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Archive for July, 2008

D.C. “Fete TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

I’m a huge fan of BYOB’s in the city, and Chicago has a lot of them that I’ve discovered over the past few years.  They usually have great food, a nice atmosphere and the price is definitely right.  But recently I discovered a place that is BYOF (Bring Your Own Food), which I thought was a creative idea in allowing me to still enjoy a unique and intimate evening out without breaking the bank.

Trayce D opened a WineStyles franchise in the South Loop recently and hasn’t looked back.  Located at 1240 S. Michigan Ave, her goal for WineStyles is to be the neighborhood wine boutique store that carries exceptional wines from all over the world. Wine Styles wines are for drinking, not worshipping and are priced at $25 and under. They take the guesswork out of buying wine by categorizing wines by taste styles rather than grape or varietals. They make learning about wine easy and enjoyable. And, they have an excellent selection of gift items including gift baskets and wine accessories. 

The South Loop WineStyles offers the following:

* Wine Club Membership
* Complimentary tastings on Thursdays, 6-8pm
* Online shopping option
* Fine Cigars
* Private parties and events
* Live music on select nights
* B.Y.O.F (Bring Your Own Food) as they serve wine by the glass, or you can open a bottle.
* Wine classes and special order most wines by the bottle or case within 24 hours

Besides being a neighborhood boutique wine store, WineStyles provides a comfort and cozy setting for friends to meet up and partake in libations together.  Sara Kay, their on staff Sommelier, can help you select a nice bottle of wine for your special occasion.  I particularly like the fact that I can bring my own food, buy a great bottle of wine and still have a few dollars left over for dessert!

Check out Trayce D and her South Loop Wine Styles location  at 1240 S. Michigan Ave or log onto www.winestyles.net.

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Laura Lodewyck, NBC5 Street Team
Ah, the glorious week is upon us! If you’re as big of a sci-fi dork as I am, you would give your firstborn alien-hybrid baby to see the X-Files movie. Dear Lord, it’s finally here! Perhaps some of the great X-Files questions will be answered: Will Mulder finally uncover definitive proof of an alien conspiracy? What really happened to his sister? And HOW does Scully run in those heels??

Some of life’s great questions must remain unanswered; however, you can discover the secret to the eternal mystery of running in heels yourself at Chicago Fusion Theatre’s STILETTO STAMPEDE this Thursday. Come and bring your sexiest racing stilettos (if there is such thing) and dash for great prizes from John Fluevog and Akira. The race begins at 6:30 sharp at Chase Park track at 1566 W. Leland. The cost to compete is $10, or only $5 if you register early by emailing dramaqueen_2281@hotmail.com. The John Fluevog and Akira prizes make it well worth your while.
Then, the afterparty continues at T’s Bar and Restaurant. Be there to check out the action!
If you’ve got any fabulous underground events I’ve missed for this week, write me at llodewyck@nudehippo.com. Be sure to type “Lodewyck” into the Search bar in the upper right hand corner to see my previous blogs, and to watch my segments with Nude Hippo.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

If you would have told me 15 years ago that I’d ever be in the position to hang out with the brain trust of Public Enemy, the members of A Tribe Called Quest and B Real from Cypress Hill — all in the span of a couple of days — I’m not sure I would have believed you. But such is the nature of summer in Chicago that I was able to do all of that — not to mention, experiencing two days of some incredible live hip hop.

As I blogged about last week, Public Enemy kicked it off on Friday night, performing “It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold us Back” at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint. The full crew was there — except for the DJ, Terminator X — and the crowd, many perhaps too young to have known P.E. when they first burst on the scene, was energetic and appreciative.


Slideshow: Rock The Bells

Let me just say this. Flavor Flav is laughing all the way to the bank. Before he played the clown for a worldwide TV audience, this is a dude with a world of talent, which he displayed with his dexterious rhymes and a full drum solo. I was a bit apprehensive about their new DJ (Lloyd), but he also won me over with a dope solo.

