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. 


Monday, June 24

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Airport Parking Deck Status Dot Com

If you're the type who wants every. little. detail. planned when traveling, you'll be happy to know that the regional airport system is now posting information about parking availability on its website, And there's no need to worry about things changing after you've left the comfort of your 'net connection. Nope, register to receive mobile alerts, and you're all set.

The West Town Gallery Network, Matey.

The West Town Gallery Network is a group of six art galleries looking to make WestTown a destination for compelling visual art, alongside the other established gallery communities in the city. To promote their cause, they have created a beautifully designed (and pirate-map inspired) brochure (PDF) and map (PDF), designed and lettered by local artist Eric Lebofsky. If you would like a Lebofsky drawing of your own, you can win one by participating in the upcoming WestTown Gallery Hop on November 19th. Peep Slowdown for the skinny on the hop.

Chris Ware in the Guardian

Cartoonist extraordinaire and Oak Park resident Chris Ware is interviewed in the Guardian today. In it he talks about his work, his life and the graphic novel form.

Twista Unleashes the Furor

Chicago hip hop star Twista played "Principal for a Day" last week at the Chicago Children's Choir Academy, a CPS magnet school on the South Side. It went over fantastically with the kids, but reports that it met with the ire of one David L. Wideman. Wideman began a one-man anti-Twista campaign, calling and writing Mayor Daley and even creating a website,

Is Carson's Next?

Saks Inc. announced today that it has sold Carson Pirie Scott (and a bunch of other department stores) to Bon-Ton Stores. No word yet on whether the Carson's name will go away, but one would hope the Macy's/Marshall Field's brouhaha would discourage a name change.

Fun with Google Maps, Movie Edition

This time, check out movie listings and times matched to the theater's location at MashMap. The fly-over effect is pretty slick.

Songs of the Sox

The Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros were asked to submit their favorite songs for Apple iTunes [link will only work with iTunes installed]. The choices are mostly predictable (some Pearl Jam mixed in with Nu-Metal and a smattering of rap/hip-hop) with one exception. Damaso Marte's choice was Britney Spears's "Oops!... I Did It Again." Say it ain't so, Damaso!

Call it "Smirting"

If the smoking ban goes through — this week or some time in the future — those exiled out of doors may well experience an uptick in their romantic lives. Just ask the Irish.

Something So Fantastic

As Beantown prepares to develop new public green space, the Boston Globe sends a reporter to check in on the lessons the city can learn from Millennium Park. He heads home smitten by the park and, even more so, with his sense of how The City That Works works: "The more you talk to Chicagoans, the more you're impressed with what can only be called civic patriotism." Sounds pretty right on to me.

Apparently reggae is the official music of Tuesday.

We just posted about "Chicago's Longest Running Reggae Night" at Darkroom. But if that's not enough reggae for your Tuesday, try the Super Status Crew spinning reggae plus funk and hip-hop at Betty's Blue Star Lounge. The show goes waaay into Wednesday morning, with Lord Dubious, Chuck Sunshine and The Graduate. Go to Betty's web site before 7 pm to put yourself on the VIP list. Get mad props. Pay no cover charge. Every Tuesday night. Betty's Blue Star Lounge, 1600 West Grand Avenue, 21+.

Bleeding Heart Bakery To Open Its Doors

There's a new bakery in town, as Bleeding Heart Bakery moves from their incubator in Kitchen Chicago into a full-blown storefront at Chicago and Damen. Expect something for everyone at their grand opening on Halloween (running from 10am - 8pm), and dig their website for a moving testimony about why green and bread aren't contradictions.

A+++!!! Would Parade Again!

Get your own (admittedly wispy) piece of White Sox history: ticker tape from today's parade is already appearing on eBay. Or, you know, head down to the parade route and scrounge for some yourself.

"Teaching the Old Guy New Tricks"

Hastert blogs; Wonkette yawns.


Chicago Public Radio is in the throes of another pledge drive, but there's good news for fans of their acclaimed program This American Life: host Ira Glass will be on the radio tomorrow from noon to 3:00 PM, presenting a three-hour marathon of stories from the long-running radio program, and undoubtedly giving TAL fans a number of tasty pledge premiums to choose from. Tune in tomorrow for the marathon. (And while you're thinking of it, check out the newly-redesigned Chicago Public Radio Website, which was unveiled at the beginning of this current pledge drive a couple days ago.)

I'll Take "Chicago Weather" for a Million

The Sun-Times presents "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Tom Skilling (But Wouldn't Think To Ask)." And, yes, that includes the names of his cats.

Lip Balm #1 Addicts Rejoice

Yesterday, luxury skin and hair care product pusher Kiehl's opened the doors to their first Chicago location at 907 W Armitage. Kiehl's is commonly referred to as a cult pharmacy; Forbes used the term "cult devotion" in a story including the company's products on a list of "50 of America's Best." If your tiny bank account threatens to keep you from indulging in Kiehl's lush lotions, take note: Kiehl's sampling program gives away over 12 million trial-size packets and tubes a year.

Look for the Hoodies

Tonight, Gapers Block staffers will be hanging out in the upstairs bar at Hopleaf for our monthly Get-Together -- you should come. Just look for the GB neighborhoodie. And speaking of, tomorrow night the new Neighborhoodies store in Wicker Park is throwing a grand opening bash from 8pm on.

Podcasting the Preserves

In a beautiful mix of technology and nature, nearby Kane County Forest Preserve District is planning to create podcasts for its Forest Preserves. So, soon, you should be able to make a short trip and then be strolling through the woods with your iPod (or otherPod) learning all about the beauties of preserved open spaces. Let's hope this gives some ideas to other Forest Preserves around. [Thanks, Dan]

VGS vs. House of Liu vs. Revise

Jim over at Veggiesomething just dropped some hot new t-shirts. First up is his new "sub-label" and character line, House of Liu. The "Destroy" t-shirt is both macho yet cute at the same time. I got one, best get yours. In addition, Veggiesomething teamed up with Revise (we got it covered) for a t-shirt as well. Hotness all round. Get 'em here.

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Fun

Today's New York Times gets itself all tangled up about just what the White Sox win means. You know, in a metaphysical sense. While the sports section quotes fans using the word "redemption," on the Op-Ed page, Studs Terkel isn't so sure. My read on this? Celebrate now, cogitate later. To that end, who doesn't love a parade?! The forecast calls for ticker tape showers, starting at noon.

Counting Heads: A Future Chicago

Lauded by Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing, Counting Heads is supposed to be an entirely swell science fiction novel. It arrives in bookstores sometime in November. What makes this important to Gapers Block readers, however, is the cover art. Is that a futuristic Chicago with the "antique" Hancock and Water Tower Place buildings in the background? I daresay it is.

Cleaning Up at Water Tower Place

If you thought the Crabtree & Evelyn, Sephora, Bath & Body Works, and Body Shop at Water Tower Place were inadequate for your cleaning and pampering needs, there are a couple of recent additions to the downtown behemoth that might sate you.
Lush, whose organic and natural products proved so popular that Americans used to have them shipped in from England, opened a kiosk in Marshall Field’s cosmetics department recently. An institution in New York, an outpost of C.O. Bigelow’s Apothecaries is opening at WTP today; you can even pick up some product samples if you show up by 4pm. Water Tower Place is located at 835 N. Michigan.

An Orange Sticker is Hard to Find...

But, it would seem, worth it. We mentioned the UpYourBudget Treasure Hunt earlier in the week, and it turns out the White Sox weren't the only winners last night. Congratulations, Willie Stevens, you're ten thousand dollars richer.

Sorry Charlie

The Zagat annual ratings are out, and there's at least one surprise in the list of Chicagoland's best restaurants: Charlie Trotter's didn't get a top score. The mighty fell one point behind the top six, which included Mirai Sushi, Seasons, Tallgrass and Carlos' in addition to stalwarts such as Tru and Ambria.

Signed, Cealed, Delivered

Heavy metal band Cealed Kasket will be playing the Cubby Bear on October 31st, which, ironically, happens to be the same day as Halloween. Lead singer, Mortal Death, "spawned from Erik and Emily Duth in the Bristol suburb Abrahmshire", will be joined by bandmates Sarcicus, Maurice, and Scott for a night of... well...something scary I would imagine.

