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Saturday, December 20

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"How Hot Is It?"

It's so hot that our web host (which is in California, actually) had a generator catch on fire on Friday and a server meltdown on Monday. Sorry for the downtime; Gapers Block should be now back to its usual reliable self.

More Midwestern Pride

Meet another website devoted to the wonders of the Midwest: Midwestern Goodness. While they have content from around the region, they recently filmed a short video tour in Chicago. More Chicago content is in the works.

Five Days Until the 'Days

Lollapalooza isn't the only festival in town next weekend. Nope, after Pride in June and Games in July, August gives the gays one more chance to have a big party: Northalsted Market Days. Boystowners.com preps you for eating, drinking and being, well, merry.

R.A.M.B.L.E.

Friend of GB, scooterist, designer and vegan guide making extraordinaire, PJ Chmiel hits the open road on his scooter on a tour he calls the 2006 R.A.M.B.L.E. Ambitious in scope, it should be quite a ride. Follow along when he kicks off tomorrow.

A Different Kind of Heat

Zillow offers an interesting graphic representation of cost per square foot for Chicagoland real estate: a "heat map."

The Seiche Strikes

Even if it was historically mild, the weather pattern Dave mentioned yesterday still managed to wreak a bit of havoc at the lake shore. Seven boats flipped, sending a total of fourteen people overboard. The thunderstorms did cool things off a bit, at least temporarily. Today's temps are meant to be hotter -- possibly reaching triple digits -- just in time for several local beaches to be put under swimming advisory.

Today's Forecast: a Seiche

Sunday's Coastal Flood Statement predicts a seiche caused by severe thunderstorms. While not uncommon, they have caused considerable damage in Chicago. In 1954, an eight to ten foot reflective wave caused by a seiche drowned eight people (page 24) and swept dozens into the lake (page 67). But don't worry: today's seiche should be less than a foot tall.

Why we'll read about race

Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell gets her new blog started off with a bang. No, "Hi, I'm Mary and this is my new blog" post. Nope. She delves right in with an entry titled Why I Write About Race. I have a feelings she's going to get a lot of people talking about, reading about, and maybe even writing about race.

Out with "Handsome," In with "Modern"

When it comes to sprucing up old homes, there are two basic routes: reno or demo. In Lincoln Park, Jim Perry and Molly Perry picked the latter and chose to rebuild on their newly empty lot. That happens all over the city, all the time. But how often do you get to peek inside?

Page One, by Me

Aurora's Beacon News presents a challenge to local readers: serve as our front-page editor. Seriously. With an aim of "get[ting] some diversity of opinion on the news of the day," Editor-Publisher Rich Nagel invites 120-word applications to follow in the footsteps of today's Rotarians. [via]

Calling All Booklovers

It's that time of the year again — time to run, not walk, to the Newberry Library Book Fair. The fair has thousands and thousands of books, organized by category, and spread over the entire main floor. Most of the books are only $2 or less — including hardcover books in near mint condition! Admission to the book fair is free, and it runs today from noon to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm. Also, on Sunday all the remaining books are half-price. Visit the Newberry website for more information. [via the Book Club]

Cars Left, Trucks Right

All about Illinois Tollway Oases. [via]

The Schadenfreude of Mis-crediting

So that Colonel Sanders/Ed Burke separated-at-birth thing we linked to on Consumerist yesterday? Done by friend of GB and Schadenfreude member Justin Kaufmann. We should have recognized his handiwork.

Macy on Mamet & More

Our film critic, Steve at the Movies, interviews William H. Macy at Ain't It Cool about his new film, Edmond, his time in Chicago working with David Mamet and more. And speaking of Macy, he'll be at select screenings of Edmond at the Siskel Film Center this weekend; get your tickets before they sell out.

All the Opinion That's Fit...

The "Big Box Ordinance" is the subject of our current Fuel discussion. It's also the subject of a New York Times editorial today, which calls the measure "a powerful expression of public dismay."

White Van Stealing Bikes In Loop?

The Chicago bicycling community is up in arms about a possible white van that is stealing bikes in the Loop. Craigslist's bikes section has a lot of the details. In the meantime, if you ride on two wheels, remember to use two U-Locks, not a cable lock, and if you can, register your bike with the Chicago Police. Mr. Bike also recommends putting your name and address in the seat-post tube since some unsophisticated thieves might not look there. Also, add stickers, duct tape, and other markings to make it distinctive and thus less attractive to thieves.

A Transmission from GB

Hopefully, it's music to your ears — Gapers Block is proud to relaunch our local music coverage in the form of Transmission, now with a shiny new home. There, you'll find plenty of music-oriented features, news items, previews, reviews and the head's up on what will be your new favorite band. This week: we give you our favorites to check out at Pitchfork Music Festival along with lots of other good stuff going on around town. Got a band/album/kazoo parade you'd like for us to know about? Send a note to transmission (at) gapersblock (dot) com.

Do it for the Skyscrapers, Man!

Speaking of the Architecture Foundation, it's looking for volunteers. The Docent Education Program will host two open houses next month in preparation for the docent class of 2007. The commitment's not insignificant -- 11 weeks of class and homework -- but you'll be able to majorly impress your friends once you've finished. (Or, at least, your relatives visiting from out of town.)

Cancer Surgery for Cardinal, Mayor's Wife

News that Cardinal George would be undergoing surgery for bladder cancer topped what was a very busy news day yesterday. Doctors will be removing his entire bladder today in an effort to keep the aggressive cancer from spreading. And news also broke that Maggie Daley would be undergoing surgery today as well, to remove a "residual tumor" in her breast.

Political Trans-gression

Just another day in the nanny state: alderman Ed Burke is on the warpath against trans fats, and he's invited the CEOs of McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell to the table to answer why "their promise to the American public (to make their food healthier) has gone unfulfilled." Consumerist questions his motives, observing a physical resemblance to Colonel Sanders. Stay tuned.

Big-Box Roundup: Who Said What?

So we know the results of the vote, but editorials are telling too. I've compiled a round-up of reporting about the topic from editorials and such. If you have others from sources I've missed, please send them in.
Kass-as-lawyer: "As public policy, the big-box ordinance is certainly unconstitutional."
Wal-Mart, via the Trib: "Our share of the market is relatively low in Chicago," said Lewis. "And that's an opportunity for us. We think there's tremendous opportunity to double or even triple our market share in Chicagoland."
Beachwood Reporter: Wal-Mart's Numbers Don't Add up.
Roeder, Sun-Times: "What Would Samual Gompers Do?" Answer: Not this.
Haydn Bush, Chicago Journal: "In the long run, though, city neighborhoods rarely benefit from a sea of parking lots, "everyday low prices" notwithstanding."
Daily Southtown: "The big-box ordinance would be bad for the city treasury, bad for the city's residents and bad for the existing big-box stores. Let's see if the aldermen care about any of them."
The Illinois Real Estate Journal provides the commercial realtors' perspective.

