After dinner this weekend, go to Kingston Mines. My favorite band, Vance ‘Guitar’ Kelly and the Backstreet Blues Band will be performing Tonight and Tomorrow Night! Check them out!
Ben’s Blog Archives:
After dinner this weekend, go to Kingston Mines. My favorite band, Vance ‘Guitar’ Kelly and the Backstreet Blues Band will be performing Tonight and Tomorrow Night! Check them out!
Ben’s Blog Archives:
I’m writing this blog entry on my laptop using a coffee shop’s free WiFi connection, iPod earphones in my ears and my Blackberry within thumbs reach as I text with a friend trying to figure out what’s up for the weekend. It’s safe to say that we live in a digital age where the latest technology is king.
But sometimes new isn’t necessarily better. Some things we got right a long time ago, like the art of grooming. That’s where State Street Barbers comes in. Your first clue that this IS indeed your grandfather’s barbershop is the blue and red swirling spindle outside the shop. Inside, the experience continues with a dark wood floors and Sinatra-era tunes on the sound system.
State Street Barbers is a Chicago-based chain geared toward men. It’s a place where not only can you get a haircut, you also receive the type of attention and detail that is ordinarily reserved for female-oriented salons and beauty shops. Not that there aren’t any females in here. Many of the stylists are women (and cute ones too!)
Services include shampoo and conditioning with every haircut, beard trims and full hot lather shaves with a straight-edged razor — not something you put in the hands of a novice! Did I also mention they offer
The businesses were started by a couple of Kellog Business School students who soon opened another location in Boston. A third Chicago location recently opened at 3523 N. Southport Ave. Lines were long on the first day due to a 10-cent haircut special, but appointments should be a little easier to come by now. Getting your hair did never felt this good!
Slideshow: State Street Barbers
More Information: Check It Out On The Web
A lot can be said in a few words. Joe Satriani’s primarily instrumental G3 Tour which included Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci is the proof. This years’ Chicago date was held on Saturday March 24th at the Congress Theatre. Each musician played their own 45 minute solo set followed by an end of the evening jam session with all three.
Paul Gilbert opened up the event shredding with his double neck guitar and red plaid suit. He offered the crowd material off his latest album and treated long time fans with a few songs from his Mr. Big days. With plenty of smiles and guitars to the sky, Gilbert set the mood for a night of real guitar heroes.
John Petrucci followed taking the audience on a silent journey of slow jams, triumphant climaxes and sounds that made us wondering how they came from a guitar. Without a word he left the crowd with jaws to the ground in awe. Before Petrucci ended his set with “Damage Control”, thanked Chicago and introduced his band, which included fellow Dream Theater member Mike Portney on drums.
A fantastic light show accompanied Joe Satriani, whose set closed out the evening. The added visual element allowed his mixture of blues and rock to leap from the stage and take on a whole new life. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first album, “Surfing With The Alien”, Satriani played several of the songs that were stepping stones to his current success.
During the end of Satriani’s set, Paul Gilbert and Joe Petrucci emerged from backstage to accompany him in a finale of grand proportions. Watching these three masters merge their skills was truly inspiring. They closed the show with a few covers which included their version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”.
It’s March 2007, which is officially (for those who don’t know) Women’s Month and boy… or should I say girrrl… has it been a celebration!
I began the month at an energized affair thrown by the City of Chicago’s Advisory Council on Women. They, along with guest speaker Mayor Daley, addressed the necessity and strategy for creating a “bias-free society.” Denise Ferguson, a committee member with the Office of Women’s Affair, did an extraordinary job as the charming hostess while the room buzzed with interesting, successful individuals and finger-licking hors d’oeuvres. See www.uic.edu/depts/owa for more free events in March and April.
Now what if you’re an ice cream and movie gal and not up for all the glitzy elbow rubbing? Take after PR specialist Karina Rosado with Nomadic Consulting who threw a fabulous girlfriend getaway with Karen Chung at Troupe Salon and Justin Herren at Mondial Spa. The afternoon was full of relaxation and services geared toward pleasing you, and with their top-notch attention to detail, simply add a few shrimp and 2 glasses of sangria, and ladies, you’re sure to close this month out with a bang! You can find Troupe Salon on 46 E. Oak, 312.587.2700 and Mondial Spa at 355 E. Grand, 312.329.0000. Whether you’re a girl on the go or one working from home — Happy Women’s Month!!
