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TODAY

Friday, June 23

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Merge

A Garden Sprouts

In East Garfield Park, at Maypole and California, a community garden is taking shape in a formerly vacant lot.

Darn Those Pesky Purchasing Managers

In the arcane world of economic data-gathering, the Chicago-based National Association of Purchasing Managers holds a hallowed spot. They say that their index fell to 53.4% in July from 60.2% in June. Bonus: the NAPM website seems to be currently "Hacked by Enqu!nx".

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Blog

Zorn points to a blog panning our governor: BloggingOnBlagoBlog, from the Illinois Republican Party.

Lake Michigan Stories

Got a good story or photo involving Lake Michigan or another of the Great Lakes? HealthyLakes.org wants to hear/see it. They're running a photo and story contest through the end of August, with prizes awarded each month. (Thanks, Hugh!)

Welcome to Oceanville, Illinois

Chicago the Lion invites you to visit the Muppet Wiki page for Illinois. That's right: the Muppet Wiki.

Every Cubs Fan Has a Blog

The Trib's Paul Sullivan runs through the goings-on at some major Cubs blogs. Be sure to check the comments to see the blogs he missed.

STOP! Police Podcast from Inside Publications

Local newspaper organization Inside Publications has an entertaining podcast-- STOP! Police, wherein they narrate the local crime blotter.

Columbia Goes Green

Sustainablog offers an interesting take on Columbia College's decision to revamp graduate programs in Architectural Studies and Interior Architecture that focus on sustainability. "Green is the mainstream," says Sustainablog's author.

A Lot of Guitar Pics

Chicago photographer Lee Klawans has gone to a lot of shows, with camera in hand. Browse his online galleries, and lose a little time.

This Space for Rent

The Beachwood Reporter's daily round-up of what to see in the papers includes the Trib's first front-page ad; a plug for the mattress-man...or something like that.

We Didn't Make the Cut

What do Vegas, Bangkok, Mumbai and Krakow have in common? Well according to the Global Language Monitor they are all more important to fashion than Chicago. Nuts.

Fake Breasts, Wheelchairs and Laptops

The Sun-Times' Transportation section features a fun little article about some of the more random stuff found in the CTA's lost and found. So, if you're wondering where your porn, bicycle, or prosthetic breast (all items mentioned in the story, btw) ended up, now you know.

City Running Tours

Combine running with sightseeing with City Running Tours. You'll run side-by-side with a guide who, along the way, points out sites and conveys the history of that particular site as well as little-known facts.Choose from set tours that are designed to deliver the best of each city as well as customized runs for individuals with a specific training regimen, fitness ability or the desire to see specific sites.

Friday Mass

If recent talk of some riders wanting to disband the Chicago Critical Mass has you riled up, you may want to weigh in on the matter.

Latina Fashionista de Chicago

Anna Fong, a local clothing designer and designer of a dress that Nadine Velazquez wore to the 2007 Alma Awards, has made it to the top 10 for the AOL Latina Fashionista award. The winner will get to design a dress to be worn by a celebrity on the red carpet and voting ends on July 31. A vote for Anna is a vote for Chicago in this international competition. You can see pictures of her fashion show on MySpace. And you'll be able to buy her belts at Macy's this fall.

Want to Write About Comedy?

The Bastion is looking for writers.

Chicago-Based Former Bulls + Duct Tape = Fishy

The Antoine Walker home invasion earlier this month was a little goofy, and led to some raised eyebrows. Now comes Eddy Curry, former Bull, currently of Burr Ridge-- he got nicked the exact same way. Police say it wasn't random. Suffice it to say, when the other shoe drops, it'll be a big one.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Hopping Down the Wabash Trail

Have you noticed the abundance of bunnies in the area? The Trib's Colleen Mastony explores why local Eastern cottontail rabbits are breeding like... Well, you know.

Break Out That Pic-a-nic Basket

Picnicmob is looking for someone... just like you! Participants are asked a set of questions, then given a spot in a public park where they'll be near others who share their interests. When enough folks particiapte (the site is shooting for 1,000 per city), a map is generated and an email sent announcing the day of the picnic (always at noon on a Sunday). An interesting concept, and if nothing else - a good excuse for a picnic.

Bensenville "Ghost Town"

A Tribune article and corresponding video about the legal battles between Bensenville residents and Chicago over O'Hare expansion suggests visual artists could have a field day in the area.

"Loop U." expansion plans afoot

Crain's details some of the expansion (and construction) plans of the DePaul, Roosevelt, Columbia, and John Marshall campuses in the South loop.

The Items We Carry

On Tuesday, Naz started a flickr group called The Items We Carry -- just pictures of the things you have in your pockets or on your person every day. As of this writing, three days later, there are 630 members and 320 photos of people's stuff. Join up, or just kill time on a slow summer Friday going people-watching in slightly different way.

Secret Tribune Book Blog

Coming soon? Thanks, Roni.

Humanized! (and Gapers Block)

Tech Matters in the Sun-Times wrote a feature on Aza Raskin and his firm Humanized. (Along the way they mention our "popular online publication"...)

