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, July 22

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We're #35!

Chicago is only the 35th most expensive city in the world, tied with Los Angeles, according to a new survey by the Economist. Number one? Oslo, Norway. (Thanks, Jeb!)

Get C.U.F.F.ed

The Chicago Underground Film Festival is once again accepting entries for the 2006 festival (No.13). As always, they're looking for the very best in new film and video work. If you've got a feature, short, narrative, documentary, experimental, animation, music video or some other cinematic genre, submit it. Entry forms and guidelines available now online. The festival takes place August 17-24.

Game for Inclusion

Over 8,000 athletes, representing over 30 countries, have already signed up for this year's Gay Games VII. Registration for sailing and golf are both near capacity, and festival organizers foresee ice hockey slots going quickly, too. Visit to register as an athlete, performer, volunteer, official, or spectator. Chicago Games, Inc. (the Games' local host organization) will host a Town Hall Meeting this Friday, February 3.

Save Collins High School

We've posted that CPS will be closing four schools with Collins being the only high school (the others are grammar schools). The leadership committee has started a blog to spread information about their campaign to save Collins High School. [Thanks Brian!]

Bo Diddley and Ed Sullivan, Elvis and Steve Allen

If you missed the TV-A-Go-Go panel discussion a couple of weeks ago, you can now hear an interview with author Jake Austen on radio station WFMU, talking about his new book that traces the history of rock'n'roll on TV.

Hello Teatro!

Would you look at that: Edward Lifson, host of WBEZ's Hello Beautiful!, has begun a blog.

For Your Bookshelf Consideration

The current Atlantic Monthly runs a glowing review of the second edition of Jay Pridmore and George A. Larson's Chicago Architecture and Design, calling it "thoroughly revised and greatly expanded" and "by far the best introduction for the general reader." (For more Chicago-related non-fiction, check out GB librarian Alice Maggio's year in review.)

Version Fest Is Coming!

Version>06, a festival that "examines the activities of local configurations and external networks that use visual and conceptual art strategies, innovative social practices, creative uses of new technologies, organizing strategies, emerging activist/artist initiatives, campaigns, public interventions and DIY projects," is looking for submissions. Their website has the submission form if you want to contribute. (Note: besides the utter BS in the description, this is actually a cool event.)

Hanker for a hunka cheese

Looking for yet another source of great Chicago food writing? Check out Hungry, an online magazine that also features podcasts with top Chi-town chefs. The most recent issue features an interview with Hot Doug's Doug Sohn, plus product reviews and more.

Podcast Antisocial

This week's Bad at Sports podcast features a rambling interview with Liz Armstrong, "Chicago Antisocial" columnist in the Reader. (Reminded us a little of our own.)

Miesian Architecture, Reichian Music

Shots of the Mies van der Rohe's Crown Hall at the IIT set to a soundtrack of Steve Reich: hypnotizing, eh?

North Kenwood/Oakland Revival

Great article on the resurrection of the North Kenwood/Oakland neighborhood in the Tribune Magazine yesterday, along with some photos.

Protest The State of The Union Address

Hang out with others who are frustrated by Mr. Bush & Co. at 5pm tomorrow at Daley Plaza. The Chicago chapter of The World Can't Wait is behind the action, and they plan on making as much noise as possible during the State of the Union address to "drown out the lies."

Last Gasp For The Cotton Club

The Cotton Club will be closing its doors Monday evening after 20 years in business. Surely the place will be packed this evening, but if you're so inclined, drop by and take part in its send-off.

Buy now, ride later

There's a Metra fare increase scheduled to take effect next month (i.e., Wednesday). And although Metra officials would really like you not to, you can buy yourself some 10-ride tickets today and tomorrow even if you're not going to use them, because Metra tickets are good for 1 year after the sale date. For the full list of increased Metra fares see the Metra Website.

Wireless to the Dunes

Starting in April, you can be among the elite to test what may become the nation's first commuter rail wireless service on the South Shore line. The service will use the train line's existing fiber optics, and technology created for NASCAR drivers. Still, the zone will be limited to just seven miles of track for now, while the problem of maintaining a wireless connection at 80mph is worked out.

Welcome Back, Hajis!

You may be one of the 2 million Muslims to recently come back from hajj (annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia)--welcome back, and hajj mubarak! (Want to know more about hajj? Wikipedia can help out, so can this article in the Sun-Times.)

"We Hate When Our Friends Become Successful"

Is Chicago ready for not one, but two Pitchfork-inspired festivals? Inspired by their success last year, various parties who once teamed up are trying to go their separate ways and stage separate events. Which, frankly, sounds like a Very Bad Idea.

Tru and Moto on TV

Coming next month (or possibly the month after) to the Food Network: separate appearances by chefs from Tru and Moto on Iron Chef America. The competitors have kept quiet about how they fared, but today's Sun-Times offers a little preview of what to look for. Namely secret ingredients like fennel and beets.

Rock Poetry

Spotted on the Metro sign as we headed into Gingerman for the GB Get-Together Friday: a haiku made up of band names.

Chicago is Watching You

Since the city council is considering a proposal that would require hundreds of businesses to install video cameras in their stores and parking lots, this seems like a good time to relink to Open Loop, a site dedicated to mapping all the security cameras monitoring the Loop.

Marshall Field's to Rise Again

Kinda sorta maybe.

Lie No. Million And One?

As we all know by now, James Frey 'fessed up yesterday about stretching the truth in his "memoir." Among other fabrications, Oprah got him to admit that his supposed girlfriend did not hang herself as he'd written. Instead, he claimed, she slit her wrists. Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame did some Smoking Gun work of his own; unsurprisingly, Chicago mortality records beg to differ with Frey's amended account.

Big Hurt in White Cleats

While most White Sox fans already knew that Frank Thomas would not be back with the team in 2006, those thoughts were solidified as the Sox career leader in nearly every offensive category signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday. The trade for Jim Thome and re-signing of Paul Konerko left no room for Thomas, who can only DH at this point in his storied career.

GB Gettin' Together

Our monthly GB Get Together goes down tonight at The Gingerman (next to the Metro). We'll be in the back. 9PM onwards — more details and such.

Kids Love The Art Institute, too!

