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TODAY

Thursday, November 23

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Forbes Does the Singles Life

According to Forbes Magazine, who is obviously the authority on such things, Chicago was the #1 city for singles last year. Hurry up and vote in this year's poll - the voting ends today.

Chicago Ghosts

Speaking of graveyards, Chicago is one of the most haunted cities in North America. There's more than one paranormal organization active around town, and ghost tours can be found wandering spooky spots nearly any weekend. It just so happens that the American Ghost Society is holding its annual conference June 19-22 in Alton, IL (also supposedly very haunted). Tickets are still available -- I know you're dying to get in!

Graveyards of Chicago

And now, a photographic collection of the more macabre kind, but also extensive and stunning nonetheless. The Graveyards of Chicago (at the best URL there is) features a list of graveyards in and around the Chicagoland area and contains 826 "graven images".

Chicago Daily News Negative Coll.

An absolutely jaw-dropping collection of digitized glass negatives of more than 55,000 images of urban life captured between 1902 and 1933 by photographers employed by the Chicago Daily News. Brought to you courtesy of the efforts of the Chicago Historical Society.

Artist of the Wall

For the past 10 years, artists in Roger's Park have been gathering at the lake front and painting the breakwall. There are prizes ($300 for the first place in the adult category), there will be food booths, merchant booths, and many musicians have agreed to donate their time to keep people entertained. The painting will begin at noon on the 14th and will end at 2pm on the 15th. The painting will stay in place until a week or so before next year's contest. There is an entry fee of $20, and artists must provide their own supplies. Entry blanks are available online, at the Loyola Park Fieldhouse, or at the Heartland Cafe. Call 773-250-FEST for more info.

Navy Pier Walk Returns

The world's largest outdoor sculpture exhibit, Pier Walk, returns to Navy Pier through October 20. This year's juror, David Pagel, states he was "looking for works that are not only aware of art's public mission, but go to great lengths to draw unexpected audiences to them." Pier Walk features works by artists Irina Koukhanova, Pat McDonald and Eric Nelson just to name a few. For more info call 312.595.5019 or visit the Pier Walk website.

"Aqui Estoy: I Am Here"

The Albany Park Theater Project will be presenting "Aqui Estoy: I Am Here" on Friday, May 30th at 8:00 p.m. This performance, for children ages 10 and over, is presented by a multi-ethnic teenaged ensemble. Stories of life in the neighborhood and immigration are the focus. The performance will take place at Eugene Field Park, 5100 N. Ridgeway Ave. For more information, visit the Chicago Park District's website.

Blues Fest Chicago

The 20th annual Chicago Blues Fest is this weekend, May 29 - June 1, 12 to 9:30pm each day. Admission to the festival in Grant Park is free. Check the city's site for a full lineup and schedule.

Ephedra banned

Just like real fireworks, fans of those little paper packets of ephedra found on convenience store counters will now have to drive to Missouri, Indiana or Wisconsin to get them. Gov. Blogojovich signed the first state-wide ban of the "herbal energy enhancer" yesterday.

Lights Out Chicago

Thousands of migratory birds are killed in Chicago every year, confused by building lights and flying into glass-and-steel buildings, which appear invisible to many species. The Lights Out Chicago initiative, now in its fourth year, encourages building owners to dim or turn off outdoor lights thereby reducing mortality rates. Learn more about Chicago's feathered visitors from the Chicago Ornithological Society and read more about the dangers to migratory bird populations in the area.

Robots Invade Rosemont!

The International Robots & Vision Show invades the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont next week, June 2-5th. This annual expo is one of the largest in the industry, attracting over 175 vendors and exhibitors demonstrating how robots are transforming business and the factory floor. This year's highlights include a robotic amusement ride - the first of its kind and featured speaker Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway Human Transporter. General admission is $30 and is open to folks age 16 and over. Read more about it.

CTA trip-tick

The CTA has a great feature which lets you find the different modes of public transportation to get you from one point to the next. So, next time you need to get to some part of the city you're unfamiliar with, or if you want to find a way to cut down your commute to work, give it a try.

Time honors Goodman

This week's Time magazine named the Goodman as the country's number-one regional theatre.

Chicago Sushi Club

The Chicago Sushi Club is a group whose "sole mission at this time is to meet on the first Sunday of every month to eat sushi. You don't have to do anything to 'join' the club - just feel free to meet with us at our next outing." The next meeting is Sunday, June 1 at Bistro Nami, 439 W. Ogden Ave. in Clarendon Hills. The club also maintains a good listing of Japanese restaurants in Chicago.

Knitting Chicago

Chicago happens to be home to a large Stitch-n-Bitch group. People meet every Tuesday night at The Perfect Cup 4700 N. Damen Ave. (across from the brown line el stop) from 7-9 pm. They also have a Yahoo group where you can get info about meetings and talk with local knitters. There is no cost to join, but providing lessons isn't an integral part of the group.
To contrast that, the Windy City Knitting Guild has a $20 annual membership which gets you a monthly newsletter and admission to their monthly (third Tuesday of each month) meetings which involves snacks and a seminar. They also have a great list of all the knitting stores in the Chicago area.
Of course, there is also the International Knitting Meet-Up Day.
And, Chicago has a history of knitting.

Program sexes chickens authors

A computer program developed at Illinois Institute of Technology is able to determine the sex of an author based on an analysis of a text. The program is right 80% of the time.

Instant Chicago gallery

While I thought it would have come back with nothing but stills from the film Chicago, I was quite awed to see some stunning images of Chicago when doing a Google image search for "Chicago".

Chicago Indymedia

Didn't realize this till today but Indymedia has a Chicago sister site. Some interesting activist reporting, especially with Chicago's universities and colleges it seems.

Chicago Love

You may remember deceased rapper Tupac's infamous tune, "California Love". A good song indeed. Well Jay-C featuring Adam have rewritten the tune for our fair Windy City and the result is "Chicago Love".

News of the Weird Fodder

Couple stories that'll probably be in News of the Weird sometime soon:
1. Naked Man Steals Vodka, Stabs Random Customer.
2. Man Who Faked Own Death Dies.

City Antiques Show

If you're not into watching Interpol at the Belmont/Sheffield Music Festival, then this might be your cup of tea. The Spring City Antiques Show will be taking place this weekend, May 30 - June 1. The festival will be held at 1418 North Kingsbury and will feature 45 dealers specializing in 19th and 20th century furniture, objects and art. Admission is $10. For more info, call 312.587.3300.

PS2 Supercomputer

The NCSA department at U of I (the people who brought us a little thing called Mosaic) have built a supercomputer out of PlayStation 2s. First application: the most badass game of Quake II EVAR!!!

What's the buzz?

As part of the ongoing project atop City Hall, non-aggressive honey bees have been added to the rooftop garden. The city has installed two bee hives -- inhabited by four-thousand honeybees -- in the City Hall roof garden. The Sun-Times asked readers for creative names for the honey to be sold by Gallery 37. Some of the suggestions include, "Sweet Comb Chicago", "Daley's Gold", and a favorite to honor one of our own, "Sweetness".

