Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, June 24

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Boogity boogity boogity!

Excessively trusting thrillseekers may be interested in attending the First Annual Ghost Conference, held October 26-28 at the Congress Plaza Hotel... which is, of course, billed as being "haunted."

Obit: Kenneth Weisner, Victory Auto Wreckers

The Tribune notes the passing of Kenneth Weisner, who owned Victory Auto Wreckers and came up with the much-remembered TV commercial where the car door falls off.

Cubs Fans Rejoice

Major League Baseball and the Cubs are sponsoring a rally tomorrow, at noon, in Daley Plaza to celebrate the Cubs' Central Division title. The Mayor and Governor are scheduled to attend, as are former players Billy Williams and Andy Pafko, among others. Of course, fans didn't need anyone to organize them a rally the night the Cubs clinched their postseason spot.

Top Toll Violaters Outed

If you had $80,695 in your "The Amount Owed by the Top Illinois Toll Violators" office pool, take a bow! It's Marcel Medek and Andrea Zemankova who are sitting in the driver's seat on this one. FYI: new Illinois laws escalate the fines for missed tolls to $70 each.

Dybek and Welch on the Radio

Chicago Public Radio's "Hello Beautiful" interviews lawyer, author and MacArthur Grant recipient Stuart Dybek on this weekend's show; last week they talked with Patrick Welch, founder of the "micromentalist" art movement (whom we profiled earlier this year).

Stop... Hammer Time!

Oak Lawn decided to get distracted drivers' attention by having a little fun with their stop signs.


This week's Reader is the last one by the Chicago production office; when next week's new format debuts next week, it'll be put together by Creative Loafing down South. Pick up this week's copy to see one last message from the outgoing production team (hint: upper left corner).

First Serve

Good way to spend your Friday afternoon: Layer Tennis is live.

Hello Again, Everybody

Sad that Harry Carey wasn't around to watch another Cubs race to the playoffs, but you can still bring a little of him into your home. (Sad also that Stoney's not in the booth for this, but wait 'til next year, maybe.)

Paint Your Blank Walls

The awesome do-gooders at The Neighbors Project are working hard to decorate the blank, blah walls around our city. But they're looking for the help of artsy types in Chicago for their New Life for Dead Spaces project. If you're interested, email at volunteer [at]

October is Art Month

The 12th Annual Chicago Artists Month is under way, and offers a ridiculous number of opportunities to meet artists, ogle their studios, stroll through unfamiliar neighborhoods on gallery walks, schmooze at openings, and even try your hand at something creative. Slowdown notes just some of the highlights; click here for a complete schedule.

Your Hyper-local News

The Marshfield Tattler follows the goings on in a little corner of Back of the Yards. Nice to see someone telling that neighborhood's stories.

Guide to Free Coffee

Hey, need a pick-me-up? TV Guide is giving away free cups of coffee today until 5pm (next Friday, too) at coffee shops around the city -- details in Drive-Thru.

Metra "Sabotage"?

The FBI is investigating the removal of a dozen spikes from Metra tracks near 100th Street and the Bishop Ford.

Best of Our City

NewCity's Best of Chicago issue is out. Some surprises, some un-surprises, surprisingly few illustrations. Pick it up.

A Chicago Kid in Project Runway4!

The fourth season of the Bravo TV show Project Runway, which premieres November 14, will have a Chicagoan among its competitors. Click here for Steven's biography. He works for the Museum of Science and Industry and is fearlessly wearing a lavender knit polo shirt in his bio picture. Make it work!

Get Growing at Seed Conference

Hobnob and hear the stories and tips from Chicago design heavy hitters at the SEED Conference this October. This one-day event, featuring 37Signals, Coudal Partners and Segura, will be composed of discussions on design, entrepreneurship and inspiration. it's $399, so see if your office will pick up the cost.

40 Free Days at MCA

To celebrate "40 fearless years," the Museum of Contemporary Art is offering 40 days of free events starting this Saturday. Lots of chances to get inside and stare at art for free if you can't get to the museum on Tuesday, the usual free day.

Humor Can Sometimes Be Cruel

Congratulations to Feast of Fools, which won Best GLBT Podcast in the People's Choice Podcast Awards.

Hiding Out Review

There's been buzz a-plenty over featherproof Books publisher/Time Out Chicago editor Jonathan Messinger's first book of short stories, titled Hiding Out. Head on over to the Book Club page to read a review of this little literary gem and, if you're free, make a trip to the Hideout tonight to help Messinger and friends celebrate its release.

Nailah Franklin Somebody Found Dead

Today's news reported that a body was found in a wooded area in Calumet City. The body has now been confirmed by ABC 7 as Nialah Franklin. The body is being checked to determine if it's that of Chicago woman Nailah Franklin, who was reported missing last week. Her car had been abandoned nearby.

Rolling Hard

The Windy City Rollers have had a tough but rewarding year. The Tribune follows their big match against #1 ranked Madison.

Transmission Feature: Rococo Records

Today in Transmission we take a nice, long look at Chicago's independent Rococo Records. They've brought you a rainbow of colors in vinyl from the likes of Les Savy Fav, Velcro Lewis and His 100-Proof Band and KK Rampage. They've also got a thing for penguins, but we won't judge.

