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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Sugar and Spice Summit is one college student’s attempt to empower her generation of women

Posted By on 04.27.18 at 06:00 AM

The first Sugar and Spice Summit - LETA DICKINSON
  • Leta Dickinson
  • The first Sugar and Spice Summit

The outcome of the 2016 presidential election left Lauren Goldstein shaken and worried, like many others. A junior at Northwestern at the time, she was studying abroad in Copenhagen. When she woke up the morning after the election, she says, "I felt like the rug had been ripped out from under me and my generation of women." She wanted to do something to empower her generation, and while she was trying to decide what that would be, she remembered interviewing women in the food industry for the Northwestern chapter of Spoon University, a food publication written by college students.

"When I walked out of these interviews I always felt so inspired," Goldstein says. She was part of a community of women at Northwestern who were interested in food, but most of them didn't think it could be a career path. "That's where the Sugar and Spice Summit was born," she says, "out of a desire to connect those two communities that I was part of and had access to."

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

High rents force Wishbone out of its West Loop home after 26 years

Posted By on 04.26.18 at 08:09 PM

WISHBONE
  • Wishbone


Wishbone founder Joel Nickson confirmed Thursday that he is moving his southern food icon, a pioneer of the West Loop/Fulton Market District restaurant scene, after 26 years on Washington and Morgan.

The reason? Higher rent.

"We have a location 1/2 a mile to the east lined up but yes, a lot of work and no fun moving," he told me in a Facebook message. "This neighborhood has gotten too pricey and as you know it is all a percentage battle and when you don't own you have to ask how much in beans and rice can I sell and pay yourself.

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Public outcry kills proposed FOIA law tweak that would’ve hidden police misconduct records

Posted By on 04.26.18 at 01:39 PM

From left, attorney Matt Topic, journalist Brandon Smith, and activist William Calloway in November 2015, after a Cook County judge ruled that the CPD should release the Laquan McDonald video. - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • From left, attorney Matt Topic, journalist Brandon Smith, and activist William Calloway in November 2015, after a Cook County judge ruled that the CPD should release the Laquan McDonald video.

On Monday, April 23, within hours of Democratic state rep Anthony Deluca filing a bill to amend Illinois's Freedom of Information law, a crescendo of opposition arose from civil rights lawyers and government transparency advocates. The amendment would've made misconduct complaints against police officers (and other records associated with pending criminal cases) off-limits in FOIA requests. Dozens of opponents filed witness slips, written statements, against this suggested change, and ultimately DeLuca backed down: he decided he would not be calling the bill for a debate.

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The life and death of Laverne Williams

Posted By on 04.26.18 at 06:00 AM

A family in West Garfield Park in 1983 - BOB BLACK
  • Bob Black
  • A family in West Garfield Park in 1983

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.

Laverne Williams would have turned 50 years old this year. But she was killed by a fire in her West Garfield Park apartment on January 27, 1988, when she was just 19. Before she died, she managed to pass her two younger children through the window to her brother, who was standing outside in the alley. They were badly burned, but they survived.

At the funeral, mourners talked about how devoted Laverne had been to her kids. "Laverne, she always watched her kids," said her mother, Gloria. "If she didn't have nobody to watch 'em and she goin' somewhere, she'd take 'em with. The ones who go off and leave 'em, ain't nothin' happen to them."

Steve Bogira's story about Laverne's death, "A Fire in the Family," was ostensibly about the high incidence of fires in West Garfield Park: many apartment buildings were old and uncared-for, and residents had to resort to portable heaters and leaving ovens and stoves on to stay warm in the winter. It was, in fact, a kerosene heater that had caused the fire that killed Laverne Williams. But the story very quickly expanded into something much more.

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Black Pegasus just dropped two unreleased early Common cuts—and you can only hear them on vinyl

Posted By on 04.26.18 at 06:00 AM

The Black Pegasus release includes two songs from the sessions for Common’s 1992 debut, Can I Borrow a Dollar?
  • The Black Pegasus release includes two songs from the sessions for Common’s 1992 debut, Can I Borrow a Dollar?