Oak Park Promotes Reefer Madness

Eric Schlosser is going to be at Barbara's Bookstore (no website?!?) in downtown Oak Park at 7:30 on Thursday. Fast Food Nation was one of my favorite books last year, and his new one, Reefer Madness, is surely just as good. Call 708.848.9140 for details.

Lake Michigan Wrecks

It may still be too cold to swim in Lake Michigan, but the scuba diving season is underway. Dive Chicago has a list of diving excursions in the next few months (including several trips to the Mackinac Straits). You could also visit one of the many shipwrecks near Chicago, including the recently discovered Lady Elgin, "Titanic of Lake Michigan."

Gary Airport

Gary/Chicago Airport, which has been trying to position itself as an alternative to Midway and O'Hare -- and as a solution to the Peotone airport issue -- is courting Pace Airlines, a regional carrier serving the Carolinas. Pace was in the news most recently for closing a deal with Hooters Restaurants to creat Hooters Air.

ChiActing, a weblog

Stumbled across this, a Chicago Acting weblog, interesting links even if you're not an actor, written and maintained by David Lawrence.

The eventual rip

While we expected this might happen, we didn't expect it this soon. Does this look familiar to anyone? We're flattered. ;) Addendum: Brockett has apologized, and all is well, though really, we weren't all that pissed about it to begin with. We were quite humoured.

Defender Indefensible

While the New York Times deals with the fallout from the Jayson Blair scandal, The Reader's Michael Miner exposes another plagiarism pattern that starts with the top at a sister publication of the Chicago Defender.

Hot Doug's

Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's in Roscoe Village, is profiled in this week's New City. If you've never been, you really must: get the Raquel Welch (an andouille sausage, nice and hot -- all the encased meats are named after someone) and, if it's a weekend, ask for the french fries fried in duck fat. Divine!

Free Bulbs

Stop by Pritzker Park at State and Van Buren today and pick up a dozen free tulip bulbs, courtesy of the Greater State Street Council. There's only 40,000 of them available, so get there early.

Sour Bob Retires

Moments after slipping us a story tip, Sour Bob announced he's quitting his blog.
So long, indeed.

Sailing from the Moon

Sailing from the Moon, a new play by Nick Jones, premiers this weekend at the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western Ave. I'm sure it'll be a great production, and not just because the playwright is a cousin of mine.

May 24 - June 22

Thurs / Fri / Sat @ 8:00 p.m.
Sun @ 6:00 p.m.

Tickets $15 ($10 w/ student ID)

312.409.1000

"Sailing from the Moon is the comic love story of a young man and woman who struggle with what they want out of love and life. George, a young man armed with a degree in philosophy and now working a supermarket cash register, idealizes women to an angelic level whereas Jamie, punk rocker, hypersexualizes her romantic feelings. The plot is a modern Drawing Room comedy complete with intrigue, entrapment and sword fighting."

David Weinberger talk and party

As the capping event of the Digital Genres Conference (disclaimer: I am the conference organizer) uber-blogger and web-guru David Weinberger will be giving a talk on 'Why Weblogs Matter' 8pm May 31 (next Saturday) at the Julia Friedman gallery in the west loop. After which they'll be a huge party with lots of complimentary booze and the ranks of the conference goers will be swelled with artists, bloggers and other suspicious bohemian types. Come for the Heidegger, stay for the Heileman's! All are welcome.

Winnetka Teen on ABC Family

“The Brendan Leonard Show” is debuting Monday, May 26th on the ABC Family cable network, airing at 5:30pm. Brendan Leonard, a 19-year-old Winnetka resident, is the creator, executive producer and star of the cult show he originally created as a high school sophomore for Chicago cable access Channel 19. It is being described as “the first show to be produced, directed and written entirely by teens.” Read more in the Evanston Review.

Real World vs. Chicago, part deux

If you think you're too cool for Elimidate (see below), the Reader reports that The Real World is holding an open casting call on Tuesday the 27th, at White Star. Only open to those between 18 and 24, because if you're 25 or older, you are dead to MTV. The new city hasn't been announced yet, but they're most likely never coming back here after people were so nice last time. If you want to audition, you masochist you, there's more info at Bunim-Murray Productions.

Residents' Journal

The Residents' Journal is a bi-monthly newspaper by and for CHA public housing residents. Publisher Ethan Michaeli is interviewed in the current Press Box column in Chicago Magazine.

PJ Chmiel in Poland

Scooter-ridin', sometimes 'stache sportin', all round good man, PJ Chmiel returns from Poland with a gallery of more than 200 photos of his trip. An amazing photographic journey of Poland, a country with a lot of history. Simply jaw-dropping.

Early warning: Interpol

SourBob drops word of hipster and indie darlings Interpol performing with local Chicago MTV2 brethren OKGO, as well as Carbonfour (which I mention because they practice in the room next door to us) at the Belmont/Sheffield Fest this May 31-June1. I'm partly cranky about it because I may not be here for it... but you had better! Not to be missed as you watch pale dressed-in-black indie boys sweat it out in front of trixies and frat boys drinking crappy beer.

International Mr. Leather

Notice a sudden upsurge in men on leashes? Don't be alarmed, it's just International Mr. Leather weekend once again. This is the 25th year for IML in Chicago. Aside from all the partying, the schedule includes a seminar on "financial planning for alternative lifestyles" and a panel on the psychology of kink. Events will be held everywhere from the home-base Palmer House Hilton to the House of Blues to the Metro (the contest itself is at the Congress Theater, Sunday night). So remember this weekend: if someone says you really chap their hide, it might be a good thing.

Metro Day

It's too late to celebrate now, but Da Mayor made May 21, 2003, official Metro Day, in honor of the Metro's 20th anniversary. Read the proclamation by clicking on

From the Office of Richard M. Daley, Mayor, City of Chicago

PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, Metro, a centerpiece of Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood, is celebrating its 20th anniversary of offering the latest and finest performances of well-known musicians and musical groups and emerging artists alike; and

WHEREAS, since its July 1982 opening, the establishment once known as Smart Bar has introduced countless bands to the general public, including a little-known band from Georgia, R.E.M., which began the club's success as Metro, in August of that same year; and

WHEREAS, through the music industry, Metro has become known as one of the nation's premier venues for live music; and

WHEREAS, Metro has helped launch the careers of groups now known by music-lovers across the globe; and

WHEREAS, on May 21, 2003, Metro will celebrate its twentieth anniversary with a birthday party celebrating its musical past and promising future:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD M. DALEY, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, do hereby proclaim May 21, 2003 to be METRO DAY IN CHICAGO, and urge Chicagoans to recognize the many innovative and vital contributions Metro has made to our city and beyond.

Dated this 20th day of May, 2003.

