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TODAY

Sunday, November 19

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Fox Valley Folk Festival This Weekend

Looking for something slightly different this weekend? Geneva, a picturesque Western suburb, is hosting the Fox Valley Folk Festival. Shows include: Blues Guitar, Strong Women in Folksong, the Joys of Folk Harp, and Varied Banjo Styles.

Help America Count!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save democracry as we know it. The Help America Vote Act went into effect with this year's primary and only 7% of provisional ballots cast in Chicago were actually counted because of mistakes made by unprepared election judges. 8,615 votes were turned down. To keep that from happening again, the League of Women Voters of Chicago is seeking ordinary citizens to become trained as pollwatchers. If you choose this assignment, you'll travel to one or more voting precincts, observe the process, and report problems to the election authorities. Training is free and the first session takes place on October 10th. Contact Angelique Grandone at agrandone@lwvil.org. This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.
provisional ballot: If someone arrives at a polling place and is told that they can't vote, they can vote on a provisional ballot. This ballot is counted only if they were correctly registered and voted in the right spot. It's an effort to prevent that whole Florida fiasco.

Southeast Side Tour

A neat little site about the history of the industrial Southeast of Chicago. Did you know the Ford Taurus was made here in our town?

Law Bloggin'

Law blogs are a peculiar breed. Some interesting Illinois ones for your perusal:
Patently Obvious, a great patent law blog
The Illinois Trial Practice Weblog
The Illinois Personal Injury Weblog
Law Dawg Blawg, by the law librarians of SIU
the [non]billable hour, in downstate Highland
(Interested in more? Check Blawg.org.)

Transfigured Transformers at Rotofugi

After their successful Monkey Show (and opening), Rotofugi are continuing to build up a solid inventory of designer toys (a Kinsey set anyone?). They've got a new show in the gallery starting today with an official opening this Friday by Chicago artist Jeffrey Lacson: "Titled Transfigured Transformers, the show will exhibit several of Lacsonís large format prints and constructions based upon Transformer toys." and "Think Transformers turned into religious icons and mandalas." Details here. Umm, I hope there's no The Passion of Optimus Prime in the works...

Meet the Matlak

The Sun-Times reports that Ted Matlak is working on a speed-reducing solution for neighborhood streets that works better than the unpopular speed humps. The latest speeder-stopping technology is a mid-block island (which sounds like a roundabout in the middle of the block) that Matlak says he'll name after himself if it works and keeps speed humps from proliferating in the 32nd Ward. Aside from speed humps (and Matlaks), transportation officials are toying with other technologies to stop speeders, including installing cameras at stop signs and radar guns with cameras to automatically catch speeding drivers on side streets.

Last Chance to Pledge

Tonight at midnight the final bell tolls for the fiscal year at Chicago Public Radio. So you only have a handful of hours left to pledge them some dough, and help them balance the books while providing excellent programming this year. Oh, you can also win a trip to Hawaii to see David Sedaris read from his latest book. If you don't win, at least you'll have that warm fuzzy "helpful" feeling all winter long.

Wal-Mart: we're cutting our locations!

Wal-Mart has dropped plans for a South Side store, after the company got concerned about efforts to impose minimum wage and benefits standards on the store. Wal-Mart is continuing its plans for a West Side store (which would be at 1657 N. Kilpatrick), but if ordinances that impose minimum standards pass the Chicago City Council, that second store might also be in trouble.

South Side Sluggin'

Unlike the Cubs, the Sox are pretty much out of playoff contention at this point. Since they are, Sox fans can focus on other things - like Joe Borchard's record 504 foot home run. It's the longest ever at Comisk... er, the Cell.

Rock the Student Vote!

I've loved voting since I was in 5th grade. I know my vote really didn't count then, but I loved writing "Jimmy Carter" on a slip of paper, folding it neatly, and dropping it in a shoebox on the teacher's desk. Thanks to Illinois Student Vote kids all across the state, with help from teachers like you, can experience the same thrill of voting. Not sure you know enough to hold a mock election, these folks got it all figured out for every grade from kindergarten through 12.

Asian longhorned beetles: we're not out of the woods yet

Remember the Asian longhorned beetle? Well, keep thinking about them, because they're still around. City officials, prompted by the recent discovery of a single beetle in the city (and also by the discovery of a number of infestations in New Jersey, prompted by the finding of a single beetle), are organizing local volunteers to inspect their own city blocks once a week. Remember, kids, this is what an Asian longhorned beetle looks like.

A Corrupt Maneuver

In case you missed it on Fox News: Alan Keyes freaks out on Walter Jacobson (that's a windows media streaming video link). "Walter!? Walter!? . . . Why are you doing the work of the Democrats? Who are you working for?" I can't wait for the debates! [link via Rooftop Report].

World's Largest Ex-Laundromat

"The World's Largest Laundromat and Cleaners" in Berwyn went up in flames yesterday. The laundromat was well-known for its environmentally friendly practices, including the solar power system on the roof, which supplied about 60 percent of the power for its huge water boilers. About 30 people had to leave their clothes behind as the fast-moving blaze consumed the building.

The Making of a Home

First there was The Making of a Restaurant. Then for a while, Sandy joined us here at the Block. But now, he's back on his own, or rather with his partners-in-crime (a girl, two cats), tackling a new project, The Making of a Home. Incidentally, the site's design is refreshing and stellar. And of course, the content is good, you know, aside from that cat entry. We kid.

Chicago Children's Choir works on its Elvish

Thy've sung in Korean, French, Bulgarian and Zulu, and now the Chicago Children's Choir is tackling songs in Elvish! In October, they'll be performing at a concert of music from the three Lord of the Rings films, which will be conducted by the composer, Howard Shore. The show's happening at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, and tickets are already on sale. Fans of the films' soundtracks will probably want to check this event out.

Do your duty, even when you're awaiting trial

Oprah isn't the only big name in Illinois that was recently called up for jury duty. Former Gov. George Ryan was called up for duty this week in Kankakee. He was not chosen for a jury, perhaps because lawyers surmised that a former Illinois politician awaiting trial for racketeering, mail and tax fraud, etc. might not make the best juror.

Photo Friday

Friday tends to be a slower day — you're counting down till you get to leave, unless you're on summer hours that is. To pass the time, we've got some photos for you to look at, today's theme is graffiti/stencils. Rachelle of Chicagoist has a neat little section on her site called Street Writing. Craig shoots graf and stencils pretty often and here's a few from August. While the photo isn't in Chicago but the photographer is, Nick has a nice shot. One of our faves, Chris has a series of shots from a boxcar.

Get along little dogies

Hey pardner: get yerself on down to Crete this weekend for the 8th Annual Windy City Rodeo, presented by the Illinois Gay Rodeo Association. Chicago cowboys and cowgirls will compete in 13 honest-to-goodness rodeo events, including chute dogging [ahem], bareback riding [ahem], pole bending [AHEM] and something called a “wild drag race”. This all takes place at the Rodeo Grounds in Crete, Illinois, 12-5 Saturday and Sunday, with social events following the competition. Proceeds benefit Vital Bridges, Howard Brown Health Center, and GLSEN Chicago.

Celebrity bloopers live on stage

A really funny stage show returns this weekend: Verbatim Verboten, which is a series of readings of celebrity bloopers, illicitly recorded conversations, audio diaries, and other embarrassing slices of private life inadvertently shown to the public. In addition to hearing the outrageous words of the famous and infamous, there will be special guests from Chicago's arts and entertainment community in every show. Verbatim Verboten will be at the Royal George Theatre Center (1641 N. Halsted), and runs Friday & Saturday nights at 9:30 for the next 6 weeks. Tickets are $20; call the box office at (312) 988-9000 for more details. Also note that there will be a special George W. Bush themed show this Sunday at 7:00 PM, just in time for the Republican National Convention.

More woes for Demon Dogs

After narrowly escaping a couple of shutdowns during the past year, the Chicago landmark Demon Dogs now faces another hurdle: it has to pay 14 years of utility bills that had originally been paid by the CTA, who owns the property that the restaurant is built on. That amounts to a total of $152,654 the business has to pay to the CTA. Yikes. Considering the CTA is planning to reclaim the land anyway for the eventual Brown Line reconstruction, and Demon Dogs is on a month-to-month lease for the property, we might be seeing the actual final days of Demon Dogs coming soon.

