Today In The Culture, May 15, 2023: Grant Park


Photograph of plane flying through the sky with a leafless tree and side of a roof in the foreground.

Flight path/Photo: Ray Pride

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Land Repatriation Spotlight In St. Louis Triennial, “Counterpublic”

St Louis’ second triennial will consider “how a civic exhibition can avoid becoming a spectacle and instead support healing, repatriation and generational change,” reports the Art Newspaper. “The ambitious triennial, which continues until July 15, spans a six-mile stretch of Jefferson Avenue. Central themes include the history of displacement and erasure of Indigenous and Black communities in St. Louis and the role of land as both a witness and potential conduit for regeneration.”

Says James McAnally, who co-founded Counterpublic with Lee Broughton: “Counterpublic looks to the work of repair, repatriation and reparations as lenses to better understand how to individually and collectively intervene.” The curators are McAnally, Allison Glenn, Risa Puleo, Katherine Simóne Reynolds, Diya Vij and the collective New Red Order.



Can Kennedy Tent City Relocation Show Way To Help Chicago Homeless? Or Claiming Lincoln Avenue Motels?

“Officials have cleared out all of the Northwest Side tent cities along the Kennedy Expressway because of construction, but local leaders and advocates helped residents move into apartments and shelters,” reports Block Club. “If we were able to get people into housing for half-a-million dollars along the Kennedy, imagine what more we could do with many more millions of dollars,” Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward alderperson told Mina Bloom. “Residents of the longstanding homeless encampments—about thirty-five in total—were matched with temporary or permanent housing as part of a coordinated effort between city and state officials, which received an influx in state funding, officials said.”

“Officials want to expand a pandemic pilot program to Chicago’s historic motel row, advancing a plan to convert a longtime motor inn on North Lincoln Avenue into homeless shelters,” Crain’s reports. “The Chicago Community Development Commission unanimously approved a proposal allowing the city to acquire the Diplomat Motel at 5230 North Lincoln, one of fourteen motor inns that sprung up on the Northwest Side strip in the pre-Interstate era. The Chicago Department of Public Health plans to select an operator that would run the motel as a shelter for homeless people with medical, mental health or substance abuse problems.”

Sterling Bay CEO Claims Lightfoot Put $6 Billion Lincoln Yards Three Years Behind, More Cash Required

“Chicago’s $6 billion Lincoln Yards mega-development is in talks to receive new financing after delays in getting approvals from the city set the project behind schedule,” reports Bloomberg. The city “has been slow to issue permits for the fifty-three-acre development on the banks of the Chicago River, set to become a life sciences hub, and developer Sterling Bay is… recapitalizing the whole project, said CEO Andy Gloor. Mayor Lori Lightfoot ‘put a brake on our entire project,’ he said… adding that the delays set the project back by three years.”

“‘She fought the development, which is so puzzling to me because the economic impact in terms of construction jobs, permanent jobs and the ability to compete with some other cities. It’s in the $8 to $10 billion if you add it all up… It’s absolutely fair to say that if Rahm Emanuel was still mayor, we might have eight cranes up in the air in Lincoln Yards right now.’ … Gloor said he already has refinancing interest from private individuals, with which the company wants to move forward.”

Adds Beachwood Reporter’s Steve Rhodes: “This seems off. Was there really a slowdown? Was Lightfoot doing the right thing in being stringent? Is the project screwed up? Needs more reporting—its one source is Sterling Bay’s CEO.” (A thread of prior Sterling Bay coverage, in which the company did not make this claim sooner, is here.)

Influential Graphic Designer Norman Perman Was Ninety-Five

“Norman Perman was a Chicago-based modernist graphic designer whose work included everything from annual reports and book covers to packaging and trade show exhibits,” writes the Trib. “Perman was at the forefront of a group of artists, designers and photographers who helped make the corporate world comfortable with modernism as a design aesthetic.”



Multimillion-Dollar Redo Of Tavern On Rush Space Is Open

The Bellevue opens today, reports Block Club. “Jim Banks and business partner Fred Barbara—who have owned 1031 North Rush since 2005—decided to gut and rehab the building into a restaurant of their own, the Bellevue. It will offer lunch, dinner and late-night cocktail service.” Banks: “I want them to say, ‘Wow, this is nothing like it was. Holy cow, it’s changed dramatically.’”

