Get Chicago culture news sent to your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe to Newcity Today here.
The iconic Art Institute of Chicago bronze lions will be dressed this Friday in their oversized evergreen wreaths to mark the holiday season. The work begins at 9am on Friday, November 24.
Downtown Greyhound Terminals Closing Nationwide After Alden Global Capital Purchase
“Greyhound bus stations nationwide are closing and relocating outside central business districts after being acquired by an investment firm that rose to infamy for its acquisition and gutting of American newspapers,” reports Axios. “Twenty Lake Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Alden Global Capital, purchased thirty-three Greyhound stations from the U.K. conglomerate FirstGroup late last year… Multiple downtown Greyhound stations closed and relocated to less formal locations after the sales… After the Philadelphia terminal closed, Greyhound began operating curbside a short distance away, forcing passengers to wait outside on sidewalks without designated seating or restrooms.”
“The vision for Cleveland’s Greyhound site includes an apartment tower, a jazz club and a potential ‘education space.’ … In Chicago, the downtown Greyhound station [reports the Sun-Times], may shut down, and a developer could build two towers on the site.”
Landlord Fires Maintenance Workers At Seventeen Former UChicago Hyde Park Buildings
“All unionized maintenance workers for Pioneer Acquisitions, a real estate company that owns almost two dozen residential buildings in Hyde Park, were unexpectedly laid off by the firm this week,” reports the Hyde Park Herald. “Most workers had been servicing these buildings for decades, previously employed by the University of Chicago before the school sold the properties to Pioneer… Pioneer gave all union staff two weeks’ notice during a bargaining meeting on Monday, November 13, announcing that the company would not renew their contracts. According to a union representative, the workers will be replaced by non-union contractors.” Several workers at the seventeen buildings “had hoped to continue working until retirement.”
Aragon Polychromatic Exterior Getting Restored
“They might be restoring the Aragon Ballrooms ground level terra cotta back to its original polychromatic form,” observed X/Twitter’s BoHo Chicagoan in June. Now, with pictures, he posts, “Confirmed with the painter that they’re restoring the original polychromatic color scheme.”
Target Testing Self-Checkout Restrictions; Says Shoplifting Not The Reason
“At a handful of stores, Target has restricted self-checkout to customers buying ten items or fewer. Customers buying more than that are required to use full-service lanes with cashiers,” reports CNN. “Self-checkout machines sometimes break. Customers often face errors and glitches scanning items, requiring employees to come over and assist them. This erases potential labor savings… Target said that merchandise losses, known as shrink, were not a factor… Target has pointed to theft, both petty shoplifting and organized groups of criminals stealing merchandise and reselling it online, as responsible for an increase in losses.”
Twenty-Five Years At CTA With Lee Crooks
Lee Crooks “lives in Milwaukee but has become a symbol of Chicago thanks to being heard on the El since 2000 and on CTA buses since 2003,” profiles Nudia Hernandez at the Sun-Times. “The inspiration for his ‘train voice’ was a Walt Disney World monorail announcer… ‘We’d just ridden the monorail down in Disney World, and I remember very distinctly what the guy sounded like… He was the voice of Disney for a long time. And so I just did my imitation of that within the parameters of what CTA wanted me to do.”
Hired in 1998, “as an audio engineer in the early 1990s, Crooks [made his transition] into the voice industry after receiving encouragement from colleagues who saw potential in his vocal abilities. ‘It’s been twenty-five years, and I’m trying to match things I did twenty-five years ago to sound like the same person… I’ve read things that people have said, “Yeah, his voice has changed. It’s not the same. You can tell it’s the same guy, but he’s a little bit older.” And that’s just life.'”
What Does The Detonation Of $80 Billion OpenAI Mean?
“I struggle to remember a three-day span in which any media company has set itself on fire as profoundly as OpenAI just did. In less than seventy-two hours, it accomplished the impossible: making Tronc seem well run by comparison,” writes Joshua Benton at NiemanLab. “There was no extant crisis demanding a risky reaction. One day, it’s a company worth $80 billion (maybe $90 billion) and the most exciting new tech company in a decade… Important companies aren’t supposed to be ephemeral creatures whose next few days’ existence are up for debate. When you’ve got crypto companies taunting your terrible management—’the board just torched $80B of value, destroyed a shining star of American capitalism’—you know things are bad.”
