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

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


Dwelling in Ukie

Dwell Magazine takes a walking tour of Ukrainian Village, hitting a range of the expected and the lesser known in art and commerce.

It's 3am...

Who do you want answering the phone?

If You're Feeling Sinister

Local ragtime/blues/country musical outfit the Northside Southpaws bill themselves as the only all-left-handed, all-resophonic mandolin/guitar duo in the world. Actually, isn't there a group of lefty banjoists in... Well, how about... Nah, I got nothing.

The Irish in Film

Sure, reveling in beer-soaked festivities on St. Patrick's Day is one way to recognize Irish culture. For those of you who prefer a more low-key, cinematic celebration, the 9th annual Chicago Irish Film Festival opens tonight at the Beverly Arts Center. The showcase of new and old Irish feature films, shorts and documentaries runs through March 5.

Governor Ryan Trades Packers Pennant for Colts

Due to a change in the medical care provided at his Oxford, Wisconsin prison camp, former Governor George Ryan has been transferred to a similar facility in Terre Haute, Indiana. Ryan asked to serve out his term at the Wisconsin camp, and was not made aware of the impending change upon his arrival.

Industrial-Strength Anthem for Hawks

Who knew? Industrial music godfather Al Jourgensen (Ministry) is a big Blackhawks fan. So big that he has written a new anthem for the team, "Keys To The City", that will debut on March 5. Jourgensen said he hopes the song "inspires some awesome fights on the ice."

The Olympics of Hair

Reader CT writes, "Who needs to wait for 2016? Chicago is playing host to over 1000 competitors from 50 countries this very weekend." That's right, it's HAIRWORLD 2008!

The Podcasters Are Coming

Interested in learning more about audio and video podcasting and other social media? You might want to sign up for PodCamp Chicago, an "unconference" scheduled for early June. [via]

Happy Leap Year!

An extra Friday is always cause for celebration, especially when it helps keep our calendar in alignment with the earth's revolution around the sun. The last time we had a February with five Fridays was 1980; check out Wikipedia for more fun leap year facts.

Finally, Less Government

If the Toddler doesn't get the County Board to agree on a budget (now overdue by five months), essential city services such as functioning jails, hospitals, and courthouses could be cut in a CTA-style doomsday fashion by midnight Friday.

Traveling While Eating

Chris Brunn tackles the art of eating while vacationing in Tahoe in this week's Drive-Thru feature.

Embarrassed and Cursing Up a Storm

It probably comes as no surprise that Shia LaBeouf recently apologized for his Walgreen's escapade. More surprising (and funnier) is the Trib's insertion of "a nincompoop" in place of LaBeouf's more colorful language.

Frankly Famous

TECH Cocktail co-organizer and Somewhat Frank scribe Frank Gruber recently made this seemingly authoritative list of "140 Faces of Well-Known Bloggers." Gruber's name appears alongside those of bloggebrities Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas, Perez Hilton and Arianna Huffington, among others.

Boardgames on the Brain

Apparently it's in the air: Chicagoist is holding its first-ever Commenter Trivial Pursuit Throwdown tonight at Sheffield's -- and we'd already announced that the GB Get-Together on Friday would be a boardgame night. Beer and trivia, always a good combo.

Welcome to the Fortune Cookie of the Future!

Boing Boing notes a tribute website created by Chicagoan Bob Bjarke after he got the Best Fortune Cookie Ever at Papajin in Wicker Park. (Thanks, Dan!)

The City That (Except for One Day) Works?

To mark the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, an organization called the Chicago Action Community is calling for a day of nonviolent "direct action, civil resistance and disruption," which includes asking like-minded individuals to leave work. The "Shut It Down" campaign is scheduled to conclude with a rally at Dirkson Federal Plaza.

Saying "Rawr" One More Time

A documentary on the inimitable Chicago-based artist and rocker Wesley Wills debuts tomorrow (Friday) at the Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco. The late Willis was known for his headbutts and requests for fans to "say rawr."

Cover the Chiditarod

If you're planning to watch the Chiditarod this weekend, The Methods Reporter would like to make you a correspondent.

The Adornments, Airiel, Kid Sister...

Jim DeRogatis has a list of Chicago's next big musical acts -- start brushing up so you can pan them when they "sell out."

Transmission Feature: Venue Reviews #2

Over in Transmission this week, we're raising a critical eye to two Chicago music venues that have been bringing bands to town for nearly 20 years, The Empty Bottle and The Beat Kitchen. Read on.

Chicago Boys

Jersey Boys has now officially taken up residence in our fair city.

To Zell With It

Here's a pretty great editorial cartoon about the future of newspapers under Sam Zell. [Via]

"Argyle Street Looked Like Death."

The Methods Reporter takes a look at how far Argyle Street has come in recent years -- and how far it has to go.

There's Still Time to Go Back to School

While some Newberry Library seminars started earlier this month, plenty of Winter/Spring term courses (in subjects ranging from genealogy to mystery-novel writing) don't start till some time in March, or even April. Click here for details about classes and schedules.

Pier Revue: Comedy Fest Comes to Chicago

Navy Pier will be the site of the first Chicago Comedy Fest, slated for this fall. Some of the funniest people in comedy, many with local ties, will perform. Oh, and Jim Belushi will be there too. Check the official site for more details.

NIU's Cole Hall to be Demolished

Like so many other sites of terrible events, NIU will raze the building where the recent tragedy occurred.

