Archive for April, 2007


Irit SilvermanIrit Silverman NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Chicago based film critic Roger Ebert was in his (and my) hometown of Champaign-Urbana today for his annual Film Festival aptly named Ebertfest. Movie buffs, filmmakers, and a few celebs packed into Champaign’s historical Virginia Theatre for the opening movie “Gattaca.” One of the most heart warming stories of this year’s festival can be found off-screen with the founder himself. Roger Ebert has been battling cancer since 2002 and is currently recovering from related surgery. Despite early rumors that the festival would be cancelled, and later rumors that Ebert would not be well enough to attend, the Pulitzer Prize winner was present- and with a twist. He watched the movie from a La-Z-Boy installed specifically for him.

Ebert wrote on his website “This year I won’t be speaking, however, as I await another surgery. I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the Festival. I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out.” Well Mr. Ebert, this journalist only has compliments on your bravery and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Ebertfest continues tomorrow morning with “The Weather Man,” a Nicolas Cage movie shot here in Chicago. There are 13 movies and 3 live musical performances this year; if you want to take a drive to check it out, the film festival runs until Sunday, April 29th.

For more information on Ebertfest, go to:

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Erik SorensenErik Sorensen (Video)

Boy meets girl. Girl and boy fall in love. Boy and girl live happily ever after, right? Not quite. Or at least not in Michael Brownlee’s play The Past’s Present, anyway.

Produced by the Speaking Ring Theatre Company and Directed by Mercedes Rohlfs, The Past’s Present delivers an intoxicating rollercoaster ride chalked full of melancholy, blissful thinking and hopeless Romanticism (or lack thereof). Just as intimate as the production’s characters is the theatre itself. Once a “speakeasy” during alcohol prohibition, the venue provides a rich history of its own and provides a unique theatrical setting with its beautiful architecture.

The play centers around its main character, Nathan, a young playwright struggling to find happiness in his current relationship while escaping to imaginary “what if” scenarios involving an almost-lover from his past. Burdened by the guilt of past relationships (represented by a chorus of bitter ex-girlfriends) The Past’s Present bounces from act to act between the harsh reality of Nathan’s current state, the missed opportunities of his past and his increasingly ominous future. The production takes a unique approach to the timeless frustration of relationships and interweaves a multitude of characters in a way that keeps you thinking and just might hit closer to home than you would expect.

The Cast:
Joseph Adamczak, Emily Korff, Sean Leonard, Alicia Sherman, Hattie Davis, Liz Hoffman, Dehlia Miller, Rebecca Miller, Erin Elizabeth Orr, Jamie Orr, Erin Rooney, Sarafina Vecchio and Jehan Whitaker.

The Past’s Present
@ National Pastime Theatre
4139 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL

April 19thMay 12th
Thursday through Sunday
$18 General Admission
$12 for students/seniors (with ID)
Group Discounts Available for
groups of ten or more
Show starts at 8pm
Tickets available by calling
312.458.9374 & leaving a message
or emailing http://www.speakingringtheatre.org


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Shlomi Rabi, NBC5 Street Team

The gods have a funny of way of keeping us humble. We can’t get too cocky, or presumptuous, or arrogant. So they keep us in check by, oh I don’t know, giving us a sibling who is clearly better looking, or worse- having an ex marry someone who is much better looking than us. Thankfully, I never have to worry about either, which is why I have been walking all around town with an ego big enough to be mistaken for implants. But alas, my complacency came to a cruel and abrupt end last week when I chipped my tooth, and instantly looked homeless. Yep, that bad. No smiling for me, let alone karaoke.

Which is fine, because a great space where keeping my mouth shut and my newfound snaggle tooth from showing is the Museum of Contemporary Arts latest show- Exposed. The show–which I have already visited twice and will probably continue to stalk until I have memorized the size of each one (love is love) showcases the best that the famed Chicago institution has to offer. Highlights include works by Lorna Simpson, Rineke Dijkstra, David Robbins, Gillian Wearing, Jeff Wall, Sam Taylor-Wood, Cindy Sherman, Rashid Johnson and Andres Serrano. Curatorially, the show makes as much sense as wearing banana leaves to the opera, but the collection is so impressive that you almost don’t notice. Keep in mind that Tuesdays are free and the museum is also open until eight. So forget your hotter younger sibling, your current-reality-star ex, and your deformed canines, and allow yourself to draw inspiration–and humility–from a truly beautiful place.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)
If you were in town last weekend, I’m sure you caught the warm Sunday breeze that swept the city. Sunday was also the day I took my 150 CC 2-stroke Stella scooter out for a spin. It was also a day to live a little like a European in the heart of Chicago, scooter and cafe au lait and all.

