City Denies Plan To House 1,000 Migrants In Marina City Hotel
“Hours after publicizing a possible proposal to convert a River North hotel into a shelter for more than 1,000 migrants, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) says he’s pleased City Hall has backed off those plans,” reports Block Club. “A Mayor’s Office spokesperson said ‘there are no plans to convert Hotel Chicago… into shelter for new arrivals,’ but… did not provide more information or clarify if the hotel is being considered.”
Northwestern’s Latest Proffer To Hold Concerts At $800 Million-Plus Stadium: $100 Million Dangled At Neighbors
Northwestern University “faces heavy local opposition to its proposal, which was rejected by Evanston’s Land Use Commission but now is pending before the City Council,” reports the Sun-Times. “Scrambling to win support in Evanston for its plan to host concerts in a new football stadium, [Northwestern] pledged $100 million in donations to the community over the next ten years if it gets its way.” Adds CBS 2: “Northwestern is proposing a privately funded stadium that would host up to six concerts a year in addition to Wildcats football games. The plan would require the land to be rezoned—a major sticking point for those against the idea, including neighboring Wilmette.”
Federal Funds To Convert Offices To Homes Run To $45 Billion
“Taking aim at the nation’s housing crisis, the White House kicked off a multiagency push to help real-estate developers convert more office buildings emptied by the pandemic into affordable housing,” reports Marketwatch. To start, “the initiative aims to harness $35 billion in low-cost loans already available through the Transportation Department to fund housing developments near transit hubs, folding the initiative into the Biden administration’s clean-energy push. It also opens up additional funding sources and tax incentives and offers a new guide to twenty federal programs that developers can tap and that offers technical assistance in what can be tricky and expensive conversions.” Adds Insider, “Office vacancies are at a thirty-year high as work-from-home continues after the pandemic.”
Obama Center Rises
“Many South Siders are proud of Mr. Obama and excited about the museum, which is expected to bring investment to long-neglected blocks, employ people from the neighborhood and draw tourists to a part of Chicago that many visitors overlook. But there is also widespread angst, built up over years, that the center will drive up rents and change the essence of the city’s southern Lakefront, home to many Black residents,” reports the New York Times. “Obama’s choice of Jackson Park, a beloved green space designed by Frederick Law Olmsted that hosted the 1893 World’s Fair, brought protests and lawsuits. Delays piled up as opponents argued in federal courts that the center was an improper use of public land. Though construction started two years ago and city and federal permits are in place, some city parks advocates are still asking judges to intervene.”
Metra Holiday Train Tickets On Sale Today
“Ticket sales begin online today, and tickets are expected to sell out,” reports NBC 5.”Each ticket costs $5 and must be purchased ahead of time… The festive trains will operate on four Metra lines… On the Metra Electric Line, passengers will hop on the decorated train to Millennium Station, where they’ll encounter a North Pole winter wonderland.”
No. 98 Blackhawks Jersey Chicago’s “Must-Have Accessory”
“Before Connor Bedard had taken the ice for the Blackhawks, the eighteen-year-old hockey phenom’s No. 98 jersey had already taken over the Windy City, and beyond,” reports the New York Times. Bedard “had already caused a surge in the Chicago Blackhawks’ season ticket sales.” Is there controversy? “That Chicago’s newest must-have fashion accessory has a large illustration of a Native American man’s face on the front amid national calls to eliminate the use of such imagery is jarring for some, but the team has insisted its nickname and logo honor and raise awareness for Black Hawk, a Sauk leader and warrior, which puts them in a different category than teams whose names and symbols are considered racist or belittling. It is a contention that has been met with intense disagreement among many Native American groups.”
DINING & DRINKING
Elder Eateries Mellow Yellow And Piccolo Mondo Vacate 53rd
“Vintage eatery Mellow Yellow had been dishing up hearty breakfast options on 53rd Street since 1976,” reports the Chicago Maroon. Mellow Yellow’s closure last June could be attributed to the retirement of the former owner, Francisco Garcia. “Mellow Yellow is not the only change to 53rd Street’s business strip… Leona’s Pizza and The Budlong Hot Chicken have also shut down… What’s Krackin, a popular seafood joint, closed this September amidst a legal dispute with the landlord.” On East 56th Street, Italian restaurant Piccolo Mondo “abruptly shut its doors last November after a thirty-nine-year legacy.”