Home-Cooked Jazz and Evening Star Gazing Kick Off

The Jazz Institute of Chicago has put together a half-dozen free jazz concerts, beginning tonight at 6:30 PM in Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion, and closing on 27 August with a performance by the acclaimed Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. You can't go wrong with any of these concerts, which--aside from featuring local jazz greats like Dee Alexander and Von Freeman--also open with performances by Chicago's NEXT jazz generation: the likes of the South Shore Youth Jazz Ensemble, Gallery 37 After School Matters Jazz Band, and the Jazz Links Ensemble. Individual concerts are listed in Slowdown; click here for a complete schedule. AND THERE'S MORE: If you mosey over toward the BP Bridge starting around 7:30, volunteers from Adler Planetarium will share their telescopes so you can get a good look at the moon and nearby planets.

Transmission Feature: Why We Love Chicago Music

Over at Transmission, we've got the imaginary cake smeared all over our faces because we just turned one year old! To celebrate, this week we decided to let you know just why we love the music that Chicago has to offer. Read our staffers' "Top 3 Chicago Music Loves" and then head out and raise a glass with us tonight at the 5 Star Bar, starting around 9:30pm.

Another Kitchen Gets Busted for Critters

The Tribune reports that Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom has been temporarily closed for sanitation problems, the same kind their buddy to the west experienced this week as well; however, the Ballroom is expected to reopen as soon as those pesky fruit flies and mice are removed. Hmmm, that sounds nice.

Not Getting Better for Macy's

As if Macy's year of problems wasn't enough, a man fell from an interior balcony at the State Street location yesterday.

Walk Scores

Walk Score gives you an idea of how walkable your neighborhood is by charting the proximity of nearby amenities in a handy-dandy Google Map.

A Year of Macy's

Inspired by recent bad news for Macy's (which includes the shutdown of the State Street store's food court and the closing of a Lake Forest store that had done business for 70+ years as Marshall Field's), Mike at Chicago Carless reviews the past year of Macy's gaffes.

God Speaks

Eric Clapton spoke with Greg Kot about his lifetime fascination with South Side blues and meeting and playing with the greats back in his Yardbird days. Muddy Waters was cool. Sonny Boy Williamson II, eh, a trifle mean.

More Morse Development

Rogers Parkers will be excited to read this profile of father-and-son developers Andy and Devin McGhee and their plans for a Morse Ave. jazz club and restaurant. Read on to learn more about the $3 million green renovation project, and the McGhees' plans to preserve the area's historic legacy.

The Brush Project

DvA Gallery is auctioning off original artists' brushes to help raise money for Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit working to increase the visibility and stability of arts education across the country. Each brush is signed by the artist and framed in shadow boxes (a few even come with drawings or books). Check out The Brush Project for photos of the brushes and the artists' works. The auction is on ebay, and ends this Friday.

No Spoilers, Please!

An enterprising Downers Grove teenager devised a solution to avoid hearing Harry Potter spoilers.

Trump Marches On

YoChicago checks in on the progress at Trump Tower.

The Political Becomes Edible

A new Whole Foods store is scheduled to open today at the corner of Addison and Halsted, in the Center on Halsted building, which is a community center for GLBT persons. According to an article in the Tribune, the Center is happy to have Whole Foods as a tenant, as it will not only act as a grocery store, but will also serve as a vehicle for promoting the Center's activities. Sounds warm and fuzzy, right?
The article went creepy on me, however, when it started talking about how "mainstream corporate America is increasing its efforts to woo gay and lesbian consumers," and cited heaps of statistics and anecdotes about how placing a business in the GLBT community can be a gold mine. Positive attention for the new store also comes at a good time for Whole Foods, given their (anti-Union) CEO's internet adventures, which have gotten the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Like a Big Family"

The Green Exchange, the proposed Logan Square environmental supercenter, is garnering serious national attention.

A-One and A-Two

The Old Town School of Folk Music wants to set the Guinness World Record for largest music lesson as part of its 50th anniversary. All they need is you and your guitar. And by "you" I mean everyone. Register online or by phone at 773-728-6000, then show up with your ax at the Welles Park Gazebo on Tuesday, August 7, around 6-ish to get all tuned up. The lesson starts at 7:30, and it's totally free.

Wilco to Play Millennium Park

You've seen this in Transmission already, but in case you missed it, Wilco will be playing Millennium Park on September 12th. It'll cost you $45 to get a seat and $10 to get on the lawn. More details in Slowdown.

Creative Loafing Buys the Reader

The Chicago Reader has been bought, along with its sister paper, the Washington City Paper, by Creative Loafing, an Tampa-based chain of four southern alt.weeklies. Here are two PDF press releases, from the Reader and one from Creative Loafing. UPDATE: Here's Michael Miner's take on it.

Hub to Hub

George Aye and Sara Cantor, the couple behind Hubwear, did a nice interview with Gridskipper.