Richard M. Daley
Mayor

The Last Straw

At the end of your rope in the dating game? Well, ElimiDate is holding auditions tonight, 10 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. at Joe's on Weed Street. Goodness gracious!

Chapungu

While visiting the Garfield Conservatory this past weekend, we were intrigued by a lot of stone sculptures about the grounds - the granite forms and curves were a nice change from the usual straight and steely nature of public art. Turns out that the Chapungu exhibit will be at the Chicago Botanic Garden too. May 31st is the opening celebration, including sculpting workstops and a fireside chat (!) with the artists.

Art is Everywhere, even Starbucks

Want some drama with your Frappucino this Friday? "On May 23, 2003, at exactly 5:15 p.m., in ten Chicago Starbucks, professional actors will simultaneously perform original monologues written by Chicago Public High School students in Chicago Dramatists' Outreach Program." The press release story in Backstage says to go to chicagodramatists.org for more info, but they don't have any.

Live Traffic Map

Speaking of interactive maps, this one will come in handy: GCMTravel.com provides live, constantly updated maps of the "Gary/Chicago/Milwaukee Transportation Corridor," including construction, accidents and congestion points along the entire highway system. Travel times are constantly updated, so you don't have to wait for the next traffic report. Originally developed by UIC's AI Lab.

Native American Burial Sites

Workers digging for a new garage foundation in Dundee Township discovered a Native American burial ground that could be 1,000 years old, the Daily Herald reports. Archeologists from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency are investigating. The IHPA now offers HAARGIS, an interactive map of historic places (buildings, gravesites, etc.) around the state.

Matthew Barney's Cremaster

Starting Friday, May 23, Matthew Barney's Cremaster series of sculptural films is showing at the Landmark Century theater. The quickly-becoming legendary film sequence is outlined on the Guggenheim's site; I'm thrilled that Chicago is one of the cities with screenings.

Friday, May 23 - Thursday, May 29
CREMASTER 3

Friday, May 30 - Sunday, June 1
CREMASTER 1 & 2

Monday, June 2 - Wednesday, June 4
CREMASTER 4 & 5

Thursday, June 5 * Repeats One Day Only!
CREMASTER 3

A description of Cremaster 3, the film with the largest budget:

The concluding installment of artist Matthew Barney's five-part Cremaster film cycle is an epic journey that infuses Celtic mysticism with 20th century modernism, blockbuster bombast with hermetic aesthetics. Shot at two architectural landmarks - New York's Chrysler Building and the Guggenheim Museum - along with locales in Ireland, Scotland and upstate New York, Cremaster 3 follows The Entered Apprentice (Barney) as he endures torture and travails in order to ascend each building. Peopled by ogres and gangsters, chorus girls and freemasons, Barney's bizarre universe is never less than stunning. Features appearances by sculptor Richard Serra, hardcore bands Agnostic Front and Murphy's Law, and athlete Aimee Mullins.

The KKK in Berwyn

I don't think I will ever understand why the KKK exist, but apparently they have another one of their rallies scheduled for May 31 in Berwyn. Their rally is themed the "Shock & Awe White Pride Rally" whose goal is to remind people in Berwyn whose residents have become decidely "more ethnically mixed in recent years" that it's cool to be white and proud. 25 to 30 Klan members will be there. Sounds like Marilyn Manson's latest tour.

The ATM Method

While this is utterly cheesy, picking up women using your ATM receipts (and possibly would work in any pick-up situation I suppose) is one of those concepts that dumbfound me. At Chicago's YayHooray.

Hot House Woes

HotHouse is unquestionably the best place to hear and dance to Latin music, swing, and pretty much anything else. Or they were, until they were shut down on 9 May for violating their liquor license. They've tentatively opened for 'theatrical events' (but not dance). This Friday they'll be having a benefit concert that looks to be awesome. But I've been getting email from them even though I opted out of their mailing list. Should they be spamming people, even for a good cause?

Legitimacy, fame in design?

Well-known Chicago designer Patric King posts an interview with another well-known designer, Rick Valicenti, on Chicago-based Speak Up. The interview is great but the comments about the interview and subsequent discussion is what intrigues me. The questions of legitimacy vs. fame in the "design world" arise, with the usual human thinking process (from intelligent to moronic) debating it out. A great discussion for designers. Add your thoughts if you so wish.

Evanston Vetos Patriot Act

Evanston became the first Illinois city to call for a repeal of the USA Patriot Act last night, with a 6-0 vote of the city council. (Of course, this doesn't mean that Evanston's safe from the act's tenants, so keep watching your back.)

Violent Crime

Apparently, we're becoming more efficient with our violence: First Quarter 2003 crime statistics for Chicago are out, and although violent crimes are down, homicides are up.

Apple Store Chicago

Apple fans, your day has been marked: June 27. Apple Store. Michigan Avenue. No more trips to Woodfield or Oakbrook. Geeking out within city limits is soon-to-be authorized.

Netflix Overnight Delivery

Netflix entered into an aggressive distribution plan to provide overnight delivery of DVDs to member subscribers in the Chicago area. Netflix on Monday completed the rollout of its Near West Side Chicago distribution hub, which will enable the company to reduce turnarounds of rentals here to one to two days from the previous three to five days.

The New Streetwise

Streetwise newspaper, celebrating eleven years of helping "men and women in Chicago who are homeless, or at risk of becoming so, work toward gainful employment," is new and improved. I learned from my local vendor that starting this Wednesday, this weekly paper will now include coupon inserts from area businesses. Maybe not exciting to some, but I wanted to mention it. Read highlights from the lastest issue and find out more about Streetwise.

Mess with the Bull...

Mess With the Bull, You'll Get the Horns. (A bit late in posting this, but oh well.) Glenbrook North HS graduate and TMN contributor John Warner discusses the hazing debacle at his alma mater.

Bachelor picks a Chicagoan

Andrew Firestone chose Chicagoan Jen over Tampa-based Kristen in the finale of The Bachelor. The Sun-Times' Paige Wiser says, "Of course, the real winner is Andrew, who now has an excuse to spend more time in Chicago."
[Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

DGI Conference Buzz

Chicago's brainy but hip Digital Genres Conference (disclaimer: I'm the conference organizer) got mad press over the weekend, including nods from Die Puny Humans and Boing-Boing. If Warren Ellis and Cory Doctorow think it's a good idea, surely you could stop by...

Ben Hollis Loves Wild Music

Ben Hollis, host of WYCC's Ben Around Town and former Wild Chicago fellow, has released... a CD, of all things, called Live Your Life! He offers up a free full MP3, along with some samples. CD release party this Thursday, May 22, at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn [sound link].

Cobra!

I was browsing the backpage section of the Chicago Reader and came across this ad:

COBRA
Scooters, ATVs, Off-Road, B2B sales, need dealers

I guess Cobra Commander and his cronies are in financial trouble. As plainly evidenced by their stupidity. Yo Joe!

