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. 


Sunday, May 19

Gapers Block

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


Jim Edgar Not Seeking Third Term

Jim Edgar will not be running for Governor, a seat he held for two terms in the 1990s. He had been rumored to be running for months, creating confusion in the state GOP and reticence among several potential candidates, as he would have been the clear front-runner in any primary. The field should clear up now, and the attack dogs let loose.

Jen and Vince and Everyone We Recognize

Whether it's citizen journalism or amateur papparazzi work is, one supposes, in the eye of the beholder. Regardless, if you had a celebrity sighting around town this summer and you caught it on film, a "burgeoning" magazine might be willing to make you rich. (Richer? All right, fine, it's on Craigslist...less poor.)

The End of an Odyssey

Today at noon, WBEZ's "Odyssey" begins its last show. The show is about the 10 films you must see before you die -- call 888-859-1800 to chime in. Senior Producer Joshua Andrews comments on his blog.

The Best of the New City

New City's annual Best of Chicago issue is out. With such categories as best speed bump, best Packers bar, best place to buy soccer scarves and best place to build a bonfire, it's a more ecclectic list than in recent years. (And check out the upset in the best polish sausage category. Wolfy's?)

Breathe Again

Yesterday's blurb from the Tribune suggested the mayor wasn't too keen on a full-fledged indoor smoking ban in Chicago, but Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times reports today that, starting next April, it's on.

Listen Up!

The Third Coast Audio Festival has just announced the results of its 2005 audio documentary competition. The awards ceremony will be held at the Third Coast Festival’s 2005 conference. Check Slowdown for details. Click here to listen to excerpts from the winning entries.

Flower Power, Man

The Garfield Park Conservatory's workshops include a hatha-tantric yoga class taught by Seder Olcer. Held in the giant Horticulture Hall, classes are $12 each. Talk about taking the hatha-tantra technique triad (breath, thought, and seed) literally.

A Huff Po for the Legal Set

Introducing the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog. It may have a cumbersome name, but the idea behind it is an exciting one. Promising to feature posts from "Chicago friends, faculty, and alumni," the site aims to take conversations outside the classroom and into the world.

Cooking up Poetry

On October 6, The Guild Complex will host the Iron Poet Competition (inspired of course by "Iron Chef"). Iron Poet [see Slowdown] will pit teams of poets against each other in a head-to-head creative combat to write poetry live in front of an audience. The secret ingredient here: words. A silent auction at the event will feature some fabulous items including a one hour poetry manuscript consultation with Reginald Gibbons. Wondering if you're an Iron Poet? This might tell you.

Put It On the Board ...Yes!

The White Sox have clinched the Central Division!

Art Renaissance

Speaking of art, UofC's Renaissance Society throws its annual gala and benefit auction next Saturday, Oct. 8. This year's auction features photography from a wide range of artists, including friend of GB Brian Ulrich. The society also offers some amazing gallery editions, some at prices even students could afford.

Too Much Art Makes the Art-Lover Go...Blind?

Lots and lots of art things happening this weekend. Friday kicks it off with Pilsen Open Studios, where over a hundred Pilsen artists will open their studios to the public. That continues through Saturday and Sunday when there will also be the Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest -- a Rogers Park festival filled with art, theater, music, food and drink -- and the Intuit Folk and Outsider Art Show -- a fundrasier for the non-profit Intuit. And if you're still looking to fill your art-calendar, you can always get to know your local artists.

Keep it short

Next week the high-profile Chicago International Film Festival kicks off, but this weekend you can sample much shorter works in the Chicago International REEL Shorts Festival. Plenty of short films for all tastes, including a kids-friendly program at noon on Saturday. For full details see Slowdown.

Check That Expiration Date

The City's Department of Consumer Services fined 71 of 100 randomly chosen independent grocers for selling out-of-date products ranging from baby cereal to cold medicine. Hope yours isn't on the list.

Wax On, Wax Off, Palatine

If you'd like to see the best of what the Karate world has to offer, this Saturday and Sunday brings the World Shotokan Karate Championship to Harper College in Palatine. Might be better than watching Bruce Lee on cable.

Fresh Faces in Fashion

Thursday ends Chicago's first Fashion Week and it all culminates in Millennium Park with Gen Art's Fresh Faces in Fashion runway show. The show features some of the most promising names in local accessories and clothing designers and their Spring lines will make their debut on the runway. You have to get tickets to this event, so get clicky with Slowdown to find out how. (And if fashion really isn't your thing, you might also be interested to know that Liz Phair is scheduled to perform.)

This Just In: Sleater-Kinney Rock

Sleater-Kinney have been scheduled to play the Metro for a few months now, and, unless you have the excuse of having just seen them at the Riviera, you should already have your ticket. After all, the critics have gushed over their latest record The Woods since its release earlier this year, and, if anyone brings the rock, it's these women. If all that weren't enough, though, now you've got another good reason to mark their October 6th show in your calendar: the band and the concert promoters have announced plans to contribute all profits to the American Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund. Local favorites The Ponys are opening. Just remember your ear plugs.

Something Rotten in Sanitation

Another municipal hiring scandal. (No worries for Daley, though -- this one took place in 1966.)

Double the donations, double the fun.

Tonight, DOC Films will be showing A Streetcar Named Desire as a Hurricane Katrina relief benefit. Not only are all proceeds going to the Red Cross, but the University of Chicago is matching all donations made tonight. Sweet, no? Details in Slowdown.

A Little Light Reading

Jonathan Messinger, proprietor of This Is Grand and The Dollar Store, has yet another project: Featherproof Books, an indie publishing house. They've got a line of PDF fold'em-yourself short stories called Light Reading that are the perfect size for the commute home.

Selected Ambient Hand-Jive

Local audio artist and electronic composer, Michael Una, has spent the past few years developing the "Sound-Suit", a wearable synthesizer that is controlled with the movement of the body. His website has video of a Sound Suit performance that demonstates the intriguing and engaging soundscapes he can create by literally manipulating music with his hands. If you'd like to hear more about how he created this spatial synth or his plans for public performance, tune in to Eight Forty-Eight on WBEZ this Thursday morning in the 10am hour.

[Im]Perfect Articles

Add another stellar t-shirt maker out of Chicago: [Im]perfect Articles are brought to you by a variety of chosen artists, featuring one of my faves, Cody Hudson. And wihout a doubt, his t-shirt (as modelled by friend George Aye) is my favourite as well. You might also enjoy George's little story about wearing Hudson's t-shirt.


There are now officially two places to get your semi-disposable Swedish furniture: IKEA's Bolingbrook store opened today.

Stick it to the Gas Tank

I love my Prius. While everyone else complains about the high price of gas, I get to gloat about filling up only every 350-400 miles. And thanks to MPG Stick! I can boast a little more openly about my 50+ MPG average this summer.

CLA Site Launch

Chicago Living Arts, an organization dedicated to sustaining local artists, launched their website this week. In addition to telling you all about their cause, you can look foward to an event schedule, a monthly newsletter and details about their ongoing oral history project. If you enjoy local art culture, and I'm thinking you do, the site is worth a gander.

A Sports Fan's Dream Come True

Ever want to be a sportscaster? Now's your chance: The masterminds behind the popular Cubscast podcast are expanding with the Chicago Sportscast Network, and they're holding open auditions for commentators on the White Sox, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks. Head over to the site to find out how to apply.