Brooklyn label Nature Sounds reissued Common's 1992 debut album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, for this year's Record Store Day, but last week's most intriguing new Common release came out on an entirely different label and isn't in brick-and-mortar stores at all yet. Last Wednesday, local DJ and record collector Marc Davis announced that his microlabel Black Pegasus was putting out a seven-inch of two previously unissued recordings from Common's Can I Borrow a Dollar? sessions: "U.A.C. Freestyle" and an alternate take of album cut "Charms Alarm."

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hardcore throwdown the Rumble returns after five years, picking up the change where it left off

Posted By on 04.25.18 at 05:58 PM

Long Island band Incendiary, pictured here at a March show booked by Dutch festival Northcote, are one of the main attractions on the Rumble’s Saturday bill. - VIA DAVIDSE/FLICKR
  • Via Davidse/Flickr
  • Long Island band Incendiary, pictured here at a March show booked by Dutch festival Northcote, are one of the main attractions on the Rumble’s Saturday bill.

When I suggest to Shane Merrill that the hardcore festival he founded might have some similarities with This Is Hardcore—the enormous three-day spectacular in Philadelphia booked by "Joe Hardcore" McKay—he gives me a wry laugh. The head honcho of Empire Productions, who started the Rumble in 2010, came up in the potent late-90s Chicago hardcore scene, and he's founded several bands over the years, including the Killer (in 2001) and most recently Young & Dead (in 2013). But despite his long history in the community, he knows that This Is Hardcore is doing something above and beyond what he hopes to accomplish this weekend, when he brings the Rumble back for two days at Cobra Lounge.

"I don't have aspirations to ever do it on the scale that Joe does. It takes six months out of his year," Merrill says. "Still, he's done such a good job at educating young kids. One King Down is headlining a day this year—which is amazing to me. There will be these new kids unfamiliar with that band, but by the time they play that show it's going to be off the chain."

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Theaster Gates is reopening a slicker Arts Bank this weekend

Posted By on 04.25.18 at 04:23 PM

Shinique Smith overseeing installation of her work at the Arts Bank - DEANNA ISAACS
  • Deanna Isaacs
  • Shinique Smith overseeing installation of her work at the Arts Bank

The Stony Island Arts Bank may soon be the trendiest place to meet for a drink on the south side.

Its creator—artist, arts entrepreneur, and community developer Theaster Gates—is applying for a liquor license. He hopes to finally get the gorgeous 19th-century wooden bar that he installed during the building’s initial renovation three years ago into profitable operation and have the drinks flowing sometime this summer.

"There has to be a space where I can make some money [to support the rest of what we do]," Gates said during a tour of the bank to show off a just-completed second round of renovations that have turned the building’s grungy-chic vibe into something more sleekly elegant. "I need to be able to sell a drink."

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Life inside a supermax prison

Posted By on 04.25.18 at 06:00 AM

A 1998 photo of Gregory Bradford, incarcerated at Tamms, having leg shackles put on before a visit to the law library. Bradford is now serving time at Menard, one of Illinois's three maximum security prisons. - AP PHOTO/CEASAR MARAGNI
  • AP Photo/Ceasar Maragni
  • A 1998 photo of Gregory Bradford, incarcerated at Tamms, having leg shackles put on before a visit to the law library. Bradford is now serving time at Menard, one of Illinois's three maximum security prisons.

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.

What happens in Illinois's carceral archipelago? Jeffrey Felshman's story about Reginald Berry and the Tamms Correctional Center gives us a glimpse into the concrete and metal corridors of what was once the state's cruelest prison.

