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Archive for May, 2007

Daydreaming.

Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team

Memorial Weekend is over and your mind is still on vacation. You’re typing 60 words per minute while saying to yourself, “I really could have used two more days.” Trust me, you’re not alone! I propose we go away together. You know, fantasize the perfect rendezvous (let’s face it you’re already surfing the net on company time), so let’s dream!

Seasoned travelers know that any worthy excursion begins with the planning of attire. So, we must first go shopping….at Intermix, a quickly expanding and ooh so chic boutique that has recently opened two locations in Chicago this spring. Featured pieces (be it jewelry, handbags, or dresses) exude contemporary style with classical swagger. What else would we expect from brands like Chloe, Stella McCartney, and Diane von Furstenberg draping the racks. Chi-chi poo-poo baby, and just the garments needed for our flight…. to Sorrento ….I know just the guy.

Ken Indart, the ever so charming and well connected agent of Blue Star Jets– your true passport to the luxury of flying private. Whether you desire a conservative interior or swanky layout, Blue Star supplies full-service air transportation with as little as 5 hour notice. I’m talking, helicopter, curb side limousine drop off, any jet, any time, any place. Now that’s VIP honey, and to be expected when you’re out with you girl- a card carrying member of the Billionaire Boys Club.

BBC founders Joel and Jerod Johnson with LPYP, did it again, gathering Chicago’s high-end luxury suppliers in one room at the Tavern Club for an evening of fun and old fashion elbow rubbing. Guest enjoyed an extravagant view of the city while meeting specialists in sushi, jewelry, Rugby- a Ralph Lauren line, and sailing. Speaking of sailing, we should head back to Chicago and seal our day off with a cruise. A night aboard Odyssey Chicago will do the trick.

Odyssey spreads out an illustrious experience of sights, sounds, and sensations. Since 1991, Odyssey has separated itself as a premier vessel, sailing all year-round from Brunch hours to Moonlight Cruises. Every detail is engulfing: crisp cocktails, fresh hors d’oeuvres, rich dinning, warm hospitality and Chicago’s famous skyline; it is the perfect ending to our day together. And don’t fret suga’ – I took pictures.


Amanda’s Daydreaming Slideshow


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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

It’s a pretty big day here in the NBC5 newsroom. Brian Williams, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, is in Chicago today and will be anchoring the newscast from the Shedd Aquarium (5:30 p.m., NBC5).

It always amazes me to see the amount of work that goes into a production like this. On the second floor of the NBC Tower, we have a department that works exclusively for the network, but there was at least that many people in Williams’ entourage today — executives, promo people, photographers, producers and more.

Part of his day was spent here in the newsroom meeting folks, and shooting promos with our main anchors, Warner Saunders and Allison Rosati. I’m sure we’ll have the video outtakes online soon, because at one point they were laughing so hard that they had to bag one of the promo teases altogether.

I was in line to do a podcast interview with Williams, but as the afternoon wore on, my 10 minutes turned into five, and then possibly two. I managed to squeeze in 3 1/2, despite the frantic gestures from various news executives to “wrap!” I must say it’s rather nerve-wracking to try and flawlessly read your intro and conduct an interview with one of the Big 3 — someone in the same lineage as Tom Brokaw, Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings and various other journalists I’ve emulated throughout my career. Check out our interview below.


Click here to listen to our podcast interview.


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Danielle Barrera, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Ancient Americas is a permanent exhibition that opened March 9th at The Field Museum. This exhibit gives you the opportunity to take a look at life in America before the Europeans arrived. You are given the chance to walk through an 800-year-old pueblo replica, learn about ancient pottery, and obtain knowledge about a culture that shaped America into the country she is today. It simply is an interesting and beautiful exhibition. If this all sounds interesting to you, I suggest checking it out this Saturday or Sunday because The Field Museum will be hosting Ancient Americas Festival Days, which is an outdoor festival that is free with general admission. Experience craft demonstrations, dance performances, and programs aimed towards adults and children. The fun starts at 11am and runs till 2pm.