Batman's Not the Only Show on Wacker Drive

Yesterday Motorola sent people on a cruise, the L and even in cars speeding at 50mph along a 1.5 mile stretch of the Chicago River. Why? To demonstrate their new WiMAX product to the press and attendees of WiMAX World. Here's the press release, if you're looking for more detail.

Without an Elevator Pitch?

Chicago Carless was granted "unfettered access to interview the administrative staff of the Chicago Children's Musuem" and came away with a fresh take on the controversy and a new pitch for the museum.

Bloomingdale Trail Survey

If you have any interest into the Bloomingdale Trail-- "Chicago's Next Great Park"-- make your voice heard in the planning by completing their Community Visioning Survey. Your responses will be incorporated into a report that will be distributed to the City agencies that will ultimately design and build the Bloomingdale Trail.

Apropos of Nothing

Here's an old interview with Steve Albini, talking about food.

No, You Don't Have to Box

The World Boxing Championships will be held in Chicago next month, and they're looking for volunteers to help with the event. Got what it takes? (Thanks, Evan!)

Bill Wirtz is dead

Alcohol and hockey magnate Bill Wirtz died this morning.

A Hundred Canvases

100 Paintings 100 Days is a project by Arielle Sandler: one 6"x6" oil painting a day, released for sale a week's worth at a time. $125 each including shipping.

Norm Van Lier's Curse

Thabo Sefolosha might not know that the Bulls #2 is cursed! [via]

Death on Batman Movie Set

A special effects technician died on the British set of The Dark Knight Returns, the upcoming Batman film scheduled for release next summer. Parts of the movie were filmed in Chicago this past summer. The technician was in a vehicle carrying camera equipment that crashed into a tree during a test of a stunt likely involving the Batmobile.

And Justice for Cyclists...

GB alumni and fellow teammate Luke Seemann recounts a hit-and-run during the team's weekly Saturday morning ride up to Highland Park and back on his excellent Chicago Bike Racing. Clearly an attack on the riders who were paying attention to the rules of the road, the culprit turned himself in and is now facing felony charges in court. Luke has further details on Thomas Lynch.

Polite in Space

Polite in Public is a photobooth project that's traveling the country; it has a different backdrop and props everyplace it stops. It landed at the Vic this past weekend -- with a space theme. (Thanks, Felix!)

Riding with the Prez

Maybe the reason the CTA changed its mind on the Chicago Card is because its president, Ron Huberman, rides the rails, too.

The (Gold) Coast of Chicago

The MacArthur Foundation just released the names of its 2007 Fellows, and Stuart Dybek earned the award (along with its $500,000). If you've never checked out the program's details, you may want to check out the FAQ.

Don't Sweat the Expiring Chicago Card

Good news for Chicago Card holders who were going to have to jump through CTA's hoops. The CTA is reversing its decision.

Ebert Rules scored 60 well-known pundits who critique entertainment, news, sports, etc., and found Roger Ebert to be the most powerful pundit in America. Use your power wisely, Roger. (via)

Waiting for the Train

Wes Anderson's Darjeeling Limited comes out this weekend, but you can catch its sort-of prequel, Hotel Chevalier, a 12-minute short film starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman, at the Michigan Avenue Apple Store tomorrow night at 9pm. Screenwriter Roman Coppola will answer questions after the show.

That's Not Play Money

In the battle over the possible relocation of the Children's Museum to Grant Park rages on, there's a factor that's gone unmentioned: the money. The museum stands to receive more than $1 million in subsidies if it's on park grounds, reports Crain's.

Cubs' Magic Number

In case you're counting.

The Third Time Had Better Be a Charm

After stints as the head of both the Chicago and Philadelphia Public School Systems, Paul Vallas is now the head of the New Orleans Recovery School District. A nice profile in today's New York Times details his hopes for the district's future.

Reba Found!

A nice feel-good story to start the week. (Previously.)

Power of the Purse

Noon Solar makes bags and purses with solar panels built in to charge your cellphone, ipod or whatever -- very cool. It's one of a couple companies mentioned in this article on the increasing number of women in DePaul's Coleman Entrepreneurship Center. [via]

Brown Paper Packages

The Reader has a lot of favorite things.

Fight for your Right to Fish Tacos

Kevin Pang over at the Tribune has a tasty crusade for you to join. It comes with a wrist band and a side of pico de gallo.

Make No Little Plans

Wurlington Brothers Press has published a series of postcards that allow you to make your own miniature paper Windy City! Teeny-tiny Mayor Daley not included. (We discovered it years ago, but BoingBoing just found it.)

Complain in Song

The Complaints Choir of Chicago is getting ready to rehearse for their performance this fall, and they need your help: "Detractors, muckrakers, grouches and all citizens of Chicago: this is your chance to unite and voice your concerns and complaints in a hilarious choir conducted by Jeremy Jacobsen." Send your complaint and contact info to:

Ain't That a Kick in the, uh, Head?

