Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, October 5

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


The Washington Story

If you're part of the GB Book Club, our lovely moderator Alice has already notified you of the release of Adam Langer's follow up to Crossing California. If not, you can check out the Trib's review of Washington Story, named for Mayor Harold Washington. An interview with Langer was published on Sunday. Both pieces show the book in a favorable light, so it's going to take some restraint for me to not run to the bookstore right now.

Ultra-blue, through and through

Rep. Jan Schakowsky's hubby, political consultant Robert Creamer, pleaded guilty today for all manner of tax violations and bank fraud. Creamer was penitent in court, and Schakowsky's standing by her man. While this multi-million dollar swindle might be cause for scandal elsewhere, the last line of the AP report sums up local politics pretty well: "Schakowsky, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, said she doesn't think her husband's plea would prompt a primary challenge next year in her heavily Democratic district."

Blues Brothers Mall Chase, Revisited

Sometime earlier this year, the owner of a replica Bluesmobile broke into the long-shuttered Dixie Square Mall and sort of reenacted the famous chase sequence from Blues Brothers on the 25th anniversary of the film's release. [via the comments in this Chicagoist post] Interestingly, and completely unrelated, there's also a documentary being filmed about Dixie Square.

A Few Good Bands

With our newest section, Transmission, we've been showcasing local musical artists and we're taking submissions. If you'd like to be considered, take a look at the section and send in some info to me at nh [at] gapersblock [dot] com.

Hancock = Gateway To Hell?

I ran into this interesting little tidbit of info on "Anton LaVey, in his popular work, The Devil's Notebook, credited some of Chicago's paranormal openness to its architecture, namely, the trapezoidal John Hancock building, the shape of which has been traditionally known as a gateway for arcane forces." This according to the book Creepy Chicago; A Ghosthunter's Tales of the City's Scariest Sites by Ursula Bielski. In my best Johnny Carson voice, I can honestly say "I did not know that."

Jean Therapy

Jennifer Aniston was totally sporting trouser jeans while in Chicago filming The Break-Up, but are we all to abandon our ultra-low-rise jeans? Enter LA-based company Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. The company’s Tummy Tuck Jeans feature a patented criss cross fabric which flattens tummies, contours hips and lifts buttocks, and most importantly allows women to go down one jean size. If you’re a Gold Coast shopper get yours at Only She. Other Chicagoans might visit any city Nordstroms. A few Lifestyles staffers over at the Sun-Times tried out the brand, but will you (or your momma)?

Help After the Hurricane

By now you're well aware of the mounting problems in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and many other parts of the country due to Hurricane Katrina. The best ways you can help victims, however, are through local channels. The McCormick Tribune Foundation is going to match donations up to $1 Million at 50 cents on the dollar, and check with your work about corporate gift matching which helps your money go further to help others. Also, there are places you can donate basic necessities, medical services (including blood), and volunteer across the area. Make sure you donate through verified aid groups, though, such as some of these and others that FEMA has noted.

Chicago veggie votes

Today is the last day to vote for Veg News magazine's 2005 Veggie awards. There are a number of Chicago favorites nominated, including Chicago Diner and the fabulous Chicago Soy Dairy.

Welcome to the Machine

There's a new zine in town: The Machine. There's a release party tonight at Quimby's at 8pm, another one on Saturday at MoJoe's and yet another at Smartbar on Sunday, if you're interested; details on their site. In the meantime, check the mag out in PDF format.

I Park Like an Idiot

When I saw this bumper sticker on SkinnyCorp's Threadless van a couple months ago, I didn't realize that they were the ones behind it. I'm tempted to pick up a pack.

Balancing the earnest and ironic

It's been downloaded half a million times, but the video for Chicago band OK Go's "A Million Ways" is still awesome. Today, as the band's latest album, Oh No, hits the shops, NPR's Robert Siegel talked to singer Damian and his choreographer sister, Trish, about why zany, ballroom and Matrix-inspired dancing works.


Now that the nights are cooler, I'm finding myself a little more comfortable when I curl up on the sofa with my knitting. But I'm de-freaking-lighted at the prospect of sitting and watching the White Sox play while I sip a cool one while I knit. If you haven't bought your tickets yet, whaddaya waitin for? Seriously, they're only $12. Even if you don't want to knit you can be surrounded by hot knitters for cheap. Where there is beer. And hot dogs. And nachos. In front of a winning baseball team. And you just might see yourself on the Jumbo-Tron.

Get your site did

Even though I'd looked at it earlier this morning, I've only just realized what should have been obvious: the Trib's website has had a makeover! The most apparent change is the filled-up screen; an editor's note describes a few others. Reader comments are welcome at daywatch (at)

Gleaming the Kennedy?

This week's "Detour" article presents three blue-sky ideas for reuse of the wasted space beneath an expressway overpass in the city. Although the article was written as a piece of fiction, the concepts might not be that far out: apparently the residents of Logan Square are looking to build a Chicago Park District Skatepark beneath the Kennedy Expressway. This skate park "with a roof" would be just one project in the interesting (and massive) Logan Square Open Space Plan that looks to create over 15 acres of useable open space in the super-densely populated neighborhood.

Zine's the Thing

The Columbia College of Chicago's Center for Book and Paper Arts is planning an exhibit on zines that are (or once were) based in Chicago. If you count youself in that number contact William Drendel, the Gallery Coordinator at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at bdrendel{at} or call (312) 344-6684.

See Dead Bodies at Midnight

If you haven't made it to the Bodyworlds exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry yet, you have until Monday to make it. And to accommodate all those last-minute visitors, the museum is going to keep the show open 24 hours a day from 9:30am Saturday through 9pm Monday. So if you've always wanted to see skinless humans at 3am, your wish is granted.

The 7 Wonders of Chicago?

The Chicago Tribune has announced it's nominees for the 7 Wonders of Chicago. Pretty typical stuff (the voting begins Sept 9) but the article on Chicago's Seven Lost Wonders is much more intriguing.

Chicago public spaces, good and bad

The Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit dedicated to creating and sustaining public places that build communities, recently named Chicago's Devon Avenue one of the best public spaces in the world. They note that Devon "has managed to retain its identity and strong social fabric rather than giving way to the pressures of gentrification." But before you get too proud about the city, know that Chicago is also represented on the nonprofit's list of the most overrated public places in the world by, of course, Millennium Park ("There is spectacle to behold, but not the variety of experience necessary for a truly great public space").

Fight Flyers with Fire

Artist Jonathan Gitelson moved across the street from the Funky Buddha Lounge last year, and soon found his car plastered with as many as 10 flyers a night for nightclubs and strip bars. He made lemonade with them lemons, in the form of a car cover stitched with hundreds of flyers. He parks his car in front of offending clubs, thows the car cover on and takes pictures. More in the Our Town column in this week's Reader (PDF).


Thanks to all who joined us at Inner Town Pub on Friday for our monthly Get-Together. It was a great time, despite the crowd and the fact that, contrary to our listing, Inner Town has no beer garden. The staffer who told us this (why did we believe him?) has been flogged -- he was mistaking Inner Town for Happy Village a block away, which does have an outdoor area.
Apparently, after we left around midnight, a flood of people showed up under the impression that there was a beer garden to be had, leading to occupancy issues and Inner Town was closed early by police. Sorry!

Jumped Into the Gap

Apparently, the new attire for gang members is a little harder to spot than the old UNC logo or red bandana: it's a plain white t-shirt.

Escaping Hurricane Katrina in style

A family from Glencoe that was down in New Orleans to help their son check into Tulane University escaped from the path of the oncoming hurricane via limousine. Cost of the limo trip from New Orleans to Chicago: $3,700.

Something cooking this weekend

Sure, it sometimes seems like they charge $1.35 for a single lemon, but Whole Foods is throwing itself a killer 25th birthday party with lots of cooking demonstrations this weekend in Jonquil Park, at the intersection of Wrightwood, Lincoln, and Sheffield. For $5, you can see Charlie Trotter, Rick Bayless, Rick Tramonto, and HB owners Dan Smith and Steve McDonough on Saturday; on Sunday, you can see Paul Wildermuth, Jared Case, Paul Choi, and a mystery chef. There is also a music stage, as well as a kids' pavillion featuring Environmental Elvis.

Bernard Williams/Louis Sullivan Mashup

Chicago-based artist Bernard Williams will show a series of sculptures and drawings that manipulate the decorative patterns found in the Chicago area landmarks by the architect Louis Sullivan. If you're free this Sunday, August 28, between 3-5 pm, head over to The Hyde Park Art Center (5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd, Chicago). If you miss it, no fear; the exhibition runs through October 8th. Admission is free.