Kartemquin at 40

Tonight is the first installment of UChicago's retrospective of Kartemquin Films, a series they're calling "Truth in Motion." Kartemquin got its start in Chicago in the mid-1960s and has gone on to produce such documentaries as Hoop Dreams and its latest, a twenty year chronicle of artist Leon Golub. Over the next few weeks, U of C's Human Rights Program will present themed groups of excerpts and shorts by Kartemquin, culminating in a master class and a panel that will discuss documentary film in the US. All events are free and open to the public; look for reminders in Slowdown.

A Short Portrait Of A Gem

Short portrait of the beloved North Side apothecary, Merz, in the New York Times today. The article explains some background on how their website,, got its name.

We Are the Champions

I doubt we have to tell you this, but...

Wicker Park is moving to Bridgeport

In conjunction with the ongoing Select Media Festival, three Wicker Park/North Side countercultural institutions; Quimby's, Myopic Books, and Odd Obsession Video will be opening shop in Bridgeport. The temporary retail relocation is part of the "Experimental Culture Zone" that Lumpen is creating along the burgeoning Morgan St. corridor in the "Community of the Future". Don't go proclaiming "the end" of Wicker Park yet, you aging hipsters-- the three satellite stores are open only on the weekends through November 13th, and then it's back North they go.

Pretty Pumpkin Portraits

I'll admit that I'm kind of a sourpuss when it comes to big holiday displays, but I do enjoy nice illuminated, carved pumpkins. So, it really piqued my interest to learn about Craig Perry's two pumpkin displays. Phyllis' Musical Inn is showing sixty of Perry's carvings, all featuring famous Chicago faces, while the best of Perry's Chicago pumpkins will be seen in Millennium Park. Who can pass up a pumpkin likeness of Al Capone? It happens Saturday-Monday and to your right in Slowdown.

Jordan Brands Ladies

Yesterday's Oprah was definitely one to exercise the TiVo slo-mo feature. Chicago's first lady welcomed Michael Jordan and special handsome guest Charles Barkley to the show. Air Jordan joked with Chuck and Oprah, all in the service of introducing Brand Jordan's new line of ladies clothing. Oprah waxed philosophical about wearing her Jordan duds shopping on Oak Street. Jordan's line pays J-Lo style homage to his Bulls with these signature color velour sweatsuits.

Cash in the Museum

Ever dreamt of taking home one of the paintings you've seen at the Art Institute? Drop the dough next week, and it could happen. Today's Times reports on the plans of various national museums to auction off work they no longer see as important to their collections. Critics say moves like this are short-sighted, but trustees say they need to free up funds for other acquisitions. Sotheby's will handle the sale of the two AIC pieces: Chagall's "Le Jongleur," estimated at $2.5-3.5m, and Renoir's "Portrait de Jeanne Sisley," a steal at half a mil. (Reg. req'd for site, though several logins appear at bugmenot.)

Caught In A Manhole

Pete Tidd, an Elvis impersonator, won $600,000 in an injury lawsuit against the town of Cicero. Tidd injured his left leg in 2002 after stepping into an exposed manhole. He was hoping to recover roughly $140,000 in medical expenses, but the Maybrook Courthouse jury decided he should get more because the accident limited his mobility to the point he couldn't perform karate kicks or other maneuvers needed for his act.

Loyola's Colorful Neighbors

Here's a headline you don't expect to read in a Jesuit college's newspaper: Chicago Is the "Leather Man" Capital of the World. The Loyola University Phoenix profiles the Leather Archives & Museum.

Avant-Garde Foodporn, Pt. 2

Last week, it was Alinea. This week, peep some pictures of Moto.

First Day of School

After a little first day nerves, 826CHI opened on Monday to drop-in tutoring. They helped with math, wrote some stories and played a little chess. In all, it sounds pretty successful and the 826 volunteers are excited to see where the next few days take them. They're still accepting volunteer applications, so if you like kids and love teaching and learning, go here to learn how you can spend some of your extra time.

All Those Useless Letters

Ever wonder why the Sox aren't the Socks? Wonder no more. Slate's "Explainer" takes a look at the early 20th century's rather strange linguistic priorities.

New Format, Johnny B. Is Back

When Infinity Radio announced today that they had figured out who was going to replace Howard Stern (Adam Carolla and David Lee Roth, depending upon where you live), local Howard-outlet WCKG decided to switch to a new format called "FreeFM", a talk-radio format that blends entertainment and politics. No word on their site on who the Stern replacement would be, though I'm gunning for Carolla. (Oh, and Johnny B., for those who remember him, is coming back to the Loop.)

Something To Hold On To

Germophobes, take further note: the CTA won't introduce train cars with aisle-facing seats for another few years (assuming the plans are to schedule, at least), so you're probably not a rush hour straphanger just yet. But, once the switch happens, you may want to remember the TranStrap, which, if its makers are to be believed, "dramatically enhances the public transit experience" -- especially when you've forgotten your travel-size Purel. [via]

Wash Up, Kids

Did you wash your hands before and after lunch? A bill in Springfield would make lunchtime hand washing required by law for students attending Chicago Public Schools. The legislation is intended to help slow the transmission of cold and flu; no word on what punishment would be dealt to scofflaws. Next they'll make not covering your mouth when you cough a ticketable offense.

A-Spire-ing Architects, Take Note

Showing that "tweezer-shaped" isn't necessarily the best descriptor for a proposed 2,000-foot tower in downtown Chicago, there's a new architectural "conversation piece" on the block. This broadcast tower is the brain-child of architect Cesar Pelli, and would match the proposed Calatrava-designed skyscraper in height if built as planned, and would cost a cool $300 million. It's not technically a "building" though, as it wouldn't hold office or living space, but would be used by television stations broadcasting high definition signals and would not be breaking any "World's Tallest" records.

Buy a Book, Save a Magazine

Punk Planet's good news is tempered with some really bad news: its distributor, Big Top Newsstand Services, is the last distributor of independent media like PP, and it's having serious cashflow problems. Which puts the magazine in a tough spot. You can help by subscribing (just $18 a year, $30 for two years) or picking up a book or some other merch.

Ana, Mi' Amorcita

Every morning, bleary eyed, half asleep, I stumble to the TV and flip on WGN-TV's Morning News. A few sips of coffee and a shower later, there she is; my numero uno new news babe, Ana Belaval. She is new to WGN as of June but they didn't put a bio page up until recently. Ana formerly worked for Univision in Chicago and New York and was nominated for an Emmy. She has a pretty infectious style of reporting and is muy active in the Hispanic women's community. Welcome to Chicago, Ana.

Vote with your left hand, drink with your right.

The League of Women Voters of Chicago will be giving a hands-on demonstration of the new electronic voting machines which will be used in the next Chicago primary elections. There will be a Q&A session as well as a full demonstration of the new machines. Best of all? You can do it all with your favorite mixed drink in hand. The event takes place at Jak’s Tap, 901 W. Jackson on Monday, November 7th, 2005 from 6 to 8PM. More info.

10 Amazing Acrobats

After attending the opening, I can say with conviction that 10 Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith is a show worth its salt. Though focusing on a Muslim family assimilating to American standards, the story will speak to anyone who's had diffculty coming to terms with their cultural differences. Running at the Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington, through December 30. Call 312-236-6881 for tickets and more information.

Bike to Work

If high oil prices are making you think about trading in your gas guzzler for a two-wheeler and cycling to the office, you might want to attend Wednesday's Chicagoland Bicycle Federation lunchtime roundtable on commuting by bike. Details in Slowdown.

Looking for Loot down in the Loop

Sifting through the website for the UpYourBudget Treasure Hunt is a bit of a task, but, as far as I can make out, there are $10,000 prizes to be won in various cities each week over the next month. Tell you one thing: I'll be doggoned if the "North" video clue doesn't look awfully familiar. May the best gaper win.

Comin' Home Via CD

Wilco did the live recording thing at their four-night stand at the Vic earlier this year. The two-disc result will apparently bear the title Kicking Television. If you're anxious to hear yourself as a screaming crowd member, though, the online sampler'll have to do until the album drops next month. (You can, however, pre-order it now.)

That's a Lot of Bushy Tails

Forthcoming from Punk Planet Books, 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels is a "greatest-hits collection of the last decade of Jay Ryan's groundbreaking work." The book will also feature an interview with Ryan and essays from notable names in the music, poster and design worlds, including Art Chantry. Sales don't start until November 15, but you can preorder it now from Punk Planet and The Bird Machine (details here). Any pre-orders from The Bird Machine come with a special screen printed book "belt" that you won't be able to get at your local Borders.

America's Best Food City?