Moving out

As Matt points us to a great post made by Christine Cupaiuolo on Ms. Musings, I notice that she's packed up her bags. While she'll no longer be writing for Ms. magazine (a damned shame if you ask me) she will be continuing her writing at Pop Politics. It's always sad to hear that a professional weblogger has lost a job, but I'm glad that Christine has decided to stick around Chicago and keep writing. Her voice is strong and will carry on.

Movin' the Get Together, but not far

While we've announced that this month's GB get Together was to be at The Hopleaf, space restrictions and private events have made that a no-go. We're moving just up the street a block or two to Charlie's Ale House. Same time, same neighbourhood, different bar.

Get Tasty

SkinnyCorp is at it again. But they've moved from your t-shirt drawer to your wetbar with ExtraTasty!, launching soon. Go sign up.

A Mother to Mothers, Available 25/8

Ms.musings points to a story from the Times on doulas and the Chicago Health Connection's groundbreaking efforts to provide prenatal and postpartum services to young women who could not otherwise afford them. The article profiles Loretha Weisinger, who is also the subject of the documentary A Doula Story, set to air on WTTW next Thursday, October 6, at 8pm.

Buy Kleenex Now

Chicago has the questionable distinction of ranking first among the Asthma and Allergy Foundation's 2005 Fall Allergy Capitals. According to the detailed results table [PDF], the Windy City was no. 53 last year, so your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what caused the surge in the poll. Nevertheless, we "won" due to high pollen levels and medication use and a lower-than-average per capita number of allergists. In other words, make the necessary doctor appointments soon.

A Reason to Visit the Mart

The 4.2 million-square- foot Merchandise Mart remains the world’s largest commercial building, though it was built in 1930. It primarily houses wholesale showrooms, which is why—unless you’re an interior decorator—you probably haven’t had much occasion to go there. The Merchandise Mart Design Center Sample Sale, this Saturday, offers an excuse to stop by and explore. Details in Slowdown.

Hubble Soon Troubled No More

Troubled Hubble, who for the past six years have rocked over Chicago, are calling it quits after their show at Schubas on Thursday, citing health and personal readings. By tickets here. (via Radio Free Chicago)

The Bell Tolls for the Zone

Chicago radio has been without oldies since the demise of Magic 104.3, but no longer. Metroblogging's Tankboy documents 94.7's rather abrupt midday switcheroo.

Losing My Religion

Lots of activity in the Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese: Cardinal George just took away the ministries of 14 priests accused of sexual misconduct, and banned the "Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission," a secretive Catholic sect that has been accused of "cult-like practices," from church property and meetings. (Lots of info about LHTBM on this message board.)

Pedestrian Rally Against TMA

Many groups in Chicago such as Break The Gridlock and Logan Square Walks are organizing a demonstration downtown on Wednesday to protest Chicago's Traffic Management Authority (TMA) policy of ticketing pedestrians. You can see the flyer here, or read the Trib's article saying that yes, this is dumb. If you want to join the protest, it starts at 5pm at Daley Plaze on Wednesday.

Spoilt for Choice

Take it from the Times, "eating in Chicago is almost painful: to choose one superb restaurant is to reject a dozen others."

October is Art Month

The 10th Chicago Artists’ Month starts this weekend, so now’s the time to check the schedule and plan to see a lot of Chicago-grown art in interesting spaces this October—and maybe make some of your own. This weekend’s highlights are in Slowdown.

Missing the Terra?

Those of us who’ve been mourning the loss of the Terra Museum of American Art since it closed last October can continue to get our fix of Edward Hopper, Charles Demuth, and their contemporaries and forebears by checking out the expanded American Art galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago. Portions of the Terra collection have been on loan to the Art Institute since April and are being displayed along with the Art Institute’s own hefty holdings.

A Winter Coat Drive with Style

If you've accumulated nothing from past Chicago winters but a closet packed with winter coats, this promotion is for you. Bucktown boutique p45 is asking for donations of outerwear for Deborah's Place, a shelter for women who are or were homeless. Until the end of the month, in exchange for a gently used coat, p45 is extending a 15% discount on selected jackets from their Winter 2005 collection. p45 will provide in-kind donation forms on request.

Bottomless Accolades

The Wall Street Journal's Catalog Critic recently tested coffee beans by mail services from various roasters, and Intelligentsia Coffee tied for "Best Overall" with their new Bottomless Cup program. "Whoever roasted this knows what they're doing," said their coffee expert, Ken Nye.

A Worthwhile Ebert

Roger Ebert occasionally spits out a review that is as caustic as it is funny. His review of Jenny McCarthy's latest, Dirty Love, is fantastic. "This movie is an affront to cheese. Also to breasts. Jenny McCarthy has a technologically splendid bosom that should, in my opinion, be put to a better use than being vomited upon." Check out Sun-Times review for the full story.

Pilsen Critical Mass

Like the idea of Critical Mass but don't like the crowds? The Pilsen Critical Mass is a nice alternative with a smaller group. Plus, they usually go out to dinner afterwards so it's a nice way to meet other cyclists on the Near South Side. (If you can't make this one, it's always on the 2nd to last Friday of the month.)

Tweedy 'Tweens on TV

There's a new Quaker Oats commercial out that features a pre-teen rock band called the Blisters. Which wouldn't be a big deal, except the band is real, and two of its members are the sons of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Here's more about the taping. And a little bit more. (And here's a post from Eric Zorn back in May, talking about a name controversy surrounding the Blisters.) (Thanks, Heather)

A Good Day for Nuts

Today is Kiwanis Peanut Day! Since 1951, Chicago clubs have been handing out peanuts to passers-by to support charitable causes. Nationally, over $60,000,000 has been raised over the past 54 years. Every cent of the contributions Kiwanis received today (save the wholesale price of the peanuts) will be used by local Kiwanis clubs for their charitable programs which include: Aid to Handicap Children, Educational Scholarships, Aid to YMCA's, Boys and Girls Clubs, and 4H Clubs. Kiwanis reps have been spotted on the corners of State and Washington and in front of the Daley Center.

"Wrigley Should Never Be Closed! EVER!!!"

Billy Corgan's got some strong opinions about the Cubs. And, apparently, even stronger ones about Wrigley Field. There's the heritage, for one thing, and don't get him started about the music. [via]

A New(s) Stand

The Chicago chapter of Architecture for Humanity is not so impressed with the design of the typical newsstand. Accordingly, they've organized a competition that calls for the reimagining of this important component of the urban landscape. Interested parties need to register by October 1, although submissions aren't due until November. Further details on the contest and the issues it hopes to engage are available online and by email at afhchicago(at)

The Dazzle Shoulders Hit a Snag

No doubt the folks in Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association flag football leagues play as rough and tumble as anyone else, but there's also the important detail of looking good doing so. Sometimes, however, it seems having a queer eye just isn't enough.

No Jandek After All

We reported yesterday that the Adventures in Modern Music concert series would feature reclusive legend Jandek. Unfortunately, due to the Hurricane Rita evacuation, Jandek, who lives in Texas, is unable to make it up here. The Empty Bottle is working on a new date for his show.

Not Friends of the Family

Amnesty International released a report today on police mistreatment and abuse of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in America. The study focused on four cities, including Chicago, and found gross misconduct at every turn. Read the key findings, or download the whole 150-page report (PDF).

Cross at the green

After tackling such menaces as people who drive in the passing lanes too long and people who talk on cell phones while driving, Chicago may tackle yet another menace to drivers: pedestrians who cross after the light has changed. The city is considering a crackdown on jaywalking during morning and evening rush hours in the downtown area. A fine has not been specified, but the all-purpose misdemeanor fine ranges from $25 to $500. So you'd better think twice (or at least check for nearby cops) before crossing the street against the light in the future.

