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Trio Of Wrightwood 659 Exhibits Extended
“Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art,” “Tadao Ando: Spontaneous Sketches” and “Daniel Goldstein: The Marks We Leave Behind” have been extended at Wrightwood 659 through January 27, the institution relays. More here.
Sun-Times To Landmarks Commission: Protect Historic Century And Consumers Buildings
The city’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks met Thursday to vote on a city proposal “to preliminarily landmark the two early skyscrapers on the southwest corner of Adams and State streets… A vote in favor of designating both skyscrapers as landmarks is the right way to go. It tells the feds the city wants the two historic properties saved,” writes the Sun-Times editorial board in advance of the vote. “For the past four years, this editorial board and other voices around Chicago have argued in favor of saving and renovating downtown’s Century and Consumers buildings rather than wrecking and hauling them away, as proposed under a $52 million plan by the federal government.”
The feds intend “to demolish the Century Building, 202 South State, and the neighboring Consumers Building, 220 South State—both vacant—to create a security plaza for the Dirksen Federal Building, located a half-block west of the site… Judges at the Dirksen have been championing the building’s demolition, backed by a tightly-held security analysis by federal law enforcement agencies that hints the skyscrapers, if reoccupied, would place jurists in peril. But razing the buildings instead of reusing them would be a major and needless loss for both downtown and the struggling-to-rebound State Street. And it also would be a startling blow to the city’s architectural history.”
“The Century, built in 1915, was designed by the famed Chicago architecture firm Holabird & Root. The equally well-noted Jenney Mundie & Jensen designed the Consumers, built in 1913.” Still, “city landmark status in any form could be largely symbolic because the federal government has the power to overrule the designation and reduce the buildings to rubble anyway.” (On Thursday afternoon, the buildings received final landmark recommendations from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.)
Union Station Gets $93 Million Federal Grant
A $93 million grant to Union Station for upgrades is “less than the $873 million the railroad sought and won’t address Amtrak’s wish list of track improvements outside the station,” reports the Sun-Times. “The funding will expand platforms and make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as upgrade ventilation systems.”
Considering The Family Homes Of Harry Weese
The modernist architecture of Harry Weese did not follow trends, writes Rachel Freundt at Architecture and History of Chicagoland. “His work is truly timeless. Not only is it original, but it also covered a wide range of projects including transit systems, infill townhouses, churches and office towers. In the 1960s he was ahead of his time by saving and restoring historic structures like Adler & Sullivan’s Auditorium (he offered his services free of charge)… As an investor he predicted the resurgence of Chicago’s South Loop when he bought and converted crumbling industrial buildings into lofts on what is now Printers Row in the 1970s. He was instrumental in saving Chicago’s… elevated commuter-train tracks from demolition.”
“What really fascinates me about Weese, who designed almost a thousand buildings during his long career, is the number of homes he produced not only for himself but for family members. He talked about his early interest in residential work during an interview with Betty J. Blum in 1988: ‘That’s the only thing an architect can do when he starts out, because no one (except family) will trust him with anything bigger than that.'”
Rogers Park Church Denied Plan To Expand Parking Lot By Razing Home
“Parking has been a problem at St. George’s Cathedral, a hub for the local Assyrian community. But plans to expand its parking lot didn’t pass muster with neighbors,” reports Block Club.
As CTA Stumbles, Paris Transit Upgrades Accelerate
“Ligne Rouge,” anyone? “The Paris Métro railway system, built in the 1900s and now carrying nearly four million passengers every day,” reports CNN, “is about to get its most significant upgrade in decades with the arrival of the Grand Paris Express, a new 200-kilometer (120-mile) system that will add four lines and sixty-eight brand-new stations to the network. These will mainly be connecting suburban towns without passing through the densely populated city of Paris—adding outer rings to an underground map of Paris that has, until now, been made of fourteen lines that only reach out from the center like spokes.”
DINING & DRINKING
Valhalla Makes Move To Wicker Park
“Chef Stephen Gillanders’ last day at the [Time Out] Market food hall is New Year’s Eve,” reports Eater Chicago. “A liquor license application shows Valhalla is set to take over the former Mirai Sushi space at 2020 West Division. Mirai, which continues to operate a location in Gold Coast, closed in September after twenty-four years in Wicker Park.”
Starbucks Boycott A Factor In Eleven Billion Fall Off Market Value In Eleven Days; Company Adds Holiday Cold Foam Flavors
Starbucks stock “dropped 1.6 percent on Monday, declining for an eleventh consecutive session in what is the longest rout since Starbucks’ public debut in 1992. In total, the slump has erased 9.4 percent of Starbucks’ market value, a decline of nearly $12 billion,” reports Bloomberg. Boycotts that touch “on sensitive geopolitical issues after the company found itself in hot water following a tweet from Starbucks Workers United… expressing solidarity with Palestinians” are part of the trend, relays Newsweek. “The swift corporate response sparked a series of boycotts, with calls to action resonating across social media platforms. The company’s legal actions against the union have intensified the debate, leaving Starbucks to navigate its business operations amid political expression.”