Chicago Parks Nix Grubhub Fast-Food Idols

“Grubhub was set to partner with the Chicago Park District on a plan that would have allowed the delivery company to establish drop-off spots for delivery drivers and five-foot-tall food ‘sculptures’ in five Chicago parks,” reports Block Club. “These ‘handoff hubs’ would have popped up in Palmer Square Park, Lincoln Park, Washington Park, Welles Park and Garfield Park… Each station was to have a different food theme. A five-by-five-foot char dog sculpture was planned for Lincoln Park, while Washington Park would have gotten a Rainbow Cone.”

Wrigleyville’s Houndstooth Saloon Gone

“With heavy hearts and many beloved memories, we would like to share with all of you, our loyal patrons, Houndstooth Saloon will be permanently closing on Sunday, May 14,” the tavern posts on Facebook. “We have been so fortunate to be a part of your kind, gracious, supportive community… We are enormously grateful for the years of support you gave to our small business.” Adds Block Club: “Owner Stephanie Cook [said] at the time that the CTA’s Red-Purple Modernization Project had already been cutting off a key part of its operation.” (Block Club covered their pandemic and CTA construction woes in December 2020 here.)

Smash Mouth Headlines Pierogi Fest

“Smash Mouth will bring their hits including ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends,’ ‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ and songs from the ‘Shrek’ films,” to Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana, reports CBS 2. “The band will join more than fifty other acts performing at the event. Pierogi Fest will also feature more than seventy-five food booths, two beer gardens and fifty-five vendors.”



“Restoring Gatsby” Debuts On WTTW

A new documentary from Bob Hercules [Newcity Film 50]: “Follow one couple’s quest to restore a famous yet dilapidated mansion in Lake Forest, Illinois. F. Scott Fitzgerald once summered there, and it was the home of Fitzgerald’s true love, Ginevra King, who inspired his iconic character Daisy Buchanan in the novel ‘The Great Gatsby.’” Premieres tonight, Monday, May 15 on WTTW; repeats May 17.

The Stakes Of The Strike In Under Ten Minutes

Veteran series showrunner David Simon (“The Wire,” “The Deuce”) lays out the stakes of the Writers Guild strike in a nine-minute video here. (Simon’s twenty-five-year deal with HBO was suspended by HBO last week while he was on the picket line.)



Headline Club Awards Lisagors: Tribune, WTTW, Sun-Times Lead; Newcity For Theater Criticism

The Chicago Tribune led the Chicago Headline Club’s yearly Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism with eleven awards, followed by nine for WTTW and eight for the Sun-Times.  “We are honored that the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized our reporting across so many different categories,” said WTTW President & CEO Sandra Cordova Micek in a release. “As a public media organization, it is our role to cover, analyze, and document the issues and stories that matter to the people in our city, region, and beyond.” Mary Wisniewski took Best Theater or Literary Coverage for theater criticism for Newcity. The complete list is here.

Dart Center’s 2023 Ochberg Fellows Include Kim Bellware

The Dart Center of the Columbia Journalism School has announced the recipients of the 2023 Ochberg Fellowship, “a program that deepens journalists’ reporting of violence, conflict and tragedy. Fellows include senior and mid-career journalists in all media, representing four continents.” Among the recipients is Chicago’s Kim Bellware, “a staff reporter for The Washington Post, where she covers breaking news on the General Assignment desk. Bellware’s reporting at The Post has focused on mass shootings, extreme weather events, the death penalty, abortion access and other legal affairs.” More here.



Allegations In Cleveland Of Grant Park Music Festival Principal Conductor

“Cleveland Institute of Music has launched an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior by principal conductor Carlos Kalmar,” reports “The inquiry is still in its early stages, but there’s already been some fallout… Anne Midgette, the former longtime classical music critic at the Washington Post, declined an honorary doctorate from the higher education institution and withdrew as keynote speaker at the commencement ceremony on May 20.” In late April, “students were informed that Kalmar, also CIM’s director of orchestral studies, was the subject of a Title IX investigation… Kalmar is the principal conductor for the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.”



