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

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Dillinger on Discovery Channel

You would think that whether gangster John Dillinger was killed in front of the Biograph was a settled matter, but an upcoming Discovery Channel special is putting it back up for debate. I guess we could keep our eye out for his ghost and ask him.

Chefs speak on trends

Zagat publishes an article about what the big name chefs want to see in 2006 and look back on the trends of 2005. Rick Bayless and a maitre d' from Alinea have their say amongst the other voices.

These Are The Days

In the midst of much handwringing about the closing of various "institutions" (see today's LA Times story on the Berghoff for the latest example), Debra Pickett of the Sun-Times offers a salutary riposte: look outside the Loop for your own version of what makes Chicago Chicago.

Bloggers Look Back on 2005

For hours of link following fun, check out Eric Zorn's list of bloggers' takes on the year's most significant local news.

Riding the CTA into 2006

If you're going out tomorrow night, know that the CTA is offering penny rides from 8pm until 6am on New Year's Day and some routes will see extended hours of service. Get it while you can; once 6 strikes, the new fare structure goes into effect ( has an extensive rundown about that).

Crime down, up

You may have heard in the news recently that overall crime in the city is down from last year, but there's a couple of areas where statistics are actually up: domestic killings are up (though the number of total homicides is still fairly low); and, as previously reported on GB, bank robberies were big this year, with a record total of 230 robberies so far. Here's the amazing part: there were a total of 3 bank robberies yesterday! You might want to stick to the ATMs for a while...

"We Serve Beer"

No reason to put off the reminiscing about the closure of the Berghoff until it happens in February: this afternoon, NPR's Melissa Block chatted with maitre d' Mike Santiago about his 50 years at the soon-to-shutter eating establishment.

That's Why They Call Her Bookslut

Local literary luminary Jessa Crispin ranks high in Wired's list of the 10 sexiest geeks of 2005.


The Chicago Daily News name controversy has apparently ended. Introducing Ignore the masthead, and read the Editor & Publisher interview with site founder Geoff Dougherty. (Want to get involved? Start with the photo call.)

Year in Review

Bored at work? Crain's has a three-part news quiz you can take to pass the time.

Work, schmerk! It's time for videos!

Work pretty slow this week? Take some of that downtime to watch some videos! You know what videos are, right? Those things that MTV used to play? Anyway, European music blog DoCopenhagen has compiled their top fifty music videos of 2005, with interesting clips from Xiu Xiu, M83, Animal Collective and The Decemberists making the cut. A note of caution: The Aphex Twin vid gave me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. You've been warned.

Chicago's Polar Bear Swim

If you still want to get one final swim in (or be the first in the lake for the new year), the details for the 7th Annual Polar Bear Swim have been released.

Berghoff to Bug Off

Aw, man, now The Berghoff is closing. The owners of the 107-year-old Chicago institution, themselves in their 70s, have decided to close up all but the O'Hare terminal location at the end of February. Belly up to the bar one last time.

To Wrap it Up

A late entry into Fuel's best/worst gift forum: a gift-wrapped goat's head. An 18-year-old vegan in Palos Heights (12300 block of 76th Avenue) found the box containing the skinned head on her porch last Thursday. Police believe the gift was a holiday prank.

Chicago Blog-Times

The Sun-Times has finally caught up to the other major dailies and launched a blog: columnist Debra Pickett maintains the paper's everyman ethos with remarkably average posts. In the meantime, it'll be interesting to see which paper catches up to the Defender and adds a podcast.

Party Here

For the second year in a row, Chicago is the number one destination in the country for New Year's Eve, according to

Citgo and the CTA

When it comes to those increased fares, the NewStandard offers one version of how they might have been avoided. (Thanks, Mitchell.)

Be Smart: Get a Smart Card

It's just a few days before the new CTA fare structure kicks in (happy 2006, Chicago!). If you rode it this morning, you probably saw this RedEye story that attempts to explain it all. If not, we can digest it for you in two words: Chicago Card. (Also, as pointed out in the chicago_el LiveJournal community, there seems to be an error in the article: although rail fares will increase a quarter for users of magnetic strip cards, they will still be able to transfer for $.25.)

Last Nite (Four Years Ago)

The Strokes are not dead. In fact, they're going on a mini-tour next week to support their latest, with a touch down planned for Chicago on Tuesday. Q101 will announce all the details tomorrow afternoon, but they're doing a presale in the a.m for subscribers to their email list.

Hoop Dreams Wins!

The Nation Film Registry, which compiles films to be preserved by the Library of Congress, has announced their picks for 2005, with 1994's Hoop Dreams making the cut. Hoop Dreams was filmed in Chicago over a five-year period and chronicled the NBA dreams of two inner city youths and garnened much praise when it was released for its real depiction of life in the projects, and for its social commentary on class and race, making it a fine choice on the behalf of the NFR for preservation. Here is the most recent (albeit dated) article that details the current lives of the two stars, William Gates and Arthur Agee. (Thanks for the tip, Aaron!)

Cooking Casualty

You may recall our mentioning a backstage look at a local visit to Sur la Table by Rachael Ray a couple weeks ago. Turns out Sur la Table fired the blogger — apparently not because of the post but because of the comments people had made on it. Yikes!

Really Quick Restaurant Review: Tiki Terrace

With Trader Vic's shutting down, you might be looking for more Tiki fun. The Tiki Terrace in Prospect Heights is excellent. Despite the very odd strip mall location, they have fantastic decorations and truly delicious cocktails (much better than Hala Kahiki, I have to say). With Tiki Blues shows and hula girls dancing on Saturdays, this place puts Prospect Heights on the map.

The Tsunami, A Year On

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the tsunami that devastated countries throughout South Asia. Through the end of next month, the Notebaert Nature Museum is running an exhibition that examines the science behind tsunami formation and profiles families in various affected regions. The AP has more on that, while the Trib runs a series that takes stock a year later.