Tamms was a "supermax" opened in 1998 to house 500 inmates in round-the-clock solitary confinement. It was a place for the Illinois Department of Corrections to house its "worst"—people who'd assaulted guards, made escape attempts, raped other prisoners, possessed weapons, led gangs, or engaged in "dangerous disturbances." When inmates were transferred there they weren't told why or for how long. Berry—once a prison gang leader—could have checked off a few of the state's categories to qualify for Tamms, Felshman writes. This is what he encountered when he stepped into the supermax:

It was night when he arrived. In a room filled with officers in riot gear, he was strip-searched and examined by a nurse. "They shackled you up after getting strip-searched, kept you naked, put the handcuffs on you, had two boys come and hold you, and the nurse is like checking your ears and stuff and you're trying to cover up your private parts," he says. He was given clothing, a toothbrush, a comb, and a watch and led to his cell, a 70-square-foot room outfitted with a combination sink and toilet, a concrete slab for a bed, and a shelf that doubled as a desk. Besides the chuckhole in the door, it had an air-conditioning vent, an intercom, a light switch, and a horizontal slit of window seven feet above the bed. He stopped using the bed after his first night in Tamms, to remind himself, he says, that "every day I got to pick myself up off the floor."

Though the public had been promised that no one would be kept at Tamms for more than a year, Berry spent almost eight years in solitary confinement there. "[A]dvocates say the prison has been used not only to punish bad behavior but to retaliate for a range of other activities," Felshman notes, such as suing IDOC and reporting guard abuse.

While inside, inmates relied on one another's voices to cope with the loneliness:

"You try to get communal things, to strengthen your bond with one another," [Berry] says. "We might play a game of historical naming pharaohs. You have guys who play chess. We can't move on [a] board, but if you're next door to me or down the hall, I'd say, 'Want to play some chess?' 'Yeah man, after I do my workout.' "You occasionally would have a jerk that came on the wing who . . . wants to cause chaos," Berry says. "He'd take his shoe off and bang on the door." When the others complained, the banger would up the ante: "Man, fuck you!" Some inmates jabbered to themselves or screamed uncontrollably through the night. Berry says he never slept more than two or three hours at a time.

Felshman chronicles Berry's life before incarceration for murder, his transition between prisons, and what happened to him when he finally gets paroled from Tamms. He also details the reform efforts of lawyers, inmates' families, and regular people morally outraged by the conditions at the supermax.

Suicidal despair bred by years without human contact was all too common at Tamms. One inmate who was part of a 2005 lawsuit against IDOC tried to kill himself by swallowing pieces of a broken mirror twice, and by hanging himself with a ripped sheet once. Rather than providing mental health treatment, IDOC fined him for destroying state property. When inmates did get their mental health problems addressed, this is what it looked like:

The suit alleged that the treatment of prisoners with mental illnesses included various forms of physical abuse, including beatings and pepper spray as well as being deprived of water and clothing. It also asserted that this sort of treatment "harms society as well as these prisoners. . .  [who] will return to the streets sicker, angrier, and more violent."

Berry, too, came close to losing it while at Tamms. Once he got out he devoted himself to work for the Chicago Christian Industrial League, Ceasefire, and started his own anti-crime education program. But the years of solitude didn't leave him unscathed.

About five years after this piece was published, the state finally closed down Tamms. It was too expensive to operate and outrage about its conditions—from the fact of years' long segregation, to guard abuse, to its food—was constant.

Last Sunday I visited an inmate at Pontiac, a maximum security prison 100 miles from Chicago. He's been serving a two life sentences for murder since the mid-80s. After a successful escape from another IDOC prison in the 90s, the man was sent to Tamms. He spent nearly nine years there and only got to touch another human being once, when a doctor shook his hand. Somehow, he'd manage to get a copy of Felshman's story on the inside. He still believes the Reader played a part in shutting Tamms down.

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Deacon Jones cofounded the legendary Baby Huey & the Babysitters—and that was just for starters

Posted By on 04.25.18 at 06:00 AM


Since 2004 Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) has used the Secret History of Chicago Music to shine a light on worthy artists with Chicago ties who've been forgotten, underrated, or never noticed in the first place. Older strips are archived here.

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When your third eye is your only eye on the gig poster of the week

Posted By on 04.25.18 at 06:00 AM

29573232_1569537796471447_4703683482416123732_n.jpg

ARTIST: Plastic Crimewave
SHOW: Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, Wet Tuna, Ash & Herb, and the Drag City DJs at the Hideout on Thu 5/3
MORE INFO: plasticcrimewave.com

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Communion Den Theatre
September 20
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September 18

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