Archive for October, 2006

Heidi Barker, NBC5 Street Team

In case you’ve been in a cave for the last 6 weeks- here’s a news flash:


So, if you’re looking for a new cool joint to watch the Bears or your favorite sports team, hit Junior’s Sports Lounge. (www.juniorschicago.com) This upscale sports bar is in the University Village area, which is booming with trendy new shops, restaurants, and boutiques. I stumbled upon Junior’s while driving through this ‘hood, and really liked the vibe of the place. It’s funky-modern with cooled-out lighting. They have plasmas everywhere for your sports viewing pleasure, plus each individual booth has its own private screen… you just ask your server to turn it to the game you want to watch.

Junior’s has the typical sports bar fare, plus a few salads and entrees you wouldn’t expect to find. But when I’m watching sports, it’s all about greasy grub, so I go for the spicy buffalo wings and fries. (Hey- you’re watching football- eat healthy during the week- but I say, get ya grub on during the game!) Sundays they have brunch, which I haven’t tried yet. They also have daily specials, like $2 brews on Tuesday and $5 martinis on Wednesdays. After the game, stick around for music- there’s a DJ spinning most weekend nights at Junior’s and live band karaoke on Sunday nights.

Junior’s is located at 724 W. Maxwell (at Halsted). Street parking can be challenging, but there’s a cheap parking garage on Maxwell one block east of Halsted.

So here’s a question for all of your out there — where’s the best place to watch the game?

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LeAnn Trotter NBC5 Street Team

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is the bomb!! If you haven’t had a chance to catch one of their shows….you are MISSING OUT!

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Danielle Barrera, NBC5 Street Team

NBC has a show called “America’s Got Talent.” Recently, I attended the Chicago auditions, not as a potential contestant, but instead, I covered the event in my role as an intern for NBC5.com. I learned a few things about talent — unfortunately, not many people have it. Most people I met were either just okay or completely terrible. Check out some of the video that we took from the auditions.

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Brian Battle NBC5 Street Team

They could’ve named this show “The Bands With Unnecessary Names” Tour ’06. New York-cum-Philly “indie” success story Clap Your Hands Say Yeah headlined, along with Australia’s Architecture in Helsinki and Brooklyn-based Takka Takka.

Sandwiched between the two NY rock bands were the delightful Architecture in Helsinki. The eclectic group dressed the part–six members (an abridged touring lineup) took the stage looking like a mishmash of high school sterotypes… spaz, jock, hippie, Cure fan, etc, etc. Shirking the deliberately childish sounds of their first release, Fingers Crossed, AiH’s entire set was blissful, endearing and downright danceable.

Swapping vocal duties and instruments between nearly every song, the band bounced through newer material and brand-new stuff, smooshing genres and song structures as they went. The abrupt endings and mid-song tempo changes which make their albums a peculiar experience created an exhilarating live show — keeping the audience guessing… and clapping… and jumping around a bit.

The extended segue into a funk-friendly “Do the Whirlwind” got people bouncing, while the delightfully quirky Jamie Mildren (right) stole the show belting out her vocals on “Wishbone” – the hap-hap-happiest pop gem you may ever hear.

Clad in a well-loved Ryne Sandberg jersey (a move Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch has pulled in Chicago before), singer Cameron Bird delivered his so-called Love Ballad From The Outback, “Maybe You Can Owe Me” with the equal parts whimsy and sincerity.

Before it could get too cute though, Bird got back to groovin’ — hitting the drum machine and rocking out with such abandon that the instrument was knocked hard to the floor. Overall, the new stuff sounds great, one sounding an awful lot like Rusted Root (ha, in a good way) and the whole set giving off a exuberant twee-meets-Stop Making Sense rumpus. *Full Review Here*

Architecture in Helsinki – “Do The Whirlwind (Metronomy Mix)”

(Photos by Pegs. Thanks Pegs.)

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

The South Shore Cultural Center was the place to see and be seen Saturday night. I always enjoy the chance to put on the penguin suit, so I thought it would be fun to rub shoulders with some movers and shakers, plus take some pics at the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 65th birthday party.

There was a lot of political power in the room — Jesse, Al, Blago, Daley — plus, I got to see experience the rock star aura that is . But this wasn’t about politics. It was kind of nice to see the good Reverend obviously enjoying the evening with his wife, Jacqueline.