This past Saturday, I almost needed a wheelbarrow to take me home. I spent the majority of the afternoon at the Chicago Cultural Center enjoying the Family Farmed expo. Local farmers, cheese makers, distributors and cafes brought their yummy goodies for sampling and purchasing. I’m a fan of supporting homegrown food and business and this food fest was right up my alley.
I’ve been reading up on how our milk, meats, cheeses and most things under the sun are pumped with hormones and/or preservatives (little girls are becoming women faster these days). I’m slowly making the transition into food companies that have this conscientious mentality. It was refreshing to talk one-on-one with folks that can ship meat directly from their farm to your house (Good Earth Farms) or even send fruits and veggies fresh to a nearby neighborhood drop off (Angelic Organics). I ran into my eco-friendly friends at igo, too. If you haven’t signed up for this service, you should. Great service for big grocery runs or doctor’s appointments out of the CTA reach.
The good thing is, we as consumers, ‘got it’. Unfortunately, my grocery bills are higher to accommodate the organic foods, farm fresh veggies and raw milk, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. Living in the Midwest has many advantages. We have the nicest people around, sure, but we also have some of the best natural food in our midst, too. Go get it!
Don’t forget about the Chicago Farmer’s Markets!
Starting this May
A definition of Scoop – the comedic, deceptive, melodramatic movie Scoop with Woody Allen, Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman. Then there is of course gossip with exciting and developing stories – love that. And for you sports fanatics and writers, there is Scoop Jackson – do your research. But for me and the world of fashonistas, there is Scoop NYC – the self described “Ultimate Closet.” This past week, I got all dressed up to go to the 10,000 square foot closet down from the 6 corners in Wicker Park. New to Chicago and borrowed from New York is the men’s, women’s and kids name brand, designer, apparel shop. The occasion was a Grey Goose sponsored men’s event with special discounts for the fellas, martinis for all and the best place in the city on a Wednesday night for some serious people and trend watching and a few celebrities like former Chicago Bear and current metrosexual, Jerry Azumah, spotted at the checkout. So what’s to the 10,000 square foot closet besides its massive showroom posing as a boutique? First there are the brands: Jimmy Choo and Kors shoes, Prada apparel and footwear, Citizens for Humanity, Zoe Tees, Marc Jacobs Handbags, M Missoni, Helmut Lang and of course the Scoop Brand to name a few. Next up, the aesthetics: floor to ceiling front windows, sterile white walls contrasting with your reflection in the numerous mirrors, a 6 foot 6 inch security guard, dressed to kill help and oversized ottomans for chilling out, where I spent the majority of the evening…gossiping and ‘window shopping.’ Finally, the experience: very simply put, it was great. The store paired up with a cheerful staff, a pure vodka, tasty hor d’oeuvres like chopped peanut chicken layered over cucumber squares and a colorful scene made my time at Scoop NYC well worth it. I plan on coming back when my pocketbook is P-H-A-T in search of a hot and unique find for that must attend summer event where everyone is sure to be. So thanks Big Apple for sharing the Scoop, we’ll be sure to pass the word.
1702 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60686
If you frequent some of Chicago’s hip-hop clubs or listen to the radio, then chances are you’ve probably heard the infectious hood anthem from the newest rap star out of the “Dirty South”…
I’m talking about none other than “Throw Some D’s” from Zone 4/Interscope Records recording artist, Rich Boy, straight out of Mobile, Alabama.
“D’s”, if you didn’t already know, are the abbreviated term for Dayton tire rims which Rich Boy likes to sport on his recently purchased Cadillac while “all dem haters wanna jack” (him for his rims that is)
After several delayed flights and lost luggage, Rich Boy and his crew touched down in the Chi and made their way over to the Shadow Bar about 1AM after having to skip an impromptu meet’n’greet appearance at D’Vine (1950 W. North Avenue). The crowd inside the Shadow Bar was ready to “Throw” (not sure if was ‘D’s) after having to wait several hours for the man of the hour. In the meantime and in-between time, their hip-hop appetites were whet by the hardcore sounds of some of Chicago’s local artists such as the much buzzed about Vi and Hot 2 Def who were the opening acts.