Downstate Hoax

The Tribune has uncovered a bizarre hoax perpetrated on Southern Illinois University's school newspaper and beyond. Two years ago, the Daily Egyptian received a letter from an 8-year-old girl named Kodee. Her father, Sgt. Dan Kennings, was in Iraq. Her letter became a column, which continued to appear in the paper until recently, when news came that Kennings had been killed. Tribune reporters headed down to Carbondale to report on the story, and instead discovered that Dan Kennings didn't exist. Blogger Out of the Box has a little more, as does the Southern Illinoisian.

Cubs in Five

We've added a new column to Airbags: Cubs in Five. Each week until the end of the Cubs season, Jeff Webber is giving you five talking points for those inevitable chats around the water cooler or at the bar. (If someone would like to write one for the Sox, contact me at

Second City Radio Is On The Air. Earlier.

Second City Radio, which airs on 105.9 WCKG, has moved into the 5pm to 7pm time slot on Saturdays. The show is hosted by Second City alum Jim Zulevic. Each week, Jim is joined by other Second City alum and together they skewer the week's headlines. Those Second City folks are pretty good at that comedy stuff and the new time slot is much better than the old 10pm to midnight slot, so maybe you should check it out, huh?

Get it together: August

And if you like beer gardens, low-key bars in popular neighbourhoods and hanging out with people who make websites and other good things in their time, well, the Gapers Block Get Together tonight might be right up your alley. At the Inner Town Pub, 9PM onwards.

Friday Banjo Spotlight

Did you wake up this morning and say "I feel like a little suburban banjo music?" I did, and friend, I have quite the site for you. Listen to live versions of "Oh Susanna" and "Boil That Cabbage Down" from suburban twangers "Loose Change and Friends".

El-e-phant, el-e phant.

PETA had a scientist speak on their behalf in a city council meeting regarding a proposed ordinance that would increase the amount of space in Chicago zoos or circuses traveling through Chicago. Best quote of the day: "We don't deal with elephant issues on a day-to-day basis in our neighborhoods, and we want to dig deeper into the issues" The fact that the three elephants in question are named Tatima, Peaches and Wankie is enough to make me like this story, as is.

Time For A Ride

Don't forget that today is Chicago Critical Mass. While it's technically just a bike ride, it's absolutely a ton of fun. 5:30 at Daley Plaza. Bring a bike and a smile.

South Side Home Movie Project

On Saturday the South Side Home Movie Project hosts its Kick-Off Screening Party. The Project's goal is to create alternative historical records by showing and preserving home movies shot by South Side residents. Today's party runs from 3-5pm at the Little Black Pearl Art & Design Center, 1060 E. 47th St. The free screening will be followed by a reception. Sounds like an interesting way to learn more about South Side history and, if you are a South Sider, to learn how to make it yourself.

Rogers Park, Represent!

I don't know who Archie Gait is, or whether that's even his real name, but he deserves credit both for his site's enthusiastic voice and for its humorously straight to the point subtitle: "A blog dedicated to dispelling the myth that Morse Ave. is some sort of hellhole."

Back In Black

This Saturday is the grand re-opening of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed Crown Hall on the campus of IIT. Restoration of the modernist masterpiece has been completed, and the campus is celebrating with an open house, as well as campus tours, readings, and live music from the M's. ArchitectureChicago Plus has the schedule of events here as well as exhaustive amounts of information about van der Rohe's design of the IIT's campus. And while you're down there, be sure to check out Rem Koolhaas's student center and Helmut Jahn's dormitory-- both fine examples of provocative modern architecture South of the Loop!

Building Better (Biking) Communities

If you are interested in how to make your community more bike- or pedestrian- friendly, register now for the Southland-Calumet Healthy Streets And Trails Workshop. The focus of the workshop is community building for the southern half of the Chicago region, including NW Indiana. Topics covered include how to build trails with little funding, how to improve economic development through bike trails, and safe routes to school.

Bid on a Trip to J.Lo-Land

You know Jennifer Lopez is opening a boutique in the State Street Marshall Fields, right? Well, the grand opening is being treated like a red carpet event. Bidding opened today on two VIP tickets to the Sept. 22 opening, along with several samples from the JLO clothing line, at She of the glorious behind will be present, and you'll get a night in a four-star hotel and $1,000 spending money. The auction proceeds benefit Children's Hospital ...of Los Angeles.

Chicagoland on TV

It's been in plenty of movies, including Blues Brothers and Natural Born Killers. For its next act, the Joliet Correctional Center will be the setting for a new series on FOX; Trib columnist Maureen Ryan spent a day on the set of Prison Break and talks about it on her blog. And speaking of locals on TV, foodies should mark their calendars: Angel Food Bakery, 1636 W. Montrose Ave., will appear on Food Network's "Recipe For Success" Next Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 8:30pm.

We're No. 17! We're No. 17!

In a nonpartisan study released earlier this week, the Bay Area Center for Voting Research ranked the political leanings of every U.S. city. The most conservative city is Provo, Utah. Not much of a shocker. However, Chicago — long known for its Democratic leanings — is a surprising number 17 on the liberal list. Neighbor Gary, Indiana, ranked right behind the "winner," Detroit, Michigan. Perhaps we need to reinstate the old tradition of "vote early, vote often" to up the statistics before the next survey?

Another Reason to Skip Those Red Papers

Sick of getting your dose of American dailiness The RedEye? Check out the current exhibit at Eastern Illinois University's Tarble Art Center: Sinister. “[Sinister] offers a look into a group of artists that are questioning the very nature of our daily lives,” says curator and EIU art department faculty Chris Kahler. Many of my favorite exhibiting artists are based in or connected to Chicago. Dana De Ano, Saya Woolfalk and Alex Jovanovich are SAIC graduates.
John Parot teaches @ SAIC. Maria Tomasula studied at UIC and Northwestern, Sterling Ruby has shown at Apt 1R, Julia Farstad has an MA from UIUC, Chris Cosnowski teaches at Northwestern, and Renee Gory, Laurie Hogin, and Paul Nudd have studios in Chicago. The Tarble Arts Center is about a three hour drive from Chicago, so don't forget to entertain yourself.

1979 Chicago, Captured

How much has Chicago changed in 10 years? What was there before Millennium Park had its Bean? I stumbled across this neat jumble of image resources about Chicago today, including old maps, aerial photographs, and some especially fascinating images of Lawndale during the late 1970s.

Maybe Brandmeier, Definitely not Mancow

Phil Rosenthal reports that The Loop is trying to re-hire Jonathan Brandmeier as its morning DJ, nearly 10 years after the station fired him. Unfortunately, Infiniti Broadcasting isn't letting him out of the last year of his contract. Meanwhile, Q101's Mancow has been confirmed not to be Howard Stern's replacement on WCKG next year, to the likely relief of thousands.

Sell your house but keep the condo.

There has been talk of the housing bubble and Chicago is not impervious to this phenomenon. According to Crain's, new home sales are down but condo sales slighly rose. Ouch.

Attention Students: the Food Fight Will Be Held Next Door

According to a new study, more than 80 percent of Chicago public schools have at least one fast food restaurant within half a mile of campus. So while Chicago may be making the food available inside its schools healthier, kids who don't want granola don't have far to walk.

Rally panties?

Yes, rally panties. Whatever it takes, I guess. They should send some to the Cubs.

Crosstown Classic In the Making

Reader Evan says, "I guess the Windy City Rollers couldn't satisfy this city's insatiable appetite for girls wrastling on rollerskates." The Chi-Town Sirens are recruiting for a rival roller derby league tonight at 9pm at Leila Jane's, 1008 W. Armitage.

Walk the neighborhood without having to step outside

Since Google Maps launched earlier this year, the competition in the online mapping world has been pretty slim. However with the recent beta launch of Amazon's A9 maps, things are starting to heat up. A9 maps has integrated the BlockView Images from their Yellow Pages into their new mapping site, allowing you to "walk up and down the block" through street level photos. Google's satellite maps might be a lot of fun to play with, but when you can't remember the name of that bar with the outdoor seating around Damen & North, seeing this will help you a lot more than this.

Watch That Meter

Chicago police wrote 60,000 fewer parking tickets last year than in 2003, and numbers are down even further this year. It's a good thing the city raised the cost of a ticket, otherwise they'd be losing money. Still, you'd better keep your meter filled, your city stickers current -- the rest of the year is probably going to be tough on street parkers.

Shameless Chicago

Shameless Restaurants, the message board for the industry's workers, had a Chicago forum. It's still a bit nascent, but a potentially good source for communication in the server community.


The Magic Pan chain of restaurants, which hit it big in the 1970s when America was apparently ready to eat anything as long as it was stuffed into a crepe, may be poised for a comeback, thanks to Chicago's Lettuce Entertain You restaurant chain. The Sun-Times reports that there's a Magic Pan Crepe Stand already open in Minnesota's Mall of America, and on Thursday a second Magic Pan will open in Northbrook Court. Until a Magic Pan shows up closer to home, we city dwellers will have to make do with such places as La Creperie on Clark Street, with its chicken-and-mushroom crepes and onion soup gratinee. Oh, poor us!