Give a Little Bit

DonorsChoose is a non-profit that allows you to select which educational project you would like to donate money to. There are plenty of worthy projects in the Chicago area; as you do your taxes, consider putting a little of that refund toward furthering a kid's education.

McSkillet Mania

Calories, schmalories. Oak Brook-based McDonald's is dishing out free McSkillet burritos this Thursday and Friday morning (The catch: You have to buy a drink.). Yeah, it has 610 calories and 36 grams of fat, but...what the heck, it's free!

Keep it Simple, Stupid

37signals was profiled in the latest issue of Wired, and were described variously as "brash" "arrogant" "demigods." Jason Fried posted a response to some of the "myths" described in the story.

A $15 Billion Problem

In response to a report issued by two non-profits, Mayor Daley is teaming up with the mayors of other Great Lakes cities to call for more federal funding to protect the five lakes.

Depp Becomes a Packer Backer

Johnny Depp will be in Wisconsin later this year for the filming of the Michael Mann-produced John Dillinger biopic Public Enemies. Joining him will be Christian Bale, who is no stranger to the area from filming Batman here last summer.

Chicago's Original "Red Line"

A new book, Red Chicago, chronicles the city's prominent role in the development of the American Communist movement.

We Resemble That Remark

Some Ohio radio talk show host tried to rev-up a McCain crowd by saying, "Now we have a hack, Chicago-style Daley politician who is picturing himself as change. When he gets done with you, all you're going to have in your pocket is change." McCain and his people are backing away from the radio guy, sensing the Chicago-style target on his back.


The University of Chicago Press published Vietnam Zippos: American Soldiers' Engravings and Stories, an amazing gallery of Vietnam era Zippo lighters engraved with the sort of images and sentiments you'd expect of American soldiers of the era.

Bike Rentals, Parisian-Style

French company JCDecaux is offering to renegotiate its bus shelter contract in order to bring low cost bike rentals to the downtown area.

It's Playtime

At 7pm tonight only, catch Jaque Tati's masterpiece Playtime (it's the Reader's Rosenbaum's favorite movie) at U of C's Doc Films. Tickets are just $5. (Thanks, Brandy!)

Bean Sprouts in Chi-Town

Outdoor apparel giant L.L.Bean is moving to the Midwest region and has picked the Chicago area (actually Barrington) as the site of its first area store. The clothing will be perfect for hiking the local mountains: Mount Prospect, Mount Greenwood...

Not Much Protection

The Reader has a scathing critique of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Bus 54, Where Are You?

The CTA is going to expand its GPS bus tracking system this spring, one garage at a time. (Didn't know there was such a thing? Check it out.)

Free Caffeine ...

... Not "Caffeine-Free." With Starbucks shutting down all of its stores nationwide for three hours today due to a staff training sesh, Dunkin' Donuts is offering Chicagoans small lattes, cappuccinos and espressos for free between 1-10 p.m. Drink up!

"Public Official A" Uncovered

Governor Rod Blagojevich has been identified by a judge as "Public Official A" in documents pertaining to an extortion case involving the infamous Tony Rezko, who unsuccessfully tried to nab a $1 million Blagojevich campaign donation from a local businessman in exchange for giving him a job managing the teachers' pension fund system. The governor has not been charged in the case against Rezko.

Highway Fashion Robbery

Robbers stole $20,000 from a Fashion Week practice run-through at the Hilton Chicago today.

Empty Lots

You may know Sean Parnell from his Chicago Bar Project. He also tracks abandoned lots.

The Other Outfit

Chicago's mafia isn't all Italian anymore. It's Eastern European, and they spell it "mafiya."

Ah, Crap.

MORE snow.

Our Saviours' Endorsement, Etc.

Louis Farrakhan endorsed Barack Obama over the weekend. Obama appreciated it about as much as he did Nader getting into the race.

Congrats to Cody

Mon Congrats to Lemont-born Diablo Cody who took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at last night's 80th Annual Academy Awards. Of course, now that all the excitement's over, all that's left is a myriad of odd hollywood gossip stories about the stripper turned blogger turned screenwriter.

Taxing Second Graders

A 7-year-old Carpentersville kid got a notice from the IRS claiming he owed $60,000 in back taxes. Turned out, you guessed it, he was the victim of identity theft.

Freeze, Thaw, Freeze, Thaw, Ouch

NPR shares Chicago's scourge with the nation: 250,000 potholes.

So Long to Sunstein, Sort of

University of Chicago Law School Professor Cass Sunstein -- reportedly the most cited law professor in the U.S. -- is heading to Harvard Law, his alma mater, but will maintain an office at U of C. His colleague, legal scholar and longtime partner, Martha Nussbaum, has also received an offer from Harvard but is staying put.

‹-- Two-Way Wrist Radio, Deactivated

Sadly, the Dick Tracy Museum in Woodstock, IL, will close June 1. Dick Tracy was created by Chester Gould, who wrote and drew the comic strip from 1931 until he retired in 1977. Cartoonist Ed Piskor provides a colorful account of a meeting between the rather conservative Gould and cartoonists Jay Lynch and Robert Crumb here.

Bet on Books

The Morning News will soon hold its fourth annual Tournament of Books, and Coudal Partners has opened the betting window. Think you know which book will come out tops? Lay $10 on the line and you could win big -- plus, you'll be helping to buy books for children. Everybody wins!