Flashback Weekend HorrorFest

It's that time again: Time for another Flashback Weekend HorrorFest! This weekend-long horror movie marathon will feature celebrities, bands and a horror merchandise fleamarket at the soon-to-be-sold Hi-Lite 30 Drive-In in Aurora. This may be the last time you get to see this historic theater in operation, so pack some food and water, get a change of clothes, pay your $20 for tickets, check your Slowdown (September 24 and 25) and settle in for some surely wicked films.

Red Cross Benefits from Regrowth

Two weeks ago, Threadless announced its plan to sell shirts for charity. Today, that plan paid off.

Honda Wants You to Listen

The Von Bondies and Hot Hot Heat are playing a show, and you can go for free -- if you sign up for Civic Live, a marketing event. So consider any junk mail/spam the price of entry. The concert's on Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Odeum Sports & Expo Center out in Villa Park. (Thanks, Judd)

Learn something new every week

Many of the classes began this week, but it's not too late to register for some of the Newberry Library's fall seminars. Topics include Black Letter Calligraphy, Small Theatres in Chicago, multiple literature and genealogy classes, and writing workshops. The evening and weekend classes average about $150 for eight weeks.

Other Buildings Worth Saving

UIC's Flame points out that the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois has recently released its annual Chicagoland Watch List, this year including buildings ranging from the Israel-Samuel A.M.E. Zion Church to the Main Post Office. Begun in 2002, the list (archives here) advocates for the protection of historic properties in the metro area. How can you help? Click on any of the listed sites to learn details about relevant officials to contact, be they aldermen or city commissions.

Two for the Price of One (Thousand)

You know that Pearl Jam benefit that's set to cost a thousand bucks? It's now a mere $500 to see Vedder & co. Yep, if it makes you feel better, imagine the other half of the ticket as paying for Robert Plant's just announced performance. Seen that way, it's nothin' short of a bargain. (In other Rock for Katrina news, Neil Young's not happy about the way Farm Aid was portrayed by the Trib over the weekend. More at Romenesko.)

Inflation by the Slice

As if we didn't have enough problems: The Sun-Times reported yesterday that area pizza delivery prices are increasing because of higher gas and ingredient costs. Even Domino's and Papa John's now charge for delivery. (Related: Not clear on the difference between "deep dish" and "stuffed" pizza?)

Feed Your Ears

Yesterday's Chicago Public Radio program Eight Forty-Eight featured interviews with two Gapers Block favorites, back-to-back (scroll down to the end of the day's programming). First, a chat with Adam Langer about his follow-up to (past GB Book Club choice) Crossing California, The Washington Story, made me want to dash out to the bookstore, pronto. Next, current Detour feature Michelle "Toots" L'amour and her partner Franky Vivid discussed more saucy details of the local burlesque scene. Nice to put some voices with some great stories.

Hell no! we won't go...and have our name changed to Macys!

Ok, so that doesn't roll off the tongue like everyone's favorite anti-war slogan but if you are so inclined, you can sign this petition to keep Marshall Field's, Marshall Field's.

Modern music

Sure, the big music story this week is Estrojam 2005, but don't forget that other music festival starting tonight, Adventures in Modern Music, sponsored by the Empty Bottle and The Wire magazine. If names like The Red Krayola, Eats Tapes and Deerhoof get you all excited, check out the Empty Bottle's Website for the schedule and tickets for the five-day-long festival. And get your tickets quickly, because it's been announced that Jandek will be performing at the festival. This is roughly the musical equivalent of J.D. Salinger giving a reading at the Harold Washington Library. Obviously you must attend.

Car Free Day In Chicago

Fair warning: Thursday is world car-free day. Even if there aren't any Chicago-specific activities planned, it's a good idea to leave your car at home and try a different way to get to work or get around.

Hello Sky

And now it's time for news no one expects me to know: Today the Chicago WNBA made their debut, announcing their team name and colors. They will be the Chicago Sky, sporting (what else?) sky-blue and a nice sunny-yellow. Not bad choices, given what other city-inspired colors one might potentially dream up (Beneath-the-Tracks Brown, anyone?). The team starts playing at the UIC Pavillion in May 2006.

Chicago's Not For Tourists

When I first moved to Chicago the Not For Tourists map and cityguide helped me to quickly understand the neighborhood divisions, where the El passed through them, what kind of amenities were contained within them, and the general vibe of each 'hood-- it was like Cliffs Notes for living in Chicago! Turns out the folks at NFT have been busy: last week they released their 2006 Chicago guide, relaunched their website, put up all of their maps as free PDF downloads, and are throwing a free launch party at the Darkroom. Don't say they never gave you anything.

City of Gold

Tom Skilling's blog has a great photo taken of the Chicago skyline last night, as the sun set and the buildings downtown reflected a beautiful gold color. This can only happen around the equinoxes each year, as the sun hits just the right angle and the weather (hopefully) clears at dusk around the Fermilab in Batavia, where this shot was captured. You can hopefully get your own view of the city in gold this week, and try to balance those eggs on Thursday, when autumn officially begins.

Farewell, Field's

News flash from the Tribune: all Marshall Field's stores to be renamed to Macy's in the fall of 2006. Start collecting your Field's memorabilia now. (Want to complain? Our friends at Chicagoist have thoughtfully provided the mailing address for the CEO of Federated Department Stores, the conglomerate that currently owns Field's.)

I'll have the poached salmon and a side of mercury, please

In yet another "win" for Chicago and Lake Michigan in general, the NOAA has released a report which concludes that Lake Michigan receives more mercury pollution than any of the four other Great Lakes. The report, sponsored by Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, has yet to be signed off on by the EPA but this bit of info is cause for concern.

What would I do without blogs?

Seriously. I've begun to turn to blogs to get more and more information that I know I'm not going to find in traditional media. For example, the Chicago Foundation for Women had a Symposium yesterday titled "Speaking So They Can Hear Us," which was all about getting feminist voices in the media. Right up my alley, right? Unfortunately the day job got in the way of me going. So today I go to Google News and find nothing. So I turn to my bookmarks, and find Roni's notes. With lots of pertinent links. Thanks, Roni!

Brazil Saves the Day!

Because of visa issues, flamenco artists Mártires del Compás have had to cancel their World Music Festival shows tonight and tomorrow. While unfortunate, their replacements are exciting for Brazilian music fans. Seu Jorge, best known for his Bowie covers in The Life Aquatic, is playing the Empty Bottle tonight after putting on a great show at the Logan Square Auditorium on Sunday. Tomorrow’s HotHouse show will feature guitarist Badi Assad. Tickets for the Empty Bottle show are available at their website or through TicketWeb at 866-438-3401; for the HotHouse show, call 312-362-9707, ext. 209.

Three local fellows

The 2005 MacArthur Fellows have been announced, and three of the 25 are from Chicago. Steven Goodman, Kevin M. Murphy, and Olufunmilayo Olopade will all receive $500,000 over the next five years, no strings attached. The complete list of Fellows is here.

Burn the Streets

Yesterday we mentioned the new Chicago Street Art group pool on Flickr. But, Burn the Streets is Chicago's original street art forum. Check out dozens of photos of stickers and other works posted by local street artists and fans of street art.

FEMA Hiring In Chicago

Wow, talk about job creation: Apparently FEMA is hiring in Chicago to staff a call-center to help with the utter deluge of calls they've been getting post-Katrina. Word on the street is that recruiting agency AppleOne is handling the hiring. One person's already got the job and has some questions about how it might help. Or not.