I started the morning with the tarp unveiling of my bike. That poor thing was dirty from last season’s weather, but she started up with a swift kick of the pedal. I placed an old towel on the dusty seat, let the roar of the engine fill my building’s garage and went down its two inclines to 11th Street. My condo’s garage has some interesting hills and for a rider, it can be a mix of thrill plus fright, if not done the right way.

I visited the team at State Street Car Wash (1701 S. State St, across from the police station) and had them power spray my Stella back to its crimson, cherry apple red self. Needless to say, I was stoked. After the cleaning, I hopped back on my scooter and did some loopty loops around the Loop when it happened – BEEEEEEEP. My bike’s horn beeped for a few blocks at a time. I realized some wires must be loose in the steering column and after causing a stir on Michigan Avenue, I decided to zip back home to inspect the horn.

Though my inaugural annual ride was brief, the feeling of freedom zipping down Michigan Avenue (with a helmet, always) and having the ability to get around town without the use of the car put me in such a good mood, I needed to enjoy the rest of my day in our high 70s weather. Off to Bucktown I went…

Michael and I did the usual stroll down Damen’s boutiques, peeked in Olivia’s Market and almost bought a stellar vino at The Goddess and the Grocer. Michael’s never been to Sweet Thang and I was itching for a some fresh pastries and a cafe au lait. Walk south on Damen, head east on North Avenue and on the south side of the street, you’ll find Sweet Thang. The owner’s an established pastry chef, lived in France for some time and wanted to shed some ooh-la-la to Bucktown. The cafe is very much like those I visited in France, complete with a French speaking staff. I loved it. Sweet Thang was a great walking break and let me practice some Francaise at the same time,which by the way, needs work. Sigh…

My Sunday ended with a visit to Dominick’s for some Manchego cheese, a baguette and sparkling wine (this is what we lived on during our two-week Italian trip last May). Michael and I sat on the balcony, flipped thru magazines and watched Chicago relax into the twilight. It’s those simpler moments that remind me how terrific life is in our possible Olympic city.

Before making dinner, we picked up dessert in the South Loop’s new dessert cafe, Carolina Caramel. Rashid’s a nice guy and I hope his business does well – the caramel cake did well for our tummies! $5.25 per slice…the massive cupcakes are about $3.50 each.
Can you say cardio time?

Want a scooter? Visit the team at Scooterworks. Vroooom!

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

This past year we have seen major changes in the retail
landscape of the city. Macy’s ended the reign of Marshall Field’s,
Lord and Taylor closed at Water Tower and Carson’s closed on State Street.

With skyrocketing rents, too much interchangeable
merchandise and erratic customer service, the one
stop shopping department store as we knew it may be an
endangered species.

But just as some mid-market and upscale department
stores face hard times, specialty boutiques that
focus on a younger, savier, more affluent customers have
prospered. Intermix, which opened Wednesday at 40 E.Delaware,
and Scoop NYC, which opened a few months back
in Bucktown, are two examples of a new retail model
which provides eclectic merchandise alongide
established designers, hip knowlegeable staff and
personalized customer service verging on styling.

At Intermix, which unlike Scoop NYC features only
women’s clothing and accesories, they really do
intermix: the designers, the prices, the formal and
the casual. Instead of displaying merchandise in
clusters by designer, they display the merchandise by
“lifestyle,” essentially dividing the 4000 square
foot store into a dressier, event/nite on the town
section and a section for “everyday” clothing.

But there are no hard and fast rules here so you may
easily find the “must have” Lacey Parker black lace
mini dress for $258 on the more casual side
perfectly appropriate for a more formal event, just as you
might find the same designer’s white chiffon tunic with
metalic polka dots($248) on the dressier side will
look great with a pair of the ubiquitous skinny
jeans. The Mathew Williamson floral chiffon dress for $1,895 is
both a must have for late nights and an indicator of the upper
range of the price mix here.

Labels like Valentino, Missoni, Chloe and Stella McCartney are
displayed alongside secondary lines from those same designers
along with a bevy of younger, less recognizeable designers (Lacey Parker,
Thread Social are standouts).

The look here is very much about layering — invariably something
white — with vintage inspired jackets over colorful tunics and
tunic style dresses over leggings or skinny jeans.( Instead of a sea of
black, the basic color of the season in the store is, refreshingly, white.)

Think of the 2007 version of “Sex and the City” and you’ve got
the idea.

A second location is slated to open by late May on Armitage.

Happy shopping!


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Delicious Monkey Dish

Janelle Rominski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

A hip, new, urban-style restaurant opened in the northern suburb of Gurnee, Illinois this week. The Monkey Dish Bar & Grill, owned by Phil Marienthal and Dave Potesta opened on Tuesday, April 17th. Located on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and Dilleys Road – Monkey Dish brings a new vibe to this suburb otherwise full of chain restaurants.