The Perfect Dog-Gone Gift

What do you get your dog-owner friend who has everything, including a tendency to get lost? This tote bag for carrying dog toys, dog treats, and doggie bags to the dog park.

Wilco & Andrew Bird

If you missed Andrew Bird performing with Wilco at the Riv on the 20th, you can find a quality recording here, and gape at the crowd here.

Fodder for Future Anthropologists

Kraft Foods Inc. announced Tuesday that it plans this year to roll out focaccia pizza, macaroni and cheese crackers and microwaveable bagel sticks filled with cream cheese.

Take the Blue Line to DuPage County

Yesterday, the RTA heard a $5.5 billion proposal to extend the Blue Line as far as Yorktown Center.

Ready to Eat?

Tonight is the start of the first-ever Restaurant Week Chicago. Time Out has a list of prix-fixe menus for your perusal; make your reservations now.

Who Wants to Be a Doc Star?

Fans of scantily clad Internet star Tila Tequila are invited to a casting call being held on Saturday, March 1 from 4-8 p.m. at a Loop location TBA. E Oh Productions is conducting the talent search on behalf of a documentary project about the Tequila phenomenon; contact them here.

Working for Charlie

Trotter talks business with Crain's.

Hot Dog Musical

Found on Songza: The Theme from Hot Doug's by bee.

Hello, Aloo Tikki!

When you head to Devon Avenue to partake in their delicious eats, take Cinnamon Cooper's wonderful guide to understanding Indian cuisine with you; it's this week's Drive-Thru feature.

(Railroad) Bridges Over Troubled Waters

Takotron takes a look at the Railroad Bridges of Chicago, some of which even have their own myspace pages.

Big Three-Way Trade for the Bulls

Ben Wallace and Joe Smith are gone-- off to Cleveland. Adrian Griffin to Seattle. Cleveland sends Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown to the Bulls. Wally Szczerbiak goes from Seattle to Cleveland.

Not Leaving Chicago When You Leave Chicago

The Trib has the scoop on hanging out with the Cubs and White Sox in Arizona.

Johnny Doesn't Care About the Junk in Your Trunk.

If you can't have Johnny Depp in your arms, you can at least try to get him into your car. The producers of Public Enemies, a Michael Mann-directed flick starring Depp as John Dillinger, want your vintage cars, trucks and buses for the film. If you have a ride that fits the bill (circa 1930-35), bring a photo of it to the Hyatt Regency Woodfield in Schaumburg between 9am and 4pm this Saturday. You can also e-mail your pictures to

Why Kids Can't Breathe

A Northwestern U. study of 49,000 Chicago school children shows that childhood asthma varies dramatically by neighborhood.

Transmission Feature: Who Needs One?

Serving up tickets for Chicago music lovers while still resting in the shadow of a couple of ticket broker behemoths is a hard time, sure, but it's proving rewarding for a couple of online show tracking sites. This week in Transmission, we take a look at Oh My Rockness and Songkick — two young upstarts who are making it easier for you to get to the show.


What's this about a secret shower in City Hall?

Dark Side of the Moon

It's a little repetitive, but here's a sampling of photos of the lunar eclipse over Chicago.

We're Number Nine!

Chicago makes Popular Science's America's 50 Greenest Cities list.

Chicago Fashion Incubator is a Go

Six local designers have been selected to hawk their fashions in the Chicago Fashion Incubator at the State Street Macy's store starting March 11. According to the application for the year-long Incubator program, the chosen designers will pay Macy's $200 per month for office space and showroom rental, and in return attend lectures and get mentored by Macy's "merchant team." What a deal?

Mid-Century Modern Jubilee

Looking for some new furniture? Want something cool, not too expensive, environmentally friendly? Do you want your money to benefit families in need instead of corporate execs in greed? Then head to Carol Stream on Fridays or Saturdays to visit Jubilee Furniture Company. They sell used furniture to raise money to support Outreach Community Ministries. And unlike many used furniture stores, they've got some wicked, cool stuff. Thanks, by Cinnamon Cooper — 02/21Business/Shopping

Shorter than Earth Day, it's Earth Hour!

Green Exchange is teaming up with WWF to promote Chicago Earth Hour activities.

It's Funny, Eh?

Canadian comedy fest Just For Laughs is teaming up with TBS to create a Chicago edition of Just For Laughs: A Very Funny Festival. The festival, which will feature Ellen DeGeneres, is slated for Summer 2009, so you still have plenty of time to work on that Rabbi/Priest/Northsider joke.

Chicago Mag Gets Cool

The Cool Kids get some love from Chicago magazine, comparing them to the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J.

Freshly Dipped

From the creators of Midwest-born Formula Werks comes Freshly Dipped, a site where you can find local art, wearables, and more. Right now, you'll find stuff for sale from local street artists Artillery, The Grocer and more.

Book Club: At the City's Edge

Back in Chicago after serving time in Iraq, Jason Palmer finds himself embroiled in a different kind of war. In his homeland he encounters economic disparity, gang violence and an attempt at social justice that leaves his brother dead in the wake. Head on over to the Book Club page to read our review of Marcus Sakey's fast-paced second novel, At the City's Edge.

User Generated Guidebooks

Wikitravel is now publishing travel guides that are updated every month, ensuring you're getting the latest info for your upcoming trip. And the project's first guidebook happens to be about Chicago.