Child Magazine has named The Art Institute of Chicago the best museum for kids. The results, announced today, were compiled with date from a four month investigation examining over 100 museums across the nation. AIC plans to celebrate their victory on Saturday, February 25, at the museum's "Behind the Lions Day."

Save Our Beers

New City reports on a new form of activism in the city: The Draught Beer Preservation Society, "an open, Chicago-wide organization propagating the notion that, since the allure of tap beer draws us out of our homes and into each other's company, bars solidify a community." Where do we sign up?

Blogger Bowling Blowout

Last night, Gapers Block met Chicagoist and Coudal Partners for a little friendly competition down at Lucky Strike: eight frames later (we ran out of lane time), GB emerged victorious! Here are photos from us, Coudal and Chicagoist.

We're so bad, we know we're good

The 1985 Chicago Bears are the greatest football team of all time. How do we know this? Because the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation yesterday officially naming the '85 Bears the greatest ever. So to all the other football teams out there: too late! We called it! Also in the bill: a designation naming November 2005 (that is, November of last year) as "1985 Chicago Bears Championship Month". So all you time-travellers out there, hop back 2 months and enjoy the citywide celebration! Those of you stuck in the present, relive the magic by watching The Super Bowl Shuffle at IFILM.

Pitchfork, pitching books.

Have you yearned to see a book-length Pitchfork album review? Well, you're now one step closer to realizing that dream. The excellent 33 1/3 book series , which features book-length ruminations on albums, just announced the titles that will be coming out in 2007 and 2008. Three P-fork writers (Managing Editor Scott Plagenhoef, Amanda Petrusich, and Drew Daniels, aka "that guy from Matmos") made the list.

New And Notable Blogs

A few new notable blogs that are worth a glance: chicagopunjabi, the account of a newly arrived man from India(?) writing about coming to Chicago. "And you know, I started to get the feeling that Morgan Freeman wanted these Penguins to die." Feeling Kinda Blog Today has a great sense of humor worth reading, too. And something from a Portugese student in Chicago.

Job Market Picking Up?

In what has to be viewed as a frightening sign for the Chicago job market, 24,500 people applied for a job at the new Evergreen Park Wal-Mart. That's 75 applicants per position currently available.

CPS to Close Four Schools

The Sun-Times is reporting that the Chicago Public School system plans to close four schools -- one high school and three grammar schools -- due to low performance. The grammar schools would close at the end of the year, while the high school, Collins, at 1313 S. Sacramento, would close when the current freshman graduate.

Virtual Insanity

Yesterday, The Chicago Board of Education approved creation of The Chicago Virtual Charter School. The school would serve 600 students from grades K-8 via computer. Illinois would join 12 states, including California, Kansas and Alaska, if the Illinois State Board of Education also approves the virtual school's proposal.

Call for submissions (all the cool bands are doin' it!)

Say you have a local band just cravin' some publicity and you need it fast. Fear no further, fellow musical-types; Gapers Block is here to help. "How so" you ask? We, the editors of Transmission, our weekly feature where we put a local band on pedestal for a week, are seeking submissions. If you have a friend of a friend who knows this guy who has a rockin' band, an alt-country band, an accoustic/jazz/fusion/death-metal band, or any musical act for that matter, email us with the info. If your band desires to be featured, let us know. We'll give you the details, toot suite. Support the Chicago-area music scene!

Ira Glass Speaks

Ira Glass, host of This American Life, comments about the show's move to New York in the current Fuel thread. "Let me just say, we love this town and we pack our bags with tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats."

Serving the CHA Diaspora

Great article in the Wall Street Journal today about Residents' Journal, a bi-monthly newspaper for Chicago Housing Authority residents. The paper is struggling to stay afloat on grants, while its readership is spread across the city and suburbs.

A Million Little Tonguelashings

Oprah Winfrey reunited with "memoirist" James Frey on today's Oprah show. Gawker has a live-blogged recap of the show; tune in to Channel 7 tonight at 11pm for the rebroadcast. (Our pop critic Dee Stiffler has some thoughts, too.)

The Return of Intonation

Well, you won't hear it (yet) from Pitchfork or the fest's website, but the hit Intonation Music Festival is slated to return to Chicago this summer, July 29-30. While we're eagerly waiting for a line-up announcement (and a weather forecast), let's hope the city gets a call from that other big music festival and doesn't schedule it for the same weekend. We've already been disappointed with scheduling conflicts once this year.

This American NYC Life

That sucks: Because of the new TV show, This American Life the radio show is moving to New York.

Grey Lady Memoirs

What if the New York Times chronicled your childhood? In the "My Life in the Times" series over at The Morning News, John Warner is imagining just that.

Where's The Beef? Online!

Not a moment too soon: Vienna Beef's online store has launched, and now The Frank That Made The Damen/Elston Intersection Famous is available nationwide, along with all of the related fixings. You could order your neon-green relish, skinless franks, and boxer shorts individually, but don't you owe it to yourself to go for the tubesteak gold: the Valentine's Kit?

A "Rape Epidemic"

There were more than 1,200 sexual assaults reported in the city last year — an average of more than three a day. See how many were reported in your neighborhood; you might want to consider a self-defense class.

Flavor Saver

Quick! Grow a mustache and head to Sheffield's tonight at 8pm for the 11th Annual Bell's Stout Tasting and 2nd Annual Mustache Contest. Or just show up — they'll have temporary 'staches available for follically challenged men and women.


Local food chat site has announced the latest recipients of its Great Neighborhood Restaurants awards. One of my new year’s resolutions is to check out each of these establishments, just as soon as I get through with last year’s.

Lacrosse by Jake

Major League Lacrosse (MLL) announced the newest Chicago professional sports team today, the Chicago Machine. MLL was totally founded by Jake "Body by Jake" Steinfeld. The Chicago Machine's head coach Kevin Finneran has this dream for the team: two guys meet in a bar, and " guy asks, 'Who won the Machine game last night?' The other guy says, 'Da Machine.'"

Get Out Your Castanets

Instituto Cervantes and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs have kicked off the 5th annual Chicago Flamenco Festival, Flamenco 2006. For the next month, flamenco-related concerts, dance performances, films, exhibits, and lectures will be held all over town. For a complete schedule, click here (you’ll find individual events listed in Slowdown). And if you do have a pair of castanets, click here for instructions.

