and was also] a slave owner who opposed emancipation and was accused of academic fraud and plagiarism, stealing human remains and sending human skulls to a colleague.” The new name: Chicago Bird Alliance. “Two other bird groups in the Midwest also are changing their names. The Detroit Audubon and Madison Audubon will become the Detroit Bird Alliance and Badgerland Bird Alliance.”
Scotland Plans To Double Funding For The Arts
“Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf announced the intention to double [the investment] in Scotland’s arts and culture over the next five years,” relays the Musicians’ Union.
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