Bleader | Chicago Reader

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Jackson Park and Thompson Center lead Preservation Chicago's annual list of the city's seven most-endangered architectural treasures

Posted By on 02.28.18 at 03:43 PM

  • Eric Allix Rogers
  • Jackson Park

Frederick Law Olmsted's Jackson Park (including Midway Plaisance and the South Shore Cultural Center)—the designated site of the Obama Presidential Center—tops  Preservation Chicago's 2018 list of the city's seven most-threatened architectural treasures.  The annual list puts a spotlight on historic structures and landscapes threatened with demolition in the hope that they can be restored and reused. 

Also on the list, released today, is Helmut Jahn's 1985 James R. Thompson Center (originally the State of Illinois Center), at 100 W. Randolph. The unique postmodern building has been put up for sale (and possible demolition) by Governor Bruce Rauner.

James R. Thompson Center - GABRIEL X. MICHAEL
  • Gabriel X. Michael
  • James R. Thompson Center

Here's the rest of Preservation Chicago's "Chicago 7" list, which actually has eight entries this year:

William Rainey Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood: a Prairie-style structure designed by Dwight Perkins and completed in 1911.

William Rainey Harper High School - ERIC ALLIX ROGERS
  • Eric Allix Rogers
  • William Rainey Harper High School

The Washington Park Substation, 6141 S. Prairie: a classical revival-style electrical substation designed by architect Hermann von  Holst, dating from 1928 and 1939.

Washington Park Substation - DEBORAH MERCER
  • Deborah Mercer
  • Washington Park Substation

Woodruff Arcade, 6361 N. Broadway: a Chicago School arcade designed by Herbert H. Green and completed in 1923. It has already been sold to a developer.

Woodruff Arcade - WARD MILLER
  • Ward Miller
  • Woodruff Arcade

Hotel Guyon
, 4000 W. Washington: an imposing Moorish Revival structure in West Garfield Park by Jens  J. Jensen (not the landscape architect), finished in 1927.

  • Gabriel X. Michael
  • Hotel Guyon

Union Station
, 210-225 S. Canal: the original architect was Daniel Burnham; after his death, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White took over. It has a classical revival exterior and a beaux arts interior, and was completed in 1925.

  • Eric Allix Rogers
  • Union Station

The city's brick paved streets and alleys, dating from the 1880s to the 1910s.

There's a quick video tour of the endangered buildings here

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Obama: No community benefits agreement, and let's move on

Posted By on 02.28.18 at 11:36 AM

The Obama Center, as projected at McCormick Place - DEANNA ISAACS
  • Deanna Isaacs
  • The Obama Center, as projected at McCormick Place

Former president Barack Obama, in a surprise appearance before a large audience last night at an Obama Foundation public meeting at McCormick Place, made two points clear:

There will be no community benefits agreement for the construction of the Obama Presidential Center.

And progress on the center needs to move past the debate stage. 

Obama reiterated his loyalty to the city's south side and his goal for the center to be an active hub there, a place where the next generation of leaders will be recruited and mentored. He said the center will attract more than 700,000 annual visitors, and will bring $3 billion in economic activity to the Chicago area.

But in regard to the binding community benefits agreement that a coalition of groups has been asking for, Obama had this to say: "I respect the intent, but we're not coming in here as a for-profit organization. I'm raising a bunch of money. I'm not getting a salary from the foundation. Michelle and my motivations are entirely to see the community benefit.

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Why do we have parks? The answer may surprise you.

Posted By on 02.28.18 at 09:00 AM

The Sherman Park lagoon and field house - RICH CHAPMAN
  • Rich Chapman
  • The Sherman Park lagoon and field house

Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

The great thaw happened earlier this week. Perhaps you took advantage of the spring-like temperatures and spent some time in your neighborhood park getting some exercise or maybe just sitting around and inhaling the fresh air. Perhaps it occurred to you to wonder why your neighborhood has a park in the first place (and why so many neighborhoods are named after parks). In a long feature in 1990 called "Why We Have Parks," Harold Henderson, a writer who was interested in both the environment and in Chicago history, explained.