Sadly, no “Daley Daisy Pink”

If you’re the sort of person who wants your nails to match your geographical location, OPI can help. Last month, the company launched its new Chicago Collection of nail and lip colors, including red-brown “Mrs. O’Leary’s BBQ” and “Skinny Dip’n in Lake Michg’n” (shockingly not icy blue, but a shimmery nude). You should be able to find these at most nail salons, including Nail Bar, which held the world premiere of the collection.

Avec Sanglier Avec Pappardelle

If by chance you don't feel like chicken tonight, maybe you're brave (and carnivorous) enough to try this recipe from yesterday's Times: wild boar with pappardelle. It may take a bit of effort to source the ingredients (the recommendations are customized for New Yorkers), but for Chicagoans there's also the soft option: head to Avec, developers of the dish, and let them make it for you.

Street Art, Chicago-Style.

In a city that's completely banned spray paint, Chicago street-artists have had to take creative and untraditional routes to get their work on the streets. Chicago Street Art, the latest group pool on Flickr, is starting to document all of the hand drawn-stickers, stencils, plywood cutouts, scrawlings, paste-ups, and installations that bring color to the all-too-often drab urban landscape.

Notable Theater - Corpus Delicti

Coming on the heels of the recent beef-jerky like exhibition of BodyWorlds, a further exploration of the relationship of food and anatomy seems appropriate. Even if it didn't have Jell-O (or its gelatin ilk), this sounds cool: CORPUS DELICTI: JUST DESSERTS. Not your typical theatrical production as this will happen inside an operating theater at the UIC Medical Campus, never mind a body made of gelatin.

Apple at the Adler

Techie types of the Mac persuasion had best act quick so as to be among the lucky 250 at DrunkenBlog's "Evening at Adler." The confab will bring together the folks behind NetNewsWire, Delicious Library, and other software you know and love. Best thing: it's free. The event's scheduled to take place October 21, but you'll probably want to put your name in the hat now.

An Interesting Look at Urbanity:

urban / rural / wild

Fashion Focus Chicago

Chicago's first Fall Fashion Week kicks off today. Dubbed Fashion Focus Chicago, the week-long extravaganza features a number of events open to the public, both celebrity-minded and not. Sarah Jessica Parker and Clinton Kelly make appearances, J.Lo debuts her new lines and the whole thing wraps up with a runway show in Millennium Park, celebrating new faces and ideas in fashion. Marshall Field's has a complete listing of events, but you can also check your Slowdown for daily reminders through September 29.

Pastries for the People

Not many merchants at an outdoor festival could out-fun a petting zoo, pony rides, or the Farm Aid Tractor Parade, but Michelle Garcia's spread from her Bleeding Heart Bakery came very close. At this weekend's 5th Annual County Fair, Garcia sat beside tables of prize produce grown by neighborhood youth. Garcia's delights are often vegan, and always made with organic sustainable ingredients from local farmers. A few chunks of Bleeding Heart's Busy Bee cookie added delicious flair to the walk around the Garfield Park Conservatory. You can enjoy the Conservatory today, but will have to wait until Halloween day to visit The Bleeding Heart when it opens at 2018 W. Chicago Ave, near Damen.

The Turn of the Threaded Fastener

Product designer Kenneth LeVey of Illinois Tool Works in Glenview wanted to reinvent the mechanics of the screw, but he kept hearing it couldn't be done. After all, the "threaded fastener" had hardly changed in millennia; why should now be any different? With a little determination, however, LeVey proved the naysayers wrong. Forbes has the fascinating story.

The Hearty Boys Hit The Airwaves

Earlier this year, we told you about Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, The Hearty Boys, winning the Food Network's reality show, "The Next Food Network Star." That contest resulted in a new show, "Party Line with Dan & Steve," which debuted Sunday at 9:30am. Didn't get up early enough of forgot to Tivo it? You can catch it again on Friday, Sept. 23, at 5pm.

More Comics About Buildings and Food

This weekend, the New York Times Magazine introduces "The Funny Pages," and, given his stature, it's no surprise that the Reader's Chris Ware will be contributing. He'll do a strip called "Building Stories," which will run for 26 installments; part one [PDF] is printed today. To introduce the serial, the Times offers an audio interview [mp3] with the congenial Ware, who makes clear he doesn't live in Chicago: he's in Oak Park, goshdarnit.

Rock Island District Derails

Reuters reports that one person died and 76 were injured by the derailment of a Metra train this morning on the Rock Island District line. The Tribune has further coverage, while CBS2 has extensive footage. Rock Island service to and from Joliet was disrupted but is expected to resume its ordinary schedule by 2:30pm; Metra updates are available here. Those looking for information about passengers on train run 504, which was due into LaSalle St. at 8:45am, can call 311 (in Chicago) or 312/729-6100 (outside the city).

nextbook Reading Series Returns to Chicago

Those of us who can’t get enough of seeing in person (and listening to) the writers we admire really appreciated last year’s nextbook lineup, which offered free opportunities to hear the likes of Tony Kushner, David Rakoff, and Judy Budnitz at assorted venues around town. nextbook, a Jewish cultural organization, is presenting even more readings and talks this year, including programs with NPR’s Susan Stamberg, novelist Jonathan Lethem, and poet Robert Pinsky. Visit the website for series schedules and tickets (which, sadly, are no longer free).

Coming Soon: the Chicago Humanities Festival

Tickets for the Chicago Humanities Festival (10/29 to 11/13) go on sale to the public tomorrow (they’ve been available to CHF members since August 30). This year’s theme is “Home and Away,” and notable events include Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Robert Venturi discussing Mies van der Rohe (in Mies’ own Crown Hall at IIT), novelist Salman Rushdie talking about the “Scattered Concept of Home,” and a documentary about families about to relocate from a Robert Taylor Homes high-rise. The entire schedule (pdf)is available online.

Colaptes auratus on South Wacker Drive

Walking to my office the other morning along South Wacker Drive, I saw a Northern Flicker on the sidewalk in front of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Unaccustomed to the sight of dead woodpeckers, I did a little research and learned that migrating birds sometimes smash into the glass windows of skyscrapers, particularly at night. Not all birds die; some of them are just stunned. This Chicago organization is dedicated to helping bird victims of the glass-window aspect of human encroachment on the planet. And it’s looking for volunteers.

True Patriots

Chicago artist Al Brandtner's Patriot Act is back in the news. The piece, which caused some controversy during its display at Columbia College last spring as part of the "Axis of Evil" exhibit, has been pulled by the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where "Axis of Evil" opened last night. The decision prompted student protests with demonstrators wearing the image on t-shirts, thus demonstrating once again that censoring something is a great way to draw even more attention to it.


Here's a chance to help another Chicago group get on TV: Schadenfreude has been invited to audition for the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO, which is sponsored and filmed for HBO. Their audition performance is Sunday at 2:30pm at Second City, 1616 N. Wells -- and it's free and open to the public. Help'em nail the audition by filling the theatre!


Growing up, my mom had a sign over the microwave that said "No TUPPERWARE!!!" She'd lost quite a bit of her collection due to us nuking spaghetti or chili for longer than necessary. In an attempt to turn Tupperware into Tupperwear, local fashionista Cynthia Rowley worked with the makers of fine plastic-ware to create headbands and shoes, turning them into plastic-wear. While I doubt I'll plunk down the $300 her shoes will cost, I think Mom might get something from Tupperware's cool new line since my brothers and I ignored that sign.