Advertise And Promote Your Site

Two points for creativity: want to drive traffic to your blog? Advertise in the paper, like this woman did in yesterday's Sun-Times. But another technique is to utilize the new PING feature on Chicagobloggers, either to get more traffic on your site or to see what other Chicagoans are saying. Details on how to participate are here.

Clark Kent, meet Veronica Mars

In what's sure to be a supremely weird reshuffling of the television landscape, The WB and UPN are merging to become the "CW Television Network." What's this have to do with Chicago? The Tribune Company was a minority owner in the WB, and it'll be a major player in the new net as well. "Tribune Broadcasting is expected to be the primary station group for the new network," says the Hollywood Reporter, with 16 Tribune stations becoming CW affiliates, including WGN, natch. Here's the Tribune's spin.

Eyeglass Thieves Escape Unseen

Apparently, local thieves have figured out that high-end eyeglass frames and sunglasses are a convenient target: they're small, portable and very valuable. Reports of theft have been on the rise. Fortunately, so far only new frames have been stolen, but if I were you, I wouldn't walk down any dark alleys in your Chanel shades.

What's the buzz, tell me what's happenin'

The relatively new Theatre In Chicago looks to be a remarkable resource for playgoers: an independent, well-designed database of what's playing where and when, with theatre info and nearby restaurants. It's easier to browse than the League of Chicago Theatres' effort, not as stroke-inducing as Metromix, and is the only place I know of to round up all the local critics' reviews for an at-a-glance scorecard.

He's my favorite honky

Get your clicking fingers warmed up; as the Sun-Times reports, tickets for the upcoming King Tut exhibit at the Field Museum will go on sale at 9:00 this morning. If you want to check out some details about the exhibit, the first time the King Tut relics have been on display in Chicago since 1977 (when they were also on display at the Field Museum), check out the museum's pages on the exhibit, which also include a link to the ticket purchase page. The exhibit opens in May and runs through January of next year. (Tut tickets, by the way, will be $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and students, and $16 for children.)

Wacky, Yes. But is He Art?

Columbia College is facing something of a free speech controversy as it grapples with the aftermath of an employee's sacking for his work on the satirical Wacky Warrick website. The previously anonymous site mocks the college's president, and while Mark Phillips contends he did none of its development on the job, he was terminated after investigators documented his involvement by a midnight raid of his office. The Columbia Chronicle has the story.

While You Were Sleeping...

The second stage of the 8th Annual Tour Da Chicago alleycat bike race was held last Sunday morning. Photographer Arielle Bielak has been taking an incredible number of pictures (including a few of yours truly) and posting them to her site, If you woke up to find your boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate and their bike inexplicably gone, chances are you'll see 'em here.

Oberweis Ratchets up Rhetoric

Crain's reports that Jim Oberweis will be at an Aurora wedding chapel tomorrow, as he makes an appearance to support the Protect Marriage Illinois initiative. He'll be announcing his donation to the cause and asking his fellow GOP candidates to support the group's proposed amendment to the state constitution. In related news: look for Oberweis to run the table in the 44th Ward primary.

Big Happy Prune House

"Dear Sweetheart,
Please cook me some prunes.
Love, Daddy"

I See Jesus or not.

Fellow GB colleague Dave Elfving pointed out in the Flickr version of my Rearview photo today that he didn't quite see what I saw in the photo, until I pointed it out. Incidentally, local photographer and Rearview contributor Margaret Nissen started a "I Saw Jesus" photo pool on Flickr. You can discuss this if you'd like on my Flickr version of today's photo.

The NYTimes' Chicago Expense Report

Reader Enlightened Elephant points us to the New York Times' Corresondents' Guide to the US (here's a PDF of the Chicago section) and says, "Too heavy on downtown and Damen. But! See esp. Chicago: Favorite shop or shopping area [which mentions the NSFW G Boutique]. So that's what the NYT is up to when in town" (although it's worth noting that Jodi Wilgoren, who we can assume was miscredited, is actually based here).

Call it the eBay Effect

Next time you go to Marshall Field's, you might consider putting the shopping bag in a bag of its own: collectibles experts are predicting that Field's branded items will have some serious value in 20 years. (Anyone else find it ironic that the State Street store's webpage has a flash intro that says, "The first 150 years were just a warm up ...for this"?)

Three Years and Counting

Yes, the CTA Tattler confirms, train cars with longitudinal seating are still coming. Just not very quickly.

10 Chicago sights to see

In yesterday's Tribune they ran a profile of tour guide Bill Hinchliff, the kind of tour guide you always hope to find who's been doing the job for decades and knows all the secret places in Chicago that nobody ever goes. Fortunately for the rest of us, the article includes a list of 10 historic locations to check out.

Jewel No Longer on the Block

After much speculation, Jewel-Osco will soon be operating under new management. Its parent company, Albertson's, has agreed to be acquired by Supervalu, a chain that can't even spell its own name. As part of the deal, announced this morning, some stand-alone Oscos will be bought separately and become CVS stores.

Our Weight's Not a Problem, It's a Feature

According to a U of C economics professor, America's weight problem is a symptom of our prosperity. I guess that means Chicago's doing exceptionally well. Meantime, Men's Fitness' "Getting America Fit Tour," which was supposed to be at the Mercantile Exchange this weekend, was abruptly canceled on Thursday with no explanation.

An Interview with CAR's Barbara Koenen

We've mentioned the Chicago Artists Resource before. We've mentioned the Bad at Sports podcast before. We've even mentioned Barbara Koenen of the city's department of Cultural Affairs before (talked to her ourselves!). But have we mentioned all three at once? Well, by golly, I guess we have now.

Java, from Las Brumas to Lakeview

Love the Intelligentsia? Today's Trib spins the tale of a good cup of coffee, tracing the requisite beans from the forests of Nicaragua to the roasters of Chicago.

TV American Life

It's official: This American Life is coming to television. The one-hour show will be on Showtime, hosted by Ira Glass, and following the same format of the radio program (i.e., each week a theme, with stories based on that theme). The radio show continues unchanged.

