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. 


Saturday, July 20

Gapers Block

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No Reservations about Pippin's

Last night, Thrown for a Loop spotted Anthony Bourdain at Pippin's, a bar he describes as "probably one of the worst" in Chicago. Our blogger's summing up of the situation? "It just goes to show that even if you earn a living off of your good taste, the occasional lapse is acceptable."

What's that Flower Called?

One of my favorite Chicago places is Millennium Park's Lurie Garden, and some time I'll take one of the 20-minute tours offered free (between 10am and 1pm) every other Sunday. In the meantime, this site has been useful for learning about the masses of purple flowers I've been admiring lately.


Mayor Daley announced yesterday that proposals are now being accepted for the proposed city-wide wireless service. Take a look at the RFP. (Thanks, Mitchell)

Reader Exchange

Got a stack of books waiting to go to the used bookstore? Take'em to the Hideout tomorrow night instead, where from 5:30pm to 8:30pm, the Reader is holding its first-ever BookSwap. More details in Slowdown.

Thinking about Riding to Work?

On 10 June, the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation kicks off Bike to Work Week, to encourage more Chicagoans to commute on two wheels. If you haven't biked to work before, it's a great time to get started. Next Monday, CBF is offering a class for novices, and during Bike to Work Week CBF is hosting Bicycle Commuter Stations through Thursday morning, the 15th, with free refreshments and bike chain lubes. You can find out more here.

Super Up-To-Date Weather

If you want up-to-date weather, and I mean, updated instantly, check out the nifty weather station installed in Uptown at Pete's Weather. Handy if you're about to hit the bike trail and the delightful Flash display is quite fascinating. If you want other local weather, the Wunderground's personal weather stations map for Chicago is useful too.

DIY City Guide

Moleskine freaks, take note: next year, you'll be able to create your own personal guide to Chicago with the new Departure city notebook. Photos of a prototype here, and more details at Moleskinerie. [via]

Lost and Found

Imagine if you lost something today, only to get it back 35 years later. It just happened to Gary Karafiat.

I've Got an Inkling

Locally based Inkling Markets allows you to set up a mock stock market for anything you can think of, from which summer blockbusters will gross the most to whether Guns'n'Roses will release an album this year.

Decoding with da Vinci

The MSI's da Vinci exhibit is too well-timed to coincide with the release of The Da Vinci Code in cinemas to have been an accident. But, if that story has obfuscation at its heart, according to the Times, this exhibition centers on illumination, showing Leonardo's "almost ecstatic efforts to discern and disclose the world's workings and to master its principles, leaving nothing about them secret and hidden."

Chicago Venue Search Engine

A handy link passed on to me: the City's Convention Bureau has a search engine for special events. Looking for an outdoor party for 200? A meeting with cigar smoking for 20? It has answers.

Bigger Bucks at the Big Boxes

A few weeks ago, the Tribune reported on opposition to proposed ordinances requiring "big box" retailers to pay workers a higher minimum wage ($10/hr, with an additional $3/hr for benefits). Now, according to today's Times, over three-fifths of the City Council has signed on to the idea. If passed -- a vote could come within the month -- Chicago would be the first US municipality to take such a step.

A Missed Connection of GB's Own

Are you a "very tall gent" who attempted to strike up a conversation with a gal at the GB Anniversary Party Friday night with the classic pick-up line "How are you this evening?," only to be rebuffed by mumble? If so, she's looking for you.

Chamberpot Theater

TUTA (Serbian for "chamberpot") is a theater company that has built a reputation locally for its visually stunning productions. TUTA now presents the American premiere of Huddersfield by Ugljesa Sajtiac, as part of a series of plays by a young generation of writers who grew up in the Balkans during the bloody 1990s. (In the fall, TUTA will produce Milena Markovic's Tracks). See Slowdown for details on the play and a related panel discussion.

High school book list approved, despite controversy

This morning the Township High School District 214 board voted to approve a required readling list which includes nine books that one board member felt were inappropriate for the classroom. That means that many suburban Chicago high schoolers will soon be reading such titles as Beloved by Toni Morrison; Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut; and Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

Summer of Music Lovers

We've finally reached the summer festival season, which means everybody's got a preview. In lieu of one of our own, we'll just point you to the others: Greg Kot's guide to this summer's concerts, The Reader's "These Parts" guide to festivals in the five-state region, New City's Summer Guide, and Centerstage's "Guerilla Guide to Festivals" in and around the city.

Two Great Tastes...

Our third anniversary is also the perfect time to announce our partnership with Chicago Public Radio's "848" news magazine. GB's Slowdown calendar is now available on the show's website. As they put it, "Slowdown is one of the best online resources for local events. Eight Forty-Eight has established itself as the preeminent radio program for all the details behind those events. Bringing the two sources together offers Chicagoans one stop for all the juicy details of the area's happenings." We couldn't agree more.

We're Three

This is approximately the 6,000th post to Merge, which puts our average at about 2,000 a year. That's right, Gapers Block is three years old, and in case you've missed the big banner at the top of the page, we're having a party tonight at the Hideout. In addition to some readings by staffers and some sappy speech from me, local favorites Canasta will perform, and so will Yooper Sycamore Smith, who was profiled in an excerpt from The Third Coast a couple months ago. We've also got short films by Steve Delahoyde and some exciting contests, so it'll be well worth your time. Stop by anytime after 9; we'll be glad to see you.

Department of HVAC Security

The CTA has posted a PDF version of a PowerPoint-ish presentation about its forthcoming 5000-series railstock. There are all sorts of details, but one of the more interesting (and possibly reassuring) is that operators will be able to shut down the ventilation system in response to, among other things, a "biological incident." [via]

The Real Estate Board and Beyond

"The story of institutionalized racial discrimination and economic segregation in Chicago begins in 1931." So begins the second installment of BeyondChron's provocative three-part series, "Paradise Lost: A Recipe for Gentrification in Chicago, San Francisco, and Beyond." (The first ran yesterday; the last is forthcoming.)

Sounds of the City

Chicago Public Radio's website now features "Chicago Amplified," a service that provides audio material from a variety of partner organizations, like the Illinois Humanities Council, the Field Museum and the Community Media Council. Stream or download usual suspects like Studs Terkel and Ira Glass, as well as more esoteric fare like authors on Auschwitz or the Underground Railroad. (Also new on the site, GB's Slowdown keeps Eight Forty-Eight listeners busy.)

More Questions about Buildings (Not Food)

Chicagoist asks, "What's your favorite building downtown and why?" Call it Fuel redux.

Jay Mariotti Has an Anti-Posse

Sun-Times sportswriter Jay Mariotti has raised the ire of many a fan over the years, so it's not surprising to find a hate site out there. Jay the Joke is your one-stop shop for columnist-bashing.

Two Images a Week

Photographers Timothy Campbell and Eduardo Angel are posting a photo a week for 50 weeks at the One Hundred Images Project, creating serendipitous juxtapositions of Chicago vignettes. (Thanks, Gretchen!)

"Jeez, that's a lot of cash"

Simon Garber, president of Chicago Carriage Cab Co., definitely wins this week's Good Boss award: he distributed $50 gift cards to all 637 cab drivers that work for his company. The gift cost Garber nearly $32,000.