Alinea's Achatz Cancer Diagnosis

Grant Achatz, the 33-year-old wunderkind chef and proprietor of Alinea, the nation's best restaurant, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. While doctors say that Achatz's cancer has not spread beyond his lymph nodes and is still curable, the treatments he will need to endure may rob the chef of his ability to taste. We extend our sympathies to Achatz and wish him the best in his fight.

71 Degrees

Studio Gang, the firm behind Aqua, is doing something interesting in Hyde Park.

Ask(About Chicago)MetaFilter

There was a flurry of Chicago-related questions on Ask.MetaFilter the last couple days:
Does the mafia still exist in Chicago?
"For a novice, what is a good bike route from Chicago's North Side to the loop?"
Temping in Chicago?

Moon Globe!

Broadview, IL-based Replogle has been making globes in the Chicago area since 1931. Naturally, the earth globes are works of art, but, so what? Freaking moon globe, man!

A Different Kind of Tour

The Residents' Journal has organized "ghetto bus tours" for folks interested in learning more about what it's like to live in the projects. Tickets are $20 if you're interested.

Ask a Music Scene Micro Celebrity

It's getting a little crazy, but Chicago music legend Steve Albini is answering a wide variety of questions in the Two Plus Two forums.

Project Chicago

Tim Gunn, fabulous style mentor for Bravo TV's "Project Runway" has written a book called Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style. And he'll be coming to Chicago to sign that book at three different locations on New Year's Eve Day. I wonder where he'll be at midnight.

Where to Get Leighed

Nerve.com has a neat interview with Karen Abbot, author of Sin in the Second City, about the famed Everleigh Club. (Thanks, Matt!) Medill News Service offers up a record of another recent interview.

License to Drive

In an interesting move the state legislature passed a law stating kids will need to attend school if they want to be able to drive.

Printers' Ball Busted

The aforementioned Printers' Ball was raided by the police last night. Reasons were not immediately clear. (More at Chicagoist.)

Printers' Ball: More than Books

Not that we need more than books, but literary and non-literary types will get into The Printers' Ball tonight. In addition to an assortment of print materials and people, some swell performers and other activities will be going down. Personally, I'm hoping for a performance of "Waiting Room" (mp3). Details in Slowdown.

Podcasting a Muse

If you find yourself wandering Chicago museums this summer (whether alone or with out-of-towners), one thing you can do to spice it up is to add a podcast to the mix. The AIC has a monthly Musecast that discusses its current exhibitions and goings-on. The MCA also has a long list of podcasts about a current exhibition that address multiple pieces, like this one for Escultura Social with bilingual versions.

Fitzgerald Quizzed on NPR Show

Last night's free taping of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" included a rare public appearance by U.S. Attorney extraordinaire Patrick Fitzgerald. He was pretty circumspect about his involvement in high-profile cases such as the Libby trial, but Fitzgerald did confirm rumors that he accidentally left a lasagna in the oven for several months.

"Save Our Lake"

How pissed are you about the expansion of BP's Whiting Refinery? If you want to fight the increased dumping of ammonia and industrial sludge in Lake Michigan, join the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago along the lakefront this weekend from 9 am to 1 pm to sign petitions or volunteer to recruit more signatures.

Steve@TheMovies-Spotting

Our own Steve Prokopy is a guest host on the latest episode of the popular local podcast Filmspotting. Adam Kempenaar and I discuss Rescue Dawn, which he reviewed last week, and Sunshine, which he reviews this week. You can download the episode here.

Sting Operation

Ex-cons in North Lawndale are pursuing the noble art of bee-keeping as a career. (Insert pun about freedom being "sweet" or "media buzz" here.)

TAL TV Gets 3 Emmy Nominations

Congratulations to Chicago Public Radio and This American Life; the television version of everybody's favorite radio program has received three Emmy nominations! Since they got nominated for Creative Arts Emmys, not Primetime Emmys, their big night will be Saturday, September 8. Mark your calendars...

Hey Ladies!

With the thousands of rock kids jammed into every nook of Millennium Park for the Decemberists/GPO show last night I thought for sure following Shylo's lead would park me in craigslist missed connections heaven. Actually it's pretty sparse, but this guy totally stole my idea and cast a wide net.

The Lake Effect

Now this is one city cause I can get behind. Chicago officials are exploring ways to fight an expansion of the BP refinery in Indiana which would put significantly more pollution into Lake Michigan.

Looking for Laughs

This weekend, the Music Box is being invaded by that other form of moving pictures: TV. The first-ever Chicago TV Pilot Competition showcases comedy television pilots based on ideas from Chicagoans. It even comes with its own commercial, by FoGB Steve Delahoyde.

No, Really, I'm the Other David Nelson

Unlike airports in NYC, Washington, Miami, and Los Angeles, Chicago does not have an agent with the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) at one of it's airports to help expedite clearing up mistakes/mismatches in the Terrorist Screening Data Base (and No Fly lists). Reportedly, over 500,000 names are in that database and almost 20,000 warnings were set off in 2006.