The name Monkey Dish stands for the restaurant term for a small bowl; however, there is nothing small about this place. When you walk in the door, you will see a huge non-smoking dining room to your right and a large bar/dining room – smoking section to your left. The dining room has exposed ceilings and gorgeous, colorful lighting fixtures, as well as an enormous artistic mural. The bar also has a mural stretching the entire length of the room, flat screen televisions, and a grill in the front of the bar where the appetizers are made.

Every table gets an unlimited amount of the restaurant’s signature cheesy monkey bread with an herbed garlic dipping sauce that is actually served in a monkey dish. For an appetizer – I chose the warm artichoke cheese dip which was amazing and full of flavor. It was served with pita chips so you could dig in to the dip without the chip breaking apart.

Slideshow: Monkey Dish Bar & Grill

My main course was the Penne Alla Roma which consisted of penne pasta tossed with garlic, olive oil, fire-roasted eggplant, pine nuts, golden raisins, Kalamata olives, zucchini, hot peppers and parmesan cheese – definitely a great array of flavors. My dessert choice was the double chocolate tower which stood at least six inches tall on the plate and was accompanied by caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The bar serves their own signature cocktails and martinis such as The Funky Monkey (Rum and Citrus), Mojito Frescos and my favorite, the Scarlet O’Hara martini that contained Skyy Berry Vodka, Chambord Liqueur, pomegranate juice, fresh citrus squeeze and champagne float. The bar also serves traditional domestic beers and malt beverages.

Monkey Dish Bar & Grill Information
Address: 5572 Grand Avenue, Gurnee, IL 60031
Phone: 847-599-8888
Hours: Monday-Thursday : 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Friday-Saturday : 11 a.m. -1 a.m.
Sunday : 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Website: http://www.monkeydishgrill.com

Special thanks to Denise O’Handley (Monkey Dish Public Relations), Owners Phil Marienthal & Dave Potesta and my friend Tina who came to Monkey Dish with me for dinner.

To view all Monkey Dish photos visit my online photo album:

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by janellepics

Janelle’s Previous Blogs:

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

The election run-off activities, coupled with me prepping the launch of CondoPerks.com had me in blogging withdrawal. needless to say, my keyboard fingers are ready to work.

Yesterday marks an historic day in Chicago politics. Two long-time aldermen lost their seat to two new vibrant thinkers, Pat Dowell and Bob Fioretti. I was a poll watcher for the Fioretti camp and I gotta tell ya, the Board of Elections needs to take a hard look at how they are training their election workers. This is by no means, a reflection on the candidates, however, if I was running for office and I had a poll judge asleep on site, I’d be a little miffed. That’s right, sleeping.

Each ward has various precincts and within those precincts, there are polling places. Each polling place has judges (hired and trained by the Board of Elections) and poll watchers (a few from each candidate’s camp). From 530 am – 7 pm, judges and watchers sit side by side to ensure everything goes smoothly. Poll watchers are there to make sure things are done on the up and up (i.e. Jane Doe no longer lives in the ward and shouldn’t vote). I happened to be in a precinct where a poll judge fell asleep, in addition to making interesting comments to me and my fellow poll watcher. I’ve worked with this same person during the primaries and was surprised to see him back. I did some digging and learned that the city actually hires and trains these folks to be judges. Is the city mentioning that professionalism and respect to others around you is also a key component to the Poll Judge gig? Ahem.

On a lighter note, the polls closed at 7 pm and we were looking forward to seeing the final results. The Bob Fioretti get together was at Buddy Guy’s Legends. I headed home to freshen up, check email and get excited about the potential of a victory. I walked the short two blocks from my place to Buddy Guy’s and finally started to relax. I was in the home of Chicago’s own, Buddy Guy. I had my camera with me, but learned Buddy was on tour in Europe. I was bummed to hear he wouldn’t be in the club, but at the same time, was excited for him. Buddy continues to tour, has steam and dazzle crowds around the world. Rock on!

One of the primary reasons I love volunteering is the people I meet. Through the 2nd Ward elections, I’ve met the most amazing folks that live in my neighborhood and are part of organizations like the Greater South Loop Association, The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, Printer’s Row Presidents and South Loop Neighbors. I also met some of the nicest people from surrounding Chicago suburbs. The amazing team at Fioretti Headquarters brought us all together for a common interest and I am grateful for their efforts.

The night ended with endless camera flashbulbs, local news trucks, high fives and a beaming new 2nd ward alderman. If you saw a curly-haired gal leaving Buddy Guy’s around 10:30 last night, beaming from ear to ear, skipping slightly down Wabash, that was me, shadow dancing with Mike Royko. I’m still working on my Cha-Cha.

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