Meet Satan's Angel

She's performing in this Saturday's Gurlesque Burlesque show at the Abbey. She made her burlesque debut in the '60s. She's Satan's Angel! Come meet the lady at Stargaze between 6 and 9 this Friday and chat her up about her life in burlesque, the celebrities she's bedded, and the whole thing about getting hit by the semi. Learn more about her in this Windy City Times interview.

Big Fat Oreo

Paul McAleer, local activist (and former GB staffer) is featured in a Tribune photo essay about the anniversary of Nabisco's classic Oreo Cookie. Let's all raise our milk glasses in a toast!

Everything old is new again?

According to Crain's (Subscription req'd), Old Style is attempting a sales comeback, hot on the coattails of the recent PBR popularity boom. If you haven't noticed the new billboards around town, Old Style has launched a new "irreverent" ad campaign that is trying to reposition its brand as more young and hip, while still retaining it's neighborhood beer status. "More refreshing than a parking spot in Lincoln Park" and "More refreshing than stopping Bucktown before it Lincoln Parks" may cause you to roll your eyes, but I thought the Ukrainian Village radio ad (mp3 clip) was pretty on point. Cheers.

Fear and Trembling Dot Com

"Life is short and miserable, and death is coming fast. So be afraid. Be very, very afraid." According to CJR Daily's Edward B. Colby, that's the message sent by the Trib's website and its chronic tendency for doomsday headlines. And here I thought it was just overdue for a redesign.

See Chicago Dance

If you're looking to get tickets to great dance performances in Chicago, search no further than See Chicago Dance. The website, which is still in its infancy (look for an official launch in early September), will be an online ticket vendor, as well as a calendar of events for the dance-inclined Chicagoan. Companies ranging from the local troupe to national touring productions will be featured, and you can even get ticket and venue-related food deals through the newsletter or Hot Deals page.

How Work Gets Done in Chicago

Excellent commentary from Payton, who writes: "A Chinese fast-food franchise at an airport is managed by a company owned by a Black Muslim named Jabir, except that it's really run by a white guy named Tony." The story he references in the Chicago Journal shows the mechanics of how the corruption scandals we've heard about in recent months actually work: "Tony" withdrew his interest once the investigations started. Funny, no?

Old Town School classes: From hula to harmonica

The Old Town School of Folk Music starts up another session of classes next week, and if you were thinking about taking a music, dance or voice class there soon, you can sign up today and save $15 on the cost of your class. Browse the list of classes that covers a wide range of musical and dance styles, sign up for your class online, and start making beautiful music.

Pinball Wizardry

Forget videogames -- hardcore gamers go for pinball! And this November, the Pinball Expo hits town with the force of a steel ball bearing. In addition to opportunities to buy, trade and play bodytables, conventioneers will have the opportunity to tour Stern Pinball in Melrose Park, the last remaining pinball manufacturer in the world. (Can't afford a ticket? Watch the tour online.)

Garbage Tours

Care to tour the trash? You could, and for just $7. The Southeast Environmental Task Force's "Down in the Dumps" tour took a group through water treatment facilities, landfills and recycling centers on the Southeast Side for a peek at how the city disposes of things.

CTA Safety First

Late last week, Fuel asked whether you feel safe. Today, the Sun-Times profiles a key figure in Chicago's effort to make sure the answer's yes: meet the CTA's vice president of security and training, Pat Daly.

What you're doing next year

Coming to Chicago next April: WrestleMania 22. You're going, right?

Garfield Park Art Market

The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance always inaugurates the change of seasons with assorted merriment. When your heart is a park, that seems quite appropriate. A weekend long art market starts Friday, August 26th with the Market After Dark reception at 5:30. Saturday and Sunday enjoy music, dance, artwork, food, and greenery from 9 to 5. Catch a dance performance from Thomas Baker, an artist from Switching Station Lofts. Festivities will be held at the Conservatory Market, 300 North Central Park Ave. Call 773-638-1766 ext. 28 for more information.

LGBT Life During Wartime

Only a few weeks after the Chicago City Council passed a resolution opposing the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the Windy City Times reports on the case of a local man who told, albeit inadvertantly. Earlier this month, Jeff Howe was discharged from the US Army for identifying himself as gay in a social networking profile, despite having remained in the closet to his colleagues and commanders. Once his sexual orientation was revealed, Howe's superiors took immediate action to separate him, regardless of prior awards and the involuntary extension of his tour. Howe will speak about his experience at an event hosted by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on Sept. 23rd; call 773/752-0058 for more details.

So Long Lakeview Lounge

First heard rumor-fashion on Craigslist Rants and Raves, turns out it's true that Uptown dive bar/ late-night legend the Lakeview Lounge will soon be shutting its doors for good. No telling exactly when the last night will be, but it'll likely be very soon -- New City already ran an obituary, although the bar is still open tonight. Owner Cathy told me it has to do with rising rent prices and a need to find a new location, since the building's owners have other plans for the space at 5110 North Broadway. Even the house band Nite Watch has been sent home. They likely won't be open late, so head out early and drink a few for an old friend.

Officers Gone Wild

What is it with the Chicago PD lately? First we learn about cops beating up suspects at department stores, now there's one asking women to flash him when he pulls them over? And an off-duty cop bit another officer for trying to arrest a friend drinking in public last week? Jeez.

Yankee Foxtrot Music Box

Earlier this week, we mentioned both the Chicago Underground Film Festival and locally-shot documentary Burn to Shine 02. Funny, then, that it took music blog Radio Free Chicago to point out the connection: the CUFF is screening that very film on Sunday night at 10.

Petrol Prices Punish Us All

Just as Mayor Daley says he's "sympathetic" to cab drivers' request for a per-ride surcharge in a time of $3/gallon gas, rising fuel prices are hitting the CTA, as well. As discussed at their monthly board meeting yesterday, the Transit Authority could face $10mil in unexpected costs. Revenue from riders has risen recently, but not enough to off-set the uptick. As such, the possible fare increases and service cuts we thought we'd escaped for the year are creeping back into the conversation. In our Party Line email yesterday, Brian pondered the idea of staying put on any given Sunday; might not be too long before that starts seeming like the way to go. Or, rather, not go.

Crazy Dog Family

Police raided a home in Wheeling and discovered 72 tiny dogs -- 71 chihuahuas and a papillon -- huddled in knots in various rooms. "There were piles and piles of dogs," said a worker at the shelter that took in the dogs. The homeowners were breeding the dogs, not hoarding them, and will likely be charged with animal cruelty.

World's Most Beautiful Subway Stops

Since our humble elevated has usually been a great but not beautiful way to get from one part of town to another, I wasn't surprised to see that Chicago wasn't included in this list of beautiful transit stops. With all the money problems the CTA's been having of late, it's hard to realistically suggest that this might be one way to increase ridership: make it beautiful. More people might take the train if it were a pleasant aesthetic experience. Design matters, especially on subways.

Danny's Reading Series 4th Anniversary

Bucktown's Danny's Tavern is more than the place where "The Muffin Lady" sold her goods. The Tavern is home to one of Chicago's favorite reading series. That reading series will celebrate a fourth anniversary on Wednesday, August 24 at 7:30 pm sharp. What better way to celebrate than a poetry reading? Matthias Regan and Eric Elshtain, the two Chicago poets who inaugurated the series, will read alongside Kerri Sonnenberg, Matt Miller and Lisa Janssen. Animators Joel Craig and John Beer haven't said a cake will be part of the celebration, but drinks are always a-plenty at Danny's.
Past readers have included Chicago poets such as Mark Strand, Amy England, Paul Hoover, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Srikanth (Chicu) Reddy. The August 24th reading will kick-off the series' fifth season, slated to feature Bin Ramke, Mark Yakich, Laura Sims and Christian Hawkey, among others.

Bean looking forward to this

Have you missed the memorable sculpture in Millennium Park known as "Cloud Gate"? Well, Sunday is your lucky day; the city is finally taking the tent off the Bean this weekend, after spending the past few months sanding off the seams from the surface. You should be able to see the Chicago skyline in one smooth reflection, which you will of course have to take a picture of and post to Flickr.

If you don't feel safe, perhaps you're feeling safer?

Chicago once had the dubious distinction of the Murder Capital of the United States. Now our boys in blue with a little help from new technology have taken a huge bite out of crime (sorry McGruff). PBS's website has streaming video of a recent NewsHour show on this very subject.

Localized Portals Galore

Competition amongst the web portals means all the more ways to get regional information that's useful to you -- in other words, there's an increasing number of alternatives to the original, Citysearch. Following Google's Local service, Yahoo! has revised its area-specific content into a new beta site, offering another way to track down details on events, services, traffic and other facets of life in Chicago. Of additional note: if you're a parent, GoCityKids offers a guide tailored to entertaining, educating and exploring the city with your children.