Outlaws Motorcycle Club

In 1935, the Outlaws Motorcycle Club was formed in McCook, Illinois. It's now one of the oldest motorcycle clubs in the country, with chapters all over the world. Learn about the club's history and see a progression of its logo design here.

New plays in Chicago

Chicago's theatre scene gets a glowing review in a NYT look at a rash of world premieres happening here. Fifteen new works by twelve companies are mentioned in the Times story.

Call for Artists

The CCT Gallery (located within the Nortwestern Settlement House) seeks Chicago-area professional artists to exhibit in its 2004 season. Submit 8-10 slides or photographs, resume, artist statement and SASE to: Tasha Ross, CCT Gallery, 1012 N Noble, Chicago IL , 60622. For more information, call 773/278-7471, extension 113. Submission deadline is June 6, 2003.

Spring Awakening at Strawdog

Imagine the movie "Heathers" with a screen play by Franz Kafka and sets and costumes by Egon Schiele and you've got Strawdog Theater's latest production, Spring Awakening. This fin-de-siecle coming of age show was so controversial when it was written in 1891 that it wasn't performed until 1915. Strawdog's season this year has been littered with Jeff nominations and reccomendations, and this production of the un-censored script should prove to be no exception.

Nina Simone

For those not partaking of this weekend's super-blockbuster (see Headlights), the Gene Siskel Film Center will be showing its antithesis: "Nina Simone, Love Sorceress," a documentary of one of the famous singer's concerts in 1976. The realness of Simone's ferocity is the sure antidote to computer generated mayhem. Showtimes are Sunday, 5/18, at 5pm and Thursday, 5/22, at 8pm. Admission $8.

Backstage Theatre rummage sale

Looking for some really interesting junk? Backstage Theatre Company is holding a rummage sale this weekend; items for sale to include old costumes, props and set pieces. Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm, at Cornelia and Ravenswood.

A Bloomin' Sale

The 38th annual "Bloomin' Sale" takes place this weekend at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Over 1,250 varieties of popular and more unusual plants including perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees, vines, aquatics, grasses, roses and herbs will be available. The Midwest's largest plant sale will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 17-18. Admission to the Gardens is free but parking is $8.75 (ouch!). For us city dwellers with no patch of earth to call our own, there are also plenty of container gardens featured. You can view the entire catalog online at the CBG website.

Right Field Sucks

Right Field Sucks is an Onion-esque look at Cubs fandom. It recently spawned a print newspaper, The Heckler, distributed at bars and restaurants around Wrigley Field. (Written up in last week's Hot Type column in The Reader.)

Free Ravinia Lawn Passes

You can get free lawn passes to select Ravinia performances at your public library. For details on how to receive these passes to selected jazz and classical concerts, refer to the upcoming June calendar at the Chicago Public Library or contact your local library. Communities in the North Suburban Library System participate as well as others. This is part of Ravinia's annual Words & Music program.

Fast Forward Film Festival

The Fast Forward Film Festival is an event that gives groups of filmmakers (videomakers) 24 hours to produce a three-minute video based on a set topic. The topics are distributed at 7:30 Friday night (tonight), and the screening of the finished products is Saturday, May 17, at open-end Gallery, 2000 West Fulton, 8pm. Admission is five bucks. I'll be participating this time around as cast/crew for a friend who does film, should be a good time.

Reddingk

Absolutely gorgeous handmade books, prints and t-shirts from ReddingK. Completely inspired by this one, and best of all, they are amazingly cheap considering the quality of artwork here. Be sure to take a look at the Perilous Predicament poster set, amazing in the print section. Side note: Not from Chicago but too good to not link.

Men in Blue

At 7:00 p.m. on the 1500 block of north Greeview, the 14th district Chicago Police Department, in collaboration with CAPs, will be holding an outdoor Police Roll Call. Stop by and show your support for the CPD or just swing by and check out the cute cops.

Bike Ride: Sat May 17th

As part of the DePaul Bike Club (god do I pimp my alma mater) and the Chicago Bike Fed., there will be a neighborhood bike ride in and around the Lincoln Park area tomorrow afternoon that starts at 1pm. The weather will be perfect for it, and it is open to all. I'll be there so if you're interested in a leisurely bike ride on a mild Saturday afternoon, this is the place to be. Click more for details on where to meet.

Meeting:
The Quad, Lincoln Park Campus DePaul University
Saturday May 17th at 1:00pm

The Quad as it's affectionately known is a the big square of open park-like area in between Kenmore and Clifton avenues on Fullerton.

Mild tune-ups and bike maintenance will be done beforehand if you need it.

For any other questions, please feel free to e-mail me at nh@gapersblock.com.

Deadtech

Deadtech, an art + technology-themed space, presents the fifth in a monthly Decomposure series featuring music by "local, nearby, and frequently visiting Chicago composers." This month's installment, which opened last night, showcases compositions by Brian Labycz and Koutaro Fukui. The gallery is open on Saturdays from 12-5 and Tuesdays from 8pm-12; the next show is on Sunday, May 18th, 8pm. $5 donation requested. Deadtech is located at 3321 W. Fullerton.

Brian Labycz

Recently relocated to Chicago, Brian Labycz [koura] has been working within experimental and computer based audio work for the past several years. With a strong background in Western and Japanese classical performance, his focus is on improvisation and live performance as well as composition. During his time in Japan he had performed and worked with Carl Stone, Akamatsu Masayuki, Kikuchi Yukinori, Christophe Charles, Bernhard Gal, Aoki Takamasa, and others. Under the moniker koura he is most focused on using field recordings as the main source for works. The goal is to remove sounds we encounter on a daily basis from their normally percieved context. By simply offsetting our normal perception of our surrounding sonic environment we can appreciate these sounds for themselves as opposed to some soundtrack to life.

"Sound Ambience is part of nature, and the composer only needs to make listening to it possible." -John Cage

Koutaro Fukui

Composer/Sound Artist Born in Nagoya, Japan. Living in Chicago for 6 years. He has performed at Chicago Culture Center and Version>3 Festival(MCA) as a member of "Fulcrum Collection" and other Galleries. He is also involving Electric Improvisation Show on Wednesday night at Buddy Gallery With Rotten Milk.

Playboy's sexiest rockers

Playboy teamed up with Chicago's own Reckless Records for a poll of the "sexiest women of indie rock." The winner? Neko Case. (Last two links NSFW.)

New Vakill

Chicago MC Vakill's latest effort The Darkest Cloud is now out and about. Vakill's previous stuff is currently riding the second spot on undergroundhiphop.com's top 40. The Molemen website has audio of the latest: Before I had six cents/ Now I've got a sixth sense/I see dead presidents...

Cubs pitching

Don't look now, but The Sporting News thinks the Cubs have a chance this year, thanks to their pitching. "The one thing the Cubs have -- the one thing none of their N.L. Central rivals can match -- is a rotation with the potential to quickly develop into one of the game's best." (They swept the Brewers last night.)