But where's Ronald, mommy?

According to the Chicago Tribune, a new, "upscale" McDonald's will be built in Oak Brook, with the company aiming to finish building by April, which marks the 50th anniversary of America's long, dietary nightmare. The new restaurant will apparently not sport the Golden Arches or the big scary clown. The article does not mention if by "upscale" they mean they will serve actual food.

Does This Spider Look Fat To You?

According to entomologists, spiders in the Midwest are bigger and fatter this year because our cool, wet summer provided them with many tasty insects on which to feed. And did you know that no one anywhere is ever more than 3 feet away from a spider? Find out more in this AP story. Did you just feel something on your leg?

New Shows Set in Chicago

The entertainment world is buzzing today that Chicago could play host to two new police dramas being developed by the executive producer of "Third Watch." Edward Allen Bernero, a former Chicago police officer, wants to tape both shows in the city, and pilots for the dramas may film here in the spring.

More concrete falling!

But not at Wrigley Field this time. Early Tuesday morning some chunks of concrete fell on the Dan Ryan from the 33rd Street overpass. Inspectors were able to remove enough loose concrete from the structure to fill a wheelbarrow. Yipes! And here's something else to worry about: cracks have begun to appear in posts holding up parts of Wacker Drive, less than a year after the street's $200 million renovation project finished. Although IDOT says these cracks don't affect the structural integrity of the roadway, it's yet another indication that this summer is turning out to be Chicago's Summer of Structural Integrity.

Change and Spare Change

Starting January 1, youíll have to pay double at Illinois tollbooths, that is, if you donít have I-Pass for your vehicle. This comes in an effort by the state to raise funds for more road work in the area, which, as we all know, is plentiful. Maybe this is also their way of getting us to stop using pennies at the tollbooths? This plan still has to be approved, but that could come as early as next month.

What's the most crime-ridden district?

Depends on what kind of crime you mean? The Chicago Police Department has several different reports in pdf form that you can download to view. Sure, they're just numbers, but they're pretty easy to understand. Of course if you don't know which district is which, this page will help you determine the police commissioner for that district (sometimes with photos), give you a map of the area, and even provide you with neighborhood alerts. It's a good way to keep an eye on what happens in your 'hood that doesn't make it into the news.

Subscription of Death?

The Tribune has this bizarre service where you can receive email notification of obituaries. It's free, so go ahead and list that 7th grade teacher who called you fat. Might come in useful for registering votes too (this is Chicago after all). More useful and less morbid might be allowing subscriptions to the town's police blotter or engagement announcements.

New One Book title announced

The new "One Book, One Chicago" title was announced today. It's the Julia Alvarez novel "In the Time of the Butterflies," the first selection by a Latina author chosen for the citywide reading program. Start looking for displays of the title at your local bookstore and/or your local library.

Chicago Dine Out

From now through August 29, you can enjoy a three-course meal at some of Chicago's finest restaurants for just $20 for lunch or $35 for dinner. The best part? S. Pelligrino, the sponsor of this limited-time promotion, will donate $1 per meal served to Chicago's Meals on Wheels program.

Trib's CTA Tattler

In another example of mainstream media imitating the blogosphere, the Chicago Tribune has put out a call for Chicagoans' tales of CTA woes and frustrations. Oh, wait, excuse me - they want "Tales of Rage." The rants will go into a regular column in the Transportation section called "Commuter Follies." Hmm... rage... follies... sounds like someone's got their wires crossed.

Frankie Knuckles Day

Best Chicago holiday EVER. Today is officially Frankie Knuckles Day, in celebration of the Chicago DJ who popularized house music in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Jefferson Street between Van Buren and Monroe will be renamed Frankie Knuckles Way today, and after that Frankie will be honored at Grant Park's Spirit of Music Garden. Tonight from 6:30 to 9:30, Frankie will be spinning house music at one of the final days of the Chicago Summer Dance celebration at Grant Park.

Another Blacklist

Swell online magazine Blacklist is back with their second issue. Lots of great stuff to look at and read, featuring an interview with one of my faves, Cody Hudson of Struggle, Inc. and another interview with our favorite designer toy store, Rotofugi. Head on over!

Dave Matthews band officially accused of dumping sewage

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed an official complaint against the Dave Matthews Band yesterday, accusing them of being behind the infamous waste-dumping incident of a couple weeks ago. Apparently some businesses around the bridge where the incident happened have provided videotape that show the bus on the bridge at the time. For their part, the band still stands behind their bus driver, and said in a statement that they will be cooperative in the investigation.

Knowing is half the battle

The Chicago Police Department created the Citizen ICAM to permit Chicago residents to search their database of reported crime. ICAM is short for Information Collection for Automated Mapping. The CPD wants you to understand that a reported crime isn't the same as a confirmed crime. Legal disclaimer not withstanding, it's a good resource.

Big Wig Closing

After seven years, Wicker Park's Big Wig is closing its doors. To celebrate (that somehow doesn't seem like the right word), the nightclub is throwing a five-day bash, starting next Wednesday, Sept. 1. Each night will feature an all-star DJ line-up and a raffle of the club's decorations -- including the hairdryer lamps and even the neon sign. Doors will open at 8pm each night, with a $5 cover kicking in at 10pm -- except Sunday, when it's free all night before the doors close for good. Check the site and our calendar for details.

Sinister Puppets in Oak Park

15-foot puppets. Satire. Free. Saturday at 2:30 and 4pm. Sinister puppets, seriously. A "four-dimensional political cartoon." Sounds good.

Overtime Pay Stays

Governor Rod Blagojevich sent a letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao today stating that the overtime pay cuts passed by the U.S. Senate would not be affecting the state of Illinois. State senator Barack Obama introduced legislation, which Blagojevich signed, which puts into effect only those aspects of the federal bill which help more workers. So if you thought you might lose your overtime pay but don't because of this law, you might want repay Obama with a vote come November. For a segment of Blagojevich's letter, read

"The Fair Labor Standards Act guaranteed the right to compensation equaling time and a half for every hour worked beyond the normal 40-hour week. A person who is willing to work hard -- and then is willing to work even harder by working longer hours -- ought to be rewarded for his or her initiative, not punished. Illinois law protects overtime pay for these workers. We intend to keep it that way.

"The United States Department of Labor should know that Illinois law will continue to protect Illinois workers, even when the federal Department of Labor decides not to."

How Manny Ramirez Spent His Day Off

Last weekend, the Boston Red Sox came to town for a series with the struggling White Sox. Boston came in with pretty big expectations and didn't disappoint the fans back east, closing the weekend with a sweep. After arriving, the Boston team was treated to a day off. Just how did Manny Ramirez spend a day off in Chicago? Shopping Michigan Avenue, watching movies, or on a road trip to Manteno? Manny took a limo on a drive through the cornfields, to Rad Rides By Troy, a customization shop he spied on the Discovery Channel awhile back. Troy is working on a pretty exciting ride for Manny's dad, and Manny checked out the work while in town.

Uptown Petition

There's a new petition to preserve the Uptown Theatre, sponsored by a group concerned that a new plan for the neighborhood that could turn the historic theater into a "multi-use facility," i.e., a mall.

Illinois Arts Fellowship deadline

The deadline for the Illinois Arts Council's Artists Fellowship Program is September 1. If you're an Illinois resident active in interdisciplinary/computer art, music composition, photography, poetry, or visual arts, consider applying for one of the $7,000 grants. If you're into choreography, crafts, ethnic and folk arts, media arts, new performance forms, prose, or scriptworks, you'll have to wait until next year.

Universal Fare Card?

Ever wished you could take that $20 you put on your CTA fare card and use it on Metra? Or that you could use the same ticket for all transit systems here? The RTA is considering adding a universal fare card for the region, and have commissioned a study to find out if it's feasible. If this becomes reality, you might actually be able to buy a train ticket from a vending machine and avoid the huge lines at the train stations.

Breweries of the City

Who knew there was so much Chicago history wrapped up in beer? ChicagolandBeerHistory.com provides a surprising amount of historical info for the area's many breweries, past and present. The period around prohibition is especially colorful, ranging from "beer wars" beetween rival gangs and a riot over beer.

goskokie gone?