Meanwhile, “Starbucks adds four holiday cold foam flavors,” says Restaurant Dive. “Starbucks’ new holiday cold foam could help drive year-round consumption of cold coffee, even as customization strains store-level labor.”
Yellow Banana Sued Over $350 Million In Unpaid Bills; Sells Off Its Florida Save A Lot Stores
“The Ohio-based company operates more than thirty Save A Lot stores nationwide, including in Chicago where a number of stores have yet to open,” reports the Sun-Times. “Yellow Banana has courted controversy in Chicago since it was awarded more than $25 million in tax increment financing and federal tax grants to rehab and revitalize Save A Lot stores on Chicago’s South and West sides.”
Ghost Kitchens Whiff
“Big investors, celebrity chefs and chains rushed to open ghost kitchens during the pandemic, and they were expected to make up more than 20 percent of the restaurant industry by 2025. But ghost kitchens are now crashing,” writes CNN in an extended report. “Kitchen United, which raised $175 million in funding and was backed by Kroger, announced it would sell or close all of its locations. The startup ran delivery-only restaurants from inside Kroger stores, malls, and even from inside chain restaurants, sharing cooking space.”
“It turns out the ghost kitchen concept puzzled many customers, who could not find the restaurants on a map, drop by in person to see where their food was prepared, or report problems with their orders. Some customers felt ‘fooled’ and ‘catfished’ when they learned that they ordered from what they thought was a small restaurant that instead turned out to be a big chain using ghost kitchen techniques.”
FILM & TELEVISION
The Troubled Legacy Of “Good Times”
Norman Lear’s “sitcoms of the 1970s reflected the social changes of the era, and his shows understood the resulting tension and friction could be smart and knowing, but also a source of comedy,” writes Nina Metz at the Tribune. “To appreciate [Lear’s] accomplishments also means recognizing an inconvenient side to his legacy… It’s frustrating to see Eric Monte continually erased from the record. Along with actor Mike Evans, Monte was the show’s co-creator and based ‘Good Times’ on his own childhood growing up in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green. The struggle of the Evans family in the show wasn’t sugarcoated, but it was depicted with grace and humor and humanity. Rare was the sitcom that put a Black family at its center, and through reruns, it would remain an enduring pop cultural force for decades.”
But there was ongoing friction on the set of the show, with calls from the cast and writers to consider more elements. “When ‘Good Times’ premiered, it was groundbreaking to [base] a sitcom on a Black family. Lear helped make it happen. That has value and it matters. The experience of Black people working on that show, and their opinions about its portrayals, matter just as much.”
“NOTUS” News Launch Coming To Train Journalists
The Allbritton Journalism Institute will launch in January News of the United States, or “NOTUS,” a “publication that will explore Washington and the 2024 election,” reports Semafor. “We wanted to create something… innovative in the world of journalism: a nonprofit newsroom whose primary mission is to train the next generation of aspiring journalists by putting them in collaboration with the very best editors and reporters in D.C., all in the service of producing the non-partisan, trustworthy news that Washington needs,” said Robert Allbritton, founder of the Allbritton Journalism Institute.
Allbritton, “the former Politico founder and publisher had already committed $20 million to launch the Allbritton Journalism Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on addressing the difficulty of mentorship and the prohibitive cost of getting started in a career in journalism. The program provides health insurance, paid time off, and an annual salary of $60,000 for young journalists to report for the institute’s publication for one year and learn from over twenty professional journalists serving as mentors and writers-editors.”
Hell in a Handbag’s “PEEP SHOW” Benefit This Sunday
Hell in a Handbag Productions will present its 2023 benefit, “PEEP SHOW,” a peep through the curtains at the company’s 2024 season on Sunday, December 10, 11:30am-3:30pm at The Center on Halsted. “Enjoy hearty appetizers, a full bar and a sneak preview of Handbag’s two upcoming world premieres: ‘POOR PEOPLE! The Parody Musical’ by ensemble member Tyler Anthony Smith and ‘Scary Town,’ an autobiographical tale by artistic director David Cerda. The benefit also includes a raffle and silent auction featuring dozens of prizes, plus the presentation of the Handbag Hall of Fame Award, as voted by the ensemble.” Tickets start at $75 here.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Cultural Center Welcomes Holiday Events And Shopping
“All ages are invited to enjoy the third installment of the Chicago Cultural Center Open House Series, Saturday, December 9, 1pm-6pm,” DCASE advises. The free family-friendly event features live performances from Uniting Voices Chicago (formerly Chicago Children’s Choir) and Changing Worlds, films from the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, fun activities from SLOOMOO Slime Activation, puppet-making workshops by Chio’s Puppetry and a building-wide bingo game. “All are invited to experience and connect with the creative community in the welcoming atmosphere of the Chicago Cultural Center,” says DCASE Deputy Commissioner of Programming Nancy Villafranca. “The arts programming this winter is especially invigorating with transformative visual art exhibitions on all four floors. Plus, you can check out the Chicago Christmas Tree and ice skating in Millennium Park across the street after your visit!”