Good food, served fast, money goes to a$$holes

And I don't mean the server. Being a server is a thankless, crappy, dirty job which very rarely gets you paid time off, health insurance, or many other benefits that most corporate drones can take for granted. And while servers run into other servers when they're having a beer and unwinding, it's hard to network so you can get the good jobs, for good owners. In comes Shameless and creates a safe environment so bartenders and food service workers can find out the dirt before they drop off a resume. And since I'm lucky enough to be a corporate drone now, I'll be checking through the list to make sure my usual haunts aren't run by "dillweeds", "jagoffs", or the like. Thanks, Paul.

Come again?

Maybe it's just me and my early morning crankiness, but this article on a Chicago area restaurant cited for health violations reads like a fever-dream narrative. Pecadillos aside, II Jacks Restaurant's violations seem pale in comparison to others I've read about. Of course this is coming from someone who would eat steak off the floor.

Kevin O'Donnell's Quality.

This month is a good one for enjoying the work of local drummer and composer Kevin O’Donnell. His compositions are featured in several different plays running during September and October, his new group the Ensemble General is opening the Hideout Block Party this Saturday, and he’s featured in the current issue of Chicago Magazine. Go out and enjoy the music now, before he heads off to Europe to support Andrew Bird in October.

West Town meets the West Loop

Chicago Journal, the distinctively peach-colored paper that has covered the "News of the South Loop, Near West and West Loop" for the past five years, launched a West Town sister publication yesterday. Hand delivered to my front porch (newspaper boxes are so bourgeois), the new paper promises to bring the same high level of neighborhood reporting to Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village and West Town every Thursday morning.

Your house has a history

At last night's panel discussion at the Newberry Library, Jennifer Masengarb of the Chicago Architecture Foundation gave the audience a link to the city publication titled "Your House Has A History" (PDF link), which spells out in great detail how to research the history of a Chicago home. If you're fortunate enough to own your own place, this document should get you started on researching the history of the building.

Speaking So That They Can Hear Us

Lisa Jervis, publisher and co-founder of Bitch Magazine, is speaking at this year's Chicago Foundation for Women Luncheon and Symposium. Titled, "Speaking So That They Can Hear Us," the symposium will address moving forward and redfining the feminist agenda. I'd love to hear what the panelists have to say about the upcoming generation of feminists, however the talk is on Monday, September 19, from 9-11am. If you can make it, click on over to Slowdown for more details.

What a Wonderful World

Or, in this case, city. The Tribune's effort to determine the "Seven Wonders of Chicago" is complete, and the votes are in. The lakefront garnered the most support; other winners included Wrigley Field, the Water Tower and the MSI. We asked our readers for their ideas and got some great responses.

Broad Shoulders Broadsided

Outsports gives in-depth coverage to the difficult decision faced by GLBT athletes and their teams next year: Chicago's Gay Games or Montréal's Outgames? An interesting detail in the extensive article: the fledgling Q Television plans to unscramble its signal so non-subscribers worldwide can watch the eight days of the Chicago event (while the channel currently has limited availability, it plans to expand significantly by next July). If you'd like to help make the (local) Games a success, there are several volunteer orientation sessions in the near future; details here.

Love Chicago

A neat little zine deserving of your time: Love Chicago. We do, you should too.

Film nerd giddiness

Okay, they won't be starting up until September 26th, but I'm already excited about Doc Film's Fall lineup. This quarter, they truly do have everything a young academic could hope for in a film society: Jonathan Rosenbaum speaking about Jean Luc Godard, a film adaptation of a Tanizaki novel, Barbara Stanwyck, and robots. The fun starts soon at 1212 E 59th Street, and remember--don't sit in the back row unless you want to be next to high schoolers making out.

Tour de Ferrara Pan

BoingBoing reminded us that Ferrara Pan has a great website, featuring virtual tours of the making of Atomic Fireballs, Boston Baked Beans, Lemonheads and other favorites.

Research Librarians

The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton, hosts a panel on "Researching Chicago's Local History," featuring our favorite librarian, Alice Maggio. It's free, and it's at 6pm; more details in Slowdown.

Redmoon's newest Spectacle

Tonight is the opening of Redmoon Theater's Autumn Spectacle: Loves Me, Loves Me Not. The performance, about a mythical town after it has been hit by a flood, was completely overhauled two days after Katrina hit New Orleans. Ten percent of ticket sales go to the Red Cross. More information in Slowdown.

Put It On the Board

Sports blog Braves Journal is running a bracketed tournament called The Road From Bristol to determine who was the "Most Loathsome Personality on ESPN". With Stuart "Boo-yah!" Scott claiming that dubious title, the RFB folks are now aiming at a new target: "Most Loathsome National Sports Broadcaster Not on ESPN." Today's matchup is White Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson (who's popular enough to have his own hate site) versus CNN/SI commentator Seth Davis. Vote in the comments. (Thanks, Greg)

Beyond solar panels

Zoka Zola, an innovative Chicago architect originally from Croatia, has designed a zero-energy home. The "Glass & Bedolla House," a self-sustaining, single-family urban home, is scheduled for construction three miles west of the Loop.

What's in it for the Trib? Recognition

You are no doubt familiar with the Chicago Tribune's ad campaign, "What's In It For You?" Well, the Trib is reporting that it's very satisfied with the campgaign; according to a poll taken this summer, an unusually large number of Chicagoans were aware of the ads, and were able to identify them as belonging to the Trib. Whether or not this high recognition will translate into a boost in circulation will be found out at the end of the month, which is when the Trib gets audit figures for its circulation.

file under: they're still around?

Early 90's grunge torch-bearers Pearl Jam will be playing a show to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. The show will take place at House of Blues on October 5th and tickets are $1000 (that's one thousand dollars). If you have the dough and it's burning a hole in your pocket(s), this would be a good cause to pony up.

The Worm, wanted once again

Was it just a few short years ago that Dennis Rodman's hair was the talk of the nation (and causing gapers blocks on the Kennedy)? The former Bulls star, after trying his hand at such dangerous activities as World Championship Wrestling and co-starring in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, was competing in a cross-country auto race in July, when he was pulled over in Frisco, Colorado for speeding (98 mph!). Well, he missed his court date and now there's a warrant out for his arrest.
Court Administrator Christine Yuhas said they're not going to actively look for Rodman, but "if he shows up again in Colorado, we'll pick him up." I have nothing else to add at this time, except to link to this hilarious anecdote in the Chicago Reader archives, about the time Rodman gave his Bulls jersey to Billy Corgan.

Lots of Music Goings On

It's a busy fortnight for music fans. Thursday through Saturday, the Hip Hop Journalism Summit features not just panels but also a mixtape competition and an awards ceremony -- more details here. This Friday sees the return of the Hideout Block Party. This year's program includes the reunion of the dB's after 22 years, as well as many well-loved local bands. And a week from today, Estrojam kicks off; here's a preview of the line-up from Windy City News.


When MTV's The Reality Show came to Chicago for casting, they met two 20-something chicks with this show idea: follow them around Chicago as they dig for gold from rich men. MTV didn't bite their trixie shtick , but Chicago-centric reality fans need not dismay. This week, VH1 premiered My Fair Brady, starring Joliet's very own Adrianne Curry as she explores her "relationship" with Christopher "Peter Brady" Knight. The America's Next Top Model winner and the middle Brady met while filming The Surreal Life 4. Think you have what it takes to be a reality star? Check out what shows are casting in Chicago at AOL's city guide.