Six Northwestern graduate journalism students put together goskokie, which is supposed to be a community-driven website for Skokie residents that offers Skokie news. (Sort of a GB North.) Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in nearly a month, and this (in addition to Dan Gillmor praising the site in a blog posting yesterday) prompted the reporters over at The Register to have a bit of fun and surmise that Skokie has disappeared.

Soup, art, and more

Pho is a group that meets roughly monthly to discuss the interaction of the arts and technology. The group gets its name over from preferred dish while meeting place: Pho, the delicious Vietnamese noodle soup. The Pholist conference (or Phofest) will include panel discussions at the Apple store on N. Michigan as well as a trip to the Hancock and of course, Pho. If you're interested in knowing what direction things like satellite radio, interactive art, and DRM are headed, this is the conference to go to.

Dead People Don't Fly

The near northwest suburbs have enlisted the dead in their battle against O'Hare expansion: two cemeteries lay in the path of the expansion, and removing them would violate federal law and the Constitution, opponents say, so they're suing the city (again). Here's a little background on the cemeteries, compiled by the Bensenville Library.

Wanna buy a home?

But the man (and a lack of cash reserves) keeping you down? Maybe the Neighborhood Housing Services can help you out. Not only do they provide loans to people who are interested in living in a mid-to low-priced neighborhood, but they also offer free classes so you know exactly what home ownership entails. They can also help you if you're facing foreclosure or if you need help repairing your home.

The Return of Hot Doug's?

Rejoice, Chicagoans: Hot Doug's, purveyor of some of the city's finest encased meats, is reopening on Labor Day - at least according to the Tribune. A few people on the LTH Forum have their doubts. All I know is, I need to try some duck fat fries.

Take a Hike with your Dog

Ever head out to the great outdoors with your best friend only to be met with a sign that says, "No Dogs Allowed"? Now there's a website that can help you plan your hikes to make sure you can bring your dog along for the trip. Of course, Illinois doesn't have as many wilderness areas as some other states, but there are dog-friendly National Forests around and dogs are welcome in most Illinois State Parks. You can help the site grow by adding your own dog-approved hikes as well.

The kids got nowhere to go... but they can bowl

This weekend an email informed me that there was "NO MORE FIRESIDE!!!" The all ages venue where many of my favourite bands have graced the stafe and where my own band has played a few times (plug!) is now closed to the songs that make the kids shake their fists to. Instead, there will be bowling. It's making a comeback to a venue that is a bowling alley and with the closing of many fine establishments around the city this year (Marzano's , Marigold) this could be a good thing indeed. And if that fails, well, the shows could always come back. Here's a word from Hammer...

Tribune editor speaks out on Kerry's record

The Chicago Tribune took a larger role in the Presidential race today, as it published a lengthy cover story on the experiences of William Rood, one of the paper's editors who served with John Kerry in Vietnam. In an essay published in the Tribune, Rood says that the critics of Kerry's war record are incorrect, and the discussion is "hurting crewmen who are not public figures and who deserved to be honored for what they did."

Color and Light

"The painting last left home in 1958, when it traveled to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and narrowly escaped a fire. Now it stays in Chicago, making the current show a one-stop-only event, unlikely to be repeated anytime soon." The New York Times reviews the Art Institute's current exhibit, "Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte."

Zulkey by the Pound

Claire Zulkey interviews friend of GB Wendy McClure in today's "A Li'l Under 20 Questions." Topics range from celebrity children's books to knitting with Hitachi Magic Wands to Wendy's upcoming book. Quite a wild ride.

Chicago Skyscraper Database

This database of high-rise buildings in Chicago has a few interesting stand-outs. The list of the most famous buildings is neat, as is the diagram comparing the relative height of the buildings in Chicago. The coolest though is the list of buildings never built. 7 South Dearborn, we hardly knew you.

Support Your Indie Radio

If you listen to Chicago Public Radio, you've probably heard their requests for donations to help meet their budget for fiscal 2004, which ends August 31. But little WLUW is also desperate for dough -- their pledge drive is on now. This year's premiums include a full line of... bath products?

We report, you decide on a showtime

Outfoxed, the anti-FoxNews film that became a DVD hit thanks to a push from MoveOn.org, gets a theatrical release in Chicago today. It's playing at the Loews Esquire on Oak Street, which also still has F9/11. You can make it a Republican-hating double feature! Get tix at Fandango, if you like.

Steal This Theatre Fest

Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.'s annual theatrical celebration of the spirit of Woodstock, gets under way tonight at Strawdog Theatre. The Abbie fest is a marathon of short pieces by Chicago's smaller companies and solo artists, starting at 7pm and ending sometime late Sunday night (or early Monday morning). It's a very relaxed, slightly loopy environment of performers and audience bonding together over beer and sleep deprivation. The Reader has an annotated schedule; trust me, times are approximate.

Is it safe?

The city is looking for further proof from the Cubs that Wrigley Field is structurally sound. If proof is not delivered to the City Building Commissioner by Monday, then Wrigley Field will be closed. Furthermore, the problem isn't confined to the ballpark: one of the rooftop decks is being threatened with closure if it can't provide proof of stability.

Pepe's Groceria Rebuilds Iraq

The Week Behind has a profile of Assyrian Danny Dinkha and his brothers, the unlikely co-owners of a Mexican grocery, who are helping coordinate local efforts to rebuild Iraq. Interesting read -- I wanted to know more.

Get Hot at the Park Grill

Chicago Magazine puts the Park Grill at the top of the monthly Hot List in the September issue. Executive Chef Bernard Laskowski says, "We've been focused on evolving a menu of classic American cuisine, served up with unique Chicago flavor and a complex infusion of seasonal, regional ingredients." Check the article to find out a few of the upcoming events, including the kickoff for Bears tailgaiting, starting every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. on game day.

The Party Line

We're just about to send out the first GB mailing list digest, "The Party Line." By the time you read this, it may be too late to get this week's inaugural issue but you can always sign up here. Brian's done a swell job in crafting good times in your inbox so go ahead, drop your e-mail in there will ya?

On a related note, we've added the ability for you to remove yourself from the list at any time, you know in case you ever get bored of The Party Line. But we think you won't.

The Truth About Both Sides

It's been awhile since we talked about the Senate race. Rather than stir it up ourselves, we'll just let the truth-seekers from both wings duke it out: here's The Truth about Keyes and the Obama Truth Squad. Also, "Chicago Chow Girl" has set up a Chicago Democrat's Toolkit to help those who'd like to volunteer. (Anyone know of an equivalent for the local Republicans? Email ah@ this domain.)

O'hare: Now with 1/3 Less Flights

Well, all the airlines that operate out of O'hare airport have agreed to cut the number of flight arrivals per hour down from 132 to 88 between 7am and 8pm starting this fall, after the FAA came down hard. What this means: fewer and shorter delays for passengers, but the possibility of increased prices for tickets. Also, those busy air traffic controllers won't "get as distracted as much." Whew! And I wasn't thinking about that at all before.

Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields

For your web surfing pleasure, Paul Freeman has collected information and photographs concerning Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields across the U.S. The airfields are arranged by state, and the page for Illinois includes facts about the former Glenview Naval Air Station, the Sky Harbor Airport in Northbrook, and more. Although not comprehensive, this is a fun site to browse.

Uptown's New Calendar

The Friends of the Uptown Theatre are offering a free 2005 calendar (in PDF format) on their website. It features color photos of the historic building's beautiful interior details -- get the legal-size paper loaded into the inkjet and start printing!

Relics @ Healing Earth

Healing Earth, 3111 N. Ashland, is playing host to a traveling collection of Buddhist relics today between 4pm and 8pm; the exhibit moves on to the Theosophical Society in Wheaton this weekend before heading to Indiana and Ontario. Listen here (RAM) to Chicago Public Radio's report on the relics.

C*ck not blocked

The Sun-Times reports that Chicago police have declined to shut down the return engagement of that Australian marvel "Puppetry of the Penis," which rears its head tonight at the Lakeshore Theater. Although the show petered out in Boston due to complaints of tenants in the city's John Hancock Theatre building, Chicago has a lengthy history of nude theater (witness the current extravaganza "Naked Boys Singing" at the Bailiwick), and authorities declined to respond to a local group's complaints. So there's apparently a vas deferens between Boston and Chicago.

How many languages does it take to speak to Chicago patients?