The Trib's public editor explains why they pulled the September 14 "Get Fuzzy" comic. "We don't allow our own reporters to write vulgarities, double-entendres or untruths, even in jest," said associate managing editor for features Geoff Brown. Confine all groin injury references to the sports section, folks!

Green Space, a Quarter at a Time

As we mentioned Monday, today is National Park(ing) Day! Head to Milwaukee Avenue, just east of Western, to visit several parking spaces turned temporary public parks. The Trust for Public Land is offering free info, cupcakes and even a wishing tree. (Thanks, Meghan!)

OMG! Lulzcon 2007!

Reader Dubi asks, "Can 15 minutes stretch over a weekend?"

University Village Woman is Missing

Nailah Franklin, a 28-year-old pharmaceutical representative living in University Village, was last heard from about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday when she sent a text message to her boyfriend. Her car and computer equipment are also missing. Ms. Franklin had recently complained to police about receiving telephone threats, which adds to the anxiety over her whereabouts. Click here for more information.

Desk Work

E. Thomas Gimbel, owner of the LaSalle Network staffing and recruiting firm, is 6'6"; he's found that having a desk to stand behind instead of sit behind has improved his workday immeasurably. [via]

Future Perfect Almost Past

The Illinois Humanities' Council's series, Future Perfect: Conversations on the Meaning of Genetics -- which has staged panels and discussions throughout the city about genetic testing, stem cell research, and related topics over the past year -- wraps up next Tuesday night with a discussion of fairness and accessibility down at the DuSable Museum. Excerpts from the new Kartemquin documentary, Terra Incognita, will be shown. More details in Slowdown. If you've missed previous events in the series, you can catch up by watching the videos at the Illinois Channel, or listening at Chicago Amplified.

Backstage at the Opera

The Lyric Opera has launched "Backstage at Lyric," a podcast that "features in-depth interviews with the singers, conductors, and creative minds behind the productions of the 2007/08 season."

Archival Art

Photographer Ian "only-connect" Lorenzo (whose photo was featured in Rearview on Thursday) does some amazing things with his flickr account. Individual photos shine, but it's best to view his archives page by page by page.

Buyer Beware

As if the overbuilding, high prices and cookie-cutter looks of so many of the new condo buildings, the Chicago Journal's Alan Shannon points out some other drawbacks.

The Tequilia Fund

A donation fund has been set up for partially paralyzed Windy City Roller "Tequila Mockingbird," (previous coverage here, here) to help pay for her medical bills (she was uninsured). You can donate via PayPal to All funds will be transferred directly into her North Community Bank trust account and are tax-deductible. (You can use that same address to send her well-wishings, too.)

Transmission Feature: OFFICE

At Gapers Block: Transmission we're not afraid to embrace music that has nothing to do with shoe-gazing. Read all about Chicago's own indie-pop phenomenon OFFICE, and get ready to have some songs stuck in your head all day long.

The Chocolate War War

Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War (number four on the ALA's most frequently challenged books list) has once again raised parental hackles. This time at John H. Kinzie Elementary School in Garfield Ridge. The irony of demanding the banning of a book that decries mindless conformity has, of course, been entirely missed by those wishing to protect the little ones from masturbation references and swear words. And hey! It's just in time for Banned Books Week!

Still Want To See A Smartcar?

If you want to check out the undeniably nifty Smartcar then you've missed your Chicago chance for a test drive -- the Smart Team came through in June. But next week they'll be in Louisville if you fancy a roadtrip, and St. Louis on Oct 3rd.

18K for Preschool

Chicago City Day School and The Latin School of Chicago grace the Forbes list of most expensive preschools with tuitions of $17,750 and $17,425, respectively. Note that a good portion of the Forbes information about Latin is incorrect. [via]

On the Map

National Geographic is bringing its popular Festival of Maps to Chicago Nov. 2 -- spread out over nine museums, libraries and other locations.

A Note of Business

Our text ad service is just shy of sold out into October -- $25 for a week's attention at the top of our pages is a good deal. Click on "more" for an even better deal for our last remaining September slot.

We like to have ads run from Sunday to Saturday, but next week we've got an ad ending on Monday. We'll cut a deal for whoever wants the remaining five days (Sept. 25-29): $15 and it's yours. First to email with their ad (no longer than 100 characters, including spaces) gets it. Sold. But we still have plenty of room in October -- get in there while you can!

Chicago Olympics Logo Re-Ignited

The City has unveiled it's new Olympics logo, which uses a star from the Chicago flag (yeah, we like that idea around here) in the center of a seemingly torch-like range of colors. I wonder how this is all that different from Chicago's last entry which was disqualified due to the IOC's rules against using official images of the Olympics by bidding cities.

There Once Was a Team Called the Cubs...

Photos and limericks about our North Side team. (Thanks, Enrich.)

BOGO Seven-Minute View

The Navy Pier ferris wheel people are expecting their 10 millionth rider in the next couple weeks and are celebrating by offering this 2 for 1 coupon [pdf]. (Good only till 30 September.) If you have family coming to visit, or friends with kids, it's a nice opportunity to get a terrific (if brief) view at a more reasonable price.

