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Voters Will Decide Fate Of Chicago Property Transfer “Mansion Tax”
“Voters will be asked if the city should increase the real estate transfer tax on properties over $1 million to fund homeless prevention,” reports WBEZ. “In a major victory for Mayor Johnson’s agenda, City Council members approved a referendum on the Bring Chicago Home ordinance that will ask voters if the city should enact a progressive tax to confront its deepening housing crisis,” writes In These Times.
Founder Penny Pritzker’s P33 Boosts “Brain Train” Billions
“Innovate Illinois partners, including P33, are working on securing federal funding for an $872.8 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal/State Partnership Program to benefit the Midwest region,” P33 CEO Brad Henderson newsletters. “The funding would support a billion-dollar project to improve Union Station and rail connectivity between Chicago and other Midwestern destinations while also establishing the foundation for the vision of ‘Brain Train’—the first-of-its-kind, high-capacity travel network that will drive innovation and collaboration.” The petition is here. (Earlier this week, President Biden announced $16.4 billion in improvements to Amtrak and other rail projects.)
Trib Editorial Board: Address Replacement Of Peoples Gas Pipelines
Ten years ago, writes the Chicago Tribune editorial board (via Yahoo), Peoples Gas “convinced state lawmakers and then-governor Pat Quinn that it needed to slap a surcharge on gas bills each month to quicken the pace of updating decades-old, deteriorating underground pipes… Instead of a program to accelerate replacement of aging gas mains, Peoples embarked on a far more ambitious initiative essentially to replace Chicago’s entire gas system, converting it from low- to medium-pressure and doing the work neighborhood by neighborhood rather than targeting the most leak-prone pipes… This situation has been a slow-moving train wreck that anyone paying attention could see coming for years now… The bigger task before the Illinois Commerce Commisson is to put Peoples on notice that its massive, and massively disruptive, infrastructure program, by itself costing $300 million a year for at least the next fifteen years, must be rethought entirely. Prioritize needed pipe replacement.”
Gold Coast Selina Hotel Lays Off Sixteen In Anticipation Of Migrant Shelter
Workers say they are being laid off because their workplace will become a migrant shelter, reports ABC 7. Sixteen hotel workers said they will be laid off Friday. “Unite Here Local 1 says management told the union that the hotel will operate under a contract to house migrants.”
Will Gas Stoves Become A Relic In Chicago?
“Induction stoves, heat pumps and electric appliances may be the future of new Chicago buildings,” reports the Sun-Times. “Activists want Chicago to join Oak Park and other cities around the country that have changed emission standards for new buildings. They say changes would help health, climate—and homeowners’ pockets. The way buildings are heated, cooled and made livable are responsible for about seventy percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions.”
DINING & DRINKING
Smyth Earns Third Michelin Star; Single Stars To Atelier And Indienne; Green Star To Daisies; Exceptional Cocktail To Elske
“The 2023 Michelin Guide gala ceremony in New York City recognized restaurants in Chicago, as well as New York and Washington, D.C., honoring eateries in the three cities consistently offering ‘outstanding cooking,'” reports the Sun-Times. “One restaurant received the industry’s highest honor—the elusive third Michelin star—two restaurants received one Michelin star, and one received the relatively new Michelin Green star… Smyth now shares Michelin’s top-honor status with Alinea, which has retained its three-star status since 2011.” (Smyth celebrates on Instagram here.)
Adds Eater Chicago, “There were 139 three-star restaurants in the world with thirteen restaurants in America with three stars and the only one in Chicago [being] chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea… Daisies is now one of twenty-eight restaurants in North America with Green Stars… ‘It’s crazy, I have no words at all,’ a stunned John Shields said while accepting the three-star accolade in New York. ‘I can’t even fucking believe this, I can’t. I’m humbled to even be here, standing here. I feel like I don’t deserve it. And now I’m going to spend the rest of my life making sure that you guys believe in what we’re doing.'” The complete list is at Eater, including forty-seven Bib Gourmands.
Also presented was the Michelin Exceptional Cocktail Award for restaurants in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. The Chicago winner presented by Basil Hayden was Monica Casillas-Rios of Elske, alongside the Cosme bar team in New York and in D.C., Daniel Todd of the Dabney.
Earlier this week, The Hunger took on the Michelin system. (Critic Michael Nagrant was the first Chicago food writer to review now-starred Atelier at length, in early October.) “The Michelin company is worth $21.3 billion. Their annual revenue would make them the 119th richest country in the world, somewhere between Armenia and Guinea,” writes Nagrant (free link). “And yet, they cosplay like desperate street urchins, their tiny French palms outstretched, entreating governments on bended knee for millions of dollars to subsidize their side hustle… They hired a consulting firm, Accenture, who advised that Michelin should charge the municipalities for the coverage and prestige their ratings bring. They hit Thailand up for $4.4 million. South Korea ponied up over one million dollars. Israel is paying 1.6 million for the privilege of their gaze. Until 2019, no American cities were charged for Michelin’s anointment until California’s tourism board coughed up $600,000 to woo Michelin back to the golden state.”