I'll See Your 33 and Raise You 24

If you take the Chicago Architecture Foundation's river tour, you learn the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Tower at 300 E. Randolph was built to grow. The 33-story structure was designed to accommodate upward expansion, and apparently the time for that expansion has come: with construction set to start next year, look for another 24 stories by the end of the decade.

Queers on Speed-Dating

A friend recently told me, "I just can't meet a nice girl, you know. I'm not into the bar scene, so its hard meeting people." Thankfully DykeDiva has come up with speed dating events for Divas and Dudes. Dudes, you can pick either a casual dating or serious dating session on August 1. And Divas get to choose between mid-30s and younger, or mid-30s and older on August 15. For $15 or $10 (respectively), and two hours of a night you'd spend alone anyway, you might just find "The One", or at least one of "the ones".

House Centipedes Are Your Friends!

Hey, all you people who are afraid of the centipedes in your homes: There's nothing to be afraid of! The house centipede, while freaky looking, is actually a beneficial bug that eats other pesty bugs, like bedbugs, roaches, silverfish and spiders. If you've got a lot of them and they look well-fed, though, you might want to call an exterminator to get rid of their dinner supply.

Big Box Living Wage Ordinance Passes

The Big Box Living Wage Ordinance has passed the City Council with a margin of 35 to 14, enough to override a Mayoral veto.

Third Coast vs. West Coast

The U.S. Olympic Committee has knocked Philadelphia and Houston out of the running for the U.S. bid for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago must now bring the specifics together to complete its proposal by this fall, and try to outshine San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Threadless Ink

When you really love that Threadless tshirt design so much, that you never want to take it off...get it tattooed.

Really Quick Editoral: Council Should Approve Living Wage

No matter how hard Daley blusters, Zorn's got it right. The chains are coming to Chicago, like it or not, because Lincolnwood and Libertyville and Lemont and Lockport are already filled to the brim with Wal-Mart (map). So why not ask for a living wage, and watch them appear anyway? If Wal-Mart can order custom elevators and modify the store design, they'll be able to pay.

Ugly Buildings Make Us Sad

The Trib updated their list of ugly Loop buildings today, including such gems as the Beef 'n Brandy and the Thompson Center. Got a suggestion for their list? Submit it using the form at the end of the article.

Another Collection That Could Only Exist Online

FoGB Coudal Partners' Museum of Online Museums was featured on NPR's "All Things Considered" yesterday.

The Other Big Ordinance Vote

While the Big Box Ordinance is getting all the attention, City Council is also considering a long list of dog-related ordinances today. The biggest is mandatory microchipping (so pooches can be tracked and returned to their owners more easily), but there are also new ordinances regulating conditions at kennels and how and for how long owners can keep their dogs on tethers in the yard. Should be a much less controversial set of votes.

Show WLUW some LUV

Remember when you donated items to independent community radio station WLUW in June? Well, those items are now for sale to raise money for the station. Some particularly interesting finds are an autographed Mekons guitar, a drawing by Archer Prewitt, and a Fugazi/Shellac/The Ex ticket printing plate.

Become the Media

Do you dream about sitting side-by-side with Edward Lifson or "identifying and researching mid-level and major donor prospects"? If so, become a Chicago Public Radio intern! WBEZ extended its fall deadline, but you don't have much time: applications are due on the 28th.

Candlelight Vigil for Living Wages

The Chicago Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of labor, religious, and community groups, invites you to join them for a candlelight vigil in support of the Big Box Living Wage outside of City Hall tonight at 9pm.

Coming this Fall: Mayor Swap

After the AP ran its "Chicago as nanny state" story far and wide (including here, in Canada's London Free Press of all places), it was only a matter of time before blogs elsewhere had something to say about it. New York, it seems, is hankering for some political scandal; thus, Gawker's modest proposal to trade Bloomberg for Daley.

Val's is moving

Fans of Val's halla Records, the historic Oak Park record store that's been selling all kinds of music for over 30 years, will no doubt be aware that the store has been under threat of closing for the last year. Well, here's some good news: Val's will re-open in a different Oak Park location, and they're moving this weekend. To celebrate the move (and to lighten the load for the movers) Val's is having a huge record sale this weekend: details are in Slowdown. Stop by, pick up some cheap LPs or CDs, and wish Val good luck in the new location.

Chicago Stolen Bike Registry

Via the RedEye, a link to the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry: register or look up bikes reported as stolen in the city. It's a great idea, and serves a real need; however, it's not automated, and site creator Howard Kaplan has to manually send out e-mails to listserv subscribers. If you've got some web skills, why not lend a hand?

Ponce, Marin, Mancow?

Two weeks after Mancow was unceremoniously dropped by Q101, he's resurfaced in a couple places. He's temporarily taping his syndicated radio show at WLS-AM studios, and in a somewhat bizarre twist, he's going to be appearing on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight," doing occasional commentaries alongside such high minds as John Callahan and Carol Marin.

Big Box Living Wage Vote Tomorrow

The Chicago City Council will be voting on the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance tomorrow, and things are getting ugly. Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn has a good piece up exposing the real issue (that this is about precedent and ideology, not economics), which is decidedly at odds with his paper's editorial board's opinion. Ald. Joe Moore, chief sponsor of the ordinance, had a heated debate with a retail industry representative this morning on WBEZ's 848 program. A poll by Lake, Snell, and Perry earlier this year showed 84% support for the measure among Chicagoans. This is your last chance--call your alderman today and let them know how you feel!

No One's In the House

What if they threw a music festival and nobody came? It happened last weekend to the Move! 2006, the Chicago International House Music Festival. Only about 2,000 fans showed up, far short of the 8,000+ expected. (We didn't hear about it till today, so maybe they just didn't get the word out well enough.)

Tastypopsicle Maps 2.0

You may have used the CTA Google Map developed by Ed Knittel in the past. But, now that you can search by address, it's probably worth another look.

The Love that Dare not Broadcast its Name

One last Gay Games controversy before they go: hometown girl Jody Watley was here to perform at the event's opening ceremonies last week, and she stopped by R&B station V103. Before her on-air interview, Watley was told she couldn't mention the reason she was in Chicago, only that she was appearing at a Virgin Megastore to do a signing. Talk about the down-low. [via]

CTA Fries Electonics

At least, potentially. CTA Tattler has updated their entry about the hidden electrical outlet on el cars to reflect that you run the risk of killing your appliance via a devastating power surge, as the outlet gets its power from the third rail.

We were the Champions

It's not just the Gay Games that closed this weekend. Nope, a lower profile competition has been taking place over the past few weeks, one that did not feature Cyndi Lauper serenading its participants: the North American Bridge Championships ran from the 13th through yesterday, ultimately being won by what the Times calls "pretournament favorites." (Like you, perhaps, I have no idea what those results mean, but way to go, winners!)