Radiohead media blitzkrieg

If you're like me, you may like or even love Radiohead. Chicago music scenesters (and I say that fondly) Pitchforkmedia has the latest and greatest in Radiohead news on their upcoming Hail to the Thief/The Gloaming album out June 10th (US release). Oh, did we mention that the album has an alternate title and each song has an alternate title as well? Oh that Radiohead! Not to mention that they will be playing three other dates in the US yet to be determined? I want to know more!

Public School Closings

This Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16 are "Call the Mayor" days. If you care about the Chicago Public Schools, and the children being dispossessed by a rash of school closings without parental input or adequate planning, please let Daley know your opinion by calling (312.744.3300), faxing (312.744.2324), or emailing (mayordaley@cityofchicago.org) your concern.

Information on the CPS closings is available in the following documents (MS Word .doc format):

- Letter to Daley detailing reasons why schools should not be closed without additional input and planning

- Call the Mayor flier

- Call the Mayor flier in Spanish

Architecture & Sex

Look out your window. Towards the Loop. Is that skyline getting... sexier? WBEZ says yeah, maybe it is. The report is part of 'BEZ's ongoing series, Speaking of Sex.

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

With a full lunar eclipse to take place tonight, the Adler Planetarium has an evening scheduled with events to celebrate and witness this rare occasion. (Full lunar eclipses are infrequent in this part of the hemisphere.) For more information visit the site's visitor guide. The eclipse begins at 9:00 p.m.

David Weinberger @ Seabury

AKMA reminds us that David Weinberger will be speaking at Seabury tonight. Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, 2122 Sheridan Rd, in Evanston. The presentation will be on the second floor in the Seabury Lounge. 7:30pm. Unfortunately, AKMA tells us that the molasses cookies will not be present this time. A shame.

Tongue-splitting

Illinois State Rep. David Miller and State Sen. James Meeks, both of suburban Calumet City, have sponsored a bill in Springfield that would effectively outlaw tongue splitting as a body modification. The bill passed the House unanimously in March, and now awaits a Senate vote. The AP story also quotes piercer Scott Jania of Progressive Piercing at Clark & Belmont, who says he refuses to perform the procedure: "My career is far too important to risk it." (Aside: Rep. Miller's official site notes that his "issues agenda is three-pronged." Write your own punchline.)

Chicago Imagebase

A repository of visual materials on the "built environment" of the city: the Chicago Imagebase project at UIC.

chicago composers concert

Think classical music is about stuffy dead Germans? Two of Chicago's hottest young composers, Tiffany Sevilla and Mark Volker, will be premiering new works - including a chamber opera by Volker - this Friday at 7:30 at Mandel Hall in Hyde Park.

Hunger Walk 2003

Registration is now taking place for The Greater Chicago Food Depository's 18th Annual Hunger Walk 2003. Monies collected from this June 21 event will go towards the Common Pantry. For more information, call 773.327.0553, extension 3054.

Asshat Handshakes

Asshat handshakes popularized in the 1980s are making a comeback, according to several people I spoke with over the weekend at parties and in bars in Lake View and Wrigleyville. And people become really angry when they receive these handshakes.

You're drawn into this alpha-dog pissing contest when someone extends a hand to you flat out, palm down -- visualize a Nazi salute lowered about 45 degrees. To accept the handshake, you must assume a palm up, submissive position.

Once victims figure out the domination aspect of this nasty handshake, reactions run from anger to bemusement. Everybody, however, wants to know how to respond to it the next time, and that's what occupied several spirited conversations Saturday night.

One handy guide suggests that you deal with this handshake, which it dubs "The Topper," by taking a left-foot step toward these would-be alpha dogs, thereby entering their personal space.

One of my friends, however, says he's successfully defused it by immediately placing his own flat, palm-down hand on top of The Topper, causing the asshat no small sense of embarrassment upon realizing someone's figured out the Jedi mind trick.

Another friend suggested that anybody offering a Topper handshake is such an asshat, anyway, that her response would be, "What the hell kind of insulting handshake is this? Go screw yourself!"

I like my idea best, however, since it not only is funny, but recycles one of my favorite gags from junior high. You willingly accept The Topper, but then use a couple of fingers to vigorously tickle the dominant dog's wrist and declare in a loud, clear voice:

"Unprotected Martian sex! You're pregnant!"

MT Props and such

It's a very warm feeling to know that in the short time that we have been around, Movable Type has made us a Spotlight Site. We LOVE Movable Type. And we're proud of it!

National Restaurant Assn. Trade Show

Getting a seat at a good restaurant this weekend might be a little more difficult than usual. A post on the Chicago Chowhound board points out that the Annual National Restaurant Association show is being held at McCormick Place this weekend, thus flooding the city with eager new patrons. The cost of the trade show, which features food and drink samples, is fifty dollars for people age 16+ who can prove they are somehow in the industry.

Got Matrix?

Hell yes I secured tickets for the 10:30 showing of the Matrix Reloaded tomorrow night. Gotsta get mine. Got Matrix?

HealthWorks benefit

"The World Goes 'Round" is a one-night-only cabaret performance of the music of Kander & Ebb (you may have heard of them; they wrote a little show called Chicago). The May 19 show benefits HealthWorks Theatre, and features some of Chicago's best-known cabaret performers, including Alexandra Billings, Nan Mason, Tom Michael, Michael McAssey, Suzanne Palmer, Stephen Rader, and Honey West. HealthWorks is a 15-year-old company that creates educational theatre for young audiences. For tickets or more info, call 773-929-4260 or go to HealthWorks' site.

Matrix in Chicago

The Headlights section of the Block is a bit confused. Metromix tells us that nothing could be more Chicago than The Matrix. "There's a phone on Wells and Lake" says Morpheus to Neo...

GB Banners

Due to popular request, you can now show your support for Gapers' Block by linking to us using one of the fifty-two, yes, fifty-two little 88x31 pixel banners on the support page.

What is Public Art?

Because of our recent conversation under Fuel, I thought I would mention a panel discussion taking place this Thursday, May 15th at the Chicago Cultural Center entitled "What is Public Art?" The panel features three local area artists: Juan Angel Chavez, Frances Whitehead and Bernard Williams, and it starts at 6pm.

Green Rooftops

Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities, the "First North American Green Roof Infrastructure Conference, Awards and Trade Show," was co-organized by Green Roofs for Healthy Citiestour the rooftop greenspace atop City Hall. Tickets are $35, availability is limited: register here.

Sterling at Morning News

The Morning News thinks Chicago's Sterling is just peachy. "It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from an album" says Andrew Womack in his review.

Israel Film Festival

The 19th annual Israel Film Festival has an interesting yet small selection of films playing at the Esquire downtown and in Highland Park. Worth taking in to see what creative vision is coming out from that part of the world. Began 05/11, runs though 05/15. More info here.

Real Life Angel

In 1987, Oral Lee Brown promised to send a group of 1st graders from poverty-stricken East Oakland to college. Now 16 years later, this story comes close to home. Jeffery Toney will graduate on June 1st from Columbia College; read his story here, and listen to his song titled, "Real Life Angel".

