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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Crushers Club teaches West Englewood boys to fight for their futures

Posted By and on 05.30.17 at 07:00 AM

JIAYUE YU
  • Jiayue Yu

The rhythmic thwap thwap—thwap thwap of a fist knocking a speed bag reverberates down the stairs of the Beautiful Zion Missionary Baptist Church in West Englewood before even reaching the area the Crushers Club boxing gym has called home for the past two years. Collages of photos line the stairwell leading to the space, showing young boys—their little boxing gloves framing their baby faces—next to their more seasoned, teenaged mentors—muscles gleaming with sweat, sometimes mean-mugging the camera.

Started in 2012, the club has come a long way from just a few kids using a makeshift gym to around 40 boys who come in regularly to spar in the ring. From 4 to 7 PM, five days a week, the space—with its low ceilings and multicolored walls covered in affirmations like "Only God can" and "In here your voice is heard"—provides an alternative to gangs and street crime for boys ages seven to 18. Some are kids from the neighborhood. Others have previously spent time in juvenile detention. But all are welcome here. There are rules, though: gang affiliations are left at the door, and cursing will be punished with a dollar or 25 push-ups.

Crushers Club founder Sally Hazelgrove, 54, moved to West Englewood from Uptown in 2000, raising her own family there until last year and starting the club after a decade of volunteering for the Evening Reporting Center, a community-based alternative to detention for juveniles, and getting to know gang members living in the Harold Ickes Homes. Her aim was to create a space that helped boys find identity, community, and love without gang affiliation, a space for them to play and be kids in a neighborhood that often forces them to grow up quickly. Last year there were 40 homicides in the area. This year there have been four so far.

"Socialization, I feel, is an important aspect that a lot of people don't address," Hazelgrove says. "We can have lots of programming, but when you go outside, everything is dangerous, and a lot of times the only socialization is the gang structure."

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Philadelphia pianist Brian Marsella brings a kaleidoscopic touch to the music of John Zorn

Posted By on 05.26.17 at 02:00 PM


During a trip to New York last summer, I finally made my first visit to the legendary Village Vanguard. The club was hosting a week of performances by a diverse slate of musicians tackling the latest book of compositions by John Zorn, the Bagatelles. I caught a set by pianist Craig Taborn that was every bit as brilliant as I expected, but a friend recommended I also check out another pianist I'd never heard of: Philadelphian Brian Marsella. He works with Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista in Banquet of the Spirits and plays in a group I've never cared much for called Fresh Cut Orchestra. But his set at the Vanguard, with bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Kenny Wollesen, knocked me out. Marsella had me thinking of individualists such as Herbie Nichols or Bud Powell playing at warp speed.

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Mel Brooks, Bike the Drive, and more things to do in Chicago on Memorial Day weekend

Posted By on 05.26.17 at 01:15 PM

Cyclists take over Lake Shore Drive for the annual Bike the Drive on Sun 5/28. - SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Sun-Times Media
  • Cyclists take over Lake Shore Drive for the annual Bike the Drive on Sun 5/28.

There's plenty to do in Chicago over the long Memorial Day weekend. Here's some of what we recommend:

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Chicago's population decline continues for the third year in a row, and other news

Posted By on 05.26.17 at 06:00 AM

Buildings sit vacant on the city's west side in March 2017. - PHOTO BY SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
  • Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Buildings sit vacant on the city's west side in March 2017.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, May 26, 2017. Have a great holiday weekend!

  • Chicago's population decline continues for the third year in a row

Chicago's population declined for the third consecutive year. The city lost 8,638 residents in 2016, compared to 4,934 in 2015 and 357 people in 2014. Chicago lost more residents in 2016 than any other major city and was the only major city to lose people between 2015 and 2016, but there are signs that Chicago is still doing well despite the decline. "There are places like Baltimore, St. Louis and Cleveland that have also lost people for consecutive years," Alden Loury, director of research and evaluation at the Metropolitan Planning Council, told DNAinfo Chicago. "Chicago has seen a level of vitality that those cities have not." Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed the exodus on Governor Bruce Rauner's policies, while Rauner blamed it on Emanuel's. [DNAinfo Chicago]  [Tribune]

  • Union Station will be transformed with $1 billion renovations

Riverside Investment & Development will lead a $1 billion renovation and redevelopment of Union Station and the area surrounding it, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman announced Thursday. "We've had a great partnership [with Amtrak], because if you're going to have a 21st-century economy, it needs to run on a 21st-century infrastructure," Emanuel said during the announcement event. "And that's what we've been working on for the last four years to get to this point." Some of the changes include residential towers above the terminal, a new food hall, a proposed hotel, new retail space, two office towers, a separate residential and retail tower nearby, and more. The project will be completed in three phases over six years, with construction on the first phase starting in mid-2018. [Sun-Times]

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Vocal-forward Chicago new-music group Fonema Consort celebrates its second album Saturday

Posted By on 05.25.17 at 03:26 PM

Members of Fonema Consort during the recording sessions for the new Fifth Tableau - ARLEN PARSA
  • Arlen Parsa
  • Members of Fonema Consort during the recording sessions for the new Fifth Tableau

Chicago's bustling new-music community usually focuses on instrumental material—while there are a number of excellent, boundary-pushing singers in town, most ensembles don't tackle vocal music. Over the past four years or so, that's made Fonema Consort distinctive and important: the local group, directed by composer Pablo Chin, emphasizes adventurous new work that centers the human voice, even if the sounds those voices contribute don't usually sound very songlike. On Friday, Fonema Consort releases its second album, Fifth Tableau, on Chicago cassette imprint Parlour Tapes, and on Saturday it celebrates the occasion with a concert at Experimental Sound Studio.