Bam! Pow! Autograph!

The National Cartoonists Society holds its 60th annual awards banquet this weekend in Chicago. Thankfully the society is throwing us non-cartoonists a bone; tonight there will be a large signing event at the Borders on the corner of State and Randolph featuring 10 comic strip artists, among them the creators of For Better or For Worse, Foxtrot, Candorville, Pooch Cafe, and Beetle Bailey. See Slowdown for the full story. (tip from the So-Called "Austin Mayor")

Heads Up for Studs Fans

You probably know about the Printers Row Book Fair (June 3 to 4), a late spring festival that abounds with free author appearances. To see some of those authors (Studs Terkel and John Updike, for two), though, you need a ticket, albeit a free one. Take your pick here, while they last.

Beer Advocated Here

If Ben Franklin was right and beer is "living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," then the happiest places in Chicago are Map Room and Hopleaf, according to Beer Advocate magazine.

Revisiting StoryCorps

Last August, StoryCorps visited Chicago, and Dave and I stopped by to chat with a few of the first local participants. Today, a year after the project sent Airstream trailers on the road, founder Dave Isay appeared on NPR's Talk of the Nation, discussing the program and noting its roots in Chicago-based radio documentary "Ghetto Life 101."

Mafia in the Machine

Today marks the conclusion of the Sun-Times's three-part series on the continuing political influence of mobster Bruno Roti Sr., even fifty years after his death. Let's just say his family sounds pretty well-connected.

Crosswalk in the Crosshairs

After the death of a very young pedestrian at the intersection of Belden Ave and Lincoln Park West this weekend, Eric Zorn features a proposal for improving safety for walkers and drivers. He also points to the website for America Walks, which has a number of affiliated groups if you're interested in (foot) traffic safety activism.

Looking Over Your Xanga

In more School Boards vs. Blogs news, a 17-year-old student in Plainfield School District 202 has been suspended and threatened with expulsion because of his criticism on his blog of the school's disciplining of another student. His site isn't accessible from the school's computers, but administrators are saying that his comments caused "a disturbance at school".

McClain: Triple Threat

Nope, we're not talking about Bruce Willis' die-hard cop John McClane but Shawn McClain, one of Chicago's most exciting chefs (yes, aside from Grant Achatz). He recently was awarded the James Beard for best chef in the Midwest and after showing off the sophistication of seafood and vegetarian at his restaurants, Spring and Green Zebra, he's expanded his repertoire with a more meaty menu in the form of Custom House.

AT&T Protest and Suit

Studs Turkel, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, Dr. Quentin Young and several other prominent Chicagoans joined the ACLU in a federal lawsuit against AT&T for violating their privacy by giving phone records to the National Security Agency. And Chicago Media Action is holding a protest at 4pm today; details here.

Big Brother in MySpace

I doubt any of our readers are currently enrolled in Libertyville/Vernon Hills public schools, but you'll still be slightly alarmed to hear that School District 128 is now holding its students responsible for anything posted on MySpace or elsewhere on the Internet. Expect a lot of teenagers suddenly going anonymous in response.


Tom Breihan of Status Ain't Hood has declared Chicago to be the future of hip-hop (again), this time manifested in the imposing form of Rhymefest. Take this praise with a grain of salt: in the same breath, he's dismissing Common as "an insufferable granola-munching pseudo-boho."

Bloody Brilliant

The Duchess of Malfi may have been written by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, but it's got a lot in common with The Sopranos. In an RSC production I saw a few years back, the Duchess found her husband and her children strung up on hooks in an industrial meat locker. No matter how Writers' Theatre chooses to present the play's thickly twisted plot, there's sure to be a lot of blood. Their new production opens tonight; see Slowdown for details.

Horton Hears a Hoobastank

Coudal Partners has a great game on right now: take a band name and a book title and mash'em together. What do you get? Check out the stand-outs so far and submit your own to by Friday for a chance to win your combo in CD and book form.

Time For A Steam?

Popular wisdom holds that you shouldn't let anyone tell you how to take your shvitz, but the Chicago Journal has gone ahead and done just that, profiling an afternoon at the Division Street Russian and Turkish Baths.


Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of GB Book Club 2005 pick The Jungle, Sunday's Tribune Magazine took a look at the rising popularity of meat, asked what Chicago is, now that it's no longer "hog butcher to the world," and offered a short history of muckraking.

Not a Cozy Fire

Monday afternoon, many of us who work in downtown Evanston noticed black plumes of smoke coming from Davis Street. The fire, it turns out, was coming from the kitchen of Cozy Noodles & Rice at 1018 Davis Street. The fire damaged the restaurant, a nearby store and the apartments above. The dining room, with its walls of vintage toys, looks good, sans smoke and water damage, but for now, we'll all have to get our Cozy noodles at the Wrigleyville location.

More Deadlines for Writers

Here's another resource if you need a deadline to get creative: the Guild Complex is looking for fiction and nonfiction for its 2006 reading series and there are submissions deadlines every month except July and December. As an added incentive, the work selected for readings will be entered into a competition for a $500 prize, with winners to be announced next January. See the website for complete details and guidelines.

A Real Irish Wake

If you've ever been to Butch McGuire's bar down at Clark & Division, you probably have fond memories of its owner and namesake. Butch passed away recently, and to mourn him, Division Street between Dearborn and State will be closed from 10am to 8pm for his wake. Stop on down and have a drink in the street.

Bike Tour 2K6!

Friends and Chicagoans Andrea and Ira saved money for a year, resigned from their jobs and left for the open road a little over a week ago. On their bikes. They're riding around the country for a year. You can keep up to date and check up on them as they post on the road from the weblog. Earlier posts are informative — lots of information on prepping for such an adventure. I'm jealous too — they look insanely happy.

"Reclaiming the American Dream"

Barack Obama is about to release another book entitled The Audacity of Hope this fall. To keep you excited about its release, you can download an "exclusive preview" from his website. And if you had no idea he's written other books, check out some of the others.

Attack of the Marauding Palazzo Pantsed Queen

Drunken Bee on the perils of shopping Division Street. (How many thieving transvestites on the prowl for Fred Perry are you going to encounter on Michigan Avenue?)

Chicago Writers: Prepare for D-Day

Are you feeling guilty about that half-finished manuscript in your bottom desk drawer? Do you work better when you have a deadline? Well, then you're in luck. The Chicago Writers Association is sponsoring an event for all Chicago area writers who need some encouragement--and a deadline--to meet their goals. Deadline Day, or D-Day, is August 12, 2006, when participants will meet for a special D-Day event in Evanston. Anyone may participate in this event. All you need to do to get started is visit the official Deadline Day blog and register by declaring your personal D-Day writing goal in the comments. Good luck!

House Organ or Newspaper?: You Make The Call

In light of recently alleged attempts by Cubs management to intervene in Tribune coverage, Steve Rhodes of the Beachwood Reporter sounds off on the conflicts of interest endemic to a media outlet owning a sports team. (He comes to some harsh conclusions. The words "misguided and mediocre management" get used. For both the team and the paper.)