Transmission Feature: WLUW

This week over in Transmission, we take an insider's look at the work behind the scenes at community radio station WLUW, which has made the news this week due to its current shaky relationship with Loyola University. Have a read, get involved, and have your say.

A Pedagogical Factory

Starting on Sunday, the Stockyard Institute, AREA Chicago and other organizations will initiate "Pedagogical Factory: Exploring Strategies for an Educated City" at the Hyde Park Art Center. Throughout its run, topics will include "How We Peoples Make a People's Atlas of Chicago," "How We Grow: Self-Education and Urban Farming Gathering" and "How We Brew/Bake/Mead Etc Cottage Expo."

What a Ball

I bet when you think of conventions, sleazy salesmen or geeks in Klingon costumes come to mind. Me? I think of yarn. Especially since I just found out about YarnCon. Organized by two crafty chicas, YarnCon is possibly the first hip, urban yarn convention in the country. Put October 13th on your calendar if the idea of buying locally made goods related to yarn thrills you. Put August 15th (application deadline) on your calendar if selling goods related to yarn is more your thing.

You Should Have a New City Sticker By Now

...which means you've either added another one to the column, or you've removed the old one and have a sticky smear on your windshield. Here's a sure-fire method for removing the old sticker and the glue.

Glowing Reports on August: Osage County

Audience response to August: Osage County, a new Steppenwolf play by ensemble member Tracy Letts, has been across the board extraordinary and glowingly positive. Go see what all the fuss is about tomorrow night, when Theater Thursdays hosts a reception (Goose Island beer, snacks and discussion included) before the show. $35.

First, Do No Harm

Expanding her focus on the plight of the chronically ill in today's healthcare system, past GB contributor Kimberly Soenen and friends have launched Project Sin Alma.

Gangs of Chicago

A new report co-authored by criminal justice analyst Judith Greene [pdf] claims that Chicago and LA are not only losing the war on gangs, but the policing methods currently in place might actually be strengthening gang allegiances.

Fists of Fury

Human Weapon is a new History Channel series, featuring MMA fighter and Chicago native Jason Chambers. Along with cohost Bill Duff (a former pro football player/wrestler) the two travel the world to train and fight with masters from a myriad of disciplines like Muay Thai, Stick-fighting, and Savate street-fighting. Lots of videos and images on the site. Series premieres this Friday, July 20 at 10PM.

Another First for Oak Park

Following its recent transgendered library fund, Oak Park is again on the forefront of GLBT issues in Illinois with their official support of state legislation that would establish civil unions for same-sex couples.

You've Been Warned: CTA Weekend Rail Closures

I found out about this transit change the hard way this past weekend: on the weekends of July 14 and 21, as well as August 11 and 25, CTA trains will not run between the O'Hare line's Western/Milwaukee and Clark/Lake stations (on August 11, the Jackson/Dearborn station will also be closed). Instead, a bus shuttle will run between all closed stations to substitute for the faster, more convenient train service.

ComEd Rate Relief Deal?

CBS News Chicago is breaking with news that the State of Illinois and big electric utilities are on the verge of announcing a deal that would bring a cool $1 billion in rate relief to consumers.

Complaint Box

A legal battle is being waged over the visibility of complaints lodged against Chicago cops. You can guess what the men and women of the force think of the issue.

They Know Parkour?

So, the Sun-Times of all places has an interview with local parkour kid Ando Cousins. Check out his take on this urban gymnastics/running/daredevil art form. And then learn more about Chicago parkour at this Ando-moderated site.

Where to Relocate To?

There's absolutely no good reason to ever leave Chicago, but if you must relocate nearby, Money magazine's Top 100 Towns (population < 50K) list includes 4 in Chicagoland. Lisle was ranked #20, Libertyville #52, Woodridge #61 and South Elgin was #82.

Butterbeer Specials This Friday

No, Butterbeer isn't some craze from Wisconsin, it's the beer from the book series that revolves around a scarred teenager named Harry. But, if you are a fan and wonder what in the world you're going to do after you rush to Women and Children First to pick up the copy of the book you've already paid for, then wonder no longer. This Friday, Andersonville is Potter-friendly with drink and eats specials at area businesses (if you know the passwords), there will be fan fiction readings at The NeoFuturariam, roving Ministry of Magic reps, and even a scavenger hunt.

Feeling Ill?

If so, and you're into the U.S. News ratings for this, that and the other, you may want to head to the University of Chicago Medical Center for the best hospital in the region and the 17th best in the country.

Does Dick Need Balls?

What about Hillary? Or Barack? If you've wished you could say to someone in Congress, "Have some balls." Then be happy because now you can pay Balls to Congress $3.50 to send a super ball or $6.50 to send a basketball along with your message of choice. And if you lack balls yourself, they'll even let you send your ball-bearing message anonymously.