New Year's Ever

Don't know what you're doing for New Year's Eve yet? Well, you're running out of time. Here's a quick run-down of places to look for NYE celebrations: Metromix, Centerstage, The Reader and NewCity, and for the suburbs, the Daily Herald and Southtown. Also, you might want to check out this week's Detour for tips on how to fend off the traditional New Year's Day hangover.

Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is accepting applications for mini (up to $2,000, due January 15) and major (up to $10,000, due February 15) 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.

Paddling Through The New Year

If you're not too hungover, you can join the annual paddle down the North Branch of the Chicago River with fellow canoe enthusiasts. It's a free event if you have your own canoe; you can rent one too if you call in advance. This page from the friendly Chicagoland Canoe Base (probably Chicago's best canoe store) has all the details.

Daily Candy Countdown

For the next week, Daily Candy is marking year's end by revisiting some of its 2005 favorites. As no wrap-up of the year that was would be complete without some mention of Angelina Jolie, today's installment is dedicated to achieving those signature lips. Perfect, perhaps, for that New Year's Eve kiss. (As for Brad, well, you're on your own.)

An Obscure Christmas

Would you like to download some of the strangest, most obscure Christmas music available? Thanks to Andy Cirzan; aka DJ LoFi, and Sound Opinions, you can. You can download the full albums along with cover art but you gotta act quickly. It will only be available until midnight, December 26th.

The End of the Field's as We Know It

On the last shopping day before Christmas, the Times looks at the last stand of the nation's regional department stores that'll acquire the Macy's name in the coming year. While disappointment around the country seems largely overshadowed by ambivalence, there's apparently "one notable exception": Marshall Field's.

LAPD is Family Friendly

The Los Angeles Police Department is sponsoring the volleyball competition at next year's Gay Games VII. Why, you might ask? They plan on doing a little recruitment while they're in town.


WGN, home of Chicagoland's video yule log, has posted on its site an MP4 of the log, suitable for carrying around on your video iPod. (tip from Boing Boing)

Local Picture Pages

You know we're always interested in your submissions for Rearview. If, however, you're looking for additional exposure (ahem), Chicago Public Radio now features an image of the area daily on its website and is soliciting contributions. Chicago Photobloggers has the details.

Talk of This Life

If you know Chicago Public Radio's This American Life, you know the show recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary. Today, host Ira Glass marked the occasion by returning to his old NPR stomping grounds, Talk of the Nation, for a lengthy conversation about (what else?) telling stories on the radio.

New Year's with Neko

If you're gonna spend the $60 it costs to see the New Pornographers at the Metro on New Year's Eve, you probably want to know whom of the revolving cast you'll see. Or, more to the point, will Neko Case take the stage? From what we hear, yes, she will, along with Carl Newman (of course), Kurt Dahl, Blaine Thurier, John Collins, Todd Fancy and Kathryn Calder. In other words, you're paying less than 10 bucks a band member.

Verify Your Flight Plan

If you're flying in the next couple days, you might want to check out the Chicago Airport System website. It provides flight information for O'Hare or Midway based on the same info as the arrival/departure screens in the terminals, and current parking conditions for both airports are listed right on the front page. (If you're a regular flyer, you might even want to sign up to receive parking status notifications on your cell.)

Rudolph the Red Line Operator

Today's the last day the CTA's Holiday Train will operate this year. There will be two southbound Red Line runs from Howard, one starting at 2pm and the other at 5:30, and two northbound trips from 95th, the first at 3:40 and the second at 7:05. Exact station-by-station itineraries are at

Daily News vs. Daily News

Earlier in the month we mentioned the Chicago Daily News, a new Chicago news site with an old name (the original Daily News was a paper that was published through 1978). Now comes word from the Tribune that the Sun-Times sent a cease-and-desist letter to the operators of the Daily News site, claiming that they still own the copyright to the name, even though the paper hasn't been published in years and there does not appear to be a current copyright on file at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Perhaps the Daily News Website admins can change their name to "Red Streak"...

"You can't un-taste these things."

Intrigued by the Jones Holiday Sodas? Well, before you run out and buy a pack of them, perhaps you should take a look at this taste test, done by a local blogger and his girlfriend at Thanksgiving.

Mapping Knowledge

This site may bear the title Chicago Libraries Map, but it's got much more, including museums, universities and theaters, all helpfully linked to official web pages.

Enjoy the Silence (Or Not)

Much of New York's subway system runs underground, but some routes operate on elevated tracks not unlike Chicago's. As anyone who lives along CTA lines knows, the noise of the trains is a constant, if distracting, companion. Ironically, with the MTA transit strike continuing, some New Yorkers find themselves more distracted by the quiet. Which is just one more reason to hope Chicago's not faced with the "nuisance" of noise-free living any time soon.

Red's just not that into you

The Red Streak's breakup letter, courtesy of columnist Mark J. Konkol. (tip from Romanesko)

"It's a Major Award"

Know someone who deserves special recognition this holiday season? Send'em a leg lamp — you know, like the one the old man won in A Christmas Story. It's the perfect centerpiece for any large window. And it's made in Naperville.

Anheuser Island? Goose-Busch?

There's a rumor brewing that Anheuser-Busch is considering taking an ownership stake in Goose Island Brewery. The Trib has the story, with Goose Island president John Hall confirming that the companies are "in talks" but claiming they're about distribution, not acquisition.

Chicago: "Stick 'em up!"

It seems like we're back to the business of setting records. This year we've had a record 214 bank heists, a surprisingly large number of which have been stick-em-up style movie heists. Thank goodness for online banking.

Just like taking out the trash, only with more walking

Still looking for a solution to the low participation in the city's recycling program that doesn't involve curbside pickup (an expensive solution, as reported yesterday), Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi has introduced a plan to install recycling drop boxes in a dozen wards, so that people will have to cart their recyclables to the drop points in their neighborhood. And when THAT doesn't work, perhaps we can look forward to a recycling program where people mail their trash to the recycling plant.