Shubert Theater Reborn, Renamed

Renovations to the 100-year-old venue are complete, and Tuesday night the marquee will be lit for the first time. The former vaudeville house officially reopens Wednesday night as the LaSalle Bank Theater with a performance by Tony Award winner Michael Crawford (perhaps best known for Phantom of the Opera). You're welcome to tour the interior Friday and Saturday from noon till 5 PM.

Mapping the Controversy

Who would have thought a map of Chicago's neighborhoods would be so controversial? Not only has the Chicago Neighborhood Map designed by Christopher Devane upset realtors and developers because of a new motto, "Home is Where the Hood Is," printed across the top, but Chicago Public Schools has slapped the mapmaker with a cease-and-desist order to keep him from offering the map to schools.

Drink 'til you write

It's drinking time again! A group of Neo-Futurist alumni is presenting the third version of the play Drinking and Writing, subtitled "To Cure A Hangover." Along with the play, which will be performed at bars around Chicago for the next few weeks, the Drinking and Writing team is putting together a pub crawl on Memorial Day to find a cure for the common hangover, and their second annual Drinking and Writing Festival on June 10, which will include readings, a two-drink-minimum writing contest, and lots of beer tasting. See Slowdown for all these events, and the Drinking and Writing Website for tickets.

Garden in a Cube Farm

Perk up life in your office today with Palla Palla's photos from the Garden in a City show, which closed yesterday.

In Feminism She Believes

But Chicago designer Jane Hamill believes in Barbie, too.

Sky Hook a Win, Force Crushes Iowa

Our new WNBA team, the Chicago Sky, won their debut game Saturday against the Charlotte Sting 83-82. The Sky snuck by on three free-throws by Jia Perkins at the very end of the game. Not to be outdone, the Chicago Force women's football team beat the Iowa Crush 20-6. Catch the Force at home on the 27th against Detroit.

GQ eats Chicago

GQ's food critic Alan Richman jumps on the Chicago bandwagon with an article in the June issue naming us "the best restaurant city in America." The story's focus, unsurprisingly, is on culinary wunderkinds Homaro Cantu of Moto, Grant Achatz of Alinea, and Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues.

Best Headline Today:

Yuppie-on-Yuppie Violence Mars Cabrini-Green Housing Redevelopment

City Services Fair

Wonder what the city can do for you? If you want to learn more about what city services are available to residents, drop by the Service Fair being held this weekend at Wilson College. They can help with landlord-tenant issues, bungalow registration, or concerns if a senior in your life needs assistance. (The full list is here).

The Tastiest Time of the Year

Tomorrow marks the launch date for the first of the Chicagoland Farmer's Markets, and boy, I'm ready. Saturday markets are my favorite, and the ones in Evanston and Lincoln Park open on May 20 (most others open in early June). There are markets every single day of the week, as always, throughout neighborhoods in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. If you're planning a Market tour, try checking out this nice (work in progress) Google Map of some of the Farmer's Markets done by Ben at InqBlot. It's quite handy and dandy.

Money for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council is accepting applications until July 15 for mini (up to $2,000) and major (up to $10,000) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. For more information, call 312-422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

Sheltered (Advertising) Existence

Old-school bloglebrity Matt Haughey started a MetaFilter thread yesterday on the recent deals for New York City street furniture (bus shelters, public toilets, newsstands) bringing in a billion dollars in revenue to the city, all paid for by advertising sold by the British and Spanish firms responsible for the structures. In light of the similar deal for bus shelters struck between the City of Chicago and French firm JCDecaux a few years ago, I immediately thought, "What? We could have had public toilets too?!" If we're serious about the 2016 Olympic bid, we may see them sooner than later.

In the Year 2010

The Chicago Public Library has recently unveiled its new strategic plan, titled "Chicago Public Library 2010: A Vision for Our Future." [pdf] The plan is "a call to action for all Chicagoans who understand the essential role of their public library in the educational, economic and cultural fabric of the City of Chicago. A strong and vibrant public library is a sign of a strong and vibrant city, and ultimately a sign of how that city values its residents." Right on.


The good news: Threadless is about to relaunch their site.
The bad news: As they were making the new site live, "the robots attacked," killing all of members' blog posts from December 2005 forward.
If you lost posts but have any of them bookmarked, you can submit the URLs here for recovery.

Grant Help for Nonprofits

The Illinois Humanities Council, which recently gave away $213,992 to 22 nonprofit organizations, is running a workshop for prospective grant applicants on June 2. Attendance is limited, so if you're interested, click here to register or call 312.422.5580.

Got Hazardous Waste?

Saturday is Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day, which means you can haul your old computer equipment, nasty chemicals, small appliances, and gas-powered garden tools to 1150 N North Branch and feel confident they'll be properly disposed of. Bonus: turn in your old gas-powered mower for a $100 rebate coupon for a new electric or manual mower. Details in Slowdown, or click here for the event flyer [pdf].

Flaunt Your Knife Skills

Think you've got what it takes to be a superstar chef? Prove it on Monday, May 22, when Bravo's "Top Chef" reality TV show brings its casting call to the Rock Bottom Brewery at State and Grand. Show up with your resume and be prepared to whip up something tasty.


Ever wondered about the chronology of license plate designs has been in Illinois? Me neither, but here's the place to look.

Goose Island Update

We told you awhile back that Goose Island was in negotiations with Anheuser Busch; Crain's has an update on the story. Looks like Busch could own 35 percent of Goose Island and would take over distribution.

Date set for Field's renaming

The Sun-Times reports that September 7 will be the start of a "launch weekend" set to celebrate the renaming of Marshall Field's stores to Macy's. The weekend-long celebration will include loads of activities and events at the State Street store, such as a fashion competition for local designers and "mother-daughter beauty events".

Put That Digicam to Use

Don't know if you noticed this or not, but a couple of days ago, Flickr went gamma. Awesome! Now's the perfect time for you to check out the slew of new features and of course, join up one of their Chicago groups (especially this great one called Gapers Block. We gotta feed Rearview somehow, right?).

Dream the Impossible Dream

After the Chicago marathon every year (as a spectator), I see those LaSalle mylar blankets and think, "Man, I could never run a marathon!" But au contraire: the Chicago Area Runners Association sponsors an 18-week traning program (starting at the end of June) that will get you ready to run 26.2 miles with the best of 'em. See their site for more info.

A Hazy Shade of Wildcat

Not long after suspending its women's soccer team, Northwestern has announced charges of hazing against the men's swim team and the school's mascot program. Meantime, soccer alums deny a tradition of hazing, and the university warns against posting potentially compromising photos on Facebook, MySpace and other sharing sites. The Times has more from a national perspective.

Greener For Sure (But What About the Blue Bags?)

The City in a Garden has added 500,000 trees since the mayor took office in 1989. That's a lot, for sure, but if Daley wants Chicago to be "the most environmentally friendly city in the U.S.," we've gotta get a new recycling program. Pronto. [via]

Best Bars?