Cash Justice for Bad Hummus

Two of the 500+ people who got food poisoning from hummus served by Pars Cove restaurant at the Taste of Chicago are now suing the restaurant. One lawsuit asks for $30,000 in damages; the plaintiff admits that she didn't think the contamination was done deliberately, but that she was just "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Critics find Fox Revolting, Boycott

The Chicago Film Critics Association (of which our own Steve at the Movies is a member) is slapping 20th Century Fox with a boycott, claiming the studio is discriminating against some of its member critics from less prominent media — specifically, Internet-based critics. (Thanks, Dee!)

More Chicago Reality, Rock Style

Seems that it's against the laws of television to have a reality TV show without a Chicago entrant, but VH1's Rock of Love is taking it to the max, where lots of natives are vying for the attention of Bret Michaels from 80s hair band, Poison. Meet Tiffany and Kelly of Chicago, Jes of Naperville, and Jessica of Elk Grove. Bonus: Erin, former Miss Hooters of Illinois.

Condiment-nation

Neo-Futurist playwright Sean Benjamin recently received 21 packets of taco sauce for two tacos from the Taco Bell drive-thru. Then he wrote a play about it. Now he wants your help collecting one million condiment packets for his Condimentometer project. Because why the hell not? You have more condiment packets than you could ever possibly use, right? Bring (or mail) your packets to the Neo-Futurarium at 5153 N. Ashland, 60640, and be a part of something big and meaningless.

Knit One, Purl Two

The Micro-Fiber Militia: a group of Chicago crochet graffiti artists, keeping the streets patterned and cozy.

Pitchfork Rewind

We're a little tired, a little sunburned, but we've really got some things to say (good and bad) about this past weekend's Pitchfork Music Festival over at Transmission. Bonus: Pictures galore!

I Saw You ...

Man, you indie-rock kids were really on the make at this weekend's Pitchfork Festival. Check out all of these sweaty, lyrical Missed Connections from the List du Craig.

We're #1!

Yup, Gas Prices in Chicago are on average the highest in the nation. $3.46 per gallon.

Smart in the Suburbs

The Smart Car is available in Chicagoland -- out of a tiny storefront on Route 14 in Palatine.

A City that Fishes Together...

As gun-wielding citizens get taken out by the police at a pretty good clip, Checkerboard Chat says that the Chicago Police Department is hosting Hooked on Fishing at Sherman Park Lagoon, Garfield Park, Northerly Island, Humboldt Park, and Montrose Harbor over the next month.

Copa. Copacabana.

Richard M and some city officials took a little trip to Rio. It wasn't for the music and laughter though, it was for, you know...research.

Obama: Cash-o-Rama

The Tribune reports that Barack Obama's campaign contributions have reached a whopping $34 million for the first half of the year, likely making him the candidate with the largest fund for the 2008 election.

Critical Mass Closing Down?

The September 28 celebration of the 10th anniversary of Chicago's Critical Mass ride may also be the marking of its end, as reported in the Sun Times. The large draw of participants dedicated to showing the benefits of cycling is apparently causing more problems than displaying productive transit solutions; apparently no one likes a group of loud, drunk folks on bikes (but if you've seen a Critical Mass ride, you know that hardly describes the majority of riders). Before you start crying in despair, note that no formal plans have been made to shut down the ride, which is scheduled for the last Friday of every month at 5:30 p.m. in Daley Plaza.

Nostalgie de la Boue 2

Shameless self-promotion: I wrote a piece about Karen Abbott's new book Sin in the Second City and the infamous Everleigh Club for this week's Reader, which was slimmed down from a longer version (available here, in case you have some time to kill).

Say Hello to 331

630 is pretty much used up, so west suburban Chicago is up for another area code, 331. This will make it nine area codes in the Chicago area, joining the existing 312, 773, 708, 630, 815, 847, 224 and 779.

Bike Messenger POV

Ever wonder what it's like to be a bike messenger? Crain's tags along with Josh Corby, part owner of the Four Star Courier Collective, and shoots some first-person footage, slipping through traffic.

The Physics of Jail Bars

Former University of Chicago student and militant environmental activist Billy Cottrell has been in jail since 2004, but Stephen Hawking wants him freed.

Doris Thillens, Baseball Stadium Matriarch, Is Dead

Doris Thillens, widow of the late Mel G. Thillens, the founder of old-school armored truck service Thillens Checashers, died on Saturday. She helped her family run Thillens Stadium for decades.

Pitchfork? Don't Forget About Flatstock!

If you're going to Pitchfork this weekend, don't forget to bring money for Flatstock, the "ongoing series of exhibitions featuring the work of many of the most popular concert poster artists working today". If you're not going to Pitchfork, you can spend the next 4 hours or so clicking on poster links here. UPDATE: This week's Reader has a nearly-comprehensive take on 17 of the best Chicago-based screen print artists here.

Area Gum Company Partners With Sports League

Monitoring corporate press releases so you don't have to: The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and the National Basketball Association today announced a relationship that makes Wrigley's brands, Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Winterfresh, Doublemint and Wrigley's Spearmint the "Official Chewing Gum(s) of the NBA." Best quote: "'For years chewing Wrigley's has been as commonplace among NBA players as much as the crossover dribble,' said Mark Tatum, NBA Senior Vice President of Marketing Partnerships."