For more information visit http://www.fieldmuseum.org or call (312) 922-9410.

Enjoy,
Danielle

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Slap Happy


Shlomi Rabi, NBC5 Street Team
(Video)

“So”, Carl said, “when we got there we were already pretty drunk.” He was telling us about his excursion to Saugatuck (aka Homoville, Michigay) with his partner Jeff. “The club wasn’t even that full so the strippers were pretty desperate. This one zebra-thong-wearing stripper, who was obviously straight, told us that ‘For twenty dollars I’ll give both of you the lap dace of your life’, so off we stumbled to the back, and little did we know.” Carl stirred his drink and added more vodka to dilute any remnants of the strong cranberry flavor. “Ohmygod, his dance was the lovechild of Awkward and Slutbag. Apparently his stripping mentor was epileptic. He wouldn’t stop slapping his thighs and his ass. Then he began slapping our thighs. It was agony.” Carl proceeded to take another sip of his bucket-size refresco and added “He then told us ‘For another twenty dollars I’ll take you guys to The Next Level.’ We assumed he was going to upgrade to bitchslaps so we got the fu[dge] out.” Unfortunately for us and future generations of homoettes, we will never know what ‘The Next Level’ was. Sad.

But who cares! Because if there is one thing that we do need to know is that next Saturday, June 2nd, anybody who’s doing everybody in Chicago will be going to the Stoli Promise at the Hilton Towers. The event is sponsored by Stoli Vodka (aka Shlomi’s Headache Medicine) and promises to be the Only place in Chicago worth attending that night. The theme is Prom Night and includes appearances and performances by Gun Julie Brown, Terri Hemmert of 93XRT and comedienne Jessica Halem. The event is open to anyone with style and fun- be it straight, gay, bisexual, bicurious, biquestioning, or bicycles. So go right ahead, look for that white polyester tux and the puffy-sleeved green number with the bow on the butt, and thank your lucky stars that you’re not getting your thighs spanked in Michigan.

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Erik SorensenErik Sorensen (Video)

If you live on Chicago’s South Side, the only question easier than “Who won the 2005 World Series?” is “What are you doing Memorial Day Weekend?”. That’s because from May 25th – May 28th, Gaelic Fest will take place in Chicago’s Gaelic Park.

The fest has been a South Side tradition for years, and is a no-brainer for weekend activities. If you live in Cook County, anyone will tell you that it is a part of their Childhood, some of their best times in High School, a reason to come home from College, and a place to take your kids and reunite with old classmates as an adult.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Most people go for the food, the beer and the music; but expect to get much more out of it than that. This year’s fest, like always, offers a whole lot more. A short list of events includes: Irish dancing, an Irish imports tent mall, theatre productions, Gaelic Athletic Association Football, children’s petting zoo and free pony rides, children’s entertainment tent, carnival rides and some of the best tribute, irish, and local bands around. Check out the website to see who’s playing and for more events.

If you’re worried about the weather, don’t be. Most of the activities take place under huge tents. But Irish Fest is one of the few places where the weather is almost as big a tradition as the event itself. You just might wind up utilizing a pair of sunglasses, a poncho, some sunscreen and a windbreaker all in one day. The forecast is usually more up and down than the carnival rides and part of the fun is going, rain or shine. It’s sunny, it’s muddy – but that’s Gaelic Fest.

$15 – General Admission
$12 – Adults 65+ and kids 12 & under
FREE – Children 3 and under

Includes UNLIMITED Carnival Rides and FREE on-site parking

FEST HOURS


Memorial Day Weekend

Friday: 3pm-11pm
Half Price Admission 3pm-4pm

Saturday: Noon-11pm

Sunday: Noon-11pm
Mass at 10:30am
Monday: Noon-8pm


Irish Fest 2007 Website

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Irit SilvermanIrit Silverman NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Millenium Park was jumping with jive, rhythym and blues as the Dr. Teeth Big Band played today. And this was only the beginning. The London based band was in town kicking off their 2007 U.S. tour.