The Frogs by Sondheim

Mark your calendars now: According to Playbill, The Pegasus Players theatre troupe will be staging a revival of Stephen Sondheim and Burt Shevelove's quirky musical The Frogs next year. Based on a play by Greek playwright Aristophanes, Sondheim's original concept was for the performance to take place in a pool; Pegasus Players will do just that at Truman College in Uptown April 8-May 25, 2004.
The troupe's current play, The One-Eyed Man is King, opens tomorrow, May 13, at Truman's O'Rourke Performing Arts Center. Box office: 773/878-9761.

Button-o-matic!

So and So's Button-o-matic project puts original artist works into the hands of anyone with 50 cents to spare. Thirteen button-o-matics are scattered throughout the city, currently featuring art by Chris Ware and others. Past artists have included Jessica Abel, Archer Prewitt, Rob Doran, Matthew McClintok and Norah Utley. See the site for locations and get them while they're hot!

Malaysian/Scandinavian Invasion

Ian Clarks weighs in on my Malaysian Invasion (at the bottom) as his in-vogue drink a few weeks back, but more interestingly, his twist to the recipe (sub Lingonberry juice for Cranberry) becomes the Scandinavian Invasion. A drink that sounds pretty damn tasty.

RAM - Only an Hour Away

After several months of anticipation and fan fare, the Racine Art Museum, in nearby Racine, Wisconsin, has finally opened. The museum, which specializes in craft art -- not arts and crafts mind you, but jewelry, glass and sculpture -- is in a stunning Brad Lynch (from the Chicago architectural firm Brininstool + Lynch) building. The museum is a great destination for quickie day trips.

Golosa Performance

Golosa, Chicago's own Russian choir, will be giving their next concert Wednesday May 14 at 7:30 at the University of Chicago's Bond Chapel. The group sings folk music from the southern tip of Lake Biakal, where Irkutsk meets Mongolia. As in: they go there, hang out, learn the songs, and then sing them. Their unique, authentic sound is full of heart and it's obvious to listeners that they love what they do. Irkutsk to Chicago - who could have guesssed?

Tassel-twirlers

Early to Bed is hosting a "hands on" tassel-twirling workshop with Twirly Girl Amelia Ross-Gilson. Amelia is a professional burlesque artist and will be teaching fun twirling techniques. Join other tassel twirling wanna-bes (women only, sorry guys) at the store on May 15th at 8 pm, where for $10 you can join the ranks of the helicopter girls.

Pink Bloque

Those punky, protesting ladies of Pink Bloque are having a dancing bake sale to raise money. The dancing will take place at Danny's Tavern (1951 W. Dickens) on May 11th at 9pm and there will be vegan and non-vegan baked goods. 25% of alcohol sales combined with the baked goods sales will help fund their tour of the East Coast this August.

Chicago Kings

The ChicagoKings will be "bending gender lines and breaking hearts" this Saturday at the Empty Bottle at 10 pm. This 21+ show will incorporate every aspect of the Drag Kingdom in an exciting tribute to gender diversity. Doors open at 9 pm, tickets are $7 and available ahead of time at the Empty Bottle. So, "open those ever lovin' arms to a different breed of nightlife." Chicago Kings site may not be work safe. Surf at your own risk, serf.

Uncle Tupelo re-releases

Schubas is hosting a happy hour listening party for the Columbia/Legacy Uncle Tupelo re-releases, today starting at 5:30. Uncle Tupelo was the seminal alt-country band from downstate Belleville, whose breakup gave birth to Son Volt and Wilco, not to mention Jeff Tweedy's eleventy-seven side projects.

Poundy on Radio

Chicago blogger Wendy McClure of Poundy.com fame will be on the "Read 'Em and Weep with Bronwyn C." show on WFMU, 91.1 FM in the NYC listening area, next Wednesday, May 14th from 7pm - 8pm, to talk about her ever-popular 1970s Weight Watchers recipe cards. Expect hilarity. Set your dials or catch it online.

Traffic to go subterranean

The city wants to build tunnels to channel traffic underneath two high-volume, accident-prone locations. One is at Clark Street, tunneling under where it crosses Roosevelt Road. The other is on Fullerton Avenue under the notorious six-legged intersection of Fullerton, Elston and Damen Avenues. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Perfect Martini

Jim Coudal makes a perfect martini.

Retro Beers

Metromix has an article about Retro Beers and because this is a big thing for us Chicagoans, you should read it. Notable exceptions include The Empty Bottle whose $1.75 PBR's and $1 Huber Bock's is what it's all about.

Blogging at U. of C.

University of Chicago professors discover blogs as a way to temporarily step off their pedestals and talk to the little people.

Wright Plus Housewalk

Thousands of devotees will be converging on Forest Hill and Oak Park next weekend for the 29th annual Wright Plus tour hosted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. Of the 11 buildings on this year's housewalk, 8 are private residences only open to the public for this annual benefit. Only 2,500 tickets are available, but you just pay $85 for the honor to track your muddy feet through their homes.

Denny Hastert, Historian

Illinois' favorite Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert holding forth on the importance of the restoration of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington: "The values and principles that Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln worked so hard for in the 1880's are the same values and principles that we are fighting for as a Republican Party today."

The quote is corrected on his official news item, but if you listened to his remarks on NPR today, you too know that Lincoln lingered on at least sixteen years after his dramatic night at Ford's Theatre.

Becky Band

Not entirely Chi-town related but Keanu Reeves is in a new band with old Dogstar drummer Rob Mailhouse called "Becky". Which is fronted by Rebecca Lord, of the Real World Seattle, and Road Rules/Real World Challenge. The site sucks major arse, but there are some funny photos.

Conversation about Race

Race, an adapted production of Studs Terkel's Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession directed by and performed by David Schwimmer (you know, of Friends fame) and his theater company, Looking Glass begins June 5th at the Water Tower Water Works. More info. And yes, hat tip from watching CLTV.

Six:

Chcago's own Gift Theater Company presents Six Characters in Search of an Author, by Luigi Pirandello. Performances begin May 1 and run thru June 15, 2003 at The Raven Studio theater [6157 North Clark Street].

Chicago Meatwave

Though Khoi's in New York, he's been kind enough to point my ignorant arse towards Chicago's current Meatwave.

Student Bikes

I just finished up a site for the Chicago Bike Federation, called Student Bikes. It promotes, educates and informs university and college students on how they too can bike to school. Also, this Monday, May 12th, DePaul University, the DePaul Bicycle Club and Mayor Daley's Bicycle Ambassador's will be hosting a presentation called Commuting to Class. Details: DePaul's Lincoln Park Campus, Levan Center, Rm 502, 2pm-3pm.

First donors

We won't get into the habit of doing this on Merge but we'd like to formally thank our premiere donor, Jim Coudal and our second donor, Ian Clark. Wow. It is much appreciated. You can support us too, either here or buy a mug from the store. Wowee zowee.