On Saturday it was off to Tinley Park for the Rock The Bells tour. I was disappointed with the sound system at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater, but the acts were for the most part on point. De La Soul was a bit underwhelming, however I’ll blame that on the sound system. Method Man and Redman probably whipped the crowd into the greatest frenzy, with Meth even crowd surfing. The Pharcyde performed for the first time in 11 years, and brought a full live band to back them up. Mos Def — one of my favorite MCs of all time — left something to be desired. It’s tough for a solo artist in that atmosphere to get the crowd moving, but I thought his song selectin could have been better. Nas and a Tribe Called Quest were fitting ends to a fabulous day of music.

Long live hip hop!

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Wiggle-Time

 Jennifer and Brooke, NBC5 Street Team

 
Been there. Done that. Got a T-Shirt.  But somehow, I’m going back the Allstate Arena for more Wiggles.

My little nephew Artie is coming to town next month and once his plane touches down, its definitely Wiggle-time once again.  We’ll be going to see Sam, Anthony, Murray, and Jeff during their two day stint in Rosemont August 9th and 10th.  

  

Last Year, I was impressed.  The Wiggles graduated from a typical stage with $50 worth of props to a more elaborate set.  I say they forked out a good $150.  O.k.- seriously, for those of you who know anything about the Wiggles, you know they keep it simple but very appealing to the little ones. I’m just amazed that these guys are still touring the world and putting on an excellent show—they’re no spring chickens.

 

This tour is called “Pop Go the Wiggles Live!”  Hummm, I wonder what they have in store this time. I bet a stage full of surprises!

 

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Cheap Cheesecake

Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team

You can thank Pinky Murphy for this one! On Wednesday, July 30th, Cheesecake Factory restaurants nationwide will celebrate 30 years of business by offering 30 different slices of cheesecake at a buck fifty! That’s right $1.50 per slice. Just like in 1978 when they opened the first restaurant doors. So I know it’s bikini season but go stock up for fall- luck favors the prepared!

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Blagica S. Bottigliero, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Oh how I love Chicago. I currently site typing to you in a ‘secret’ location. This location is a swanky lounge that is attached to a swanky hotel. I promised the place I wouldn’t ‘blast’ the masses with my tip, hence me concealing the name…

I have a series of meetings in the Loop today, coupled with a lunch with someone that is staying in this hotel. I called ahead and was able to work from the hotel’s cool lounge area while getting some work done.

If you see a compact red Swiss Army backpack, with a gal that walks kinda fast, is listening to her iPhone while looking up hotel phone numbers on her iPhone, that’d be me. Don’t be surprised if I pop a squat in your random lobby while uploading video from my FLIP camera.

Because that’s the kinda girl I am!

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank 

During the weekend that America became engulfed by the force of nature that is the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight,” I spent a couple nights in the shadow of our local caped-crusader, The Soxman. And given that the city of Chicago plays the role of Gotham in the current summer event film, it is fitting that our hero represents a Chicago team.

I followed Soxman from his traditional pre-game meal (which is always done out of costume) to the end of the night, noticing all the heads that turn as he slowly walks by. Hordes of people approach and request a photo taken with him. Basically, a night at the park with him is what would happen if you were to breed Halloween with Soxfest. You experience all that is Sox Nation in the most gregarious of atmospheres. The hotties come forward, seeking to get their pictures in further circulation. I even saw one ask if the dynamic duo would sign her breast. They refused, instead signing her shoulder. And little kids love him too. Seven year old Alyssa Choksin, a season ticket holder a couple rows from Soxman and Batboy, gives his sidekick a Twizzler every single game. On Saturday night, Soxman even caught a foul ball and promptly gave it to four year old Matthew McLean, who was attending his first Sox game.  

Soxman’s made so many mainstream media appearances that it takes a whole Wikipedia page to list them all. The duo’s promotional photo is even the desktop wallpaper for the computer guy at WGN.  Soxman has a weekly online mailbag in which people ask him questions on everything from baseball to relationship advice. Making the rounds with him at the ballpark is the only way to truly acknowledge his celebrity. I talked to so many people about this story that I was doing that I gave away all the NBC5 Street Team and SportsBank business cards in my pocket. When we collaborated on a Dark Knight themed White Sox article, it broke my site’s record for blog comments the first day! But he’s also a fantasy baseball geek and Peter Gammons-esque major league baseball expert. He’s the only person I know who’s “passion and swagger” for the White Sox makes it difficult for ME to keep up with HIM when talking shop on the pale hose.