Clad in very Beatle-esque dark suits, the eight piece band made their mark the moment they stepped on to the stage. The energy and enthusiasm of the band quickly radiated to the audience as they clapped (and danced) to the beat of this vibrant band. Fronted by Chicago native Stephen “Dr. Teeth” Steinhaus, the Dr. Teeth Big Band plays old school jive with a contemporary twist. They call their music “New Breed Swing” which is also the title of their first album. But that’s old news. Today, the majority of the tunes were from their newly released second CD “Rhythm Is Our Business.” And judging from the response, business is pretty good.


For those of you who missed them at Millenium Park, you can still catch them at another location before they head back to their side of the pond. For more information on the band and upcoming concerts, check out their website www.thedrteethbigband.com.

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)
Inauguration Day, May 21st, 2007…

I was excited to hold a simple invitation from the Office of the Mayor. It read something to the effect of: “Mayor Daley invites you to an Open House on Inauguration Day. 2-3:30 pm. ” For about a week, I was imagining a somewhat intimate setting with politicians, tea and perhaps a few media people. My plan was to take care of some early afternoon meetings, prance over to City Hall, say hello to Mayor Daley, ask him his thoughts on CondoPerks, then go home and cook a mean dinner. Boy was I wrong.

I left my usual Wi-Fi spot at the Randolph Argo Tea, said goodbye to Michael (he was upstairs studying for his wine exam) and trotted down to City Hall. Well, I didn’t trot, I was concentrating on my steps. Working from home, I usually run errands in Pumas, ballet flats or anything else comfy. I love my heels, but woo, honey, when you’re not used to a daily ritual of 3 inch heels, your dogs start barking at other people.

As I came closer to the Mayor’s Digs, I saw a line. It was 2:15 (the Open House started at 2) and I saw a sea of people halfway down Randolph. Now, I don’t see myself as some special a-list anybody, but this was my first official invite to anything Mayoral. Come on, I was excited. I didn’t how many other people would be in line to see good ole’ Dick Daley. I stood in line, which actually moved at a good pace and made friends with folks in line. At first glance, I noticed that most people were senior citizens. Where were the young folks? I think I received my invite because I went to a Women for Daley breakfast, but what do I know? I thought I was getting some quality one one one time with the man that was partly responsible for keeping my butt in Chicago, but instead, joined fellow Chicagoans in greeting the man. Oh well, it was a mutual respect that we all shared for Daley, so who cares if there was a line, right?

One word. Ouch. As I teetered and tottered from one foot to the other, trying desperately to not take my shoes off and expose my undone toenails. The women I befriended in line told me, ‘Oh go ahead, honey. If I was you, I’d be hurting’. There I stood, creeping my way around the corner to LaSalle. That’s when we realized the line continued around Washington, with the entrance being moved to Washington. I slowly made my way to the entrance, black bottom feet and all. I was embarrassed to enter City Hall barefooted, so I slid my Nine West’s back on….only to take them off on the marble floor when I realized I was in another creeping line.

City Hall staff handed out water (it would have been nice to get some H2O outside) and we made our way to the elevators. In groups of about 10, we were guided to the 5th floor where another, you guessed it, line waiting for us. This time, the line came complete with more staff, a metal detector and large signs reading ‘NO CAMERAS’. I gotta say, this whole event could have been a bit more organized. Everyone was grumbling as the invites did not elude to such a lengthy process of waiting. I took a deep breath, handed the Chicago cop my belongings, which she didn’t even inspect, and made my way to the door of all doors – entrance to the Mayor’s office. A big guy that could easily have gone by ‘Tiny’ or ‘Big Lou’ was there ushering us in to the doors. For a moment, I felt like I needed to know the South Side Bridgeport secret handshake, but with a smile and a nod, I was led through the corridor.