A Week in the Life

Via The Millions: Davy Rothbart of FOUND fame spent last week blogging for Powell's. He's working on the second book and keeping some late (and occasionally drunken) hours. Relive the hilarity. (For something a bit more serious, there's our interview with Rothbart from earlier this year.)

Wrap and Fly

Here's something cool: You know how you're not supposed to bring wrapped presents through the security check at the airport? Well, between now and Friday, you can take advantage of free gift-wrapping services on the other side of the x-rays from 2pm to 5pm at O'Hare and noon to 4pm at Midway.

Close your mouth (it's Christmas)

On this week's Sound Opinions, Chicago music critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis welcome Andy Cirzan (aka dj lo-fi), who will be bringing in a mix of odd and obscure Christmas tunes for the holidays. Fortunately for you, Andy's mix has already been posted at the Sound Opinions Website, where you can get the complete mix in all its vinyl-scratching glory. Download it and then listen to the accompanying show Saturday night at 7:00 on Chicago Public Radio.

80% of Beverly Can't Be Wrong

Based on the success of curbside recycling in the Beverly neighborhood, Ald. Joe Moore is proposing an end to the blue bag program within the next few years. The Tribune quotes him as saying, "It's time to have Chicago join the large cities across the nation in adopting a legitimate recycling program," while the Sun-Times account focuses on arguments about the expected cost. Currently, a mere 8% of household rubbish is diverted for recovery.

Whet Your Whistle

It not quite finished, but ExtraTasty! has soft launched — sign up and add your favorite drink. From the looks of it, you can expect it to be a combination bartender's recipe guide and social networking site.

Jay Ryan, profiled

Screenprinting legend Jay Ryan has a nice profile in the Sun-Times today. We featured Ryan in 2004 in The Audible City.

All Things Go for Stevens and West

The Prairie State lands a 1-2 punch on Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of 2005 chart, with Illinois by Sufjan Stevens leading the pack and Kanye West's Late Registration digging for silver. Several locally based musicians were among those who submitted personal favorites; last week in Fuel, our readers posted theirs.

Red Eye victorious

Red Eye and Red Streak readers who have been wondering which paper was going to fold first when the Tribune started giving away the Red Eye for free this year got their answer this week: the Sun-Times is ceasing publication of the Red Streak with Thursday's issue. Although the Sun-Times originally promised to keep publishing the Red Streak as long as the Red Eye was published, the Sun-Times views the Trib's decision to give away Red Eye papers as a vindication of their strategy to prevent the Trib from establishing, in Sun-Times editor in chief John Barron's words, "a successful paid-circulation tabloid."

Opinion With Teeth

Check out SHARKFORUM, a newish news and culture blog. Contributing editors include poet Simone Muench, Wesley Kimler, Dave Roth, Lynne Warren (MCA curator), James Beckman (co-founder of Ante), Mark Staff Brandl (corresponding editor for New York's Art in America), Jay Bonansinga (novelist and visiting professor at Northwestern University), Nancy Bockoven, Paul K, Ray Pride, and Norbert Marszalek.

Back to Christmas, Please

In this week before the big X that is X-mas, crowded stores and unimpressive sales abound. Thank goodness for espace at 1205 N. Milwaukee. Today, and for the next six days, espace is holding a 30% off "insane denim sale" which includes brands like Antik, Taverniti SO, Hudson and AereA. Of course, if you're looking for other ideas, we've put together a holiday gift guide (as has Chicagoist).

Xtreme Website Makeover

Indeed it is true. Intechnic, a local internet solutions company, is offering a $10,000 website makeover for the worst business website out there. You can submit your website with a short story explaining why you think you'd need a website makeover. Heh.

More Waffling to Follow

Something's going on; we just don't know what. Waves of excitement crashed across Chicago foodboard at the news that an outpost of L.A.'s Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles would be opening in Bronzeville this January. Once people settled down a bit, someone noticed that this restaurant's name is actually Rosscoe's, not Roscoe's. It's possible that we're dealing with shoddy copyediting, but it seems more likely that MLK Drive is going to be getting a branch of this New York restaurant, or another knockoff altogether.

Bluebirds in the Machine, Live

Joe Meno, whose Hairstyles of the Damned kicked off the GB book club earlier this year, has a new book out: Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir. He talked about it with the Sun-Times in an interview published over the weekend, and he'll read from the short story collection Wednesday night at the Hideout. (As you'll see in Slowdown, Meno will be accompanied by Jay Ryan of the Bird Machine. Ryan's also celebrating the release of a book, the amazing 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels.)

Let's Paint The Town

Artists, here's your chance to be seen. The CTA Arts In Transit program is seeking artists to submit qualifications for commissions of permanent public works of art to be displayed at a number of CTA stations (8 Red line stations and 18 Brown line stations). The deadline for submissions is January 20th, 2006. More info available here. A peek at the final station designs can be viewed at CTA's web site.

The year in film

Over the weekend the Sun-Times published the top 10 film lists of 2005 by Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper. Not to be outdone, the Tribune published four separate top 10 film lists composed by movie critic Michael Wilmington and other staff reporters; these lists are available in the Trib's 2005 entertainment wrap-up, which also includes best-of lists for theater, TV and DVD. Hopefully this week we'll see year-end lists from the Reader's Jonathan Rosenbaum and Newcity's Ray Pride.

From Junk Were Ye Made...

Aww, you spent twenty minutes digging your car out of the snow last week? Get over it. The Tribune reports that, starting Monday, the Streets and Sanitation Department will start hauling away your lawn chairs, ladders, and other space savers. "The snowstorm we had is history," says the Department, and there you have it.

Competition for Blago

Former alderman Edwin Eisendrath made it official today: he's running against Governor Blagojevich in the Democratic primaries next year.

See Santana Now

No, not the band. Painter Enrique Romero Santana, formerly of Madrid, Spain, has lived in Chicago since 1991, and the paintings now on display at the Chicago Cultural Center are among the achievements of his time here. A companion exhibit is on display at the Instituto Cervantes. Santana’s realistic Chicago streetscapes and gorgeous studies of light hitting Lake Michigan should not be missed. So don’t miss them. (Both exhibits end in mid-January.)