Shortly after his arrival, Rich Boy made his way to the tiny stage with his two hype men and kicked it off exactly like his self-titled debut. The fellas and ladies were hypnotized alike as Rich went right into the gangsta intro, “The Madness”. Next, the boy with the extreme Southern drawl, kept that “Dirty South” flavor going with the marching band anthem, “Boy Looka Here”. The party didn’t stop as he told all the “balers” “Let’s Get This Paper”. As the show went on, Rich Boy began to remove the layers of clothes until he was shirtless, showing off his tattooed torso garnering a few “oohs and ahhs” from the ladies. He rewarded a number of them by pulling them up on the stage with him as he began to play DJ going into a few current radio hits from other artists including DJ Unk’s “Walk It Out”.
As the clock was ticking down, Rich Boy sent Shadow Bar into a frenzy as the crowd recognized the DeBarge written, “I Call Your Name” sample begin to play. We all knew what was coming now. Rich gave the crowd what they were waiting for as the opening bars to “Throw Some D’s” began to play. Everyone in the club held their hands high and sang every word along with Rich Boy (myself included) as he went into the chorus.
Rich ripped the stage in half until the lights came on and everybody seemed satisfied that they were able to see a good show.
Afterwards, I hopped in the limo with Rich and his crew and Donski and we headed over to Club 720 (720 N. Wells) to cap off the night, people watch, and groove to the sounds of DJ Timbuk2. A great night was had by all.
Janelle Rominski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)
Mötley Crüe front man, Vince Neil, performed two shows at Austin’s Saloon and Eatery’s Fuel Room in Libertyville, Illinois this week. Neil was originally slated to perform only one show on Friday, March 23rd, but tickets sold out so quickly – they added another show on Thursday the 22nd.
Opening for Neil on Thursday was Chicago based band F-N-R, who did a great job getting the audience pumped up and keeping them entertained. Neil hit the stage at 11 p.m. to a packed crowd chanting his name. Once he stepped onto center stage, a ride of rock and roll riffs captivated the audience until the end.
Austin’s Saloon has been a northern suburban restaurant and bar since 1992, but recently added their new Fuel Room in late 2006.
Austin’s Fuel Room is a great addition to the suburbs because it not only provides a great venue for local acts, but with support from 95 WIIL Rock – major national touring acts make their mark in this quiet suburb.
Buckcherry, Saliva, Crossfade, Warrant and Firehouse are just a few of the bands that have graced the stage at this Libertyville venue. Seven Mary Three will perform at Austin’s on Friday, March 30th.
95 WIIL Rock often holds unique promotions for listeners to win tickets to shows and to meet the bands. Vince Neil came to the 95 WIIL Rock studios Thursday morning on a promotion to give a listener a “Crue Cut”. Tim Nash of Kenosha, Wisconsin let Neil shave his head in order to get free tickets to the show and to meet the main man of Mötley Crüe.
To see all the photos from the Vince Neil concert and 95 WIIL Rock studio appearance visit my online photo album on the picture link below:
As you’ve all probably figured out by now, I like to be where the ladies are at. A few of my fellow Street Teamers have already blogged about Billy Dec’s new club, The Underground, but they left out a pretty important point — it’s packed with females! I’m talking about a 2- or 3-to-1 ratio the last night I was there! I like my chances under those circumstances, but let’s be real, I can get it done just about anywhere.
If you don’t fit the above category, you may be left shivering on the sidewalk, which is never any fun. So here’s my question to you, my blog readers. What tricks do you have to get yourself on The List? Click on “Comments” below to post your thoughts. And never let it be said that I don’t look out for the little people.
Full disclosure. I’m Canadian. I guess you could say I’m a closet Canadian, because i don’t pepper my conversations with “eh,” nor do I care much for any Molson products. But one thing living in America will do is suck the love of hockey out of you.
Especially in Chicago. I think most Chicagoans are aware that we have a professional hockey team, but are you aware of the history behind it? The Blackhawks are an original 6 franchise, who along with Toronto, Montreal, New York, Detroit and Boston comprised the oldest of the major professional sports leagues. And the coolest championship trophy.
Wednesday night I went to my first Blackhawks game, as they squared off against the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately, the Hawks lost. And even more unfortunately, they’ve lost quite a bit this season. But I had a good time anyway. The few fans who were there were extremely vocal in their support. The action on the ice was fast-paced, and there were even a few fights to liven things a bit.