Is Chicago America's best food city? Men's Style ponders that question as it highlights four new upscale restaurants opening in the city. Scenesters are especially directed to the recently opened Landmark Grill & Lounge in Lincoln Park. The much-hyped venue features a flying catwalk, Moroccan-inspired lounge and designated cell phone booth.

Last-Ditch Goatees

As the Astros struggle against the Sox, they've decided to switch things up a bit, see if they can gain some traction. To that end, they're shaving their beards. Which, you know, is sure to make all the difference.

Sox Fans Interact

White Sox Interactive is required reading during the World Series. Especially the forums, where fans let it all hang out in threads such as "You Write Tomorrow's Cubune Headline" and "Moments of Unintentional Humor."

Full Metal jacket

No war here, just one-of-a-kind custom jackets made by some of the hottest designers and artists out there in the Chicago scene (featuring personal fave Cody Hudson). Clothing manufacturer Spiewak is hosting this event to raise awareness and money for the Chicago Women's Health Center. Aside from checking out jackets, music will be provided courtesy of Prefuse 73 so you know this'll be hot. What more could you want in such chilly climes? This Wednesday, 8pm onwards at The Syndicate, a new gallery space in Wicker Park. Be sure to RSVP for the full skinny.

Jenga Blocks are Falling Down

Remember the Jenga Sears Tower? The Sun-Times interviews its builder today, who reveals he's ready to knock it down and start on his next project, London's Big Ben. To that end, Bryant Varney is looking for suggestions on how best to send the Tower toppling; send yours to bvarney[at]

Bitch Mag, Bitch Bag

Sunday marked the opening of Bitch magazine's second fundraising auction. To help support your favorite feminist, pop culture read, head over to their eBay store and put in your price. Auctioned items include cross-stitch kits, original art and, most notably, two Poise bags created and made by GB's own Cinnamon Cooper. Bidding runs through October 30, 3pm PST and all proceeds go directly to the magazine.

Thunder Gong. That could have been trouble.

So I'm waiting on my takeout when this dude hands me a flier. Unless I'm at a concert, I've got this thing about taking paper from strangers. Too late though - already took it. Ah, just an invite from DJ Redlox himself to Thunder Gong, billed as "Chicago's longest running Reggae night." I was a little suspicious of the "longest running" claim, as I didn't think Darkroom was old enough to boast such a thing. But apparently this Reggae night migrated from Lava Lounge. Okay, I'll buy it. Anyhow, DJ Redlox and General Pacman man the turntables and apparently the video screens too. Every Tuesday at the Darkroom, 2210 West Chicago Ave. Starting at 10pm. No cover.

Howloween at the MCA

The MCA's sculpture garden will play host to a bevy of costumed dogs next weekend for the Howloween Dog Day Parade. In addition to dressed up dogs, find bobbing for dog treats and prizes for best dressed. Check this week's Time Out Chicago for pet costume ideas. Howloween is in conjunction with MCA family days. This is the kind of family dog fun that helped Chicago receive rank as dog-friendliest major city in the US. (The MCA's Howloween is not to be confused with this Howloween 2005 event in British Columbia.)

Ignore the Sox, America

"The thing is, while the rest of the country might believe in baseball curses, Chicago White Sox fans don't. We don't blame a curse for our team's shortcomings, don't possess a sanguine 'Maybe next year' attitude when we fail. When we stink, we stink." Friend of GB Claire Zulkey's excellent column in today's Wall Street Journal Online. (Via Coudal, who's rooting for both teams tomorrow ...sort of.)

The Return of Avant Garde Foodporn

Alinea has resurfaced in the foodie buzz; chef Grant Achatz was counted as one of the country's top tastemakers in Forbes, and the new Fall menu looks divine in photos on eGullet.

Rocky Horror Does The Suburbs

Few things are as wonderful as doing the time-warp with a hundred half-naked strangers. If you're in the mood, do the time warp again with the cast of Completely Crazy out in Woodridge this weekend. And if you go tonight you can benefit the Gay Games. (This theater has a bar and comfy chairs, a trend we can all get behind. The RHPS is icing on the cake!)

File Under: Pay No More than You Have To

If you own your own house, there may be something to take away from Brandon Harvey's example: he applied for Cook County homeowner's exemption and ended up saving a thousand bucks in taxes. He offers pointers on the bureaucratic protocol, as well as encouragement to keep the faith despite the likelihood of facing an "extremely rude lady who will barely listen to your questions before abruptly hanging up on you."

I *heart* (bikes on) Metra forever

Cyclists who have been using Metra can now rejoice: the trial period is over and today's meeting resulted in bikes on Metra year-round. Cheers all round!

"I don't know if I'm a leader, but I have the biggest mouth"

In our continuing Ozzie Guillen coverage, the Washington Post profiles Ozzie today, complete with a rich repository of postseason Ozzie quotes. As Deadspin reports, "it's 90 percent Ozzie goodness and 10 percent beleaguered PR reps trying to settle him down."

I Wanna Be Like Ozzie

The World Series kicks off tomorrow, but the city is getting all dressed up today: there's a Sox hat on the Picasso sculpture and on the Art Institute's lions, other public art pieces are donning white socks, and supposedly 20,000 Ozzie Guillen masks are being passed out around town today. [Update: according to the Red Eye, the masks will be handed out on Saturday at Daley Plaza, around US Cellular Field and at the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau centers at 77 E. Randolph and 165 E. Pearson. No word on times. (Thanks, Claire and Rachelle)]

Parting the Post-College Haze

Get Your Life On is another city guide, but with a twist: it's aimed at the freshly post-college crowd. The nicely designed site offers a little bit of everything, from job hunting tips to personal finance advice to restaurant reviews.

Stone Park: The New Cicero?

I know this is a press release, but this little episode in Stone Park sounds like something out of the Sopranos. What's worse, it's not hard to believe if you've ever driven through Stone Park.

Point 'n' Guess

Earlier this week, a new game emerged on Flickr: Guess Where Chicago.


Still in shock that several thousand White Sox tickets sold out in 18 minutes on Tuesday? The World Series apparently does not hold a candle to Wrestlemania. Tickets for Wrestlemania 22, to be held in Chicago on April 2nd of next year at the Allstate Arena, were put on sale last week -- and sold out in less than two minutes. And that was 15,000 tickets, people. Time to trade in your Sox jersey for a vintage Hulkamania T-shirt.

The Year in Rockness

The leaves are dropping, and so are the temps. Which prompts one to start looking back on the past year, remembering the good times, forgetting the bad. That's what Oh My Rockness is suggesting, at least, as they seek your submissions of the best and worst shows you've seen in 2005 (so far). (And, for thinking about these things beyond the calendar, there's Fuel.)

Fun with Maps, Political Edition

Do you know who your local representatives are? Type in any Cook County address at and you'll get a list of your personal elected officials and a map showing where you are within their districts, as well as which police precinct and beat you're in.

CIFF winners

The winners of the 2005 Chicago International Film Festival, which closes tonight, have been announced. Best film? My Nikofor.

Stay Tuned to the Third Coast Festival

The Third Coast Festival annual conference has kicked off, and, like any good media event, it's being blogged. has dispatched a team of four to cover the goings on, and they'll be posting here over the next few days. For conference happenings, visit the website, or check out a couple of related events in Slowdown: One Ring Zero on Friday night and the ever-lovin' Ira G. on Sunday.

Locating People In Groups With Frapper

Continuing the onslaught of "Cool Things You Can Do With GoogleMaps" is this new tool I discovered this morning, Frapper. You can map locations of where people in a particular group live. Some Chicago-based groups have already gotten into the act such as mommy-forum and the Chicago Cycling Club.

We're gonna need more tiaras

If an 80's prom isn't your thing, how about a gay homecoming? Crew Bar+Grill in Uptown is holding a homecoming dance Friday night to benefit the Gay Games Chicago 2006. Highlights include the Patty Elvis Band, a $100 bar tab prize for best dressed, free food and some serious drink specials. Plus they'll be crowning a king and queen. Or queen and king, as the case may be. Details, as always, in Slowdown.

You Have Been Selected

Lumpen's annual Select Media Festival gets under way this Friday with an opening reception at Iron Studios for The New Chicagoans, a group show of local avant-garde artists, including many GB favorites. On Saturday, the festival has organized a Bridgeport Art Walk as part of its focus on the South Side neighborhood. Then next week, watch for the Tactical Ice Cream Unit patrolling the city's streets. Check Slowdown for details and the festival's website for even more.