Restaurant Surcharges Aren’t Going Away
“Owners say they need the surcharges to stay in business and keep menu prices competitive. Critics say it’s a sneaky way to increase the tab without raising menu prices,” reports the Sun-Times. “Many surcharges are a few percent of the total to cover costs, such as labor, food or credit card fees, but can be as high as twenty-five percent to cover employee tips… Scott Weiner, co-owner of Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, which owns Roots and West Town Bakery… said his business avoided a service fee for as long as possible but, due to unpredictable price increases, resorted last year to a three-percent surcharge to cover credit card fees… Bridgette Flagg, owner and head cook of Soulé, a Creole soul food restaurant in North Lawndale, charges a three-and-a-half-percent fee for takeout orders to cover the cost of containers. Those costs have doubled since the lockdown and account for about $2 for a $20 order… ‘At some point, we can’t eat all those costs.'”
“The Bear” Tour Stalks Chicago
After talking to and having “tastings with chefs and business owners around the city,” reports Block Club, the creators of “Yes Chef! Chicago: A ‘Bear’-Inspired Food Tour” “settled on an itinerary and menu that includes Italian beef from Mr. Beef, a tartine and seasonal pastries from Publican Quality Breads, dan dan noodles or dumplings from Lao Peng You, a slice of pepperoni pizza from Pizza Lobo, a doughnut from Roeser’s Bakery and, for the grand finale, a single-scoop hot fudge sundae from Margie’s Candies.” Tickets for the three-and-half-hour, $129 tour are here.
Investigating The $800 Mai Tai At Three Dots And A Dash
Food & Wine is abashed: “Hidden down an alley basement in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, [Three Dots And A Dash] is the country’s preeminent depository for all things tiki. And for nearly a decade, Kevin Beary has been the talented tastemaker steering the ship.” Beary “has assembled the necessary ingredients to recreate the original Trader Vic’s 1944 Mai Tai,” for $800. “First comes the sourcing of impossibly rare vintage spirits… Beary acquired a bottle of Wray & Nephew 15-Year-Old Rum from the early 1950s on auction. Next, he got his hands on a decanter of Extra Sec Cusenier—a vintage orange liqueur from the same time period, akin to the curaçao that would have been used in the original Mai Tai.” Says Beary, “I figured Wray & Nephew, 100% pot still, aged fifteen years, was going to be a sledgehammer. And it was not. It’s still one of the best rums that I’ve ever tried. It was just so much more nuanced and balanced than I was expecting.” What do you get for your $800? “Two ounces of the vintage rum, one ounce of lime juice, one ounce of housemade orgeat, and half an ounce of the 1950s curaçao. Served over crushed ice and garnished with fresh mint, orchid, and a lime hull in a specialized tiki glass.”
Bettie Lou’s Ditches Andersonville Bricks For Four Wheels
“For four years, chef Kelley Davison has run a popular Andersonville soul food spot while dealing with constant flooding, pest infestations and issues with her landlord,” reports Block Club. Davison is “shifting Bettie Lou’s to operate as a food truck… which debuted… at the Taste of Andersonville, where Davison served the restaurant’s signature dishes like jerk chicken and soul rolls.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Gordon Quinn Featured At Doc Chicago
This year’s free Doc Chicago mini-conference opens with “A Conversation with Gordon Quinn,” featuring Kartemquin Films’ co-founder Gordon Quinn: filmmaker, fair-use advocate, and mentor to generations of documentarians. Filmmaker and educator Dinesh Sabu (“Unbroken Glass“) will host a conversation with Quinn [Newcity Film 50 Hall Of Fame], which will include clips from rarely screened early Kartemquin Films. Doc Chicago is a free, volunteer-run mini-conference that continues on Saturday November 4 with documentary panels and talks at the Cultural Center. Full schedule here. The free Gordon Quinn event is Friday, November 3, 7pm, Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater. RSVP here.
