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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Arts in the Loop have a $2 billion impact, Chicago Loop Alliance study finds

Posted By on 04.11.18 at 11:59 AM

COURTESY CHICAGO LOOP ALLIANCE
  • courtesy Chicago Loop Alliance

Don't think of Chicago's Loop art scene as just the city's pretty face.

According to a study released today by the Chicago Loop Alliance—which, as an organization whose mission is to attract people and investment to the Loop, has a whole lot of skin in the game—it's also a major economic driver.

According to the "Arts in the Loop Economic Impact" study:

  • Chicago’s Loop Arts District has a hefty $2.25 billion economic impact
  • Draws an impressive 28.4 million annual visitors 
  • Sells 7.4 million performance tickets and museum entries annually, more than all the city’s professional sports teams combined.

And, the study says, if you don’t count Broadway/Times Square, the Loop is the most economically powerful arts district in the United States.

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The low-budget mystery Gemini is an honest but failed study in upper-class malaise

Posted By on 04.11.18 at 06:00 AM

Zoe Kravitz and Lola Kirke in Gemini
  • Zoe Kravitz and Lola Kirke in Gemini
The low-budget drama Gemini (which is currently playing at the Arclight and the AMC River East) is a 93-minute wisp of a movie that doesn’t seem to unfold so much as evaporate. Writer-director Aaron Katz (Quiet City, Cold Weather) establishes up some plausible relationships and a fairly grounded sense of place; he also makes a half-hearted attempt at telling a mystery story. But the mood is so languid that it overwhelms anything else—aiming for a tone poem on the emptiness of fame a la Sofia Coppola's Somewhere or The Bling Ring, Katz just delivers emptiness. Still, I’m glad the movie exists; I’d sooner watch an honest and sensitive failure than a cynical and calculated one like Eli Roth’s recent Death Wish remake.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Check out the masterful documentary Bitter Money for an eye-opening lesson in modern Chinese economics

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM

Bitter Money
  • Bitter Money
I’ve seen only two films by Chinese documentary maker Wang Bing, but on the basis of ‘Til Madness Do Us Part (which played at Facets in 2016) and Bitter Money (which opens there today for a weeklong run), I’d aver that he’s one of the most exciting nonfiction filmmakers working today. Both movies deliver powerful lessons about injustice in contemporary China; they’re also immersive, formally challenging works that employ extended running times to make viewers think long and hard about what it’s like to live as the onscreen subjects do. Running nearly four hours, Madness took audiences into a run-down mental institution in the Yunnan province, forcing them to linger there alongside the inmates (many of whom are not mentally ill, but are in fact political prisoners). In Bitter Money, which runs a little under three hours, Wang considers the textile industry in the eastern city of Huzhou, where (according to a final title card) more than 300,000 laborers live. No less than Madness, it’s a film about confinement: the subjects here are trapped in a ruthless economic system.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Readers and writers rally to rescue Volumes Bookcafe

Posted By on 02.10.18 at 10:23 AM

Volumes Bookcafe isn't just a bookstore, it's a community hub. - MADELINE HAPPOLD
  • Madeline Happold
  • Volumes Bookcafe isn't just a bookstore, it's a community hub.

This past Wednesday the owners of Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park launched an Indiegogo campaign asking book lovers and community members for a little support: the storefront was on the verge of its final chapters.

“We started Volumes with the mission to bring a bookstore and community space to Chicago's Wicker Park," they wrote. "We are very proud of what we’ve built. However, we have hit a hurdle and in order for us to stay in our current location, we need your help.”

Volumes (1474 N. Milwaukee, 773-697-8066) was the brainchild of sisters Kimberly and Rebecca George, both teachers—Kimberly taught preschool, while Rebecca taught English abroad and in the Chicago Public Schools—and avid readers. The store officially opened its doors in 2016, after getting held up by city permits. According to Kimberly, most of the money they had saved went into the initial start-up.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

The local divorce attorney who fights for fair treatment for housewives

Posted By on 01.26.18 at 09:00 AM

Michael H. Minton in 2012 - YOUTUBE
  • YouTube
  • Michael H. Minton in 2012

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.


If reading Maya Dukmasova's feature on defense attorney Stuart V. Goldberg put you in the mood to learn more about local lawyers, Marianna Beck's 1988 story on Michael H. Minton should do just the trick. In 1979, the divorce attorney won a landmark case that established a precedent for equitable treatment of housewives in a system that historically did not serve those without the financial wherewithal. His client, the wife of a vice-president of Sears Roebuck, was a homemaker, and it looked like the cards were stacked against her:

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Bossy Chicago leads the way for woman-owned businesses

Posted By on 07.24.17 at 02:07 PM

Isabel Benatar and Sam Letscher, cofounders of Bossy Chicago, in the Garage at Northwestern - AIMEE LEVITT
  • Aimee Levitt
  • Isabel Benatar and Sam Letscher, cofounders of Bossy Chicago, in the Garage at Northwestern

When Samantha Letscher and Isabel Benatar, the founders of Bossy Chicago, met and became friends a little more than a year ago, in an entrepreneurship course during their sophomore year at Northwestern, they decided that one day they wanted to start a business or organization that would combine their interests in feminism and social change. Over this past winter, they began working in the Garage, Northwestern's student start-up space, and thinking more seriously about what kind of project they wanted to do.