Twenty-six, according to a recent survey by language-services company CyraCom International. The study showed that, in addition to English, Chicago area hospitals used 26 languages for over-the-phone interpretation in the first half of 2004. According to the study, the top five languages used were Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Cantonese and Russian.

Babes with Blades Fight Back

The women of local stage-fighting theatre company Babes with Blades are hosting a 3-hour workshop on Sunday, August 29 to teach women a different kind of fighting: self-defense (sans swords). This free workshop will be led by a martial arts instructor and will begin at 12:30 at Sheil Park, 3505 N. Southport. Call 773-392-8414 to register.

Breast-baring

If you see a woman sitting in a public area with a baby held to her breast, don't stare and get excited. But don't complain about her indecency to management either. Blagojevich signed the Right to Breastfeed Act on Monday saying that mothers have the right to nurse their babies in public. 68 percent of newborns in Illinois are breast-fed and they often get hungry at inconvenient times and mothers don't have to worry about making their babies go hungry till they can find a disgusting bathroom stall. Wait till the FCC finds out that women across the state are whipping out their breasts in public, with children present. Oh, the damage that will be done to these innocent minds.

Slave Records Online

No, not a new label. Illinois now requires insurance companies to disclose the records on any insurance policies they or predecessor companies issued to cover slaves. The records are being compiled online at this online registry, which went live yesterday. The Tribune has a report on the site's immediate effects.

Obama, But By How Much?

Most people are pretty willing to say that Obama is going to win Illinois. But by how much? Tradesports.com, a site that basically lets you bet on anything assume someone else is willing to wager against you, has the odds at 96%. They also have pegged Bush to win the election (52.7% to Kerry's 49%). Chance of Bush winning Illinois? Hovering around 10%.

Suburban Architecture Gem

I was out for a ride after the rainstorm last night when I came across one of the coolest buildings I've seen in a long time: the new headquarters of microphone manufacturer Shure. These daytime pictures (PDF) don't do justice to the site of the building at night: filled with light, completely open, and very lightweight. It's inspring, and certainly not what I expected for otherwise dreary Niles. (Reader Barrett notes that the Helmut Jahn-designed building was originally home to the HALO Corporation, makers of promotional products. -Ed.)

Fighting Back in Andersonville

During a recent assault on Clark Street, Andersonville resident Leslie Clark sustained many physical injuries and lost a week's pay. Instead of crying into her beer, Leslie and friends have organized a benefit at T's Bar & Restaurant on August 24. From 7pm to midnight, the proceeds from drink sales, tips, and raffles will go to help Leslie's recovery. There are great prizes to win plus terrific guest bartenders like the Sissy Butch Brothers and Lickity Split Radical Cheerleaders.

Hot Dish: Bikes On Metra

Metra is one of the last rail agencies in the country that doesn't allow bikes on its trains. This is the missing link in making Chicago the best city for bicycling in the country, but now there's hope. Word on the street that the biggest prevention was the stalwart director of the RTA, Thomas McCracken. He's announced his retirement (pdf) and it is expected that the new director will be more friendly towards allowing some bicycles on trains. In the meantime, folding bikes are still allowed on Metra anytime.

Evanston Unrest

If you've been through Evanston in recent years, you may have noticed the surprising number of high-rises that have popped up in downtown. What you might not have noticed is all the development going on in the residential areas. RespectOurNeighborhoods.org reports on the various projects threatening the town's character.

Goose Island is Cooked

Kendall College, a four-year culinary school, is moving to Goose Island from its current home in Evanston. The college has a preview of its new "Riverworks Campus" online; the old Evanston campus has been sold to a developer.

CUFF

Don't forget, tonight's the opening night for the Chicago Underground Film Festival. Tonight's film is The Manson Family, a drama about the Tate-LaBianca killings. Showtime is at 8:00 at the 3 Penny (2424 N. Lincoln), tickets are $7, and there'll be a reception and opening night party afterwards.

Another Meteor Attack!

Did you hear a series of loud booming noises last night? It may not have been a bass-thumping car in the street -- a meteor exploded over northern Chicago around 1am, scaring some with a bright flash and booms. No reports so far of recovered meteorite bits like last year's event in Park Forest; stay tuned... (Thanks, Joe!)

Furniture, Naked People

Chicago photographer Richard Kern contributes the 4th installment of The Modernist's "Furniture and Naked People" series. The temporarily-clothed model Sarah is photographed with Warren Platner, Charles & Ray Eames, and Mies Van Der Rohe designs. [NOTE: beautiful, but Not Safe For Work]

Chicago, City of Meat

As a favor to a reader, here's a post all about Chicago's love affair with meat. Click more for all the meaty goodness.
According to Google, the number one site for Chicago meat is, of course, ChicagoMeat.com, home of local meat packer the Chicago Meat Authority. Go figure.

Chicago was once the meatpacking capital of America, with the industry centered on the Union Stockyards on the near South Side. The conditions in meat packing plants were dangerous and unsanitary, and the book The Jungle by Upton Sinclair finally brought the industry to bear, resulting in the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. The meat packing industry eventually unionized in 1936, and the stockyards eventually closed in 1971. You can still see the gate at Exchange Ave. and Peoria St.

Chicago is probably known best for two meat products: hot dogs and Italian beef. Vienna Beef makes the city's classic dog, while Best's Kosher makes our kosher style dogs. Metromix has a round-up of places to go for a wet one with sweet peppers (shockingly, it leaves out Al's #1 on Taylor Street -- at least Mr. Beef's in there).

Oprah Gets the Call...

...for jury duty, that is. The millionaire talk show host and local celebrity has been chosen to serve on a jury starting soon. She'll pull down just $17.20 for a day's work as a juror for a murder trial on the South Side, not quite her usual daily rate. (Thanks, Matt)

Illinois importing drugs

Gov. Blagojevich announced today that Illinois is going to start importing prescription drugs from overseas, to reduce the costs for state residents without insurance plans or those with high co-pays. The plan isn't exactly legal, but state officials have noticed that the FDA has yet to prosecute someone for buying drugs out of the country, so they're going ahead with the plan. In response, the FDA is threatening to take the state to court, so who knows if the plan will ever actually get off the ground, or for how long it'll be operating?

Casketco

Costco is testing out a new item at two Chicago-area stores: caskets. Six different models, each priced at $799.99. Although some shoppers seemed open to the idea of buying their casket at the same place they buy bulk quantities of food, funeral arrangers are less enthusiastic, and are worried that reduced-cost caskets may mean an increase in funeral prices, to make up the missed revenue.

Get your flick on

Odd Obsession, Chicago's newest supplier for obscure/hard-to-find movie addicts, opens today Friday. It's located at 1659 N. Halsted, a quick stroll from the North & Clybourn Red Line, and it's open from noon to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday (no new memberships after 9 pm, though). There are two membership rates available ó a free one and a paid one, which comes with some perks, so check out the site for details.

Volunteers Needed

The Chicago Muscular Dystrophy Association is looking for volunteers for Sunday, September 5, at US Cellular Field to help promote its "Jerseys Off Their Backs" event. You'll sell scratch-off tickets with a chance to win a worn jersey from a White Sox player. Volunteers receive a ticket to the game and a free t-shirt. Help take the shirts off their backs, and MDA will put one on yours! To volunteer call 630/960-1500 or email chicagoalsservicesmdausaorg.

The Red Red Line

While you were sleeping, the Red Line between Belmont and Howard was shut down both directions, from 2 to 6 a.m., while police investigated the discovery of "body parts on the tracks". Only one local media outlet has any details on the death, which are few: the body probably belonged to a 30-something male who was probably struck near the Morse stop. Note to the CTA: something like this probably shouldn't be such a mystery.

Ride the Swift Into History

You know the wire system above the Skokie Swift trains? That's called a "catenary system," and the Skokie Swift is the last CTA line to use it. Well, the catenary system has fallen into disrepair, and instead of fixing it, the CTA is replacing it with the more conventional third-rail system. In honor of this passing, the Central Electric Railfans' Association is hosting three last trips on the line, on CTA Historic Trains, Sunday, September 5. Three two-hour trips will depart from the Yellow Line Dempster stop at 9 am, 12 pm and 3 pm. Tickets are $20. Info on reserving seats can be found on CERA's site.