Hateship, Friendship...

Part of the 17th Annual Rhinocerous Fest, Prop Thtr is putting on a production of "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage" -- performances of local writers' new works. Title sound familiar? The show was inspired by a collection of short stories by the ever-talented Alice Munro. Tonight's opening is at 7pm, 3502-4 N. Elston, and the show runs through October 19. Tickets are $12. Call 773-267-6660 for more information.

A Foie Free Future?

You'd think that there'd be controversy enough in the City Council's consideration of a ban on foie gras. But columnist Carol Marin managed to turn that duck of a topic into a goose about the city's handling of police torture under ex-commander Jon Burge.

Get Un-Naked

It's time to start shopping for fall and winter clothes, and NewCity has a nice overview of boutique clothing stores around the city for those of us who don't like malls.

Smoke 'Em if You've Got 'Em

Recently, a friend left town to spend a year studying abroad, and I'm keeping up with his travels via Flickr. The other day, a somewhat inscrutable picture appeared in his photostream. It looked like a packet of candy cigarettes emblazoned with our skyline, but why? Curious to know more, I asked what it all meant. His reply: "In Germany everyone thinks that Chicagoans are so rich that they smoke chocolate!"

Lolita All Grown Up

Nabokov's Lolita turns 50 this year, and New City and Vintage Books are throwing a party Thursday night at the Darkroom, 2210 W. Chicago. "Coming of Age: Lolita at 50" is a multimedia extravaganza, with talks from author Carol Anshaw and free speech activist Burt Joseph, music from DJs Tobias and Brock as well as a live set by My Where They, and a "reinterpreting Lolita" costume contest (extra points for not going with the schoolgirl cliché). The book itself will be available for purchase, as will $3 Goose Island beer. Doors open at 7:30pm, with a $3 cover after 10pm. Ironically, the event is 21 and over.

Love that Bean Smell

Fresh from our Fuel topic on favorite smells, did you know you can tour local coffee purveyor Intelligentsia's roasting plant? It only costs $3, and you get as much coffee and tea you can drink, plus some fresh beans! Located at 1850 W. Fulton, tours are currently conducted on Saturdays once a month. Your next opportunity for the freshest coffee smell ever: October 1st. We've got you covered in Slowdown. [Thanks, Stephen]

David Kodeski remembers

This weekend we saw writer-performer David Kodeski's excellent play, "And Some Can Remember Something of Some Such Thing", which is part of Live Bait Theater's "Fillet of Solo" festival of solo performances. Actually, Kodeski's play was extended for three weekends after the end of the festival, which gives you some idea of how well it's been received. The show, concerning the author's memories of growing up in a Polish family, finishes its run this weekend at Live Bait, and tickets are still available. Fans of Kodeski's witty tales of real life recollections (as also heard on This American Life and Chicago Public Radio) should definitely check this show out.

A Flood that Hits Home

From an unlikely source, has created a series of overlay maps that show the New Orleans flood area as it would affect other U.S. cities, including Chicago. If we had been flooded, the water would have reached from Logan Square to 67th Street, and as far west as Forest Park. Just imagine your home, still standing under water after two weeks. Please keep giving. [via Zorn and Austin Mayor]

Hankerin' for some Hank?

HankFest is an annual event that features Chicago's finest country artists performing the songs of Hank Williams Sr. This year's event features its usual stellar lineup and some new country bands you may not have heard of. The event kicks off Saturday, Sept. 17 at noon and goes until Sunday, Sept. 18th at 8pm in the parking lot across from the Wishbone restaurant, 1001 W. Washington Blvd. No line dancing allowed.

Band Nerds Kick Ass

While strolling through Wicker Park this weekend, I ran across a mysterious rag-tag marching band that were dancing through the streets in mismatched thrift-store uniforms and playing everything from gypsy jazz to raucous dixieland. It turns out I witnessed a live performance by Mucca Pazza, Chicago's premiere circus punk marching band. So if you happen to see a motley crew of horns, woodwinds, drums, accordians, a guitar player with a speaker on a hockey helmet, and a sousaphone player with grey porkchops (who also happens to play the melodica and lead the band), you can smile knowingly and join the parade.

Crime Sometimes Pays

Many congratulations to Adrian Holovaty for winning the grand prize at the Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism -- grand prize being, in fact, a cool ten grand. Holovaty's site,, has been impressing users in Chicago and beyond since it launched back in May. Well done; we'll be looking forward to the promised sequel.

Know Your Transit will be hosting its 7th annual tour of “L” stations next month, visiting various stations by old-school train cars and offering lectures on CTA architecture and history. Reservations are required and can be made via this form [PDF], which also provides the tentative itinerary. Experience past tours virtually here. Or, if you're not quite a trainspotter, but you're still mildly interested, check out the Loop Tour Train. It's touristy, but free, and it runs Saturdays through the end of September.

Illinois remixed

Sufjan Stevens' "Illinois" album, previously mentioned on GB, has been remixed. Check out "Illin'-Noise!" by mc DJ, currently available only as a BitTorrent link. (tip from Metafilter)

2005 Jeff Awards Nominees Announced

Nominations for this year's Jeff Awards were announced today, and Playbill has the list. Among local companies, Lincolnshire's Marriott Theatre led the pack, nominated 22 times, largely due to its production of Beauty and the Beast, which scored 7 nods. Winners will be announced at a ceremony downtown in November.

Feel the Magic

A new DVD about the Columbian Exposition comes out tomorrow. EXPO: Magic of the White City tells the story of the 1893 World's Fair, narrated by Gene Wilder.

The Top Five Clicks (Allegedly)

File under: "If you say so..." has posted a list of Chicago's five most popular sites as determined by daily visitors. While I can buy Craigslist, I'm a bit skeptical that the local UVa alumni club pulls more traffic than, say, the Tribune's site, which isn't even listed. Speaking of it, though, Daywatch writer Charlie Meyerson is hosting one of's first online chats today at noon; get interactive here.

The monarch makes it big in Chicago

One result of this year's drought in the Chicago area: a large number of monarch butterflies. The Sun-Times reports that the butterflies do well in warm, dry weather, and this year's population is 5 to 10 times greater than it was last year. Look for large swarms of monarchs to be streaming through Chicago on their way to Mexico during the next two weeks.

Rah Rah Chicago

The October issue of Men's Fitness Magazine ranks the fittest and fattest college campuses. Brigham Young University was crowned fittest, followed by the University of California, Santa Barbara; Boston University; University of Vermont; and Northwestern University in Evanston. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale comes in as one of the Nation's fattest. It's been a good year for Chicago's colleges and rankings: U.S News & World Report ranked Loyola University Chicago the "Best Value" and The University of Chicago is in the running to be voted one of The Seven Wonders of Chicago.

Newsman's Collection Auctioned

Chicago Antiques Guide informs us that former ABC7 anchorman John Drury's collection of erector sets and other vintage toys is going up for auction. Drury was diagnosed with ALS last year, soon after he retired from 50 years of broadcasting; the auction will benefit the Brain Research Foundation.

Ride While There's Still Time!

It’s hard to believe right now, but this beautiful cycling weather won’t be around forever. Enjoy it while it lasts, and join the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation’s Boulevard Lakefront Tour, which takes place tomorrow. You have until 6PM tonight to register, and can sign up (and pay) online using this form. It’s true that tomorrow’s expected to be a hot one, but how hot can it be at 6 in the morning (when the ride starts)? Details in Slowdown.