Saathoff's Killer Convicted

Last year, we reported on the death of Chin Up Chin Up bassist Chris Saathoff in a hit-and-run accident. Earlier this week, the man who hit him pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

All The Google Fit to Print

Google Print wants to make searching book content as easy as surfing for the latest photos of TomKat. And they're doing it the Google way: a keyword or phrase now returns book content in your search results. These searchable books come from two other Google projects: the Publisher Program and the Library Project. Google Print is still a beta project, so don't be sad that He's Just Not That Into You returns no snippets of dating advice. But search for Chicago and you'll find
books from The University of Chicago press and Arcadia Publishing (publisher of Chicago's Maxwell Street, The Chicago Outfit, and other Chicagophile favorites) Blogs and discussion lists alike are already teeming with discussion over Google's venture. What's Chicago, city of the book, thinking? Mary Case, library director at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said “If we dig in our heels, we’ll just look stupid. It's coming. We must use it.”

Photos of shoes and feet from down below

Somewhere between a photolog, a shoe/feet fetishists dream and ground level perspective is a site called, "Come Here! I Want to Show You Something!" that chronicles the aforementioned via photographs. And every so often the occasional Chicago city photo. And don't even ask me how I found it.

El Pizza

Interesting news in this week's Dish column from Chicago Magazine: The guys behind the Got Pizza chain are opening a gourmet pizzeria in the North/Clybourn El stop in October. They'll serve coffe'n'pastries in the morning, salads and up to 30 pizzas by the slice till 4am.

Name a Bowling Alley, Win...Bowling.

The Lucky Strike on Lincoln is changing its name, and the deadline for submitting name ideas is tomorrow. Anyone who e-mails their idea(s) gets an hour of free bowling. However, if your idea is selected for the name change, you win a lifetime of free bowling at any of the 3 (formerly) Lucky Strike locations. Dude, good luck.

Get Your Fight (Club) On

The gentrification debate is one that rages in neighborhoods across the city, and will officially be raging on September 1st as a part of IDSA's Fight Club series. The opposing Fighters will be from the "Uptown Neighborhood Council" and the "Organization of the North East" (ONE), both are situated in the heart of the most controversial gentrification battlefronts in Chicago. We hear it's fun, enlightening, and $5 at the door.

Sam's Air & Water Show "Survival Pack"

Stop by Sam's Wine & Spirits this weekend on your way to the Air & Water Show and pick up a "Survival Pack". The kit includes two chilled bottles of wine, a corkscrew, four plastic cups, bottled water, cheese snacks and nuts, all in an easy to carry bag. Also included is a BYO wine bag for two bottles, a great insulated, reusable bag to transport wine. Email for this $49 offer, and pick it up on the way to the show on Saturday or Sunday.

I Love You But I've Chosen Rockness

While we mention a fair number of musical performances in Slowdown, in a city this big, there are tons we just don't have the room to cover. Oh My Rockness has recently landed in town and is taking strides into that gap, providing a comprehensive list of the shows at which you're bound to find Chicago's hipsters on any given night. While the graphics may be uncomfortably reminiscent of Urban Outfitters, the content is pleasantly utilitarian and on-point. Plus, there are contests, and what self-respecting indie rocker will ever pass up free tickets to see a band she's never heard of?

Revenge of the Plastic Dead

Controversy may have attended the opening of Body Worlds in February, but whatever ruckus we heard in Chicago has nothing on the hullabaloo currently going down in Tampa, Florida, where a similar exhibit is set to open on Saturday: a state board ruled this afternoon that it's illegal. While the attorney general says the show can go on, the Sunshine State never seems to shy away from uproar, so who knows. You, though, you've got until Labor Day to enjoy your rights as an Illinoisan and see the plasticized corpses on parade at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Can't swing a cat without hitting a theatre festival

Street festival season in Chicago could also be considered theatre festival season. The dog days of summer provide Chicagoans interested in adventurous new stage work with a plethora of opportunities. Last weekend saw the annual Stages set of new musicals at Theatre Building Chicago. Currently ongoing are Live Bait's Fillet of Solo fest of solo performance and Steppenwolf's new entry, the First Look Repertory of New Work. This weekend brings two more players to the table, with the two-week Single File collection of solo pieces, and the three-day tsunami of fringe theatre that is Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins. Go out and see something new.

Service with a smile. Or a swear.

Everyone should remember to be polite to long-suffering customer service representatives. Especially those at Comcast and People’s Energy, since apparently they’ll change your billing name to something dirty if you annoy them.

Wireless alerts revisited

If you signed up for the unofficial CTA alert system, chances are you've encountered some frustrations. Earlier this week, Kevin O'Neil posted a few etiquette suggestions, but that hasn't stopped people from sending insipid texts like "OK." The beauty of the distributed messaging is also its potential downfall, so the CTA's apparent interest in the effort is encouraging. The Tattler reports SMS/e-mail alerts will be a topic of discussion at tomorrow's board meeting. If you have thoughts about the program and its potential, public testimony starts at 10am.

Westward on Devon

Eats by East-West is a blog that is working its way from east to west down Devon, reviewing every restaurant or eatery with a table.

What's It Worth?

Wondering what that thing your great aunt Martha left you is worth? Chicago Antiques Guide is here to help. In addition to listing upcoming events and listings of local antique shops and auction houses, owners Ron (author of our Old Style column) and Brian will estimate the value of your antiques if you send them a photo.

Neo-Futurists take Ibsen to NYC

The Neo-Futurists have to be feeling pretty good these days. They're heading to NYC this week to participate in the annual New York International Fringe Festival, and their festival entry, The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen, was picked by the New York Times as one of the top 10 shows to see this year. If you missed the play when it was at the Neo-Futurarium at the beginning of the year, you've still got a chance to see it tomorrow night at a special fund-raiser performance. See Slowdown for details.

The return of Writers on the Record

As its first season wrapped up earlier this year, host Victoria Lautman expressed concerns that 98.7WFMT's Writers on the Record would not find the funding necessary for a second. Fortunately, the monthly series, which brings major contemporary authors to the Lookingglass Theatre's space to be interviewed live on air, has been revived for another go, and in exceedingly fine form, at that. Bret Easton Ellis will appear in September, followed by Louise Erdrich and Frank McCourt in subsequent months. The tapings are free and followed by book signings; all you have to do is ring 312/832-6789 to reserve tickets.

ReThink ReCycle ReDesign... FoReal!

Ever noticed the severe lack of public recycling receptacles in Chicago's neighborhoods? So did the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), so they decided to hold a competition to design some solutions. After receiving over 400 conceptual designs from all around the world for "ReThink ReCycle ReDesign", the top 25 have been prototyped and will be exhibited this Friday on Daley Plaza. Come down around noon to see all of the concepts in the flesh, vote for your favorite, hear some remarks from "Da Mare", and promote public awareness of Chicago as an ecologically sustainable city. (Disclosure: I'm one of the finalists exhibiting... come say hi!)

Katie Todd Band on iTunes

Music about Chicago aside, there's quite a bit of national attention on music from current and former Chicagoans these days. Common's new album was one of the major releases of the spring, and Kanye drops his sophomore effort in two weeks. Fall Out Boy is climbing the charts, and bands like the Ponys and the Changes are building buzz. Now longtime local faves the Katie Todd Band are hitting the buzz bin, too: the iTunes Music Store named "Face Down," from KTB's new self-released album Make Some Time For Wasting, their single of the week (link requires iTunes player). Katie Todd plays the Metro August 27.

Hey, have you heard about that Sufjan Stevens album?

Good news for fans of really long song titles: the Metro has just announced a second Sufjan Stevens date September 17, to supplement the sold-out 9/16 show. Stevens is, of course, touring in support of his Illinois-inspired album, which we've told you about over and over.

Mapping the Nookie

Here's a whole different kind of map: The Museum of Sex in New York has launched an interactive exhibit, Mapping Sex in America. Using good ole GoogleMaps technology, the exhibit allows visitors to virtually thumbtack their own stories to a map of the country. Chicago is already one of the most annotated cities, but there's plenty of room for more. Add your own sexcapades to the map.

Chicago overpriced? Not quite

Hot on the heels of this conversation comes a report that Chicago is not even in the Top 10 when it comes to overpriced housing markets - Fresno, California takes that honor. The report is based on employment forecasts, population forecasts, and income level and growth compared with housing prices. Even little ol' Lake County, 23rd on the list, clocks in ahead of the Chicago area which is in 29th place.

Ex-Cub DUIs

Remember Todd Hundley? He played for the Cubs a couple years ago, and grew up in the north suburbs. Back problems ended his baseball career last year, and now have landed him in trouble with the law -- he claims Vicodin on an empty stomach caused him to become "discombobulated" while driving to pick his son up in Glenview. Police pulled him over and charged him with DUI.