Santa Train Derailed!

The CTA Holiday Train derailed on the Brown/Purple line tracks just north of Sedgewick on Saturday night. Friend of GB Wendy McClure happened to be on the train, and took some pictures.

Hey, Big Spender, Spend a Little More on My Drink

By now, the $950 Reserve Ruby Red is something of a local legend. But that's the sort of legend the Sunday Styles section of the Times thrives on, so leave it to them to track down someone who dropped the requisite grand on a first date.

Midway's History

With Midway in the news so much lately, this great site has a lot of information about the history of Midway. If that isn't enough, you can of course buy the book too.

Flickr: Bettr Than Evr

I never thought it could get better but Flickr, one of the internet's most popular photohuts, has recently added some pilot programs such as a do-it-yourself book feature, and a feature that lets you create personalized postage stamps using your own pictures. If you want to create books to give as gifts, you have until December 19th to place your order to arrive before the 25th. You know, like photos from our many Rearview contributors.

Top Music Listmania!

Sound Opinions co-host and Trib music critic Greg Kot has revealed his list of top ten albums released this year by local indie bands, which includes local buzz-makers New Black and Pelican. The list also helpfully includes upcoming showdates for the acts that made the cut. Kot's Top Twenty overall for 2005 can be found here, and Jim DeRogatis' Top Thirty are here.

More Than Just Steel Mills

Lake Claremont Press's Chicago reminds us that Northwest Indiana is more than just steel mills. There are a variety of suggestions for winter fun in the Hoosier state, including a self-guided tour of Hammond, Ind. for A Christmas Story fans. Writer Jean Shephard grew up in Hammond and based the film on his hometown.

Get It Together

If you're not already stuck at a holiday party (or two or three) tonight, come meet members of the Gapers Block staff at Trader Vic's tonight at 9pm. $5 mai tais! Look for the guy in the fez.

Santamonium Doesn't Have Quite the Ring to It

Saturday afternoon is the second annual Chicago Santarchy! Started in San Francisco in '94, Santarchy involves hordes of Santa-suited merry-makers wandering from bar to bar, spreading holiday cheer a debauched sort of way. Grab your costume and head to Durkin's tomorrow at 3pm.

I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie

Starting next year, your booty will have a little more room on CTA and Pace buses. Both are are ordering wider seats for hundreds of buses, making our seats the widest in the country. The CTA and Pace are trying to couch the move in PC jargon, but face it--we're not just the city of Big Shoulders anymore.

Happy Holidays from Bridge/Nova

This year the editors at Bridge/Nova announced the first ever BRIDGE/NOVA EBAY BENEFIT MINI-AUCTION. In addition to work by Chicago artists like Allison Ruttan and Michael Workman, bid on "Shoebox Art Collections" (archival boxes with over 100 small works, in numbered editions of 100). Yesterday the auctions went from "Buy-it-now" to live status. Check out the items tomorrow night at Nova Lounge during the opening of Krista Peel's 2006 Calendar Show (see Slowdown). Happy bidding.

AlterPolitics/Chicago Suburbs

Roni at Goddess Musings has been posting occasional updates on how Christine Cegelis' campaign to win District 6 is going. Cegelis ran last time against Henry Hyde (maybe you've heard of the Hyde Amendment) where she got 44 percent of the vote without support from the Democratic party. She seems like a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination, but she's not. Apparently "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" only works in politics if the bootstraps are handed to you by Daddy Warbucks.

Book Release Party at Empty Bottle

Brian Costello, an instructor at Columbia College Chicago, is celebrating the release of his debut novel, The Enchanters vs. Sprawlburg Springs, with an all-star party at the Empty Bottle tonight. Writers Elizabeth Crane and Jonathan Messinger are scheduled to do readings, and the event will also feature performances by Human Eye, The Mistreaters and The Krunchies. Admission is $7, and the party starts at 9pm. See the Empty Bottle website for more information. And, check out the short interview with Costello in this week's New City.

Can You Hear Joan Cusack Now?

The CTA has announced that those wireless communication points in the Red and Blue Line subways weren't just for better emergency response, after all. Within a few months, you'll be able to tell who's a US Cellular customer; until other providers get on board, they'll be the only ones yapping away underground.

Sometimes Crime Does Pay

Congrats to Adrian Holovaty, the creator of the much lauded, for being selected by Crain's as one of 2005's "40 under 40" in Chicago business. Not only has he made a name for himself by creating an immensely useful and innovative website, but he also scored a job out of the project-- in August he accepted a position with the Washington Post as "Editor of Editorial Innovation" (How cool is his business card?) and recently announced the release of his first major project, a database of every vote in the US Congress since 1991.

Plastic Coctails

Tonight at 7pm, the Coctails are playing a free set at Rotofugi, 1953 W. Chicago Ave., to celebrate the release of a new line of Coctails action figures by band member and artist Archer Prewitt. Not able to make it? You could go to their annual reunion show at the Abbey Pub on Sunday (see Slowdown). You might also check out this week's Detour, in which Dave Elfving talks with Coctail Mark Greenberg in his home studio.

Richard Wright's Exile Years

In the current issue of Bookforum, Hazel Rowley has an in-depth essay about the years writer Richard Wright spent in Paris in the 1950s. She writes, "Wright died on alien soil, but it was not France that was his 'exile.' His exile, just as it was for many of his friends who remained in America, was disillusionment." Wright lived in Chicago between 1927 and 1937 and is best-known for his novel Native Son, which tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a young African American man struggling against the social conditions in Chicago in the 1930s.

Feminism Meets Domesticity

GB's own Cinnamon Cooper graces the front page of WomanNews in the Tribune today. Read the full article to find out how local craft artists such as Cooper are "making a statement against sweatshop labor and mass production" through the appreciation of doing things by hand.

Something's Fishy

Did you catch the Tribune's series on mercury levels in store-bought fish? It'll put you off canned tuna and walleye forever.

