Field Museum Workers File For Union Election
Staff at the Field Museum “have filed for a union representation election to decide if they join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,” reports the Sun-Times. The group, Field Museum Workers United, “would cover a range of job categories, including collections and exhibitions workers, visitor service representatives, research scientists and groundskeepers. In November, the employees called on museum CEO Julian Siggers to voluntarily recognize the union, thus avoiding an election. Siggers refused to do so.”
MCA Patron Bill Hood, Also Key Lobbyist On Legalizing Bank Branches In Illinois, Was Seventy-Eight
“Bill Hood worked as a photographer at local newspapers to help put himself through Illinois College,” reports Mitch Dudek at the Sun-Times. In 1968, while photographing a Senate campaign, he “found himself photographing scenes of violence that played out during the Democratic National Convention.” After a job “as an investigative reporter with the Better Government Association,” he worked “as a lobbyist for Continental Bank, where he was instrumental in shepherding the passage of legislation that lifted restrictions that prevented banks from opening multiple branches.” As managing director of government affairs for American Airlines, “he represented the company on multiple civic and charitable boards. One of his greatest passions was supporting the Museum of Contemporary Art” and he arranged for “free travel privileges for the curators, allowing them to visit artists all over the world… Travel was a huge expense, and then to bring art back to Chicago, Bill also arranged for that transportation, too.”
alt_ Chicago Co-Founder Jon Veal Was Thirty
“Jon Veal’s passing on December 21 comes just as the organization he helped found was getting off the ground, collecting $350,000 over the past year to hire staff, realize projects and eventually find a permanent studio to replace one the organization rents on the West Side,” reports the Sun-Times. Close friend and co-founder Jordan Campbell tells the paper, “It was so unexpected. There were just so many things that we were planning.” alt_ describes its mission here. Veal was part of Newcity’s 2022 Design 50; profile here. (“alt Space Chicago was conceived by the [co-founding] artists in response to the trauma of surrounding communities and the belief that art could be used as a tool for healing.”)
Walgreens Closing Wicker Park 1919 Bank Building
The Wicker Park Walgreens housed in a historic former bank building at Milwaukee, North and Damen closes January 31, reports the Trib. The corporation has other locations nearby, including a newly renovated one a little south on Milwaukee. “Since the building is part of the landmarked Milwaukee Avenue District, the city will require future owners to preserve its historical features,” reports Block Club. Says corporate spokesman Marty Maloney, “As we move forward on our strategy to expand Walgreens’ role as a leader in the delivery of local healthcare, we are focused on creating the right network of stores in the right locations to best meet the needs of the communities we serve. here are a number of factors that we take into consideration including dynamics of the local market and changing buying habits of our customers.” Posts Preservation Chicago’s Ward Miller, “What a tremendous loss and a really unique flagship store for Walgreens, which greatly enhanced their image. Hoping for better and in the process perhaps something even more preservation friendly and creative can become of this Chicago Landmark.” (A 2012 history of the Noel State Bank Building is here.)
Pritzker Administration Sells Damen Silos Right Before Holidays
“Pritzker’s administration sold the Damen Silos and twenty-three acres of riverfront industrial land last week despite last-minute efforts by groups trying to delay the sale and allow public input,” reports the Sun-Times. “The Pritzker administration said it was required by law to sell the property to the highest bidder so it can get the best deal for taxpayers. The sale was completed on December 20. The other bidders included an affiliate of Blue Star Properties, which… redeveloped the former Morton Salt warehouse… and created The Salt Shed concert venue. Blue Star was the lowest bidder, however, offering about $3 million less.” The buyer, Michael Tadin Jr., reports NBC5, “is a city contractor and co-owner of MAT Asphalt in McKinley Park, an operation that has drawn hundreds of complaints from residents. He and his family operate several other businesses, including construction and waste-hauling operations.”
More Free City Bikes Rolling Out
“The Department of Transportation passed out more than 500 bikes to eligible residents in the first year of its Bike Chicago program, a five-year plan to increase accessibility to bikes,” reports Block Club. “But more than 19,000 Chicagoans applied.” The program, which opens later this year, is described here.