Trib2.0

The Tribune is previewing the upcoming redesign of its website, and it's ...well, boring. Nice web2.0 social networking-type features, but man, how 'bout a little pizazz?

The August Book Club Selection

The Gapers Block Book Club is reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, an old-fashioned love story and captivating page-turner about an old man remembering the time he spent working with a circus in Depression-era America. Visit the book club blog and read our short introduction to the novel. Then join us on Monday, August 13, at 7:30pm at The Book Cellar to talk about the book. New faces and new voices are always welcome.

Oh, Those Canadians!

The Globe and Mail reports on what is surely the most important aspect of the Conrad Black trial.

Transmission Feature: Pitchfork Picks

If you're an indie music fan in Chicago, chances are you're already well aware that the 3rd Annual Pitchfork Music Festival kicks off Friday night. A click away in Transmission (where we love to share) we've got our picks for great sets to catch and maybe a little of what to expect (or not) from your favorite artists this weekend. [And if you want to make it a 4-day weekend, start it out tonight at Transmission Thursdays at the 5-Star Bar at 9pm. It's good times!]

Getting in on the Action

Following the lead of Gapers Block (or possibly Oprah), Barack Obama is starting a book club. Alas, it's in New Hampshire, so rid your head of the idea that you'll be hanging out on a coffeehouse sofa talking literature with the senator. The first book? Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama.

Oh, Rats

Hai Yen, the Uptown restaurant reviewed favorably on "Check, Please!", was closed yesterday after city inspectors found live roaches and rat droppings. Perhaps WTTW should invite a few inspectors to pick some eateries for the show...

Taster's Choice

Well it's been a great run. Every year millions eat food prepared under the July sun, but it took 20 years for the first confirmed case of food-borne illness to come out of the Taste of Chicago.

Photo Swap on July 21

The Gapers Block/Calumet Photographic Photo Swap is just over a week away. Show up with five 4"x6" photographs, hang out, have some food and drinks, and then go home with five photos from other people. Details in Slowdown.

No, You Can't Have Ketchup on That

Following Michael Chertoff's boogity-boogity meeting with the Tribune's editorial board, Wired Blog writer Ryan Singel raised the Homeland Security Gut Threat Level system warning to the Chicago hot dog with everything level. May God protect us from the Tijuana Danger Dog.

Three-Card Monte Tour

Apartment Therapy drew attention to City Walks Chicago, a tour book deck of cards, with which you can design your own walking tour of downtown.

Black Verdict Imminent?

The jury in the Conrad Black newspaper fraud case sent a cryptic note to the judge indicating that they are deadlocked on "one or more counts" in the 42-count case. The general take is that it's good news for Black, and one of Black's lawyers seems to think there will be a conclusion today. UPDATE: Guilty of mail fraud and obstruction of justice, faces up to 35 years in prison.

Chertoff in Chicago

Department of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff tells the Tribune that things could get hairy, terrorist-wise, this summer. He also bucked up the camera-happy Chicago Police Department: "I think the use of cameras here and other technologies is a model for the country," he said.

These City Streets

Miami Heat star forward Antoine Walker, already once the victim of armed robbery here in his hometown, was robbed at gunpoint last night in River North. Looking on the bright side though he wasn't hurt and the cops recovered his car...some of us have to find our own.

Jeff Tweedy <3 Chicago

Wilco's frontman tells American Airlines' magazine all about his city crush.

News of the Weird

Overwhelmingly Democratic Chicago is finally about to get a "liberal, working-class" anti-war newspaper. And it's...the Chicago Sun-Times! No, seriously, the Sun-Times.

Todd Returns

Welcome back to the grind, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. State's Attorney Richard Devine is especially happy to see you.

Nostalgie de la Boue

Karen Abbott's new book, Sin in the Second City comes out today. Delve into the lusty dealings of Chicago's most notorious turn of the century house of ill repute, the Everleigh Club, which sat at the center of the stormy battle between the reform movement and the denizens of Chicago's infamous Levee district.

Bikini Atoll

NBC newscaster Amy Jacobson is in the midst of a kerfuffle over her appearance at a party at Craig Stebic's house (Stebic is the husband of Lisa Stebic, who has been missing since April 30.). Jacobson's party attendance — and in particular her beach attire — has whipped up the usual hand-wringing over journalistic ethics by an easily titillated press. Meanwhile, Eric Zorn valiantly rushed to his fellow reporter's defense. UPDATE: Jacobson has resigned.

It's a Hell of a Town (in Vermont?)

Well, the people have spoken, and Springfield, Vermont will be the lucky town to host the premier of The Simpsons Movie later this month. Our own Springfield, Illinois was in the running, but, alas, didn't garner enough votes. [Insert bitter Comic Book Guy commentary here, then go get a Squishee.]

Opera Time-Lapse

Speaking of timewasters, the Chicago Opera Theater recently posted a time-lapse video of three set changes: from "Beatrice and Benedict" to "Duke Bluebeard's Castle" to "Erwartung" to "Beatrice and Benedict" again. Seven minutes of stagehand fun!