I’ve heard a lot of excuses why the Hawks’ have detoriated to their current state, including the fact that it’s difficult to find a game on local TV. But even if you wouldn’t recognize Nikolai Khabibulin if he bumped into you on the Mag Mile, there are many reasons why you should continue to support a Chicago institution. You might even end up having a good time, eh?
I thought I’d share a positive customer service experience that will live with me forever…
Believe it or not, two weeks after I got engaged, I already bought my wedding dress- no joke. I was surfing around using Argo Tea’s wi-fi connection and came across a gorgeous frock on the Nordstrom site. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it (need to have an element of surprise!), but the dress suits me to a tee. I decided to take a chance, pack up and take the El one stop north from Argo Tea’s Randolph location (I love their free Wi-Fi, the Randolph location is typically less packed than the Loyola location I go to as well).
Within 15 minutes, I was on the 3rd floor of Nordstrom and saw my dress on a mannequin. Sign #1. Then, I saw a lady holding UP the dress and my mouth dropped. I asked to see the other dresses, but I learned the dress she was holding was the last dress in my size. Sign #2. I looked at the gal and her friends and said, “This may sound strange, but can I just try it on real quick? I think that’s my wedding dress.” I skipped to the dressing room, put the dress on and stood there in amazement. Yep, that was it – this was my dress.
I decided to give myself a day to think about the dress, along with call my mom and email my closest friends for their thoughts. They all agreed that this dress was perfect for my style. Luckily, Lydia, my Nordstrom helper, did a search within Nordstrom’s entire store database and told me where other dresses were in the country, should I need to order from another store. I thought long and hard about the dress, its spectacular price and decided to go for it.
I headed over to Nordstrom today, expecting to order the dress from another store. To my surprise, the dress I tried on last night was still there. Sign # 3. Yet again, I put the dress on and took my time walking, sitting and inspecting every corner of it. The bust will need slight alterations, but I’ll wait until next year to get that taken care of (by the internal Nordstrom seamstresses of course).
As I purchased the dress, I asked Lydia if there was a way Nordstrom could call the manufacturer and request a swatch. I wanted to match my veil to the dress or get one custom made. Since the dress is made overseas, I was told it may be hard to get a sample, but the Nordstrom team would do their best to help me out. About 30 minutes ago, Lydia called. The store had to send a sample dress back to the manufacturer and she was able to CUT me a 12 inch swatch sample!! How terrific is that?
You may not shop at Nordstrom that often, but think about adding them to your shopping list. Thanks to Lydia, I have a dress that is unique, elegant, way below the price I expected to pay, enables me to shorten and wear again…and I have the material to custom make a veil.
Here is their corporate customer service pledge: “We assure you’ll never pay more. If you find the same item elsewhere for a lower price, we will gladly match it. Our Customer Service Specialists are ready to assist you, simply call 1-888-282-6060, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Also, if you are shoe shopping at the Michigan Avenue store, ask for Reggie. He rocks. Tell him I said ‘hi’. I always make it a point to stop and see him while I walk thru the main floor to the Grand exit. He worked at Field’s forever, then was asked to stay at Macy’s, but decided to go to Nordstrom. I’m glad he did.
Nordstrom (Westbridge Shopping Center)
55 East Grand Avenue
Here is a perfect example why I love Chicago so much: This town has restaurants like Parlor. Parlor is that place with the light green ‘PARLOR’ sign on North Avenue in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area. You’ve seen it a hundred times, now you have to stop in there. Once you walk in, there is a certain warmth to the brickwalled atmosphere with a very inviting bar immediately to the right. This is the kind of spot where you can just hang and have a drink. Once inside, you’ll find both the lighting and music decibel at a perfect pitch. Known for their ‘comfort food’ such as ‘pork and beans’ – (pork tenderloin with northern bean and braised pork shoulder – yea!), meatloaf, grilled cheese, mac & cheese, veggie burgers…..let’s just say chef Steve Sipp knows how to cook comfort for foodies. For those who find comfort in more complicated preparations, you’ll find something like a Pan Seared Crispy Skin Salmon, or Ruby Red North American Trout with leeks & crimini mushrooms! The best part about this place is that these guys are really nice! Servers like TJ and Ryan are courteous, expedient, and always ready for a friendly conversation. Jason Hendrix will most likely be your smiling host as you walk in. I always take into consideration when determining my favorite restaurants to include the ‘personal touch’ characteristic – this place has got it in spades.