DINING & DRINKING
Dual French Concepts From DineAmic In Fulton Market
DineAmic Hospitality opens a new pair of boîtes in Fulton Market: The two-level space will include La Serre (a coastal French concept, translating to “The Greenhouse”) and a second-floor Parisian supper club, Bar La Rue. La Serre is slated to open in February 2024, with Bar La Rue having a separate grand opening several weeks later. Bar La Rue will have its own separate entrance on Fulton Market Street, marked by a large outdoor garden pergola, which has an outdoor-to-indoor bar just a few steps from the street. It will “evoke a gritty Parisian cocktail bar and bistro. Neon signs and windows filled with illuminated liquor bottles are juxtaposed with opulent crystal chandeliers and ornamental brass shelving.” More DineAmic hospitality here.
Fooditor Takes Pulse Of Jean Banchet Awards
“With food media largely a thing of the past, many interesting things do not get covered,” writes the Fooditor. “A good example of this is the Jean Banchet Awards, which if we take the Tribune and Eater to be our primary mainstream sources of information about such things, do not exist, as neither of those outlets bothered to make any note of the nominees announced on Monday. (That both institutions have their own Chicago food awards, given somewhat irregularly and certainly to far less public notice than the Banchets, is… an interesting point.)” Parenthesizes the Fooditor: “I am involved with the Banchet show.”
“The flipside of this is that with food media largely extinct, save for those two outfits and very few others, people look to other sources for an idea of what’s new and worthy on our food scene—like the Jean Banchet Awards, which among other things have been obviously influential on the James Beard awards in recent years. So the media doesn’t cover the Banchets, but the Banchets, in a sense, cover restaurants and up-and-coming talents, in the absence of a more vigorous and authoritative media scene.”
Tesla Cyberbeer Bad
“You might not guess that Tesla Inc., famously the electric car company controlled by Elon Musk, would be a repository of beer brewing, bottling, or distribution expertise,” reports Defector. “Tesla’s cars are infamous for their visibly shoddy assembly, their poor safety record, the vast echoing chasm between their purported and actual capabilities, their dismal visual aesthetic. SpaceX’s rockets often explode and rain debris on the planet… Twitter is the internet’s overflowing septic tank… The beer is ‘Cyberbeer,’ named for the Tesla company’s ugly and stupid Cybertruck and sold in bottles theoretically reflecting that truck’s (ugly and stupid) design.”
A Twitter user, “blue-checked, naturally, posted a very gross photo of what’s apparently a just-opened Cyberbeer bottle with nasty red-orange gunk all around the lip, asking, ‘Should you drink the rust from the Tesla Cyberbeer top?’ Another user (blue check? Check) posted an “unboxing” video for this Tesla Cyberbeer, fawning over the Cybertruck logo on the box and the high quality of the ceramic in the mug—and then posted again, hours later, affirming the rusty bottle and ‘hot garbage’ beer.”
Cinnamon Imports Screened After Lead-Tainted Applesauce Sickens Kids
“At least thirty-four children in twenty-two states, including Illinois, have reportedly been sickened by lead poisoning,” reports the Sun-Times. “One pouch of recalled WanaBana apple cinnamon puree collected from a Dollar Tree store was found to have lead levels more than 200 times higher than proposed FDA guidance would allow.”
FILM & TELEVISION
Music Box Unveils Street Mural
“New poster cases, new mural,” the Music Box shows off on Instagram.
Sony Opens “Wonderverse” In Oakbrook Center’s Abandoned Sears Space
Wonderverse, “the very first fully owned immersive entertainment destination by Sony Pictures Entertainment” begins previews in December in Oakbrook, a 45,000-square-foot outpost that “will immerse guests in the imaginative worlds of popular films, television series, and video games such as ‘Uncharted,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Jumanji,’ ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Zombieland.'” Says Tim Geiges, senior general manager of Oakbrook Center, “We’re thrilled to be the first location for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Wonderverse and have it as our largest entertainment option at Oakbrook Center.” Wonderverse featured activities will include escape rooms, virtual reality and racing simulations and bumper cars. More here.