It's Curtains for the Dolly Show

American Girl Place will be canceling its run of the The American Girls Revue theater show as of September 1, citing a need to find "new entertaining experiences for our guests." As if creepy, overpriced plastic dolls and their endless accessories weren't entertaining enough.

What is Boredom?

In 1990, a Cook County Hospital physician mused on the topic in the British Medical Journal, finding a connection to... castration?

Walk to the CTA

You'll always know where you're going in these shoes. [via]

Goodnight Moon

Want to see something cool tomorrow night? It's lunar eclipse time! Starting at 7:43pm on Wednesday, you can watch the moon turn groovy shades of orange and red before fading to black at 9:01pm. This will be the last total lunar eclipse visible in North America until December 2010, so bundle up, bring a hot drink and watch the planetary system do its thing.

White People Love Wrigley Field

It's true because I found it on the Internet?

Really? Another R. Kelly Sex Scandal?

More allegations of inappropriate behavior are surfacing about R. Kelly. This time it's with a woman he'd known since she was "a little girl."

Can Obama Just Do It?

Yes he can.

Prep Your Cart

The 2008 Chiditarod has been announced. Pull your team together!

Chicagoan Gladiators

The male winner of the "American Gladiators" final battle is from Chicago.

That Fine Line Between Romance and Masochism

Crazy Blind Date, a blind-dating website with helpful reminders like "your blind date is a real person," is now available to Chicagoans.

The New

The University of Chicago launched their new homepage today. The result of a massive research, redesign and restructuring effort, the new site focuses on U of C-related stories and news, instead of simply lists of links. This is the university's first major online facelift since 1999. (See for yourself via the Wayback Machine.) Give 'em your feedback here.

Free Water

Free admission to the Shedd Aquarium all this week.

Laski Unplugged

James Laski, the former city clerk who was sent to prison for his involvement in the Hired Truck Scandal, spent his time in the clink writing his memoirs; an excerpt was printed in the Sun-Times. Laski, who pocketed nearly $50,000 and spent almost two years in jail for his crime, wistfully writes "I told myself the money wasn't for me, but for my family, my loved ones." That's beautiful, man.

Hey, That's Our Money Too

Two Indian princesses who live in Chicago claim they have been cheated out of their inheritance. This, of course, raises the question: How many princesses live in Chicago? UPDATE: GB reader Dubi clarifies...

"The ... story includes a numbering system not used in the west. 'The government handed over Rs 217.3 crore to the eighth Nizam, Prince Mukkaram Jah.' Crore is an Indian word that means 10,000,000, so 217.3 crore Rupees is about $54.7 million." Thanks, Dubi!

Lessig for Congress?

A movement is underway to draft former University of Chicago Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig (now at Stanford Law School) to run for the Silicon Valley-based Congressional seat recently left empty due to the passing of U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos. Lessig serves as chair of the Creative Commons project, has authored several books on cyberlaw and free culture, and has had a pretty intense conversation with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy on at least one occasion.

Tracking Steve Kazmierczak is investigating the online activities of Steve Kazmierczak, the NIU gunman. UPDATE: Jessica Baty, Kazmierczak's girlfriend, was interviewed by WGN.

Knitting CSA

Not only does Vera Videnovich sell tomatoes, herbs, asparagus, etc. that she grows on her Michigan farm during the summer and fall at the Logan Square Farmers Market, but she's now started to sell 1-pound lots of yarn, hand-spun and hand-dyed (using flowers she grows on her farm), from wool she shears off her sheep. This woman reminds me of all the small farmers I knew growing up. And she only has a few shares left for her April yarn sale, so get'em quick!

Be a Virtual Chicago Tourist with Panoramio and Flickr

Google has started putting users' pictures on the map at Panoramio. Of course Chicago's most popular destinations have lots of photos, but so do neighborhoods and the suburbs. I particularly liked this group of shots that have both Superdawg and the Niles YMCA Leaning Tower, as well as this one, taken near where I live. Flickr has a similar service, but there aren't nearly as many photos.

Ale Night

If you like beer, especially ales that have aged in wood, then you might want to buy your tickets now for the Chicago Beer Society's "Night Of The Living Ales IV." Forty casks of the stuff will be on hand, as well as lots of things to eat.

A Week of Eating Holidays

This week's feature in our Drive-Thru section takes a look at the weird holidays designated for eating random foods, and how to get your celebrations going using the city's restaurants and bakeries.

Become a Loser

Are you and a friend or loved one in need of some self-reduction? Wanna do it on a major network TV reality show? Then show up at Chicago Home Fitness at 1555 N. Halsted tomorrow, Feb. 16 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and try out for NBC's The Biggest Loser. Come early: This ad from casting call hosts BL4 Productions Inc. promises that the first 500 people in line will be seen, but latecomers might have to settle for listening to their iPods on the nearest treadmill.

Protecting Homeless Youth

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless asks folks to send a letter to Gov. Blagojevich requesting $15 million in his 2009 budget for homeless youths. This amount would boost youth housing programs by $5 million, transitional job pilot programs by $2 million, and increase by $8 million available funding for school districts to educate homeless children.

Mr. Bike, Meet Mr. Radio

Chicagoan Dave Glowacz is best known as Mr. Bike, but he's breaking new ground as Mr. Radio. Of particular note are his health care section and interviews with the Reader's Ben Joravsky, in which he asks for "The Rest of the Story" about "The Works."