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My morning at the Pitchfork lineup reveal, or two hours of watching paint dry

Posted By on 02.28.18 at 08:00 AM

The announcement, one hour in - RACHEL YANG
  • Rachel Yang
  • The announcement, one hour in

At around 4 PM yesterday, Reader staff writer Leor Galil informed the rest of the office that Pitchfork Music Festival was going to announce the first third of the lineup at 10:30 this morning.

"They're going to paint the names on the mural outside of the Violet Hour. We need an intern to cover it," he said, eyes gleaming with a combination of enthusiasm and relief that he wouldn't have to do it this year. The painting for last year's lineup took an hour and a half—but it's not Pitchfork unless it goes to extraordinary lengths to be cool, like when a white person gives their dog an Instagram account and a "persona."

The staff began throwing ideas around about how to cover it. Some (like camping outside for 24 hours) were discarded, much to my relief. Then, after nearly half an hour, it was finally settled: I would head over to Wicker Park at 10 AM and start live-tweeting the announcements. I didn't know what to expect. Would there be a crowd? How big was the mural? How long would it take? Would there be a place for me to pee? Would the painter be wearing overalls and call me "champ"?

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Santa crashes a hoedown on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 02.28.18 at 07:00 AM


ARTIST: Joe Schorgl
SHOW: Al Scorch's Winter Slumber at the Empty Bottle on Sun 3/4

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Indiana fashion student Jason Bell Jr. rocks a ‘dapper grandpa’ look

Posted By on 02.27.18 at 05:22 PM

Jason Bell Jr. describes his style as "clean and comfortable, like a dapper grandpa." - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Jason Bell Jr. describes his style as "clean and comfortable, like a dapper grandpa."

"I knew I was bound to get a few pictures in today, so I had to bust a fit," admits Jason Bell Jr., a 19-year-old fashion student and entrepreneur from Bloomington, Indiana. Dressed in a coat handed down by his grandfather, he considers his style "a work in progress": "clean and comfortable, like a dapper grandpa. It's the thin line between old fashion and this generation's style," Bell says.

The apparel merchandising student at Indiana University was in Chicago to direct a photo shoot for Urban Genius, a lifestyle brand he created in high school with friends Drelen Williams and Derreke Johnson. "We were the group of kids that always stood out because of the way we dressed. We had everyone trying to keep up with us," says Bell, who's now making a business out of his precocious sartorial expertise. Find his designs at and on Instagram at @ug216.

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Could Chicago's Sameena Mustafa become the first Muslim woman in Congress?

Posted By on 02.27.18 at 03:36 PM

Sameena Mustafa - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • Sameena Mustafa

Sameena Mustafa has had a successful career as a real estate broker working with nonprofits and small businesses in addition to a rising profile in the city's comedy scene. In 2015 she cofounded Simmer Brown, a South Asian comedy collective. But the 2016 election made her take a hard look at the local political arena and decide to get involved. Now Mustafa, 47, is one of three Democratic primary challengers to incumbent Fifth District U.S. representative Mike Quigley, who's held that office for nearly a decade. Mustafa believes he's out of touch with the progressive values that she sees to be increasingly animating the district. If she wins, Mustafa would be the first Muslim woman in Congress and the first Indian-American woman to represent Illinois.

Here at the Reader we're familiar with your comedy work. Have you always been doing comedy alongside your real estate career?

I started comedy in 2014, and that's the newest venture. Real estate I started in 2003. I was still working full-time while I was performing. Comedy is a late-night venture, as it were, so it's not something that would conflict with business meetings.