Airbnb Regulation Could Return Ten Thousand Properties To New York City Market
Short-term rentals that have disrupted housing across the country, including in Chicago and the Midwest, are about to face more regulation, reports NPR. In New York, a new measure going into effect this month will require property owners who use Airbnb “to register their short-term rentals with the city’s database—including proof that the hosts themselves reside there, and that their home abides by local zoning and safety requirements. If Airbnb [users] fail to comply, they could face $1,000 to $5,000 in penalty fees.” New York State Senator Liz Krueger said earlier in the year, “Every illegal short-term rental in our city represents a unit of housing that is not available for real New Yorkers to live in… In the middle of an ongoing affordable housing crisis, every single unit matters.”
Times On Shopping For South Loop One-Bedroom
“We decided the apartment needed to be 800 square feet or more, which took newer properties off the table in our price point,” a couple seeking housing for their son, a Columbia College student, tells the New York Times. “The couple worried that the Chicago market would be too competitive, but prices for midsize units were sagging… so they set a budget of about $200,000 and focused on buildings in the Printers Row neighborhood in the South Loop.” Their son “was excited to be able to choose his home and wanted to be close to campus, restaurants and shops.” He told the Times, “The view was important to me… I’m a fan of natural light.” “Now Angus can see campus from his window. ‘We like the idea of him being able to roll out of bed and into class,’” his mother said. “You know how teenagers sleep.”
Could Apartments Be Inspected To Forestall Neglect?
“A proposed ordinance aims to hold neglectful landlords to account by requiring apartments to be inspected regularly,” writes Block Club Chicago. “The Metropolitan Tenants Organization, a tenants rights advocacy group, has teamed up with progressives in City Council to push for its Chicago Healthy Homes ordinance. The ordinance would require apartments be inspected by the city’s health department at least once every five years. Routine apartment inspections—for ventilation, mold control, lead levels and heating—are not required in Chicago.”
Public Safety, Helmets And Black Biking Culture In Chicago
“Chicago has a long history and promising future of Black biking, but is there a historical place for safety in Black biking culture?” asks Black Perspectives. “Despite the historical involvement of Black people with cycling, bike-riding culture has yet to yield materials, such as helmets, that fit Black people and Black hair. Given today’s widespread embrace of natural hair, can Black riders demand more helmets that accommodate our health and culture?”
What The AIA Gold Medal For Carol Ross Barney Says About Well-Designed Public Spaces
Ross Barney Architects has turned out smart, thoughtful urban design since 1981, writes Sun-Times architecture critic Lee Bey. “And last month, Carol Ross Barney got something in return for her decades of good work: the prestigious Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. Barney’s firm largely specializes in government projects, which makes the win especially important. The award gives Barney the honor she deserves while underscoring that well-designed public buildings and transit infrastructure are as vital to the city—and its architectural prestige—as gleaming skyscrapers or sprawling mega-developments. Maybe even more so.” Bey singles out The Riverwalk. “Chicagoans historically kept their distance from the river. But Barney’s work turned the waterway’s downtown edge into an attractive and active space with restaurants, a path, and places to sit and relax.” “The Riverwalk has an intimacy that good public spaces have to have,” Barney tells Bey. “I think it has a variety of experiences that make it interesting, time after time after time.”
DINING & DRINKING
Wieners Circle Serving Emigrants
“Can anyone tell us where these poor migrants ended up in Chicago? We’d like to feed them,” the Wieners Circle replied to a tweet from Texas Governor Greg Abbott crowing that his state had “bused over 15,900 migrants to sanctuary cities [sic].” After replies, the hot dog haven posted, “Thank you for all of the connections, we love you Chicago. We will be feeding recent arrivals at a church next week that were dumped in Chicago by [Abbott] right after Christmas in sub-zero weather. This week we will be serving char dogs and char burgers to the migrants. For a future week, we are looking for a good Texas bbq recipe, the kind they make on [Abbott’s] ranch, delicious brisket and or ribs. Kind Chefs—hit us up!”
Chicago Chef Underground Resilient
“Pop-ups and the general alternative food economy suffered some slowdowns in 2022, but they were still a lot more exciting than their brick-and-mortar counterparts,” writes Mike Sula at the Reader. “Plenty of cooks, bartenders, servers, and chefs made their way back to [restaurants] or even jobs in other industries, as their side hustles proved less sustainable as the world reverted back to something resembling what it once was, but nevertheless will never be again… The pop-up scene still looks a lot more vibrant and promising.”