Radio Free Chicago

Fans of WLUW probably remember Radio Free Chicago, a show about the local music scene that ran on Thursday nights for six years. RFC has returned, albeit in a very different form: as a blog. They've kicked it off with a closer look at WRZA, aka "Nine FM."

Segue, Segway, Segue

Oh, and by the way, apparently two Segway stores will be opening here soon: one in the city, one out in La Grange. You could buy one for around $4,000, or you could rent one for a couple hours from Chicago Segway Tours. So anyway...

Tour the City by River

The Chicago Park District and the Friends of the Chicago River are offering a guided tour of the North Branch of the Chicago River this Saturday. The catch: the tour is by canoe! For only $15 they'll lead a guided tour of the river and feed you lunch. Considering that it's usually $18 an hour on the weekend to rent a canoe, this is quite a bargain!

The city that works not as much

Crain's Chicago Business reports that Chicago lost a lot of jobs over the past three years. 180,500 jobs were lost from a peak position in January 2001, and hit an all-time low in June of this year. Economists predict that Chicago won't gain its lost jobs back until the second half of 2006, so you unemployed readers out there might have quite a long job search in your near future.

Photograph Rogers Park

Rogers Park is one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods; now it's time to find out if it's one of the most photogenic. RogersPark.com is sponsoring a photo contest, with winners in landscape, portrait, "abstract" and youth (18 or under) categories. The deadline for entry is Sept. 12, and finalist photos will be sold in a silent auction. Check the site for details.

An earlier get together

You may or may not have noticed that we're holding our monthly get together early this month — it's happening this Friday instead of next and we're at Hopleaf this month, a bar/restaurant of fine and epic proportions. It'll also be an hour later than the usual 8PM. The festivities start at 9PM, perfect for you to get some grub and then come get nice and drunk with us where we'll tell you all our secrets. Maybe.

Fun in your inbox, Car Seat

It's finally here: The GB Mailing List is now up and running. Each week, Brian Sobolak (BS) will craft an email of scandalous, interesting and unique news and events, plus a preview of what's to come in Airbags. While we know what it's like to be inundated with email, we think this'll be a good one. It goes out Thursdays and rounds out the week that has been and will be. So go ahead, drop in that email address.

Also new this week is our Sunday column, Car Seat, written by returning GB alumna Alejandra Valera. Aimed at new parents, Car Seat will tell you the places to go and things to do with your newly expanded family.

Be On TV!

Though the timeless Jenny Jones is no longer on the air, if you want to be in the audience in Chicago, you still have a few options. The Oprah Winfrey Show gives free tickets to tapings. And nothing is a better than the cultural heights reached by the Jerry Springer Show, also filmed in Chicago. If you'd rather be at the front of the stage with Jerry, here's a list of their upcoming topics.

Those Asians About to Rock, We Salute You

Asians in Indie Rock, a tour of Asian-American indie bands organized by Jenny Choi, kicks out the jams at Fireside Bowl tomorrow night. In addition to Choi's band Sanawan, the line-up features Mike Park, Please Please Wait and Wanamaker. The all-ages show starts at 8pm, tickets are $8, available in advance through MP Shows. Read more in today's Trib. (Thanks, Gladys!)

Rotofugi Plush

Popped into Rotofugi last night just as they accepted the first order from their new online store. And upon perusing their plush selection, they noted there are three plush (that's "stuffed animals" to us amateurs) companies here in Chicago: Spasmodica, Shawnimals and Poog-Goos. Cool!

Republican Pie

The Economist doesn't think much of Alan Keyes, and the Illinois Republicans: "Mr Keyes's Senate run will produce nothing but disasteróhumiliation for Mr Keyes, more pie on the face of the already pie-covered Illinois Republican Party, and yet another setback for Republican efforts to woo minority voters." But the magazine speaks highly of Chicago, calling it "perhaps America's best-run city".

Parking tickets down

The Sun-Times reports the amount of parking tickets issued this year is down by 60,000 when compared to last year's numbers. The main reason: two recently completed construction projects, the Wacker Drive reconstruction and 11 Street/Columbus Drive, which brought in loads of parking violations for the city.

Can't we all just get along?

Following Mayor Daley's accusation that the Tribune Co. hid the structural problems at Wrigley Field, the Tribune Co. this week invoked the Freedom of Information Act regarding the city's maintenance of the facade of City Hall. Yesterday, the city shut down construction on WGN's North Side studios, citing lack of permit and denying it had anything to do with the current tensions between City Hall and the Tribune Co. C'mon boys... shake hands and call it a day already, will ya?

Garage sale for musicians

The Different Strummer, the music store at the Old Town School of Folk Music, holds its annual garage sale this weekend (it starts today, if you want to get a jump on the deals). If you're a musician and you're in the market for some deals, you really need to check this event out. Guitars, amps, drums, ukuleles, violins, books, CDs, accessories, instrument cases ... if it's sold at the store, it'll probably be there at the garage sale, at greatly reduced prices. And once you have your instrument, why not sign up for a class at the school? The next 8-week session starts on August 30, and you can save $15 if you sign up by the 23rd.

The Dark Side of Seuss

If you ever wondered what acclaimed children's author and artist Dr. Seuss (in reality, Theodor Seuss Geisel) did in his downtime, now's your chance. "The Art of Dr. Seuss" will be on display at Atlas Galleries today through September 6th. Check out 150 pieces, which include everything from Geisel's advertising work to his ideas for unorthodox taxidermy projects. Yertle was only the beginning. [via Daily Candy]

Today's vanity license plate story

After about a year of trying, a Schaumburg woman has her new vanity license plate -- the number 867 5309, as immortalized in the Tommy Tutone hit from the 1980s. And yes, the woman's name is Jenny.

Finish line

The Chicago Marathon will close registration in about five hours has closed registration. This is the earliest the field of 40,000 has ever filled, beating last year by a week. Some slots remain for those raising money for charity, or one can always watch instead.

zBands

Are you in a band? (Like I have to ask!) Do you wish you could find an easier way to book gigs and keep track of who else is out there? Word of mouth is great, but it is a lot of work and not always productive. zBands is hoping to change all that. They've started out in Columbus, OH (hi mom!) and Pittsburgh and are going to be launching in Chicago on Monday. Be the first to get your band signed up! Or you could just login on Monday and find out if your favorite local band is as hip as you are.

Yakety sax

This Saturday, scores of students will be taking the MCAT at the city college building at Jackson and Frankin, and school officials are worried that, like the previous two years, there will be a saxophone player stationed outside the building, playing for passers-by and, inadvertently, the test-takers. When confronted about this problem, the unnamed player said he had "a license issued to him to play his saxophone in public" and wouldn't leave. So the college is filing a lawsuit against the player, prohibiting him from playing in a two-block radius around the school building on Saturday. Well, that's one way to solve the problem. Another solution: earplugs!

CTA gives go-ahead to I-Go

The CTA voted Wednesday to enter into a year-long pilot program that will put I-GO (car sharing) cars at five El stations, including the Damen blue line and Western brown line (yay!). Studies have shown that car-sharing programs increase use of public transportation, and it stands to reason that putting cars closer to the El will increase use of car-sharing programs, so—hey!—everybody wins!

Women Gaining Ground

The Chicago Park District board voted Wednesday to name two more parks after notable Chicago women, bringing the total to 35. Hyacinth Park in Kenwood will be renamed Gwendolyn Brooks Park, after the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize. And a park at 1762 W. Diversey will be named for Chi Che Wang, founder of the Chicago Chinese Women's Club and physiology professor at the NU Medical School.

Put Down That Quarter

You've been warned: Apparently, it's a "petty offense" to pick up change within 10 feet of a tollbooth. John Kass reports on the case of a man who was fined $75 by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority for picking up and using a quarter he found outside his car when he found he didn't have enough change. The ticket for blowing off a toll is only $20.

Gary or bust

Paul Karas, administrator of the Gary airport, thinks Gary is the answer to Chicago’s airport congestion problem. Instead of spending $500 million and 10 years to build a third airport in Peotone—under debate for more than a decade and still pending FAA approval—Karas believes a $90 million expansion is all it will take to make the Gary airport “Chicago’s third airport.”

Alan Keyes resides in Cal City

Alan Keyes is now an Illinois resident. He got himself an apartment in Calumet City this week (pictures at NBC5 and the Tribune), although it's not known when he'll be moving in. It's a bit of a change from his Maryland residence, that's for sure.