Craving Tracker

Got a craving for something specific, but not sure where to find it? Check out FoodieBytes, which allows you to search for particular dishes, like deep fried pickles or spam, not just styles of food.

Ivy Licensing

Noted in this interview with EveryBlock founder Adrian Holovaty, Chicago has a business license designation of "Wrigley Field," which applies to the rooftop decks on Waveland and Sheffield.

There Will Be Blood (and Guts)

Iconic horror film magazine Fangoria is teaming up with the normally erudite Music Box Theater to present a "Winter Massacre Horror Film Festival" February 22-23 in conjunction with the magazine's local convention. Highlights include a showing of "Friday The 13th" with a live cast reunion and a "A Nightmare on Elm Street" introduced by Robert (Freddy Kreuger) Englund. Admission is free for convention attendees, otherwise you have to pony up at the door or buy tickets online.

The Truth is Out Dere...

According to a (strange) Canadian newspaper, Chicago Heights police are investigating the possible UFO abduction of a woman jogging in a forest preserve. Then again, there was that UFO incident near O'Hare last year. Maybe they have their eye on a nice bungalow in the area.

Fighting Smoking One Room at a Time

Swissôtel Chicago is now paying $10 to staffers who catch guests smoking in their rooms. Guilty guests get charged $250 to defray the cost of deodorizing the room.

Shredded Missouri

Check out the work of designer Frank Chimero, especially his ongoing The States series.

NIU Shooting

A sad note on Valentine's Day; at least one person is hurt in a shooting on the NIU campus. As of 3:52pm the campus is on alert. Update: Seems like the danger is over but there are several injuries. Further update: six people, including the gunman, have died. What's happening to this world?

Graphic Design Saves the Day Again

The layout and typeface of a ballot can truly impact the election itself, says University of Illinois professor Marcia Lausen. She proposes some intuitive changes in her new book, Design for Democracy: Ballot and Election Design. Perhaps there's a chapter that explains why Chicago thought "filling in the missing middle section of the tiny arrow" was the most logical way to select a candidate in this year's primaries.

'Tis the Season

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Violence

If you're not up for a tour, Voice of America Radio reaches back to 1929 for a report on the enduring legacy of the Valentine's Day Massacre. Capone must not have appreciated the messages on the candy hearts the unlucky seven gave to him.

Pitchers and Catchers Report... They've Been Robbed!

Bases aren't the only thing being stolen as spring training begins. Three Cubs players were among the victims of a Mesa, Arizona burgler.

Rushing into a Burning Building

Here's some pretty dramatic footage of a police officer running into a burning building, searching through an outdoor hallway with his flashlight as flames shot out of windows, and running out of the building with a little girl that he saved. This is a guy who went to work last night, was presented with a problem, and solved it. Thank you, Detective McVicker, and the rest of you. You are appreciated.

CTA's Phase 2 Begins March 30

And what does Phase 2 mean, I hear someone ask? The CTA Tattler has all the details; 20% reduced capacity on the Red Line (boo!), larger trains on the Brown Line (yay!), and the southbound trains will start to share a single track, while northbound trains will have access to two tracks (boo! yay!).

Dig This

Paleontologists at the University of Chicago have discovered two new dinosaurs. Both were the size of elephants; one "would have been slicing and ripping off limbs," the other had small teeth better suited for "gnawing dead animals."

A Pretty Thought for Valentine's Day

As you're opening valentines and being all lovey-dovey today (and possibly tonight), take a moment to reflect on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, which took place 79 years ago today. If you're looking for something non-VD (but still poignant) to do tonight, Chicago Hauntings will be offering a tour of the site of the famous massacre (which is now a parking lot, but whatevs).

Book Club Reading Fire Sale

The Gapers Block Book Club is reading Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky for our March meeting. Fire Sale is the twelfth novel in Paretsky's bestselling V.I. Warshawski mystery series, but also a great introduction to both the series and the character. For more information about the book, read the introduction on the Book Club blog. Then join us on Monday, March 10, at 7:30pm at The Book Cellar for our discussion.

Buy Some Merch, "Stir the Soul"

If you would like to wear your support for Chicago's 2016 Olympics bid on your sleeve (or head), a new online store offers hats, shirts and jackets emblazoned with the six-pointed star logo and catchy "Stir the Soul" slogan. This could be just the thing for those of you who need a last-minute Valentine's Day gift for your sweetie.

Date Your Way Onto TV

Male, single and shameless? Bravo wants you for its latest reality show, "The Dating Project." Show up at Chaise Lounge Feb. 16 for your chance to date an unspecified celebrity.

Psst. Wanna Lease an Airport?

A 50-year lease for Midway Airport is up for grabs.

The Blackstone Rides Again

The New York Times trumpets the rebirth of the historic Blackstone Hotel and ties its return to the housing/building boom in the South Loop.

Reality TV

Any locals who watch The Wire might have cringed with me as the program's "Baltimore Sun" newspaper fired good journos because of cuts imposed by their parent company, referred to only as "Chicago." Well art and life do their dance as the real Sun's owner, the Tribune Company, gets into the trimming game.

Developing Vultures

There are still people desperate to make a bundle in the now-busted housing development boom. So desperate that they harass senior citizens to get them to sell their homes, the Chicago Reporter finds, leading to an exodus of older residents out of the city.

Chicago Crushed Tomatoes (28 oz.)