On Line for Cheap Gas

The shock I received while driving past my regular cheap gas station this morning almost made me wreck my car. Luckily, there are a few websites where you can search for cheap gas prices, and even report ones you discover around the state. Gas Buddy has a local component, Chicago Gas Prices, which covers the city, suburbs, and nearby towns. There's also a cool Google application we told you about last spring. Unfortunately for drivers, it looks like Chicago gas is still well above the new national average of $2.52 per gallon.

Rawk! Rawk! Rawk!

Do you pine for the days when Poison was #1 in the charts and you were totally stoked to save up enough cash to pick up Master Of Puppets? Do you miss metal, not brass but loud, hairsprayed, mullet-pounding heavy metal? The Chicago Music Factory keeps track of heavy metal events in and around Chicago, keeping track of bands metal-heads want to hear like Maggot Twat, Whorrid, and the timeless classic, RATT. Tight trousers sold separately.

Cook County's urban justice

We ran a summer reading poll in Fuel last month, and, although there were many responses, no one mentioned Courtroom 302. As fall approaches, maybe you're in the mood for something a bit weightier than typical beach fare, and this book is certainly that. Written by Steve Bogira of the Chicago Reader, it carries the subtitle "A Year Behind The Scenes In An American Criminal Courthouse"; Tom Robbins calls it a "compelling dissection," and he's not alone in his respect. Critical consensus suggests the book bears the mark of becoming a classic examination of the modern US justice system, and it's set right here in Cook County. (Read an excerpt.)

Crime en route

Adrian Holovaty keeps adding features to, and he's just announced a doozy: a route mapper. As a potential use, Holovaty offers the example of tracing your trip home from the El; the tool might also be handy for checking out running or dog walking routes. The site continues to lead the way in useful and intuitive geomapping of data, which is why it's been nominated for a Batten Award for interactive journalism. Congratulations and good luck, Adrian!

Slow Train to Chicago

Ever wonder why the El is so slow in some spots? Well, this PDF map won't exactly tell you why, but it will tell you where you can expect to crawl -- it shows all the slow zones on the CTA map. (Thanks, Tony)

A home underwater

Although this article in BASS Times is ostensibly a status report on gamefishing in the Chicago River, it also provides some interesting history of the river's aquatic environment and its recent improvements. That's the very issue near to the hearts of the Friends of the Chicago River; you've likely heard of the "fish hotel" they recently installed near the Michigan Ave. Bridge. To learn more about the project, listen to the habitat's designer, Ted Gray, talking to Scott Simon on NPR's Weekend Edition.

Another Day, Another Rating

What is it with summer and its constant stream of city ratings? This time, we find out that Chicago is the second best city in the world for art lovers, behind only Berlin, at least as far as one travel site is concerned.

For Dennis Farina Fans

The Indy Star has a nice write-up on Chicago's own Dennis Farina. He has had bit and major parts in movies such as Saving Private Ryan, Manhunter (my personal fave) and Get Shorty in addition to his current starring role on Law and Order. Farina, a Chicago Police Officer for 18 years, will be back in his hometown to take part in "We Celebrate: A Salute to Chicago's Finest," a benefit for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation on Aug. 27 at McCormick Place.

Films from the Underground

It's time once again for the annual Chicago Underground Film Festival, a festival that has been showcasing great independent films and video for 12 years. This year's festival happens in Lakeview's classic movie palace the Music Box, and kicks off this Thursday evening with the Midwest premiere of the movie Firecracker. This year's festival will feature many film premieres, and the one I'm most looking forward to is a sneak preview of the Minutemen documentary We Jam Econo, which will also play at the Siskel Film Center at the end of this month. See the CUFF site for a complete schedule and ticket purchase.

Law & Order: Chicago edition

If you're more interested in textual compilations than audio/visual ones, the Sun-Times brings news of something potentially up your alley: Chicago Noir, a mystery anthology edited by Neal Pollack and published by indie outfit Akashic. The book features several authors who participated in our roundtable last month, and some of those very folks will be celebrating its release with local appearances throughout September and October. Mark your calendars.

Shining bright

Last year, with help from filmmaker Christoph Green, Brendan Canty of Fugazi produced a documentary of some DC-based bands playing in a local, soon-to-be demolished home. Soon, the pair will release the second installment of their burgeoning series, this time showcasing acts from (and a house in) Chicago. Burn to Shine 02 features peformances by Wilco, Tortoise, the Ponys and others, and, although it won't ship until next week, it's now available for pre-order. You needn't wait, however, to hook your monitor up with a new desktop image; check out the gorgeous preview photos here.

Exhibit of the International Day of Peace Print Design Collaboration

It's easy to talk about wanting peace on Earth when you rarely interact with people from outside your neighborhood. The Peace Museum in Garfield Park sponsored a comfort-zone stretching design competition. Artists were instructed to collaborate on a piece with stranger artists. Stranger meaning 'unfamiliar with,' not 'odder than.' The idea was to cross the lines that divide – race, sex, religion, geography, ethnicity – to to explore peace. In theme, in practice, and in productivity. The resulting pieces will be exhibited at the museum from August 16th through the 30th. Visitors will select the top twenty, which will then go on display on the museum's website. One winning piece will be chosen by the organization to represent the International Day of Peace, September 21. Let's see who could put their paintbrush where their mouth is.

It's a cupcake stampede!

Is Chicago ready for its first all-cupcake bakery? Apparently so. Cupcakes, the logically-named patisserie in Lakeview, sold out of all of its 37 varieties within four hours of yesterday’s grand opening. They then re-opened at 8:30 in the evening, and promptly sold out again. Head to 613 W. Briar to see what all the fuss is about (though you may want to check the cupcake stock at 773-525-0817 before you show up).

Sweatshop-free, Union-free, Class-free

Like a lot of hipster-leaning internerds, we at GB used to love American Apparel: nice clothes, indie aesthetic, and "sweatshop-free" practices. Since they started opening boutiques in the city last year, though, I've grown incredibly weary of their ubiquitous, porn-styled advertising. I'd like to be able to read my Time Out or my Reader on the bus without exposing "Miguel"'s crotch to Granny across the aisle. The skeevy ads may not be the only reason to dislike AA. There's been much press coverage in the past month of the sexual harassment suit filed by three female employees against the company's gleefully libidinous CEO. In last week's In These Times, meanwhile, Ari Paul recounts the chilly reception he got in an interview for the chain's Wicker Park store last year after he mentioned his former affiliation with United Students Against Sweatshops. It seems "sweatshop-free" doesn't mean "union-friendly."

Saving up for a new Ben Sherman?

Belmont Army Surplus, that huge three-story store next to the Belmont El stop where you can buy your Doc Martens, your Caterpillar tractor boots, your Army surplus jackets, your Dickies messenger bags, and everything else you need to wear to be a modern disaffected teenager or urban hipster, is being kicked out of its space by the CTA because it's right up against the Brown Line tracks, and they're doing that train tracks expansion thingy, so... there you go. They're having a "Screwed By The CTA" sale right now, and there's plenty of stuff on sale from 20 to 50 percent, so get over to 945 West Bemont ASAP and pick yourself up some spare pairs of shoes, pants, jackets, skateboards, Manic Panic, etc.

Catching up with Ira

Following up on the NYT interview a few weeks back and another big interview in the LA Times over the weekend, CJR Daily chats at length with Ira Glass about the state of public radio, the future of his show, and how the wedding is "off the record."

Help Support Indie Radio

WLUW starts its annual fundraiser today; isn't it time you helped support one of the only independent radio stations in the city? (Related: our profile of the station and program director Shawn Campbell.)

Read the sites, see the bands

Get the scoop on two Chicago-based bands before they play tonight at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. The news section of headliner Volcano!’s website features a nice “redneck brawl during a song about college debt” story. Opening is XYZR_KX (pronounced “Scissor Kicks”), a solo project by Jon Monteverde of local bands Smell and What Now, My Love. Monteverde has a long-standing blog, including an insightful post on the bias apparent in major reviews of Intonation. Between these two groups is The Ebb and Flow, a San Francisco-based band.

Hubbard Street Slam Dance

The Hubbard Street Dance Company is in New York right now, which means they're being exposed to more than just the typical fawning from the local media. "Chicago troupe bound by a string of cliches" screams the headline in Newsday. Well, at least the New York Times found the performance "entertaining."

Click! Gulp!

The Sun-Times takes a look at the apparently thriving pastime of posting pictures of your restaurant meals online. The main example used in the article is the collection of photos of every single course at Alinea, which is apparently already quite used to its patrons snapping photos of the surreal-looking courses (more photos available, of course, at Flickr). Tip for future Alinea patrons: cameras are okay, but no flashes, please.

Metro to sell itself

Rather than let the former Hi-Fi Records space lie fallow, the Metro has decided to cash in on its own brand. The shop will reopen on September 1st as the Official Metro Store, a source for tickets, logo merchandise and sundries. Which is all well and good, but more appealing is that plans also include listening stations, exclusive in-stores and meet & greets. Related: Jay Farrar of Son Volt will be performing songs from his new album, Okemah and the Melody of Riot, tonight at the Borders Uptown.