Art Chicago 2003

This weekend sees the 2003 installment of Art Chicago, a massive convergence of the best from art galleries' collections from around the world. It's only a little more expensive than a visit to the Art Institute or MCA and you didn't really need to see Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte again anyway.

Improv Festival

This coming Sunday is the start of the 6th annual Chicago Improv Festival, the largest celebration of improvisational theatre in the world. Featured performers include Chicago native Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, and Fred Willard of A Mighty Wind and Best in Show.

Hermann Zapf at UIC

Attention font geeks: famed typographic designer Hermann Zapf (as much as typographic designers can be famed, anyway) will be speaking at UIC on Tuesday, May 20. More information at Typographi.ca. Print up something in Palatino and maybe he'll autograph it for you.

Artsy Scars!

The International Museum of Surgical Sciences currently has on display several photographs of over 16 scars, shot both head-on and abstractly. This cool museum is a must-see for those interested in medicine, the history of surgery and good old-fashion gross-out fun. Definitely not for the squeamish.

NYT hits Milwaukee/North/Damen

"... see how some of the locals might spend the weekend." The New York Times Travel section visits Wicker Park and Bucktown.

Gawker stalks Chicago

Hmmm, Gawker stalker is now stalking Chicago? "I saw Josh Hamilton at the 10:00 Saturday night performance of Wigfield (starring Strangers With Candy's Amy Sedaris, Steven Colbert and Paul Dinello) in Chicago. He was very cute, despite having two very dark front teeth." Hamilton, of course, is starring in Richard Greenberg's play The Violet Hour at Steppenwolf.

Racism in chicago

An interesting and hard-hitting article in Black Commentator takes a long hard look at the persistence of racism and inequality in Chicago. "How are you going to export liberty to Iraq when you ain't even got it at home?" asks Paul Street (via the slot).

Detour new: Public Art

A new piece in Detour has been posted: David Elfving explores the good, the bad and the ugly of Chicago's gluttony of public artwork.

Tibetan art at AIC

In fact the recent AIC exhibit of Himalayan art is just as good as everyone says it is. It's more than just the greatest collection of Himalayan art gathered together in one place (outside the Himalayas) in the past century. It's esoteric-buddhist-tastic! My favorite is the Buddha of wealth, who is depicted holding a mongoose who vomits diamonds.

Acorn Fire

Coudal intern Anthony Vitagliano shot some amazing footage of the fire at the Acorn Garage [Trib. reg: gapers/gapers] -- check it out here (Quicktime video).

Palm tree rental

Because, really, what is summer in Chicago without the palm trees?

H.S. Hazing

Hazing has gone on in high schools across the country for years, but it usually isn't an organized event, and it usually doesn't get caught on tape. Glenbrook North High School students are eating up their 15 minutes of fame on national television thanks to a video of Powder Puff junior-senior rivalry gone awry. Charges are expected to be filed soon.

Kilbourn Park organic plant sale

The Chicago Park District is sponsoring the 8th annual Kilbourn Park organic plant sale on Saturday, May 10 10am-3pm and Sunday, May 11 10am-12pm. The event will feature more than 150 varieties of heirloom vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, and houseplants. Kilbourn Park is located at 3501 N. Kilbourn Ave. In addition, an organic container planting class is offered on Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m., May 22-June 5 for $35.

Bike Chicago

The League of American Bicyclists has chosen Chicago for having the Best Bicycling Month in the Nation. Bicycling Magazine also picked Chicago as the Best Big Cycling City in the United States. The City of Chicago either improved or created 125 miles of bikeways, put up 8,200 bike racks, and plans to make major improvements to the network of bike paths this year.

So, get out there and Bike Chicago.

If you mention "Bike Chicago" to several area bicycle shops, you'll get a 10% discount on a bike helmet. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

Farmer's Market

April Showers may bring May flowers, but May flowers bring farmer's markets. Almost every neighborhood in the City has an area where local farmers set up their seasonal produce and small batch items like jams and sauces. The USDA also has a list of all the farmer's markets in the state.

USDA link found at Fuck Corporate Groceries, where you can find lots of info on non-corporate food buying in Chicagoland.

King of the Headbutts Returns.

Saturday, May 10th, 5:00 p.m. at Fireside Bowl. Don't miss your chance to see the king of the headbutts, Mr. Wesley Willis himself. Watch as he jams on his Casio keyboard and incorporates ad slogans into his own esoteric lyrics. Also playing that evening will be The Shazam, The City of Caterpiller, The Mascots and Ghostwriter/End of the West.
Rock over London, Rock on Chicago. Meow Mix - Cats ask for it by Name!

The Competition is Stiff, Baby!

Each year the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg hosts Planned Parenthood's Condom Design Competition. This year's theme, "Stiff Competition 2003: Hollywood, A Hard Act to Follow" is a salute to Hollywood where designers, artists and students are invited to submit their designs for PP's condoms for the year. Hurry, the deadline is next week! Don't be a softie and submit yours today.

Oyez Review - Issue 30

The latest issue of Roosevelt University's award-winning literary magazine, Oyez Review is now on sale. Issue 30 which features work by poets Saul Bennett, Robert E. Haynes and Don Winter can be purchased for $4 at the Roosevelt book store (at both Chicago and Schamburg campuses) or by calling Professor Janet Wondra at 312.341.3770.

Passage from India

The Daily Herald is doing a special five-part series this week called "Passage from India: Stories of Suburban Immigrants," focusing on the ~125,000 Indians who call Chicagoland home and including an excellent (and exhaustive) photo essay.

Dave Elfving, Alicia Frantz on NPR

Our very own Dave Elfving as well as our friend Alicia Frantz appeared on NPR's Morning Edition. The online version is here. Dave's audio entries are here. There used to be much more but he's taken most of them down and left you with a selection of "The best of". Alicia's sounds are at Audible Frequency. Don't be fooled by the props that I got, I'm still, I'm still Chicago from the block.

12-Year-Old Begins U. of C. Med

Call him Doogie Howser's little brother. After turning heads as a nine-year-old freshman undergrad at Loyola University Chicago three years ago, 12-year-old Sho Yano has been awarded a full scholarship to attend University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine this fall. Kind of makes me wonder what I could have accomplished if I hadn't spent so much darn time playing as a kid. Read more and more about it.

Chicago Community Cinema

Tonight's Chicago Community Cinema event will feature a demonstration of DNA, the latest editing technology from Avid, as well as the usual screenings of locally-made short films. The event is upstairs at Excalibur; doors open at 6:00.

I Can Turn the World on With My Butt

Mary Richards might have been able to turn the world on with her smile, but I can open CTA turnstiles with my butt.

Yes, thanks to the microchip-embedded Chicago Card, I don't need to remove my wallet from my hip pocket to sail through the turnstiles. I just twist a bit to one side, give a little bump toward the sensor and open, sesame!