I completed my weekend shadowing the “White Sox Dark Knight” by taking in the record-setting blockbuster film with his real life alter-ego, “Bruce Wayne-Parker” and seven of his closest friends. There, he told me how less than 40 total people know both his identities, me being the sole journalist. It made me feel like Commissioner Gordon, serving the public good through the media industry instead of the police department, but still this superhero’s confidant and peer adviser.

I also asked him when White Sox fans should send out the Sox signal, and he responded in verse: “When your spirits are low or the Sox are down, send out the signal, on the south side of town.  Remember to stay positive and control your rage, or just send me a message on my Myspace page. Passion is explosive, like a time bomb.  Need positive energy? Just go to thesoxman.com.”  
  
Click here for the full account of my two nights at the park with Soxman. For more Chicago sports analysis and fun, click here.

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Desiree Prieto, NBC5 Street Team
Ravinia, Lollapalooza, John Mayer and Madonna. Open the Chicago Reader, type in Metromix in your computer, and you’re bound to get bombarded with advertisements on music for the masses, and songs mainstreamed for your local Chicago morning car-radio show. But who really listens to that stuff if they have a choice, or if they hadn’t left their IPod charging on the kitchen table that morning? When most of us spend money on ITunes or a concert ticket at live venues, we want to hear music with variation. Smooth rhythms, funky tones, perhaps beats with trombones.

I got invited to Andy’s on Hubbard last Tuesday night for some post-work cocktails, and was blown away by the Jazz Saxophonist Frank Catalano, and his band. I didn’t even know I liked Jazz. Catalano plays with culture, class, and, with, what’s that word? Oh, yeah, variation. While his audience consisted of musicians, fans, and savvy-concert goers, I realized that Chicago, with its business of modern outdoor music, has left behind a part of the Windy City’s culture and historic element. Who doesn’t think Jazz when they think of Chicago? And, who has actually been to a concert lately that wasn’t somehow computer-generated or electronically enhanced? However, just because Catalano also happens to have a degree in Composition, plays his own music, and performed with names like Tony Bennett, Carlos Santana and Tito Puente, doesn’t mean his music is dated. In fact, Andy’s concert commemorated his new album, BANG!, with the label Savoy/Columbia Jazz. And, yes, he is a professional, but his personal touch and soul sound sensitively—striking a chord with the ladies. But as for me, I think my favorite tune will continue to be Funky Dunky as there doesn’t seem to be those sensual undertones my man would be weary of. Shortly after wrapping up the concert, the famous Chicago Saxophonist was off to the East Coast to promote ‘BANG!’ Hmmm… perhaps another Billboard Chart-topper? And, it looks like Catalano is also host of the JVC Jazz Festival 2008.

For those of you interested in some real, live music, with diverse melodies and you know, with people who actually know how to play instruments, those tools that made music in the first place, Catalano and Band will play at Andy’s on Hubbard August 1 and 2 at 9:30 PM. For you night owls, head to the Green Mill at 2:00 AM on Wednesday until July 31. Otherwise, check out the website for more details, http://www.catalanomusic.com/. Oh, and for those of you who are into mainstream music, that’s okay too. You’ll be happy to know that while a Jazz musician, Catalano’s unique sound resonates through several genres as he has even played with Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez.

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Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Team

Last weekend thousands braved rain, humidity, and sloppy terrain to take part in Pitchfork’s annual music festival. Over 30 bands graced 3 stages complete with artists ranging from hip hop legends Public Enemy to Japanese experimentalists Boris. Along with hours of music the fest included an abundance of food, activities, and DIY artwork from a wide variety of vendors. For the total Pitchfork wrap-up and huge photo galleries by Playboy.com photo editor James Trevenen and myself, head over to our editorial feature in the arts and entertainment section on Playboy.com.