Jackson usually provokes a strong reaction from people, either one way or the other. But walking through the various rooms that they had set up at the party with pictures detailing his decades of civil and human rights activism, you couldn’t help but be reminded of the impact he’s had. It was one night where politics and strong rhetoric took a back seat. Happy birthday Jesse.

View Party Pics

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Halloween Freak Fest

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

New Rule: Women must admit that Halloween is just another excuse to dress like a whore. — Bill Maher

I had planned to go to Reserve Thursday night for a fashion show and event with Kimora Lee Simmons, but after she canceled, my boy Jonesy suggested we go to Level on Rush Street. Rush Street isn’t typically my scene, but I’ve never been to this club before, so I was game. As it turns out Thursday was the Lingerie Ball at Level (I swear, I had no idea), and coupled with Halloween festivities, it didn’t take long for things to get — festive.

I guess the owners thought it would be a good idea to bring in a group of dancers from PoleKatz strip club to heat things up a bit. They succeeded. I had planned on just chilling out with friends tonight, but after taking in the scene for a bit, I went back to the car and grabbed my camera. I guess it’s true what they say — the freaks DO come out at night.

I did take some constructive Halloween costume pics, but I’ll share the outtakes exclusively here on the Street Team blog. Hide the kids and enjoy the pics.

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LeAnn Trotter, NBC5 Street Team

So, Will Smith is in town…to pub his new movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness”. There’s a screening at AMC River East. Usually you only get 5 minutes with the stars when they blow through town…..but in this case…we were only allowed two questions. What’s Up With That?

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Food Review: Tank Noodle

Shlomi Rabi NBC5 Street Team

Last night my friend Kristen and I headed up to Tank Noodle, a Vietnamese Mom’s and Pop’s place on 4955 N. Broadway. As opposed to previously visited locales, there were no salacious conversation to eavesdrop on, and if there were, they were in Vietnamese. As a general rule, it is always a good sign if the patrons at the restaurant speak the language where the food originates.

Anyhow, last time I was there, I went with a group of people. James thought he’d brave it out and ordered one of the more obscure soup dishes that even had the waiter asking him if he was sure, just to double-check he really, truly knew what he was getting. James said he did. Liar. The only way to truly capture the essence of what arrived is to close your eyes, relax your shoulders, rest your hands on your knees, and imagine what an emu soup would look like.

Not this time. Kris and I ordered some amazing veggie spring rolls and an order of fried egg rolls. The dipping sauces were delicious and the tofu was perfectly crisp. As an entree, Kris got the stir fried veggies and tofu over a bed of crispy egg noodles, which she enjoyed. I had the stir fried beef with fresh carrots, cucumbers and sprouts, sitting atop a bowl of rice noodles. It goes without saying, we were full enough to promise ourselves we’d never eat again. Yep, that good.

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Penthouse Party

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

Is it possible to be so unbelievably bored? I guess it serves me right for thinking something exciting might happen at the Penthouse Pets party at China Grill and the Hard Rock Cafe. The event was put on by the Lincoln Park Young Professionals, who thought bringing in three Penthouse Pets might attract a crowd. It worked. Or maybe it was the cramped quarters in China Grill’s VIP room that made it seem as if there were more people there than there actually were.

I’ve never met a Penthouse Pet before, nor given much thought about what to expect if I did, but after tonight, it’s safe to say that I can consistently see more impressive talent on any given night in any given Chicago bar/nightclub/grocery store/laundramat, etc. But the girls were nice enough, and my boy Jonesy seemed to be enjoying himself.

I pulled aside Miss May 2006, Naveah (that’s heaven, backwards), for a few moments to take some photos and to chat. Turns out she’s a local girl from Midlothian, and she’s moving back to the area soon (Orland Park). Life in L.A. doesn’t really agree with her, although she has managed to do several pornos since her reign ended — girl-on-girl only, of course, because anything else could potentially be a career killer.

It’s nights like this that I wonder if I’m making constructive use of my time. I headed back down to China Grill’s bar, where DJ Sonny Daze was spinnning some Afro-Latin house rhythms. Saved.