Cometh The Chicago Consultant Chef
“More and more chefs are enjoying the consultant life,” reports Eater Chicago. “They’re not usually cooking in the kitchen, but they hold a major influence.” After the first stay-at-home orders, “many left full-time work and joined the gig economy. Following that route, with indoor dining suspended, some veteran chefs found success as independent contractors. As restaurant owners laid off staff, they deployed consultants who could fill the gaps left by full-time employees. The work environment increased the supply of experienced chefs looking for flexible hours, the type of freedom a consultancy offers. Even as Chicago returns to a semblance of normalcy, owners continue to deploy consultants to develop new restaurants from the ground up or to bring in fresh ideas to save an ailing business.”
War Against Ukraine Worsens Global Starvation
“Moscow blocks most shipments from Ukraine, one of the world’s largest wheat producers, and its attacks on the country’s energy grid also disrupt the flow of food,” reports the New York Times. “An enduring global food crisis has become one of the farthest-reaching consequences of Russia’s war, contributing to widespread starvation, poverty and premature deaths.”
Public Domain Day Celebrates All Of Sherlock Holmes, Plus Hemingway, Woolf, And Films “Sunrise,” “Wings,” “The Jazz Singer,” “Metropolis”
“Forty years ago, giant entertainment companies embarked on a slow-moving act of arson. The fuel for this arson was copyright term extension (making copyrights last longer), including retrospective copyright term extensions that took works out of the public domain and put them back into copyright for decades. Vast swathes of culture became off-limits, pseudo-property with absentee landlords, with much of it crumbling into dust,” reports Cory Doctorow at his essential Pluralistic site. Highlights of the year from Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain are here. Mickey Mouse’s first cartoon, “Steamboat Willie,” falls out of copyright on January 1, 2024, but the Disney corporation will likely challenge those who attempt to use the character: “Disney also holds trademarks on its characters, including the ‘Steamboat Willie’ version of Mickey Mouse, and trademarks never expire as long as companies keep submitting the proper paperwork.” (The Internet Archive celebrates Public Domain Day here.)
Block Club To Launch Investigative Unit
Just before Christmas, veteran investigative reporter Mick Dumke, who has worked at the Chicago Reporter, Sun-Times, Reader and ProPublica, dropped news on Twitter: “I’ll be helping launch a new investigative unit at Block Club Chicago as an editor and reporter. I’m really honored and excited to join the talented Block Club team as it tells the story of Chicago & its neighborhoods.”
Retiring Phil Rogers On Chicago Reporting’s “Adventure Of A Lifetime”
Phil Rogers retired from NBC 5 News at the end of December after thirty-one years, reports NBC 5. He provides a personal letter here: “I got to do thrilling things. I covered three Olympics. I parachuted with the Army, drove a nuclear submarine, and flew the space shuttle (the simulator the astronauts trained in)… One of my childhood heroes, Jim Lovell… flew my photographer and me to Hutchinson, Kansas, to see his Gemini spacecraft being restored. Remember my story about space shots? One of those, Apollo 8, happened when I was twelve years old, as Jim Lovell and his crewmates orbited the moon on Christmas Eve. And there I was, that twelve-year-old kid, riding shotgun with him in a twin-engine aircraft as he told me stories about flying in space!”
Former Star, Southtown Journalist, Photographer Mary Compton Was Sixty-Four
“As a photojournalist and reporter, first for The Star newspapers and more recently the Daily Southtown, Mary Compton ‘loved giving a voice to people who didn’t have a voice, people who were struggling,’” her daughter Rebekah Crane tells the Trib.
Fifty Years Of Funky Winkerbean? Enough!
Ohio-based cartoonist Tom Batiuk has ended the “Funky Winkerbean” comic, which once appeared in over 400 newspapers to an audience of as many as eighty million, reports the Akron Beacon-Journal. Batiuk was twenty-five when he began the strip and is seventy-five now. “Batiuk said he decided to end ‘Funky Winkerbean’ because he had no succession plan.” (Other comic projects continue at Batiuk’s website.) The final week of strips leaps decades into the future.
Joe Shanahan Recounts Forty Years Of Metro And Smart Bar
Music cultural historian Steve Krakow talks to Joe Shanahan about forty years on North Clark Street. “Anyone that was at Metallica [on August 12, 1983] knew that this was going to be one of the biggest bands in the world,” says Shanahan. “Everyone came out of that just mind blown, it was so visceral. There was like a warm haze through the room, but it wasn’t warm out.” In 1988, “Iggy had gotten sober. I came backstage just to check on him. I called him James as well, Mr. Osterberg, which he got a kick out of. I said, ‘Do you need anything? Do you want some champagne, you know, something?’ And he said, ‘No, I’ve been God’s garbage can long enough.’ So he may have thought I was asking if he needed drugs, but I never did that. That wasn’t my game anyway.” Bob Dylan “had the smallest hands I have ever shook. They’re beautiful hands.”