SLOW 25 MPH

The Oak Street Curve on the northbound side of Lake Shore Drive is a notorious accident spot, but people keep speeding into the curve and hitting the wall or each other. So the city is planning some new measures to alert drivers to slow down, including some optical illusion paint lines. The Trib has a nice graphic explaining the changes.

Read @ Skokie Public Library

The celebrity READ posters from the American Library Association have been popular marketing tools for libraries for years. Now libraries even can create their own customized READ posters. The Skokie Public Library did just that, and they snagged some major local politicians to pose for the photos, including Senator Barack Obama, Senator Dick Durbin and the mayor of Skokie, George Van Dusen. You can view the entire set of posters on Flickr. [via Library Stuff]

On the March

Mucca Pazza got quite a write-up in the Sun-Times yesterday. They'll be playing at the Hideout this Thursday, July 27 -- the perfect time to catch what's possibly the world's only circus punk marching band.

Lifson vs. Epstein

Edward Lifson interviews author and Northwestern professor Joseph Epstein about his new book, Friendship, on Hello Beautiful Sunday morning at 10am on WBEZ. Apparently Epstein is a blast to talk to, doing accents and telling funny stories. Worth tuning in.

Good Thing There's No Late Fee

Claire Zulkey wants to know about your Notflixing habits, the movies you got from Netflix that sit, unwatched, for months.

New redesign for Music Box Website

The Music Box Theatre, which had a so-so Website for the longest time, has suddenly redesigned its site, and it looks pretty snazzy! Just in time for a particularly exciting weekend of films at the theater: there's the 25th anniversary re-release of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a weekend matinee of Warner Brothers cartoons, some David Lynch short films, and Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu. See you at the movies....

Daley: Caption This Photo

The Beachwood Reporter has some great snaps of Daley in San Francisco. Please, caption this photo. Or this one. Or this solo portrait, which might use a little clown paint perhaps?

Toward Sustainable Skyscrapers

Beyond its position as an architecture capital, Chicago continues to set a national example for environmentally responsible building. Architectural Record reports on how the Green Permit Program is helping contractors by getting their projects started faster and helping the ecology by incentivizing LEED-compliant design and construction.

RedEye ReadersUnited

Editor & Publisher notes RedEye, the Tribune-produced tabloid, is revamping its loyalty program as iSociety, positioning it as a way to gain what manager Brad Moore calls "'exclusive'" access to clubs, bars and events. In other changes, for those who didn't make it to the last page on the train ride in, the paper is putting more content online, hoping that "'traffic will spike at 10 in the morning.'" (How's that for a detailed business plan?)

Today's inspiration: Chicago

The art of Chicago art studios in the 1950s, courtesy of the illustration blog Today's Inspiration.

Close enough?

It's one of the great stories in recent Chicago theater history: Second City legend Del Close leaves his skull to the Goodman Theatre, on the condition that they use it in a production of Hamlet. But today the Tribune reports that the skull may not actually be his. Their evidence: the skull has more teeth than Close did when he died; the screws holding the skull together are rusty, indicating the skull is decades old; and the skull bears the markings of an autopsy that Close's body never had. Still, the story makes the point that it's the legend of Del Close's skull that's important to the theater, and the fact that Close did write the request in his will that makes the story memorable.

More Concrete Lakeshore?

A concrete model for three North Side lakefront revetments is inexplicably hiding on the South Side (second article). Since most North Siders probably won't make it to Oakwood Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive this week, take a look at the model online, and decide if you prefer the current limestone or the proposed concrete. If you want to share your opinion with the powers that be, follow the instructions from the Lakeview Revetment Task Force, and get your letter in by the 26th.

The Tech Scene is Warming Up

If you didn't already know Chicago's gaining a reputation for Web2.0 innovation, this week's news should make it clear: 37signals announced yesterday that Jeff Bezos (of Amazon.com fame) has made a personal investment in the company. And on Monday Feedburner (who produces our feeds) announced it had bought blog stats company Blogbeat. (Anyone interested in throwing a little dough our way?)

Win the Rock

In the next couple of weeks, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza will host their music extravaganzas. Multi-day passes are either gone or hecka expensive. But going for free sure would be nice, wouldn't it? Here are two ways to try your luck at winning admission.

Foodpr0n Gets a Moment in the Sun

KIPlog's Food blog points us to the Tribune's article on the trend of foodies taking pictures of their meals, accompanied by photography tips and a short list of food-porny blogs.

The [insert name here] Spire

After developer Christopher Carley missed a deadline earlier this week to buy the land on which he'd proposed building the Fordham Spire, Irish developer Garrett Kelleher swept in and bought it himself for $64M. This appears to be the first US project for Kelleher's Shelbourne Development group, although he lived in Chicago during the '80s and '90s. Given that Fordham is the name of Carley's company, it's not clear what the Santiago Calatrava-designed building will be called once (if?) it breaks ground in the spring. For now, at least, the spot is known by its address: 400 N. Lake Shore Drive.

Evil Car Salesman on the Lam!

So, this guy Mark goes to Naperville Toyota to buy a Prius. The salesguy is totally sleazy and sets up a fraudulent financing deal. The deal goes down and Mark drives away, but has second thoughts and tries to return the car. Instead he gets an earful from the dealership and harrassing phone calls -- for four months. There's now a warrant out for the salesman's arrest; read the whole sordid tale (and an update here) at The Consumerist. (Thanks, Brenda!)

Stars Motel to be Demolished

A real estate developer is tearing down the Stars Motel at 6100 N Lincoln Ave. to make way for more condos. But he's hoping enough people are nostalgic about the historic motels on U.S. Highway 41 to bid on the Stars Motel's neon sign on eBay. Because he cut and pasted a column I wrote in 2004 about the motels on Lincoln Avenue for his auction description, can I claim a percentage of the profit from the sale? Just wondering.

MAN-cation, All I Ever Wanted

Hey man, you look like you need a guy's night out. Lucky for you the newly relaunched aria bar at the Fairmont Hotel has you covered: at 7:30pm next Saturday, July 29, it's hosting a men-only "MAN-cation," featuring cocktails in the bar, a three-course steak dinner, and a Woodford Reserve whiskey and cigar tasting . It's not cheap at $150 per person, but short of strippers and drag races, it couldn't get much manlier. Reservations can be made by calling 312-444-9494.

Bicycle Film Festival Postponed

...but only by a week! Director Brendt Barbur's international celebration of movies about cycling is still coming to Chicago, but it'll be from August 11-12 instead of August 4-5, and details are still TBA. (Trailers and more here.)

Neighborhood Diversity

How diverse is your neighborhood? If you live in Rogers Park, Uptown, Bridgeport, Albany Park, Lincoln Square, Archer Heights, West Ridge, North Park, Irving Park or West Lawn, the answer is: very, according to the Metropolitan Chicago Information Center. Download PDFs of the full report and others here.