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City Council ‘reluctantly’ approves measure to ease gun range restrictions, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 05.25.17 at 06:00 AM

Training instructors and participants shooting at the Top Gun Shooting Sports range in Taylor, Michigan - DETROIT FREE PRESS VIA AP
  • Detroit Free Press via AP
  • Training instructors and participants shooting at the Top Gun Shooting Sports range in Taylor, Michigan

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Wednesday, May 24, 2017.

  • City Council "reluctantly" approves measure to ease gun range restrictions in Chicago

The City Council "reluctantly" passed a measure Wednesday that would allow gun ranges to open more easily in the city, according to DNAinfo Chicago. The proposal, which was delayed by aldermen for weeks, allows gun ranges "to operate in areas of the city where business, commercial and industrial uses are allowed—with a special permit from city officials," and permits children under 18 to shoot with supervision. Despite a measure passed in 2011 that allowed gun ranges industrial parts of the city, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in January that Chicago's restrictions were unconstitutional. [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • A police officer shot a suspect who allegedly rammed him with a stolen car on the west side

A Chicago police officer shot a suspect who allegedly rammed him with a stolen car on the west side Wednesday morning, according to the Tribune. Authorities say the suspect suffered serious injuries but is "OK at this time," while the officer suffered "severe damage to his right leg" after being pinned between two cars. [Tribune]

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jon Mueller and Mike Weis meditate with drums at the Zen Buddhist Temple-Chicago

Posted By on 05.24.17 at 07:11 PM

Jon Mueller and Mike Weis - PHOTOS BY RAPHAEL SANDLER AND MIKE WEIS
  • Photos by Raphael Sandler and Mike Weis
  • Jon Mueller and Mike Weis

In arena rock, the drum solo is usually your cue to go line up for a beer—or to head for the restrooms and get rid of the one you just finished. But in other traditions a drum's message, not the motor skills of the drummer, is the point of the music. Though Mike Weis and Jon Mueller—drummers based in Chicago and near Milwaukee, respectively—have plenty of experience in rock, this Saturday they'll delve into the spiritual and spatial dimensions of percussion when each man plays a solo concert at the Zen Buddhist Temple-Chicago in Roscoe Village.

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Black Cinema House honors the art of the shoeshine

Posted By on 05.24.17 at 04:17 PM

Bill Williams in Shinemen
  • Bill Williams in Shinemen
At 7 PM this Friday at the Stony Island Arts Bank, Black Cinema House will present a program of two superb short documentaries, Sparky Greene's American Shoeshine (1976) and Eleva Singleton's Shinemen (2015). Both films consider the social significance of shining shoes, particularly in Chicago. American Shoeshine offers a panoramic view, interviewing a number of shoe shiners and addressing the history of shoe shining as an industry. Shinemen, on the other hand, focuses on one individual, Bill Williams, who owned a few shine shops in town and worked for the Chicago tourism bureau for three decades. (Williams will attend the screening along with Singleton and the film's cinematographer, Ahmed Hamad.) The films both display great affection for their subjects and advance an engaging, even musical aesthetic. They present shining shoes not just as a job, but as an art form, the rhythm of the shinemen's towels providing a jaunty backbeat for the social lessons.

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Charming indie-pop duo Water From Your Eyes help celebrate the first year of Our Music My Body

Posted By on 05.24.17 at 12:00 PM

Water From Your Eyes - LUCAS DARLING
  • Lucas Darling
  • Water From Your Eyes

Last spring local nonprofits Between Friends and Rape Victim Advocates joined forces to address sexual harassment in the music scene with a campaign called Our Music My Body, which has since tabled at the Pitchfork Music Festival as well as shows at Subterranean and Beat Kitchen—during Riot Fest the latter also hosted an OMMB panel about confronting harassment. Tonight Beat Kitchen celebrates the campaign's first anniversary with a benefit show featuring an eclectic lineup of locals: indie-rockers Grandkids, rapper Lin Z, neosoul instrumentalist Kopano, and indie-pop duo Water From Your Eyes.

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Some of the most stylish attendees at the SAIC 2017 fashion show

Posted By on 05.24.17 at 11:38 AM

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

ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo

While Anwar Mahdi makes a habit of coordinating outfits with friends, this time it was an accident. He and his BFF and fellow School of the Art Institute student Janani Nathan both showed up to their school's annual fashion show in vibrant, oddly harmonious (but not at all matching) looks that included an unusual mixture of prints. Their ensembles, it turned out, suited their chief reason for attending the occasion: to view the collection of Natalie Castro. "She makes thees incredible pieces of work with playful shapes interacting with color and pattern," Nathan says. "I have really intimate relationships with the patterns and colors I see on anything, and I try to mimic those in my clothing." As for Mahdi and his hand-painted Bengal-tiger-striped shoes? "I kinda just wanted to stand out and look like a tiger," he says.

See more details of their eye-catching looks and other stylish SAIC Fashion 2017 attendees below:

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