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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Loaner fishing gear at your local library

Posted By on 07.31.08 at 06:25 PM


'Cause even Hemingway can't help you catch a fish, Chicago Public Library branches located near fishing lagoons* keep a stock of rods and reels available for check out. The loan period is three weeks.

*Albany Park, Blackstone, Douglass, Hegewisch, Humboldt Park, McKinley Park, Rogers Park, Sherman Park, and Uptown

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8/11-8/16 -- Thighs and glutes workout

Posted By on 07.31.08 at 05:59 PM

Get a free lower-body workout at Exhale spa (945 N. State). The one-hour class, called Core Fusion® Thighs + Gluteals, is designed to lift the butt and thin the thighs. Guests will have use of the changing rooms, towel service, and spa facility. Mats and equipment are provided; socks are required.

The class schedule is:
Monday, 8/11       9:15 AM
Tuesday, 8/12      3:20 PM
Saturday,  8/16    3:20 PM
Class size is limited to 25 people and reservations are recommend. Call 312-753-6500.

Lollapalooza starts (sorta) tonight

Posted By on 07.31.08 at 03:46 PM

Despite what the official schedule says, experienced Lollapalooza-goers and Chicagoans know that once you include off-site festivities the Lolla "weekend" runs pretty much from Thursday until Monday or so. Things are getting off to a strong start tonight with a number of kickoff parties.

Most people know DJ Jazzy Jeff from the lightweight pop hip-hop beats he put down behind Will Smith back when Smith was still the Fresh Prince--and for providing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's best moments with his cameos as the always-hustling Jazz. DJs and trainspotters, on the other hand, know Jeff has a more serious side. By popularizing the game-changing "transformer" scratch technique he helped lay the foundation for the technically intense turntablist movement, and for the past decade he's been dropping surprisingly subtle soul/hip-hop hybrid mixes. He's spinning at Lumen tonight. Details and an RSVP form are available here.

Husband-and-wife indie-pop duo Mates of State are known more for kicking out romantic bubblegum jams than spinning club bangers, but they'll be manning the decks at Debonair Social Club tonight (as well as playing live) at a party set up by Venus magazine. Local DJs Zebo and Jordan Z--who are known for rocking parties--will provide backup. The $10 cover goes to benefit Girls Rock! Chicago (which is throwing an end-of-camp party at Metro on Saturday afternoon).

Diesel's sponsoring a show at Schubas tonight featuring Brooklyn-based disco-fiers Tigercity and psychedelicists Violens as part of their U:Music thing. If you RSVP ( Diesel will buy your first drink. For a seasoned afterparty ninja, it should be only the first of the weekend's many free drinks.

And if you're willing to line up right about now, you can check out the Kills, the Black Kids, and Foals at the Apple Store downtown. As a bonus, Kid Sister will be handling emcee duties throughout the performance. The show's free, if you don't count the mental and emotional stress of the inevitable line/crowding issues.

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A new online video serial about young Chicago actors

Posted By on 07.31.08 at 12:40 PM

On her way out of her Bucktown apartment, a young woman with long straight hair and model-high cheekbones checks herself out in the mirror. The checking turns to looking, then staring, and now her face crumbles and she sobs. How awful! She must feel terrible. But wait. Suddenly she stops sobbing. All business, she widens her eyes, stretches her mouth into an “o,” and makes octave-crossing vocalizations. Aha. It’s OK. She’s not really sad at all—she’s just an actress.

In fact, she’s an actress named Austin Marie Sayre, who plays an actress based on herself in an online video serial called The Adventures of Miss Girl. The vocalizing vignette opens the first of nine episodes written and directed by her fellow actor and former boyfriend Joe Lewis.

Sayre and Lewis came to Chicago together in 2005, right after graduating from Emerson College in Boston. She eventually decided her future lay in LA (episode eight: “I don’t want to be mediocre at what I do.”), and moved there last year. But not before very sportingly taping Lewis’s serial.

Miss Girl’s adventures are basically about the same thing Lewis says his relationship with Sayre was about: the struggle to maintain intimacy while pursuing big ambitions. She auditions, roughouses and dances with her beau, fails to get him to open up (though about what, I’m not sure), and--in one cool rehearsal scene—puts a very sexy spin on a speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Still, Lewis cautions, “We took great liberties with the truth.” He sees the serial as more than a video diary: it’s the first in a, um, series of serials he plans to produce about the lives of young actors in Chicago. The next one will be about another local actress. It remains to be seen how much variation Lewis can ring on his subject, but at the very least this seems like a good way to meet girls.

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Posted By on 07.31.08 at 12:39 PM

I'm headed off to Portugal to attend the Jazz em Agosto festival in Lisbon. Regular posting will resume on August 11.