Interchange2004

The Interchange Festival is on a mission to get people to vote. To that end, they've teamed up with non-partisan Citizen Action/Illinois to register voters at the festival, which features local bands of all sorts, from Tortoise to Sage Francis, Andrew Bird to The M's. It runs next Wednesday through Sunday -- check the site for schedule and ticket info.

Blame it on Rumsfeld

So I've been casting about for an excuse to post a link to this story all morning: it's all Rumsfeld's fault. Of course I didn't have to look that hard - Rumsfeld was actually born in Chicago. I wonder if he likes pierogi.

Speaking of EBay...

Peoria, our downstate neighbor, is the brunt of many many jokes. Want to make a difference and improve commerce in Illinois? Buy FantasyLand, a strip club in Peoria and make that first step towards turning Peoria into a destination once again.

Looking for a cooking class

The Tribune has an updated roundup of Chicago area cooking schools and classes. It's more of an informatory compilation than a rated guide, but they break it down into helpful categories like seafood, vegetarian, ethnic, and cake decorating.

Field Museum prices go up

Starting on October 1, admission prices will be increased at the Field Museum. It'll be $12 for non-Chicago residents, and $10 for residents. The reason for the increase: diminished attendance levels since 9/11. All the more reason to go check the museum out and give them some business! Their Splendors of the Forbidden City exhibit runs another month, and in November there'll be a Jackie Kennedy exhibit.

"Also, I'm Pretty Famous!"

You really need to bid on this drawing by Derek Erdman of James Hetfield thinking about Cliff Burton and a jetski. No really, you do.

Once in a lullaby

As if to accentuate the dreamlike status of his campaign, Alan Keyes sang "Over The Rainbow" for Chicago's CBS Channel 2. And, yes, the video is online for you to check out, over at their Streaming Video page. Memo to Keyes: there's no place like home.

The Art of Cinnamon Rolls

Ann Sather's is looking for artists to participate in "The Art of the Cinnamon Roll," a charity silent auction to benefit the Children's Place Association, to take place Sept. 10. If you're an artist, please consider donating a "cinammon roll-inspired" work to this very worthy cause. Contact Ann Sachs at 773/348-2378 for a donation form; artwork is due by Aug. 29.

Jesus built my rockstar

The cover story of this week's Newcity is a profile of Chicago filmmakers Heather Whinna and Vickie Hunter, whose first film (a documentary about Christian rock groups called Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?) will be screened at the 2004 Chicago Underground Film Festival, which starts on Wednesday, August 18 (tickets for CUFF are now available!).

The Speak Up Poster Contest

The good folks at Speak Up are holding a poster contest. Not just any poster contest but one judged by design heavyweights Art Chantry, Ellen Lupton and James Victore. Veer is co-sponsoring the whole shebang and will be offering the four final winning posters for sale. Winners get all four printed posters (silkscreened), a $75 Amazon gift certificate and $75 to spend at Veer. Deadline is September 10 so get cracking!

Catch them as they fall

It's time again for the Perseid meteor shower, when the earth passes through a cloud of debris from Swift-Tuttle comet. The shower is expected to peak tonight and tomorrow night, and should be seen decently from Chicago, as the moon is in in its crescent phase and its light will not interfere.


Chicago Astronomer suggests "start looking to the East/Northeast at dusk; this is when "Earth Grazers" skim the atmosphere like a rock across a pond and can produce great fireballs. You'll see more as the evening progresses, especially after midnight as we run directly head on into the debris field." The most meteors should be visible around 2am. Related: The Adler Planetarium has a newsletter, What's up in the sky this month?

Annie meets Edwards, Obama

Miss Annie T, friend of GB, met with John Edwards and Barack "The Man" Obama recently. She wrote about it and posted photos. On a side note, Manny's Deli, which I'm sure makes all kinds of decent food, does not make a veggie burger — see Annie's photo of aforementioned "burger" in aforementioned post. Did we write aforementioned twice? Yes we did.

Photo Brawl

Chris Trott of Chicago Snapshot has launched Pixelfight, a beautifully rendered Flash gallery of his favorite photos.

At our table

Because we like food around these parts and reading about it, here's another weblog to add to your foodie read list: At Our Table. The author, Linda describes the site as "A food and lifestyle blog chronicling the culinary adventures of a Chicago-based young woman, her husband and their baby girl. Welcome to our table!" So there you go. [via Kiplog's FoodBlog]

Still No Progress on Brown Line Rehab

The $530 million major renovation of the CTA brown line was scheduled to begin this past Spring, but was put on hold because construction bids were too high. No progress has been made in choosing new construction companies, but the CTA will be asking for new bids soon. Until then, our much-loved neighborhood under-the-El businesses (e.g., Beans n Bagels at Montrose) are spared the wrecking ball for another few months. CTA officials assure us the late start won't delay the projected completion date of December 31, 2009.

Go to Bank, Pay Bills, Clinic (Syphilis test)

Good news! Chicago bucks the national syphilis trend! Those ads on the CTA must be working.

A round of thanks

Deeply appreciated thanks to Eamon Daly and Jason Fried for their recent donations (you can donate too!) and many thanks to all of those who've bought lots of buttons, a poster or two and sent for their free stickers! All in the shop, folks.

Why Can't Chi-Town Read?

Chicago is number 58 on the list of most literate US cities, which drops us in between New York (49) and LA (68), and way behind Minneapolis and Seattle, numbers one and two, respectively. Good thing we've got that One Book Once Chicago program, huh?

Anyone seen the bridge?

It's a great day when you get a story like this: the tour bus driver for the Dave Matthews Band denies that his bus was the one that rained liquid waste on a tour boat on Sunday. An eyewitness to the accident gave authorities the license plate for the bus, but when he was talking to reporters the driver coaxed a police sergeant to inspect the tank (how'd you like THAT job?), who then told reporters that the tank was indeed nearly full.

Marathon Man

The Chicago Marathon is only a couple months away, and Mike Paus is blogging his preparations for the 26.2-mile run. (You might also be interested in the videos of him playing with glowsticks on strings, or his Tinley Park bar crawl page.)

House music comes home

The Trib has a good article outlining Chicago's (Daley's) growing acceptance of house music, which originated here 25 years ago but was somewhat marginalized in the last five years by a series of anti-rave laws. The inclusion of DJs in the SummerDance lineup on Wednesday nights in Grant Park is a long overdue recognition of yet another of Chicago's gifts to music lovers.

Hindu Temple Opens in Bartlett

This weekend saw the dedication of one of the largest Hindu temples in the country, in suburban Bartlett. The $15 million building was dedicated by His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Santhsa sect that built the temple, which was called the "eighth wonder of the world" by many visitors.

Today's odd sports-related injury story

A woman was hit by a ball after a White Sox game. Not a baseball... a golf ball. She's suing the Sox for not preventing the incident, which apparently involved someone hitting golf balls in the parking lot. Well, good luck on that.

Family Album

As we were visiting Millennium Park last night for the umpteenth time, a few friends and myself stumbled across a photo exhibition entitled "Family Album". Located at the northwest corner of the park, at the Wrigley Square and Millennium Monument (aka the pseudo-Roman pillars), the exhibit is open-air and is truly stunning. I'm rarely intrigued enough to really delve deep into an exhibit but I looked at all 103 photographs (selected from 1000) and read the accompanying text for each one. Family Album is Paris-based photographer Uwe Ommer's remarkable global journey capturing portraits of families from around the world (150 countries!).

Ç

Ever heard of Cedille Records? They're our local non-profit classical music label, featuring local talents as well as national acts. The label is celebrating its 15th anniversary, and is permanently reducing the price of its first 15 recordings. Here's a brief profile from Billboard.

City to Condemn Lincoln Ave Motels

Back in February, GB's Ask the Librarian column discussed the some of the history of the strip of motels along Lincoln Avenue. The column also noted that the city used its condemnation powers to acquire and demolish three of the motels in the late 1990s. Yesterday, the Tribune reported that the city is renewing its efforts to take over two additional motels, the Lincoln Motel at 5900 N. Lincoln and the Patio Motel at 6250 N. Lincoln, so they, too, can be torn down. Photographers, grab your cameras and record these historic buildings while you can because this era of Chicago lodging is quickly passing away.