Ben’s Blog Archives:
Imerman Angels held a St. Patrick’s Eve event at Enclave Friday night. This amazing Chicago based charity pairs cancer survivors with cancer fighters to battle the disease. The turnout was incredible; hundreds of people packed the club to support the cause. Partygoers enjoyed a Grey Goose La Poire reception while DJ Jumpin’ James provided ambiance with his musical stylings. Imerman Angels founder Jonny Imerman was in the center of the crowd, greeting everyone with open arms and a contageous smile.
Jonny Imerman is a cancer survivor himself who created Imermans Angels so that no one would have to fight cancer alone. He truly is an angel to those whose lives he touches, and his organization is an inspiration to everyone. Imerman Angels strives to give anyone and everyone battling this disease the ammo to win the fight. By matching a cancer fighter with a cancer survivor of the same type, cancer fighters have their own personal angel to offer individualized advice and support. The organization also provides support pairing for caregivers of cancer fighters. The support provided by Imerman Angels is free to cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers worldwide.
For more information on the charity and upcoming events, check out the website www.imermanangels.org.
Pictured with Irit are Jonny Imerman (Founder, center) and Scotty Goodrich (Event Committee Chairman, right).
Now, I don’t want to get too excited just yet, but our friends at Bon-Ton are looking at parcels near my building. Two words.
Every week since January and even dating back to ’06 I have crashed a series called “The Craft.” The premise behind the invite only Craft events is to bring forth MCs and musical artists who are still perfecting their craft with musical talent that are just a little bit further along in their journey. This week, the event took place at Excalibur’s Vision Night Club. Up until last night, I thought I could hang, thought I was cool and thought I knew all of the “already perfected craft” artists but then to the stage was Buckshot and Smiff and Wessun. Who?? Yeah – that’s what I said, but the weekly event that travels from venue to venue knows how to keep ‘em guessing. Who the heck is Smif-N-Wessun? Smif-N-Wessun are 25% of the Brooklyn supergroup Boot Camp Clik, with Buckshot, Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C. They are the group that came after Boogie Down Productions and before a Tribe Called Quest split. After Run DMC and even after the Pharcyde. They pretty much got lost in the wind tunnel of hype, gimmicks and a great time for rap music. But that did not affect their drive, skills, flow and particularly their craft. Every week I have seen true hip hop heads with manners act relaxed while at the Park West for rappers Common and Doug E. Fresh, subtly rock to Slum Village and Dwele not to damage their Cole Haan shoes but bring on Smif-N-Wessun and they are off their feet, lip syncing the words in a dangerous mosh pit with dreads swinging. I couldn’t’t agree more with their approval. Not knowing a single word, I just smiled. But that’s the Craft for you – it’s the students appreciating and learning from the teachers. Next week, Erykah Badu and EPMD. Click here for ticket info.
Like you, I was stunned to hear that the beloved Berghoff Restaurant was closing (did you know it was the first establishment in Chicago to obtain a liquor license?). Within days after the announcement, I was excited to hear that Carlyn Berghoff was going to bring back the space, with a twist of her own. Ms. Berghoff’s been in the catering business for years and took that experience to create what is now 17 West. I was lucky enough to attend 17 West’s media event last night and won the “history lottery” when Ms. Berghoff herself gave me and my friend, Angela, a tour of the space. More on that tour in a minute…
The evening began at 5:30 with an intimate gathering in the Century Room, adjacent to 17 West. The Century Room will serve as an event rental space. Food stations lined the walls, along with a tranquil Irish duo entertaining the crowd. As soon as I dropped off my coat, I sipped the famous root beer the Berghoff was known for. It was terrific. Angela and I made our way to a corner table to scope out the space and ensure I got enough pictures of folks and the food. We met some great fellow Chicagoaons, including the gals from Empower, a PR firm in town. There’s something about Chicago that blends good food and good people…resulting in terrific conversation. Oh, did I mention food? Food was indeed on our minds and I don’t know where to start with the morsels I sampled throughout the night.