See photos from Pitchfork Music Festival

See Full Pitchfork Galleries and Coverage on Playboy.com Editorial

(Type “Maureen Vana” into the search bar at the top of this page to see my past concert photography and reviews)

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Reggie Brown, NBC5 Street Team

Last night I attended the Skyy Infusions unveiling party at Zed 451. The party highlighted Skyy Vodka’s newest flavors including Cherry, Raspberry, Passion Fruit, Grape and my personal favorite, Citrus. I was surrounded by familiar faces as the scene was filled with many of Chicago’s chic restaurant industry insiders. 

While the bartenders were mixing up some innovative cocktails behind the bar, by far the coolest aspect of the party was that the power was put in the hands of the partygoers with the installment of the Mixology Station. We were urged to create new cocktails with the infused vodkas and an abundant mix of fresh fruits and mixers.

I made a few interesting concoctions but the tastiest of them all was a libation I call TheRegMaingo: Muddled mint, grapes and mango topped off with Skyy Citrus and finished with Sprite. It is a refreshing summer drink inspired by the classic mojito. In addition to the bar, Zed 451 provided delicious appetizers and their amazing rooftop, which in combination with the beautiful weather provided all the right elements for an amazing evening out.

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Megan Bowers, NBC5 Street Team

In an effort to further my big-city experience, I decided to check out the Gold Coast neighborhood, where the nightlife is rich and the men are richer — and older. The area is jam-packed with people, fancy cars and Fendi handbags.

All of my disclosed jealousy made me hungry, so me and a couple fellow street teamers “jumped” over to Hugo’s Frog Bar. While this place is usually “hopping” (OK, I’ll stop with the frog analogies) when the sun sets on Rush Street, it is now open for lunch!

We sat at an outside table (the sea captain digs inside isn’t really my scene), and it was a prime people-watching location. Granted, one should focus on their food during mealtime, but this neighborhood has such a unique crowd that you just can’t help yourself.

Ever wonder why it’s called a “frog” bar? Apparently, “Frog” was the nickname Hugo Ralli (one of the owners) called his grandfather, General Bruce Hay of Her Majesty’s Imperial Forces, which explains the ship-like decor.

For starters, we had the crabmeat avocado. It was like a small crabmeat casserole topped with avocado slices. While I’m no professional food critic, I thought it was delicious. You can eat it alone or have it as dip with the great assortment of complimentary bread. However, I must warn you, although the serving looks small, it will certainly fill you up.

We all ordered different things, from the seared halibut to the garbage salad. There were no complaints among us and the service was magnifique! I went for the lobster roll/sandwich/huge mouthful of seafood. Even though I struggled to get a handle on it at first, it was completely worth it.

I definitely recommend this place. The lunch menu is reasonably priced, considering the good selection of seafood and the food is great. I’ll have to check this place out for dinner when night falls, but until then, you can find me people-watching from my intern desk. Until next time!

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Theresa Carter, NBC5 Street Team

Stellar Road‘s already had some great success. They’ve played the big Chicago venues, including the biggest: two years ago they opened for Bon Jovi in Soldier Field. At a recent show in front of Park Grill their fans crowded the plaza above and about the restaurant, sang along, and shouted out requests. Fortunately for us this popular acoustic jam band plays frequently. They’ve got several upcoming dates in the Chicagoland area in the next few weeks and will be at Joe’s on Weed on August 15.

Stellar Road – Rain

Stellar Road

Stellar Road at Millennium Park

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Rikki Greenberg, NBC5 Street Team

What did I learn from watching the ESPYS?

Besides the fact that Justin Timberlake is a fabulous host…a lot.

The world of sports is an amazing place to be apart of. Even though I do not play, manage or coach a sport, I can still be apart of this exciting and passionate place as a fan. I had a familiarity of this notion already but after watching the ESPYS for the first time, I realized why I wanted to be involved with sports in the first place.