“Years Are Too Big To Understand,” Says Jeff Tweedy
“There’s a lot to… the way that [year-end] lists might work. I don’t tend to have that kind of need for closure for myself, personally. I feel like years are too big to understand… What you’re describing to me is something that I think that we do a lot in a lot of different ways. And that is we try and simplify something very, very, very complex and almost impossible for us to wrap our heads around,” says Jeff Tweedy on the New York Times’ First Person podcast. “And that usually involves some element of time or temporal unease at how the world works. And so we figure out some stand-in for that time, and then we organize it, and we make it something understandable. We make it into a story that we can comprehend.” Top ten lists, he says, are “a much more digestible or comprehensible notion than the vastness of even a year.”
Burst Water Pipes Strike Bric-A-Brac, Reckless Lakeview
Three thousand records were destroyed at Avondale’s Bric-a-Brac Records, reports Block Club Chicago. “The pipe burst in the ceiling of Bric-a-Brac Records & Collectibles on Christmas morning, on the heels of the coldest Christmas Eve Chicago has seen in forty years.” An “obscene amount of water” destroyed VHS tapes and books and “Bric-a-Brac’s entire soundtrack section—one of the shop’s signature record collections, which included boutique horror releases—didn’t survive the flood.” Things weren’t as waterlogged at Reckless Records’ Lakeview location, reports Block Club. At Reckless Records, “a pipe burst in an upstairs neighbor’s apartment, sending water flooding into the record shop.” Buyer Lea Board told Block Club, “The aftermath wasn’t terrible… It was mostly water on the floor… We got most of the records out of here pretty quickly, so there was minimal losses. People can help by shopping just like normal.”
Poppin’ John: The Hughes Music Legacy
The Record Store Day Podcast with Paul Myers takes an hour to celebrate the music John Hughes incorporated into his movies with his music supervisor Tarquin Gotch, as well as introducing the box set “Life Moves Pretty Fast: The John Hughes Mixtapes” and dipping into the history of Hughes’ favorite record shop, Wax Trax! Records on Lincoln Avenue. Here’s how nonfiction producer-director Eddie Schmidt describes it: “A wonderfully sophisticated conversation about the loving alchemy of placing music in movies, specifically John Hughes’. But it’s relatable and inspiring to anyone who loves music or movies—professionally or otherwise.”
Met Opera Withdraws $30 Million From Endowment And Plans More New Work
“Facing tepid ticket sales, the company will withdraw up to $30 million from its endowment and stage more operas by living composers, which have been outselling the classics,” reports the New York Times.
ARTS & CULTURE & ETC.
Howard Brown Strike Today?
“Nearly a month after employees at Howard Brown Health held a rally against proposed staffing cuts, unionized workers at the LGBTQ+ focused Chicago health care facilities say they’re ready to stage a three-day strike,” reports the Sun-Times. At eleven locations with 440 employees, “Howard Brown Health Workers United and the Illinois Nurses Association announced their members will walk off the job January 3-5 over what they say are Howard Brown’s violations of the National Labor Relations Act, including ‘bargaining in bad faith.’”
State Snake Elevated
Illinois has an official snake, reports NBC Chicago, and elderly alders are nowhere in sight: it’s the eastern milksnake. “The snakes average twenty-four-to-forty-eight inches in length, and feature large blotches of brown with black borders, separated by gray or white scales.” A native of fields, woodland and river bottoms, it feasts on fish, birds and small mammals. “The snake got its name because people mistakenly believed that it could milk cows.”
Former Goldblatt’s CEO Lionel Goldblatt Was Ninety-Three
“Lionel Goldblatt was for many years CEO of the Goldblatt department store chain in Chicago that his father founded in 1914. In his later years he was a frequent volunteer at the Chicago Botanic Garden and at two area hospitals,” reports the Trib. “Lionel Howard Goldblatt was the son of Nathan Goldblatt, who was nineteen… when he and his brother Maurice cobbled together $500 in 1914 to open a small store at the corner of Ashland and Chicago avenues. By the early 1980s Goldblatt’s had expanded into a chain of forty-seven stores across the Midwest in part by catering to Chicago’s many immigrant communities, and by offering inexpensive clothing, appliances and housewares.”
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