In a Web populated with user-generated-this and user-generated-that, everyone's a critic. Here's an odd little essay about Safeway Crushed Tomatoes purchased at the Dominick's at 3145 S. Ashland.

Twitter Your Way Through Traffic

Commuter Feed is a new traffic reporting service built on Twitter. Follow Chicago's traffic patterns here.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Merchandise Mart and Tokyo's Imperial Hotel

What do they have in common? Lincoln Logs! Check out bullet #3 in this Mental Floss article to find out the connections.

All This Classical Stuff

If you're looking for a consolidated classical music calendar, check out the resources at Chicago Classical Music. In addition to an easy-to-use calendar for events, they have a blog and a decent blogroll of many art organizations around Chicago. (Aside: Make time to see any pieces performed by Osvaldo Golijov; the performance of his piece Ainadamar tonight was fantastic.)

Elite Eight For A Date

Chicago magazine's Arts and Culture blog has prepared a tournament-style bracket that puts good singles locations head-to-head. The first round was yesterday; today, places like the Pitchfork potty line and Intelligentsia battle it out.

Yet Another City Guide

Like I said, they're popping up all over. now covers Chicago.

Chicago - Elkhart Photography

A video of a Chicago woman taking some friendly 4am pictures at a police station in Elkhart, IN has caused some consternation.

Yet Another Event Guide

City event-planning guides seem to be multiplying the way googlemap mashups once did. The latest is PlanJam.

Rahm Emanuel's Brother Doesn't Trust Him pick the next President. Ari Emanuel, Hollywood agent, inspiration for Jeremy Piven's Ari, and occasional writer for the Huffington Post, talks to the superdelagates: "The right thing for my brother, and all the other superdelegates to do, is to support the decision of the voters."

Calling All Artists...The Coyote Wants You (Maybe)

Around the Coyote is joining forces with Looptopia this year for its spring arts festival on May 2 and is looking for artists to participate. Perhaps this is the perfect time to take that piece of visual art, literature or music that you've been pouring your soul into and give it the audience it so sorely deserves? Move quick, because the application deadline is this Friday, February 15.

Free Wi-Fi at Starbucks

You read that right. The evil grip of T-Mobile will be broken this Spring. Starbucks says it will start giving customers who buy stuff with a Starbucks purchase card two hours of free wireless access per day. Executives at Panera must be crying in the bread bowls right about now.

Democracy at its Finest

Will the natural clown or the anti-discrimination activist take the title of Most Beautiful Cat in Chicago? You decide!

Insert Knowing, Wry Travel Title Here

Once again helping provide cheap posts for city-focused blogs all over the country, US News and World Report published a list of America's Most Miserable Airports, with O'Hare coming in at #1 (lots of delays & very full flights).


The Oprah Store officially opened over the weekend. No word yet if her bra is available there.

Common Joins JLA

Chicago's own Common has been chosen to play Green Lantern in the coming Justice League of America film.

Urbs in Horto = Energy Savings

The Wall Street Journal took a look at how nine cities, including Chicago, are using novel methods to conserve energy.

John Smith, I Presume?

If your name is John Smith, This American Life would like you to email them at with a few words about yourself. They may include you in an upcoming show about people with your name.

Ever Wanted to be a Curator?

Now's your chance. The Wicker Park Bucktown Special Service Area is looking for someone to curate a photography contest. RFQs are due on the 14th, so act fast!

Late Night Sounds

Sound Opinions hosts Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis are scheduled to be on Monday night's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," no doubt talking about Sunday night's Grammy winners.

UN Chief Visits Chicago, Goes to School

On Friday, Ban Ki-Moon became the first sitting Secretary General of the UN to visit Chicago. His trip included meetings with Mayor Daley, the Chicago Tribune, and students at Walter Payton High School (where he discussed global warming).

I Love a Parade

Wondering what Saturday's Lunar New Year Parade on Argyle St. looked like? Well, wonder no longer -- here's some photos of the festivities, taken by this GB contributrix.

Wii as Medicine

The New York Times reports on the success of the Nintendo Wii video game system as a rehabilitation (and therapeutic) tool for patients at several hospitals, among them the suburban Hines VA Hospital and downstate Herrin Hospital. No word on whether patients have suffered ''Wiiitis'' as a result.

Sam Zell Tells it Straight--Real Straight

I suppose when you're the head of a media empire, you can get away with making blue comments to your employees about why it's okay to advertise for strip bars in your publications.

Textaport Tonight

Head on over to the Caro d'Offay Gallery at 2204 W. North Ave. tonight for Textaport 2008, in which artists try to interpret descriptive text about a particular mystery object and create an original work of art based on that description. When the creating's done, the results -- made on-location, and remotely -- will be put on display. 6-9 p.m. Call 773-235-7400 for more info.

Goin' Down to Austin

Over in Transmission, we've listed all the Chicago bands performing at SXSW in March, along with all the ones within reasonable driving distance. Plus a couple unofficial shows and persistent rumors. Get on it.

Hole Lot of Trouble

As the plethora of rim-busting, tire-flattening potholes grows around the city (and we wait for them to be repaired), you can optimistically report the ones you come across by alerting the Department of Transportation at the City of Chicago website. There's one form for streets and another for alleys.

Leave My Bags Alone!

Got a complaint about the TSA? Register it on this site, developed by Chicago programmer Matt Dennewitz. (Thanks, Paul!)