Kinda Like Abby Ryan, But By E-mail

Drivers curious about the state of roads they commute will likely find the DOT's Traffic Alert System helpful. [via]

Sheepish Alter-Ego

So I've got a love for all things crafty and that's no secret. But most of your eyes glaze over if I go on too long about wool or knitting. And I don't blame you. However, even if you have no interest in the land of craft, you'll love Franklin's alter-ego roommate Dolores over at The-Panopticon. This sheep makes me snort on a regular basis. Without further ado, I introduce you to Dolores.

Torture Report Finally Out

The so-called Burge Report on police torture is finally out, and the Tribune has been nice enough to post a 15MB PDF of it. The Reader's John Conroy has some thoughts; read his coverage over the years here. UPDATE: Indymedia has the report broken up into more digestible chunks. (Thanks, Mitchell)

Ask Illinois Push Poll

If you have a Chicago phone number and are a regular voter, you may be getting a one-question "Ask Illinois" automated survey today! I'll post the text of the survey, and you tell me who you think commissioned it: "Members of the Chicago City Council want to stop new retail stores from opening in the city because the union bosses don't want the competition. These new stores would create thousands of new jobs in underdeveloped neighborhoods. Here's our question: do you want to see retail development and thousands of new jobs in Chicago's underdeveloped neighborhoods? If you want to see the jobs, press 1, if you think the council should stop the jobs press 2 if you're not sure press 3." What a fortuitous time to get asked such a question.

MDW = SWA

Been to Midway lately? Seem like Southwest has every gate in the airport? Well, they nearly do.

Haute Cuisine, Outlaw Style

The foie gras farewell continues: in honor of the dish's final days in the city, chef Robert Gadsby of 676 Restaurant & Bar in the Chicago Omni put together a one-night menu full of ingredients of which the Nanny State would not approve. The $95 prix fixe menu for tomorrow night's "Outlaw Dinner," as it's being called, features absinthe, hemp seed, morels, unpasteurized cheeses, sous vide preparation, and of course foie gras; Gadsby's planning similar nights at his Noé restaurants in LA and Houston.

Grant Park in Your Living Room

The Grant Park Orchestra recently released two new albums. So enjoy the GPO on the lawn or in your easy chair!

Macy's Tries for the Local Angle

New City details a recent presentation by more than 60 local designers to Macy's buyers. The lucky ones will be featured in the new store's Chicago Designer Shop, which opens September 8.

People Die in the Desert

Just like a real desert, "food deserts" -- areas with a lack of grocery stores but plenty of fast food joints -- can kill. A study by LaSalle Bank found a correlation between such areas and premature death. The Sun-Times offers a map showing where these deserts are in Chicago; you've probably already guessed that they're concentrated on the South and West Sides.

Stroger Replaces Stroger

It's official: Alderman Todd Stroger will replace his father as the Democratic choice for Cook County Board President in November. What are your thoughts? Post'em in Fuel, and/or vote on Zorn's blog.

Really Quick Restaurant Review: Los Nopales

Los Nopales (4544 N. Western Ave) is a small Mexican joint near the Western Brown Line stop in Lincoln Square. With tables and a small bar (despite having no alcohol), Nopales is quaint, but can match dishes with some of the big boys, especially when it comes to steak. On a recent trip, I ordered the steak fajitas and wasn't dissapointed. The thinly cut steak is some of the better steak out there, especially for the price. The other excitement is the two salsas provided to each table, red and green. Los Nopales was featured in a recent Sun-Times article discussing that very strip of Western Ave.

Hey Ref, You're Half-Blind

Everyone knows the old adage, making fun of a bad referee by calling them blind. In the case of Bolingbrook's James Filson, he sort of is. Filson lost vision in one of his eyes in 2000, but continued to referee Big Ten Football games for five years. Filson is suing the Big Ten after being fired in 2005. He says he has the ability and right to referee the games and cites his selection to referee the Orange Bowl as proof of his quality performance.

Casting for Listeners, Looking for Podcasters

Cubscast, your source for Wrigley-related podcasting, is running a listener drive: go get 20 free Cubs postcards to pass out to your friends. Take pictures of them with their cards and you could win a video iPod. In related news, Chicago Sportscast Network is looking for some Blackhawks fans to do a podcast at Hawkscast; check the site for details and an app.

Not Your Father's Stockyard

Inside Higher Education profiles DePaul's Jim Duignan in his quest to bring art to kids in Chicago's urban neighborhoods. In addition to making his own work, Duignan's Stockyard Project has been contributing to the development of young artists for the past 10 years.

Chair People VS. Blanket People

Tonight marks the start of this year's Chicago Outdoor Film Festival, just in time to coincide with a break in the heat (kind of). Make sure to leave your dog and bring your bike and always be respectful of your neighbors. All the Rebels (with or without causes) check out the details in Slowdown.

Esquire In The Balance

Ever wonder how the Esquire Theater manages to hold its own against its Oak Street neighbors (like Prada)? Well, it looks like it might not be.

"Hello...it's your favorite author calling."

This week's Crain's applauds the Book Cellar for finding a new way to bring authors to their readers - by using the phone and internet. Two such events have been held, one with Ray Bradbury and one with Susan Vreeland, and there are hopes for more meetings like it. Having listened in on Bradbury's conference call I can say they've definitely got something good going on here.

Eggvertising

Since we're all bored with the pristine surface of eggs, a Deerfield company is teaming up with CBS to put advertisements and expiration dates on 35 million of them. Look (out) for them in your local grocery store.

No Hats, Hoods or Sunglasses

In case you forgot, we've seen a record pace of bank robberies this year. So, some banks are instituting a dress code.

Next Year's No. 1?

Last year, Naperville took the bronze in Money Magazine's list of Best Places to Live. This year, it's number 2. Meantime, both Evanston and Oak Park rank amongst the best educated.

Cruising the Film Festival

Steven Spielberg received a Golden Hugo for lifetime achievement last night at this year's Chicago International Film Festival awards. And who should make a surprise appearance but Tom Cruise! Is it just me, or does it look like he's going to kiss Spielberg in CBS2's video clip?

A Three (and a half) Hour Tour

Transit buff extraordinaire Tony Coppoletta is playing skipper to the "Soul of Chicago Express" next month: he, with help from Chicagoist, has chartered a private 'L' train to take passengers on a Sunday afternoon tour of five CTA rail stations. Interested in participating? See the site for details on registration.

A Million Pounds to Lose

Responding the Chicago's reputation as America's fattest city, the Chicago Defender has launched the Million Pound Challenge to encourage African-Americans in Chicagoland to collectively lose a million pounds over the next 12 months. Sign up here to participate.

Pedestrian Perfect or Perfectly Pedestrian?