View Slideshow

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Shlomi Rabi NBC5 Street Team

This weeekend I went to see John Cameron Mitchell’s “Shortbus”. At its most visually didactic, the movie is about the sexploration that a group of thirty-something undergo. The sex scenes are natural and raw, and to their credit, the realistic depiction grants the actors the right to bypass trite facial expressions that are the sole indicators of intercourse in most movies. At its more metaphoric realm, the movie is a post 9-11 catharsis for New Yorkers, their big official exhale. The guard has been let down, and sexual freedom reigns supreme. Yet it is not merely the freedom to explore, but the freedom to be confused. The movie opens with three different orgasm scenes, normally reserved for a more advanced point in a movie for their symbolic value of goal-attainment. The reversal of their location in the film hints at the movie’s subversive role in its content and message. Additionally, the movie reveals itself as unpreoccupied with the sex, but rather the behind-the-scenes workings, both mental and physical. And despite their ad nauseam-discussed graphic depictions, the sexual acts are anything but arousing, clearly delineating the parameters which distinguish them from pornography.

At its worst, the movie’s right to release could be seen as self-congratulatory as opposed to celebratory. The characters at times appear to tease us with a soon-to-be-gained insight which is not always resolved. Also, the end–while beautiful and heart-warming–feels somewhat rushed and sugar-coated. The symbolism is rife but not always necessary. However, at its best, the movie is a touching and candid peek at ourselves, a salute to the confused and the lonely, and one of the most wonderfully quixotic mental escapades in the past cinematic year.

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LeAnn Trotter NBC5 Street Team

TO THE VIEWING ROOM. Have you ever watched the first ten minutes of a complicated ballet routine…….on a stage camera in what looks like a dressing room, (only everyone is dressed). It kind of feels like sitting in a corner with a “duffis” hat on.

There were 10 late arrivers…and they wouldn’t let us in until the first pause (about 10 minutes into the performance) …which allows trifling people like me to find their seats without disrupting the dancers. Personally, I’d rather be on time….so I can embellish every single minute.

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Lam & Steak

Shlomi Rabi NBC5 Street Team

I couldn’t think of a better way to start my blogging saga than by reporting about the one soiree worth attending last night- the Derek Lam shindig at Helen Yi‘s upscale fashion boutique in Bucktown. The display of clothes and accessories was beautifully arranged in a just-so manner that a discerning eye could not help but helplessly fawn over. The drinks were smooth, the hors d’oeuvres delectable and the arrangement of flowers elegant and subtle. The stars, however, were the crowd. The boutique was glittering with the Beautiful and the devastatingly chic. From the boutique’s eponymous owner, to the sales reps, the patrons, and the Derek Lam team. I actually had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Lam himself and I must say he proved himself to be quite the charmer! Sweet, engaging, relaxed and approachable, he willingly posed for the camera and at the end of the night even complemented me on my Dries Van Noten tie. Coming from the man whose fashion has been worn by everyone’s favourite Diva Extraordinaire Nina Garcia of Project Runway, I must say his experience was nothing short of humbling.

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Fashion designer Derek Lam (center), together with boutique owner Helen Yi (second from left), and the Derek Lam NYC team.

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(From left to right): Art, of the Vattit Itthi fashion duo; the ever-fashionable Som, and the wonderful James.

The fashion was just the first part of the evening, nonetheless. After the event, I decided to treat myself to a fancy little meal in honor of my recent bday. After walking around Lakeview for about 20 minutes, I decided to go to X/O up on Halsted. There are two things that I love about X/O: the tapas-style dining and the conversations to eavesdrop on. See, the place is fantastic for a romantic first date, or a romantic anniversary celebration, and if you’re sitting by yourself like I was, you could be lucky enough to experience at least one of those vicariously through your surroundings.

The food was excellent: the seared ahi tuna with scoops of watermelon and honeydew was accompanied by a couple on their first date sitting to my left who were discussing their preferred sexual positions. The sauteed shitaake mushrooms with fennel arrived in time for the said couple’s decision to spend the night together. The New York strip steak perfectly coincided with the lesbian couple behind me whose expletive-ridden, booze-driven tragic attempt at reconciliation was putting the juice in my steak to shame. And my dessert- a fluffy chocolate mousse cake sitting amid a shallow pool of sugary sin ran parallel to the same couple’s cathartic sob-fest resolution. Whomever said “Two is company, three is a crowd” clearly did not hear of “Two is company, but one is enough.”