New virtual community for Chicago artists

The Department of Cultural Affairs has launched a nifty online smorgasbord of info for artists called It includes articles, bios, forums, funding information, and job listings. Right now there's a detailed guide to buying and renting space called Square Feet Chicago, but a searchable spacefinder is in the works. And of course local artists' works are showcased throughout the site.

More Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is currently accepting applications for mini- (up to $2,000) and major (up to $10,000) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. For more information, call (312) 422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

248 Photos Around and About the CTA

Chicago above the rails.

Candy and Candles Ablaze!

If you were anywhere close to downtown, or on the lakefront path anytime past 11pm, you might have noticed a pungent burning smell and a travelling dark thick fog. The source of such might have been a mystery to you (as it was to some friends and I on the lakefront) but I knew that in the morning something this big would be in the news. And it is. A candle factory and part of the closed Brach's Candy Co. each had a massive fire on the West Side. There's some kind of irony in a candle factory burning down, isn't there?

Where Everyone's a Superstar

Crunch Gyms' current membership promotion (Pay as You Go) reeks of cell phone plans made popular by wireless frontrunners T-Mobile and Virgin. But lousy marketing doesn't mean Crunch isn't super cool (it is). Current group fitness classes underway at Chicago Crunches include these innovative experiences: Crumpin' and Clownin', The Morning After Workout and BYOB (Bring Your Own Boyfriend) Yoga.

Wake Me Up Before You Go Bowl

We're getting a little overwhelmed with premature '80s nostalgia. Witness The Awesome '80s Prom, the Tony'n'Tina-style interactive entertainment that's opening next month at the new '80s-themed club RadioStar (yes, as in "Video Killed the"). But here's one bit of '80s fever we can get behind: the HRC 80's Equality Bowl. Wear your best Reagan-era costume to Waveland Bowl this Sunday for a benefit for the Human Rights Campaign, featuring bowling, buffets, and probably more Madonna than you can shake a stick at. See Slowdown for details.

Comic show draws to a close

The Cartoonist's Eye, a large exhibit of comic art from past and present, finishes its run at Columbia College's A+D Gallery this weekend. If you've missed it so far, now's your chance! (And if you aren't going to make it there, check out this Flickr set of the exhibit's opening night.) See Slowdown for info on a talk this evening at the gallery by curator Ivan Brunetti.

Dance Like Everyone's Watching

As the Joffrey kicks off its 50th Anniversary season tonight with Ashton's Midsummer Night's Dream, the Times takes a look back at what the company has meant to American dance and how its "daring if necessary" settling in Chicago ten years ago has had an impact on local companies. (The Joffrey will also be featured on today's Eighty Forty-Eight. update: We've learned that the segment ran first on Hello Beautiful! over the weekend and is archived here.)

The Writers and Readers Ball

Perhaps on the heels of last spring's hot Printers Ball, WLUW 88.7 announces The Writers and Readers Ball: Celebrating Literature on WLUW. Meet the hosts of Wordslingers, The Drinking and Writing Brewery, and Open Books. Poets Steve Schroeder, Alex Shakar and Dan Beachy-Quick will read, the Neo-Futurists will provide comedic entertainment, and Bumpus will play funk. Slowdown has the details you need to get there.

Cereal + milk (pat. pend.)

If you still aren't a fan of Cereality, the downtown cereal cafe that charges you nearly $5 for a bowl of mixed-up cereals, you might be interested in a new project called Cereal Solidarity, a site that draws attention to the fact that Cereality has a number of patents pending to give them an exclusive right to the concept of the cereal cafe. Two competitors to Cereality have already run afoul of the Chicago-based business: Bowls in Florida; and Cerealogy in Iowa City. Cereal Solidarity is asking Cereality to withdraw its patent application and allow other businesses to try their hand at selling cereal.

The Great Bra Experiment of 2005

I love checking Oprah's last minute reservations page. Love it. If only because it so breathlessly asks the big questions like "Are you Ricky Martin's biggest fan?" (but with more capital letters, natch). Now, spirits are great, but sometimes a woman has to remember her bosom, and that's where the current casting call comes in. Looking for women interested in joining the, um, "Bra Revolution," the show wants local ladies "who are NOT modest." So, if you're up to the challenge, then go for yours and apply. If, however, you're one of those Sun-Times guys, maybe best to avert your gaze.

Sports in Five

Over there on the right, you'll notice a new column in Airbags: we've expanded Cubs & Sox in Five into Sports in Five. This week, it's just Sox and Bears, but the Bulls should be joining soon. We're also casting about for a hockey columnist -- email a sample to if you're interested.

Luckypix, blog,

Tracking the Midwest creative pulse with a focus on Chicago (they're based here), Luckypix, the stock photography site just started a new blog. We're looking to see how it shapes up over time, but they're off to a good start.

Got Poetry? has announced an open call seeing "under-published" poets and new voices for a limited edition hardbook and online anthology entitled, "American Open Mike: The New American Voice" to be published in January 2006. So get your couplets on.

Urban Art, Legal and Otherwise

Every now and again, you come across a site and wonder, "how did I not know about that before today?" That's pretty much my reaction to, an encyclopedic documentation of Chicago street art. But, better late than never, right? (More local graf links in our archives.)

Lines of Communication

10/10: CTA Tattler posts an open letter to CTA management regarding lack of communication during outages.
10/16: The CTA responds.
10/17: The Tattler rebuts.
10/17: CTA board chair Carole Brown applauds the Tattler on her blog for "holding our feet to the fire."

Earthquake Relief is a locally run clearinghouse of information on fundraisers, charity organizations, news and photos relating to the earthquake in Pakistan and India. The site's creator, Mohammad Asim, lost several family members in the disaster. (Thanks, Leo)

October 18, 1931

Today in Chicago history, on October 18, 1931, Al Capone was convicted on several counts of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, fined $50,000, charged nearly $8,000 in court costs, and held responsible for more $200,000, plus interest, in back taxes. Capone spent time in the Cook County Jail while waiting for appeals, then was sent to the high security U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta in May 1932. In 1934, Capone was transferred to Alcatraz, where he served until his release in 1939. For more on Al Capone, visit the History Files from the Chicago Historical Society and the Famous Cases page from the FBI.

Ghostface Drenchah?

"Near-riot" on the Near North Side last Friday night, as Ghostface concert erupts into mayhem. Pitchfork reports.

We are Family

Sure, you've seen their names on buildings, bandstands and ballparks, but you've probably wondered: who are the Pritzkers, the Wrigleys, the Walgreens? This week's Crain's breaks down local dynasties, giving readers the scoop on who's who, where their money came from and what they plan to do with it next.

They help dogs too. But the cat sites are funnier.

Do you like to look at cats that hate you? Perhaps you prefer cats in sinks? Or maybe you'd like to get drunk enough to take crazy pictures of your cat and post them on the internet? PAWS Chicago is having their annual gathering at The Tasting Room. Eat, drink, and listen to live music. It starts at $75 per person, but it benefits an organization that helps animals find people that love them enough to make them wear festive hats. This Thursday, October 20th at 7 pm. Contact Jaime McClary at 773.843.4884 for more info.

Red Streak: Relevance is Overrated

Note to John Cruickshank: follow through and kill off Red Streak. This Chicagoist post makes its also-ran status all too clear.

Dating Services Illegal In Chicago

According to this post on craigslist, dating services are illegal. We've all heard of stupid laws before, but I hadn't actually seen the legal code cited. And what if you're gay? (via westnorth)

Photoblogger opening

Tonight is the opening reception for 7x7, an exhibition by seven Chicago photobloggers, including friend of GB Archie Florcruz. 1150 W. Fullerton, 7pm.

Help For Not-For-Profits

An excellent resource: one of the challenges of running a not-for-profit is the headaches of the law: registration with the state, liability, etc. The local organization Community Economic Development Law Project offers legal advice to burgeoning entrepreneurs, especially in areas like job-training programs or affordable housing. They are also offering a workshop on creating your not-for-profit business plan on Oct 28th. Think you don't need a business plan? Read on to find out why it might be a good idea and register.

A Very Special Collection

The Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library is currently exhibiting "From Poetry to Verse: The Making of Modern Poetry." Go to check out the archives of Poetry, Chicago Review, Big Table, Verse, LVNG, and the papers of The Poetry Center of Chicago. At the exhibit's opening on September 19, John Barr, the current President of The Poetry Foundation, will speak on "The Importance of Being Wrong: American Poetry in the New Century." The University's mighty Poetics Program hosts a reading by poet Kenneth Fields the following day at 5:30 in the Special Collections Research Center.