I had been creative when I was younger. I wrote poetry, and I wrote in high school. So I had that creative side of me, and it was one of those things where someone was like, "Take a class at Second City!," and it was fine. I took another one and a friend suggested, "Hey, if you like this but you want something a little bit different, try this women-only stand-up and storytelling class," and that was the Feminine Comique. My graduation was four years ago, my comedy graduation. I never actually performed onstage before that graduation. It was so different from anything I've done in terms of writing. I did debate in college, so I had no problem speaking in public, but this is very different—it was me bringing my political ideas, my creative side, and my comfort with being in front of people. Immediately I had an affinity for it. I really enjoyed it. I was nervous the first time I was onstage, but I loved it.

I can't find any of your stand-up on YouTube. Is there a reason for that?

I see comedy as something you do. It's something you can be doing for 20 years and still be learning and evolving—it's like any craft. To me it was more important for people to come to shows. I didn't want to do, like, a Facebook live. It was more about having the interaction and immediacy. We're essentially creating an experience, a community in real time.

You're running against an incumbent who's held this seat for nearly a decade. Some would say that it's not a great strategy for a first attempt at political office. Why did you decide to spend your time and money on a race that's really stacked against you?

The electorate is looking for a different type of leader, one that's grassroots, connected to the community, that isn't somebody that's been selected for them. If you look at the last ten years, Democrats have lost over 1,000 seats on every level including the White House. So it's one of those things where all the data is pointing against your assumptions, yet you're still holding those assumptions? To me this was a district, this was an incumbent that was important enough to challenge because we have a completely different environment than we did two years ago. And so to have someone in that seat who doesn't advocate for the values of the voters of the Fifth District was an opportunity to bring that, to bring that leadership.

And having lived in the district as long as I have and had immediate contact with people from all walks of life and different parts of the district—you get a sense of what people value. When you're in an environment like a comedy show, it's a flash focus group. It's not hard to figure out what people are thinking and feeling and what they care about. Mike Quigley refused to do a town hall following the inauguration, which was something being done by Republican lawmakers across the country. And I thought: Why is my Democratic congressman, in a very Democratic district, refusing to do them?

You've been living in the district for 30 years. When did you first learn anything about your congressman? And can you describe your relationship with the congressman over the years?

I knew who he was and, frankly, because he has never been challenged, I voted for him. I knew he had the baseline: he was pro-choice, he was pro-LGBT. Then when I started looking at my stack of leaders up and down the ballot and started thinking about the issues I cared about and started doing some research on some stances that Mike Quigley had taken, it occurred to me that he may be good on those two issues but there's so many issues on which he is falling short. Or, frankly, is in opposition to the values that I hold and that the voters hold in the district. Mike Quigley is not someone who sticks his neck out on issues.

If you were elected, you'd be the first Muslim woman in Congress. What goes through your mind as you consider that prospect?

It would certainly be a milestone, but I'm optimistic that people in Democratic politics are increasingly accepting of leaders irrespective of their religion, gender, or ethnicity and are looking for candidates who stand with them on the issues and share their values. More doors are opening for candidates who have something to offer but who historically have not had opportunities to serve.

In light of the conversation that you participated in with the Reader last year, talking about feminism and intersectionality in what would be considered a nonmainstream way, how are you bringing your political consciousness as a feminist committed to intersectionality to this very mainstream political arena?

It's in how I've organized my campaign, it's in how I've talked about the issues. . . . I gotta tell you, we've talked to thousands of voters, and this is a progressive district. So when you approach them, they assume you're agreeing on some baseline principles. Are you pro-choice? Are you pro-LGBT? Do you support the Dreamers, immigration reform? Are you going to be supporting health care access for all? This is something I've found is resonating with voters.

On the intersectionality piece per se, I have made it a point to have a very inclusive team. The majority of the leaders on my team are women and women of color. Those are the kinds of things that resonate with volunteers, with donors, with voters.

And are you also mentally preparing yourself to step into an electoral political space which requires compromise and working with people who have a radically different political understanding of things?

I've spent the last 13 years advocating for people and organizations that are founded on values—nonprofits that are working on important issues like immigration, sexual assault survivors. It's something where I'm literally negotiating against people who don't necessarily share those values and they are not really committed to those outcomes. And they have their own agenda, and they have their own profit motive, specifically in the space of commercial real estate.