Chicago Filmmakers Kicks Off Fiftieth Anniversary Programming By Celebrating Blacklight Film Festival
Chicago Filmmakers will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary with screenings and special events running through spring 2024. “The first program in this series celebrates the Blacklight Film Festival with a special screening of Oscar Micheaux’s silent cinematic masterpiece, ‘Symbol of The Unconquered,’ accompanied by a live improvised and electronic music score performed by saxophonist Edward Wilkerson, guitarist Jonathan Woods and synthesizer player Jim Baker. This event, a collaboration with Black Harvest Film Festival and Blacknuss Network, pays homage to the legacy of Blacklight Film Festival, a festival of international Black cinema founded in 1982 by Floyd Webb and the late Terry White Glover at Chicago Filmmakers.” “The Blacklight Film Festival made a significant impact during its existence, contributing to the recognition of Black cinema as a vital and diverse component of global filmmaking. Blacklight reached its zenith at the Film Center of the School of the Art Institute and concluded its run in 1994.” This event “not only commemorates the past but also serves as a testament to the enduring power of film and music to inspire, educate, and unite audiences. It embodies the essence of Blacklight Film Festival’s legacy and its commitment to celebrating diversity and innovation in the world of cinema,” says Blacklight co-founder Floyd Webb. Tickets here.
Chicago-Made “Reporting For Christmas” Debuts On Hulu
Very Merry Entertainment’s “Reporting for Christmas,” shot in downtown Long Grove, directed by Jack C. Newell [Newcity Film 50] premieres today on Hulu. It “follows idealistic reporter Mary Romero on an assignment to do a puff piece about a Christmas toy manufacturer and the charming toymaker who inspires Mary to search her heart to find true happiness.” Other locales include Chicago, Vernon Hills and Woodstock. The trailer is here.
Actors Union: “Far Apart” On Ongoing Strike
“Striking Hollywood actors and studios remain far apart on key issues,” reports Reuters. “‘While talks over the past week have been productive, we remain far apart on key issues,’ the union said in an update to its members.”
Trib Looking For City Hall Co-Scribe
Chicago Tribune reporter Alice Yin posts on X/Twitter: “I’m taking over as the Tribune’s chief City Hall reporter & we’re hiring a second journalist to tag-team on this important beat!” The job listing is here: “The Chicago Tribune is looking for an aggressive reporter to join its City Hall team at the largest news organization in the Midwest. This reporter will be responsible for day-to-day news coverage on one of the most exciting and competitive political beats in the nation, joining a team that aims to break news and provide keen insights on both the fledgling mayoral administration and a City Council that has a long history of corruption.”
Goals Set For Chicago’s Investigative Project On Race And Equity
“Chicago has proven itself to be a crucible for digital media innovation among American cities,” relays NiemanLab. “For the Chicago-based Investigative Project on Race and Equity, training the next generation matters as much as the reporting.” Says project director Angela Caputo, “Foundations have helped us to get off to a great start, and we’re so grateful for that… But we recognize that we need to bring in different types of revenue in order to be sustainable and less reliant because funders change their minds on their priorities on what they fund.”
Music Of The Baroque Seeks Director Of Finance And Administration
Music of the Baroque is seeking a full-time director of finance and administration. “The ideal candidate has strong nonprofit accounting experience with an interest in the arts and is excited about working collaboratively in our team of eight enthusiastic and dedicated staff members.” More here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Edgewater Environmental Coalition, the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and 48th Ward, will host its fourth annual free, green-your-Halloween event with the Edgewater Pumpkin Smash on Saturday, November 4, noon-4pm, in the parking lot north of the fire station at 6040 North Clark. In the last three years, the Edgewater Pumpkin Smash has diverted more than twelve tons of pumpkins from area landfills. Residents are welcome to drive through to drop off their pumpkins, or join in the smashing fun by tossing their pumpkins in the giant compost container. Bring your cucurbita to the curb free of non-biodegradable materials such as candles or metal decorations. More here.