Lunar New Year Crosstown Classic

A quick reminder that Chicago's lucky enough to have more than one bustling Asian community all geared up for celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Rat this weekend. On Saturday, head up to Argyle Street in Uptown for a parade and specials from area merchants including Thai and Vietnamese restaurants (read about some delicious Lunar New Year treats at Epicurious). On Sunday, head down to Chicago's Chinatown for a parade and even more festivities. Details in Slowdown.

Gents, Throw Away the Razor

826CHI's Moustache-a-Thon is approaching, so now you have an excuse to stop shaving in the name of philanthropy. The event benefits 826CHI's creative writing programs for city children. Registration for the event ends February 18, the opening ceremony is February 20th @ 826CHI, and "tracking parties" will be held February 27 and March 5, 12, and 19 to chart your lip hair evolution. Email 826CHI for info and to register.

Vote with Your Mouth

Time Out Chicago's annual Eat Out Awards come out in about a month, and the Readers' Choice nominees are now up. Vote early and... well, you know.

Book Club Author Event

Have you been reading The Enchanters Vs. Sprawlburg Springs along with us this month? If not, what are you waiting for? The February meeting of the Gapers Block Book Club is coming up this Monday, Feb. 11 at The Book Cellar, where we will be joined by Enchanters author Brian Costello. This promises to be a good time, so put your snow boots on and join us on Monday. The discussion begins at 7:30pm, and new members are always welcome.

The Mayor's Legislative Finesse

Via Rich Miller's Capitol Fax Blog, a great video of His Elective Majesty, Mayor Daley, blowing his stack at the Aldermen who dared vote against him--although, he does kind of have a point, that a "no" vote on the CTA bailout tax hike is harmless, since it was definitely going to pass (so it's a "no" on a tax hike, as opposed to a "no" on CTA funding, had it failed). The video is priceless.

Goin' to the Movies

Local webcomic Multiplex just released its first e-book, collecting early strips and several new ones. And it's free!

South Side Parakeets are Tougher...

Despite the blinding snowstorms and below zero temperatures of late, the famed Hyde Park parakeets are hanging tough after more than 30 years in the area. However, a University of Chicago professor who is delivering a lecture on the birds on February 20 says this winter was expecially rough and may thin out their ranks a bit.

Forest Park 1, Cool Kids 0

Decidedly far-from-the-center Forest Park won the "best dining neighborhood" contest in the Tribune today, beating out endlessly Yelped-about neighborhoods that need no further ink.

A Night in Trump Tower

Trump Tower's hotel is nearly complete. The Trib's Glenn Jeffers spent a night in one of the rooms, and wrote a blog about it.

Big Fines for Drivers vs. Bikes

Wednesday, Mayor Daley, who has given " the Chicago way" to motorists who have perhaps dangerously impeded his progress as a cyclist, proposed raising fines to as much as $500 for turning right in front of a bicyclist, opening a door into the path of a cyclist or passing too closely.

Write to Bike

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, the League of Illinois Bicyclists, and Trek Bike Corp. are sponsoring a bicycle safety essay contest for Illinois fourth- and fifth-graders. Winners will receive Trek 820 mountain bikes and helmets for submitting the best essay. All entries must be postmarked no later than March 31, and must be 100 words or less.

Invisible Votes

GB's own AmyC and other Rogers Parkers ran into an unusual "voting irregularity" on Tuesday -- her polling place was stocked with allegedly "invisible ink" pens. Unfortunately, the inevitable snarky blog commentary makes the situation sound like it was the voters' fault for believing the state-appointed judges and ward committeeman.

Get Your Photo Taken

"Faces," a new, black-and-white portrait project by local photog Jason Richardson, uses light, angle and composition to reveal people's faces as they really are (i.e., wrinkles, dots and all). Richardson needs models, so check out his flickr page and drop him a line to participate.

Your Auto Show Prep

The 100th annual Chicago Auto Show opens Friday, so we here's a couple things to get you ready: Jalopnik's newness cheat sheet, Showlopnik, the derivatively named intern blog, and the 8th annual Auto Show Shutdown. After the jump, links to car blogs' CAS category archives.

•'s Kicking Tires

A Delicious Accident

A truck carrying 4,000 gallons of liquid chocolate crashed on the Chicago Skyway this morning. Unfortunately, no chocolate was spilled, and chocolate did not flow like a river into the city.

Obama the Vampire Slayer?

Barackula, The Musical!

Dwell loves Chicago

The March issue of Dwell shows a lot of Chicago love; first with a profile of Wilkinson Blender Architecture's gut-renovated, Gold-certified LEED-H home the Wis Tavern Building and secondly an interesting article about architect Bertrand Goldberg, best known for his landmark Marina City complex and the endangered cloverleaf-towered Prentice Women's Hospital.

The Monsters Are on Maple Street

Have an boozehound neighbor with a yappy dog, wild children, and a rusty car up on blocks in the driveway? Is he prone to late-night drum rehearsals or screamfests with his spouse? Too terrified to confront him directly? Impotently and anonymously vent your spleen at Here's the Chicago edition.

Chicago Election Day Recap

According to the Tribune, yesterday's election processes went about as well as can be expected here in Chicago. Well, except for some missing ballots, a fistfight between an election judge and a poll worker, and some mysterious "invisible ink".

Art Between Art

It seems appropriate that the I^3 Festival of interstitial art begins on Leap Day -- the ultimate interstitial date.