New Criminologist on Daley

I'm not sure quite what to make of this: a convoluted opinion piece linking Daley's recent visit from the FBI to deceased Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo, published in what purports to be a British criminology journal. But hey, they've got a $6.99 DVD on John Wayne Gacy!

Obama on iTunes

"This is Senator Barack Obama, and today is Thursday, September 8th, 2005. Welcome to my first podcast."

Art for Everyone

This is going to be a good weekend for art lovers in Chicago. We've got not one, but two notable events happening. The Around the Coyote Fall Arts Festival takes place in Wicker Park, featuring painting, photography, and even some poetry reading from fellow GB staffer Anne (hear one of her poems here [RAM]). Saturday's Rockwell Crossing Artwalk promises to be a more low key event, where you'll find jewelry, handmade body products and all other kinds of art, including some from GB button-designer, Anthony Lewellen. Slowdown's got you here and here.

Flippin' Through the Sketchbook

Speaking of cartoonists, you ought to check out local artist Laura Park's scanned sketchbook pages on Flickr. Park's illustrations have appeared in The Reader and elsewhere, but her daily sketches make even mundane objects come to life. (And she has a pet pigeon! How cool is that?)

Seven Wonders of the Tribune

The Trib has collected 14 possible "Wonders of Chicago," and wants everyone to vote for their favorite seven. Personally, I have trouble wrapping my head around naming "the Chicago theatre scene," a wonder -- I prefer my wonders physical rather than conceptual. Make your own list of wonders in Fuel.

Spend October with Lizzie and Darcy

It is a truth universally acknowledged that people love Pride and Prejudice. And, after featuring a few less-known selections, Jane Austen's study of vice and virtue, manners and morals, is the latest choice for the One Book, One Chicago initiative. As always, there are numerous discussion activities planned, including the inevitable investigation of how the novel connects to contemporary audiences via adaptations like Bridget Jones's Diary. Go on, prove Eugenides wrong.

Internet and iPod Killed Off Reading

That's apparently what Jeffrey Eugenides claimed yesterday evening, and, boy, howdy, has he got some 'splainin' to do. Jessa Crispin attended last night's Picador Party at the Harold Washington library, and she left steamed. Here's hoping the readers at Crispin's Bookslut event later this month are less "disappointing."

Seth, Chris and Ivan

I can't seem to find a link to this anywhere, but after attending the fabulous opening of The Cartoonist's Eye, I thought you'd like to know that Seth, Chris Ware and Ivan Brunetti, the exhibition's curator, will participate in a panel discussion today (Friday). From 1:30pm to 2:30pm, you can watch them as they discuss their profession, its history and their participation in it. 1104 S. Wabash. (I'd be there too, if it weren't for the ol' 9-to-5.) Update: Here's your link.

Knit 1, Learn 2

Whether you're a beginning knitter, or a long-time crocheter, there's a new spot in town where you can learn some new tricks. The store Knit 1 just launched its website, but it's already getting into high gear with its vast selection of class offerings. There's a special class where moms can bring their kids along, others where the youngsters get to knit alongside their parents, and a number of general and project-oriented classes for all levels. Prices are reasonable, and they do offer a discount on materials. You can check out Knit 1 in person at 3823 N. Lincoln Ave. in the North Center neighborhood.

The Brunetti Era

It's a good time to be Ivan Brunetti. An anthology of his work comes out this week, he was featured in last week's Reader (PDF), and here's an interview in Comic Book Galaxy. And to top it off, an exhibition he curated opens tonight at Columbia College — details in Slowdown.

Eight Twenty-Six Chicago Needs You

Big doin's over at 826CHI, the children's writing center with folks like Ira Glass and Dave Eggers behind it... For one, the organization announces today that it has found a home in Wicker Park at 1331 N. Milwaukee and plans to open for drop-in tutoring by the end of next month. To get things kick-started and pay its security deposit, 826 is holding a benefit concert at the Metro in late September that will feature the likes of Archer Prewitt and Baby Teeth. Details on that and other events are on their calendar (and, should you forget, Slowdown will remind you). Furthermore, now that there's a space, there's a time-line. That means volunteers are needed. Do it for the kids, man!

Video Bloggers

Lime Green Tangerine offers up this list of local video bloggers, or "vloggers." Is that really all of them?

Raising Funds the Threadless Way

Here's a chance to wear the change you want to see in the world: skinnyCorp's Threadless t-shirt outfit has introduced a new style, the Regrowth tee. The shirt sets you back a mere $10; that gets generously doubled, and 20 bucks goes to the relief effort, up to 50 grand. Nice.
Update: People are snapping those suckers up. Threadless reports raising $25k in 24 hours and says stocks are low but they're working on it. In other words, patience, grasshopper.

Renting Right

Today's Fuel, which asks about landlord nightmares, has prompted stories involving prostitutes, multi-year lawsuits and omnipresent roaches; one even culminates in the succinct wish "Hopefully this guy will die in a motorcycle accident or something." As it happens, our question was inspired by this thread on Ask MetaFilter that features its own horrific tales of dealing with property management. Between these two discussions, a couple of potentially useful resources have been mentioned: a summary of the city's Landlord and Tenant Ordinance [PDF] and the discussion forums at and Craigslist.

CTA Scam on Flickr

Well, sort of. Corydalus tells the tale of a foiled scam, accompanying a photo of the near-victim.

Laughing Matters: Katrina Relief

Four prominent members of the Chicago Comedy Association have banded together for a weekend-long benefit for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, with proceeds from a different theatre each night going to the American Red Cross's relief efforts. You can also expect raffles, "suggestion auctions," and other fundraising efforts at the designated shows. Head to ComedySportz Thursday, I.O. Friday, the Playground Saturday, and Second City Sunday for comedy and karma. See each night in Slowdown for details.

Motorola's iTunes Phone Finally Arrives

The blogosphere loves Apple, but with our Chicago focus, we don't often get to participate. So we've been chomping at the bit to announce, after months of hinting and teasing, Motorola's new ROKR iTunes-enabled phone, available through Cingular. Only holds about as much as an iPod shuffle, but it's still one less gadget in your pocket.

Ladies Do Fondue

Ladies, your Wednesdays are about to get cheesy. The Melting Pot at 609 N Dearborn Street is offering free fondue for ladies in the lounge every Wednesday from 5 until 7. The Melting Pot recently celebrated its 30th birthday and opened its 100th restaurant! Between dips of your strawberry, enter to win a "Fondue Rendezvous" to the Pot's birthplace, Zurich, Switzerland. Don't forget to note this Wednesday freebie on your PDA, or this.

Chicago's Finest Take on NOLA's worst

Chicago Police Department's Sgt. Robert Cargie, a member of the contingent of law enforcement officials assisting with flood-stricken New Orleans: "I think the tide has turned," Cargie said. "One guy told us, 'Those punk asses ran off as soon as the real police came in' -- no offense to the New Orleans police." Hell yeah.

Meigs Fine

You knew he couldn't get away with it scott-free. The FAA has fined Daley (well, the city) $33,000 for demolishing Meigs Field -- a hefty sum no doubt covered by the parking fees for a couple of this summer's concerts on Northerly Island.

Get Your Kicks (By Bike) On Route 66?

Planning is beginning to create a bike trail across Illinois along famous Route 66. In places it will diverge, running through the town nearby rather than the road. This would be a great bonus for Illinois -- the flat countryside would be a great place for a historical bike trail. Not that there aren't already a lot of trails...