Today's playlist:

Miguel Zenon, Awake (Marsalis Music)
Juan Pablo Torres, Algo Nuevo (Malanga Music)
Anthony Coleman, Lapidation (New World)
Jimmy McCracklin, The Mercury Recordings (Bear Family)
Ike Quebec, Blue & Sentimental (Blue Note)

Bell's is back

Posted By on 07.31.08 at 12:29 PM


Bell's announced this morning the return of its popular Kalamazoo-brewed beers to the Chicago market.

The press release is below; for deep and fascinating background, go read Nick Day's Reader cover story Bye-Bye Bell's, about the mysteries of liquor distribution and why Bell's left in the first place. 

July 31, 2008

Popular Bell's beer brands return to Chicago

KALAMAZOO, Mich. ­ After a two year absence from Chicagoland, the
brands of Bell's Brewery — including favorites such as Oberon Ale,
Bell's Amber Ale, Kalamazoo Stout and Bell's Porter — are back.

The recent announcement of distribution agreements with Central
Beverage Company, Schamberger Brothers, and Skokie Valley Beverage
Company means that Chicagoans can enjoy these renowned craft beers
once again, starting on August 1st.

"For many craft beer enthusiasts in this city, these brands were their
first introduction to full-flavor,  thoughtful brewing,” remarked
Donna Spagnola, president and owner of Central Beverage Company.
“We're extremely excited to be a part of bringing them back to

“I love Chicago and there's no big city I spend more time in,” added
Larry Bell, owner and founder of Bell’s Brewery. “I'm thrilled that
our beer will be available again in this market and I'm very pleased
to be working with such first-rate distributors. It's a true
partnership — they know their markets and they know our beers."

The company hopes to widen its distribution throughout Illinois in the
near future.

While they may not have been a presence in Chicago over the past two
years, the Bell's Brewery brands have been earning accolades around
the country. Most recently, at the 2008 Brewers Association World Beer
Cup in San Diego, where 2,864 beers from 644 breweries and 58
countries were judged by an esteemed panel, Bell's Porter captured a
gold medal in the Brown Porter category. At the 2008 Brewers Cup in
Indiana, Bell's Double Brown, Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock and Bell's
Porter all won gold in their respective categories.

"We've always believed that if we stay focused on brewing good beer,
good things will happen," noted Bell. "The return of these brands to
Chicago — where I was born and raised — proves that."

Bell’s Brewery distributes beer in fifteen states. The company
produces a variety of unfiltered, bottle-conditioned beers, ales,
porters and stouts. In 2007, sales volume exceeded 90,000 barrels, an
increase of more than 22% from the previous year. Similar growth is
expected this year. For more information about Bell’s Brewery, Inc.,


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Video: Inside the Arway Confections candy factory

Posted By on 07.31.08 at 12:04 PM

In this week's Omnivorous I wrote about Arway Confections, the mid-size, low-key, bulk candy manufacturer whose factory churns out everything from chocolate-covered sponge candy to Christmas-tree-shaped drizzled pretzels. Here co-owner Craig Leva leads a quick tour of the candy plant. (If you're wondering what a rupee was doing in the cashews, it's because India is a major exporter of the nuts.)


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8/2 -- CFD anniversary party

Posted By on 07.31.08 at 11:34 AM

The Chicago Fire Department is hosting a party with live music, safety demos, and free food and drinks this Saturday at the Quinn Fire Academy (558 W. DeKoven) to celebrate its 150th aniversary. There'll be a range of food (hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos), a chili cook-off, soft drinks, fire safety exercises, CPR demonstrations, and a display of new and antique CFD rigs. Everyone's welcome. Hours are 10 AM to 3 PM. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Up with other people/YouShoot

Posted By on 07.30.08 at 09:34 PM

I'm stepping away from the blog entirely for a few days, and will be dialing down my participation for awhile thereafter. My divided attentions are needed on some major projects, but I also need to recharge a bit, or at least work up the energy to be a control freak on some other stuff, and reinvest myself in some other interests. And catch up on correspondence (private to lots of people: sorry). So you should, in my stead, start seeing some other Reader voices on here, which I trust will keep you entertained.

Oh, and: I haven't posted any pictures in awhile, so I wanted to draw your attention to a couple lovely, humane galleries of portraits by only-connect, taken at Pitchfork and Sherman Park. Here are a couple, but you won't get the full effect without browsing the galleries. These kind of pictures make me want to be less of an agoraphobe.