Hear Me Now

Your cell phone's reception in the Loop should get a lot better soon: a company has made a deal to install cellular communications boxes on city-owned light poles, which will help strengthen signals in the concrete and glass canyons.

Really Simple Tribune

Did it just happen? Was I blinking and missed the announcement? Can't quite say, but I'm happy to notice the Trib has introduced feeds for its various news sections. (The Sun-Times also offers feeds and has been doing so for a while. We do, too, of course -- I've found the Atom-formatted ones work best.)

"Can Openers Don’t Hit People, People Hit People"

Crime is never funny, unless you're The Chicago Journal's police blotters, which read like the snarky redheaded stepchildren of Onion articles. They're good for a laugh and some neighborhood crime-awareness.

Getting ASCAP'ed

When I first read some of the posts on Craigslist about ASCAP muscling nightclubs for licensing fees from the performance of cover songs, I shrugged them off. It seems I shrugged too early. New City reports that Chicago area musicians who like to hit the open mics and jam sessions have had to do so incognito or under a cloak of secrecy due to ASCAP's crackdown. Back in July ASCAP filed 30 separate copyright infringement actions against a number of nightclubs. So far, no Chicago clubs on the list.

No Rest for the Frigid

"At least it's too cold to snow" is a refrain one often hears around this time of year, but Tom Skilling says it's a notion best put to bed -- heavy blanket optional.

Slaughterhouse News

Today's Times runs an elegy for the soon-to-be-defunct City News Service. Although the service has been discontinued by the Tribune, it boasts alums like sculptor Claes Oldenburg and author Kurt Vonnegut, who described his tenure as "like getting a Purple Heart." [In the GB archives: Ellen Warren's tribute.]

Care for a share of O'Hare?

Crain's is reporting that the city will issue $1.5 billion in bonds tomorrow to fund the first stage of its O'Hare expansion project. Buyer beware, however.

Gutierrez 2007?

Everybody's wondering if Congressman Luis Gutierrez plans to run for mayor against Hizzonor in 2007. He's not saying just yet, but Daley is already puffing up for a fight. (It probably doesn't mean anything, but as of today the only result in Google for "gutierrez2007" is this.)

Letter From United Airlines

Dear Denver. Thank you for comping us on the $185 million for the failed automated baggage system at Denver International Airport. Next time you're in town, drinks are on us! My favorite quote comes from Denver city Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz who was the only one to vote against forgiving the debt: "I have tried to get my heart and mind around forgiving $185 million in debt, and I just can't get there." I hear ya Jeanne. You'd have to have a massive heart.

The Anti-Smoking Train Has Left the Station

The local smoking ban that "Fuel"ed so much debate has already spawned imitators downstate. It looks as though Springfield will consider similar measures next month, proposed to go into effect in 2007 (i.e., sooner than the Chicago inspiration).

And Then There's Bea

I'll admit that Bea Arthur has not been on my cultural radar since around 1979, so I was a little surprised to find out that Ms. Arthur is a strong advocate of women's rights and animal rights. Why do I know this? Because Chicago area web designer Kevin Buckstiegel told me. He designed and maintains a web site dedicated to the former Golden Girl. Check out Bea In The Limelight.

Please Hold For The Next Availa........

News Flash: CTA customer service is not as responsive as it should be. Somehow I suspect you already knew this, but just in case, we thought we'd let you know.

Illiterate Chicago?

According to the president of Central Connecticut State University, Chicago ranks at a measly 46 on the list of the country's most literate cities. We are ranked behind the likes of Louisville, Omaha, Tulsa and Cincinnati. Rankings are based on a combination of variables, including the number of bookstores in a city, newspaper circulation, education, library resources, periodical publishers and Internet resources. Chicago seems to have been shortchanged, but read the full report on America's Most Literate Cities and judge for yourself. Meanwhile, Seattle gloats over its number one ranking.

The Illustrated Voltaire

Penguin Books is coming out with a new line of classic books with covers done by comic artists. Voltaire's Candide is the first to get the treatment, with a shiny new cover inked by our city's own Chris Ware. Maybe, just this one time, it's okay to judge a book by its cover. [via]

Holiday Cheer ...And Then Some

mmmChicago lives up to its name this morning, presenting one writer's eleven favorite drinks from local bars.

The Sound of Opinion (2005 Edition)

Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis of Chicago Public Radio's latest programming acquisition, Sound Opinions, ran their "Best Of" show this weekend. Check out their favorites, and then post your own in Fuel.

Rachael Invasion

Food Network star Rachael Ray was at Sur la Table last Friday, signing copies of her latest book, Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats — A Year of Deliciously Different Dinner. Didn't make it? Here's a backstage look at the whole event, including the befores and afters.

The REAL Hot 100

Tired of Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 List limiting the idea of what young women have to offer the world, a group has started The Real Hot 100 list, where you get to nominate young women who are thwarting stereotypes and making a difference in their communities. Check out some of the Chicago nominees, including GB's own Cinnamon Cooper and Early to Bed founder Searah Deysach. The final 100 will be published in magazine format in time to coincide with Maxim’s next Hot 100 list next year, so go nominate now.

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

Here's a New Years Eve bash that'll insure you have a great time for a good cause. The show will be at the Blue Bayou in Wrigleyville and costs $125 (for which you get an open bar, food all night, a champagne toast and music from Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers). Most importantly, $50 from each ticket goes to Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation's Katrina Relief Fund.

CTA: Cool Like Fonzie

CTA tattler reports that your favorite local transit authority dispatched this message via their wireless alert system Thursday night: "Due to airplane blocking 55th Street at Central, #55 reroute is WB: 55th -Cicero-Archer-55th - Central.EB:Reverse." Can nothing faze them?

Studs Patrol

This week offers not one, but two chances to see local legend Studs Terkel promoting his latest book, And they All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey. Tonight you can catch him at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore and on Thursday he'll be at the Book Cellar. And if you've never read Studs, January is the perfect time as the GB Book Club dives into Divison Street: America.