Watching the highlights of great athletic moments over the past year accompanied with equally great music brought up raw emotions that were not felt previously. Reliving Red Sox lefthander John Lester’s no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals and Eli Manning’s cannon of a throw to David Tyree  during Super Bowl XLI was awesome.

Other notable moments were 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist Tommie Smith and Bronze Medalist John Carlos receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage and Former Buffalo Bills Tight end Kevin Everett  receiving the Jimmy V Award for Perserverance.

It is moments like these that are truly magical and remind us what the game is really about.

For once, I forgot about the possesion of illegal substances, DUIs and commitment issues (Don’t worry Brett…I’m not mad at you anymore) and saw these people for what they’re: athletes who play the game for the love and competition it brings.

Thank you ESPYS for giving me a bigger love for the game.

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Fayth, NBC5 Street Team

Epicurious.com, the website “for people who love to eat” (like me!) will sponsor From Farm To Table, a fine dining benefit hosted by editor in chief, Tanya Steele.  If you’ve never visited Epicurious.com, take a look because it’s a nice site for foodie information including menus, recipes, a food and wine dictionary, and whole host of other goodies.  It’s part of the Conde’ Nast family of web and print publications (The New Yorker, Gourmet, W, Vanity Fair, etc), so there’s high quality content and it’s easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for.

From Farm To Table will be staged at one of my favorite Chicago restaurants, MK with co-hosts chef Michael Kornick and pastry chef Amy Sampson.  Though there’s tons of well publicized, trendy, tasty, and upscale restaurants in Chicago, I still wander off to MK as often as I can for the reliably fantastic food, casual yet attentive service, and delicious deserts.  Fresh and delicious dishes featuring farm fresh produce and ingredients will be showcased along with paired wines for what is sure to be a fantastic gastronomical event.  Proceeds from the benefit will help feed the hungry by being donated to America’s Second Harvest, which is the largest hunger relief network in the U.S.  Tickets are $125, but that isn’t really much different from what you’d spend just going there and the proceeds do go to charity.  To purchase tickets, click here!

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JenChicago, NBC5 Street Team

I received an invite to a pre-party for the 100th running of the Chicago Mackinac races. I admit, that yet again, I knew very little going in, but with the help of some really fun and nice people, I got up to speed quickly.

Initially, Jim, the manager of the Chicago Yacht Club gave me some great information on the race. I chatted a bit with some wonderful brothers, and John Grooters, of Grooters Productions, about the documentary they are working on which will incorporate footage taken from cameras mounted on four different boats. He said they are using iconics (?) cameras capable of being dunked, sunked and ker-pluncked… or at least able to get pretty wet!

So, the boats took off this morning and they will sail day and night for 2 to 4 days depending on wind. I think sailing may fall into the “You appreciate it, because you earned it” category… Or maybe it’s just plain old fun.

Either way, I wish I could be there in Mackinac, as the boats roll in this week… I hear it’s lovely. And the best part is… you can’t even drive there… no cars allowed. Ferries and bicycles.

Ahhh, no taxi horns… (note to self: add Mackinac to list)

You can also find this, and more, at JenChicago.com.

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Cara Carriveau, NBC5 Street Team

O.A.R. is in Chicago for two shows this week.

Marc Roberge

Marc Roberge

They play at Charter One Pavillion Thurday evening. And earlier that day they are putting on a FREE Mix lunchtime concert at Pioneer Court in the gold coast. Click HERE for details.

I spoke with lead singer Marc Roberge for The Chicago Music Guide. He talks about plenty of things including why he encourages you to record their shows and why it’s not a great idea to cruise across the country in an RV. Listen here:

(if you’re having trouble hearing the audio above, you can hear it at www.CarasBasement.com or www.ChicagoMusicGuide.com)

Type my name in the search bar to see/hear more of my posts including interviews with Alanis Morissette, The Bravery, Lovehammers, Triumph’s Rik Emmett, Matthew Santos, Shooting Star, Mike Tafoya, Absentstar, comedian Lee Camp & more.

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Pump It Up!