While the White City may have been successful as a spectacular public space, Steve Rhodes argues Millennium Park isn't. Calling it "postcard pablum," Rhodes can only muster enthusiasm for Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" (enthusiasm, yes; respect, no -- despite its name, for Rhodes, it's only "the Bean"). Other opinions at the Beachwood Reporter are more generous, one being especially notable for its employment of a neologism never before seen by Google: "methamphetamodernism."

Midway Magic, Then and Now

Erik Larson's perennial best-seller, The Devil in the White City, has done much to resurrect interest in the 1893 World's Fair, but the event has fascinated the public ever since it came and went in a season. In today's paper, Sun-Times art & architecture critic Kevin Nance talks to Larson, author Chris Ware, historian Tim Samuelson and others about why it continues to capture our imagination. Relive the magic with an under-construction visual simulation model being developed at UCLA, and if you've not read Larson's creative non-fiction, the GB Book Club will be tackling it in September.

Pitchfork: 2-Day Passes Gone

Two-day passes to the Pitchfork Music Festival have sold out, and the site says there's a small number of one-day tickets left. The festival has announced its set time schedule (you can plan your visits to the food and arts & crafts tents), and it has expanded beyond just July 29th and 30th in Union Park, with downtown concerts and a film festival planned for the week leading up to the main event: so many details.

The Lefkow Tragedy, A Year Later

In the aftermath of the murder of Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's husband last year, Congress has taken steps to fund increased security for members of the judiciary. The National Law Journal reports roughly two-thirds of the nation's federal judges have enrolled in a program that provides them home security systems; NPR talks to a Chicago couple who are both judges about how their lives have changed since Michael Lefkow's killing.

Hydration, All They Ever Needed

While temps are forecast to come down a bit as the week progresses, right now it's miserable just walking down the block. Imagine, then, that you're one of the athletes who's come half-way around the world to compete in the Gay Games triathlon or soccer or, well, take your pick really. Those folks need water to keep going, and any way you can help will be appreciated. Local businesses and individuals that can assist in the hydration effort should contact Sam Coady at 773/551-1622. Or, take the initiative and show up at the venues with water / ice / sports drinks to donate. More information on locations, schedules etc. at the website.

826CHI Club

We all know how great and fun a good book club can be, so it's exciting that 826CHI has started their own. Called "Globiblio," their club focuses on reading authors from all over the world. The meetings will be on the first Tuesday of the month and participants are encouraged to BYOB and BYODIBTCWETMIYSD (Bring Your Own Dish Inspired by the Country We Explored that Month If You So Desire). Upcoming reads include JM Coetzee of South Africa, Michael Crummey of Canada and Jaroslav Haske of Czechoslovakia. Room is limited, so sign up if you're interested by emailing info[at]826chi[dot]org.

Summer with the Boys

The New York Times notes that the near west coast of Michigan is an increasingly gay-friendly vacation destination. So hop in a car or catch a train and have some fun.

Illinois Championship Cow Chip Throw

Like me, you're probably upset that you missed the Illinois Championship Cow Chip Throw in Chatham, Illinois today. But dry your eyes! You can still make the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw in September.

H-O-T and Muggy

Just in time for major athletic events, the National Weather Service released an Excessive Heat Watch for our region. Keep cool for the next few days, and don't forget what happens when it gets hot, hot, hot outside.

All the Park's a Stage

Ever wish your life was a Broadway musical? Starting late this afternoon and continuing throughout the weekend, Millennium Park shimmers with the music of Stephen Sondheim, as part of Sondheim in the Park. Performers will break into song in the Lurie Garden, Wrigley Square, and on staircase balconies, not to mention the stage of the Pritzker Pavillion. Details in Slowdown, or click here .

Let the Games begin

Okay, okay, I'm trying not to harp on the Gay Games, but this is honestly one of the biggest events Chicago's seen in years (and a serious trial run for the city's 2016 Olympics hopes). It's so big, in fact, that we couldn't possibly list all of the events or even the highlights here in Slowdown; instead I'll just direct you to the schedules at the Games' site and let you know that most events are free, but tickets for those that require them can be purchased online or at the HotTix locations at the Chicago Tourism Center (72 E Randolph), the Water Works Visitor Center (163 E Pearson) and the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. Have a gay old time.

Laugh Out Loud/Loud Out Laughs

One thing you can say about the gays: we love our funny girls (and I don't mean Barbra). No surprise, then, that the Gay Games are bringing with them a cavalcade of comediennes. The next week finds shows around town by Margaret Cho, Sandra Bernhard, Kate Clinton, Suzanne Westenhoefer, and Mo'Nique, plus two nights of the triple-bill Queer Queens of Comedy (click links for Slowdown entries). If you prefer your gay comedy local (not to mention multi-gendered), check out GayCo's best-of show, just opened for a Gay Games run at the Theatre Building.

Fear Factor: Target

Target officials have apparently told south side aldermen that they might cancel plans for three new stores if the city's proposed big-box minimum wage ordinance is passed. Ald. Joe Moore, lead sponsor of the ordinance, called Target's move "bullying tactics." The city council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance on July 26th.

Free Opera Alert

In August, the Chicago Office of Tourism, in conjunction with Silk Road Chicago, will present four performances of Mozart's The Magic Flute, with stars from our own Lyric Opera and the New York City Opera, at the Chicago Cultural Center. Starting tomorrow, you can pick up free tickets at the Storefront Theater Box Office (66 E Randolph) or call 312-742-8497.

Film Last Meals

Tying nicely into the current Fuel question, local artistic group Lucky Pierre is looking for volunteers to eat 24 of the 350+ final meal requests from the executed prisoners on Texas Death Row for a video installation project. The meals will be filmed in Logan Square between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, July 22; email mealvolunteer[at]luckypierre.org to be one of the lucky few. (Thanks, Marie!)

Pierzynski as Puck

Earlier this year, A.J. Pierzynski ended up on GQ's list of the 10 Most Hated Athletes. Today, as the Sox face the Yankees, the New York Times delves into why, concluding that, for better or worse, and sometimes for both, "in a reality television sort of way, he might be watched more than any player in Chicago."

Talk to Me

What, Carole Brown asks, can the CTA do better when it comes to communicating with customers?

Nonprofit Woes?

smARTstart offers a comprehensive online guide to starting, managing, and growing a nonprofit arts organization, including pointers to other online resources. Launched by the Arts Business Council of Chicago, which supports the arts by connecting organizations to arts lovers with management savvy.

Props for Humanities Geeks

The Illinois Humanities Council has mailed out nomination packets to mayors throughout the state for the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. The award has typically gone to volunteers who champion cultural heritage, literacy, or community history. Only mayors can nominate recipients, but if you have suggestions, let Daley know: MayorDaley [at] CityofChicago [dot] org.

Still No Justice for Dead Musicians

A year ago tomorrow, three local musicans were killed in a car accident by a woman who was allegedly attempting suicide. She survived, and there still hasn't been a trial. A member of the Electrical Audio discussion board has been attending hearings and providing updates (three most recent) on the proceedings; the latest is that trial is pending a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant. Next court date is July 21. (Thanks, Ron.)