CME+CBOT=?

Shareholders of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade agreed to their pending merger, which means Chicago will be the world capital of commodities for the foreseeable future. There's already speculation that the new "CME Group, a Chicago Board of Trade company" (official acronym TBD) may start looking for more acquisitions.

Aviophobics in Style

Amtrak and GrandLuxe have teamed up to bring high-end GrandLuxe Limited service on regular Amtrak routes that primarily involve Chicago. Of course, a luxury train ride isn't cheap; routes start at $789.

What You Don't Know...

...can't possibly hurt him! State Senate President Emil Jones' opposition to legislation that would make lists of state subcontractors available on the internet may (or may not) have something to do with the fact that his step-son has millions of dollars in "under-the-radar government business".

Clop, Clop, Clop, Plop.

If you've ever wondered why you've never seen a white Chicago Police Department horse or at least what being a mounted policeperson is like, this article's for you.

Little Italy: Mostly Mob-Free

Chicago Daily News tells the story of Dead Man's Tree, and finds Taylor Street is largely free of mob influence.

Last Chance for Pitchfork

We're closing entries in our contest for three pairs of three-day passes to the sold-out Pitchfork Music Festival at noon, so get in there now! UPDATE: We have our winners! Congratulations to Elizabeth Monkus, Matt Avery and Bob Atkinson!

On the Radar

Hollywood returns to the second city with Angelina Jolie (who?) and hometown boy Common filming in Chicago the first week of August. Get the details and other tidbits on happenings around town next month in Chicago Mag's "Blip".

The Money Train

This Op-Ed piece in the Sun-Times makes a good argument for a quick resolution to the public trans funding debate, pointing out that a good rail system is important for any city's, and by default the state's, economy, a realization already come to in other global financial centers.

Online Documentary Films

Meet folkstreams.net, a project to preserve documentaries about American roots cultures. There is, of course, a Midwestern section, and at least two Chicago-related films "The Popovich Brothers of South Chicago" and "Grace Earl."

"I Was Watching You ... "

If you went to the Police concert, there's a pretty good chance someone posted a Missed Connection about you. Check out the veritable blizzard of Craig's List posts from the '80s band's two-nighter at Wrigley.

He Stays!

The "Will He Stay or Will He Go" debate that has swirled around White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle has finally been resolved with a contract extension. No word about what White Sox fans are left to talk about now.

Weapon Town

Monitoring local weapon news so you don't have to: the Chicago Police is getting ready to adopt a new weapons order that includes "striker-fired pistols manufactured by Smith and Wesson, Springfield Armory, and Glock"; Wired says that Taser International is about to roll out its new, wireless weapon here on Monday; and police higher-up Deputy Supt. John Risley's suspicions were right when he saw an 18-year old fidgeting with his shirt at the Taste of Chicago. The kid had a gun.

Stay on Target!

Although it's not near a visitor entrance, a redwing blackbird has apparently built a nest near the Shed Aquarium. The bird has been dive bombing anything or anyone that comes too close.

Kwik-E Mart Walk-through

Not willing to drive all the way to 63rd and Harlem for a Squishee? The Methods Reporter has your hook-up.

Hooping It Up Downtown

Looking for something a little different this weekend? How about a hula hoop dance party in Millennium Park? HooperPower and Chicago Hoopdance are celebrating World Hoop Day with an interactive performance tomorrow night from 7 to 9pm. Grab a hula hoop and join in for free!

City Sticker Zero Hour is Approaching

The 2007/2008 Chicago Vehicle Stickers and Residential Permit Parking passes expired on June 30th, but the City grants a 15-day grace period so that your old stickers are valid through July 15. New stickers are valid from June 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008.

Movie Walkouts from Tribune Staffers

Michael Phillips takes an informal poll of Chicago Tribune staffers, and the movies they walked out on. Looking over the many reader comments, everybody's a critic.

Now's Your Chance, Lobster Man

If you have a hankerin' for counter-culture theater, you may want to see Mary-Arrchie's performance of two Sam Shepard plays, "4-H Club" (1965) and Cowboy Mouth (1971). If you're interested, here's a review of the current production and some fascinating background (and a spoiler) on the latter play, which was co-written with Patti Smith.

Berwyn Car Spindle Headed For Junkyard?

The Spindle (the stack of cars in Berwyn's Cermak Plaza most famously seen at the beginning of Wayne's World) is coming down to make room for a Walgreen's, and it's unclear whether the current owners are willing to spend the money to place the artwork in another location. Better drive by Cermak Plaza and see the Spindle one more time before it drives off into the sunset...

Read, Listen & Watch

Green Lantern is hosting a book launch/video screening/reading tonight from 7pm to 9pm at 1511 N Milwaukee, 2nd flr. Josh MacPhee will discuss his new book, Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority, our own Anne Elizabeth Moore will do a short reading and discuss the demise of Punk Planet, and Dara Greenwald will present her rotating collection of short videos that make you laugh and cry. It's free; BYOB.