“In True U of C Fashion, Get Statistics”

The Chicago Maroon reports on CollegeCuteness, a site started by two male undergrads at the U of C. To evaluate the attractiveness of last year's incoming women, the pair posted a sample of their photos on Hot Or Not and did the same for nine other colleges with the intent of comparing the scores. Chicago may not rank last in many polls, but, alas, this one proved the exception to that rule. [via]

Your 2006 Sox, Handicapped

Phil Rogers lists five reasons the White Sox could repeat in the World Series this year -- and five reasons they might not. Via 1838 Miles to Tucson, the Chi-Town Daily News' Sox blog. (Donate here to help send C-TDN's sportswriters to spring training.)

Really Quick Review: Junior's

From Car Seat columnist Alejandra Valera: "Calling itself a 'Sports Lounge' rather than a sports bar, Junior's on Maxwell and Halsted (partially owned by Chicago Bear Gale Sayers) is beautifully designed and swank. With 20 flat screen TVs, a VIP area and plenty of music coming from the DJ booth, expect to see both suits and backwards baseball caps at Junior's. Besides appetizers, a lunch and dinner menu is also available featuring burgers, surf'n'turf, salads and more."

Chick Fantasy Turned Fundraiser

Chicago not for profit rock'n'roll mud wrestling troupe The Mud Queens are preparing for their fifth Chicago show next weekend (see Slowdown). Wrestlers Lug Nut Lucy, El Bano, Jacky Daniels, and the Folsum Prison Manhandler will appear. The Mud Queens' event will benefit the Young Women's Empowerment Project. Don't neglect to BYOB.

The End of the Spacemen

We also heard from ARD, the artist behind "Our Fallen Spacemen." He lets us know that, Wednesday at 12:50am, the project was completed: after eight months, he installed poster number 360, making 15 for each of the 24 fallen spacefolk. We also hear that preparation for ARD's next work is underway; it will appear, not on the CTA, but in "four of Chicago's neighborhoods with lesser-known namesakes."

So Many Menus

Reader Andrew sends in a neato website: Restaurant Place. You can do the typical searching -- neighborhood, cuisine and such -- but the real draw is the menus, which are presented in full and ripe for the pickin'.

Ex-Idol to be a Dreamgirl

Chicago's favorite Idol finalist, Jennifer Hudson, will star as Effie in the movie version of fabulous Tony Award-winning '80s musical Dreamgirls. A teaser trailer debuted on the official movie website today, but don't get too geeked out just yet about our hometown girl on the big screen-- the movie won't be released until December 2006.

Springer Taping Attendee Imitates Springer Guest

A woman from Westmont is spending 30 days in jail for abandoning her kids at home -- so she could attend a Jerry Springer taping last fall.

Shop-a-holics night out

If you've ever wished to get a sneak-peek at what the finest local and national up-and-coming indie designers are making while getting a goodie bag and drinking cocktails at Union Station, then you're in luck. Girls Night Out is coming to Chicago on April 6th. Unique! Tres chic!

Some Local Music Love

As posted earlier this week, Flameshovel Records is considered one of the Top 10 indie labels in Chicago. Appropriately, we are featuring one of their bands, The Bound Stems, in our Transmission section this week. They are considered by many to be a band on the rise but don't take our word for it - give them a listen and see them live at the Empty Bottle this Friday.

Win a Date with a Jake!

Threadless just announced a new contest, and it's not about shirts! Enter Win a Date with Threadless and you could win dinner at Ballo with members of the staff, table service in the VIP suite at Crobar, a room for at the W Hotel and $250 dollars of spending money. (If you live more than 250 miles from Chicago, you get free plane tickets, too.) Woot!

Players in the Stands, Again

From Jason Maslanka, our intrepid Bulls columnist: "During last night's Bulls win over the Knicks in overtime, former Bull Antonio Davis climbed over the scorer's table and into the stands where he believed his wife was being harrassed by intoxicated fans. The moment was eerily similar to the start of last year's Pacers-Pistons brawl, but luckily, this occassion featured nothing more than some conversation and dirty looks."

View of the Sears Tower, 1979

Today's Rearview photo from Cory Dalus is an interesting one. It shows the landscape of Chicago from 1979. You can comment here: Looking Northeast from the Sears Tower, 1979.

Today in the Smoking Times

The Elk Grove Times looks at the potential domino effect of the Chicago's citywide smoking ban, an ordinance described by Hoffman Estates mayor Bill McLeod as "a nuclear bomb," while the New York Times visits Wicker Park's new Marshall McGearty Tobacco Lounge.

Craigslist 101

A Craigslist post that Shylo could surely support: How Not to Write a Missed Connection (otherwise known as "Get an anonymous livejournal, you jerk").

And a Laptop for Every 7th Grader

If Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn has his way, every 7th grader in public schools in the state will get a free laptop computer in a new program called I-Connect. They'll need around 170,000 computers and $50 million to make this happen, so not surprisingly, there's some resistance forming about where to get the money and how to dole out the computers. To keep up on this and all of the Lt. Governor's news you might check out his podcast.

Lincoln Park or Lincoln Square?

If you haven't taken a stroll in Lincoln Square lately, changes are afoot in this German-Baltic-Yuppie 'hood. Sure, the strip is peppered with cool restaurants, indie cafes and bookstores, but now a Potbelly is slated to open -- right next to a Cold Stone. Will Costello's prevail? We sure hope so!

Anonymous Art

An oldy but a goody, and it ties in (sort of) to the current Fuel question: "The Lakefront: Chicago's Anonymous Gallery" catalogs the carvings and paintings along the city's breakwalls.

Chicagoan Idol

"American Idol" focused on Chicago auditions last night. Missed it? See what they thought at TWOP, and TV Fodder. The Red Eye's Phillip Thompson had some things to say, too. UPDATE: Lots of discussion of the show (and whether it's cool to watch it) on Chicagoist.

CTA L #1

The first car ever built for Chicago public transit (for the Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Co. in 1892) will be moved today from a CTA storage facility in Skokie to the Chicago Historical Society at Clark & North. In a moving project reminiscent of the 2004 move of the MSI's U-505 sub, the car will be slowly moved down Chicago streets, avoiding viaducts and overpasses, in a journey that should take at least 3 hours to complete. Once the car reaches its destination, it will be renovated and be put on display at the museum by late September.