Times Takes In Brighton Park As Historic Immigrant Destination
Chicago’s “Brighton Park has taken in immigrants for generations, but residents are split over plans to house migrants in winterized tents on an empty lot,” reports the New York Times (free link). “So many arrived from Poland that Pope John Paul II, who was Polish, paid a visit in the 1970s. When Polish and Lithuanian families were moving out in the 1990s, Mexican Americans bought houses, opened businesses and forged a bilingual community. And in the last few years, as the city’s Asian population has boomed, Chinese Americans have joined them.” But residents “are divided over a hastily conceived plan to convert an empty lot into a winterized tent complex for 2,000 or more migrants, many of them Venezuelan. Chicago, New York City, Denver and other liberal cities have been overwhelmed this year by migrants sent northward from [politicians in] border states, a surge that has strained social services, frayed residents’ patience and put municipal pronouncements of sanctuary to the test. A look at this one neighborhood, where immigration is woven into family stories and streetscapes, shows the depth of the challenge facing cities as busloads of newcomers keep arriving.”
Immigrants Going To Smaller States, Too
A company in chilly North Dakota has been hiring emigrants from Ukraine, reports Morning Edition. “ComDel started looking seriously into a program called Uniting For Ukraine, a legal pathway for Ukrainians to come to the United States and work for up to two years. So far, the company has hired about a dozen Ukrainians… and has extended invitations to more than forty others… ‘As hard as this is, it’s been easier to get forty Ukrainian people here into these jobs than forty people from you name the other state.’ … The U.S. immigrant population is growing fast in North Dakota and other states that are a long way from the Southern border.” Still, “there’s deep-seated ambivalence about immigration in a state that remains overwhelmingly white, rural and conservative.”
Bigsby & Kruthers Founder Joe Silverberg Was Seventy-Six
“Joe Silverberg, with his younger brother, Gene, turned a small chain of clothing stores into a glittering symbol of late twentieth-century Chicago, convincing stars like Michael Jordan, Walter Payton and Gary Sinise to model its wares for free,” reports Crain’s. “Bigsby & Kruthers, the establishment-sounding name the Silverbergs concocted from characters in an old movie serial, had cameo roles in the films ‘The Blues Brothers’ and ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding.’ The company’s Kennedy Expressway billboard—a paint job on its own warehouse—stopped traffic in 1996, when the firm painted a mural of Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman wearing a Bigsby suit with the arms ripped off. The company planned to repaint Rodman’s hair color to match his ever-changing style, but a flood of attention convinced them otherwise.”
Supreme Court Might Gut Renter Protection Laws
“The nation’s highest court is weighing whether to hear two rent-regulation cases that could gut renter protection laws,” writes The Nation’s justice correspondent Elie Mystal. “There are only seven states that have rent control or stabilization regulations in some of their cities, and six of them are controlled by Democrats… Republican loss at the ballot box triggered a challenge in the courts… Landlord and real-estate associations filed… lawsuits against New York State over its new renter protection laws, alleging that they involved a regulatory ‘taking’ under the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for public use without ‘just compensation.’ … The landlord groups were roundly defeated in the lower courts, because it’s well established under Supreme Court precedents.” But the “conservative-controlled Supreme Court doesn’t view its own precedents as a barrier to changing the law in whatever ways it (or its Republican donors) want.”
Civic Program Could Stave Off Evictions
“Residential eviction filings in Cook County, which slowed in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic-induced eviction moratoria, have been at pre-pandemic levels for more than a year, with evictions enforced by the Cook County sheriff’s office on track to surpass pre-pandemic levels this year,” reports the Tribune. “Residential eviction filings stand at more than 18,000 through August 2023, with last year’s total filings—which include a small number of commercial evictions—reaching over 29,000, around the same number of filings as in 2019… From January through September of this year, the Cook County sheriff’s office has enforced over 5,600 evictions.” (Legal assistance proposed by the mayor’s office is detailed in the story.)
British Government: Four-Day Workweeks Must “Cease Immediately”
British “Councils pursuing a four-day working week are not providing value for taxpayers and should ‘cease immediately,'” the rightwing British government says, reports the BBC. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has put its foot down. “The government ‘respects’ the right of councils to make their own decisions on key issues, said local government Conservative minister Lee Rowley. ‘There are also times… when government deems it proportionate to step in to ensure that residents’ value for money is protected. The issue of the four-day working week is one of those times.'”
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