CPL Hosting Teen Drag Tutorial
“The event is part of Radical Fit: Fashion and Beyond, which offers teens hands-on lessons in a wide variety of skills, from basic sewing and tie-dying to cornrows and contouring,” reports Block Club. “Drag queen Chamilla Foxx will lead a step-by-step tutorial for teens thirteen-to-nineteen, ‘Drag Eye Makeup,’ from 4-5pm Wednesday at Harold Washington Library.” The event is full, but there are spots on the waiting list.
New York City Cutting Back On Public Libraries With Sunday Shutter
The five-percent budget cut in New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ budget, reports Pix 11, means that “public libraries in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn will be forced to close on Sundays… The budget cuts will also [affect] spending on library materials, programming, and building maintenance and repairs.”
Backpage Trial Nets A Single Conviction For Former Owner
Former Backpage.com owner Michael Lacey was convicted last Thursday “on a single count of money laundering and acquitted on another,” reports AP. PBS Newshour: “It marked the second time a mistrial has been declared in the case against the founder of the site. U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa in Phoenix declared the mistrial after jurors deliberated for six days… Lacey’s first trial in 2021 ended in a mistrial when another judge concluded prosecutors had too many references to child sex trafficking in a case where no one faced such a charge… Operations manager Andrew Padilla and assistant operations manager Joye Vaught were acquitted of a conspiracy charge and dozens of counts of facilitation of prostitution.”
Washington Post: “Lacey, a founder of the lucrative classified site Backpage.com, was convicted Thursday on a single count of money laundering and acquitted on another. But an Arizona jury deadlocked on eighty-four other counts against him in a case that alleged he participated in a scheme to sell sex ads, leading the judge to declare a mistrial.” The Department of Justice press release is here.
One-Third Of U.S. Newspapers, Based On 2005 Numbers, Will Be -30- By End Of Next Year
“The decline of local newspapers accelerated so rapidly in 2023 that analysts now believe the United States will have lost one-third of the newspapers it had as of 2005 by the end of next year,” reports Axios, “rather than in 2025, as originally predicted… Most communities that lose a local newspaper in America usually do not get a replacement, even online… There are roughly 6,000 newspapers left in America, down from 8,891 in 2005… Of the papers that still survive, a majority (4,790) publish weekly, not daily.” AP: “‘My concern is that the acceleration that we’re seeing is only going to worsen,’ said Tim Franklin, who heads the local news initiative at Northwestern’s Medill journalism school,” which issued the report.
Rupert Murdoch Says Lachlan “Believes In Social Purpose Of Journalism”
“The elder Murdoch was speaking at News Corp’s 2023 annual general meeting, his last as co-chairman of the Times, Wall Street Journal and Sun parent company. He has now become chairman emeritus,” reports Press Gazette. “Maintaining that he hopes ‘to continue an active role in the company,’ Murdoch called Lachlan ‘a principled leader, and a believer in the social purpose of journalism… Like my father, I believe that humanity has a “high destiny,” and Lachlan certainly shares that belief. That sense of destiny is not just a blessing but a responsibility.'”
Times Calls Lise Davidsen At Lyric “A Coup”
“Her high notes emerging like shafts of sunlight, Lise Davidsen is playing the title role in Janacek’s ‘Jenufa’ at the struggling Lyric Opera of Chicago,” headlines a piece by Zachary Woolfe at the New York Times. “This was a coup for Lyric, especially since the Janacek has been running alongside a winning cast in Donizetti’s ‘La Fille du Régiment,’ as fizzily charming as ‘Jenufa’ is desperately sad. Seen over the course of twenty-four hours this weekend, the pairing shows off the best of a venerable company that has been struggling in the pandemic’s aftermath, along with much of the American performing arts scene.”
“Its chief executive, Anthony Freud, announced in September that he would step down this coming summer, two years before the end of his contract. Freud, sixty-six, is retiring as the gap between opera’s costs and the demand for tickets grows ever wider. Financial pressures have prompted the company to pare back its performances; Lyric’s current season features just six mainstage productions, compared to eight in the last full season before the pandemic. But this was a weekend Freud could be proud of.”
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Strikers To Be Replaced At Columbia College?