Diwali Dinner At Indienne
Newly Michelin-starred Indienne will celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, with a six-course tasting menu experience ($135 per person, $70 optional wine pairing) featuring the restaurant’s top dishes from its first year. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus are available. Vegetarian offerings include an edamame samosa (Yellow pepper Pachadi, Asparagus, Petite Salad) and Shrimp Keema (Poached Egg, Malai Curry mousse, Pao, Cultured Butter); Chicken Tikka terrine (Amul Cheese Fondue, Leeks, Autumn Truffle) and Lamb Raan (Badami Korma, Ginger Shalli, Black Dairy Dal, Garlic Naan, Pulao Rice). Reservations can be made via Tock or OpenTable.
Burger King Crowns Kiosks
“Burger King execs say the chain is planning to speed up the rollout of digital order kiosks,” reports Business Insider. “The U.S. is ready for kiosks now,” Restaurant Brands International’s CEO said. “Digital kiosks mean restaurants save money on labor and customers typically order more.”
“Import” Beers Brewing In States
“Securing U.S. production capacity was one reason why Sapporo U.S.A., a subsidiary of the Japanese brewery, acquired Stone Brewing for $165 million last August. The parent company planned to shift lager production to Stone’s bicoastal production breweries in Escondido and Richmond, Virginia,” assays Vine Pair. “With skyrocketing shipping costs and more than 9,000 breweries and taprooms, foreign breweries are ditching import status and producing beer stateside to better compete on freshness and price. Heineken-owned Lagunitas Brewing makes Newcastle Brown Ale, a British beer, at its breweries in Chicago and Petaluma, while Anheuser-Busch InBev shifted production of the Belgian lager Stella Artois to America in 2021. And global breweries such as Guinness and Trumer are opening taprooms and brewing small-batch beers, muddying the lines between import brands and trusted local breweries.”
Global Wine Production At Sixty-Two-Year-Low
“Poor weather around the world is likely to cause global wine production to drop to a six-decade low this year,” reports the BBC. “The International Organisation of Vine and Wine says that wine production around the world is likely to be about seven percent lower in 2023 than last year. Such a yield would be the worst since 1961. The OIV attributes the low levels of production to bad weather, including frost, heavy rainfall and drought.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Studios And Streamers Adjust Proposed AI Contract Language (A Little)
“Hollywood’s major studios have agreed to adjust language on artificial intelligence as they move closer to a contract agreement to end the 117-day SAG-AFTRA strike,” reports Variety. “The union was said to have reached a common understanding on certain thorny AI issues, such as how to handle an AI consent in the event that an actor dies. But the union did not get every item on its list.” The language insisting on retaining rights to an actor’s likeness after a single paycheck could also be altered, for, as cultural critic Mark Harris put it on Bluesky: “It is unforgivable that Hollywood workers have to go one more day, hour or minute without work because studios and streamers are insisting on this greedy, ghoulish bullshit.” TV writer Mike Drucker on X/Twitter: “Still amazing that the studios’ last and best offer to actors was ‘we own your digital ghost for all eternity.'”
Milwaukee Oriental Theatre Installs 1925 Wurlitzer Pipe Organ
From a photo essay in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Jeff Weiler, project lead and president of Chicago-based JL Weiler Inc., tunes a restored 1925 Wurlitzer pipe organ that has been installed in the Oriental Theatre. Milwaukee Film, which operates the Oriental, secured the pipe organ for the east side movie palace.”
Mount Prospect Man Paints Hundreds Of Little Libraries For The Masses
“A Mount Prospect man’s garage is his home studio and workshop—and he gives everything he builds to the community. What Joey Carbone builds are mini-libraries,” reports CBS 2. “When a neighbor requests a library, Carbone makes use of generous donations—items such as screws, glue and shingles—to make any design come to life. Carbone showed us one library built for a boy with an unusual request. ‘He wanted a library very specific to have the Mario characters with pickles in their hands… So they all have pickles.'”
Wall Street Journal Ends Bestseller Lists
“The Wall Street Journal has stopped running its weekly bestseller lists. The final lists were carried in the past weekend’s editions. The paper ran a total of six fiction and nonfiction lists, as well as a hardcover business list,” reports Publishers Weekly. Editorial page editor Paul Gigot says a data contract expired, “‘and we are not renewing it.’ He added that all other aspects of the paper’s book coverage will ‘continue as usual.'”
Chicago Magazine Comes For Joe Biden
“A Washington Post poll found a ‘generic Democrat’ beats Trump 48–40. It’s a perfect opportunity for the likes of California Governor Gavin Newsom or our own Governor J.B. Pritzker,” writes Chicago contributing editor Edward McClelland. (David Axelrod is one talker cited as an authority.) “There’s no more generic Democrat than Newsom, whose slicked-back hair and shiny blue suits make him look like a presidential action figure… Our own Governor Pritzker [is] pretty generic in his own right… Biden needs to get out of the game before Trump gets him out, and undoes the most important achievement of his life.”