More on the Children's Museum

The Sun-Times brings us more on the brewing battle between Loop Alderman Brendan Reilly and Richard M. Daley, Mayor. Best part of the article? "The mayor is nuts," said Donald Jacobsen, an area resident. Wonder what's going to show up on Donny J's front stoop this a.m.

Paper Jam

When it takes you a half hour to get from the circle interchange to Roosevelt you may not need a national study to tell you Chicago traffic is one of the worst in the nation. Well here it is anyway.


Don't forget today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, ya scurvy cur! You may want to get in the mood by viewing pirates from previous years, and while you're looking, note that flickr has gotten into the spirit.

Is Your Chicago Card Expiring?

Since pinching pennies is the rule of the day with the CTA, make sure your pennies stay right where you put them on your Chicago Card. If you ran out and got a card when they were first offered four years ago, your card might be expiring as early as October 17th (note: this doesn't affect Chicago Card Plus users). To check the status of your card, and to replace it, talk to a customer service agent in person, go online or call 888-968-7282.

Bucktown B&B?

While searching for a bike rental in Amsterdam, I happened upon a very cool looking B&B in Bucktown. So if you have guests for more than a few days who might appreciate a sauna, kitchen, and a break from the same-old same-old downtown, Ray's Bucktown B&B might be just the thing. (Bonus: they have a retro hair-dryer. Take that, Palmer House!)


Metromix launched a full redesign today, and divorced itself URL-wise from the Tribune. It sure looks slick, but does it work any better?

Blogging North of Devon

Rogers Park is the fifth bloggiest neighborhood in the nation, according to [via]

Fix Your Windows

Local software startup Humanized released a set of beta products yesterday. Beta products are small, free apps for Windows that do things like control your music player without actually looking at it, or perform search, language translation or mathematical typesetting wherever you need it.

Book Club Behavior

If you've ever considered joining a book club, but wanted to know more about proper etiquette (Do you have to read the whole book? Who decides what to read?), the Sun-Times offers the first in a three-part series to help you out. Among those interviewed are the vice president of the Great Books Foundation and our own Book Club co-moderator, Alice Maggio. Parts two and three to be published on Wednesday and Sunday. (And don't forget, new members to the GB Book Club are always welcome.)

Vote for the Local Collecter

The Collection Obsession contest has reached the finals, and local collector (and former GB staffer) Brenda Janish is a finalist! Vote for her collection of pin-ups every day through Oct. 19 to help her win.

From the Heartland?

The Heartland Institute, a conservative Chicago think tank, is currently running advertisements asserting "global warming is not a crisis" featuring Czech president Vaclav Klaus. I'm sure that has nothing to do with the $800,000 in funding and executive assistance it's received from ExxonMobil in the last ten years, including $115,000 last year [pdf].

We're the Cleanest!

According to the biennially disturbing survey of public bathroom hand washing, those at the Shedd and MSI washed their hands 81% of the time, compared to lower totals elsewhere. A word to the wise: avoid men at Atlanta baseball games.

12.8% Mortgage

The Chicago Reporter finds that the Chicago metropolitan area leads the nation in high-cost loans. The story is receiving serious attention and will be featured locally tomorrow on Eight Forty-Eight and the Cliff Kelley Show.

This Friday Is Parking Day

This Friday is Parking Day, which is an attempt to reclaim greenspace within cities by turning parking spaces into greenspaces for a day. In Chicago at least one action is planned in Pilsen (highly recommended background YouTube vid here) and it's worth defending: a community garden is under threat to be developed... into a parking lot. There is also another effort going on Saturday too.

Talkin' Media

The Community Media Workshop has posted information and a schedule of events inspired by the Federal Communications Commission's public hearing on media ownership this Thursday in Chicago.

CNN Architecture Shout Out

Omnipresent CNN's all up in our stuff with an article about Chicago's architectural legacy, along with some photos and a short video about Frank Lloyd Wright's local connections.

Humanities Festival Schedule Available Now

Tickets don't go on sale till the 24th (unless you're a member, in which case they've already been on sale for a few days) but you can get a head start by browsing the program (pdf) for the Chicago Humanities Festival (this year's theme: Climate of Concern) now.

Day in the Life of a CPS Principal

One in four of Chicago Public School principals are new this year. Chicago Public Radio's David Schaper followed an elementary school principal around for a day to see what challenges she's facing.

7 Bids for the Olympics

Well, now we know who our competition is. And the local press is already giving Chicago the lead.

Is Chicago Bike-Friendly?

The Tribune sent a reporter and photographer along with two Chicagoland Bicycle Federation employees to ask the question in an article with video. Of course, they find out what most of us already know: cars mean trouble. Go ahead and take the poll, if you're so inclined.

Keyes vs. Obama Redux?

Former carpetbagging senate candidate Alan Keyes has announced he's running for President again. I wonder if he still claims Illinois as his primary residence...

Design Sense

Stitch is "a rigorously edited selection of sleek home and personal furnishings." A very beautiful selection.