Bag the Bags

Speaking of recycling, there's a proposal before City Council to require stores to take back and recycle plastic bags, in hopes that the move would keep them out of dumps and trees. (Whole Foods already got rid of them.)

Humboldt Park: Ready For Its Closeup

More big names have been added to the cast of Humboldt Park, a holiday movie set in (you guessed it) Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. Joining John Leguizamo will be Alfred Molina and "Will and Grace" star Debra Messing. Shooting is scheduled to start on February 13. We're guessing the boathouse will be featured in there somewhere.

Fashions for Less

Through Feb. 29, recycled fashion hot-spot Buffalo Exchange offers a $5 discount off your next purchase of $20 or more at its Wicker Park (1478 N. Milwaukee) and Lakeview (2875 N. Broadway) locations. Stock up on those vintage threads.

What to Do With That Ballot Receipt

You walked out of your polling place with a sense of satisfaction and a tiny piece of paper. Now show off your voter pride -- snap a photo of your ballot receipt and add it to this new Flickr pool. (Thanks, Eliina!)

Cleaning Up Congress

As Logan Square gentrifies, the owners of the Congress Theater hope to renovate it to match the neighborhood -- but keep it available and affordable to local organizations.

The Final Countdown

In honor of today's historical primary elections (voting ends at 7pm), here is a very good cover of Europe's "The Final Countdown." Enjoy.

Fogged In

That beautiful fog that swathed the city in film noir magic last night? It also canceled about about a thousand flights at O'Hare and Midway.

Call 911 More Often

The Sun Times reports that two 911 dispatchers made over $110,000 last year (twice their salaries) in overtime last year. These two employees are not the only highly-paid staffers; twenty of their colleagues accrued up to $80,000 in overtime pay as well.

History of The Chicago Young Lords

Here's a set of extended videos about the Chicago Young Lords, a late-60s movement out of Lincoln Park.

Photo Finish

Chicago Public Radio wants you to keep an eye on the election: if you notice anything out of the ordinary at your polling place, call them at 312-948-4650. You can also submit election day photos to their flickr group.

Buy the Sun-Times

No, not today's issue -- the paper itself.

Me? Advertise on GB?

That's right, dear readers. You can pimp your parties, sell your condos, or hock your hand-mades with a Gapers Block text ad. Look up to the top of the page and you'll see what we mean. They're just $35 for seven days and get pretty darn good results. Check out ads section out for more info.

A Sticky Wicket for Obama

The Obama/Rezko flap makes it all the way to the UK where The Independent reports on "the Chicago street where a dangerous secret from Barack Obama's past lurks." Sounds like a Sherlock Holmes case.

Click, Two Ways

Chicago Magazine has a new photoblog, Snap!, and the Chicago Methods Reporter has a new dating blog, Love Me/Date Me.

Redesigned Blogs

Hey, we just launched a redesign of our topical blogs, Book Club, Drive-Thru and Transmission. Take a look!

Drink Liberally, Think Super Tuesday-Ly

Oh, where to watch the Super Tuesday Election returns? Well, if you're of the mind and inclination, you can join the drinkinest group of political junkies around, the Drinking Liberally crew, who will be assembling at Sheffield's, at Sheffield and School. For more information check out the cool Drinking Liberally site for the occasion: SuperFatTuesday. NOTE: I looked for a conservative analog to this, but searches for "Drinking Conservatively" turned up significantly unrelated results.

Obama (Un)plugged

Common, Scarlett Johannson and John Legend duet with a Barack Obama speech in this song written by from the Black-Eyed Peas.

The Voter Guide to Other Voter Guides

If you're just as confused as I am about who to vote for tomorrow, take a look at endorsements made by the Sun-Times, the Tribune, the Chicago Free Press, the Chicago Federation of Labor [pdf], Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice/Vote for Judges (judicial offices only), Chicago Bar Association (judicial offices only) and Daily Herald (Fox Valley and DuPage County). That should give you enough fodder for your noggin.

Winging It

Chicagoan Patrick Bertoletti scarfed down 227 chicken wings to come in second place at Philadelphia's annual Wing Bowl, held Feb. 1. Bertoletti had some stiff competition in Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Cal. -- the top wing-eater (241!) who last year won the world's hot dog eating championship in Coney Island, N.Y.

Vegging Out at May Street Market

It's Friday! We've got our weekly feature up over on Drive Thru! This week: Chris Brunn writes about a very special birthday dinner for his lady friend at May Street Market. With Valentine's Day coming up, this one's well worth a read. A lesson in romance, indeed.

Gallery Raid

Contemporary art gallery Kass/Meridian was raided by the FBI today as part of an art fraud investigation.

Tonight: The Third Coast

In '06 and early '07, we featured excerpts from The Third Coast, a book about life by the Great Lakes by Ted McClelland. It's finally published, and we're celebrating tonight at the Hideout from 6 to 8:30pm. Ted will read excerpts from the book, and Marquette, MI, musician Sycamore Smith (featured in the book and in Detour) will perform. It's free!

Transmission Feature: Jazz by the Numbers

This week in Transmission, we take a look at three stellar releases from Chicago jazz label, Delmark. We've got small ensembles with big performances, big ensembles with even bigger performances, and sweet licks burned onto CD and DVD. So hot it'll melt your snowpants!

The Most Disturbing Show on Earth

Ladies and gentlemen! Today Dr. X provides us with vintage circus photos from the 1940s. Coulrophobia is apparently not a new development.



GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15