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The Seared ahi Tuna

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The Ribeye

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Ben Soldinger testing

Was hanging with a godfather of Metal, Alice Cooper! – very cool guy.

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Diddy Day

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

Can you feel it? There’s definitely something special in the air. Of course, it’s Diddy Day in Chicago!

Why? Well that’s not exactly clear, but watching Mayor Daley and Diddy share a podium today was an interesting piece of unreality TV. It reminded me of years ago when I worked in Lexington, KY, and the morning anchor (possibly the whitest man in America), was reading the top movies from the weekend and had to say “Booty Call.” Now that’s comedy.

But I digress. I tried several weeks ago to get an interview with Diddy, but hadn’t heard anything. I got a call from my contact at WGCI at 3:30 saying Diddy would be on-air in the studio and that I could come by. Dilemma time. I had planned to do the red carpet for the Black Perspectives event with Spike Lee, honoring Ruby Dee and Andre 3000 — but getting an actual interview at that event would be hit or miss as well. Me and Danielle grabbed a video and still camera and headed to WGCI. After all it was Diddy Day!

When we got to the studio, Diddy was on-air, but I was greeted by a succession of beefy security guards after beefy security guards questioning the legitimacy of my efforts while simultaneously flirting with Danielle. Time was ticking.

This is the same Diddy who hasn’t released a solo album in six years, correct? Who’s new CD isn’t predicted to be a guaranteed success? Who keeps creepily talking about his past affair with J-Lo, even though his current girlfriend is pregnant? Isn’t this interview going to promote said CD anyway?

After more unneccessary posturing we were allowed into the room to tape a couple of minutes of the end of the program, which turned out to be Diddy’s spiritual message to the audience.

As we were leaving, the security guard who gave us the most grief, told us we should come through Chromium tonight and he’ll hook us up. I think that invitation was directed more toward Danielle than me, but it didn’t matter. I can drink a 40 at home. After all, we all have our own way of celebrating Diddy Day.

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I Know You Got Soul

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

It was a somewhat intimate crowd that packed in the Park West Theater on the city’s North Side for the Heineken Red Star Soul concert. Heineken is sponsoring a concert series all over the country, focusing on neo-soul type artists. The headliners this night were Raheem DeVaughn, Bilal and Angie Stone. I think the consensus was that Raheem blew up the most. And he created a bit of a frenzy by going directly in the crowd on one occasion. Overall, the concert was too long, and many people had left by the time Angie Stone hit the stage. And frankly, there seemed to be more energy in the room when the DJ played Prince, Michael Jackson and old skool house tunes in-between acts. But a free concert with free Heineken to boot? Who’s complaining?

Slideshow: Concert Pics

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

I look forward to Glamorama every year, perhaps more than any other event on Chicago’s social calendar. The fashion show is always well-executed, and there’s always something cool about partying on an entire floor of Marshall Field’s — er, Macys — afterward.

Granted, I haven’t even lived in Chicago two years, so every event seems somewhat fresh and new. Some of my native Chicago friends seem somewhat over it, lamenting that it’s not the same as New York’s Fashion Week, but c’mon — NY does things on a completely different scale, and that’s why it’s New York. There’s several advantages to living in a manageable city like Chicago as opposed to being on either coast, but that’s another story for another blog.

Glamorama was hot, and not just because of the heat generated by the bodacious Beyonce. Much as I respect Beyonce’s talents as an entertainer, I’ve never cared much for her actual music. In fact, at Beyonce’s Thursday appearance at Macy’s, they played her new album over and over — and over again. Me and a photographer from
Women’s Wear Daily
theorized that the Bush administration could successfully instill this method into the torture regimen.

On the other hand, I had never heard of Ozomatli, who performed throughout the fashion show, but I’m definitely going to check out their stuff. Their music is a fusion of latin, hip-hop, rock, and various other world music styles — and not the type of stuff you’re likely to hear on the radio. That’s a good thing.

But how many events do you attend where you can develop a minor crush on one of the models, hang out with her at the after-party, plus, rub shoulders with the band? Chicago may not be a fashion mecca, but Glamorama is hot!

Glamorama Pics:

Fashion Show

After Party

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