River boat tour wasted

A Chicago River boat tour was ended prematurely on Sunday when the boat passed underneath the Kinzie Street bridge and got doused by an unwelcome rain of liquid waste from at least one of two charter buses that were passing overhead. From now on, I'm going to be packing an umbrella when I travel by boat.

Alan Keyes enters Senate race

Yep, Alan Keyes officially entered the race for the Senate this afternoon by announcing his candidacy at a rally in Arlington Heights. The Chicago Tribune was less than amused by Keyes' nomination, and published a very critical editorial on Friday, welcoming Keyes to Illinois without mincing words: "If Keyes accepts, he will run and will lose. And then he will hop on the next flight back to Maryland, and the state's GOP will be left with nothing but the smell of jet fumes."

Paddling Through Summer

The Lincoln Park Boat Club is a great way to see a totally different view of the skyline - from a boat that you're paddling! In addition to teaching classes such as next weekend's Introduction to Sea Kayaking, they also have excursions to nearby waterways for members. Members are also allowed to check out equipment for excusions (say, a midnight paddle along the lake anyone?) If you'd like to get out and paddle but don't think you can store a canoe in your 1BR, this is the thing for you.

Defiant to the end

You heard it here... well, not quite first. At the end of this, their eleventh season, Defiant Theatre will be disbanding. The company that was founded in 1993 by a group of U of I grads and quickly attracted young audiences with its provocative, "dangerous" style, has decided to pull the plug with most of the founding members having moved on. They'll finish out the run of their current production of The Pyrates (p.s., I'm in it) and conclude with A Clockwork Orange, currently in rehearsals for a September opening. Full story at PerformInk.

Gold Coast Art Fair

Hey, art lovers. Don't forget that the 47th Annual Gold Coast Art Fair is taking place this weekend. More than 350 artists from across the country have gathered between Superior, Huron and Erie Streets at LaSalle in the River North neighborhood. Admission to the fair is free, and the River North galleries will be open for the duration of the event. The Gold Coast Art Fair takes place today from Noon-6pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm.

Glorious Noise is making records!

Over at Glorious Noise, Jake Brown has announced that he's starting a record label, Glorious Noise Records, and the first release will be by local faves Quasar Wut-Wut. To celebrate the release, they're having a party at Beat Kitchen on Saturday, August 28. You should go, because you like noises.

Von Freeman's Smoky Sax

In case you missed it Wednesday, here's a link to Tony Sarabia's excellent profile of Von Freeman, one of the last remaining musicians from the Golden Age of Jazz. At 81, Freeman just released a new album, The Great Divide, and still plays an open jam session every Tuesday at the New Aparment Lounge, 504 E. 75th.

O'Hare: now with 5% less delays!

The Sun-Times reports that delayed flights at O'Hare improved in June, with on-time arrivals increasing from 64 to 69%, and on-time departures increasing from 68 to 70%. That puts O'Hare ahead of Atlanta's Heartsfield-Jackson in improving flight delays, but the airport still needs to cut back the number of flights, according to the FAA.

Your City, Your Music

The Chicago Music Guide is exactly what it claims it is: a surprisingly in-depth guide to Chicago bands and music venues. In addition to profiles, pictures and reviews, the site offers a portal page to local bands' sites and also to the concert calendars of dozens of venues. This month they're featuring industrial stalwarts Ministry; sign up to win an autographed copy of their latest album, "Houses of the Molé"

Raw comics on display

This weekend at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington), an exhibit of comic art opens. Titled "Raw, Boiled and Cooked: Comics on the Verge," the show focuses on artists inspired by Art Spiegelman's highly influential magazine Raw. Chicago artists represented in the show include Lynda Barry, Ivan Brunetti, Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes. There are various special programs planned during the run of the show, which is scheduled to be on display through October 3. Check the Cultural Center's website for a complete schedule and visiting hours.

Chi-town Activists to Invade NYC

Care to do a little protesting? What if it involves a little travel? ChicagoNewYork.net is organizing local activists to head to the Big Apple to protest the Republican National Convention at the end of this month. It's not too late to sign up!

The hits of baseball

ESPN has assembled a list of songs played before at-bats of various Cubs and White Sox. (In 1941 Wrigley Field became baseball's first park to install an organ and is the only one that still plays introductions on the organ. Indeed, one hidden joy of going to a game is recognizing the gag songs that organist Gary Pressy plays to taunt opposing players, such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" for Houston's Mike Lamb. Trivia: Pressy is who guesses a home run's distance for the Southwest Airlines "How Far Did It Fly" contest.)

More Oprah

Oprah Winfrey has signed a contract to continue her Chicago-based talk show through the year 2011, which would be the show's 25th year in syndication.

The Wall on PBS

In 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and a host of others staged a live performance of The Wall in Berlin. This Sunday, Channel 11 will be airing the concert - incredibly the first time the performance has been broadcast in the U.S. The Wall - Berlin 90 will also be simulcast on the Loop 97.9 FM. The event begins at 9pm.

Illinois Farm Direct

The Illinois Farm Direct Farmer to Consumer Directory has a searchable list of Illinois farmers that will sell their produce directly to you -- yes, YOU. Type in your zip code and a search radius, and you'll see what farmers are within your reach. And then you can support local farmers, while getting fresh farm produce at the same time. Everybody wins!

606 Refreshed

In case you hadn't noticed, 606 Magazine launched their latest issue this week. Of note: commentary on the FCC's cleaning up of the airwaves, a point-coutnerpoint on psychics, and a profile of the author of Baghdad Burning, a female Iraqi blogger, and the city in which she lives. Get your kicks.

Umlaut Time

The new IKEA catalogues are now online for 2005. Check them out here, or get yourself to their Schaumburg store to browse their new stock. For those who like to dog-ear pages, you should be seeing it in the mail soon.

Alan Keyes: 'I'll think about it'

Last night, Illinois GOP leaders asked Alan Keyes to be their candidate against Barack Obama this fall. Keyes' response: he'll think about it, and let us know on Sunday. GOP leaders are excited about having Keyes as their candidate, although one source quoted in the Sun-Times article points to a potential problem for his campaign: "Well, he doesn't try real hard to make everybody happy."

Batmobile in the Loop

The new Batmobile cruises Chicago [you'll need QuickTime for the video clip]. The car rounds the corner of Wells and Adams, provoking awe and wonder in the fellow holding the camera. Don't be thrown by the "GPD" police cruisers - though labeled for Gotham, they're in Chicago.

Get your shop on

After, like, forever, the GB Shop is now open for business. We have buttons and posters for sale. We have stickers too and best of all those are free with a self addressed stamped envelope. We've also got t-shirts on the way and another nifty little thing which will be unnamed at this point, but suffice to say, it's pretty darn cool. So whatcha waiting for?

This is Grand Photo Contest

This is Grand, our favorite website featuring tales of travel on the CTA, has announced a photo contest. Entries are due September 15th and must feature the CTA in some capacity. Shutterbugs, take note.

New Chef has Homegrown Roots

Last month, Chicago Magazine reported that Sarah Stegner, executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, was leaving her post after 20 years of service. Not to worry, the Ritz has found a valuable replacement and Bridgeport native to fill the vacancy. Kevin Hickey, of the Four Seasons Atlanta, has worked in such cities as San Francisco, Dublin, London, and also the Renaissance Hotel here in Chicago. Kevin counts Stegner, and the chefs at Naha and Blackbird as his personal friends. With such a high-level circle, we expect lots of good things to come; he starts September 1.

Flea Markets

Looking for some knick-knack to fill out your mantle? Hankerin' for an antique? You might consider hitting the flea market circuit. Here's a handy list of Illinois flea markets to get you started -- alas, it doesn't include the Chicago Antique Market, which is a bit higher class.

Breakin' at the Neo-Futurarium

Tonight the Neo-Futurists wind up their summer schedule of dramatic readings of bad, forgotten, or otherwise neglected films. This year's installment of "It Came From The Neo-Futurarium" concludes with a reading of 1984's Breakin' (Not Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo). The film will be (no doubt memorably) reenacted by actors from the Barrel of Monkeys theater troupe. The show begins tonight at 8:00 at the Neo-Futurarium (5153 N. Ashland), and reservations are highly recommended. See the Neo-Futurist Website for more details, or call the theater at (773) 275-5255.

