Bleader | Chicago Reader

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tribune Tower without the Tribune is merely a tower

Posted By on 08.31.16 at 05:14 PM

Will Tribune Tower's landmark designation protect the inscriptions in the lobby or the artifacts embedded in the facade? - MARIANO MANTEL
  • Mariano Mantel
  • Will Tribune Tower's landmark designation protect the inscriptions in the lobby or the artifacts embedded in the facade?

Many years ago a college friend who was one of the lucky ones—right out of J-school she got a reporting job with the Chicago Tribune—led me up a public elevator to a little-known service elevator and out onto a terrace at the top of a hotel that's now the InterContinental. It was a summer night. Stars lit the sky above and glittering Michigan Avenue below. And at our exalted level, almost near enough to touch, loomed the Tribune Tower's mighty gothic crown. 

This was now her city, her home, her life. And did any building represent Chicago more assertively than Trib Tower? When it was built in the 1920s—having been chosen as the winner of an architectural competition that asked for "the most beautiful office building in the world"—the Tower was criticized as backward-looking. But what's wrong with building a castle if you belong in one? Tribune Tower sent the message that the Tribune's president, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, wanted sent: We rule.

Sic transit gloria. Today the tower belongs to one company, Tribune Media, and the paper to another, Tronc, Inc. Tronc could soon be sold to Gannett, and the tower's about to be sold for about $240 million to CIM Group, a real estate investment firm based in Los Angeles. Tribune Media is planning to move out of the Tower, but reportedly will remain in Chicago; the Tribune's lease at 435 North Michigan runs through 2018.  

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Rhymefest uses recordings of his ridiculous treatment by Chicago police on ‘Cops N Robbers’

Posted By on 08.31.16 at 12:00 PM


On Monday, two days after Rhymefest was held up at gunpoint at 43rd and Cottage Grove, the rapper released "Cops N Robbers," which details his experience—not just staring down the barrel of a gun, but also struggling to get Chicago police to hear his grievances. Rhymefest enlisted a team of collaborators for the track, including rapper John the Author and four producers—S1, Epikh Pro, Damon Ranger, and Xzibit—who are collectively responsible for its serrated synths, spindly percussion, and warm, slightly nervy piano melody.

Thanks to thoughtful sampling, "Cops N Robbers" doubles as a work of citizen journalism. Rhymefest opens and closes the track with recordings from his frustrating encounter with the CPD. When he went to a nearby police station to report being robbed, he first spoke with an officer who seemed more interested in playing Candy Crush on her phone than hearing him out. "Cops N Robbers" ends with another officer telling the rapper that his supervisor has said "to ask you to leave."

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The gig poster of the week towers above the desert

Posted By on 08.31.16 at 07:00 AM


ARTIST: Daniel MacAdam
SHOW: Sumac, Jon Mueller, and Nordra at Township on Tue 8/9

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CPD moves to fire Jason Van Dyke and other cops involved in Laquan McDonald shooting, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 08.31.16 at 06:00 AM

Jason Van Dyke, right, and his father, Owen, at a hearing at Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago - NANCY STONE/ POOL/CHICAGO TRIBUNE
  • Nancy Stone/ Pool/Chicago Tribune
  • Jason Van Dyke, right, and his father, Owen, at a hearing at Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Wednesday, August 31, 2016. 

  • Weather: Cooler without much humidity

It will cool down significantly Wednesday, with a high of 77 and a low of 66. There's a chance of a thunderstorm in the morning, and the humidity will fade by the afternoon. [AccuWeather]

  • CPD files charges to fire Jason Van Dyke and other cops involved in Laquan McDonald shooting

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke and four other cops who gave reports about the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald that didn't match the video of the shooting could be fired by the Chicago Police Board. Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson filed administrative charges asking that the five officers be dismissed over the incident. Van Dyke is facing first-degree murder charges for McDonald's 2014 death. [Tribune]

  • Anti-violence activists ask for state funding to bring back CeaseFire

Former members of the anti-violence group CeaseFire are calling for $3 million in state funding to bring back the program. The group trained former gang members to end arguments and disputes before the situation became violent. Its $4.7 million in state funding was frozen by Governor Bruce Rauner in 2015. The CeaseFire push comes during Chicago's violence surge, which has resulted in more homicides in 2016 than in New York City and Los Angeles combined. [DNAinfo Chicago] [BBC News]

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cook County not ‘in the business of saying what is and what is not fine arts,’ according to CFO

Posted By on 08.30.16 at 02:50 PM


Cook County's chief financial officer claims the government agency never sought to define what art or music is, nor has it tried to tax small venues accordingly.