Mix it Up

Mix-tapes are so 1993 2005! So believe Ilana Percher and Aay Preston-Myint, founders of The Chicago Tapes Project. The project establishes stations for mixtape exchange that are "hidden" from the public save The Tapes Project's signature stencil. An easter egg hunt for the experimental sound artist in us all, tape stations can be found outside Quimby's, and at Max Gerber's designer bathroom showroom. Map out the other locations (and ruin the fun of the search) with Chicago's social-mapping-tool The project receives some public attention in this week's Reader.

From St. Rita's to the Music HoF

It's hard to imagine Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for The Doors, as a member of the glee club, but it's true. He's playing tonight at his alma mater, St. Rita High School, 7740 S. Western Ave., at 8:30pm Thusday night. Tickets to the show, which opens at 5:30pm and also features The Larkin and Moran Brothers, are $15. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs (and probably an umbrella); there will be beer and food available, so leave the cooler at home. (Thanks, John)

Pork By The Truckload

So I'm sure you've heard that our Prez was in town yesterday to sign a mega-transportation bill. So if you're wondering "What improvements can I expect in the next 5 years from this?" scroll to the bottom of the article--there's a list of the projects by county. Damen/Elston/Fullerton underpass, 43rd St. pedestrian bridge, Milwaukee Ave. repaving, and river walk money are just a few Chicago projects that jump out at me.

Free Organic Herbs/Veggies!

Sound too good to be true? Well we're in luck: head over to the greenhouse at Kilbourn Park until Friday, August 12th, and feel free to pick what's left of the organic bounty leftover from the plant sale that happens close to Mother's Day. Earlier this week, basil was available in large supply, along with cabbage, tomatillos, and possibly a new round of cherry tomatoes. Read the thread over at the (foodie) LTH Forum, and check out the park info here.

Help a Daredevil out

Our close personal friends the Neo-Futurists are finishing up their summer series of performances tonight, with a staged reading of the 1957 Roger Corman film Sorority Girl (more info), but of course they're hard at work on their 2005-06 season of plays. Their next play, Daredevils, will look at the compulsion to perform death-defying (or at least moderately risky) stunts, and the performers are offering a unique fund-raiser to finance the equipment they need for the play.
For a donation of $25 or $50, the Daredevils will be sporting your name or logo on their jumpsuits, or on some other piece of equipment that's being used in the production. Your name or logo will be seen by dozens of people each night the play is running (September 10 through October 15), and they will know that you are a kick-ass patron of the arts. For full information on how you can help the Daredevils out, check out this blog entry from the Daredevils Weblog.

CTA maps on shuffle

Say you've succumbed to the omnipresent Apple advertising on the El (or, perhaps more likely, you didn't need any convincing), and you, like everyone else on the Belmont platform, have that personal audio device known as the iPod. You know it can play more than music, but how often do you refer to its built-in address book? Well, assuming you've got one of the new-fangled variety that has a color display, iPod Subway Maps provides a functionality you might actually use. Install the site's CTA maps on your 'Pod and never forget which direction the Purple Line runs through the Loop again.

Citizen history in 8mm

Last month, Andrew posted a heads-up about Home Movie Day, sponsored by the Chicago Film Archives. Well, if you've been remiss in sorting through your (or your parents') closet or attic, time's running out: the event takes place Saturday at the Chicago Cultural Center (see Slowdown). Today's Washington Post runs a brief interview with one of HMD's founders, who points out how important these personally shot films are for documenting cultural history. To that end, even if you aren't ready for this weekend's festival, the Film Archives is always interested in donations; get more details here.

Support the Literary Buddy System

The new Powell's North reading series pairs an established writer with one or two scribes on the brink. Next up is poet/farmer Lisa Fishman, author of The Deep Heart's Core Is a Suitcase and Dear, Read. Paired with Fishman are poets Andrea Rexilius and Bobby Fiesler. At Powell's Bookstore, 2850 N. Lincoln on Thursday, August 18th, 7:00pm.

"Your entire ass is crazy."

So you're having trouble identifying the underlying themes, the character motivations, and the stylistic elements of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" cycle? has got you covered. (And on a serious note, recently published an appreciation of the Chicago native's "TP.3 Reloaded" album. Salon subscription req'd, or sit through the advertisement.)

Eking out an existence

Jessa Crispin of Bookslut has an axe to grind with the publishing industry. In a commentary in trade mag The Book Standard, she "tells what's wrong with Chicago." In her view, it's the dearth of opportunities for folks to make a living in the "lit field" -- despite our city's passion for reading. (Be a part of the Chicago's reading community tonight at Funny Ha-Ha 4-Ever; details in Slowdown.)
[Update: Crispin wants to clarify About That Title.]

Missing One Josh Powell

At a small alleycat race I co-hosted recently, I was fortunate enough to meet a young man named Josh Powell. He was fast, won the race and was really humble — a nice polite guy. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Josh moved here quite recently and used to work at La Bodega on Addison and "lived" in the Southport/Addison area. Now he's been missing for a few days.

His roommates, two girls, posted on wondering where he might be. A few of us who he'd been in touch and ridden with responded. What at first sounded like perhaps a bailed rent situation seems to have gotten worse. This newer thread details a few recent facts, and that he left his stuff, clothes, even bike shoes (his bike needed them to be ridden) and other belongings behind. A friend has posted on Craigslist about this as well.

In the off chance that you might know him or have seen him, please drop me a line at nh{at}gapersblock dot com. A missing persons report has been filed and a detective is on the case. Thanks.

Site Specific Café

Across the street from West Town’s Ida Crown Natatorium at Eckhart Park, Swim Café, a beautiful vision in cool colors, opened three weeks ago at 6am.
Items of interest include: two kinds of soy-cheese for sandwiches, natural Beggins Paws dog treats, pastries and breads from Wicker Park's Red Hen, salads, croissants, quiches, paninis, tarts, free wi-fi, innovative Ineeka tea, and 100% fair trade Just Coffee. Swim is the only Chicago café to feature Madison's Just Coffee, do you feel a coffee movement coming on? Swim's current iced-coffee blend is Work for Peace, and they also pour Revolution Roast. A vote for best thing ever about Swim Café: owners Karen and Brian, and their staff, are devoted to the aquatic aesthetic: they all wore blue or green t-shirts. 1357 W. Chicago Ave, 312-492-8600, 6am-6pm daily (closed Wednesday).

Three-course, Prix Fixe!

Dine Out week is coming up here in the City That Works. Enjoy special three-course, prix fixe menus at some of the city's best restaurants, including Coco Pazzo, Brasserie Jo, Va Pensiero and more. You'll spend just $20 on a superb lunch and $35 for a yummy dinner, plus receive a free bottle of S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water or Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water with your meal. S.Pellegrino will donate $1 for every Dine Out meal to Share Our Strength. From August 15 - August 19 and August 22 - August 26.

Where Friends Meetro

The site for Meetro is somewhat vague, but the application sounds pretty cool: It adds location identification to instant messaging, so you can check who's nearby -- within a quarter mile -- when you head to the local wifi'd coffeeshop. Rumor has it Google is buying the company.

Future book club candidates

The Chicago Tribune announced its winners of the 2005 Chicago Tribune Heartland prizes this week, a prize given to one fiction and one nonfiction book that, in the Tribune's words, embody "the spirit of the nation's Heartland." This year's winners: "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson (fiction); and "Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age" by Kevin Boyle (nonfiction). Both authors will be honored at the Chicago Humanities Festival, which will be held in October and November. (Tip, of course, from Bookslut.)

I'm a manatee!

Indiana funny man and frequent Chicago visitor Jim Gaffigan will be taping a one hour special for Comedy Central at the Vic Theater on October 8th. Gaffigan, who can be seen on many late night shows doing his dry brand of stand up, is probably most familiar to viewers who have seen any Sierra Mist commercials. I've seen him twice and not only is the show great, he's highly accessible and personable post-show.

A passion for new ideas

Skim through our archives, and you'll see Gapers and Chicago-based web firm 37signals go way back. But lately, with the success of its developments like Backpack and Ruby on Rails, the rest of the world is catching on. Case in point: this glowing coverage in Salon. As the Web turns 10, Farhad Manjoo looks at its current direction and sees the creativity of Jason Fried and his colleagues at the vanguard, "pioneering an entire business philosophy designed to make the Web great."

Chicago Bar News

Sean Parnell, web god who has helped thousands of thirsty Chicagoans with the Chicago Bar Project, is getting married. The engagement story is cute, but readers have to wonder: will this mean the end of R&D for the project?

Worth seeing when they come back

Several local theater groups are taking their productions on the road this month to perform in the New York Fringe Festival. The Village Voice has the story and provides a nice run-down of shows and companies to check out once they're back in town.