Classical Music Online

If you're a big classical music fan--or a not-so-big one, who just likes to know what's going on--check out Chicago Classical Music. The site offers a consolidated concert schedule; a blog written by staff from Ravinia, Chicago Sinfonietta, and other classical music organizations; and an assortment of user forums. There's even a Classified section, to pick up tickets someone else can't use.

Not to be Confused with a Hipster Convention

The House won't be the only local organization to be graced with Ira Glass's benefit-hosting skillz. Pitchfork reports that Glass will be on-hand next month as 826CHI presents Death Cab's Ben Gibbard, John Roderick of the Long Winters, novelist ZZ Packer and a guy called Dave Eggers (maybe you've heard of him). The gig's August 24th at Park West.

Magic Pearl lures Glass to House

This American Life may be in New York, but host Ira Glass returns to Chicago next week to headline a benefit for The House Theatre of Chicago. Peter Sagal of Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me fame will be the MC of the event, compellingly titled The First Annual Gathering of The Secret Order of the Magic Pearl. Full details are available at The House Theatre's blog.

I Go Zip

I-Go now has some competition in the car-sharing business: Zipcar. [via]

August Book Club Intro

April Sinclair's Coffee Will Make You Black is the August selection for the GB Book Club and you can now read the introduction over at the the Book Club's homepage. Pick up the book and stop by the Book Cellar on Monday, August 14 -- we'd love to hear your thoughts! (If you can't make it to the meeting, don't forget that you can still join in the discussion by posting your comments and opinions in the forum.)

Without the beetles

Remember when the Asian long-horned beetle was the talk of the town? Well, those days are over: today, after two years since the last beetle sighting, the final quarantine on Chicago neighborhoods was lifted, meaning that homeowners don't have to pulverize any hardwood trees that they may wish to remove. And Illinois could be declared completely free of the destructive pest as early as next year. But don't think that we'll be free of tree-killing bugs anytime soon: Kane County officials are still looking for signs of the emerald ash borer, which showed up in Illinois last month.

Novak Speaks

Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak finally spilled the beans today about who leaked the identity of CIA operative/ambassador's wife Valerie Plame back in '03. Well, sort of: He didn't say who told him about Plame, but he said Karl Rove confirmed the source's info.

Watch For Falling Rock

We warned you it was coming, and now it's out: Sufjan Stevens' album Avalanche, full of 75 more minutes of songs about Illinois (or Illinoise, if you prefer). And if you want it live, tickets for Sufjan's September 26th show at the Riv go on sale Saturday.

Wednesday is Double Feature Night

Cinema/Chicago has scheduled its series of free screenings of international films on the same night as Chicago Sister Cities International's film series (which is $15 a show, but includes dinner catered by Fox & Obel). The savvy cinemaphile needn't choose between the two: Cinema/Chicago's movies start at 6 PM in the Cultural Center and Sister Cities' movies start at sundown on the roof of Gallery 37, just across the street.

Hip Hop Gets Political

You already know that July is Chicago Hip Hop Heritage Month, but did you know that Chicago is also hosting this year's National Hip Hop Political Convention? If you're one of those people who likes to get academic with their pop culture (not that there's anything wrong with that), check out Slowdown for more details on the July 20-23 convention.

This Forest Brought to You by, well, Nature

The latest development in the Stroger saga is actually a reasonable one: the county board voted yesterday that future presidents' names will not be displayed on Cook County Forest Preserve signage. Eric Zorn cheers the news, while pointing out that practice is alive and well at the mayoral and gubernatorial level. That, he says, "serves no purpose other than to feed the swollen egos of transient glad-handers and to keep sign painters busy every few years when someone new takes office." In other news, the intrepid Carol Marin has it on good authority that the "poop-butt" comment may have been "poot-butt." Both, apparently, translate as "nerd."

Behold! The McSundial

McDonald's put up a pretty interesting new billboard in Wrigleyville. (Thanks, VinceJose!)

Dead Mancow Walking

Did you listen to Mancow yesterday morning on Q101? Me neither. But what we missed was the shock jock's last broadcast on the station. "Best of" shows started running today, and James VanOsdol fills in with "on shuffle" alt rock starting Monday. "I wish my old station luck, but no looking back. I have huge plans and huge ideas," Mancow said -- the first of which is finding a new studio to broadcast from.

Beloit Does It Again

I have such respect for Wisconsin. The creative people in Beloit have recreated the Art Institute's famous "Sunday in the Park" in real life, posing by the Rock River (presumably on a Sunday). While the classic "American Gothic" has been redone countless times, I don't think Nighthawks has. Anyone out there care to give it a try?

Blue Line Back on Track

If you've been watching or reading the news you already know that there was a fire on the Blue Line during yesterday's rush hour and several passengers ended up in the hospital. The CTA Tattler has notes on lessons to be learned from the fire. Most importantly: Don't Panic. Good thing we all read our Red Eyes yesterday, right?

Thinking Allowed in Chicago

In 2002, BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed visited Chicago to do a five-part series about the city in the spirit of early Chicago School sociologists. With interviews from prominent Chicago academics, musicians, and public thinkers, the programs are surprisingly fresh four years later.

ChicagoManual.com is Coming

As it celebrates its 100th year of publication, the Chicago Manual of Style will also celebrate a new birth, this one of the digital variety. Scheduled for release in September, the Chicago Manual of Style Online will feature a fully searchable version of the 15th edition along with added tools for editors, writers and publishers. The only drawback is that it'll cost you $25 for one year of use, but if you register as a member you'll be notified of the release and be offered a free 30-day trial. It could really be worth it.

Goose Liver, Get Yer Goose Liver

There are only a couple more weeks of foie gras sales in local restaurants, and, tonight, Chicago Chefs for Choice celebrate the swan song of this controversial ingredient. They're holding a festival at Allen's Cafe, where "guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of foie gras preparations, beverages included." It won't come cheap, of course: admission is $150 a person. Still, they've cloaked themselves in the First Amendment -- proceeds benefit the "Freedom of Choice Fund" -- and who can say no to that?

Midway says "Bienvenido" or "Willkommen" or...

Despite the recent uproar at foreign ownership of domestic ports, non-US firms seem poised to dominate the bidding for Midway. Subject, of course, to aldermanic approval.

The Anti-Rotary Fatwa

You probably know that Rotary International was founded in Chicago and maintains its headquarters in Evanston. So far, so boring, right? But, did you know Islamic fundamentalists count the organization amongst their sworn enemies? Strange (and apparently confused), but true. Slate explains "the Rotarian Menace."