Jennifer, NBC5 Street Team

Pump, pump, pump, pump it up! That’s what Brooke did for her birthday soiree this past weekend at Lincoln Park’s Pump It Up The Inflatable Party Zone.

Located in an inconspicuous location at 815 West Eastman, Pump It Up seems small on the outside but is an inflatable play-structure wonderland.  I couldn’t have asked for a better solution to my annual “where should I throw the next birthday party blues.”

Planning this event was truly as easy as 1-2-3 — except for a few decoration requests made by Brooke. They host, they set-up, they cater-in food from Tomato Head (a quaint little pizza place next door), and they CLEAN-UP afterwards!  The clean-up part is always a big ol’ plus in my book!

In addition to being a great private party venue, Pump it Up has public playtime hours and special event programs such as Bounce for Autism.

While it could be considered another “Generation Posh” favorite, it’s definitely a fun place for the whole family. I can vouch for that after seeing my dad swoosh down one of the those inflatable slides.

Brooke’s Blog: My favorites are the ginormous slides and rock climb!  (Ginormous is something like gigantic… Brooke has her own journalistic privilege.)  

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Natalia Avilez, NBC Street Team

This July 20th, millions of people, including musicians such as Shakira, are expected to join marches and festivals worldwide to celebrate Columbia’s independence and protest against the FARC and the hostages still held in the country.

In conjunction with Colombia’s Independence, The Colombian Consulate of Chicago will be holding a march to help end the violence in Colombia and for liberation of the hostages such as those that were freed this past July 2nd.

The march will take place during the 5th annual Picnic of the Association, Somos Colombia, in West Dundee (1180 North Randall Road, West Dundee, IL 60110) at 1:00 pm. So if you are free today from 1:00-5:00 p.m. head out to Randall Oak Park and come march, celebrate Colombian Independence, or just enjoy a picnic where there will be entertainment, music, raffles and entertainment.

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Fayth (aka Relaxocat), NBC5 Street Team

Sofo Bar, “The neighborhood bar south of Foster” has it’s 2nd Annual Dance on Sunday, July 20th!  This will be a particularly fun event because it’s an outdoor dance party sponsored by Malibu Rum, Jameson, Miller Light, Sofo, and its two sister joints, T’s and The Glenwood.  As you might’ve read in the Reader, The Glenwood was voted the 2008 “best bar for mixed company” and Sofo keeps in step with a jubilant, friendly, mixed-crowd scene.

Partial proceeds from the event will go toward the Chicago AIDS Marathon, so you’ll be contributing to a good cause while dancing in the sunshine all the way past sunset to some of Chicago’s well known DJ’s including DJ Greg Drescher, DJ Michael Serafini, DJ Chris Eterno, DJ Psycho-bitch, and DJ Dave.  I’m especially looking forward to DJ Psycho-bitch’s set between 6-8 p.m. because she puts together some fantastic mixes of tunes you know and love, but with her sense of the right bpm that keeps you moving. And in case you’re wondering, she isn’t a psycho or a bitch, but one of the friendliest DJ’s around and she’s also got a regular monthly gig at the Holiday Club, so be sure to check out her spinning sometime.

  • 2nd Annual Sofo Bar Dance
    3-10 p.m.
    5025 N. Clark St.
    $10 cover / 21+

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JenChicago, NBC5 Street Team

As I was finishing up some filming today for the Mackinac Race at the end of Navy Pier, Samson (my dog) and I passed a beautiful ship that we had to explore.

Dave Castle was kind enough to talk with me about the history of the ship, its background and how people can get involved. Being a guest crew member seems to be a wonderful way to “get away” on the open water.

From the Web site:

Maryland’s PRIDE is a reproduction of an 1812-era Baltimore Clipper privateer. She is Maryland’s working symbol of the great natural resources and spectacular beauty of the Chesapeake Bay region. Her mission is threefold:

  • to promote Maryland trade and tourism
  • to represent the goodwill of all Maryland’s citizens
  • to provide a unique education platform via onboard programs and the Internet for American history and maritime sciences.