Open Source / Open Ear

As music becomes more and more experimental or less and less traditional, outlets have opened up for the budding "musician" to explore different venues for their creativity. Open Source / Open Ear is a two-week (now in its last week) exhibition at Mess Hall that invites you to come out and contribute your aural creativity to a live installation. Visit the site to find out how to participate or take a better look at what the project entails.

From Ms. Pacman to the Tomb Raider

For those of us who prefer the digital to the flesh and blood, there’s an exhibit other than Body Worlds that will be closing soon at the Museum of Science and Industry. Through September 5th, you can see Game On: The History, Culture, and Future of Video Games. Over the course of sixteen areas, you’ll have the chance to play over 100 video games, as well as see preliminary sketches and models for games like The Sims and Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.

Sissy Butch Brothers Burlesque

Have you been waiting for the Sissy Butch Brothers to put on another show? It's finally here! This funny, smart and sexy burlesque show on August 27 at the Abbey. With guest stars including Satan's Angel and Lady Ace, plus a bevy of local acts, this is a must-see. The show starts at 9 p.m. and costs just $15.

Budget Living

Tired of mindlessly supplementing your vintage bric-a-brac from The Brown Elephant with items you covet at CB2 from arrival to clearance price? Want to remain the homemaker your friends refer to as frugal, stylish and creative? Enter Budget Living Magazine. The current issue features tips for scoring a hot fall handbag, as well as sassy chandeliers on the cheap side. And, pssst, complimentary one-year subscriptions are available. Take your sweetie out on a budget date and tell her.

Protecting Our Environment

Now get your local environmental news straight from those who are committed to preserving it. Jack Darin, the Director of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, is writing the newish IllinoisSierraClub weblog, covering "the policies and politics of protecting Illinois' environment."

Wishin' and hopin' and prayin' and hatin'

Cubs fans, you're not alone. Anne Ursu, a long-time supporter of the Twins, writes in Salon today about her soul-corroding hate of the White Sox, hate only escalated by the Sox' successes this year. Ursu tries to work herself through the Kubler-Ross stages of grieving, and, well, she tries.

Skyscrapers are so last century.

Sure, the Fordham Spire is pretty exciting, but my eyes are focused on new construction near Cabrini-Green; the Helmut Jahn designed Near North Apartments, a single room occupancy facility for Chicago's homeless. Jahn is best known for his provocative commerical work, however this project marks his first for a public housing project, in which he plans to use ecologically intelligent elements to create economically viable savings. You can check out some conceptual renderings of the new building here (as well as other "green" Chicago architectural proposals), or just watch a landmark constructed in real time at Division and Clybourn.

Southside Wi-Fi Town Hall

The third public hearing on plans for affordable high speed internet access across Chicago will be held 6:30pm Thursday, the 11th, in the Solarium Room of the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive. If you've got something to say about proposals for municipally offered wireless, this is your last chance (of the initial round, at least). Get on the schedule or just get more information by contacting Lindy McGuire: 312/744-3021 or lindy[dot]mcguire [at]cityofchicago[dot}org.

Free Apps on the Way Home

If you ride the Brown Line, you might want to stop off at the Francisco station and head over to Kitchen Chicago. New catering company Dining In is offering free appetizers (and information about their services) from 6pm to 8pm in Kitchen Chicago's cafe, 4664 N. Manor. (Monday night.)

Spray and Pray

As mentioned earlier, West Nile cases are up in the Chicago area and spraying has started. Last Friday, officials said that the number of infected mosquito pools found in Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) traps jumped 33 percent last week, bringing 2005's cumulative total from 45 to 60. What that means is more spraying. If you live on the south and southwest sides, you were sprayed last night. Tonight is the far north and northwest sides again. Here is a full map of the spraying areas.[PDF]

"If it's not fun, then why are you going to be mayor?"

The Financial Times profiles Chicago's mayor today, focusing on his penchant for "thinking big." Brushing off concerns about his re-election or, for that matter, that he's run out of projects about which to think big, Daley says that there's still a lot he'd like to do, including overseeing implementation of major roadworks and transit improvements made possible by the recent federal transportation bill. In a nod to Denny Hastert, John Hilkevitch reports, the bill will be signed by President Bush in Aurora later this week. After that, bring on the Circle Line!

Why do you think they call it "dope"?!

Dude, if you're smoking pot while you're driving around town, don't roll down the freakin' window! Especially if you drive past a cop car! And you have over 300 pounds of marijuana in your car!! And you have a fake driver's license!!!

Bike to Rufus on the cheap(ish)

Wanna go see Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds at Ravinia Wednesday night? Don't wanna pay $175 to a ticket broker? The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has tickets that will set you back about $80 and you get a ton of freebies, too. Sounds like something to add to that must-do list you've got, eh?

Stitch 'n' Pitch

It may not sound like fun with the thermostat stuck on "way too f'in hot", but by September 20th it should be perfect knitting weather. Inspired by the Seattle Mariners Stitch 'n' Pitch nights, Brenda Janish (Chicago's designated knitter) of the local Stitch 'n' Bitch group has teamed up with a White Sox marketing guy to set aside a few hundred specially priced ($12--woot!) tickets so local knitters can drink beer, eat nachos and knit sox. You've got till September 6th to order your tickets by mail or fax. And more importantly, you've got just a little over a month to knit a White Sox beer cozy.
Tickets may also be purchased online (a $4 per ticket service fee will apply to all online orders). To order online, go to, click on "Schedule" and then on "T" in the September 20 box. On the order page, type SNP in the promotion code box.

Breakin' a Sweat

It's not often you get the opportunity to get in shape and improve your dancefloor moves. Breakdance Chicago offers lessons, and they're guaranteed to be hipper than that Jazzercize class at the Y.

An honor to be nominated...

Last night at Market Days, I bought a root beer float from the guys of the Chicago Soydairy. They told me they're up for a 2005 Veg News Award, and I was happy to report I'd already done the requisite mouse clicking. Thing is, they were so nice (and excited), I want to spread the word that they, along with the also-nominated Chicago Diner, could use your vote.

Broadway the 'Pod way

No doubt, the podcast is the blog trend of the moment, one only bolstered by the latest version of iTunes. For the past month, Talk Theatre has been running a weekly audio recap of local theater news, but today they announce its complement: the Broadway in Chicago podcast.

The Other Type of Summer Reading

Here's a book review method we can all agree on: is a book potty-reading worthy and if so, how good (as judged by rolls of toilet paper)? Mundelein-based blogger Stacey reviews ChickLit from the throne.

Go Take a Hike

Since we might have some non-freakishly hot weather this weekend, seize the opportunity to head for the great outdoors. Trailmonkey, which bills itself as the "largest free hiking, mountain biking, maps and trails site on the net," is a great place to help you get started. For quick and easy day trips, visit their comprehensive list of hiking maps and trails in Illinois or their equally comprehensive list of biking trails and maps in the state.

No Postseason for Chief Illiniwek?

The NCAA has just announced that it will not allow schools to use names or images of American Indian mascots at postseason tournaments, starting this year. This could mean a revision is in the future for University of Illinois' mascot Chief Illiniwek, who seems to be an annual source of debate. A quick google turns up plenty of sites devoted to keeping and retiring the Chief, which, in the end, will be a decision left up to the school.

Wait Wait: The True Hollywood Story

The Trib gives us a look backstage at NPR's hit quiz show "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" now being recorded in front of a live studio audience at the Bank One Auditorium on Thursday nights. "This is the NPR version of `Saturday Night Live' when they were doing lines of coke," says Mo Rocca of the cast's caffeine consumption.
Last week, host Peter Sagal quoted our own Ramsin Canon talking about the break-up of the AFL-CIO during the "lightning fill-in-the-blank" round. Listen here (RAM).

Time Out on the Dashboard

Users of the latest version of Mac OS X can add a new toy to their Dashboard: the Time Out Chicago widget. The mini-app features a marquee that scrolls the magazine's latest headlines in selected categories, including film reviews and goings on about town. Pretty neato! (Regardless of your chosen platform, one current article worth your attention is Justine Elias's look at family film Duma and the one-week-only-in-Chicago quest to save it.)

Sick Bugs

It was expected, and here it is: the first West Nile infection within city limits. The dry weather has kept mosquito numbers down, but they're still out there, so don't forget your bug repellent. If you're interested in keeping track, here's the USGS's map of reported cases in Illinois, updated weekly (it's a little out of date at the moment).

Evanston artifacts wanted

The Evanston Historical Society is seeking donations that represent the past 50 years of city history. The list of items of particular interest tells something of a story by itself, but if you have objects associated with the city's repeal of alcohol bans, post-1960s immigration to Evanston, or local political issues such as gun control, zoning, and school integration, and you're interested in contributing to an upcoming exhibit that traces the city's history to the present day, you're encouraged to contact the Society to arrange a donation appointment. Curatorial staff can be reached at 847/475-3410.