Changes at Reader

The Tribune and Sun-Times report the Chicago Reader, which was purchased in July by Creative Loafing Inc., wants to trim staff by making the paper's deliverymen independent contractors. And starting next month, the Reader will switch to a tabloid format, one printed in Milwaukee with production work completed in Atlanta. The CEO of Creative Loafing recently told an interviewer he isn't completely "establishment," noting he was "wearing tie-dyed socks right now."

Designers, Set Your Palettes!

If you're into creative competition and don't have much to do on Friday afternoons, you'll want to check out the new Photoshop Layer Tennis!

American Perspectives Starts Tomorrow

A yearlong exploration of 19th and 20th century American art, music, and literature, American Perspectives is a collaboration between AIC, the Poetry Foundation, and the CSO that includes exhibits, concerts, lectures, courses, films, and more, all focusing on how different genres influence each other. Tomorrow AIC kicks things off with live music, readings, talks, and gallery tours. For more information, click here.

Where to Fish

Want to go fishing? Here's where to go, and what you might catch there.

Grave Matter

The juggernaut-like O'Hare expansion plan won another victory when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the notion that relocating 1,600 graves in 158-year-old St. Johannes Cemetery in Bensenville, IL, to make room for more runways violated the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "We are very excited about this decision," said our not-at-all-ghoulish mayor.

Yachters vs. Hip Hop?

Local yachters want the Park District to do something about cursing by musical acts at Northerly Island and they're naming names: Snoop Dogg and Wu-Tang Clan, among others. On September 2, boaters protested a Snoop Dogg show by blasting their horns from Burnham Harbor. Clear Channel, which books the concerts at Northerly, has been asked by the Park District "to be careful" about the groups it brings there.

Bet the Emmys

Chicago-based Inkling Markets, the creator of prediction market software, has started a partnership with Viacom to launch Bet The Emmys-- your chance to trade contracts on who will win each category. The Office is the current pick in Outstanding Comedy Series.

Thin Crust

Someday, we're going to lose this reputation for only eating deep-dish pizza.

Transmission Feature: Record Store Favs #6

Before you start only buying your music at Starbucks, don't forget the noble neighborhood record store is ready and willing to help meet your music needs. This week, in our sixth installment, we bring you an inside look at another one of our favorite Chicago record stores.


The Westin Chicago River North hotel wants to attract guests not just with continental breakfasts or chocolates on the pillows, but rather a super-toilet, the Brondell Swash 800. Equipped with such indulgences as a heated seat, bidet, warm air dryer (!), and water pressure controls (!!!), one wonders how this will impact local escort services.

Lost Dog

Do you know where Reba is? (Thanks, Ellen!)

Fashion Design and You

If you've started or are planning to start a fashion business in Chicago, the City of Chicago and Macy's would like to give you the opportunity to win a Designer in Residence position at the new Macy's State Street Chicago Fashion Incubator. There are some stipulations and a $75 application fee, but you can download the application and get the full details now [pdf].

Chicago Is the Destination

Do you spend a lot of time scouring calendars looking to see which stores are having trunk shows and sales? Are you likely to plan a shopping day in Chicago? Then you just might be interested in Chicago Destination Shopping Club. After you become a member you can choose to either follow your favorite shops, or find out what is going on during any given day for you, your girlfriend, your bored male companion, or your antsy children in one of a handful of neighborhoods.

Your City Council

An excellent resource for keeping up with the City Council: the Reader's lovingly researched Your City Council map and scorecard. Meeting schedule here.

I'll Catch Yer Dog Fer Ya

Surfboard goes in the lake, surfer goes in the lake. Dog's in the lake... Our dog... Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies... Well done, Mr. Smolenski and Mr. Riopelle.

Bachelor No More

Crain's reports that William Wrigley, Jr. -- just last month named Chicago's most eligible bachelor by Forbes -- just got married.

Tequila Mockingbird Update

The Sun-Times has a story on seriously injured Windy City Roller Derby skater Tequila Mockingbird (aka Tahirah Johnson). Her proclamation: "I will walk again."

A Life-Changing Report

Tribune science reporter Peter Gorner is being credited with changing the lives of at least 13 children with a story about a rare form of diabetes -- as he himself was dying from lung cancer.

Bailout En Route

At this point, we all deserve a "I Survived the Annual CTA Funding Dog and Pony Show" t-shirt: Governor Blagojevich will soon announce a temporary infusion of funds to the CTA to avoid the drastic service cuts and fare increases that were to take effect this weekend.

Mulling the Museum Move

As debate escalates over the Chicago Children's Museum's proposed move to Grant Park, Blair Kamin offers a scathing critique of the current Richard J. Daley Bicentennial Plaza while reminding us of the 1836 statement: "Public Ground -- A Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free of any Buildings, or other Obstruction Whatever."

City-sponsored Bike Rental: the Dream May Become a Reality

Mayor Daley, back from a trip to Paris to check out their economical bicycle rental program Velib, is considering starting a version of the program in the city.

Looks Like Fitty Needs a New Gig

Early reports are showing that Kanye West's new album, Graduation, is outselling Fifty Cent's Curtis in a same-day release showdown that Fifty briefly boasted he would win, threatening his retirement in case he lost. Kanye needs the self-esteem boost, given his completely childish meltdown at the VMAs this past weekend over getting snubbed (again) for award wins.