Red Sauce Shift

The Sun-Times has an enlightening look at how restaurant trends shifted between 1994 and 2005, comparing Zagat's ratings then and now and giving us lots of charts and graphs. Yum.

McCarthy, RIP

Eugene J. McCarthy, the Minnesota senator and presidential candidate who was a central figure in the 1968 Democratic Convention and riots in Chicago, died this weekend. (NewsBusters points out an interesting error in the Tribune's profile of the senator.)

Oh Yes He Did!

If you missed Dennis Rodman's signing this afternoon at the Michigan Ave. Borders, Oh No They Didn't! has some pictures. Rodman's on the road supporting his new memoir (which makes what? three? four?), and authors appearing in Elvira drag is apparently the latest in book marketing. Or something.

The Artist Formerly Known as Barack

As you know, Senator Obama has been nominated for a Grammy. He and fellow nominee Al Franken sat down for a confab about that and some other stuff on Franken's Air America show yesterday, recorded with a live studio audience at the Steppenwolf. Hear the proceedings -- hilarious and otherwise -- here.

Made in Chicago, Bought in Chicago

West North can always be counted on for interesting info about urban planning and affairs. I'd seen signage with the logo, but it's there I got the scoop on the Local First Chicago cause. As you do your holiday shopping, chains may have their place, but think about patronizing locally owned businesses like these founding members, well, first.

Daytime Dining Downtown

The name says it all: Lunch in the Loop makes that most important workday decision a little bit easier. And, if you're feeling lucky (or just curious), spin the roulette and try some place new. [via] Also, from the Fuel archives, GB reader suggestions.

Fancy Smokes

On Wednesday, R. J. Reynolds opened the Marshall McGearty Tobacco Lounge in Chicago. The private smoke shop features tobacconists, luxurious couches, custom cigarettes ($8/pack) and an intense air-ventilation system. The store opening showcased R.J.'s new "super-premium" Marshall McGearty Tobacco Artisans brand which is only available for purchase at the new Chicago store.

On The Rebound?

Former Detroit Piston and Chicago Bulls bad boy Dennis Rodman will be at Borders on Michigan this Saturday (that's tomorrow, 830 N. Michigan Ave., 312-573-0564) to sign his new book, I Should Be Dead By Now. According to the press release, we should "not miss his one-of-a-kind entrance."

CPS Disciplines Bullying Bloggers

Three 7th and 8th grade students in the International Baccalaureate program at Taft High School in Edison Park were suspended this week because of threatening and sexually explicit remarks about their teacher posted on a Xanga blog. Next week, Taft's principal will meet with parents and students to discuss the "legal and moral issues involved with blogging." An article in today's Tribune talks about the Taft blog incident in context with others where the blogger was not disciplined.

The return of Daily News

The Tribune mentions today that there's a new Chicago news site, but this one has a familiar name: The Chicago Daily News, a news site run by a former Tribune reporter. The original Daily News ran through 1978, at which point the trademark lapsed on the name. The new Daily News is soliciting stories and photos from its readers, which will hopefully allow it to cover stories that aren't normally in the papers. Good luck, Chicago Daily News, and welcome.

New cab or old cab?

I didn't even realize that the Chicago taxi cabs had been redesigned recently, but apparently in 2001 the lights on top of the cab that indicate whether or not the cab is available were changed. A veteran driver took an informal survey of his riders, and found out that they nearly all thought that the pre-2001 design was easier to see. So now what does he do with this information? Well, now that Mayor Daley is interested in putting rooftop advertising on Chicago cabs, obviously the lights are going to have to be redesigned again, so why not return to a design that people prefer?

"I Love Your Work"

Here's something I never expected to read, let alone in the Tribune: an account of a dinner conversation between porn stars Nina Hartley, Shane and Stormy Daniels and Peter Sagal, host of NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." Oh, and his wife.

Midway Crash

I'm going to guess you've already heard about this by now, but just in case you're a recluse: A Southwest Airlines 737 skidded off the end of a runway and went through a barrier fence at Midway Airport last night, hitting at least four cars before coming to a stop in the middle of Central Ave. A 6-year-old boy who was inside one of the cars was killed. Here's Southwest's CEO's statement on the airline's first fatal accident in its 35-year history.

Lost City

Claire Zulkey interviews David Garrard Lowe, author of Lost Chicago, about the city's architecture and other related topics.

Listen Now, or Be Stuck with an Excerpt

If you’ve been meaning to listen to the Third Coast Festival’s prizewinning audio documentaries online, you've got a month to hear them in their entirety. After January 8, some will only be available as excerpts.

Illinois' Grammy-nominated Senator

Barack Obama racked up yet another impressive achievement today: he was nominated for a Grammy for the audiobook version of his autobiography, Dreams From My Father. Tune in February 8 to see if he wins. (tip from Amy C.)

DIY Grants

Perhaps one of the more difficult aspects of running an independent or non-profit business is figuring out how to make money doing it. On Saturday, Links Hall is holding a Do It Yourself Grant Research workshop where you can learn how to research and interpret funding information and, hopefully, find a good prospective funder. Registration fee is $30. More information, as always, on Slowdown.

Really Quick Restaurant Review: Ay Ay Picante!

If you want to try something different, zip out to Elston Ave. for a taste of Peruvian food at Ay Ay Picante. Peruvian food combines Asian influences with Old World cuisine, throwing in a dose of South American ingredients to boot. It's one of a kind, and worth trying if you like seafood and want something different.

Blogs of Operatic Proportions

It's interesting to find blogs by more than one person connected to Chicago's opera scene. Erin Wall, a soprano based in Chicago, writes at Canadienne (figures I'd discover it just as she goes on hiatus), and Brian Dickie, general director of Chicago Opera Theater, has his own blog, too.

Rev Billy And The Church Of Stop Shopping

After a bus accident in Ohio, Rev Billy and the Church Of Stop Shopping is coming to Chicago today. Look out on North Michigan around 1pm for some of their zany antics, and then head over to the United Church of Rogers Park for a special Shopocalypse Show sponsored by Mess Hall.