If you've picked up the latest issue of Esquire you've seen their feature on the "Best Bars in America." Chicago gets a few on those list, including the Red Lion Pub, Bungalow and the Matchbox. Also on the list is GB fave, the Hideout, which, if you've never been, next Friday presents a golden opportunity. I can vouch for Bungalow's vanilla martini, but would I call them the best? Put in your dissensions and suggestions on the website and they may get published.

Chicagoland Bike News

Couple of quick bike-related items I just noticed: is a new site for Chicagoans to discuss cycling issues and a useful local outlet for discussion if you don't like mailing lists; Aspire To Inspire's Stephen Wagner is about to begin a trek around the world again on a bicycle, perhaps you'd like to make a donation to help him?

Where To Buy A Bike

Reader Marge Simpson (!) wrote to ask where to buy a used bike. As the weather has gotten nicer, it's a prescient question. I have a few recommendations...
If you're looking for an affordable bike for getting around, local charity Working Bikes on South Western is the place to go. You can get a decent bike for $50 if you don't mind it being a bit older. And if you want something nicer, I'd recommend Uptown Bikes in Uptown. It's a little more money, but they have new bikes as well and one of the best repair shops I've worked with. If you're looking for something closer to home (whereever that is), there's also a database of bike shops in Chicago at Chime in with your own recommendations in Fuel.

Help stop the Project Marriage referendum

A coalition of civil rights groups has begun a volunteer effort to stop the anti-gay ballot initiative put forth by Project Marriage Illinois, a spinoff of the Illinois Family Institute, by scrutinizing the petitions for invalid signatures. The advisory referendum would ask voters to ask the legislature to ban all same-sex legal unions, including civil unions and domestic partner benefits. It would be non-binding and might or might not pass, but just having it on the ballot would allow the right to stir up a major anti-gay campaign; the Gay Liberation Network notes that anti-LGBT violence in Colorado increased 129% in the year following the Amendment 2 campaign there. To volunteer, email fairillinois AT yahoo DOT com or call 773-477-7173. (Thanks, Tony.)

Lucky Local Candles

The newest Chicago edition of Lucky Magazine (the one with Tyra on the cover) has a few pages of Chicago stores and designers that they like, but interestingly enough, local card and stationary designers Snow & Graham's new candles series made it into Lucky's broader national picks. Blogger k-fresh also recently picked up on the new line of lovely candles that the local company is putting out. You can find them (eventually) on the duo's website, or in person at stores like Greer Chicago. While you're waiting for a new S&G website to arrive, you can read an interview with them on urbanStyle from 2001.

Sunsets Over the City

Since it's likely we won't be able to see the sunset tonight, you might want to head to this weblog and get your fix.

Really Quick Review: Ole Ole

Thankfully, the latest restaurant to open in Andersonville is not a Thai place (we've got enough, really!). Ole Ole is a sumptuously decorated space on two floors of 5413 N. Clark Street. It was the site of my very first (not my last) mojito, and of some delicious dishes and quite helpful wait staff. The empanada appetizers were tasty and perfectly fried (not burned), my Chicken Adobo was a blend of cinnamon and spices without overpowering the senses and my dining companion's dinner salad with chicken (substituted for duck) was enough for a very full meal. I'd love to see more dishes with a mole in the future, and can't wait for their pending cafe con leche service to begin!

Metra To Host Year-Round Marketplace

Something I'd advocated in The Party Line previously is fortunately coming to pass: Metra is building a fresh-foods marketplace in the Ogilve Train Station. No, this isn't a Dominick's in the station--the idea is to get local vendors of meat,vegetables, and wine under one roof. Won't be ready for a year, but I'm excited.
If you'd like to get an idea of something to expect, Toronto's St.Lawrence Marketplace is a good idea.

Mulch into Moolah

From the Times: "By wrapping its arms and famous big shoulders around its Latin motto -- Urbs in Horto (City in a Garden) -- Chicago has become a global model for how a metropolis can pursue environmental goals to achieve economic success."

Sam's Wine Settles Out of Court

Jeez, how Chicago can you get: First, Sam's Wines & Spirits is accused of shady business practices, and now they've settled with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission while maintaining that they've done "nothing wrong." Sam's must pay a fine, and remain closed for the first three days of 2007, missing all that lucrative New Year's Eve-hangover business.

Printed Fun On Every One

Did you know they're printing Guinness World Records on Pringles now? Matt Maldre of Spudart got a tube, and among the world records was an odd looking print-out that included the phrase "printed fun on every one." He realized it was a diagnostic display intended to show the density of ink being sprayed by the chip printer.

The Last Picture Show

While they may be closing, Damen Studio is going out with a bang. Their last show will be appropriately titled, "The Last Picture Show" and features the work of 8 photographers and 5 painters including Rearview contributors, Bill Vaccaro and Sarah Hadley, GB button designer Anthony Lewellen and yours truly. The final show goes down this Saturday, May 20th from 6-9PM at Damen Studio.

The Gang's All Here

Somehow it escaped our calendar's attention, but The Literary Gangs of Chicago series at the MCA is throwing a blowout party tonight from 6pm to 8pm at Puck's Cafe and/or the Japanese Garden behind the museum. The theme is "Michigan!" for some reason -- not that there's anything wrong with that. And since today's free day, you can wander into the exhibits, too. Check here for details.

Hi-Lite about to be extinguished?

At a committee meeting today in Aurora, the City Countil will begin to decide the fate of the Hi-Lite 30 Drive-In, the oldest operating drive-in in Illinois, which has been scheduled for demolition to make way for housing development. Naturally there are quite a few fans of the drive-in, and they are planning a rally before the meeting to try and sway the council vote. The site has put together a page with proposals from all sides of the debate, so you can make up your own mind on the issue.

Book Your Own Indie Life

Local bar band Beatnick Turtle is in the news for something other than their music: they've written an e-book, "The Indie Rock Survival Guide, intended to help bands who're just starting out on the scene. Mighty helpful of them; even got them namechecked by Lawrence Lessig. Download the PDF here.

Arrivederci, Chicago; Ciao, Italia

Milan's La Scala announced yesterday that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's soon-to-be-erstwhile music director Daniel Barenboim will become its principal guest conductor beginning next season. Later this month, the last operatic performances of Barenboim's tenure will feature Wagner and Boulez. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye...

Beautiful Game Turns Ugly

The Associated Press reports that Northwestern has suspended its women's soccer team in light of hazing allegations. Website posted a number of photographs it attributes to "a public picture sharing site," and the story develops.

Window to Chicago Muslims

Did you know there are over 350,000 Muslims in the Chicago area? Yeah, that's a lot. So you have to know that a site like is a pretty valuable resource for area Muslims and friends of the Islamic Faith. Daily prayer times, socio-economic outreach projects, and articles on Islam are all there. Be sure to keep an eye on the events section for the "Window to Islam" class--open to all--if you want to learn more about the Islamic Faith.

Siskel & Ebert Mouth Off

It's well known that Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel hated each other for much of their career as a film reviewing duo. Someone dug up three outtakes of the pair sparring during the filming of promos for their show. The animosity is palpable.