It Feels So Good

The Smoking Popes reunion continues apace... After getting back together in November for the Flower Fifteen gigs, the band is heading out on a tour that's set to culminate March 11th and 12th at the Metro, which, according to its website, is now smoke-free. Tickets go on sale Saturday. (Get a taste of what's to come with recordings of the set that started this whole reunion business: out next month on Victory.)

Like Bridget Jones, but Prettier

When in doubt, send Rebecca Romijn to Chi-town. That, at least, seems to be the WB's philosophy, as it tries to jump-start its ratings with a show that features the former model as a local news reporter who will do anything for a story. In other words, expect "hijinks."

Deadly Suburbs

Chicago managed to keep its murder rate to a 40-year low in 2005, but the Tribune reports that suburban murders are on the rise.

Target's a target

Target have taken advertising to the next level. This blog suggests that they've started using their roofs as a huge satellite view version of their billboard (as seen in this Google Map). Kottke suggests that this particular store however could be for the benefit for passengers landing at nearby O'Hare (as seen in this Google Map).

Chicago Bloggers, IRL

Barbara Iverson of Columbia College has organized a group for local bloggers on Meetup, the second meeting of which is set for Wednesday night; this month's topic is search engines and audience building. The event takes place at 6:15pm -- register to get more details.

Beautiful Construction

GB reader emyduck got some great shots of the latest You Are Beautiful installation: the construction barriers surrounding Block 37.

MLK Day on Craig

Oh, my God. We know that many of you are off work today in honor of civil rights great Martin Luther King. If you're bored, why not see what other Chicagoans are up to today? Check out this compilation of ridiculously unsafe-for-work Craig's List posts about MLK Day fun.

Chicago Indie Labels

Did you catch the Trib's round-up of the "10 Indie Labels That Matter" here in Chicago? No? Well, here. Go read about Bloodshot, Thrill Jockey, Flameshovel and more.

Naked on the Train

If you see a naked guy on the train, don't mess with him. CTA guards and policemen found out first-hand as they tried to apprehend an 18-year-old agitated nudist on the Red Line yesterday. Pepper spray and a Taser didn't stop him, and he broke a train window before fleeing. He was eventually subdued somewhere on North Kenmore.


Fans of the Neo-Futurist theater company that have always dreamed of having a role in their long-running show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, take heart! As they did last year, the Neo-Futurists are doing a fundraiser this year that will provide 30 people the chance to write plays based on the Neo-Futurist aesthetic, with the ultimate goal of performing a one-time-only version of TML for their friends and loved ones. For more information on this opportunity, please see the Neo-Futurist Website.

"Superpremium Mindset," with Lungs, Wallet to Match

In celebration of the enactment of the smoking ban, the Sun-Times reports on the opening of the R.J. Reynolds-owned Marshall McGearty Tobacco Artisans in the heart of Wicker Park. The $8 smokes and loungey atmosphere sound pretty cheesy, but now that you can't smoke in Filter, some local yupsters may be attracted by their buy-a-pack, get-free-coffee-and-WiFi deal between 2 and 4pm.

Six-Flat Therapy

New York's Apartment Therapy is expanding: they're launching a Chicago version of the site (along with one in San Francisco; they already have one in LA) to talk about local architecture and interior design. They're looking for an editor with both blogging and ID experience. And hey, it's a paid position! (Thanks, Aaron, and congratulations!)

F*****g Smoking Ban

Metra has suspended without pay a conductor on the line to Harvard, who added his own editorial to a warning that smoking would no longer be allowed on train platforms in the city. According to the Trib, "the conductor used a vulgar sexual epithet over the Metra train's public address system to describe the city officials who enacted the ordinance."

Timeshift the Late Night Late Show

If you miss an "episode" of the Late Night Late Show, download Quicktime clips of various segments via the improvisational show's podcast. Unfortunately, the archives don't go back to July when our own Andrew Huff was on, but you can see Jessa Crispin (of Bookslut fame), Thax Douglas (of poetic introductions to many rock shows fame) and other guests (of varying sorts of fame). For the real-life experience, the LNLS runs at the i.O. every Saturday at midnight.

Developing the Future Literary Gangs of Chicago

Poet Cassie Sparkman hosts the reading series, Literary Gangs of Chicago, every third Tuesday. During the daytime, Sparkman teaches weekly poetry classes through The Poetry Center of Chicago's Hands on Stanzas program to over 170 students at Christian Ebinger School in Edison Park. Last week, Sparkman installed her students' "Poetry + Photos Project" featuring student poems in response to images by photographers Krista Peel and Johnny Knight.
On April 5th, Sparkman will read at The Old Town School of Folk Music with fellow Hands on Stanzas poets in residence and selected CPS students.

Crimewatch Chicago

Hypervigilant Mac users have a new way to access a handy Dashboard widget. (Previously: the Time Out Chicago widget.)

Yet Another Google Map, Drinkers' Edition

The Chicago Beer Map doesn't just give you bars, it also lists beer-oriented liquor stores and shops that sell homebrew supplies. (For nightly specials, see previously mentioned Drinktown.)

What's with Western?

Western Avenue as I've known it, is a pretty fast street — the wannabe hot rodders streak their cars up and down Western and you're left playing chicken even if you've got a walk sign. Isai Medina, a 50 year old cyclist was struck and killed in a seven car accident last week. You might remember Chris Saathof's tragedy on Western as well. Be careful on Western. There's just something about the avenue that's like some kind of imaginary line drawn in the sand...

We're Not That Mean

Not to our homeless people, anyway. The National Coalition for the Homeless ranked Chicago 12th in its "Top 20 Meanest Cities" list, citing our rule against panhandling within 10 feet of an ATM. The list is part of a much larger report on the criminalization of homelessness.

Another sticker loophole closing

All you clever people out there who park your cars in garages and think you don't need a city sticker: the free parking's over! On Wednesday the City Council introduced an ordinance to require cars parked in garages to have stickers. However, the city is only allowed to investigate cars in garages that are open to the public, so all you car owners with private garages have been spared. For now, that is.

Even in Europe

This week's Onion alerts us to the fact that Even in Blackouts, the band featuring Screeching Weasel guitarist John Pierson, will be playing Friday night at Beat Kitchen as a warm-up gig for their upcoming European tour. Fans of Pierson's work in the new band, the old band, or even in the Neo-Futurist theater group will definitely want to turn up for this gig. See Slowdown for details.