"It was post-Trump," Letscher recalls, "and everyone was talking about boycotting companies that supported Trump's campaign and boycotting Uber. There was a lot of talk about ethical purchasing and how we shouldn't support big, bad companies that support Trump. We started to wonder, what companies should we be supporting? We wanted to make positive energy instead of telling people what not to do."

So why not, they reasoned, encourage people to start supporting woman-owned businesses by guiding them directly to those businesses? After all, people are going to go shopping or out to dinner anyway. And part of feminism is about women helping other women. So why not give another woman your money?

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What to make of Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn's decision to sell out to Wal-Mart?

Posted By on 06.20.17 at 06:30 AM

Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn posing with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler during a store opening party in 2016. - RYAN SMITH
  • Ryan Smith
  • Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn posing with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler during a store opening party in 2016.

Corporate sellout. That's the epithet social media users have adopted to describe Bonobos in the wake of its recent sale to Walmart for $310 million, and why not?

The NYC-based menswear brand, founded by Chicago native Andy Dunn in 2007, built a niche as a cool, millennial-friendly online company. If you listen to popular podcasts, chances are you've heard their ads (Dunn was even a guest on NPR's From Scratch podcast last year). Bonobos also talked a big game when it came to fostering a unique company culture and employee happiness. When I interviewed Dunn in April 2016 at a Bonobos store opening at Michigan Avenue, he bragged that Crain's New York Business had named his company one of the best places to work in 2011. Eventually he'd love to top that list, he told me.

That wish looks hollow now that Bonobos is joining forces with Wal-Mart—the monolithic retail giant synonymous with profit-driven corporate evil—a fact not lost on many of the company's customers.

The top "Liked" comment on Bonobo's Facebook page announcing the deal reads: 
" . . . it's also a move that your loyal customer base sees as the ends justifying the means. You're joining an organization that millennials, your core consumers, loath and vilify as destructive, unethical, and cheap—essentially the polar opposite when previously thinking about Bonobos. In doing so you've alienated the voice of your customer—that which heavily contributed to the Bonobos brand initial success. In the mind of the consumer, the connection has been made and the perspective of quality tarnished."

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What to know about Amazon Books, now open on Southport

Posted By on 03.22.17 at 03:53 PM

The storefront on Southport, in what used to be an Irish pub - AIMEE LEVITT
  • Aimee Levitt
  • The storefront on Southport, in what used to be an Irish pub

The day Chicago's independent booksellers have been dreading for the past six months has finally come to pass: Amazon Books is here.

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Local booksellers brace themselves for the opening of the Amazon Store

Posted By on 09.01.16 at 11:38 AM

The front window of Women & Children First - AIMEE LEVITT
  • Aimee Levitt
  • The front window of Women & Children First

Women & Children First bookstore in Andersonville has survived a lot of changes during the 37 years it's been in business, but its owners, Sarah Hollenbeck and Lynn Mooney, were still taken aback last Thursday night when Gregg Shapiro, an author who was in town to do a reading, asked them if they'd heard that Amazon was planning to open up a brick-and-mortar store in the Southport corridor, just two miles away, sometime next year.

"Gregg had heard the news on CBS," Hollenbeck says. "Lynn and I don't watch TV."

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dicking around on Wall Street

Posted By on 02.07.12 at 10:33 AM

David_Paul_Ohmer.jpg
  • David Paul Ohmer
On account of some neuroses*, I had put off reading Gabriel Sherman’s New York cover story, “The Emasculation of Wall Street”—also maybe on account of that headline, from which not much good can follow. (See the cover art, if the hed’s too subtle. Literally, it is a photo of a guy grabbing his crotch and grimacing.) But the article—I caved—is edifying if you read it alongside Chris Lehmann’s “Dick Joke,” in which the author dismantles what seems to be Sherman’s point: Wall Street bankers feel threatened (“castrated,” even) by the spectral presence of greater regulation and by, yup, Occupy Wall Street (“which does appear to have rattled a lot of nerves”). You don’t have to get too far into the New York piece to be struck by its tone deafness—one thing that Sherman establishes early on is that, on Wall Street, “there’s a growing sense that the money that was being made during the Bush boom won’t be back.” Can you imagine?

*Namely a subscription to the print edition, which seems so irrelevant by Thursday, when it arrives in the mail, if you’ve read the whole magazine on Monday.

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