As it relates to being a public figure and having criticism—I've been doing it for the last six, seven months. I have put myself out there in a way that's public, and in some ways it was an extension of what I was doing in the arts community. Because when you're onstage, you're essentially saying,  "I am open to anything. I'm declaring my values, I'm declaring my beliefs,  and I welcome you to challenge them." But I'm not shying away from being a public figure.

You've talked about how problematic gerrymandering is, how it creates this strange monoculture of an electorate in one particular district. Is there anything you've been either pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised by as you've been campaigning around the absurd contours of the Fifth District?

I know this district, this is the district I grew up in, my parents have lived here for over 40 years, and I felt confident in my knowledge of what the values were that I held and that were shared by the voters. And one thing that I keep getting positive reinforcement on is how much, despite the gerrymandering, how much the voters and the district value diversity and believe in inclusion and view it as one of our strengths. I'm getting phone calls, e-mails, and messages from people who are saying, "We want to help you, we support you, we share your values and we want to see a leader like you represent us." It's humbling, and it's an honor. This has been an incredible opportunity to connect with people on values and policies that they care about.

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Todos Santos is a mezcaleria, hold the tequila

Posted By on 02.27.18 at 12:48 PM

The bar at Todos Santos, in the basement of Logan Square Mexican restaurant Quiote - JAY SCHROEDER
  • Jay Schroeder
  • The bar at Todos Santos, in the basement of Logan Square Mexican restaurant Quiote

, the Logan Square Mexican restaurant from former Salsa Truck owner Dan Salls, has had a mezcal bar in its basement since it opened early last year. Last fall, though, the bar got its own name along with a new beverage director when Jay Schroeder (formerly of Mezcaleria Las Flores) came on board. Now known as Todos Santos, the space looks the same as before—wood everywhere, including the floor, ceiling, walls, stools, tables, and bar—but has an entirely new cocktail menu.

Todos Santos could more accurately be called an agave bar, since the menu includes lesser-known agave-based spirits like sotol and raicilla along with mezcal—but, Schroeder says, "agave bar just doesn't sound as good." He prefers the term mezcaleria, though he says he'll include as many nonmezcal spirits as he can. The one agave spirit he won't offer, though, is the best-known of them all: tequila.

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The Pitchfork Music Festival announces its first wave of acts for 2018

Posted By on 02.27.18 at 10:41 AM

Shelby Rodeffer begins a long day of painting band names on the side of Violet Hour. - SCREEN SHOT FROM PITCHFORK'S LIVE FEED
  • Screen shot from Pitchfork's live feed
  • Shelby Rodeffer begins a long day of painting band names on the side of Violet Hour.

Pitchfork Music Festival unveiled a number of the performers for its annual three-day bonanza this morning; the 13th iteration runs July 20-22, once again at Union Park.

Chicago artist Shelby Rodeffer, executing artwork by illustrator Camilo Medina, revealed the names of the performers by painting them on a wall outside Wicker Park hot spot the Violet Hour. That meant the only way to find out who will be playing was by literally watching paint dry — which we did.

We've compiled the list (along with Reader intern Rachel Yang's best tweets from the scene) below; scroll down for the daily schedule and ticket information. Added bonus: we've included links to past Reader features, show previews, and reviews.

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Remembering a time when we didn't totally hate Eat, Pray, Love

Posted By on 02.27.18 at 10:32 AM

The Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

Once a cultural phenomenon crosses over from novelty to cliche to the subject of reflexive eye rolling, it's hard to remember what was so appealing about it in the first place. So let's go back in time to 2006, when Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir of her year of exploring countries whose names begin with the letter "I" in the name of self-actualization and healing from a bad divorce, actually seemed like a good idea instead of shorthand for "white privilege: thirtysomething American woman division." Martha Bayne reviewed the book for the Reader and had this to say: "It's to Gilbert's great credit that by the end of it I didn't totally hate her tall, thin, blond guts."

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