Gold Conservation Coast

Sustainable condos are coming to the Gold Coast in the form of the Culver House, designed by Dirk Denison Architects. It's not just beautiful, it's good for the environment. [via]

Indulge Your Inner Civil Engineer

In 2001, the Center for Neighborhood Technology developed Transopoly, a boardgame-like tool for examining transportation and other needs in a community. They've recently created an online version of the game, in which you can allocate a $2 billion budget toward such things as building new train stations and bike paths.

Negro League Players Pensions Upheld

Mike Colbern, a Chicago White Sox catcher in 1978-79, and two other baseball players filed a lawsuit claiming that Major League Baseball was committing "reverse discrimination" for giving about two dozen Negro League players pensions and medical benefits. A federal appeals court ruled last week that the players from the Negro Leauges were entitled to continue receiving payments while white players who didn't meet MLB's length-of-play requirements were not. The judge ruled that there was no unfair treatment and even if there was, MLB has the right to make up for past injustices.

We Dedicate This Bean...

Hopefully this is the last post about Cloud Gate in the news for awhile: the dedication ceremony that was supposed to happen two weeks ago is happening today at 11am. "Hello, Beautiful" host Edward Lifson has some thoughts on the matter on his blog.

reknit, re:knit

I'm a crafty gal. But running a small business means I now spend more time reading articles put out by the Small Business Administration than I do reading knitting blogs. And I miss it. Thankfully ex-GB'er Brenda Janish has created a re-blog that I'm delighted by. re:knit culls feeds of many of the knitting blogs I read when I had the time.

Be Like Tom (Hanks, that is)

The Da Vinci Code has readers -- and, soon, film-goers -- intrigued about potentially hidden allegorical meanings behind the art. In that spirit, Kevin Nance runs down a few mysteries of the unexplained at the Art Institute.

On the Sporting Life

After 30 years, Sun-Times sports columnist Ron Rapoport wrapped up his career earlier this month. In an interview with Scott Simon, he looks back on some of the greater (and the smaller) moments of the past three decades.

Cheek By Jowled

As those who have ridden the metros in just about any of the world's other major cities know, the front-to-back seating on the 'L' is the exception to the longitudinal rule. But, with its new railstock order the CTA is embracing the industry standard, and, as this CTA Tattler poll and an accompanying post make clear, the change -- not scheduled to roll out for another few years -- has some people riled up.

Look Three Ways Before Crossing

An IIT student created a small site examining one of the anomalies in Chicago's grid system: the six-way intersection.

Ben Gordon, Mixologist

Bulls guard Ben Gordon is the first NBA player with his own energy drink. Gordon signed with start-up H3Enterprises to create BG7, a white tea-based concoction expected to be on store shelves later this year.

Maxwell Street, 70s Style

An interesting photo history of Maxwell St. Market, 1975 - 1984. Contrast that with the city's official info about the market.

Don't Stop Bean-lieving

The hometown team for the upcoming 2006 Gay Games has unveiled its logo and uniform. They'll be in powder blue, with what looks sort of like the band Chicago's signature typeface overlaid on Cloud Gate.
Yes, I know "Don't Stop Believing" is a Journey song, not a Chicago song. I was just going for the pun.

Internet Answers Tough Sports Questions

Which Chicago sports team is the most popular? In Chicago, it's the Cubs. In Naperville, it's the Bears. Only in Canada do the Hawks come out on top.

Mad Hot Ballroom Fans Take Note

The All-City Dance Ensemble, made up of the best dancers from Chicago's public high schools, shows its stuff tomorrow afternoon in the Randolph Cafe at the Chicago Cultural Center. See Slowdown for details.

Your Brain Will Thank You

Our fabulous staff Librarian has mentioned the Encyclopedia of Chicago before, but I do believe it's time you visit it again. Check out some of the special features. Stump your coworkers with your newfound Chicago trivia knowledge!

Get Your Tickets Now

A few events with ticket/registration deadlines coming up:
• Only a couple tickets left for Taste of Check Please! next weekend.
Beer on the Pier is this Saturday!
WLUW's Indie Rock Prom is Saturday too!
Bike the Drive is half-way filled up.
826Chi is having a prom too!

Edgewater's Own Neighborhood Festival

Not your typical neighborhood festival: Edgewater's Edge Of The Earth festival will have fire-spinning, Mexican dancing, visual arts and a choir. Held at a local Orthodox church, this will certainly differ from the usual ribfest / block party / beer-n-bands fare. (And the Edgebrook Chamber Of Commerce's website is very old-school and worth a visit.)

Bring Back The Draught This Weekend

Thanks to an alert reader, we've learned that previously mentioned Bring Back the Draught is having a pub crawl this weekend in Roscoe Village. $20 gets you a T-shirt and surely a needed lunch; extra proceeds are donated to local not-for-profits.

Kenilworth in Danger

It's hard to imagine Chicagoland's wealthiest suburb as in any way "endangered," but the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the entire town on its list of of the 11 most endangered places for 2006 due to pressure from developers who want to tear down historically significant homes to build new McMansions. Learn more about why Kenilworth Matters.

And the Winner Isn't...

Maxim: Dusty Baker, Worst Manager in Baseball. [via]

Rate This Poster

Sound Opinions wants your help with a little project: email them the location of a record release poster or upcoming concert, and give'em a review -- along with a buy it, burn it or trash it rating -- and they'll slap a sticker on the poster and post your review on their site. Power to the people!

Actors, Beef of Your Resume

Speaking of bad jobs, or at least very odd ones, the American Cancer Society is looking for a volunteer to appear as Polyp Man at Skokie's 16th annual Festival of Cultures to help raise awareness of the importance of colorectal cancer screening. All you have to do is walk around in a "red creature" costume for a couple hours. How bad could that be? (Thanks, Sandy!)

Rainbow House to close for a month, at least

When I was 12 my mother left my father and for a short while we moved into a shelter for women and children leaving domestic abuse situations. If that shelter hadn't existed, my mother (at least) would not be alive today. Due to financial problems and the lack of an executive director (although not a dedicated and hard-working staff), Rainbow House will close for at least the next month, and maybe longer. Rainbow House is the largest shelter of its kind in Chicago, and the only shelter which takes women with mental illness or substance abuse problems. I implore you to make a tax-deductible donation before its too late.

Bike and Eat

Registration is ongoing for three Chicagoland Bicycle Federation-sponsored rides that combine food and biking. In June, Veggie Bike and Cook features lunch and a cooking class as part of a ride that runs from River North to Lincoln Square. In July, Veggie Bike and Dine incorporates tasty stops in a ride from Evanston to Edgewater and Progressive Bike and Dine tours the near west suburbs. Each ride requires advance registration, which costs $30 to $35. Learn more here.

99 (or More) Documentaries Wanted

The Third Coast International Audio Festival has announced its 2006 ShortDocs Radio Experiment: "99 Ways to Tell a Radio Story." Short (two and a half minutes is the limit) audio documentaries are due by September 8, and the gimmick is that all submissions must start with the same sentence, incorporate a rhythmic noise, and include an exclamation. The idea for this comes from France. Hmmm. Aspiring radio documentarians can find out more here.