  • Pride of Baltimore II from Jen Knoedl on Vimeo.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

I wrote yesterday about how excited I was about the Public Enemy show tonight. Last night I went to the Cultural Center to see a panel discussion with P.E. frontman Chuck D, the producers behind their successful early albums, The Bomb Squad, and journalist and “media assassin” Harry Allen.

Needless to say it was fascinating, and too in-depth to get into here. A full stream will be available in the near future at Pitchfork.com.

I was also lucky enough to talk to the panelists after the show about what’s considered the best hip-hop album of all time, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Folks, 50 years from now when music historians discuss the history of hip hop and how it evolved, they’ll still be talking about this album.

A limited amount of tickets are available for tonight’s show at Pitchfork. Bring The Noise!

[Vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/1382965%5D

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Fayth (aka Relaxocat), NBC5 Street Team

DJ promoter, underground scene innovator, owner of recording label Music 101 (DJ Derrick Carter is on the label), and former owner of Mad Bar, Arman Razavi opens his new sleek yet laid back, bi-level restaurant and lounge, The Cat’s Meow, this weekend.  The official grand opening bash is Saturday, July 19 with a live set by FFM (Sombionx) which should have you going to 3 a.m.

If you’re interested in checking it out even sooner, there’s an “under the radar” opening and birthday bash for Dion Antic tonight (July 18).  Who’s Dion Antic?  He is a Chicago impresario known for his former hot spots such as the old Harry’s Velvet Room, Iggy’s (remember how cool the original Iggy’s was?), Fahrenheit, and Bar 13, to name just a few.  Utter the password “hairball” at the door and you’re in!

The new West Town hangout will feature a martini menu developed by Chad Johnson, who formerly bartended at Bungalow Lounge and Debonair, and innovative Americana dining options priced under $20 which will include a weekend brunch featuring filet mignon eggs benedict.  Yum, yum!  I hope the Bloody Mary’s are good too.  And since it’s summertime, the other good news is that there is also a 100 seat outdoor space.

  • Friday, July 18 – soft opening, utter “hairball” at the door
    Saturday, July 19 – grand opening!
    Cat’s Meow
    2700 W. Chicago Ave.
    (773) 489-6998

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The Sports Bank, NBC5 Street Team 2008 continues to be an eventful and exciting time for the Chicago Blackhawks organization and their fans. Last month Patrick Kane was named NHL Rookie of the Year; the team made a huge splash in free agency by signing All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell, and on July 16th it was announced that the Chicago Blackhawks will host their rival the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in NHL Winter Classic 2009 on New Year’s Day. No two NHL opponents have played more regular-season games against each other, and their 701st meeting will be just the third outdoor game in league history. Also, the first annual fan convention will take place at the Hilton Towers on Michigan Avenue this weekend. Event festivities include autograph and photo sessions with current Blackhawks stars such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, former stars like Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, and Tony Esposito, Q&A sessions with current Blackhawks management, broadcasters and alumni, coaches and front office staff detailing their Stanley Cup strategy, exhibitions, interactive games, a live HawkCast (podcast) taping.  $50 weekend convention passes sold out in mere hours. Opening Ceremonies will begin Friday at 5. Saturday festivities run 9 am – 7pm and Sunday 9 am – 2pm.

For more on hockey nerd heaven, I sought the opinion of Stan Bowman, Assistant General Manager, Hockey Operations. Bowman is a frequent guest on “Hawkcast,” the team’s official weekly podcasts, an authority on player scouting and development and even housed Patrick Kane during his rookie year.  His father Scotty Bowman is the all-time winningest head coach in NHL history. In my exclusive interview, Stan Bowman described this weekend’s convention thusly: “In hockey no team has ever done it before and just the reception we’ve gotten from it in that it sold out so quickly and lots of people wanting tickets and people wanting to come see it. It’s going to a good setup for everybody. It’s similar in style and format to the Cubs convention; obviously John McDonough is the one who pioneered the concept back in the early 80s, and it’s taken off to the point where it’s a big event and that’s where the hockey one is going too.”

For the full Bowman interview click here. For more Chicago Sports analysis and discussion click here.

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