Several hundred rank-and-file part-time faculty were notified over the weekend by their respective chairs “that their classes have been reassigned to full-time faculty, staff and other scabs this weekend,” relays educator Brandon Alvendia. “The Columbia College Chicago Part Time Faculty strike is entering its fourth week… The union has letters of support from the mayor and other city and state representatives yet negotiations still feel at an impasse.” More details at the Columbia College Faculty Union Site here.
Contract Fights Escalate At Berlin, Howard Brown
“Two of the city’s labor unions are turning up the heat on their employers for paying low wages [and] flagrantly breaking labor laws,” reports the Reader. “Howard Brown Health Workers United and Berlin Workers union, both organizations well-known for serving the LGBTQ+ community, are wielding new tactics to pressure their ownership into taking their negotiations more seriously… HBHWU unionized in August 2022; Berlin Workers union did the same in April 2023. Both groups are relatively young, but each has had the assistance of the Illinois Nurses Association (INA) and UNITE HERE Local 1 respectively.”
Postal Service Hiking Postage Again; USPS Eliminates Public Comments At Meetings
The USPS, under the hand of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is raising rates again, relays WGN-TV. USPS Ground Advantage prices go up 5.4 percent; Priority Mail, 5.7 percent; and Priority Mail Express service, 5.9 percent. “The Postal Service has upfront pricing and does not add surcharges for residential and regular Saturday delivery, nor fuel,” the government agency offered in its press release. “The USPS is also seeking price adjustments for such products as post office box rentals and international mail services.” No word on any changes in service that could affect the 2024 election.
“At least four times per year, the Board (the governing body that votes on DeJoy’s agenda and has the sole power to fire him) holds an open session meeting, its sole formal contact with the public,” reports the Revolving Door Project. “In recent years, these meetings have concluded with a well-attended public comment period, where in-person and virtual attendees have excoriated DeJoy for embracing a privatization-friendly agenda. Just this year alone, public commenters at Board meetings have decried the mail slowdowns and price hikes, demanded changes to DeJoy’s gas-guzzling and union-busting fleet plan, raised serious concerns about transparency of DeJoy’s facility consolidation plans, and pushed DeJoy to expand community services offered at the post office.”
Fees And Fines Added To City Budget
Mayor Johnson’s “2024 financial package counts on $46 million more in fines and fees than this year, a fifteen-percent increase,” reports the Tribune. “In all, the mayor expects to bring in $348 million from things like parking tickets, red-light and speed enforcement fines, moving violations, booting fees, sanitation code violations and housing court fines.”
Feds Offer New Round Of Free COVID Tests
Every home in the United States is eligible to order an additional four free at-home tests. If you did not order tests this fall, you may place two orders for a total of eight tests. Order here.
DuPage County Historian Robert Jacobsen Was Ninety-Two
“Robert Jacobsen was a local history enthusiast who was the driving force behind three museum exhibits in DuPage County and a variety of other history efforts,” reports the Trib. The longtime Continental Can executive “spent two decades chairing the Milton Township Cemeteries Authority, which restored three long-neglected pioneer cemeteries near Wheaton.” (Jacobsen also “introduced beverage cans and vending machines” to South Korea.) He “exemplified how to live a fully engaged life by celebrating history, being a voracious reader and most importantly, being a doer of deeds to make the world a better place,” DuPage County Historical Museum board member and Illinois Chamber of Commerce Chair-Elect Dan Wagner, a longtime friend, told the paper.
What Forces Lie Behind The Election Of Argentina’s Wildly Cartoonish Rightwing President-Elect?
“There needs to be… a more honest reflection on the rise of the far right in a society long regarded as inoculated against just this kind of reactionary turn,” writes Jacobin. Javier Milei, “a free-market paleolibertarian,” will be inaugurated December 10 in the inflation-ridden nation, after jaunts to the United States and Israel. “Historically, the Argentine far right has been excluded from the halls of power. Until months ago, Milei’s Avanza Libertad (Freedom Advances) was a virtually nonexistent political force with no party structure, provincial candidates, senators, or governors… The Argentine political class underestimated the tectonic shifts taking place in society… Upon deeper inspection, Milei’s ascent is clearly related to what is truly the bellwether event of this political juncture: the once-in-a-lifetime crisis of Peronism, the big-tent, populist formation around which the Argentine political system has been orbiting since 1945.” More here.
Send culture news and tips to [email protected]