Pink Pennies Add Up

Back in the day, several organizations representing religious conservatives made waves about boycotting corporate sponsors of the Gay Games, scheduled to start in Chicago this weekend. According to MarketWatch, it was all for naught. Meantime, yesterday the mayor encouraged local support and spectatorship, suggesting that the event's success could bode well for the city's nascent Olympics bid.

Hey, is that building a landmark?

The city's Landmarks Division has prepared interactive Chicago Landmarks Maps that include photographs and important information about officially notable places. While you're on their website, check out their comprehensive Historic Resources Survey and other fascinating resources.

Cross-town Smack Talk

The Chi-Town Daily News sent a camera to the Crosstown Classic at Wrigley last week to find out what Cubs and Sox fans think of each other. You can probably guess what they found. (Video, NSFW)

Your bus is aflame? Fear not.

The ever civic-minded Red Eye has released a series of tips from CTA spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler for "CTA safety." As for your flaming bus? "[T]ell the bus driver."

Escape the Police

At Metblogs, Fuzzy Gerdes lets visual irony speak for itself.

Songs: Illinois

songs:illinois is an excellent little mp3 blog run by Craig Bonell in Oak Park. There's definitely a folk/ acoustic/ singer-songwriter focus but what excites me personally is that I've only heard of maybe one artist on the homepage. A nice deviation from Pitchfork and the like, dig in and discover some new tunes.

Something Complete and Great

Some time back, I mentioned local author Daniel Raeburn's heartrending account in the New Yorker of his daughter's stillbirth. When it ran originally, the article wasn't online; it is now. The reason? Raeburn and his wife welcomed a healthy baby girl in May. As before, handy tissues are recommended, but this time the tears will be happy ones.

Alinea, Vicariously

Not in a position to plan a year ahead and drop a couple of Franklins on dinner? LTHForum user Dmnkly has posted an incredibly detailed chronicle of his meal at Grant Achatz's brainchild, complete with photographs.

A Plague of Mayflies

Another reason we should be glad we don't live in Wisconsin: La Crosse had a mayfly hatch so large that it showed up on National Weather Service radar as a rainstorm. [via]

My Favorite Webcomic

Multiplex, by former GB film critic Gordon McAlpin, turns one year old today with its 75th strip, "Pirates of Pirates of the Caribbean."

Vesparate Measures

With gas prices so high, Vespas and other scooters have shot up in popularity. There's only one problem: the only Vespa dealership in Chicago has gone bankrupt. (Little tip for the guy in that article who needs a tune-up: Scooterworks.)

Don't Mess with The Outfit

New blog alert! Local writers Sean Chercover, Barbara D'Amato, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Kevin Guilfoile, Libby Hellmann, Sara Paretsky and Marcus Sakey have teamed up to form The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers. This new group blog launches this week and promises to feature stories by these award-winning authors about the city, the "highs and lows of writing for a living" and "crime and justice and revenge." I can't wait.

The King Can't Rule; Long Rule the King

In case you've not been following it closely, the Tribune's editorial page offers a timeline of The Stroger Stroke & Succession Show, led by the almost comical understatement, "The record suggests that [aides and family members] have misled citizens about Stroger's health." How will this saga end, and who'll be next to be called "a little poop-butt" by a power-hungry alderman? Tune in tomorrow!

Protecting the Flying Jewels

One of Chicagoland's most endangered species is the Hine's emerald dragonfly. On Wednesday, the US Fish & Wildlife Service is expected to designate critical habitats for the 2-3" bug, including the Lockport Prairie south of Romeoville.

Take Me Out for a Veggie Burger

The Red Sox haven't made the past few games at the Cell very fun (maybe this afternoon'll be different?), but PETA says those looking for healthy stadium fare have reason to be happy: the animal rights organization listed US Cellular Field among this year's Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks.

Border collies vs. sea gulls

The city is piloting a program at Foster Avenue Beach to see if Wild Goose Chase's border collies can scare away sea gulls. Fewer gulls means fewer bird droppings, and the city hopes that fewer bird droppings will lead to lower e. coli levels in Lake Michigan. Here's to actually swimming at our beaches!

Bicyclist killed on Chicago Avenue

Manuel Tenecota, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was hit and killed by a CTA bus earlier today. He was just two blocks from his home. His death is the second bicycle-motorist fatality in as many weeks.

Just Don't Stick 'Em in Your Bike Spokes

For all of you folk fanatics and alt country fans, new at Quimby's this week is Pioneers of Country Music, a set of 40 trading cards illustrated by R. Crumb. Brief bios on the back of each card give the histories of Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers, Uncle Dan Macon and His Fruit-Jar Drinkers, Al Hopkins and his Buckle Busters and other whimsically named bands. Two earlier series, Early Jazz Greats and Heroes of the Blues, also feature art by R. Crumb.

Next Hipster fad = Quilting!

Now I've seen some cool freaking quilts, and I've seen some awful, awful quilts as well. But I figured it would be a silent day on Halsted before I'd ever see a quilt shop open there. Quiltology, 2625 N. Halsted (between Fullerton and Diversey) is now open. They claim to combine technology and quilting, offer classes for all skill levels, and have great fabrics that are otherwise hard to get. Good-bye knitting on the train? Hello, lap-piecing? Thanks, Carolyn.

Share a Beer

Introducing Coastr, "a social guide to beer," produced by local design team Luckymonk.

Bands Will Soon Go On 20 Seconds Earlier

Perhaps under the assumption that there will be no flash photography at rock shows, Thax Douglas is making plans to leave Chicago for New York this fall. Chicagoist has details on his "farewell" tour.

VA not for Peace

Veteran Mike Ferner was recently at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center on the South Side, drinking coffee, when he found himself arrested. His crime? Protesting, trespassing and disorderly conduct, because he happened to be wearing a Veterans for Peace t-shirt. (Thanks, Jim!)

American Manufacturing Update

Small article about American manufacturing in The Economist that features DesPlaines-based Littlefuse. Short summary: when it comes to making stuff, America isn't suffering as much as is often portrayed. (And while you're there, The Economist's City Guide for Chicago has some handy tidbits about things to do.)

That Darn Fat

This afternoon, All Things Considered tackled the trans fat turmoil, providing perspectives based in hard science and sarcastic humor. (The subject of our "aldernannies" and their lunchroom monitoring stirred up some debate here recently: if you missed it, you may want to revisit this Revenge of the Second City column from late June.)

Oak Park Doesn't Like Fat Women?

Or at least not those who like to shop for clothes. Lane Bryant recently applied to open a store in downtown Oak Park, but was refused. Village President David Pope said that their officials want "a more broad-based retailer" and since the city used to own the property, they maintain right of refusal on all renters. Since the majority of women in this country wear the sizes Lane Bryant sells, I'm not sure how much more "broad-based" you can get.