Fired up by Chicago

Turns out Sufjan Stevens isn't the only big name indie musician turning to Chicago for inspiration on his latest album. No, the Fiery Furnaces' latest, Rehearsing My Choir, loosely recounts the experiences of the brother/sister pair's grandmother, who grew up on the South Side -- witness such tracks as "Garfield El," for example. Kelefa Sanneh checks in with the band in today's Times, and BrooklynVegan compiles a few MP3s and other links.

Literary Gangs of Chicago

I'll be the first to admit that I don't understand contemporary art and, thus, rarely visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. However, since the announcement of the Literary Gangs of Chicago, that may have to change. Presented by Weep and, the series kicks off on Tuesday with a special Dollar Store and runs through May, featuring Funny Ha-Ha, 826CHI and more. Look to Slowdown for reminders of events as they approach.

Sox Win! Sox Win! Sox Win!!!!1!1!

We're going to the World Series!!!

Roll Up for the History Tour

Today was the tour we mentioned last month, but let's say you couldn't make it. While you won't be able to hear the attendant commentary, thanks to the interweb you can at least see the sights via this here Flickr photoset. Update: And another.

Drab Autumn

Chalk another one up for this summer's drought -- the trees have smaller leaves and are less colorful as they turn this year.

Nobel Alternative

With so many Nobel Laureates down in Hyde Park, we may be forgiven for thinking of science as a serious-minded and lofty enterprise; however, the folks at the Annals of Improbable Research are happy to nudge our thinking in another direction. 2005’s IgNobel Prize winners have been announced. And while none of this year’s winners are from Chicago, we can be proud that 2004’s winner for Public Health—the youngest IgNobel winner ever—graduated from the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences. (Jillian Clarke was honored for her paper: “If You Drop It: Should You Eat It? Weigh-in on the 5-Second Rule.”)

Landscapers' Challenge

West Chicago-based Ball Horticultural introduced a showroom of sorts this summer: the Gardens at Ball. Designed by landscape architect Douglas Hoerr (responsible for much of the beautification of Michigan Avenue, by the by), the grounds are meant to show off nearly 2000 of Ball's varieties and inspire would-be gardeners to, well, get diggy with it. After all, as today's Washington Post notes, in an era in which interest in domestic gardening may be waning, the 100 year-old company's future depends on it.

Novelists, start your coffee pots.

It is time for the annual write-a-thon that is National Novel Writer's Month. This organization calls for all procrastinating writers to get out their laptops, lose all semblance of human niceties, and write an entire novel during the month of November. Founder Chris Baty believes that the first step to actually writing that book you always wanted to write, is actually writing. Don't figure out the story, just write. Edit later. The "winners" are those that get to the designated word count by the end of the month.

Are you an artist? Do you need money?

The City's Community Arts Assistance Program (CAAP) is offering grants of up to $1000 to artsy individuals and organizations. Applications for 2006 are due December 1, 2005. And if the thought of an application squelches your creative juices, then go to one of the many application-filling-out workshops they offer. Get details here. And oh yeah, you gotta live in the city and make less than $100,000 per year. NOTE: God told me to tell you that if you are an individual artist making $100,000 and you squeeze some artist making $2000 per year out of this grant, you go to immediately to hell.

Boutique Buzz

Have you ever found yourself wondering just how many cool hip boutiques you're missing? I have. I know they're out there, but I just can't keep up on the shopping scene. Lauren Amerine of Isabella Fine Lingerie and the Killswitch Collective created Boutique Buzz. This site tells you which shops are in each city, but also has a small page devoted to each one. So if you don't have time to shop by foot, but want to stay local, you can. Or if you're lucky enough to be a visitor here, you'll be able to map out your shopping travels. Don't be embarrassed, we all do it.

Paris At The Art Institute

Paris: Photographs from a Time That Was is something I must have overlooked when it was in the papers, but I can't wait to go and check it out. Henri Cartier-Bresson is in rotation, and plenty of other heavyweights from what I'd consider a magical age of photography.

Be Good to Yourself

Next week (17 to 23 October) is Spa Week, which means it’s time to pause and be pampered. With spa treatments that usually run a hundred bucks a pop or more going for $50, perhaps you can now afford to personally investigate the benefits of microdermabrasion. Click here for details on participating spas and services.

All The Women You Want

Get excited for the weekend of October 21 to 23. Nicole Hollander and Paula Gilovich present All the Women you Want: a weekend marathon of female performers, monologists, comedians, burlesquers and more will benefit BEYONDMEDIA EDUCATION. Weekend passes are available for $20. Gapers Block loves any event which involves Las Manos Gallery and Women and Children First Bookstore (the 2 co-sponsors of this weekend marathon).

The Chicago Historical Society Wants Your Two Cents

The Chicago Historical Society is seeking advice as it plans upcoming programs. Take this survey to offer your opinion about the prospect of panel discussions about the Supreme Court, lectures about historic Chicago events on the sites where they occurred, and Actor’s Studio-style interviews with contemporary historians.

Aspiring Radio Journalists, Take Note

If you’ve long imagined yourself on the air, now is a good time to pursue that dream. Chicago Public Radio is taking applications for its 2006 Ear to the Ground training program, as part of an effort to open up the Chicago Matters series to new voices. Five Chicago-area residents will be selected. Also, Chicago Public Radio is hiring.

A Man Named Fred

Is your name Fred? Are you 25-35? More importantly, is your name Fred? Casting is taking place, all day today, for an upcoming Chicago movie where men named Fred are needed. Fred, If you are interested you should call 312-527-0665. Yes, Fred, I am talking to you. (Thanks, Fred Alex!)

Truncated dedications

There's a new playground going in at Holstein Park; as a fundraiser, people can purchase a brick [PDF] for $75 with a message on it. Or so they believed: The Week Behind has a story about how many of the messages were trimmed down to just a name, without the knowledge or consent of the buyers.

Recent Media Redesigns

Do you do a little doubletake when a website you visit regularly suddenly looks different? That's what I did when I visited Crain's this morning, and a week or two ago at And a bit before that at CSS-y goodness!

Aw, nuts

An interesting blurb in today's Sun-Times: they're looking for tales of dealing with squirrels, no doubt for an upcoming autumn squirrel pictorial. Two words for the Sun-Times: Squirrel Cop.

Boystown on $40 a Day?

Are you a fan of Rachael Ray? Yeah, neither are we really, but we suppose somebody must be or she wouldn't have four shows on the Food Network, a new magazine, and a development deal with Oprah. If you're one of those fans, you should know that Ms. Ray will allegedly be taping $40 a Day in Boystown Friday. We met her advance team last night, who told us that plans include breakfast at Nookie's Tree and late night drinks at the Closet. No, really.

Flower Power (by eBay)

Hey, indie rockers! CAUSES, a local child abuse treatment center, and P.L.A.Y (Possibilities in Life: Art for Youth) have teamed up with Flower Fifteen for a charity auction of your Pitchforkmedia-lovin' dreams. Starting today and running for another 9d 20h 27m (at the time of this posting), you can bid on such items as a recording session with Ted Leo or my personal favorite, one hour of private science tutoring with Andrew Kenny of American Analog Set. I'm pretty sure that idea's enough to get some of you singing "Hot for Teacher."

Fresh Architecture on Michigan Ave

The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies has broken ground for its new facility just north of their current digs on South Michigan Avenue, the first new building on the drag overlooking Grant Park in almost 40 years. The new building's distinctive folded glass facade, designed by local architecture firm Krueck + Sexton, will bring a much needed breath of elegant and contemporary design to that stretch of the rapidly growing South Loop. Be sure to check out more of the renderings of the provocative design, learn more about the plans for the new building, and read what architectural critic Blair Kamin had to say about the building and its role in the revival of this architecturally high profile stretch of Chicago. [via Archidose]

A Neighborhoodie of Our Own

While we can't claim the Neighborhoodie as our own Chi-town child, we will soon be able to shop and create our own, live and in person at the company's forthcoming Wicker Park store. The first Chicago location, the shop will let you pick out your favorite tees, bags, and, yes, hoodies of all shapes and sizes, then personalize them with different fonts of letters and symbols. You can pledge your love for your 'hood, your hobbies, or maybe your favorite website. You might even be able to get hired. The store officially opens at 1300 N. Milwaukee Ave. on November 1, but look for a party on the October 29th.