Useless Sports Trivia - Wow Your Friends!

From the GB Dept. of Useless Trivia: many people blame the Cubs for the phrase "Out in left field." Why is that? There used to be a mental institution near left field. And who knew that the Blackhawks used to play in a former Confederate prison?


"Ware is taking advantage of the specific possibilities offered by his form, and doing something that would be unimaginable in another one." The New York Press appreciates Chris Ware, and names his Acme Novelty Library "the best book of the season". (link via Fantagraphics blog)

The Bean by Moonlight

Still pissed at the Park District for denying Radiohead the Millennium Park bandshell this summer? Show up at the Bean Friday night at 6:30pm for a group mooning in protest, organized by Q101's Fook. You'll be among friends... and probably a few dozen policemen. (Thanks, Anthony.)

A Site of Their Own

We may never see the Lincoln Park Trixies return to the web, but at least we have the Lincoln Park Chad Society, recently updated and improved for your amusement.

No Smoke on the Horizon

The city's smoking ban goes into effect on Monday, so you've got four days to "only smoke when you drink." Meantime, Elk Grove Village's mayor is upping the ante, proposing a ban on cigarette sales.

Urbn, pshaw!

Well, Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park continues to push forward with hipster clothing stores. Coming soon: Urban Outfitters.

Ivan Brunetti in felt

The Fantagraphics blog links to photos of a cool-looking hand-made plush head of Chicago cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, made by the girlfriend of Chicago cartoonist Onsmith Jeremi. Can the Ivan Brunetti action figure be far behind?

Pritzker Family Records Unsealed

Am I the only one that smells the makings of a great TV movie about Chicago's First Family?

Jumpsuit Down To The Empty Bottle

This week's latest Transmission artist, Jumpsuit, will be appearing tonight at The Empty Bottle. This is part of the usual Flabby Hoffman extravaganza of which I've taken part in a few times. Should be a great time on hump night.

Because Lists Are Fun

The American Kennel Club's list of Chicago's "Top Dogs of 2005":
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd
3. Golden Retriever
4. Boxer
5. Pug
6. Yorkshire Terrier
(Real number 1, but disqualified by AKC rules: Mutt)

Fork it

Readers not so enamored with local music reviewers Pitchfork Media can tune in to Tuning Fork, a blog that reviews Pitchfork reviews. (See also David Cross' reviews of music for Pitchfork reviews, or something like that.) Link via Tuning, who offer sound advice for Pitchfork haters: "ignore them completely."

Free Press to Downsize

Look for the new format of Wednesday's Chicago Free Press. (Now if they could just do something about that website...)

A Case for the A.S.P.C.A.

Over the weekend, a Crystal Lake man decided to trap and then (allegedly) scald to death a squirrel in his back yard. Amazing? Not as much as his nonchalance.

Trader Vic's sailing on

Trader Vic's update, from the Tribune: the restaurant will eventually open a new Chicago location somewhere in River North, with the help of the owners of the Harry Caray's restaurants. In the meantime, the Trader Vic's people are trying to get all their memorabilia out of the space in the Palmer House Hilton, in the hopes of redecorating the new restaurant with most of the accoutrements from the old space. (Patrons during the last few days of the restaurant helped with the move by taking anything that wasn't nailed down, from drink glasses to table lamps.)

Bear Down, Study Up

The Trib has put together an informative mini-site dedicated to the Bears, where you can learn about the players, positions and plays. This could be considered a handy little study guide for any "bandwagon jumpers," not than any of you are, of course.

Archinect Schoolblogs

Architecture and design site Archinect is doing another year of their School Blog project (which started last year) by featuring more students in architecture programs at universities and colleges worldwide. This year, there are five Illinois area students blogging about life at architecture school: Tom Denney, Zachary White and Seth Ellsworth at IIT and Angana Shah and Paulina at UIC.

Species Invade the Shedd

There's a new exhibit on invasive species in Lake Michigan at the Shedd Aquarium. So if you've ever wondered what an Asian carp looks like, here's your chance. One organism is so invasive the Shedd included only replicas in the exhibit: they were afraid real zebra mussels would clog the aquarium's pipes and filtration system.

The Sun-(gooooogle)-Times

Google ads in the Sun-Times? Who knew?

New Metra Schedules

The new Metra schedules are up, for those of you who metra. Highlights include some new trains to O'Hare in the morning and service to Elburn, aka The Land Past Geneva Somewhere (Thanks, Steve!).

What, Nobody Tried the Mead?

If anyone's looking for me at 8pm on Friday, I'll be on the couch, nachos in hand, checking out what may well prove to be the best Check, Please! of all time. All three guests are children (around 10 years old, from the looks of 'em), and two of the three restaurants they went to were---wait for it---Ed Debevic's and Medieval Times. The mind boggles.

Teach Your Children Well

Each October, Facets hosts the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. Ever wonder what kids take away from this exposure to world cinema? Try something along the lines of "do not marry someone you don't know" and "you should never take a former evil king on a long desert hike." Also, "penguins have troubles, too."

Twista Hit Again

Chicago hip hop star Twista was in another car crash -- this time a hit and run. He was in a fatal accident back in September 2004. No deaths or injuries this time (as far as is known), and Twista's reportedly at home recovering.

Calling All Crafters

The season of Crafty Sales doesn't usually start until early fall around these parts. But Erica Coslor saw how all those other months were empty without crafting, so she created the Handmade Market which will happen every month at the Empty Bottle. So if you're a crafter with your own table, chair, and lighting (it's dark in there) send Erica your info if you want to participate in the January 21 or the February 11 show. $20 for crafters, free for shoppers, and the bloody marys are dee-lish!

26 Miles in 10 Months

If one of your resolutions this year was to run the marathon, you can put your money where your mouth is and register now. Not that investing the $90 will make you go through with it, but a person's gotta start somewhere. This year's race is scheduled for October 22.

Another High Profile Closing

Breaking news, via mmmChicago, who got it from Chicago magazine's Dish e-newsletter: the renowned Trio Atelier is closing, with the last day tentatively Feb. 25.