I've already executed this maneuver at several CTA stations and you know what? Much to the chagrin of my junior high school sensibilities, the staff is not the least bit impressed. One staffer even rolled her eyes and shook her head, like I was only the 500th customer she'd seen do this.

Over the weekend, I decided that if I could use this technique on a CTA bus, that would definitely be impressive. The bus fareboxes, however, are surrounded by protective railings. I'd need to have the elastic ass of The Fantastic Four's Reed Richards to pull it off.

Jazz Era Chicago

I might be a johnny-come-lately with this, but Jazz Era Chicago is astounding. Copious amounts of photos, text, and historical trivia. I learned, for instance, that the loft I work in used to be a Woolworth's. Well worth your time.

Irvine Welsh Sighting

Irvine Welsh shops at the Jewel on Milwaukee, Paulina, and Ashland. A coworker passed him entering the store, leading one to wonder, "Does he prefer Boca or Morningstar?" I bet he loves Krispy Kreme.

King V. vs. Kraft

Stu Helm, the Wicker Park Artist Formerly Known as King Velveeda, tells the story of how he came to be sued by Kraft Foods for trademark tarnishment (a legal summary of the case here). A documentary of his travails is in the works.

Bush Paintings

Azender reports that portraits of President Bush have been pasted up all over downtown, with no context given. Reactions have been mixed.

Chicago Cheapskates

Apparently, Chicago's a bunch of cheapskates. According to a new study by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Chicago places low on the list of most charitable cities, ranking well below New York, Houston and even Milwaukee. Detroit topped the list, contributing 12.2% of available discretionary funds to charity, while we only gave 7.7%. Come on, people -- give them the money!

Liam Lynch

Some of you have seen Sifl and Olly, the one man sock puppet MTV cult show. Brought to you by Liam Lynch, he now has a new album out and a video in rotation on MTV called "United States of Whatever." It is hilarious as hell and the shortest video in recent times. The Chicago hook-up? Good Pitchfork review (you know the infamous Chicago/Wicker Park based indie music site right? Right.)

Baha'i Temple

The Baha'i Temple, that intricate white building on Sheridan Road in Wilmette, is 50 years old this year. An afternoon exploring the beautiful temple and its well-tended grounds is time well spent.

Ravinia Schedule

Just in case anyone in the greater Chicago area hadn't already heard, the new Ravinia schedule is out, and looks much more promising this year. My picks include Bobby Short (who has imho produced the definitive rendition of 'At long last love'), and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenburg and Lynn Harrell getting jiggy wit' Brahms' awesome Double Concerto. Also intriguing is the star-strewn Bobby McFerrin, Katherine Battle, and Denyce Graves mashup. And yes, Denyce Graves will be singing Carmen. Finally, a capella perennials Chanticleer will be in town. Some argue that the group's sound has changed over the years, and the recent heavy turn-over has challenged the group. But they have won three Grammys in two years (for their Tavener and Colors of Love CDs). So what's not to like?

Anarchist and Human Rights Film Festival

More Columbia (my, my aren't they busy), as part of their conference taking place at the moment, "Dignity Without Borders: Arts, Media and Human Rights", the Chicago Anarchist Film Festival took place this past May 2-4. Revolutionists should not have missed it. However, the Human Rights Film Festival is balancing that all out starting today, May 5-7.

Lonesome Halos benefit

Lonesome Halos, an "American Maverick" band with a twangy worldview, will stage a benefit concert starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at Lyons Den, 1934 W. Irving Park Road, for Doctors Without Borders as part of the group's first CD single release, "BrotherMan." World events moved band members to create the composition, which they describe as a "danceable, positive, pro-peace anthem." A $10 donation is requested.

Dwight was there!

It's Friday night, and I'm in line with about 250 other Macolytes waiting for the Woodfield Apple Store to begin admitting the faithful for the Big iPod Event, and I'm having a discussion with a couple about the iTunes Music Store. They ask if I've bought and downloaded anything yet.

"Sure," I reply. "A couple of Dwight Yoakam albums."

"You could at least have bought music by one of the artists in that 'Rip. Mix. Burn.' commercial," the woman tells me in one of those half-joking/half-bitchy tones of voice. If this were a "Star Trek" convention, she'd be claiming my ears look more Romulan than Vulcan and that I shouldn't be wearing a Federation uniform.

"He was in the commercial," I reply.

"No, he wasn't," the woman says -- and then her totally whipped male companion takes the cue and begins reciting, "They had Chuck Berry, Liz Phair, Barry White, George Clinton, Lil' Kim..."

"And that Smashmouth guy," she adds. "But no Dwight Yoakam."

I'm getting really pissed now -- almost as pissed as in fourth grade when Mrs. Kelly didn't believe me when I told the class that dolphins and porpoises have different kinds of teeth. "They sure did have Dwight Yoakam!" I protest. "He was off to one side holding a guitar!"

"No, he wasn't!" she says. "And besides, songs aren't worth 99 cents for download. Maybe half that, but not 99 cents."

Thank God the store opens a few moments later.

Irvine Welsh @ Columbia

Speaking of Columbia, but Bloody 'ell! Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, The Acid House, Filth and Porno, is now teaching at Columbia. Apparently two courses this semester and word on the street is that he is living in Lincoln Park...my eyes are peeled.

Gravity

Congrats to Gravity, Columbia College's three-issue-old general interest magazine, on winning a Gold Medal for excellence in college publications from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Gravity may be new, but it has plenty of experience behind it -- much of the staff is employees of New City. Catch a great interview with rapper Common in this month's issue.

Polish Constitution Day

It's Polish Constitution Day! The parade runs north on Columbus from Balbo to Monroe, starting at about 11:00am. ABC 7 and CBS 2 will have live coverage.

A good swan song

Some birds are giving United Airlines employees hope that their company may again fly high.

After more than a year's absence, a pair of rented swans is back in residence at the airline's Elk Grove Village corporate headquarters. The territorial birds' main job is to shoo away the many Canada geese that flock to the property's large pond.

"When those darn geese are undeterred, people walking in the open are undeterred, if you catch my drift," one employee said. "But now that the swans are back, they scare off most of the geese. Occasionally, you'll see one or two geese standing on the roof looking pissed, but that's about it."

The return of the swans is having another effect, the employee revealed.

"Everybody I know is pleased that the swans are back," he said. "They're lovely, graceful and fiercely devoted birds. This is a good omen."

Casey's Locomotive @ ILM

The Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL recently acquired Illinois Central No, 201 - the last surviving locomotive operated by legendary railroad engineer John Luther "Casey" Jones. Jones drove the Illinois Central trains during the summer of 1893, shuttling passengers to Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition. The Illinois Railway Museum, with a collection of almost 400 pieces, is the largest railroad museum in the country and is operated entirely by volunteers without government or corporate funding.

Reader Resturant Coupons

This may be worth your while if you like dining out a lot (which I know you do). The Chicago Reader has online Resturant Coupons (and menus) for you to use. I assume this page gets updated every so often. Useful.

 

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