Cooking the Books

Ted Allen, Chicago's own Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, is signing his book, The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes, at Sur La Table, 52-54 E. Walton St., between 2pm and 3pm October 23. Then he goes upstairs and teaches a cooking lesson. $85 gets you the book and the class. (Via Dish, whose authors also have a book out -- Everybody Loves Pizza.)

Revise in print, not on walls

One of Chicago's finest graf artists, Revise, has an interview in the lastest Four Magazine. Read it and find out a little more about the way graf artists work and think. [via]

A Preview of Your Wait in the Jewel Check-out Line

File this under "If People says it, it must be true": A certain Jennifer A. and Vince V. -- perhaps you've heard of them? -- were spotted canoodling at the Vic on Tuesday night. (Actually, Zwecker says it, too, so what more proof do you need?)

Thursday Literary Roundup

Turns out Dave Eggers won't be able to make the 826CHI open house tonight, as planned. Not that that will dissuade me from attending, but if you find yourself looking to get your literary fill elsewhere, you can always head to Borders Lincoln Park for a chick lit book signing and panel discussion. And on Saturday, two GB favorites, Kevin Guilfoile and Joe Meno, will do their thing at Barnes and Noble while Chris Ware will make an appearance at Quimby's. All this -- and more! -- on Slowdown.

Chicago Photobloggers in Action

Congratulations to Brian Milo for winning the Greenspace Lomography Contest. Milo's work, as well as that of six other Chicago photobloggers, will be on display in a group show that's set to open next Monday. Details, as ever, in Slowdown.

Ride Irish

Here's unique way to combine city history and biking: Urbs in Horto is running its second annual Irish Chicago Bike Tour this Sunday, a liesurely 20-mile ride touring neighborhoods and locations important to the history of Irish in the city. $20 gets you the ride, a limited-edition silkscreen poster, dinner and music afterward and benefits Old Saint Patrick's SAFE program. Register for the ride here -- space is limited.

Sign of the Season

If you live or work within sight of a Chicago harbor, you may have noticed the sailboat population beginning to dwindle. Except for holders of "late leaver" permits (who can stay till November 15), boats need to leave their harbor moorings by October 15. Which makes for interesting viewing on Wednesdays and Saturdays, if you live or work within sight of a Chicago River drawbridge.

Urban Planning Is Fun Again!

The planners at Chicago Metropolis 2020 present "Metro Joe", a flash-based game for 8th graders to learn about Chicagoland planning issues. The game challenges your knowledge of regional issues such as low density sprawl; the spatial mismatch between jobs; and affordable housing and transportation, and is even kinda fun to play whether you're a pre-teen in Elgin or a cubicle-jockey in the Loop.

Take That Macy's

Everyone likes to dress up when they go to Marshall Fields' Field Days, right? While some prefer pearl strands and the latest Lilly Pullitzer frock, others wear their super-trendy Antik denim and ugly Uggs, the best Field shoppers are definitely wearing these. Spotted at last weekend's depart-MENT, these snazzy t-shirts from might help you resist the urge to sport a grim reaper costume in honor of Chicago's dearly departing Marshall Fields.

Wilco will help

Wilco will be headlining a benefit concert for hurricane relief that's happening on Tuesday, November 1 at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre. Tickets will be on sale in advance through the band's Website tomorrow, and will be on sale to the general public on Saturday. See the Wilco site for the full story.

Chicago Art Foundation Museum

The Chicago Art Foundation has a vision (pdf): they want to expose the world to Chicago's visual artists by opening the first museum devoted solely to Chicago art. They've created a business plan that has them raising funds, building an identity, collecting art, forming archives, and they are on a track to open this museum 24 months after they finalize the acquisition of their space. Keep an eye on the CAF website for updates as they build the next great Chicago art museum.

Davy Rothbart Surfing

Hot on the heels of his first published novel, FOUND magazine creator Davy Rothbart reads from The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas at the Neo-Futurarium. The reading is tonight, Wednesday, at 8pm, 5153 N. Ashland, and includes some music from Davy's brother, Peter. (Don't be surprised if you see some of your favorite GB-staffers there!) Slowdown likes FOUND, too.

Jenga Sears Tower!

Holy crap! Some guy at Northern Michigan University built a 30-foot-tall replica of the Sears Tower out of Jenga blocks!

Wayne Booth, 1921-2005

Wayne Booth, professor emeritus at U of C, died on Monday. Even 40 years after its publication, Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction continues to have an impact on the field of literary studies. The university has announced plans for a memorial service after the first of the year; meantime, Booth was remembered in the Sun-Times and the New York Times, as well as by Chicago Public Radio's Eight Forty-Eight.

Gretchen Goes To Martyr's

Illinois native Doug Pinnick brings his criminally ignored band, King's X, to Martyr's on November 18th. King's X, for the uninitiated, are a thinking man's rock band without the prog-rock grandiosity. Oh, and VH-1 voted them one of the Top 100 Hard Rock Bands of All Time. Having been to most of their Illinois shows, rest assured, I'll be camping out to be front and center.

Gold Coast Bags Furla

Taking bag cues from Miss Jessica Simpson just got easier for Chicagoans. Luxe Italian bag and accessory line Furla is now open for business at 106 E. Oak St. The Gold Coast locale is Furla's first Midwestern store. Furla's offerings include a handknit wool miniwrap in delicious fall colors (coffee, pumpkin, onyx, pomegranate or ivory) -- an exclusive to Chicago's Furla.

SkinnyCorp Spray Cam

We'll shut up about SkinnyCorp for awhile after this, but first we've got to tell you about the live webcams they've set up to show progress on three walls of graffiti-inspired art going up in their Ravenswood headquarters. Here's a bit of background.

"Writing for Chicago Free Weeklies for 10 Year Olds"

Speaking of 826CHI, Dan Kelly, contributor to the Reader and the Chicago Journal, had his volunteer intake interview today, and he's already planning future workshops.

Counting Down

You can take your bike on Metra only till 30 October. If you want to be able to do so throughout the year, give Metra Chairman Philip A. Pagano a piece of your mind. The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation recommends you send him a thank-you letter if you took your bike on Metra this summer, and ask that Bikes on Trains be reinstated year-round.

Bigots Gather Tonight In OakBrook

From the people who brought you the ban on Oreos: The Illinois Family Institute, who is quickly approaching LaRouche in dogma and credibility, is holding a fundraiser tonight to support a ballot initiative to make marriage legally defined as between one man and one woman in Illinois. The guest speaker on this topic, the dreadfully boring talk-radio host Deborah Rowe, will expand on the topic she knows nothing about. Expect to hear about it in the news tomorrow since it will be actively protested.

Chopping Block Cookie Contest

You've got until October 15 to prove that you're the best darn cookie baker in Chi-town. Enter the Chopping Block's cookie recipe contest. Will you be the winner of a Le Crueset six-piece set?

The Cartoonist's Eye

This exhibit at Columbia College features the work of artists using the comics medium--most notably Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman and Robert Crumb. This exhibition is a small preview of curator Ivan Brunetti's upcoming Anthology of Graphic Fiction (Yale University Press) and features the original artwork created for some of the comic strips and graphic novels presented in the book. Check it out at A+D Gallery, 619 S. Wabash, through October 22.

Sunday's 26.2, tagged

For your perusal on a gray day before the memories fade: photos on Flickr tagged with Chicago Marathon.

Kiki & Herb At the MCA

Tired of the same drag shows at The Baton or The Kit-Kat Club? This weekend brings acclaimed drag performers Kiki & Herb to the MCA for two shows on Friday. I've seen some previews of this and it's utterly delightful. Not to be missed if you're a fan of cabaret.

From the WTF File

In case you missed it on last night's TV news: a 2-year-old shot a 3 4-year-old yesterday in a home day care facility run by the 2-year-old's grandmother on the South Side. No, it wasn't a fight -- the kids found the gun, believed to have been left by the younger boy's 21-year-old uncle, and it went off while they played with it. (Thanks for the edit, Jen)

Chicago politics, even in death

Chicagoan Theodore Roosevelt Heller will be buried today in a cemetery on the South Side. His obituary from the Tribune indicates a novel way to mark his passing: "In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans." (Tip from The So-Called "Austin Mayor".)


The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has released its list of Fall Allergy Capitals, which are the most challenging cities in the US for people with fall allergies to live in. Guess where Chicago came in? Yep, we're #1, up from #53 last year. The rankings were based on each city's pollen counts, the amount of allergy medicine used per patient, and the number of allergists per patient. Other high-ranking cities include Little Rock, Tampa, Daytona Beach, South Bend, and Dallas-Ft. Worth.