More of the Write Stuff

Reader Pete points out another option for aspiring writers in the summertime: the Northwestern Summer Writers' Conference which takes place in late July. If you're aching for more of a college-type setting for your creative learning, than this is a good way to fit in a slew of workshops, manuscript review, and author interaction (for a fee, of course) in one three-day weekend. Any other great writing workshops you'd like to tell us about? Write us at inbox{at}gapersblock{dot}com. [Thanks, Pete!]

Apple's Logo Creator Lives Here

The man who created the original Apple logo, Rob Janoff, now runs a graphic design firm in Chicago. Hear an interview with him here (mp3).

A Sudsy Cause We All Can Support

The future of communities of Chicago is a topic that's on my mind lately, and one place that certainly creates community is a pub, a local tap, or any source of draught beer. Fortunately for us, many community organizers have banded together to create Bring Back the Draught, a loosely-affiliated bunch of groups focused on consuming and preserving draught beer in Chicago's neighborhoods. They have a new website -- join a group, or start a new one in your neighborhood.

Your Live Music Fix

Feelin' the need for live music but can't make it to the club? Here are some mp3s of Feist at the Park West, and Neko Case on NPR a month ago, in three parts: I, II, III.

The Write Stuff

School's almost out, but if you're looking to put some words down on paper, there are some serious summer writing classes to be had around town. There's a huge variety of workshops available at StoryStudio Chicago, regular meetings at The Writer's Loft, and even online classes open through UIC's Writers Series. Lots of the classes get started in the next two weeks, so sharpen those #2's and get writing already.

John Malkovich, Bus Driver

NPR's All Things Considered yesterday included an interview with John Malkovich, in which he discussed simultaneously acting in and producing Art School Confidential, being perceived as a movie villain and more. But most interesting was his description of jobs he had before he became a famous actor, including bus driver for a North Shore day school and "head cabbage cutter" at a fast food restaurant in Northbrook Court. (Speaking of Art School Confidential, our own Steve at the Movies, aka Capone, interviewed director Terry Zwigoff for Ain't It Cool News.)

"Maybe it's Obama"

Barack Obama continues to say that he's not running for President in 2008, but even without running he's already got an endorsement from Neil Young, who namechecks the Illinois Senator on the song "Lookin' For A Leader" from his new album Living With War. Obama met Young at last year's Farm Aid concert, a meeting which Obama called "one of the best times we've had" since becoming a Senator.

A Passion for Paper

Former Gapers Block staff member Alex Golub embraces digital resources. But, in a thoughtful essay on Inside Higher Ed, he writes about why he still prefers the tangibility of paper. He states, "Amazon may have a bintillion books for sale out in the ether of the ethernet, but there is no better place to take the pulse of academic publishing that a good used book store near a university. Bookstores mark the life cycle and disposition of the community where they are physically located...And of course just being in a good bookshop can be therapeutic." I couldn't agree more.

Acme Library of Contemporary Art

An exhibit of graphic novelist Chris Ware's work opened last weekend at the MCA; here's a brief interview with Ware, discussing his process and inspirations. Head to the MCA tonight at 6pm to hear Daniel Raeburn, author of a monograph on Ware, provide even more insight into the artist's mind.

Transitions Saved--For Now

As previously mentioned on Gapers Block, Transitions Bookplace at 1000 W. North Avenue was in serious financial trouble, and the owners had put out a cry for help to save the 16-year-old business. The day before the owners were about close the store for good, an anonymous benefactor contacted the couple and gave them a check for $75,000, no strings attached, with promises of additional help. Publisher's Weekly has the full story.

Chicago's Abu Ghraib

The United Nations Committee Against Torture is holding hearings to determine just how well the US is adhering to its international obligations. But torture at home is under investigation as well. Torture that took place here in Chicago under the guidance of former police commander Jon Burge.

Regnef Blogger Speaks

So you know that teacher we told you about who wrote scathing commentary about Fenger High School on his blog, then leaked it on purpose? He wrote an email to Dawn Turner Trice, who'd written a column about him last week. The upshot: the blog was a misunderstood cry for help.

Feel Like Chicken?

The heavily anticipated Wicker Park branch of Harold's Chicken Shack finally opened yesterday and, as of 7pm, were doing an admirable — if slightly slow — job of meeting demand (although the rumored wheat bread was nowhere to be seen). The chicken? Damn good. If the Chicago Reader's Mike Sula ever updates his rundown of every Harold's in the city (pdf), I wouldn't be surprised to see #36 high on the list.

Fullerton Bus, I Hate You

Ah, Spring. When the weather warms, the days grow longer, and the daily bus commuters finally snap.

The GB 3rd Anniversary Shindig

We've just announced our 3rd Anniversary Party, which will take place once again at The Hideout on Friday, May 26th. We've packed in more entertainment and bang for your buck and we guarantee a good, if not blatantly drunk time. Our sexy posters this year were designed by the brilliant Laura Park and we're pleased as punch. A limited quantity are available for pre-sale in the shop, but they'll be available at the party as well, alongside some other schwag to get your hands on. Come celebrate with us!

Liberia's Prez Visits Chicago

Liberia's first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will be in town this week thanks to an invitation to appear on Oprah (which, no doubt, will touch on the significance of her leadership and the growth of the fragile democracy in Liberia). The city's Liberian Consolate is planning several events in honor of this special guest, including a special Q&A celebration-reception at the DuSable Museum. More on this historic and significant event here.

Smoking Ban Prepares to Move North

Lake County, Illinois, is gearing up for a fight over a smoking ban of its own. Unlike Chicago's ban, which affects every bar and restaurant within city limits, this ban would only stop smoking at bars and restaurants in unincorporated areas... for now. Opponents point out that northern Lake County's proximity to Wisconsin will mean smokers will be traveling over the border for their smokey boozing, which could lead to an increase in drunk driving.

Conan's Chicago Connections

In advance of this week's tapings at the Chicago Theater Tuesday-Friday, there's lots of coverage of Conan O'Brien's local connections. The Sun-Times runs down "Late Night's" Chicago chops for us, while the Trib reminisces about the short-lived comedy review Conan starred in at Victory Gardens back in 1988 (here's their review from back then.) And Maureen Ryan has a lengthy interview.

Health Talk

If healthcare issues get you hot under the collar, you'll want to check out this month's Public Health Forum, sponsored by the Public Square of the Illinois Humanities Council and the Neighborhood Writing Alliance. Panels scheduled over the next couple of weeks will address healthcare as a human right, reproductive health and sexual identity, and building healthy communities. Details in Slowdown.

Classics at Film Center

Today the Gene Siskel Film Center kicks off a three-week series, screening "top-quality archival prints of ... films selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry" and lent by the Library of Congress. Click here for a complete schedule; individual films are listed in Slowdown.

Creepy Guy Alert

Police in Rogers Park are warning parents about a man who has been seen following children home from school. He's thought to be in his 30's, and drives a white 4-door vehicle. Anyone with information can call the special victims unit at 312-744-8266. This would also be a good time to talk to your kids about "stranger danger", and the Illinois Early Learning website has some interesting parent and child activities and tips.

Learn to Conserve

Want to improve your local quality of life? Get trained with the Chicago Conservation Corps and develop an environmental improvement project for your community. To learn more, attend a free orientation May 6, 9, 11 or 13 at locations throughout the city. Visit the site or call 312-743-9283 to register. (Thanks, Michael!)