Links Hall Executive Director Moves On

Links Hall executive director Stephanie Pacheco is leaving, the institution relays. “The board of directors is in the early stages of an executive search to find Links Hall’s next leader, and in the interim we will be working with staff to keep the organization moving forward through our forty-fifth season. We thank Stephanie for her four years of leadership at Links Hall. She took the helm of this institution at an incredibly difficult time. She helped Links Hall remain a stable organization by producing livestreamed events, continuing to lead the annual fundraiser THAW, making sure that Links was one of the first places artists could return to when it was safe and finally welcoming audiences back for in person programming.” More Links here.

Chicago Opera Theater Announces New General Director

The Chicago Opera Theater board of directors has announced veteran artistic leader and stage director Lawrence Edelson as general director of the company, Chicago’s foremost producer of new and reimagined opera, as it begins its fiftieth anniversary year. More on Chicago Opera Theater here.

Writers Strike Scuppers Tonys Broadcast

The biggest, splashiest commercial for Broadway to entice those from out-of-town onto the Great White Way and into touring productions will not be broadcast live. The Writers Guild has denied a waiver for the event to be broadcast as the awards are on the struck Paramount Global’s CBS and streaming services. Deadline: “Productions such as ‘Shucked,’ ‘Kimberly Akimbo,’ ‘Some Like It Hot,’ ‘New York, New York,’ ‘Fat Ham’ and ‘Good Night, Oscar’ were no doubt hoping for the post-Tony box office boosts that can make or break a Broadway production.” Two are closing already: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Bad Cinderella” and “Bob Fosse’s Dancin’.”

Opines publicist Lisa Goldberg: “It would singlehandedly destroy theater in New York, an industry that hasn’t even begun to recover from the pandemic and in turn continue to seriously hurt the city of New York and NYC tourism which is greatly dependent upon Broadway shows.” After the WGA strike, “these Broadway shows don’t get to come back. Tens of thousands out of jobs permanently. Millions and millions of dollars gone. Most likely some bankruptcies. And an industry that was [leveled] during the pandemic is basically destroyed again.”



“Dog Fight: The Animal Experimentation Debate in Twentieth-Century Chicago” At Regenstein Library

The exhibition “Dog Fight” runs through September 1: “Chicago was a central battleground for debates over animal experimentation during the last century, and no animal was more controversial than the dog. In 1931, physiologists at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and other local medical schools secured the passage of the Arvey Ordinance, which allowed faculty to claim stray dogs from the city pound for experimental purposes. The measure became a lightning rod for antivivisectionists, led by Irene Castle McLaughlin, a celebrity dancer and colorful doyenne of Chicago society. This exhibition brings together radio broadcasts, silent films, photographs, newspaper coverage, letters, pamphlets, and propaganda to present both sides of that controversy and how it continues to shape the way we think about biomedical ethics and the cost of scientific progress.” More here.

Incoming Alders Don’t Get Instruction

“City Council still doesn’t have a formal onboarding and transition process for new alderpeople,” reports Block Club. “Different groups have tried to fill the gap—and compete for influence.”

Failed Mayoral Candidate Vallas Turned On Spigots

Reports the TRiiBE: “Vallas raised $19 million for his campaign, more than half of which came from just forty-four people or organizations whose contributions were in the six-figure range. Vallas’ campaign spent the cash nearly as quickly as it was raised.” In a roster of where the cash went, Black figures and groups saw much of the largesse. “In the final push for votes ahead of the runoff, Vallas spent more than $600,000 to hire hundreds of people… to get out the vote in the Black community. Payments to such workers were listed under the catchall category ‘services’ on campaign expenditure reports. A TRiiBE analysis found much of what Vallas spent on individual services went to residents of South and West Side wards.”

Searching For The Wit Of Former Mayor Lightfoot

At the Tribune, Christopher Borrelli goes on a mission: “Was Lori Lightfoot funny? Or were her attempts to go viral a cautionary tale to politicians who embrace memes? … The problem was, the more she did, the more she seemed to be trying to be funny.”

President Wants Airlines To Compensate Passengers For Delays, Just Like In Europe

President Biden and transportation secretary Buttigieg, reports the New York Times, “announced plans to introduce new rules this year that would require airlines to pay up for travel disruptions they cause. Following waves of pandemic-era flight interruptions and the fiasco that forced Southwest Airlines to cancel 16,700 flights around the winter holidays, Biden is betting that Americans will want the kind of protections Europeans (and non-Europeans who fly in Europe) have enjoyed for nearly twenty years.”