Reading and Writing for Pirates and Spies

As it plans to kick off tutoring operations later this month, 826CHI will host an open house on Thursday night. If you're wondering what to expect from this Eggers&co.-backed venture, this article offers insight into the project's larger goals and motivating philosophy. In part, at least, it aims to support teachers' in-class efforts; after all, they don't have it easy.

No Tenure For You

Just a few months ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article that, in the case of U of C professor Daniel Drezner, at least, may have been prescient. The Chronicle piece argued that if blogging had any impact on an academic's career, it was apt to be a negative one. Drezner expressed that sort of concern at the outset of his own weblog, and he revisited it on Saturday when he posted about having been denied tenure. Inside Higher Ed points out this is the second time in a year that's happened to a blogging junior faculty member at Chicago.

Book Club Catch-Up

Audrey Niffenegger, Chicagoan and author of past GB Book Club selection The Time Traveler's Wife, gets the interview treatment in today's Guardian. (Don't forget: the group meets tonight to discuss Aleksandar Hemon's Nowhere Man.)

Another Day, Yet Another Googlemap

This one maps the city's bike routes.

JFK: A Mob Hit?

Antoinette Giancana, daughter of famed Chicago ganster Sam (and source of a favorite recipe of mine), has a new book out in which she claims the mob assassinated President Kennedy. Uh, OK.

God Bless the South

Designer Chuck Anderson spent a week in Biloxi, Mississipi with his father (the pastor of a church in Orland Park) and 14 other people from Reunion Church in helping out with relief efforts. He documented the trip.


Even as White Sox fans mobbed the airport to welcome their division champion team home, local Red Sox fans had a weekend that was a bit less joyous. Jose Contreras will start at pitcher tomorrow night as Chicago guns for the American League title; game time is 7pm.

More Refreshing Than a Beer Ad

While we wait for the Sox to start their next playoff series, FlowFeel provides a diversion by breaking down and linking up all those "more refreshing" Old Style ads. (Grab mp3s of the radio commercials here.)

The Usual Suspects

In its recent issue profiling "America's Top 5 Restaurant Cities," Bon Appétit checked in on Chicago. The magazine's local choices won't come as much of a surprise -- Moto, Green Zebra, etc. -- but when things are working, I guess people can't help but recognize. (Which isn't to say everyone agrees: the Sun-Times notes that, while Esquire is less impressed with some of these spots, its critic loves Butter. No accounting for taste, huh?)

Kenyans still kicking marathon's ass

Congratulations to Kenyan runner Felix Limo, the winner of this year's Chicago Marathon. Limo beat out fellow Kenyan runner Evans Rutto, who has won the Chicago race in the last two years. In the women's category, American Deena Kastor beat out the defending champ, Romanian Constantina Domescu-Dita. Way to go, Deena! Not competing in the race, even though she signed up for it: runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks. If you look up her time in the race results, you'll see that she didn't even record a time. Perhaps she ran to Albuquerque again?

Blame the Messenger

In an interesting riposte to Andrew's earlier note about lack of coverage of the Wrigley renovation, the Tribune quotes our mayor as "acknowledging" Chicago is a Cubs town, despite his White Sox allegiances. To blame? Well, according to Daley, none other than the Tribune and its all-encompassing media blanket. [via]

Whole Lotta (Heart)in'

If I didn't know any better, I'd almost say it was a meme: within moments of one another Metblogs and Chicagoist each posted love letters titled with the "I (heart) U" formulation. The objects of their affection could hardly be more different -- Washington Mutual and Queens of the Stone Age -- but, on a dreary day like today, there are worse questions to ponder than "Whom do you (heart)?"

Wrigley Makeover Begins

Overshadowed (and rightly so) by the White Sox playoff performance, the start of Wrigley Field renovations has been reduced to a footnote -- the Tribune didn't even mention it. The right field wall has been opened up to begin construction of an expanded bleacher section. (Thanks, Brandon)

CTA Wants Your Quarter

The CTA announced 2006 budget recommendations which increase fares another quarter to $2 -- but only for people not using the Chicago Card. In related news, the CTA has beefed up security in response to the threat to New York's subway.

Thanks, Donald

Chicagoans should write Donald Trump a thank you letter this morning. In addition to not building this tulip-shaped hotel on the Chicago River, he also kept U of C Alum Rebecca in the running to be the Apprentice 4. In other apprentice news NBC5 Chicago is holding auditions for a morning news traffic apprentice.

Conscious Consumption

Sure, H&M can be great, but if you feel that little twinge of guilt when you drop some bucks at a chain store, yet can't handle the chaos of a craft fair, DEPART-ment might be for you. Set up like a real store, with clerks, check-out stations and organized racks, DEPART-ment offers hand-made goods by independent artists and designers. Open this Friday through Sunday at Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton. You know you can learn more over at Slowdown.

DIY iPod Case

AKMA made a protective cover for his new iPod nano out of one of those plastic folders that come with business cards. Chic and functional!

An "Awesomedose"

Although is temporarily off the air, if you've ever been curious about the finer points of being a Lincoln Park Chad, well, look no further...

Hawk Hacks Competition

Writes FoGB Greg: "Just as the Pale Hose are turning it on at the right time, Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson is rolling through the field in The Road From Bristol's NIT, determining 'the most loathsome national sports broadcaster not on ESPN.' After besting Seth Davis, Steve Lyons, and Magic Johnson by a combined 112-27, Hawk's semifinal opponent is FOX Sports sideline reporter Tony Siragusa, who, after fending off a tough Bryant Gumbel, plowed through Howie Long and Chip Caray, 33-1 and 26-5. The other semifinal matchup is a battle of color commentators: FOX baseball's Tim McCarver against CBS basketball's Billy Packer."

Nobel George

There's quiet buzz again about former governor George Ryan winning the Nobel Peace Prize, despite his pending trial on corruption charges. He's got odds of 1,001-1 according to a British bookmaker, but Eric Zorn once again reviews why Ryan might have a chance. Even if he wins, though, the Pantagraph says Illinoians' opinion of him won't change.

Jazz Age Chicago

Ever wondered what Chicagoans did for fun in 1913? Jazz Age Chicago is a highly detailed resource of information about leisure in Chicago in the first half of the 20th century. The site is chock full of historic information on the period's "bright light districts", department stores, theaters, dancehalls & cabarets, as well as essays about this new "modern life" of entertainment, leisure, and consumption.

Read the Book, See the Author

The Gapers Block book club will be discussing Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon this coming Monday at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Then, Tuesday night, go see Hemon at a special reading event at The Poetry Center of Chicago. As always, Slowdown has all the details on both events.

There’s Still Hope…

Those who tried to buy a ticket to see Salman Rushdie at the Humanities Festival on 13 November, but got turned away because the event was sold out, may still get lucky. The festival is making a block of upper balcony tickets available on the day of the lecture. For more information, click here.

Handmade blues

Rhino Handmade, the net-only side project of Rhino Records, has posted its latest release for sale: a two CD set of the 1972 Atco album (plus unreleased material) recorded by two Chicago blues masters, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. You can only pick it up at the Rhino Handmade site. But you don't want to dawdle, because there are only 2,500 copies of this release available, and once it's sold out, it's gone.

Calling All Areas

You only have a few more days to get your proposals in -- until the 10th -- but if you've got some ideas brewing that combine all that is good about Chicago art, education and activism, AREA Chicago wants to hear from you. Published twice a year, AREA hopes to introduce projects, individuals and groups in the hopes of strengthening those voices and intentions: "Simultaneously gaining a voice within the city to share and speak to each other, we hope to also extend the activities that originate here and share them with the world." Email areachicago[at]gmail[dot]com for more information or to share your thoughts.

QOTSA up close and personal

I was intrigued by reports that Queens of the Stone Age would be giving an in-store performance this Thursday night at the soon-to-be-demolished Belmont Army Surplus. I mean, who wouldn't be interested in an, um, intimate experience with Josh Homme? Or is that just me? So I stopped by the store this afternoon and talked to a clerk to get the details. Unlike most in-store performances, this one's not exactly free. To gain admission, you'll need a wristband available at Tower Records—with purchase of QOTSA's "new" album, Lullabies to Paralyze... which dropped in March. Huh. Mr. Homme and co. play the Allstate Arena Friday with Nine Inch Nails.