Pick the City's Best

It's time to place your vote for NewCity's annual Best of Chicago awards. (No, there's no blog category. We checked.)

Ebert Gives Cheetah a Chance

Salon reports (if you'll wait through the ad) on the predicament a children's movie called Duma is in: Warner Brothers didn't want to release it, but Roger Ebert saw it and raved, so now it's seeing limited release here in Chicago. Based on how the movie does here, it may finally be released nationally. Read an interview with the director in this week's TimeOut. (Thanks, Ray)

Transit by phone, part 2

As Anne mentions, there's the new mobile RTA planner, but another way to put your phone into action is evolving at the grassroots. CTA tattler readers have created an SMS alert group to disseminate information about service interruptions and other details of interest to transit riders. The system will be unofficial and rely on the input of users, but, as it grows, it seemingly has the potential to meet a real need in real-time.

Transit by Phone

The RTA has just released a site you can pull up on your internet-ready cell phone to help plan your trip in the Chicago area. Just type in the RTA Mobile website ( and you'll find a fairly familiar screen of options (time, day, starting and ending address) to fill in to figure out the best route. The problem is that, unlike the CTA's current online trip planner, you can't select from a set of popular destinations if you don't know the address of, say, Midway Airport or Navy Pier. There are plans for access to bus and train schedules through the RTA Mobile site in September, but until then, better start memorizing some addresses, or just call the RTA up at 836-7000.

Calling all stories

StoryCorps, a national project to record the stories and experiences of everyday Americans (stories that are heard occasionally on NPR's Morning Edition), is coming to the Field Museum in two weeks to add Chicago stories to its growing cache of interviews at the American Folklife Center. If you know someone who has a great story to tell, and want to record an interview for the project, keep an eye on the Chicago Public Radio site; they'll start accepting reservations this coming Friday, August 5th, for the recording of interviews.

Inspiration During Crisis

The Wall Street Journal ran a nice review of the Art Institute's current show, 1945: Creativity and Crisis, Chicago Architecture and Design of the World War II Era. The exhibit includes designs by Chicago-associated architects Bertrand Goldberg and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Photos and food

Regular Rearview contributor and featured photographer, Matthew Taplinger tells us he has some photos up and hanging around the walls at Bite, the restaurant that's next door and part of the Empty Bottle. Since I like Matthew's photos and I like the food at Bite, I would like to find myself surrounded by those soon.

The G in G-String Stands for Golf

Two police investigations are now looking into a golf outing in Naperville sponsored by a strip club. Blackjacks (NSFW) probably wouldn't have gotten in much trouble if the course wasn't smack in the middle of a neighborhood, where kids and little old ladies could watch the, uh, action from their backyards.

Dandelion Love

Dandelion Wine is one of my most favorite reads ever, so expect to see me tonight at the Book Cellar as their in-store club discusses the book. Special guest Sam Weller will also be there to lend insight to the author's life and work. Can't make it tonight? Join us in September when we do the same. Slowdown likes Ray Bradbury, too.

Metra: We Didn't Get The Email

I actually was planning on writing a thank-you email to Metra today for the Bikes On Trains program - it's been a real benefit to my morning commute. Despite a $486 million dollar budget, Metra doesn't have an email address yet. Neither the Contact Metra page nor the commuter newsletter On The Bi-Level list an email address, even though the CTA and PACE pages do.

Bikers Get A Break

Lakeview hastens home tonight now that the horrid, law-busting, anarchist bikers will continue to rule the streets. Right. Sarcasm aside, the police have postponed the crackdown on bikers in Lakeview because... someone's on vacation.

Wear your best kicks

I'm an ex-shoe hoarder. I used to buy shoes regularly. These days, very little impresses me since the revival of the classics and the many athleisure shoes everyone is spinning these days. However, that doesn't mean I don't stock up on all the many sneaker books that are being released lately. And so with glee, I'm happy to hear that Sneaker Pimps is coming to town (no, not the band). The exhibition opens this Friday at Open End from 8pm till late. There'll be live skating from the Uprise crew, live art installations and DJs. As an added bonus, our good friends at Fizzie Fuzzie have participated in designing a shoebox, so Chicago will be out in full force.

Meet Patrick Fitzgerald

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been in the news quite a bit lately, what with the Plame investigation and the various scandals in City Hall. Chicago Magazine has put its 2002 profile of our local special prosecutor online, should you want to learn more about the man making both Daley and Karl Rove sweat.

There's a Club for Everything

No, seriously, there is a club for everything. The Chicago Public Library has a comprehensive list of Chicago-area clubs for those interested in everything from soap box derby to Magic the Gathering to Esperanto. Check it out.

Outsider art on the small screen

Maureen Ryan of the Trib highlights tonight's broadcast of a documentary on Chicago artist Henry Darger. Originally released to theaters last year, In the Realms of the Unreal will be shown as part of the PBS series P.O.V. at 10pm on WTTW, Channel 11.

Blogging Publisher

The folks at Lake Claremont Press, one of my favorite local publishers, have a fun, newish weblog appropriately titled Lake Claremont Press's Chicago. Check it out.

Preschooling at its best

As part of a special section dedicated to education this weekend, the Times looked at the U of C's Lab School, describing it as "as good as prekindergarten gets." Accordingly, UCLS is serving as a benchmark for early childhood education proponents around the country as they push for broader public funding of pre-elementary schooling. Here in Chicago, the Child-Parent Center program has been offering such services to lower income families for nearly 40 years, and a long-term study by University of Wisconsin researchers has shown just how effective this preparation for later learning can be.

Rate that place

As the second major moving day in Chicago grows closer (October 1st), those looking for apartments might want to check out some apartment ratings.

Chicago Ephemera

Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library features over 90,000 high resolution images of rare books and photographs, all of them readily accessible online. Tapping "Chicago" into the search field yields fascinating images of the Union Stockyards, grain elevators along the Chicago River (Anyone care for a Schlitz?), views of the lakefront as it once was, a letter from photographer Alfred Stieglitz and many more interesting documents. A Chicago history buff could lose a lot of sleep exploring it all . . .

Help Wanted

Gapers Block is looking to bring some new staffers on board. Think you have what it takes? Get the details.

We're looking for people with unique perspectives on Chicago who are interested in highlighting cool stuff going on in the city. If you've read the site for very long, you kind of know what we're talking about. We're particularly interested in contributors who live on the South and West Sides -- which, for our purposes, includes Wicker Park and Bucktown. (If you live on the North Side, though, that's cool, too.)

Staffers are expected to post a minimum of eight items a month to Merge (the blog) and/or Slowdown (the calendar). That works out to two posts a week, which ought to be pretty doable.

Interested? Email us at with some background on you (name, a site if you have one, why you want to be on staff) and a couple sample posts.

We are not looking for more columnists at this time, but if you have an idea for a feature article, email Andrew at


More Google Earth fun for Chicago

Because Google Earth continues to astound, Atul from Toolness has some neat Chicago overlays from a sociological and historical vantage. One of the neatest ties in with the GB Book Club's current book read, Heat Wave: "I initially set up this overlay so I could more easily relate to some of the concepts covered in Heat Wave, which in one chapter makes frequent references to these community areas."

RIP, Fields

Payton picks up a few tidbits and with a bit of analysis concludes that Marshall Field's days are limited. A Macy's in Chicago might not be the downfall we're anticipating, but one things for sure: someone right now is working hard to figure out how not to screw this up because all of Chicago will be watching. Note to Federated: I know it's stupid, but we want kick-butt Christmas windows. Don't let the bean-counters take that away.

CTA Note Quite For Sale

Carole Brown, a CTA executive who blogs, tells the other side of the story about the CTA and corporate sponsorship. Executive summary: yes, more ad revenue would be nice, but it's just an idea and only one of many many ideas under consideration. She throws her preferences into the fray in good humor too: Selsun Blue (less dandruff than any other line) Line. Nice to see a sense of humor poke out.

Starting Up a New Photo Mag

Trunnion Bascule is a planned new magazine highlighting photography of Chicago. They're seeking submissions for the first issue; check the site for details.

For fans of Jay Ryan/Bird Machine


Nazi Among Us

Fortunately, not an active one: the US Department of Justice is prosecuting 87-year-old Oysip Firishchak, a retired North Side carpenter, on charges that he aided a Nazi round-up of Jews in the Ukraine during WWII.

"Nobody owes you a nice view, guys"

Remember a couple weeks ago, when a bunch of male Sun-Times columnists derided the new Dove ad campaign? Yesterday the paper printed an essay on theirs and other people's reactions to the ads, written by GB contributor Wendy McClure.

Mind Your Temper

I saw Temper Temper about a year ago at the Metro and was impressed with their set, so I'm quite excited to see them again tonight as they headline the Empty Bottle's "free Mondays" series. Local band Bound Stems and New York group Rahim will play as well. Rock on over to Slowdown to get the full details.



GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15