Circular Thinking

GB alum Craig Berman, who's given a lot of thought to Chicago's transit system, went to one of the CTA's community meetings about the Circle Line and collected some thoughts regarding the several potential routes currently on the table.

Know Any Artists?

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs is accepting applications for artist programs for the 11th annual Chicago Artists' Month, scheduled for October 2006. Benefits include loads of free publicity and large audiences. Programs should be designed around this year's theme, Beyond Boundaries (how artists overcome restrictions and expand their horizons). If you want to participate, think fast and fill out the form here by 15 May.

Gapers Block Book Club May Meeting

Don't forget the 13th meeting of the Gapers Block Book Club is this Monday, May 8, at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Author Carolyn Eastwood will be joining us to talk about her book, Near West Side Stories: Struggles for Community in Chicago's Maxwell Street Neighborhood. If you missed the introduction to the book, you can read it here. And, you can find out more about the meeting in Slowdown. This event promises to be a great discussion about the past, present and future of the Halsted-Roosevelt neighborhood. New members are always welcome! I hope to see you there.

Bat Out of Wacker Drive

Walking out an office building on North Wacker earlier this week, I noticed a little dark gray mouse on the sidewalk. No -- a bird. No -- a mouse. No -- a bat. I wondered if it was dead. While I was wondering, a seagull swooped down and snatched it. This made me think about Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, who may or may not be interested in bats, but just opened a bird hospital and are looking for volunteers to help scour the Loop for stunned and injured migrating birds this season. A training session is scheduled for next Tuesday evening (May 9) at 7pm at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Nifty Conference Of The Month: First Monday

Wow, another cool tech conference coming soon to Chicago. The founders of the Apache webserver, Wikiepedia, and the UK Human Genome Analysis project are coming to UIC to speak about building businesses with the openness of the Internet as a foundation. Sounds hokey? It's actually much more interesting than I can describe; the conference website has all of the details.

Tip'em Off & Follow It Up

The Inspector General of Chicago launched a new website and tip hotline yesterday that gives residents a way to report wrongdoings by city workers easily and anonymously. Submit tips here, or call 1-866-IG-TIPLINE. You can also keep track of what's happening with the department's news page, which features the first RSS feed of any city department; hopefully that begins a trend.

First Friday, Once Again

"Decadence is the theme at the next First Fridays." A good reason to go, no? And then there's vodka, Chicago fashion, chocolate too. And if that isn't for you, there's the Hip-Hop Theater Festival at the MCA, too.

Camera Police, Arrest This Man

Thax Douglas may be taking a break from his poetic stylings, but he's not going gently into that good night; rather, it seems, he's raging at the flashing of the light.

Art Cars in Berwyn

If you've been out to the burbs lately, you've probably noticed that many have started a special night where residents can show off their antique autos for everyone's enjoyment. Berwyn is taking that and putting a little twist on it: Art Cars. Long a feature of the famous BurningMan Festival, this art car gathering in Berwyn will definitely be a lot different than your standard hot-rod fare. (And not to be snarky, but who knew there was a Berwyn Arts Council?!?

Feel the Foie Gras Fury

Chicago Magazine's Dish column (click "Welcome Back Foley" under "Recent Dish News") notes that some Chicago chefs aren't taking the City Council's recent foie gras ban sitting down. "Copperblue's Michael Tsonton and Cyrano's Bistrot's Didier Durand are starting an organization called Chicago Chefs for Choice.... [Tsonton said,] 'The foie gras people are tired of being pushed around.'" Is serving foie gras a Constitutional right? They're gonna find out.

Improve Your Chances

If you're busing tables and saving your pennies while waiting for a call back from an audition, here's a chance to have a cheap night out. The first Sunday of every month, get tickets to the 7pm performance of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blindfor $5 with proof of industry (such as a headshot or resume). The Neofuturists' signature show is in its eighteenth year. All other tickets are $7 plus the roll of a six-sided die.

Slimeball's Jacket on EBay

Hey, are you a jerk? Did you lose your sportcoat after groping a woman at a bar recently? If you want it back, it's up on eBay. Go bid on it. (Thanks, Benjy!)

Millennium Park booked

Make sure to mark your calendar: the Sun-Times reports that Allstate Insurance is paying to close off portions of Millennium Park for a private shindig on Monday, August 7. The Crown Fountain will remain open to the public, and The Bean will remain open to the public until 4pm. In exchange for getting to rent out the public park, Allstate is also kicking in $500,000 for some free concerts at the park this summer, which will include the Gospel Music Festival and a performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Old Navy, New Magic

Remember Magic? The dog from the Old Navy commercials? Well, Magic the Old has retired and Old Navy is on the hunt for Magic the New. The nationwide search includes a Chicago casting call on May 20, at North Ave Beach (by the boathouse) from noon till 4pm. Contenders will have their photo taken and owners can talk to professional dog trainers and specialists and participate in canine fun. Old Navy is also making a contribution to PAWS Chicago. If you can't make it, you can champion your dog online.

South African AIDS Diarist in Person

"It's only something that is inside my blood. Outside, I'll be the boss." Thembi Ngubane is a 19-year old South African with AIDS. You may have heard her moving AIDS Diary on NPR's All Things Considered last month. As part of her 5-city US tour, you can see her tonight at HotHouse. Details in Slowdown.

Roommates (Not Bedmates!)

Certainly the Gay Games Hosted Housing program is an important way to assist athletes who might not otherwise be able to pay for shelter while competing in Chicago -- if you've got room, you might consider participating. Still, it's hard not chuckle as the guidelines take care to stipulate "it should go without saying that you should not use this as a dating service." (In other GGVII news, the Tribune reports that, with just 10 weeks to go, there's been a leadership shake-up. Unsurprisingly, no one's commenting.)

The New Frontier is Preparation

This Wired profile of Alinea's Grant Achatz is particularly useful in that, after all this time reading his name, I now know how to say it. (If you didn't know either, apparently it rhymes with rackets.)

Parsing Pitchfork

Cleveland blog goodhodges runs a statistical analysis of Pitchfork reviews and finds that, big surprise, they tend to review albums they like. The follow-up breakdown of scores is interesting, too. [via] This all brings to mind Pitchformula, a UofC student's thesis analyzing reviews and writing songs that would garner the highest ratings, which we told you about awhile back.

No Precog, But Still Pretty Cool

Been to O'Hare lately? It might be worth the trip just to play with this new 10'x7' interactive display, inspired by Minority Report and developed by Accenture. [via]

Fox News Shakeup

Wow, Fox News Chicago is going through some changes. Channel 32 didn't renew the contracts of veteran anchor Walter Jacobson or weatherwoman Michelle Leigh. Walter doesn't mind the break (mp3), but Michelle is less happy. And fans have set up a petition to hopefully save her job. (Thanks, Stephe!)

The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan

The latest book by local author and friend of GB Wendy McClure was released yesterday. The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan collects more than 100 of the 1970s Weight Watchers recipe cards Wendy first made famous online. And, Wendy notes that people have been having a little too much fun recreating the recipes and posting the results on Flickr.