Elbow Grease on the Red Line

It's easy to complain about how bad certain CTA stations smell, but how many people are willing to go clean them up on a Saturday morning? The residents of Edgewater are tired of waiting for the CTA to fix up the Thorndale red line station, so they are taking matters into their own hands. From 9 to noon this Saturday, October 8th, they will be entering the station to clean, paint and fix up the North side stop themselves. If guerilla cleaning is not your thing, the Campaign for Better Transit also has a list of other ways you can take action.

Chicagoans Get Real

CBS' Amazing Race 8 features two families from Chicago: The Bransens and The Godlewskis. The 2nd city is no stranger to reality-tv stars. Other local celebs include Jennifer Hudson (American Idol), Bill Rancic (The Apprentice), Marty Casey (INXS: Rock Star), and Hearty Boys Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh (The Next Food Network Star). Want in on the action? Spike TV will hold auditions for a new reality show: "King of Vegas" on October 23. DIY's new show "From Junky to Funky" is looking for Chicagoans who want their digs madeover. Interested? E-mail or call 312-733-3700, ext 210.

Yahoo-ification has been purchased by Yahoo. Hopefully this will raise this cool service's profile and encourage a bit more use here in Chicago.

El Trains Likely a Little Less Red

Once the Tribune announced plans to drop the RedEye price pretense, we knew it couldn't be long until the Sun-Times adjusted its Red Streak strategy. Sure enough, word comes from Crain's that change may be afoot: publisher John Cruickshank's considering pulling the plug.

Restaurant Collapse Caused by Irony

If you've been in Wicker Park recently, you may have noticed Milwaukee Avenue has been going through some major changes: multiple large tear downs and rehabs at Ashland (including the long defunct Arandas Mexican Food), Urban Outfitters has announced their impending arrival, and most recently the Ann Sather Swedish eatery collapsed. Apparently the construction crew working next door tore a hole in the building's wall, and as of this past weekend all that was left of the restaurant was a pile of rubble with the Ann Sather sign laying on top. The offending crew's name? Good Karma Construction.

This Evening's Activities

Looking for something to do tonight? Here's your plan:
1. Dine out at one of these restaurants (more here) to raise money for Katrina clean-up.
2. Head to the MCA for Stories On Stage, featuring stories from the Paris Review.

Wicker Park Inn

I've often lamented to my friends who ask about alternative lodging in Chicago about the lack of it. By alternative lodging I mean bed and breakfast places or places that aren't hotels, motels or hostels, that are in the city. Wicker Park Inn seems to change all of that. Located in the city, the three-room building provides that "at home" feel that I personally prefer. Pretty affordable rates from $115 to $150 (triple occupancy), it'd be perfect for some of my friends and yours.

Exploring What Makes "a Chicago Writer"

Much of author Stuart Dybek's work bears the mark of his local roots, and his latest collection of poems, Streets in Their Own Ink, includes such pieces as "Autobiographies" and "Windy City." The poet and short-story writer was tapped last year for the One Book, One Chicago program, and today the Morning News presents an extensive interview with him. Its author shares Dybek's local heritage, and the whole conversation made him a bit nostalgic: "It is clear how much Chicago means to Stuart Dybek — I hadn’t realized how much it meant to me."

Annoy Your Friends and Family

Learn Tuvan throat singing! This crash course is by Brian Grover, one of the voice instructors at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Schur vs. the Saab Guy

Full disclosure: "Fender Bender," an item that recently ran in the New Yorker, has little to do with Chicago. Truth be told, the story's set in L.A. (and, indeed, some might say "only there..."). All that established, talk about gapers' block gone wild.

Chicago XLR8s

XLR8R magazine does an annual "city issue," and this year they've touched down in Broad Shoulders country. Replete with music interviews, fashion features and photo essays (including one by past GB featured artist Matthew Taplinger), you can find snippets of the Chicago-centric content online. For the rest, well, you'll just have to go and loiter amongst the periodicals at Borders, won't you? [via]

A Class on CSS

If you're not a web designer, go ahead and skip this post. Eric Meyer is going to be in town Nov. 3 for a CSS-XHTML workshop. From the schedule, it looks pretty intensive. Get your boss to send you.

Chicago Polish

OPI Products announced a new color collection for nails and lips for the Fall/Winter 2005 season:The Chicago Collection. Get your own bottle or stick of "O'Hare & Nails Look Great," "Marooned on the Magnificent Mile," or "Lincoln Park After Dark." Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI's Executive Vice President & Artistic Director predicts, "You're in the mood for Chicago!"

More on the death of Marshall Field's

"Someone like Marshall Field or John Wanamaker - or even a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs - all became fabulously rich as a side effect of devoting their lives to creating something really new and unique. The approach of a number-cruncher like Lundgren is much more parasitical. It's less about creating something great than squeezing out value from an existing asset without ever really doing anything to replenish it." If you missed this essay by architecture critic Lynn Becker, read it now. It is simply the best essay I've read on the Marshall Field's debacle and the death of department stores.

This Trip Brought to You By Geico

With its station turnstile sponsorship scheme, the CTA takes another step toward plastering every available surface with advertisements.

All Mixed Up

Stereogum mentions mp3 blog Out of 5 today. Look closely at the names of the involved, and I bet you'll recognize a couple. (Or, if you need a hint...)

Again with the daredevils

Daredevils, the current show at the Neo-Futurarium that the Tribune called "a small-scale killer spectacle that is likely to be the most entertaining 90 minutes of juvenilia and self-reflection you'll see all year", has been extended and will be playing through the end of October. If you haven't seen this show yet (and it's worth seeing just for the excellent and varied stuntwork), now's your chance! See the Neo-Futurists' Website for the full story and to order tickets.

Chicago Book Festival

This month hosts the annual Chicago Book Festival, which is to say, there are a whole lot of literary things happening over the next few weeks. From author readings to signings to panel dicussions, and even a Rock for Reading live musical event, it's an awesome time to be a booklover in Chicago. Individual events, as always, are posted in Slowdown.

Studs Stories

In honor of its namesake's efforts at documenting the lives of everyday Americans, the Chicago Historical Society has announced plans for the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History [PDF]. CHS has about 5000 hours of Terkel radio programming, as well as recordings related to other projects like the recent Teen Chicago exhibit, and all future oral history efforts will bear the Center's imprimatur. Terkel was a huge influence on the StoryCorps project, which recently visited Chicago and was featured in Detour. (And, speaking of sound, GB audio content is now available via podcast; details here.)

Spelling's Coming Home

Josh Malamy left Chicago when he broke up with his boyfriend earlier this year, and he returned home to the comforting arms of Brooklyn. Upon arrival, he found the Williamsburg Spelling Bee and drowned his sorrows in the dictionary. Malamy's story ran in the Times last week, which also reported the happy news that Malamy and his ex are exploring the possibility of a reunion. That means Josh is moving back to Chicago, and he wants to keep up (or, maybe, show off) his spelling chops via a local bee. Is there already such a thing? If not, look for one soon.

Columnist Arrested

Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg was arrested at his home last Wednesday for allegedly hitting his wife and trying to prevent her from calling police. He was released on a recognizance bond last Thursday morning after appearing in court. His boss simply says, "We hope the best for Neil and his wife." And I gotta say, I think Eric Zorn is being a bit too nice to him.

Another Day, Another CTA Googlemap

But hey, this one shows the train lines in their appropriate color! Which is pretty cool. (Here's how he did it.)

Read Write Web

37signals has launched Writeboard, a collaborative text editing program. Read, write, share and edit at will, while all previous versions are backed up and retrievable. I know I'll be using it.

Trains running again

The Trib reports that Red and Brown line trains are running again, after an early morning train derailment disrupted train service between Belmont and Fullerton. Purple Line service between Evanston and the Loop remains shut down.

Retouch Card

Ever wonder what the little messages that pop up on CTA turnstiles and bus fare meters mean? The Tribune did a little digging.

A Quarter Saved is a Quarter Earned

Considering it has been available for nothing just about everywhere, I'm not quite sure who exactly was paying the twenty-five cent cover price for RedEye, but those folks can save their change: the Trib officially makes the tabloid a freebie starting tomorrow.

"I Promise I Will Try"

Much love and many congratulations to GB staffers Shylo Bisnett and Brian Sobolak who tied the knot last night in an unforgettable prom-themed wedding (this Gapers group shot gives you an idea of the highschool-style hijinks -- not too mention "Under the Sea" decor). Mazel tov!



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