The Changing Face of Cicero

As demographics continue to change in Illinois, Inside Higher Ed gives us the story of a suburban community college that's changing with them. Under the leadership of president Brent Knight, Morton College in Cicero has taken huge strides in the past two years to meet the needs of its Hispanic population, this year a striking 74 percent of the total student body -- up from 6.6 percent 25 years ago.

Office Girl next door

Punk literati, take note: Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned (the inaugural selection of the Gapers Block Book Club) and Columbia College writing instructor, is debuting a new work this week: a play called Office Girl. It's being produced by Go Cougars!, of which Meno is a cofounder. "I see theater as this amazing combination of the best storytelling of fiction mixed with the intimacy of a great rock show," he tells the Sun-Times. Details in Slowdown.

Raising Funds the Hip-hop Way

Kanye West said his piece; lots of discussion about that at Chicagoist. Now, another local hip-hop star is suggesting folks hush up and put their money where their mouths are. reports that Twista, citing the need to "stop pointing the finger of blame and help our fellow brothers and sisters in their time of need," is working to put together a concert to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Although the event doesn't yet appear on the House of Blues calendar, it's said to be set for September 19th. The show will feature Da Brat, Do or Die and others, and admission will be free, but fans are encouraged to donate funds, food and clothing. Speak up about other ways to help out in today's Fuel.

Roberts Rally Tonight

If you work downtown near the Federal Plaza, you're apt to hear something of a commotion this afternoon on your way home: People for the American Way is organizing a "Save the Court" rally to, ahem, discuss the nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. To plan your attendance or your avoidance, consult this flyer [PDF] for further details.

Chocolate Capital of the US

Chicago may no longer have a sausage king, but we're back on top for chocolate. (Did you know Blommer, the company responsible for that cocoa scent wafting through the Loop, has an outlet store?)

Haiku Generator

Push the button now
And computer creates a
Terrible haiku

Philly Swoons For Chicago's Corruption

In today's online edition, columnist Mark Alan Hughes writes, "If Chicago is corrupt, at least it's corruption that delivers." He uses The Bean as an apt metaphor [registration at required].

Shelter After the Storm

Two local programmers have created, one of several sites helping coordinate offers of shelter to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The site features an interactive GoogleMap of shelter offers nationwide; as of this writing, there were 18 listings in Illinois — if you've got space, sign up here.

Harry Potter Gets Stripped

Former GB-staffer Gordon McAlpin has posted his latest installment of his Stripped Books series, this time covering 57th Street Book's Harry Potter release party. Taking place in July for the sixth book's release, the comic features a number of the HP characters as played by bookstore employees and volunteers. Take a peek to find out how students did on the OWL exams and if they unearthed the secret recipe for butterbeer.

Wrigleyville Goes Hawaiian

Sometimes the lead just writes itself, and that sure is evident in Trib and Sun-Times coverage of last night's Jimmy Buffett concert at Wrigley Field. To wit: "Even Harry Caray wore a lei." See for yourself via this Flickr photoset.

Open Letter to a Craigslist Ranter

Dear anon-86861632, It's been over a month since you posted your first five "Chicago-Centric Ways I'd Like to Kill Myself." By now, I'm sure we've all read and forwarded them on to our friends and neighbors -- heck, you made the Best Of Craigslist, didn't you? I know, of course, that suicide is no laughing matter, but, after vainly spending time on the lookout, I can't help wondering, "Where's Part II?"

A city of stories

StoryCorps, the project to record interviews of regular American individuals, wraps up its stay in Chicago today. The Sun-Times prints some quotes from local StoryCorps participants, and also passes along the interesting news that StoryCorps might put a permanent recording studio here in Chicago, so that residents could continue to record interviews with their family and friends. So if you missed the chance to participate this time (and you probably did, since the slots for recording interviews filled up within hours when they became available), you might get another chance soon. In the meantime, StoryCorps founder David Isay will be presenting a selection of Chicago StoryCorps interviews Wednesday night at the Harold Washington Library; see Slowdown for details.

Lessons of Chicago

Eric Klinenberg, author of recent GB book club selection Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, wrote a column for yesterday's Slate on the lessons of the 1995 Chicago heat wave, and why those lessons matter in New Orleans this week.

Eat Pierogi, Watch for Scooters

Lovers of pierogi, polka and polish sausage should make their way to the Copernicus Foundation, 5216 W. Lawrence, for the annual Taste of Polonia. And if you notice a whole lot more scooters on the road this weekend, it's because Slaughterhouse 11, a sort of Sturgis for scooters, is happening.

Jazz Fest Benefits NOLA but Doesn't Include It

Jazz Fest gets underway tonight at 5pm in Grant Park. Last night, many of the artists gave benefit performances for New Orleans musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina, but Sun-Times columnist Debra Pickett points out that not a single New Orleans jazz act is on the schedule this year. [UPDATE] Reader Mr. says, "Debra Pinkett doesn't know what she's talking about. Donald Harrison, who is playing at Jazz Fest on Sunday night @ Petrillo as part of the Charlie Parker Birthday Celebration, is from New Orleans. He's a protege of the Marsalis gang and is well known for exploring the music of the city."

Cell phone ticketing no idle threat

After the city made it illegal to use a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving, over 800 tickets were issued to Chicago drivers for breaking this law in the first 6 weeks. So here's another friendly reminder: GET A HANDS-FREE DEVICE.

Vote Bus!

Schadenfreude's radio show may be gone, but the sketch comedy group hasn't. Their satirical coverage of 53rd Alderman Ed Bus' 2006 reëlection bid will run during the second half of today's 848 show on WBEZ. Tune in to 91.5 FM or listen to it here (RAM).

Deadline for Docents

If you're not a full-time student, and you've got a thing for buildings, then maybe you'd like to get a job as a Chicago Architecture Foundation docent. Deadline for application is October 7, and you have to fulfill a few requirements first. But hey, you can always spend the next month working on some new jokes about bridges, boats, and the Dave Matthews Band.

Room for pee?

Yes, Folgers coffee is awful, but try cream & sugar next time? I've been angry with co-workers before but never this angry. Fifty-one year old Skokie resident Kemarat Vathananand, was putting urine and "other toxic" chemicals in co-workers coffee because of a spat with his higher-ups. Now he'll have three years in prison to urinate wherever he likes.

Wanna be in a porno?

Or at least have your music in one? Early 2 Bed owner Searah Deysach is filming dyke porn and needs musicians who are willing to lend her original tunes for the movie. If you're interested, drop her an email at It's supposed to release this fall, so quit typing with one hand and send her an email already!

Pricey Gas, Cheap Beer

Handlebar, 2311 W. North Ave., is giving us a small reason to root for higher gas prices: the "Inverse Petrol-O-Matic Beer Pricing Scheme." If regular unleaded costs more than $3 a gallon at the BP station down the street from restaurant, pints of Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale will be discounted to $3 (from $3.75). The cost goes down a dollar every time gas rises another dollar -- so let's hear it for $6 gas!

CPS Fewer Repeats

The Associated Press has a blurb about the steadily decreasing number of repeats in Chicago Public Schools, falling from 7,900 kids last year to 6,664 this year, the lowest number since they ended "social promotions" in 1997.

Inside Track To Springy

State Representative John Fritchey (D-Chicago [Dist Map])has launched a remarkable weblog, Dome-Icile, where he has been posting regularly and with noticeable candor. Check it out for the inside scoop and a revealing look at Illinois state politics; it will surely get even more interesting when the veto session rolls around in November. For background on Rep. Fritchey, check out this profile from right here on GB.



GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15