Really Quick Restaurant Review: Spa Cafe

These days, you can't go near a restaurant without it adding chipotle to something or other. While this usually comes across as a feeble attempt at au courant zest, when Spa Cafe (112 W. Monroe) combines it with pureed Okinawa sweet potato to make soup, it's a wonderful thing. So long as you can get past the fact that it looks like you'll be dipping into a raspberry vinaigrette -- the dish is, well, purple -- you're in for a treat. (As for the cucumber water, I know it has its devotees, but I could have done with more water, less cucumber. I'll be sticking with the lemons next time.)

Need more Tut?

If the Field Museum's Tutankhamun exhibit piqued your interest, head to the Oriental Institute's dual exhibitions of artifacts from the Tut era and Harry Burton's photographs of the Tutankhamun expedition. If you have an mp3 player, don't forget to download the podcast ahead of time.

Priceline Hotels on Google Maps

Oh boy, there's nothing I like more than Chicago-centric Google Maps hacks. Check out this mashup with the BetterBidding Priceline/Hotwire hotel forums: click on a location to access information about any given hotel, including relevant user reviews and recent winning bids.

Restaurant Cage Match!

Ever notice two similar restaurants so close together that they must be feeding off each other's patrons? So has Phil Vettel, who just introduced a new series in the Trib: Cage Match, pitting neighboring joints against each other.

Representin' CHI

Did you know that July is Chicago Hip Hop Heritage Month? Lots to do.

Open but no cheap date night

Did you notice that the City North and Webster Place movie theaters went M.I.A. a couple of weeks ago? Well, they were casualties of the Loews-AMC merger and decisions of various authorities. While cheap night may be gone, Kerasotes bought the two theaters, and they're open again. UPDATE: Reader Meghan writes, "I went to City North 14 on Tuesday and got the usual $5 movie, free popcorn, and free parking. Looks like cheap night's not gone afterall!"

Chicago, City that Trademarks

The City has filed for trademark protection on a wide variety of assets, from police and firefighter insignias to the phrase, "Chicagoland's Third Airport." Start watching for little ™'s to show up on stuff around town.

Waits Waits, don't tell me

The only music news that you need to know for the summer: Tom Waits will be playing Chicago next month. Good luck trying to get tickets...

Tech Cocktail On Thursday

Eat, drink, meet. Meet other geeks, or hip business people at the first Chicago Tech Cocktail. Swanky. (And if you haven't had enough, BARCamp Chicago, a tech unconference, is coming up soon too.)

A Public Service to the Car-less

In breaking news, the Kennedy is a dangerous place to stand. This morning, two young women stood on the side of the road with a sign reading "Gary." Beyond dangerous, as of 2000, this carried a possible year in jail and $2500 fine. If you're wondering what other crimes can cost you, and don't mind slightly outdated information, check out this chart.

Post a Video Response

June 30: Pitchfork Media posts a negative review of the album Movie Monster by Sound Team. July 3: Sound Team posts a response to the review on YouTube. July 5: Pitchfork gives the video response a better review than their album. (tip from Ghost Media)

A Night of Metal on Us!

Another quick contest! If you're ready to blast away the hangover of a long holiday weekend with some heavy metal tomorrow night at the Double Door, then be the first one to email us at inbox@gapersblock.com with the subject "Metal!". You and a guest will get in to see local band Bible of the Devil along with Priestess (listen). Plus, the winner gets a signed Priestess CD and a really cool free t-shirt from Tank Theory. {Update: Congrats to Mark, who likes to Rawk!}

Chicago by the Numbers

This week's issue of Crain's Chicago Business contains their annual "Focus: Market Facts" feature, chock full of demographics and data ranging from It's all downloadable online in PDF format, and this year they've added an interactive map that allows you to zoom in on a particular neighborhood and check out how strong the demand for mp3 players is, for instance.

Kitchen Chicago Cafe Closed

Sad but true: the cafe at Kitchen Chicago is closing, at least for now. There's no official mention of it on the website, but a letter on the door confirms the sad news. The owners wish to concentrate more on their original business--running a kitchen for hire--and the cafe was taking time away from that. While some grand traditions will continue, such as Sunday Brunch and lots of goodies from the great companies that start there, the cafe is officially on hiatus.

Never miss another show

Tourfilter comes to Chicago. A Website started by Boston concertgoers who were tired of missing shows by their favorite artists, Tourfilter is very simple: type in your favorite bands, and the site will send you an email when the band schedules a Chicago performance. I've already found one upcoming show using the site: punk-folk-acoustic singer-songwriter Stuart Davis performing Friday night at Schubas. (link found at Metafilter)

Moo, Oink, Thump

The winner of the Moo & Oink jingle contest has been announced, and it's "Shop @ Moo & Oink" by Kenlo Key (mp3), which edged out, uh, "Put It In My Mouth" (mp3) as well as several others. The Tribune has some M&O jingle history.

Jammin' at the Beach

The beaches in Uptown were jam-packed on the Fourth -- so packed that the police closed the Lake Shore Drive exit ramps from Montrose up to Foster.

COPS: Bulls Mascots

A few years ago, it was Da Bull in trouble with the law, having been charged with marijuana possession. Now, it's Benny the Bull's turn. The big red mascot was arrested for allegedly punching an off-duty cop after being stopped for riding a small motorcycle through the Taste of Chicago. I bet the San Diego Chicken never had 'cuffs on.

Time to Buy that Afro Wig

Move over and maybe out, Tyson Chandler: Ben Wallace is coming to the Chicago Bulls. Wallace has reportedly signed with the Bulls for $60 million over four years. The four-time defensive player of the year should fill every defensive expectation fans had for Chandler over the years and bring a true veteran superstar to the team. This move instantly makes the Bulls real contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Sundance May Set on the Near West Side

Crain's reports that Robert Redford is considering the site of a closed Fannie May candy factory for an outpost of his new Sundance Cinemas movie theater chain.

Ooh la la, L'amour

Missed local burlesque legend Michelle "Toots" L'amour's appearence on "America's Got Talent" last week? YouTube's got you covered. Warning: excessive and gratuitous leering by David Hasselhoff.

In-store Jello

Former Dead Kennedys singer and spoken-word artist Jello Biafra will be appearing tonight at the Lakeshore Theater, but if you've got the afternoon free you can stop by the nearby Reckless Records on Broadway, where Jello will be doing an in-store appearance at 4:30. You can bring your old classic DK merch for Jello to sign, but please don't bring any of the newer re-releases on Manifesto Records, as those were issued without Jello's consent and he won't sign them.

Ebert recovering after emergency operation

Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert had emergency surgery today to fix complications from a previous surgery to remove a cancerous growth. He's in serious condition, but his vital signs are apparently good. Get well soon, Roger!

This One's for the Ladies

Gay guys don't have too much trouble finding themselves in the local queer media. But gay gals? Forget it. That's the way the founders of CHILL Magazine feel, at least, and they're doing their part to change things, offering Chicago-area lesbians an online publication "free of L Word references and [with] no naked men photos in sight."

 

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