Crunch 'n Munch buys Fiddle Faddle and Poppycock

$45 million for locally-owned Lincoln Snacks.

Reason 1,472 to Love The Onion

Pitchfork, you've been served!

Time for Me to Float

Champaign's own REO Speedwagon plans to play while sailing down the mighty Chicago River on the Star of Chicago. Ride the storm out, guys!

Big & Green & Closing

You have till tomorrow to catch the very cool Big & Green exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, featuring 15 green building projects in Chicago or by local architects. Ugh, turns out the exhibit was from 2004. (Sorry, the pages included the date, not the year.)

Photography in the Digital Age

Photographers may be interested in the free Photography 2.0: The Business of Photography in the Digital Era. The Chicago event runs on September 19 and features a range of photographers, editors and buyers. Check out the site to register and get more information.

From the Department of Irate Customers

A suburban man unknowingly recently racked up a $4,800 phone bill for his family's three iPhones while on an overseas vacation. Apparently he didn't read the terms and conditions document, which clocks in at over 6,000 words in length; it would have told him to leave the gadgets at home to avoid international roaming charges, which are accrued even if the device is off.

World Music Fest: Sept 14 - 20

Chicago's Festival Season isn't Over Yet! World Music Fest runs from Sept 14th - 20th and features an eclectic and diverse cast of artists performing around the city. Keep an eye on Slowdown for some recommendations.

The State of State

Neo-Futurist Rachel Claff presents a state, a podcast audio tour of State Street that directs the listener to the sites of brass sidewalk plaques put down by the city in 1996.

Family guilty

All 5 of the defendants in the Family Secrets trial are guilty.

Bored? WikiProject Chicago!

"WikiProject Chicago was started on July 5, 2005 to coordinate work on articles related to the article Chicago in the English Wikipedia". Pick up some open tasks, browse good articles, and edit newly-created articles like Poles in Chicago. Bonus: hi-res pic of the skyline from the lakefront.

"Enjoy Family Life"

Has anyone else out there received a handwritten proselytizing letter like this?

The Kids Are Alright

A group of Glenview teens are credited with rescuing a woman from her car just seconds before two Amtrak trains demolished it on Saturday night. The teens were behind the woman's car, which was stopped on railroad tracks. "I saw the train lights coming and I said, 'This is a big problem," he told CNN.

"My Bed Wasn't On Fire"

A footnote in Del Close's biography, Wasteland was an anthology of short comics written by Close and fellow actor (now comics writer) John Ostrander in the late '80s. Here's a sample story, a parody of both Harvey Pekar's popular American Splendor and R. Crumb's drawing style. (This thread on a comics forum includes a great anecdote about Close supposedly undergoing tests for the US space program.)

Aw Crap, I'm Making a Movie

Evan Jacover has created a great video compilation of all the times he thought he was taking a photo (but actually had his camera in video mode).

Teen Sex

Not what you're thinking: The Midwest Teen Sex Show is a great video podcast put together, apparently, by some very funny folks in northwest suburban Woodstock. [via]

Cheetah by the Bank

More details on the surprisingly quick Cheetah gym re-openings: the bank that held David Wilshire's loans, MB Financial, will be calling the shots. The Bucktown and Andersonville locations re-open today, Edgewater will be back up by Wednesday.

More on Hans Peterson

Kevin Guilfoile posts more of his research on murderer Hans Peterson on The Outfit Collective blog.

Never Can Say Goodbye

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Macy's takeover of Marshall Field's, join the folks with Fields Fans Chicago, who will be protesting under the famous clock at the State and Washington store location today from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

Back to School! CPS Stats of the Week

CPS students reported to school this week in record numbers with 93% of the district's 409,000 students attending class on Day 1. CPS managed to record this eventhough their much ballyhooed new attendance system (IMPACT) was down for much of the week. The most eye-catching CPS stat of the week comes from the CCSR: CPS Freshman on average miss/cut 19.6 days of class.

Crazy (Not Lazy) Sunday

If you're planning to head to the lakefront tomorrow, be warned of two major events that may affect your plans. The Banco Popular Chicago Half Marathon will close Lakeshore Drive going south from the Bronzeville area to East 67th Street throughout the morning, with a post-race festival taking place in front of the Museum of Science and Industry. Cyclists from the Boulevard Lakefront Tour will be biking along the path as far south as Hyde Park, with their post-event fun taking place on the Midway Plaisance.

"Licking Chicks"

I have a feeling Jonathan Fin and Casey Black are going to regret making this video.

Waiting for Cheese

The new comedy I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, which was filmed in Chicago and stars Second City alum and city native Jeff Garlin, opened this week to good reviews. The film, which also stars Sarah Silverman, Amy Sedaris and Bonnie Hunt, has a hilarious trailer; apparently, it's the only thing we'll get to see in these parts right now, as the movie isn't playing anywhere in Chicago until October 5 (at the Music Box, with Garlin attending the premiere).