The Buddy store on the first floor sells original works by more than 200 local artisans. All proceeds support working artists and contribute to the vibrant tapestry of Chicago’s creative community. Shop here. Full event schedule here; RSVPs requested but not required.
Gambling At Medinah Temple Flat
“Bally’s Chicago revenues were flat for November during its third month of operation, as the casino awaits approval from the Illinois Gaming Board to expand to a 24/7 schedule,” reports the Trib. “The temporary casino at Medinah Temple generated just over $7.6 million in adjusted gross receipts last month, matching its October revenue totals, according to data published by the Illinois Gaming Board. Bally’s Chicago hosted 86,459 visitors during November, up more than 3,000 from the previous month.”
Key Claims About “Organized” Retail Crime Retracted
“The main lobbying group for U.S. retailers retracted its claim that ‘organized retail crime’ accounted for nearly half of all inventory losses in 2021 after finding that incorrect data was used for its analysis,” reports Reuters. The research “previously stated that ‘nearly half’ of the $94.5 billion in inventory losses reported by retailers in a 2021 survey ‘was attributable’ to organized retail crime. Retail executives and law enforcement officials use the term organized retail crime to describe coordinated groups of thieves who shoplift or steal from retailers’ warehouses and trucks, reselling stolen merchandise on the black market.”
Maker Of Camel Cigarettes Takes $31.5 Billion Writedown; White House Delays Menthol Ban
“British American Tobacco shares slumped eight percent as the cigarette maker said it will write down the value of its cigarette brands by $31.5 billion,” reports MarketWatch. “It’s the largest write-down of a U.S.-listed company since AOL’s $35.6 billion write-off in 2014.” The company “said the writedown is on its acquired U.S. combustibles brands, as it assesses their value over thirty years. U.S. brands it holds include Camel and Newport… ‘The accounting is basically catching up with reality of the U.S. market,’ CEO Tadeu Marroco said… ‘It’s very difficult to defend the existence of a finite value for some of these combustible brands in the United States that equates to almost $100 billion in our balance sheet.’ He did add that the cigarette business may still exist in thirty years.”
Meanwhile, the White House has delayed a proposed ban on menthol cigarettes, reports the New York Times. “The proposal has elicited mounting opposition from tobacco companies, Black activists worried about police enforcement and small businesses, as President Biden moves into an election year… Tobacco companies, convenience stores and industry-backed groups… contend that billions of dollars in sales and jobs will be lost.”
Trib Advocates Exit Of Out-Of-Chicago University Presidents
Elise Stefanik, a U.S. representative from New York, “posed the same question to the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania, proxies all for America’s liberal intellectual elite,” writes the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board. “The repeated question for Claudine Gay of Harvard, Liz Magill of Penn and Sally Kornbluth of MIT… ‘Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate (insert name of campus) rules on bullying and harassment?’ … Stefanik set a very effective trap, aggressively going after leaders who enjoy copious amounts of deference and obsequiousness on their own campuses and apparently have spent too long in that bubble.”
“The academics seemed to have been coached by their lawyers to say nothing that might obligate them to have to take action against those rallying for the elimination of the Israel… The spectacle… suggested that the leaders of Harvard and Penn are woefully unfit for the job. At the time of writing, those presidents retain their positions, but if that were to change, we’d hardly be surprised. Or chagrined.”
Chicago Sees Largest Spike In Robberies In Over Twenty Years
“Nearly 4,900 robberies happened between July 1 and November 26, a more than fifty-five-percent increase compared to the previous five months. That’s the largest percentage increase in robberies between consecutive five-month periods since at least 2001,” reports the Sun-Times.
Burglary Gangs Descend On Michigan Mansions
“Transnational gangs, with people we think are mainly from Chile” have targeted mansions in Michigan’s wealthiest ZIP codes, including in Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Grosse Pointes, reports the Detroit Free Press. The Oakland County Sheriff says the gangs are “very well trained… They very often try to approach homes in a secluded manner—from woods, for example. They’re looking for jewelry, cash, safes, even a larger safe. They’ll take that with them and try to brute-force it open later.”
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