And To You, A Golden Rat

If you missed tonight's special broadcast of the first episode of Chic-A-Go-Go, catch (or TiVo) it tomorrow at 3:30pm. The show is looking back as it looks forward; this is the start of its 10th season, during which it will present a Chic-A-Go-Go Heritage Award each week "to an artist or group that has made our city such a cultural goldmine." Check out the first few winners online, illustrated by Derek Erdman.

Obama: O'Brien, O'Brien: Obama

If you're lucky enough to get tickets to the Chicago taping of the Late Night with Conan O'Brien show on May 12, you'll hopefully be in for a political treat. Barack Obama has just been added to the show's guest list (still subject to change). The week's other guests include local rap star Common, local band Wilco and Chicago movie star John C. Reilly. Join the thousands already vying for tickets at the show's Chicago info. page.

Hat Day At Arlington Park

This weekend will bring the annual opening day at Arlington Park. In addition to races, "southern fried rock", and the usual fun that accompanies horse races, the park is also hosting a hat contest to compete with the famous haberdashery found at that other race in Kentucky. Show up on Saturday with a "fashion hat" and you're eligible for a trip to Kentucky, not to mention free admission to watch the ponies...

Do You Call the FAA or AAA?

Air-traffic controllers at O'Hare saw smoke coming from the landing gear of an American Eagle plane this afternoon. As the plane landed, it may have blown a tire as it skidded off the runway. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported. Investigators are...investigating.

Show Them Your Idea

This Thursday, I Have An Idea is hosting its fourth annual Portfolio Night, an opportunity for those who hope to get into the advertising industry to show off their work to top creative folk in the field. Could be your chance of a lifetime, but you gotta pay to play: tickets are $35.

Pilsen Art Walk

Now that the weather is seemingly coming round again, I'll take this opportunity to urge folks to check out Second Fridays in Pilsen. Dubbed the "Pilsen Art Walk", one can walk around the Pilsen area (18th and Halsted and the surrounding streets) to check out the many independent galleries showcasing up and coming artists and their latest work. It's a great cheap way to see art of varying styles and quality and enjoy an area you might not check out regularly. An opening I know will be good: regular GB photo contributor Archie FlorCruz has an opening for his works culled from his popular Whateverland photoblog at Mode Realty from 6-10pm at 818 18th Street, on this month's second Friday, the 12th.

Sumo Wrestlers in Conference Room B

It must be great to work in Felix's office, which he shares with a couple local radio stations. I mean, how do you beat a sumo wrestling demonstration in the conference room?

Freshen Your Tracks is a local music sales site that features a more indie selection than iTunes, and for your $5-8 a month you can do just about anything you want with your downloads. A nice profile of the service in the Trib today.

Chicago Gangs Carve Up Iraqi Turf

How bad does the Army need soldiers? So bad they're letting gang members in. And members of Chicago's Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords serving in Iraq are doing what any gang would do when faced with virgin turf: staking their claim with graffiti. The Sun-Times has a small photo gallery of tags in Baghdad and elsewhere.

Everything in Its Right Venue

Radiohead loves Chicago, so despite being snubbed by Millennium Park, the band has scheduled two dates at the Auditorium Theatre instead. Tickets for the June 19 and 20 shows go on sale this Saturday at 10am.

Daniel Raeburn on Art and Death

Chicago author and artist Daniel Raeburn will appear next week at the MCA to discuss his book Chris Ware: Monographics; Acme and Imp fans will no doubt want to be there. More pressing, however, is getting your hands on the May 1 New Yorker, in which Raeburn published a heartbreaking work of staggering sadness: a tribute to his stillborn daughter, Irene. (The article didn't appear online, but it's worth seeking out -- provided there's tissue close at hand.)

Rights Of Way

With spring on the horizon and in the wake of a pretty unfortunate Critical Mass last Friday (some discussion of that here), it's as good a time as any to reacquaint yourself with the rights and responsibilities of cyclists in Chicago. If you get arrested on your headlightless, brakeless fixed-gear, don't come crying to me.

Follow the March Online

If you're stuck in your office without a TV, you can still follow the march on Flickr (here's a good search to start from), and the Trib has your text-based hook-up.

Money Smart Week

If you need some help learning to manage your personal finances, this is a good week to start. The city's 5th Annual Money Smart Week begins today and runs through May 6. And, the Chicago Public Library, in partnership with many other organizations, is sponsoring a number of free programs this week. Visit the library's website for the list of programs being offered at various library branches, covering topics from credit repair to buying your first home. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago website has the complete calendar of events for the week.

1st Annual American Craft Festival

Speaking of festivals, if your a bungalow owner or enthusiast, you might enjoy the upcoming Arts and Crafts Festival in River Forest. No, not popsicle stick ornaments arts and crafts, but the American Arts And Crafts movement from 1890 - 1920 (wikipedia link). And it's happened the second weekend in May, and if you can't wait for then for your bungalow fix, the Historical Chicago Bungalow Association has a lecture this week and next on restoring your bungalow, as well as bus tours for a "best of" tour, too.

Great Chicago Places and Spaces: Tickets Available Now

If architecture is one of the things you love most about Chicago, then this is your festival. And if you believe Louis Sullivan is responsible for the best of Chicago architecture, then this is not just your festival, but your year, as the Great Chicago Places and Spaces festival celebrates the sesquicentennial (that's 150th anniversary -- maybe you knew that, but I had to look it up) of Sullivan's birth. The festival opens on Friday 19 May with a "great conversation" featuring Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, one of the most progressive cities in the world, and continues with two days of guided tours. Tours are free, but require tickets. Depending on the tour, you may need to line up at the Chicago Architecture Foundation on the day of your tour to get your tickets, but for "Great Excursions" (which include Chicago River cruises), you can register here starting today. Complete tour details are available here -- note that items in blue are Sullivan-centric.

Starved Rock In the News

Late last week, the Tribune ran a story detailing how budget cuts have hurt Starved Rock State Park. The next day, the state promised to fill two long-unfilled positions at the park. Unfortunately, better staffing probably wouldn't have helped save the teenager who died at the park this weekend after a fall.

Free Hot Dog Alert

According to Chicago Magazine's latest Dish bulletin, today, in honor of France's Labor Day (who knew?), Brasserie Jo is serving "free hot dogs on a crusty baguette with Dijon mustard." Now, if that doesn't improve your Monday, nothing will.

Burns Steamed by Contractor

CBS 2 anchor Diann Burns is feuding with the contractor who designed and built her $3 million Lincoln Park home, claiming that build quality isn't up to par. The rub? Burns is playing the race card, claiming that the contractor sought to defraud a couple that was "gullible and inexperienced in construction matters."

"I Don't Need to Leave Chicago"

Crain's on Chicago's "new face of technology": 37signals, FeedBurner and TicketsNow.

May Day for Immigration

In case you've been living under a rock, there's a big immigration rally and march downtown today. Plenty of businesses back the march, which is expected to draw 300,000 to 500,000 people. The Trib has a list of buses expected to be disrupted, and you might as well forget about driving down there. It may be crazy, but business owners aren't concerned.



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