Groupon Abandoning Lease On Headquarters

“Groupon is ending its lease for its River North headquarters two years early as it risks running out of cash, creating a big leasing challenge for Chicago developer Sterling Bay,” reports Crain’s. The company “executed an option to terminate its lease at 600 West Chicago as of January 31, 2024… Groupon’s lease for nearly 300,000 square feet was due to expire in January 2026, but the company paid a termination fee of $9.6 million.”

NASCAR Vehicles Will Be Muffled

“Residents who live near the 2.2-mile racecourse voiced their concerns at a meeting with NASCAR officials in April,” reports WBEZ. The company “will limit car noise, keep access to the lakefront trail open to pedestrians—by way of Monroe Street and Roosevelt Road—and set aside some greenspace areas for public access during the racing festival’s weekend activities… NASCAR will limit its on track events which means no noise from vehicles, fans or musical performances before 10am or after 10pm.”

The “Travesty” Of NASCAR Street Racing Vs. Museum Campus

“If any more evidence is needed against bringing NASCAR street races to our downtown lakefront, it’s this: The Shedd Aquarium announced it’ll be closed during the event’s opening weekend,” writes the Sun-Times editorial board. “It’s bad enough that much of historic Grant Park has to be closed to accommodate NASCAR. But now two of the museums that make up the city’s nationally-recognized cultural center have to adjust their hours and take a backseat as well? It’s a travesty.”

Seventeen-Year Cicadas Could Arrive A Year Early

“Next year is expected to be a big moment for cicadas, when two major broods—a seventeen-year group and thirteen-year group—both emerge in Illinois, potentially wreaking havoc on agriculture,” reports the Sun-Times. “Expect to hear the chirping of some cicadas in the next week when a portion of the seventeen-year brood might appear a year early. Since only a small fraction of the cicada brood could emerge, they will likely all be eaten by predators before they’re able to mate.”

Florida Workforce Leaving After Threats Of Deportation

“Construction workers say many employees have not showed up to work because they fear deportation,” reports CBS News. “Critics say Florida Senate Bill 1718 is to blame. If signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, businesses could face a $10,000 fine for every undocumented employee and the state could revoke their business license.” Florida Dems leader Nikki Fried posts: “Ron’s ‘woke’ war will cause prices to increase on all goods and services. Congrats Ron on tanking Florida’s economy and creating inflation.” Fried quotes a post from journalist Arturo Dominguez: “Spanish-language social media has exploded with Latino truck drivers calling for a boycott and refusing to take shipments into Florida.”

Florida Blocks Credit Card Companies From Tracing Gun Purchases

“Just weeks ago, Ron DeSantis made it legal in Florida to conceal carry a gun without a permit, training, or even a background check,” reports the New Republic. Last Friday, the Republican president aspirant “signed a bill to prevent credit card companies from tracking the sale of firearms and ammunition. The bill stops companies from helping track suspicious weapons purchases—an increasing concern while the United States is flooded with random shootings and mass shootings essentially every few hours… The Florida governor seems determined to sign as many dangerous bills as possible into law.”

Assessing the Lasting Damage From Norfolk Southern Chemical Disaster

“It turns out that Norfolk Southern ‘nuked’ the town of East Palestine by blowing up train cars filled with cancer-causing toxins. Three months later residents are reporting deadly carcinogens in their blood. The EPA protected the company instead of the public,” writes corporate accountability advocate Steven Donziger of a Newsnation investigation of the corporate disaster featuring activist Erin Brockovich.

Suburbs Appeal $31 Billion Merger Of Canadian Pacific, Kansas City Southern Freight Rail

The appeal by Elgin, DuPage County, Schaumburg and others “follows the March 15 approval of the merger. The deal would create the first rail line linking Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, with far-reaching implications for local communities, Amtrak passenger rail and shippers looking to move goods through the country and across borders,” reports the Trib. Many more trains would be routed through the Chicago area.

Old Town-Vs.-Children Pickleball Conniptions Persist

“A Park District employee painted over the lines on the pickleball courts at Old Town’s Bauler Park, effectively removing them after months of conflict between players and some neighbors who wanted the courts gone,” reports Block Club. “A spokesperson for Ald. Timmy Knudsen’s office said neighbors began raising concerns in the fall about the lack of space and limited number of kids’ parks in the area. People also raised issue with the lack of pickleball courts citywide.”


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