Smoke'em If You Got'em

It's official: the smoking ban passed by a 46-1 vote. Public places will go smoke-free on January 16, and by July 2008, bars and restaurants will follow.

Our Fallen Spacemen on the Silver Screen

If you love the "Our Fallen Spacemen" art that can be found from time to time on Brown Line trains, you'll also want to keep an eye on the screening calendar at the Split Pillow Chicago 360 Series at Chicago Filmmakers. It seems a documentary about the project is in the works, and will be showing there in the spring.

The "OMG WTF?" Shuffle

Oh lordy, lord. Mike Ditka in some 1980s video doing some rap and dancing with freshly scrubbed denizens of the leg warmer set. I apologize in advance [via MetaFilter].

Get On Your Soapbox

Interested in liberal politics? Like to drink? Alright then. Head over to the Red Lion Pub tonight for the local chapter meeting of Drinking Liberally, "an informal, inclusive Democratic drinking club."

Daley's Corporate Graffiti Busters

Wired has an article on the San Francisco backlash against Sony's latest 'urban' ad campaign, featuring drugged out little cartoons holding PSPs painted on walls. What sets these ads apart from past spray painted ads, is that they feature no text, and are basically a blank canvas for agitprop. With Chicago's history of subverting corporate graffiti (Remember the Axe incident?), I'm waiting to see some "creative reinterpretation" of these ads here in Chicago.

Cartoonist Beef?

The Austin Mayor alerted us to a somewhat bizarre comic strip by Ted Rall, simultaneously mocking and giving "apologies to" local favorite Chris Ware. Perhaps Rall's mad his book about beating back a bully hasn't done as well as Ware's works? UPDATE: Rall addresses the cartoon in his blog (although he still doesn't explain its biting tone).

Cheese TV

Pastoral, an artisan cheese, bread and wine shop in Lakeview , has been getting some heavy press lately (our review here). Not only are they featured in this month's issue of Entrepreneur, they'll also be on a forthcoming episode of the Food Network's Eat This! with Dave Lieberman. No date yet on the episode's airing, but those interested should note that the show also broadcasts over the web. Pastoral is located at 2945 N. Broadway should you want to check them out in person.

And Today in Smoking Ban News...

The fight over a city-wide smoking ban in indoor areas has been going on for years, but today city Aldermen reached an agreement to make most indoor establishments smoke-free, with the caveat that they would give your local pub or neighborhood restaurant up to three years to comply. Related, some places are taking the matter into their own hands: The Westin Hotel chain will make all of its hotels, including its Chicago locations, smoke-free by January, and more and more Chicago locations are putting their own restrictions on smoking.

Audible Frequency's new home

Last Saturday marked the six-month anniversary of the death of Alicia Frantz. Alicia was a Chicago blogger, sound archivist, a friend of GB, and one of my best friends. The domain for her site,, expired and was taken over by squatters. However, I have registered, where her recordings and pictures will stay archived for a long time.

Yet Another GoogleMap, Happy Hour Edition

DrinkTown maps where the specials are, so you can make your way from one cheap beer to the next.

Battle of the Bucket Brigade

There was a big fight over at Chicagoist yesterday in the comments of their post on Alderman Natarus' plan to get rid of street performers in the Loop again. Mostly, it was one guy against the hordes.

Atlanta gets busy

The annual competition of world's busiest airport is heating up this year between Chicago's O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. O'Hare has had fewer flights flights this year, due to flight restrictions imposed by the FAA and rising fuel costs. O'Hare officials are hoping that December will pick up for Chicago; the holiday travel season is typically busier for O'Hare than it is for Hartsfield-Jackson. Check in at the end of the month to see if Chicago retains the title.

...How Cold Is It?

Why, it's so cold that the Sun-Times is reporting that we're on track to break a December cold-weather record set in 1976. Still, you can take some (cold) comfort in the National Weather Service's claim that we "have a 50 percent chance of a warmer-than-normal winter." Thanks for those odds, NWS.

Getting Hot in Herre

Raunchy might not be the first word that comes to mind when it comes to opera, but that's exactly the one the Lyric's general director used when talking to the Sun-Times about the company's planned production of Rigoletto. The Lyric will be casting the opera's supernumerary roles this weekend, and, as PlaybillArts notes, they're looking for half-naked hotties.

Stripped Comic Books

GB alumnus Gordon McAlpin has posted the first portion of a three-part "pictorial adapatation of an actual event," a panel discussion between comic artists (graphic novelists?) Ivan Brunetti, Seth and Chris Ware. So it's a comic in progress on the process of drawing comics. Very meta.

Aldi: Cheapest Booze Ever

Those of you who make a special trip to Trader Joe's for cheap wine can now shorten the trip to your local Aldi store. Aldi stores in Chicago are now selling beer and wine, with prices on the site advertised as low as $2.50/bottle and $4.50/six pack for imported German beer. (If anyone's tried their booze, please let us know inbox AT gapersblock DOT com.)

Chicago In Song

Have you ever wondered how many songs mention Chicago by name? Well wonder no more my friends. These folks on LiveJournal have you covered where My Kind of Town, Chicago is concerned.

Sticker time!

Today is the day to vote for the next design of the city stickers that we'll all have to buy next year. See the finalists' designs here, and vote for your favorite by this afternoon at 5:00. The winning design will be seen on windshields citywide in 2006-07.

Everybody Loves Nathan

What a difference a year makes. Last fall, Oprah-backed designer Nate Berkus had just lost his partner in South Asia's devastating tsunami. As USA Today learns, these days, with a new book and a line of products for Linens 'N' Things, life's going a bit better.

Tribune Cuts Unnecessary?

We mentioned last week that the Chicago Tribune is cutting jobs. Well, thinks they're unnecessary cuts that will water down local news. MoveOn claims that the profits of Tribune Media Company aren't where the owners want them to be (even though they say they're quite large) and that's why about 100 folks are losing their jobs. And they'd like for you to sign their online petition to demand that the cuts are reversed.