More Money for Nonprofits--and Documentary Filmmakers

The Illinois Humanities Council recently announced its award of $12,000 in mini-grants to non-profits. IHC is accepting applications for mini (up to $2,500, due 15 October) and major (up to $10,000, due 15 February) grants in support of humanities projects sponsored by nonprofit organizations. IHC is especially interested in funding projects that target new or historically neglected audiences. And if you're making a documentary, you might be able to raise some seed money from IHC. For more information, call 312-422-5580 or email ihc[at]prairie[dot]org. Applications are available here.

Cheetah Gym Saga Continues

Drive-Thru contributor Dana says, "I walked by the Andersonville location this morning and saw a sign in the window that said 'Cheetah Gym will be reopening under new ownership on Sept. 9.' Quick turn-around, huh?"

Gangster Paradise

Mark Konkol, with the help of Sun Times "Mob know-it-alls" Steve Warmbir and Tim Novak, created a map of Chicago sites relevant to the ongoing "Family Secrets" trial. If you're more inclined to seek out the original gangsters, look here and here.

Wanna Be the Next Nitro or Lace?

That's right: "American Gladiators" is returning to TV after an 11-year hiatus. And they're looking for both gladiators and contestants here in Chicago. Show up at the Windy City Fieldhouse Sept. 16 for your chance.

Pick Your Favorite

American Express and the National Trust for Preservation have teamed up for Partners in Preservation, a very worthwhile contest: 25 Chicagoland architectural and historical landmarks vie for $1 million in grants for preservation and protection. Who wins is dependent on votes, so vote for your favorite -- and in classic Chicago style, you can vote more than once, every day in fact.

Clinton In Town Today

You can catch a glimpse of Bill Clinton (former President, and prospective First Husband) at the Michigan Avenue Borders today at 11:30 a.m. as he signs copies of his new book "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World".


The upcoming season premiere of The Simpsons centers around Homer, trying to land a job that lets him travel in luxury jets. Along with guest stars Stephen Colbert (Homer's "life coach") and Lionel Richie, one of the cities they'll be visiting is Chicago (or, as Mr. Burns calls it, "The Miami of Canada").

Apple Store ... in Flames!

Following Apple's iPhone price drop, a band of furious early adopters looted the Michigan Avenue Apple Store -- or so this article jests. Perhaps that's why Apple's handing out cash.

Spies at the Sheraton

Apparently there's a spy convention going on here this week that's sponsored in part by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. Bonus: unintentional goatse on the PowerPoint slide explaining how the CIA's new social networking platform ("A-Space") works.

The Heckler

Are the ups & downs of Chicago sports getting to you? The Heckler can help take the edge off.

Cheetah Gym Ex-Members, Unite!

Are you an abruptly ex-member of Cheetah Gym? You might be interested in joining this forum to discuss a possible class action lawsuit against the company. (Thanks, Robert!)

Oh, Berny.

Berny Stone, our vice-mayor, is being investigated for absentee ballots cast in his favor in the hotly contested 50th Ward elections earlier this year. He says it's probably happening all over the city, but no other alderman report similar investigations. Meanwhile Stone's name is coming up a lot in the convoluted story surrounding the closing of the Lincoln Village Theaters at Devon and McCormick.

Relive Meigs

The latest edition of GoogleEarth includes a flight simulator (controls here). GB reader Dubi Kaufmann noticed that "One of the 27 airports available in the flight simulator is Meigs Field - FOUR YEARS after it was closed."

Sunrise Tonight

With a whopping $2.3M budget, WTTW11's most expensive production to date showcases musician David Broza, performing atop an Israeli fortress at dawn. The show (which also features Jackson Browne and Shawn Colvin) airs tonight at 7:55PM in Chicago only (everyone else sees it in December).

Transmission Feature: Rock the Block Party

Heading to the Hideout Block Party this weekend? Still on the fence? Click over to Gapers Block: Transmission to get your party preview on with our guide to the bands hitting Wabansia Ave. Friday and Saturday. (Planning on taking some photos? Load your best into our Transmission Flickr Pool when the weekend's done. Details.)

Back to School at the Newberry

Feeling jealous of all the kids going back to school this week? You can join them (sort of) by signing up for a seminar at the Newberry Library. Courses range from genealogy (of your family or your Chicago house), to literature (Dickens, Joyce, Shakespeare, Garcia Marquez, and others are featured), and also include history, art, music, philosophy, and creative writing. Courses start mid-month or later. For more information, click here.

50 Years of Music, 1 Night Only

Greg Kot tips us off to a major folk music event happening at the end of the year: The Old Town School of Folk Music is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a huge concert featuring Jeff Tweedy, Bela Fleck, Roger McGuinn, Jon Langford, Sally Timms, and a whole bunch of other artists that are connected somehow to the school. Tickets will be on sale on Saturday the 15th (or Monday the 10th, if you're an Old Town School member). For full details see the Old Town School Website.


Stu Iselin was surprised to find a python on his coffee table yesterday morning.