Tastes of All Kinds

Over in Drive-Thru, we've got some companion coverage geared toward the Taste of Chicago: Christine Blumer provides tent-to-tent recommendations on the drinks of Taste to go with Tribune reporter Monica Eng's ratings of all the food choices. (No really, she tried them all; it cost $1100.) And David Hammond offers up an alternative Taste of his own -- a guide to eating cuts not usually found on American plates.

Paging Dr. Carter...Again

WBEZ reported today that a survey of 178 Stroger Hospital physicians revealed that over half of them are thinking about leaving their jobs in the next year due to the recent dramatic staff reductions, and the resulting decline of both staff morale and the ability to provide quality medical care. County Commissioner Jerry Butler seemed unfazed about the foreboding data, commenting that it "doesn't mean they're going to leave." I know that these talented veterans of County Hospital are available for work should Jerry have some vacancies in the future.

Delving into the Past

Once you're done poking around in Architectural Artifacts, head over to Urban Remains, which specializes in salvaged items from the turn of the century to the 1930s, primarily in Chicagoland. (Photography fans should check out this page.)

Transmission Feature: Flosstradamus

Nothing's going to fix the fact you're probably back at work today, nursing yourself back to some semblance of consciousness, but we might just take the edge off that hurt with our feature over at Transmission. Check out our interview with sensational local electronica duo Flosstradamus.

Window Washers of Chicago

Meet Garcia de la Cadena, the Mexican village from which a disproportionate share of our window washers hail.

You Wanna Pizza This?

Giving new meaning to the slogan "The Connie's Driver will Break Your Knees," the founder of the venerable Chicago Pizza chain says he was shaken down by Mob boss Frank Calabrese Sr. According to testimony today at the Family Secrets mob murder trial, James Stolfe said he feared being burned if he didn't pay up.

Briefly Stepping Back in Time

The Palmolive Building will briefly light its beacon tomorrow night. It may not be the real deal, but it's the first test of a configuration that may be used on future special occasions.

Where's the Love for No Glove?

Sure hosting the Olympics would be neat, but asking the vital questions, an article on the 16 Inch Hall of Fame website wonders what effect it might have on Chicago's game.

Pitchfork Ticket Contest!

We've got three pairs of three-day passes to the Pitchfork Music Festival July 13-15, courtesy of Boost Mobile and Schubas, and we're giving them all away! To be entered in the drawing, send an email including your name, address and phone number to contests@gapersblock.com by July 9! Good luck!

Chicago Infoporn

Crain's offers a treasure trove of information with its Market Facts feature this week. Check out maps of census data and an interactive skyline tour, and PDFs of all sorts of market information.

That Old Town

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago has a video preview available for their new exhibit; Daily Life Ornamented: The Medieval Persian City of Rayy.

The Cure That Killed

Like something out of a crime novel, University of Chicago Hospital officials called in the cops to find out if spiked insulin levels that killed one patient and put another in a coma were caused by an "intentional act."

Greatest Chicago Movies

Tom McNamee of the Sun-Times offers his "Top 10 Greatest Chicago Movies." The list is heavy on recent popular flicks, but there are still a couple of out-of-the way movies worth checking out.

Daley in the Sky

Who cares if the Mayor gets around? 67 trips since Jan. '04 sounds pretty sweet, no matter who is paying for them. (By the way, it's us. But only half the time.)

Tasting It All

Speaking of consuming huge amounts of food, the Trib's Monica Eng sampled 253 dishes at the Taste. The experiment cost the paper a grand total of $1,022. I'm sure it was a lot of really healthy food.

East vs. Midwest

The 91st annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place this Wednesday, July 4th at 12PM EST on ESPN. Watch Chicago local Pat Bertoletti (ranked third in the world) go up against 6-time champ Takeru Kobayashi, who won last year by consuming 53.75 hot dogs in 12 minutes. This year's winner receives a cash prize of $10,000. Nap time is rumored to begin at 12:30.

And He Hails from Hyde Park...

Mr. Obama has set a fund raising record; most ever for a democratic candidate.

Woo hoo!

Yes, Chicago has a Kwik-E-Mart. One of the city's 7-Eleven locations was turned into the convenience store from "The Simpsons" to hype the new movie. So if you need Squishees, Krusty-O's or a Radioactive Man comic, head on over to 6754 W. 63rd.

The Value of Lost Love

A Cook County jury ordered a woman's lover to pay her husband $4,802.87 for stealing her love. Then it gets weird.

This Entry Is Not Kosher

Soooooooeeeeeeee! In quite possibly one of the most disgusting truck spills in recent memory, the northbound Edens was shut down for seven hours after a truck tipped over, spilling out pig ears, pig feet, and grease across the highway. Ironically, the spill happened near the Skokie exit.

Bagtown

Since we're on the subject of cornhole, you might want to check out ChicagoCornhole.com. The tournament they set up at Pizza Fest was fun, but take some friendly advice and get some practice in first if you don't want to get owned. I know...ahem...from experience.

 

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