Mini Reubens shaped like calzones, mini macaroni and cheese poppers, prosciutto wrapped halibut and cheesecake lollipops are only a few of the delights we sampled throughout the evening. I was impressed to learn that 17 West, along with the Berghoff Café will cater not just to German fare, but overall European cuisine. I love this idea. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wiener schnitzel, but having the choice of other euro goodies is something our city needs more of. Ms. Berghoff is keen to this idea and transformed the ‘old’ Berghoff to an open airy type of bistro.
A trip downstairs takes you to Berghoff Cafe, which is open for lunch. Another rental space sits next to the Café and is directly beneath the Century Room. The next time you have an office party or wedding, there is PLENTY of rental space available. I made a serious mental note of this.
The food, open space and nightly themed-specials will definitely bring me and my friends to 17 West, however, the tour Ms. Berghoff gave us will probably be the biggest reason I return. I had the rare chance to see the entire building, from the restaurant, to the café, to the kitchens. Along the way, Angela and I heard stories of Mr. Berghoff, his ability to save money for his dream and how he slowly bought the entire building bit by bit. In a city where urban development is underway, knowing an established, home grown eatery still exists is plain stellar. Sure, the ‘name’ of the restaurant and little décor details were updated, but the character remains.
Kudos for Carlyn Berghoff for ‘keeping it in the family’, but also taking the time to give two history-loving gals the opportunity to walk through the hallways of one of Chicago’s gems. See you at 17 West, y’all!
17 West at the Berghoff
17 West Adams Street
Phone – 312.427.3170
Open for lunch and dinner
Berghoff Café Chicago
17 West Adams Street
Phone – 312.427.7399
Open for lunch, M-F
I love to go to tasting events. I think it’s a great way to try foods you might not ordinarily eat. On Monday I went to one for Common Threads. It’s a not for profit that Oprah’s personal chef Art Smith started to help teach kids about cooking and the arts.
It was fun hanging out with some of Chicago’s top chefs…and I met some other chefs from around the country. Oh…needless to say, I ate and drank way too much. (what else is new)
Slideshow: Common Threads Event
More Information: www.ourcommonthreads.org
You won’t need Randy,Simon and Paula for this one, guys. The Hyde Park Art Center’s rating is a no-brainer. This place has got it all.
Tipping the scales at 1,600 square feet, this behemoth of an art center houses 5 huge galleries as well as numerous artist studios, youth and adult classrooms, an extensive library and facilities for receptions and conferences. Try saying THAT 3 times fast.
Looking to hoan your artistic skills? Hyde Park Art Center has a class for just about everything, including: Print Making, Painting and Drawing, Crochet, Beginning Animation, Jewelry Making, Collagraphs, Silk Screening, Pottery, Digital Media and more. Teachers are backed by credible degrees ranging from The Art Institute of Chicago to The Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, to Yale University.
Each of the Center’s 5 galleries are just as visually appealing as they are spacious – the largest of which utilizes two levels, providing both aerial and ground viewing. This lends itself extremely well to installation shows.
Yet, for all of its features and square footage, the center is surprisingly intimate.
The architecture is sleek and modern with lots of transparent rooms, lime green floors and white walls – but not cold or without character. The staff is chalked full of art enthusiasts who are both warm and helpful – but not pretentious. The studios are alive with the spirit of creativity and personal touch – but not unkempt.
And if that’s not enough, they even host wedding receptions. (I’ve left a few things for you to discover through their website for fear of developing a mild case of Carpal Tunnel in listing all of its features.) Did I mention the materials for the classes are provided free of cost?
About the only thing bigger than the programs list or galleries are the gigantic, 2 story letters “A” “R” “T” marked on the building itself.
For information on upcoming Exhibitions, Class Registration, Directions, etc.
Gallery Hours are:
Monday – Thursday: 9am – 8pm
Friday – Saturday: 9am – 5pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm
5020 S. Cornell
Chicago, Il 60615
I moved to Chicago in 1998. The mix of Midwest manners and the proven ability to rebuild an entire city confirmed that a gal like me could make it here. I also fell in love with Chicago’s history. Immigrants helped build our infrastructure while our Southern friends brought in some hearty blues and darn good soul food. It was a town where you could open a salon, clothing store or tailor next to the ‘Big Boys’. As I walked down State Street this morning, I thought, “Where did all the stores go?”