Inspector General News Blotter

The City Council today voted 43-6 to approve the Mayor's new Office of Compliance, the one that Inspector General David Hoffman says, "has the potential to undermine the effectiveness of the inspector general's office." In other news, 50th Ward Alderman Bernie Stone, who won his seat in a runoff, contends that Hoffman "is going all over different wards in this city issuing subpoenas to various people in this city" in an investigation of absentee ballots. You can anonymously report Chicago corruption here.

Maybe You Can Sign His Cast

All hail the return of encased meats September 12 (and still-healing purveyor Doug Sohn).

The Face of Cornbleet's Killer

Author Kevin Guilfoile has been writing about the case of Dr. David Cornbleet, the dermatologist who was killed in his Loop office. Until now, nobody seemed to have a recent photo of Hans Peterson, the man who confessed to the murder and who took refuge in the French Territory of St. Martin, where he has avoided extradition. Guilfoile believes he's found one.

The Interactive Music and Coffee Experience

Apple's new iPod releases include an interesting partnership with Starbucks that will hit Chicago in March 2008. When you walk into a megalocoffee shop, you'll be able to see information about each song that's playing in the store as it plays and, of course, buy it and other iTunes songs. If you're interested in more information about the program, most pages on Apple's site currently list the wrong URL, so go here instead.

Book Club: Peel My Love Discussion Questions

Whether you want to get a leg up on next week's discussion or you're just interested in following along at home, be sure to check out our discussion questions for Ana Castillo's Peel My Love Like an Onion, posted at the Book Club page. Enter your thoughts in the comments or let us know how you feel at the September 10 meeting.

Reader Archive Liberated

The Chicago Reader is now offering its archives for free, apparently back to 1987. I'm having fun reading old staff writers like Gary Rivlin, who wrote a favorite book on Chicago politics.

Thieving Employees at Cheetah!

People were talking this morning about today's abrupt closing of all three locations (Edgewater, Wicker Park, and Andersonville) of the local fitness chain Cheetah Gym with no explanation or reopening date. A message that briefly appeared on their website said "Cheetah Gym has been closed due to employee theft and graft," mostly at their Wicker Park location. The losses are apparently too severe to continue business, and all locations remain closed. Owner David Wilshire apparently fired a great deal of employees, and advises members to contact their banks for fraud protection services in light of the crime. I need to go call my bank now!

No Money For CTA?

The plan to increase sales taxes in Cook and neighboring counties to raise funds for Chicago-area mass transit systems failed in the Illinois house. Supporters hope to build more support for the plan in the days to come, but service cuts and fare increases loom on September 16. As GB reported earlier, it's probably a good time to get your Chicago Card.

2008 Green Party Convention

The Green Party selected Chicago over three other cities for its 2008 nominating convention. You can check out the full proposal at the Chicago convention bid website.

Now It's Official

You may have thought it was a done deal, but today Chicago was formally made the United States' nominee for the 2016 Olympics host city.

Know Thy Vendor

Who are the men and women who pour frosty tall boys at Wrigley Field, answering the call of "Hey, beer man!" during the baseball season? Wrigley Beer Vendors has the answer, with 63 vendors profiled in a neat baseball card format. Can you do this?

Where's Our WiFi?

Wired puts the recent failure of Chicago's municipal wifi plans into national perspective. (Thanks, Matt!)

15 Dead in Chicago

The numbers are still coming in, but apparently a total of 15 people were killed in violence over the long holiday weekend. Highlighting the body count is an ambush at a funeral. The cops weigh in over here, mostly with mock support of the tactics of Cease Fire, the group which last week lost lots of Illinois funding, in part because of allegations of misappropriation of funds.

Who's Reppin' Us?

Jim DeRogatis asks, who speaks for the local music scene? The answer, in part, is the Chicago Music Commission, which just released an economic impact survey of the city's music industry.

$0 Chicago Card

Given the pending fare hike, the CTA is waiving the $5 fee for the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus until Halloween. The cards will make riding 50¢ to $1 cheaper, depending on the time of day and location, so it's worth the effort to find a sales location [pdf] or use the separate online ordering sites for the Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus.

Dean Kamen Vindicated

Segway cop chases down shooting suspect.

Shut Up and Drive

You may not be aware of it—and according to my personal unscientific highway survey yesterday, many people obviously aren't—but Chicago has a ban on driving while talking on and holding your cell. Best hope Officer Ramon Solidum doesn't catch you at it. And, by the by, if you're under 19 and driving in Illinois, you better not be driving and talking at all.

Whither Pork Belly Contracts?

The Sun-Times had fun with the news that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was discontinuing the trading of pork bellies: "To cut the fat in preparation for its merger with the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is cutting its pork bellies pit."

Staffer Alumni on Apartment Therapy

Craig Berman, writer emeritus for Gapers Block, maker of the honorably mentioned Pinch salt cellar and pepper shaker, and his wife Emily Berman, a vendor in this year's DIY Trunk Show, had their home profiled by Apartment Therapy. Their style? "Shabby chic meets modern sleek meets budget conscious new homeowner meets avid crafter meets product designer."

Block 37 Over Budget

The Block 37 project is millions over budget, to the surprise of nobody. Crain's reports that the city is now in talks with the same firm that leased the Skyway to privatize the CTA station below the block.



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