Kindness of Strangers

It's that time of year when schmaltzy, obvious "helping out your fellow (wo)man" stories tend to inspire either bitter or sentimental responses. But here's a story that tugs at my heart-strings and my wallet strings as well. Natalia Wilson, wonderful proprietress of Evil Eye Emporium is helping out her friend with massive medical bills by selling ornaments to help her raise money. She's donating 100% of her proceeds on this item to her friend. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. I'm making my list and checking it twice, how 'bout you?

Say Your Piece

If you're still itching to give your opinion about the Taste of Heaven brouhaha, the Public Square, a program that fosters civic dialogue, has selected “Attitudes Toward Children in Public Spaces” as this week’s topic for its moderated Café Society discussions. Click here for times, locations, and resource materials.

Get out the Vote

Today's Sun-Times previews the possibilities for next year's city sticker. Of 300 submissions, ten finalists remain. Vote for your favorite, starting tomorrow, in person at City Hall, by telephone at 312/744-2506 or online at the city clerk's website.

Cities In Motion

Here's a delightful urban photoblog named Road To Nowhere. So many beautiful pictures from cities around the world.

Rock for the Kids

Tonight (Friday) at the Park West, Rock for Kids is holding its annual Rock'n'Roll Auction. Bid on all sorts of autographed stuff, from a Green Day poster to a Phil Collins self-portrait to, uh, an Alec Guinness headshot (how's he rock'n'roll?). Tickets are $20 at the door.

Yoga is Hot

And the competition is about to heat up. Next weekend in Naperville, all the best Bikram Yogis (Bikram is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees) from Chicago will compete for a bid to the 3rd International Yoga Asana Championship 2006. Participants will be judged on seven poses within three minutes. Check Bikram Yoga Chicago's site for the competition details, and the dish about Bikram.

Bake Sale Gone Luxe

According to the latest WBEZ newsletter, the opportunity to host Charlie Trotter in your own kitchen to prepare a full tasting menu along with 11-13 of your closest friends is still available, in exchange for a generous donation to our local NPR station. The privilege will set you back, oh, $25,000. If anyone can spot me a few bucks, I can guarantee an evening of Chef!-like hilarity as Trotter sorts through my drawer of novelty shot glasses looking for cheesecloth. Call WBEZ's Jeff Dunlap at 312-948-4686 to seal the deal.

Oh Oprah!

Why didn't you say something!

You Are Year In Review

As we mentioned earlier this week, You Are Beautiful has been up to some nifty stuff. Incidentally, we just got word that they've now put up a page detailing what they got up in 2005. Check it out.

Second chance films

As we get near the end of the year, the Siskel Film Center is offering a chance to see 12 overlooked films from 2005, a list ranging from Terry Gilliam's Brothers Grimm to Gus Van Sant's Last Days to the popular documentary Murderball. Tonight the overlooked film festival starts with a screening of Todd Solondz's Palindromes. See the Film Center's site for a full list of films being screened. (Also check out the other programs the Film Center has going on this month, which include a Marilyon Monroe retrospective and a benefit sneak preview of the film version of Memoirs of a Geisha.)

Variations on a Theme

Here's a new one: in my email inbox this morning I find a new iteration of the Nigerian scam—except this one claims to be from the personal assistant to Conrad Black, the recently indicted former chairman of Hollinger International, owner of the Sun-Times. This "assistant," who says Black is wrongly accused, knows where to find some of that money Black allegedly diverted from the company, and would just love to give me a big chunk for helping to "invest" it away from the prying eyes of that nasty Patrick Fitzgerald.

Bye-Bye, Journalist Boot Camp

As part of staff cuts, the Tribune is killing off City News Service. Founded in 1890 as the City News Bureau, it was a first job "boot camp" for aspiring journalists including Mike Royko and Kurt Vonnegut. Trib editorialist Ellen Warren has a rememberance.

Chi XC Cup

The very last of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup races happens this Sunday, 10am at Montrose Harbor: The Illinois State Championship. What is cyclocross you ask? Watch women and men get down and dirty as they go up and down Cricket Hill and bike and then run and then bike around a muddy course. Yes, it's a legitimate cycling race. And hey, you get 10 extra points if you cross-dress for the finals this Sunday! What's not to love?

Video Killed the Workday Star

Chicago music scene mainstay Thrill Jockey Records recently updated their website, and have added a "Vault" section which houses every video made by the likes of Tortoise, Mouse on Mars, Giant Sand, and the rest of the Thrill Jockey family. It's the most visually and aurally rewarding work day time-killer out there right now, guaranteed.

Cupcakes' Exit Strategy Explained

If you were thinking, "WTF?" when we told you last month that Cupcakes was for sale, you'll want to read the interview with co-owner Noah Antieau in this week's Dish. Upshot: new owners, bigger cupcakes soon.

Downloadable sound, opinions

This Saturday night is the date for fans of the rock talk show Sound Opinions to tune into Chicago Public Radio, to hear the program's debut in its new gigs. If you can't wait till then, check out the Sound Opinions site, where hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot have recorded a handful of podcasts in preparation for the new show.

Depends on What Your Definition of Iz Is

A full what, two weeks after the Reader did a cover story on them (PDF here), the Tribune is playing catch-up with a profile of Big Monster Toys, creator of one this season's hot toys: the Iz.

We're Keeping Konerko

Paul Konerko signed a 5-year, $60 million deal to stay with the White Sox yesterday. You can relax now.

Isn't It About Time You Got the Card?

Given that the CTA's fare structure is shifting to favor use of Chicago Cards in January, it's probably only fair that they're giving the things away for free again. Starting today and running through the end of March, the $5 fee will be waived.

Chicago Commemorates Worlds AIDS Day

Decemeber 1st is marked globally as World AIDS Day. The Windy City Times calendar has a list of local events, including candlelight vigils, gospel concerts and, courtesy of the Howard Brown Health Center, free HIV screenings.



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