Fat Tire on the road to Chicago

Beer enthusiasts, especially those who've spent time west of the Mississippi, have reason to celebrate: Fat Tire Ale is coming to Chicago. While on a Friday night outing to Whirlyball for a friend's birthday, I spotted a sign proclaiming the impending arrival of Fat Tire, which is one of my favorite beers and has never been distributed east of the big river (though at least one Chicago bar sells it clandestinely). I emailed New Belgium Brewery to confirm, and they've told me it's true—22oz "bomber" bottles of Fat Tire should start showing up here in February.

Vaughnifer Watch

GB's Vince Watch, which has since been renamed Vaughnifer Watch, reports that Jennifer Aniston "embraces" her honey's hometown. She says: "The people [in Chicago] are just so kind and respectful. They leave you alone . . . [During filming on The Break Up] a lot of us went out, the cast and crew. We went to hear music, had great meals—Chicago is quite the food town." Check out Virginia Soto's guide to Jennifer Aniston's Chicago.

Jim Zulevic, RIP

Comedian and actor Jim Zulevic died over the weekend; the name may not be familiar, but I bet his face is. Here's a 2004 interview with Zulevic by Claire Zulkey.

CTA Accused of Discrimination

On Friday, Tiffany Chancellor was reported to have filed a lawsuit against the CTA because she was paying higher cash fares after unsuccessfully attempting to procure a Chicago Card. (Although recent fare changes were announced months prior to their implementation, presumably giving riders time to avoid the hikes, there's been an apparent rush on the cards; stores all over the city have experienced shortages.) Today, the Chicago Defender reports, the suit will likely be amended to a racial discrimination complaint.

Playing Millennium Park Isn't Easy

Because the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra has a rehearsal scheduled on June 20, you won't be seeing Radiohead play Millennium Park this summer. (The upshot is they're scheduled to play somewhere in town that week, so save those dates!)

Augie's City

History and literary buffs alike may be interested in this week's Detour feature, in which GB staffers Brian and Alice visit the modern-day sites of many of the locations mentioned in The Adventures of Augie March. Not coincidentally, tonight is the monthly meeting of the Gapers Block Book Club, where Augie March will be discussed.

A Few Too Many Pieces?

Thanks to Oprah's book club, it's been next to impossible to go out in recent months and not see James Frey's A Million Little Pieces just about everywhere. But what if the Smoking Gun is right and Ms. Winfrey's "been had"? Would that give her first dibs on the tell-all confession interview?

Maxwell Street Tonight

MondayWednesday night at 7pm, Channel 11's "Chicago Tonight" is running a story about Maxwell Street as a destination for photographers over the years. In addition to lots of photos, of course, the segment will include interviews with noted photographers Art Shay, Marc PoKempner and others. On Thursday, JC Gabel, editor of Stop Smiling, will be on the show to talk about the magazine's 10th anniversary issue, which is devoted to our fair city. (Studs Turkel fans may be interested in these excerpts from an interview in the upcoming issue.)

Love that Lovie

Bears coach Lovie Smith was named the AP's NFL Coach of the Year today, edging out Indianapolis' Tony Dungy. Smith, who turned the Bears around from 5-11 to 11-5 this season even in the midst of a quarterback crisis, joins the company of former Bears coaches of the year George Halas and Mike Ditka. The Bears are enjoying a first-round bye this weekend before facing one of three teams next week depending on wild-card outcomes (UPDATE: it'll be Carolina, Sunday at 3:30).

It Would be Funny If it Weren't True

Luke Seemann's Internet Tendency on "Things I would do if I were an alderman and wanted to make my neighborhood suck."

Bronzeville Landmark Burns

Sad but true: Just received word that the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Bronzeville has suffered a great fire. (Pilgrim Baptist was built by Sullivan and Adler, and was important to Chicago's gospel music history.)

Alert Chicago!

Are you prepared for disaster?

A Paragraph of Bellow

If you're like me, you're nowhere near finishing our January Book Club selection of The Adventures of Augie March (post your thoughts on the book here). Golden Rule Jones points us to an Augie-inspired comic in the Reader's special comics issue and reprints the entirety of the influential "paragraph" for all to read. In case, you know, you never make it that far in the book.

RIP Lou Rawls

Lou Rawls, one of the most distinctive voices to come out of Chicago, died today. He was 72.


The President is visiting the Board of Trade today, so you might want to steer clear of LaSalle and Jackson.

Sketchy (in a good way)

Chicago SketchFest 2006 is underway and brings over 100 improv and sketch comedy groups to town until the 15th. Shows are plentiful (almost 20/night) at Theatre Building Chicago, brief (around 30 minutes), and cheap (tickets are $12 with deals for all night passes). The Fest is also sponsoring workshops so you can learn funny, too. What more could you ask for?

Elk? In Elk Grove Village?

With all the villages, groves, and parks in Chicago, who would actually check to see if there are elk in Elk Grove Village? As a recent visit showed, there is a herd of elk in Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village. Who knew? (You figure it has everything an Elk could want - easy access to the highway, a bowling alley and movie theater...)

We're #1!

Men's Fitness magazine has released their annual list of the top 25 fittest and fattest cities in the US. Baltimore is America's fittest city. Chicago is America's fattest city, up from #5 in last year's list.

December Down; January and February to Go

History says, "Don't get used to this 'warmth'; it's not going to last. In fact, it's probably just taunting you." (Or, at least, that's what WGN's meteorological statisticians say.)

The Jockeying Begins in Earnest

Among the choice quotes in Jodi Wilgoren's coverage of next year's mayoral election, Daley on Daley: "The day I get tired, I'll quit." Jesse Jackson Jr. on Daley: "Changing the mayor of Chicago is like changing Chicago."

Xtreme Website Makeover Part II

The saga continues. Reader and member of Canasta (who have a fantastic website by the way), Elizabeth writes in informing us that there are two Chicago based websites that qualified for the 10 voting spots eligible for a website makeover. One spot has been given to her site: "I don't know whether to be ashamed or elated." The other spot goes to the Chicago Lawyers Association (who might really need it). Vote away!