To get all poor-man's-Susan-Sontag for a moment: I think the beauty of them is their stasis. Most festival and concert pictures are about mass and movement (like this one, from the same set), about lots of people doing crazy things, so they emphasize action. By shooting in tight focus, from the neck up, and, most importantly, with total, "boring" symmetry (asymmetry, as Blair Kamin emphasizes, creates motion), these photos are about individual people and stillness, an unconventional and riveting choice for an event like Pitchfork.


Heads Up

Posted By on 07.30.08 at 07:52 PM


Caveny Farm founder John Caveny speaks at Eli’s Cheesecake Factory (6701 W. Forest Preserve) Thursday at 1 PM as part of its summer lecture series on local food systems. Caveny, who specializes in raising heritage breeds of poultry, will discuss his farming practices and use of native grasses for biofuel; Caveny Farm turkey will be available for sampling. The weekly farmers’ market Eli’s cosponsors with Wilbur Wright College is going on at the same time, offering fresh produce and a lunch of grilled turkey (though not from Caveny). Call 800-354-2253 for more. Free.

As part of its Smart Home: Green + Wired exhibit, the Museum of Science and Industry (57th and Lake Shore Dr.) hosts a tasting Saturday at 6 PM of sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines and vodkas and organic cheeses; reps will be on hand to answer questions. The exhibit, designed by Michelle Kaufmann, is an actual three-story modular home outfitted with the latest environmentally friendly technologies; you can tour it during the tasting. Reservations required. Call 773-753-2583 for more. $35, 21+.

Now in its 34th year, the annual Pork and Corn Roast at Saint Mary of the Annunciation Church in Mundelein (22333 W. Erhart) draws carnivorous day trippers from all over the state this Sunday at 1 PM. More than 20 swine and hundreds of bushels of corn will be roasted; there’s also a beer garden, a craft show featuring more than 50 vendors, a petting zoo, and a tractor show. Call 847-223-0010 for more info. $12 ($10 in advance), $4 for kids 5-10.

In Fine Spirits (5420 N. Clark), the Reader’s Best of Chicago pick for best wine bar, hosts Craft Brew & BBQ Tuesday at 7:30, a five-course dinner with pairings by Tim Suprise of Michigan’s Arcadia Brewing Company. Featured brews include Anglers Ale, HopMouth, London Porter, and Cocoa Loco, a triple chocolate stout; chef Marianne Sundquist will design the menu around seasonal ingredients including sweet corn and Michigan cherries. Reservations required. Call 773-334-9463 for more. $55.

Signature Room at the 95th executive chef Patrick Sheerin will prepare a dinner at the James Beard House in New York in August; Chicago diners will get a chance to try his menu (and check out the ladies' room) Thursday at 6 PM at the Signature Room (875 N. Michigan). The five-course dinner, "Along the 45th Parallel: Cuisine from Famous Wine Regions," features food and wine from Italy, France, Canada, and the United States. Dishes include foie gras terrine, slow-roasted cod with popped corn puree and chanterelle mushrooms, and medallions of bison with seared Chinese broccoli. Call 312-280-0472 for reservations. $95.

Bin 36 (339 N. Dearborn) hosts its third annual BBQ and Bingo event Wednesday at 6 PM, where guests can dine and win prizes like wine, wine accessories, and gift certificates.  The dinner includes a whole rotisserie suckling pig, fried chicken etouffee, and chilled gazpacho with shrimp shooters; wine, beer, and cocktails will be served. Call 312-755-9463 for reservations; $5 from each ticket supports the Be the Groove performance ensemble. $50. 

The Alliance Francaise de Chicago (810 N. Dearborn) continues its French cooking lessons taught by chef Madelaine Bullwinkel with a class Saturday at 10:30 AM that explores French cuisine beyond traditional food from the Continent. "Being a French Chef: Ethnic Paris" teaches students how to make food from France's former colonies, including a Cambodian green papaya salad, Tunisian lamb, and banana tart from the Island of Reunion. After the lesson the food will be served with wine. Call 312-755-9463 to reserve a spot. $75 Alliance Francaise members, $85 nonmembers.

The Chicago Foodways Roundtable presents an ode to the mushroom 10 AM Saturday at Kendall College (900 N. Branch) with Exploring the Wild Mushroom: Myths, Flavors, and Facts, a lecture and cooking lesson by outdoors writer Joe McFarland. McFarland will cook (and guests will taste) recipes from his upcoming book, Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States, and discuss methods for enhancing the flavors of mushrooms. Members of the Illinois Mycological Association will be there to identify specimens, so bring that weird mushroom you found in your backyard. $3; free to Kendall students and faculty with ID. 

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Performing Arts
April 08
Galleries & Museums
Tech Vanitas ARC Gallery
April 30

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