Chris Jones Goes Boop! To The Future
“That character (a kind of proto-Jessica Rabbit, only much kinder, sweeter and more playful) is pretty much all the actress Jasmine Amy Rogers knew about Betty Boop before she landed a prized gig playing her in a new show, ‘Boop! The Betty Boop Musical,’ the latest in what’s now a long string of pre-Broadway musicals that auteur-director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell has first brought to life in Chicago, and rehearsed in New York at the iconic New 42nd Street Studios.” Chris Jones gets a front-row seat at the Trib to the making of Broadway-bound “Boop! The Musical.”
“It quickly becomes clear to a regular visitor of a Mitchell-run rehearsal that the relative blankness of the Boop slate has offered an opportunity for Mitchell, [book writer Bob] Martin (‘The Drowsy Chaperone’), lyricist Susan Birkenhead (‘Jelly’s Last Jam’) and composer David Foster, a prolific Canadian songwriter who composed or co-composed ‘After the Love Has Gone,’ ‘Forever,’ ‘You’re the Inspiration’ and a slew of hits for the likes of Kenny Loggins, Earth, Wind & Fire, Celine Dion and the band Chicago.”
Sixth Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival Returns In January
Tickets are on sale for the sixth Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival which returns January 18-28, 2024 at venues throughout the city. “The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is the largest event dedicated to the art form in North America. The Festival spans eleven days and dozens of Chicago venues in the heart of winter, sharing more than a hundred puppetry activities with over 14,000 guests. The festival includes performances, the Free Neighborhood Tour, a Puppet Hub open throughout the festival on the fourth floor of the Fine Arts Building, a symposium, the Catapult Artist Intensive and workshops.” For more information and tickets, go here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Thanksgiving Day Parade Returns
The free Chicago Thanksgiving Parade returns for its eighty-ninth year on Thursday, November 23, 8am-11am, traveling up State Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Randolph Street and featuring the return of giant balloons. The parade includes top marching bands, including Tennessee State University, Minnesota State University and Marist High School, festive floats, staged performances, equestrian units, cultural performance troupes, and inflatables, all led by celebrity hosts and a special visitor from the North Pole. There will also be special appearances by HGTV’s Lauren Makk and Chicago poet laureate avery r. young.
Fun Priced Out Of Range
“The cost of admissions and fees for entertainment rose faster than the cost of many staple goods last year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “That has helped raise standards for the amount of fun we expect for our money—and triggered quick disappointment when our experiences don’t live up to the price. Someone who scores cheap flights to Europe may give the trip five stars before the plane even boards. Someone who spends half their paycheck on playoff tickets may get cranky about it by halftime. And people are spending for now. Corie Barry, Best Buy CEO, [says] that ‘experiences are really where people are willing to pay’ and that this was dragging on demand for expensive electronics. Studies on money and happiness tell us that paying for experiences tends to bring us greater pleasures than buying stuff, because those experiences can deliver payoffs before, during and after they happen.”
Credit Card Delinquencies Accelerate
“Delinquency rates for nearly all loans have been rising from the rock-bottom levels seen during the pandemic, according to data from the New York Fed,” reports Axios. “The upswing was perhaps inevitable, considering the end of generous government aid and debt forbearance… The rebound in delinquencies, though, has been notable among credit card borrowers—a clear sign that consumers are pinched despite a still-healthy economy… About eight percent of credit card balances transitioned into delinquency by the end of September—almost a percentage point increase in the prior quarter.”
Evanston Stores See Sales Slump
“Several small retailers have [struggled] over the past month, according to Katherine Gotsick, director of the Main-Dempster Mile business organization,” reports the Daily Northwestern. “While not all businesses have seen slumps… enough retailers have raised alarms that the trend could cast a pall over seasonal sales.”
Lincoln Square Businesses Latest Struck By Spree Robbers
“Windows were smashed and at least some cash was stolen from registers at six businesses along Lincoln Avenue,” reports Block Club. Six businesses had windows or doors smashed: Wild Goose Bar & Grill; Gannon’s Pub; Bad Apple; Gil & Gil Group Corp.; Market Square and a Starbucks. (The businesses are all between 4200 and 4700 North Lincoln.) Market Square owner Cenk Duman shared footage with ABC 7. Said Duman, “The most shocking part is they’re obviously kids. Like, these are kids. They’re just teenagers. They’re going out and they’re doing this.”
Dick Uihlein, Septuagenarian Illinois Pasteboard Multibillionaire And Rightwing Activist, Rushes Florida Push For Child Labor
Florida’s regressive new child labor bill was written by GOP megadonor Dick Uihlein’s far-right think tank, reports More Perfect Union. “Documents show that representatives for the Foundation for Government Accountability wrote the original draft of the Florida legislation, which would allow employers in the state to make sixteen- and seventeen-year-old teenagers work the same schedules as adults—including overnight shifts on school nights. The FGA is financed in large part by Richard Uihlein, a billionaire who has funded election-denial efforts and other far-right causes.”
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