The comments from Cook County CFO Ivan Samstein come after a hearing officer appointed by the county's Department of Administrative Hearings claimed last week that DJ sets, rock, rap, and country performances music do not constitute "fine art" under the county's code and therefore small music venues would be hard-pressed to argue that they should be exempt from a 3 percent county amusement tax on ticket and cover charges for those types of shows.

Samstein now says, however, that the county has never collected amusement taxes from venues on the basis of what type of performances they book. He disagrees with the hearing officer's interpretation that only those genres traditionally considered "fine art"—such as chamber orchestras, symphony orchestras, and opera—are exempt from paying the tax. 

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Bay Area guitarist Chuck Johnson plugs back in on Velvet Arc

Posted By on 08.30.16 at 12:00 PM

  • courtesy of Trouble in Mind Records
  • Chuck Johnson

Multi-instrumentalist Marielle V Jakobsons, who plays a solo concert Thursday at Cafe Mustache in support of the shimmery, gorgeous new Star Core (Thrill Jockey), was one of two driving forces behind cosmic Bay Area band Date Palms. She's currently on tour with guitarist Chuck Johnson, and she plays violin on a couple tracks from his latest album, Velvet Arc. It's his first electric outing in a decade, and another gem released by Chicago's great Trouble in Mind.

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Crocs make a comeback

Posted By on 08.30.16 at 09:00 AM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.

  • Isa Giallorenzo

Humble crocs—the lightweight, comfortable, aerated, slip-resistant footwear—became a fixture of what-not-to-wear lists after enjoying a moment in the sun around 2007. Still ridiculed by the general public, Mario Batali's favorite brand of foam-resin clogs are (for better or worse) being adopted and reinterpreted by young, fashion-forward folks such as Aya Koné (pictured left) and William "Woody" Tauke. If it's proof of anything, it's that just about any fad—love it or loathe it—will come back around if you wait long enough.

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Rapper Rhymefest invites Trump to walk a Chicago block with him, and other news

Posted By on 08.30.16 at 06:00 AM

  • Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media
  • Rhymefest in 2014

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Tuesday, August 30, 2016.

  • Weather: Very humid with thunderstorms possible

Tuesday will be humid and sunny, with a high of 83 and a low of 71. It will be very warm and could feel as hot as 96 degrees. A thunderstorm is possible in the afternoon and early evening. [AccuWeather]

  • Cop in Rhymefest incident will be disciplined, rapper invites Trump to Chicago

The police officer who didn't act "appropriately" when rapper Rhymefest filed a police report about an armed robbery Saturday will be disciplined, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Grammy and Oscar-winning rapper, also known as Che Smith, has been in the news after posting a video of a Chicago police officer treating him "disgustingly" when he visited the police station. "Had that officer acted appropriately, we'd be dealing right now with who did the mugging, which is where we should be," the mayor said. Despite being robbed at gunpoint, Smith told CNN that Chicago isn't as dangerous as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claims. "I'm inviting Donald Trump to Chicago," he said in the interview with CNN. "I will walk you down a block, Mr. Trump, and I guarantee you won't get shot."  [DNAinfo Chicago] [CNN]

  • August isn't over, but it's already the most violent month in 20 years

There is still another full day left of August, but it's already the most violent month in Chicago in 20 years. There have been 84 homicides so far, the most in one month since October 1996, according to the Tribune. The city could still surpass the 85 homicides that occurred in October 1996 and the 90 that happened in June 1996. [Tribune]

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Monday, August 29, 2016

After seven years away, Africa Hi-Fi returns for one night in Hyde Park

Posted By on 08.29.16 at 02:00 PM

Africa Hi-Fi cofounders Sonia Hassan and Ron Trent at Sonotheque in 2006 - COURTESY OF SONIA HASSAN
  • Courtesy of Sonia Hassan
  • Africa Hi-Fi cofounders Sonia Hassan and Ron Trent at Sonotheque in 2006

The Harper Court Summer Music Series in Hyde Park, organized by the Silver Room's Eric Williams in conjunction with the University of Chicago, has consisted of four free open-air concerts between May and August—and the last, on Wednesday, August 31, is a world-music house party reuniting the creators of Africa Hi-Fi, a beloved Sonotheque residency that ran from 2004 through 2009. Ron Trent and Joseph Bryl will DJ, Sonia Hassan will host, and trumpeter and singer-songwriter Sam Trump will perform live.

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