1930s Chicago: mobsters and robots

The House Theatre of Chicago just posted on their blog that tickets are now on sale for their latest show, Valentine Victorious Part 3, which apparently involves the hero (that would be Valentine Victorious) travelling back in time to Chicago of the 1930s to battle gangsters and, in their words, "a terrible demon robot." Sounds historically accurate to me! Also, there's a mask involved, which looks pretty boss. Check out the House Theatre's site for the full skinny on the show and how to get yourself some tickets.

Midnight Yoga

Tomorrow night, skip the crobar-type madness you're planning, and head over to Bloom Yoga for Midnight Yoga. Eric Jeffers will lead a candlelight class accompanied by live music from Dan Godston of the Ways & Means Trio. Refreshments will follow the class. Bloom recommends pre-registration.

Pixel Power

As the Million Dollar Homepage sells off its last 1,000 pixels, other people are getting into the act. Chicago-based claims to be aiming for a "really nice car," while ChicagoMillionPixels is going for the local angle.

Chicago Musicians Show Their Love

Pitchfork brings news of a round of benefit concerts to pay medical bills for Gary Schepers, who's done sound for a number of local venues and artists. Among those scheduled to perform at shows later this month are Edith Frost, Califone, Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and the Blisters (whom you may already know).

Chocolate on the Airwaves

Public radio's Marketplace aired a story last night about the EPA ruling against Blommer's Chocolate we told you about last year. Apparently, even the regulators like the smell, but their hands are tied.

Pols for Petrol

The Citgo/CTA controversy continues, as several local politicians held a press conference yesterday to question the transit agency's decision. For his part, Frank Kruesi has gone on record to explain why the CTA didn't move on the proposal; he says the fuel wouldn't be compatible with some buses and would generate increased emissions in others.

Squirrels on TV

Fire up the TiVo: Coudal informs us that Jay Ryan, silkscreen artist extraordinaire, will be on Channel 11's Chicago Tonight this evening at 7pm to discuss his book, 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels.

Polar Bear Vacation

Seems the Brookfield Zoo wants its bears to get a little frisky. The zoo has just loaned out two of its polar bears for the season by sending bears Payton and Haley to a breeding program at the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee. While they're gone, the zoo's other two bears, Payton's parents, will be getting busy on their own. Is it me, or does that sound like a classic Spring Break party movie plot line?

Daily Changes

The Chicago Defender's editor reports today that the daily was profitable in 2005 for the first time since 1984. Among other positive changes, the paper added two full-time reporters and will move from their historic South Side headquarters to the Loop next Tuesday.

All that blood, gonna swallow you whole*

The Trib launched a new blog today, this one from its Washington Bureau. The Swamp's "goal is to cut a path for our readers through the [political] Swamp." First up, the Abramoff scandal. *

Still Beats Workin'

So, the Wendy's/AirTran collect-thirty-cups-earn-a-domestic-fare promotion ended a few days ago, and even though the dumpster-diving strategy is old news, it's nice to read that Chicago's young residents are every bit as crafty as, say, New York's.

Chavez, Oil, and our CTA

One story we mentioned previously but that continues to make the rounds of many mailing lists is that the Venezuelan government offered cheap gas to the CTA if they gave away many free tickets to low-income riders. The CTA has reportedly turned down the offer. (And as someone has mentioned, it wouldn't matter much anyway - gas costs make up a small percentage of the CTA budget.)

Metra's Growing

The CTA is not the only one raising fares -- Metra's rates are going up in February as well. But Metra is quietly expanding too. In addition to allowing bicycles last summer, Metra is increasing service or adding new stations to three lines.

Commentary on "Controversy"

If you're a Sun-Times reader and have missed the "token liberal" in your Sunday paper, you'll want to read William O'Rourke's eulogy for his career as a columnist, if only just so he can have the last word.

Once a Library, Now Much More

One of our favorite places to warm up is the Chicago Cultural Center. Not only does Archie FlorCruz agree, he shows as much with this gorgeous photo on his Whateverland blog.

Obligatory Pandering for Votes

It's Bloggies time again — a time when weblogs plead with their readers to nominate them for an award that means little more than bragging rights among bloggers. But hey, we're not above that: it'd be great if you'd put our name in the running for a couple categories. May we suggest Best Group Weblog, Best Writing of a Weblog, Best Topical Weblog and, for Rearview, perhaps Best Photography of a Weblog?

Early Birds Catch Wedding Gifts

This morning, Joseph Clair and Deborah Stemel showed up at Cook Co. Clerk's office with intentions of picking up a marriage license. But, because they were the first applicants in 2006, they left married and with parting gifts. Mazel tov to the happy couple.

A Fine Specimen

Specimen Products is a custom guitar and amp maker on the West Side. In addition to some incredible gear, they run The Chicago School of Guitar Making which offers classes in guitar set-up and maintenance for budding roadies and a fretting workshop for the serious guitar tech.

Ten is a Magic Number

You've seen ours; now give us yours.

He Shot the Sheriff

Tonight at 10pm on Channel 11, catch the premier of Sheriff, an independent documentary of a small-town North Carolina sheriff by Chicago filmmaker Daniel Kraus. Here's a profile from the Associated Press.

Express This

If you're one of those Metra to CTA commuters, you found out this morning that your express fare is no more. Instead of the buck you've been paying to go from Ogilvie and Union to the lake, now you're paying regular CTA fares. Thanks for keeping that under wraps in your fare chart, CTA.

Art Works

A study published today in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management by researchers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital showed that art therapy can reduce cancer patients' pain and anxiety. Applications for the MA in Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute are due February 15th.

Da Bearscast

Our Bears in Five columnists, Craig Aichele and Ramsin Canon, love the Monsters of the Midway so much they've started doing a weekly podcast for the Chicago Sportscast Network: Bearscast.

Two Thousand Tax

Happy New Year! Now pay up: the CTA rate hikes went into effect yesterday (for those without a Chicago Card, that is), and a pack of cigarettes just got a bit more expensive too.

Yet another longtime Chicago landmark closing

If the mention of Testors paint bottles brings you back to your childhood, you'd better get down to Trost Modelcraft & Hobbies before Tuesday evening, as it's closing up shop after 78 years. Although the company's wholesale distribution business will continue, it's the retail store that customers will be mourning, a store that was once a main gathering place for kids back when Lionel trains and slotcar racing were big national pastimes.



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