The Airlines and O'Hare

In an effort to combat ever increasing delays, the FAA has scheduled a meeting for all domestic carriers serving O'Hare. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the airline executives will enjoy a lunch of reheated chicken served in little plastic treys, and a small cup of orange juice sealed with foil.

GOP candidate list narrowed down to two

Last night, Illinois Republicans announced that they've narrowed their Senate candidate search to two candidates. There's Andrea Grubb Barthwell, a former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy who contributed to the Democratic party until 2001. (One GOP strategist, upon hearing that Barthwell was near the top of the list, was quoted by the Sun-Times as responding, "Are you f

Zebra muscles

The New York Times gives a glowing review to Green Zebra, which it says raises the stea stakes in vegetarian cuisine. Like Spring before it, this latest invention of Shawn McClain, Esquire's 2001 Chef of the Year, features interior design by Francois Geneve and cheese considered more valuable than gold. Outstanding vegetarian food is hardly a contradiction in Chicago, however, thanks to the likes of Chicago Diner, Soul Vegetarian East and the many, many wonders of Devon Street.

Wrigleyville community meeting

The Cubs, along with aldermen Tunney, Shiller, Schulter and Matlak, are holding a community meeting tonight for midseason review of the Wrigleyville Neighborhood Protection Plan agreed to by the Cubs in exchange for an increase in night games. Residents with questions about traffic management, litter, or other such considerations might want to attend. Questions like "Don't you think Nomar is too little, too late?" probably should be reserved for another forum.

Kohl's Opening in Chicago

Chicago apparently can't have enough discount retailers clamoring for our shopping dollars. The latest entry on the field is Kohl's Department Store, which will be opening its first Chicago location along the Elston corridor on a site that was formerly a DuPont Chemical Co. paint factory. Kohl's will be joined by a new Best Buy store. Because, you know, you can never have enough Best Buys.

Millennium Park: Redundant

From the Detroit Free Press: "Trapped now by his own imagery, Gehry apparently wanted to give Millennium Park's creators something less showy than his trademark metallic ribbons and swirls. But they insisted on their own version of what by now has become the Gehry formula."

All Ware, All the Time

Jiminy! This Acme Novelty Archive v2.0 contains everything you could possibly want to know about local illustrated novelist Chris Ware, his art and products, and even fakes! And it's much"1.0" version! [via list.]

Silent Film Festival

The Silent Summer 2004 Film Festival is underway at the Gateway Theatre, hosted by the The Silent Film Society of Chicago. This Friday, come out to see The Iron Horse, John Ford's silent Western epic from 1924. The film will be accompanied by a live orchestra. Other films in the festival are accompanied by live organ music. Check out the Silent Film Society of Chicago website for more information about the festival and other silent film events around the city.

Storm Tix On Sale

Tickets to the inaugural season of the Chicago Storm pro indoor soccer team went on sale today. For as little as $190, you could get a season pass for the city's newest pro team. (I just wish they called them The Sting, like the old NASL team.) Meantime, there are still six regular season games left for The Fire.

Fantasy baseball

When White Sox pitchers last week hit Twins infielder Corey Koskie three times in one game -- tying a record -- a Minnesota fan was dismayed that no bench-clearing brawl ensued. To fill the void she used the magic of Legos to dramatize what may not have actually happened but should have. A friend observes that the Darth Vader revelation explains much about Frank Thomas: his unpopularity in spite of great power, his tendency to choke with force and his destiny to fall. (Via BRPA 2004.)

Lay's vs. Jays, the final chapter

The legal dispute between Frito-Lay and Jays, over recent claims in Frito-Lay advertising that Chicagoans preferred Lay's to Jays, has now been settled. Frito-Lay promised to not run any comparative ads with Jays for 2 years, and agreed to pay Jays' legal fees. Let this be a warning to any other potato chip maker coming to town: don't mess with Jays.

Alan Keyes?

Today's the day that Illinois Republicans are meeting to decide on a replacement for Jack Ryan in this fall's Senate race, and a new name has suddenly appeared on the list of possible candidates: Alan Keyes, the conservative from Maryland who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2000. On the positive side, he had his own cable TV show ("Alan Keyes Is Making Sense"), and his opinions on various issues are well known, from abortion (he don't like it) to affirmative action (he don't like it) to gun control (he don't like it) to families (he do like it). On the negative side, he doesn't actually live in Illinois (legally, he doesn't have to reside in Illinois until election day), and has never been elected to any office, despite his presidential runs and unsuccessful runs for a Senate seat in Maryland. Still, Republicans seem ready to embrace Keyes if he decides to run, and Barack Obama is quoted as saying, "We'll be happy to debate whoever they put in."

Abby Ryan Explained

I have often wondered: who is that Abby Ryan I hear so often on the radio? Many of you know her from WBEZ, but she does other stations as well. What are Abby's dreams? Her wishes? And an important question: Does she clip coupons? An interview at The Fish's site gives us a peak at Chicago's #1 traffic personality.

Bad Music News

Looking for all the latest in elevator music? Heard a great song at the dentist's office and didn't catch the title? You're in luck! WNUA, Chicago's home of smooth jazz, aka elevator music, posts their top 10 list online. While I'm on the topic of bad music -- Muzak is hiring in Chicago! Who wouldn't want to work for the premier provider of on-hold music?

News Brothers

The Sun-Times has looked divine since its redesign last year, and it's no wonder: Two of its designers, Eric White and Robb Montgomery, are on a mission from God.

Gaelic Storm on WGN

As we expected, Celtic band Gaelic Storm put on a floor-stompin' show at the Abbey Pub last night. Before they breeze through town completely, they'll make an appearance on WGN Morning News tomorrow around 7:50 am (possibly earlier) to promote and play something from their new album "How are we getting home?", the group's 5th—and some say best—album to date.

Like White Castle but Better

As a tie-in with Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Metromix today features a round-up of places that take the "slider" burger style in totally different, much more appetizing directions. Guinness-cheddar dipping sauce? Count me in.

Livin' La Vida Breakin'

Feeling nostalgic for awful 80s breakdance films? Pine no more—in a bizarre cosmic coincidence, Chicago's got you covered this week. Barrel of Monkeys and The Neo-Futurists will perform a staged reading of the 1984 classic Breakin' on Wednesday, August 4 at 8 pm as part of their It Came from the Neo-Futurarium III series. Tickets $10, $8 students/seniors. To completely pacify your breakdance jones, head over to Metro on Saturday night for the "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" breakdance contest. With MC Anacron and DJ Pier Novikov, 10 pm/$10.

GB Friend Gets Big Apple Shout-Out

Hey, hey, hey! This weekend, NYC must-read Gawker directed readers to check out Chicago DJ extraordinaire Atomly! You might have caught him at a Gapers Block party or elsewhere around town. He'll be at Chicago's Cafe Lura on Aug. 18.

Traffic updates

Speaking of traffic and construction, the Chicagoland expressway congestion map provides a regularly-updated almost real-time color-coded traffic map. Or just listen to WBBM 780 on the eights if you're not near a computer. 

Fund a Book

Jason Pettus writes a lot of things, including travel books. He has a novel way of paying for the trips these books are based on: donate cash for the trip, and you also reserve a copy of the book. $5 gets you on a mailing list to receive trip updates, $10 gets you an electronic version of the book, and $20 gets you a hard copy. He has some interesting "corporate sponsorship" ideas for those who donate $50 or more. His next trip is to England and Ireland in October, and he's a little under half-way to his goal of $1000; care to contribute?

Worst traffic EVER.

There are a number of construction projects happening this summer on the highways between Chicago and northwest Indiana, and they've all combined to create an unusually long commute for drivers going to or coming from Indiana. Unfortunately, it's not going to get any better anytime soon; the bulk of the work is scheduled to last for three years. Just keep this in mind, next time you decide to take the Chicago Skyway. Perhaps an alternative route going through Kentucky?

Watch What You Eat...

...you may get more than you expected. The Brookfield Zoo received the gift of a California black widow spider from a woman who discovered it in a bunch of grapes she was eating. Jewel, where the grapes came from, will be inspecting its produce a little more closely.

Constant Flow of Water

Rejoice, all ye who drank from the fonts of Lincoln Park! The water fountains in the park will once again flow constantly, thanks to overwhelming complaints that the water tasted bad after the city installed on-off switches on the fountains to conserve water. See, you can make a difference!

 

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