First, Marshall Field’s was replaced by an East coast department store, Macy’s (to date, I have not stepped foot into a Chicago Macy’s and don’t plan on doing so). Next, Carson’s decided to leave the Loop, as retailers jumped in on securing leases – before the store had its first close-out sale. While the Block 37 building is under construction and new State Street condos are finding buyers, shops are leaving State Street. I love having Annie Sez, Urban Outfitter’s and Nordstrom Rack within walking distance. These store deliver a new energy to the Loop. What concerns me is the lack of independent shops. Akira managed to solidify space on State Street, but where is everyone else?
As I continued my stroll to my South Loop neighborhood, I noticed a large sign at the construction site near 8th and State: ‘Retail and parking available’. I decided to call the number and inquire about what type of retail was available for lease. Turns out, another gym and national ‘coffee chain’ is slated for some of the 60,000 sq. ft. of space. Not bad, however, when I learned that the rent per square foot was in the $40s, I gasped. Are you kidding me? No wonder small businesses or folks with a dream of their own storefront can’t open up – the rent is too dang much.
How many more cell phone stores can a city have? How many more coffee chains with a green logo and starting in ‘S’ can we have on one block? I’m all for the redevelopment of this grand city, but I hope we don’t stray too much from the foundation from which we came.
I’m proud to say the City of Big Shoulders is my home, however, there doesn’t seem to be much room for the small guy to sit on those shoulders. To the new Aldermen of our city’s wards, I suggest you work closer with developers and the Mayor’s office to ensure that a) the commercial spaces address the needs of the neighborhood and b) independent business owners have a chance to make their dreams happen.
Am I naïve to think that Big Business and the Little Guy can co-exist? Me thinks not.
Neosoul singer Musiq Soulchild rolled through the Chi last week. I missed Thursday’s concert due to the new ghetto volleyball league I’ve joined — another story for another time. But we sat down for an interview at the W Hotel on Friday. He’s a cool cat, and I’ve definitely always dug his style. Not surprisingly, he told me that he also has a thing for the 70s, music and fashion.
His new CD, luvanmusiq, drops today. He wouldn’t say in so many words, but Musiq’s music is a throwback to the days when love songs weren’t all about grinding. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
One of the best things about living in Chicago is the view of the skyline. My personal favorite is heading east on Wacker Drive before you get to the corncob building, or any view from the river, which brings me to a recent Saturday evening when I took a cruise on the Mystic Blue.
Mystic Blue offers a variety of cruises originating from Navy Pier, heading north and south of downtown on Lake Michigan.
There’s also three climate-controlled decks where you can eat and drink to your heart’s desire. Or, you can hang out with the captain steering the ship.
On the night I took the Mystic Blue cruise, there was supposed to be an eclipse, but unfortunately, the cruise ended before the eclipse started. But I had a good time anyway. The other “cruisers” started to loosen up with about an hour left in the trip. The DJ turned up the tunes, and before I knew it, there was a full-fledged party going on!
Visit www.mysticbluecruises.com for information on pricing and specialty cruises.
Slideshow: Mystic Blue Cruise
The email arrived at 5:00 a.m. It was titled “Help!” and the time alone indicated the urgency. It was a pretty jarring email title to wake up to on a Friday morning. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I was a little discombobulated but proceeded to put on my embroidered kimono, grabbed my loop and began focusing on the email. “You have got to help me” my friend said. I knew he was in Eastern Europe on a business trip and anything could have happened, really. He could have been blamed for espionage, he could have been forced to smuggle fat babies, or even force-fed goulash for days at a time. I continued reading. “It’s about the event…tonight.” What event? I couldn’t think of any event. Sure, we had planned on getting together and maybe having a pajamas party: pillow fights, hair curlers, rabbit slippers, the whole deal, but nothing serious. “The concert, I can’t make it, you can have my ticket.”
Bingo! I scored a free ticket to go see the sexitonics Scissor Sisters at Riviera Theatre. I had intended to go see them but the prices were going through the roof before I could even say jakeshearsalwayslookshigh. Anyhoobie, the concert was a blast. The band was fashionably late, which gave the audience plenty of time to warm up. The show was fantastic, with Jake Shears and Ana Matronic giving an amazing and interactive performace that left the audience in sheer eksta…exast…eckstac..happiness. Highlights included “I Don’t Feel like Dancing”, “Take Your Mama”, “Filthy Gorgeous”, and me. All members were in top form, and have a natural gift for getting their audience in a trance (and partially nude.) They say a free meal always tastes better, but this one tasted particularly good.