The Mayor’s team had representatives lining the passageway to his office hideaway, cheering us on with ‘almost there’ as if we were running a marathon. That was kinda funny. As I was laughed at the last two hours of inching my way around this massive building, I saw him. Red faced and glassy eyed from all of his hellos, the Mayor was at the front of his office door, receiving folks in a fast and efficient way. I made a mental note to invite him to my wedding next March and waited my turn to say ‘hiya’.

To Mayor Daley’s left was another aid. She got the name of the person coming in and in lightening speed, told that name to the Mayor. The Mayor then repeated the name with a hello and a handshake:

Aid: ‘Name’?
Me: ‘blah-gee-tsa’
Aid: ‘This is Blah-gee-tsa’
Mayor Daley: ‘Hello Blah-gee-tsa’

Here it was. My moment. The moment to redeem myself from the only words I uttered to him years back: ‘Great job on the snow removal’. This time around, I thanked him for supporting one of the South Loop’s local small business owners (Cafe Society) and told Mayor Daley we were neighbors (kinda, he’s on 16th and Indiana and I’m on 11th and State, but take strolls by his house about 3 times a week). With that, it was over. My millisecond of greeting Mayor Daley was followed by aches coming from the bottom of my feet.

Was it worth it? Definitely. Would I have worn different shoes? Sure. There’s nothing like waiting with your fellow Chicago folk, talking about the weather, politics, sharing recipes and patiently snailing your way around a large building to see the one man whose bullish and passionate leadership reminds folks we aren’t a ‘second city’. C’mon. It’s a no brainer!

To Da Mare!

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Art “Chat Daddy” Sims, NBC5 Street Team

Last Wednesday evening many Chicagoans, celebrities and everyday people came out in full force to an evening of KARMA at the 4th Annual Ludacris Foundation Benefit Dinner & Casino Night that was held at the Atlanta Apparel Mart. Karma is believed to be a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. The evening was to honor three very special individuals who are doing their part in making a difference in the lives of others: Bishop Eddie Long, Cathy Hughes and Russell Simmons. The Ludacris Foundation (TLF) was established in December of 2001 and is centered in making a positive difference in the lives of youth. Founded by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, William Engram and Chaka Zulu have taken advantage of their celebrity status by so generously giving and for setting the perfect example of connecting with our youth aids in building stronger families and communities. Please visit http://www.theludacrisfoundation.org for more information on the work being done globally through the foundation.

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Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team

Who said giving can’t be fun? Not me, and certainly not Manny B. & Co.and Tourneautwo magnificent jewelers who partnered up to fight juvenile diabetes.

I fell for Tourneau jewelry two years ago while visiting Lenox Square in Atlanta, and recently professed my undying love for Manny B in November of ’06 while sitting in his office at the Hancock Center. Together, through silent auctions, they have raised thousands of dollars for the many children who suffer from this debilitating disease.

Despite the chill and the rain, the event was held at Tourneau in Water Tower Place.


Slideshow: Charity Silent Auction


Determined individuals who were interested in supporting this charity swarmed the third floor and bid on items such as an autographed baseball from Bo Jackson, Bears jerseys, a helmet, and two footballs signed by Brian Urlacher, plus, the signature Tourneau watch. Bears players Tommie Harris and Leon Joe graced the spot with their presence, and legendary defensive tackle Steve McMichael posed for and signed photographs throughout the entire evening.

With a room full of jewelry and celebrities, we closed out a star-studded event and all for a more than worthy cause.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team

Now that warmer weather is here (allegedly), it also marks the time when I start to receive out-of-town guests on a regular basis. It’s funny how nobody ever bothered to visit me when I lived in such exciting locales as Indianapolis, Cincinnati or Louisville, Ky., but I guess it’s a testament to this great city I now live in that every summer seems to bring a variety of old friends my way.

This weekend I hosted a couple of gals from Kentucky. I’ve always had a theory that the wildest night of partying you can experience is when you hang out with your boys and your one married buddy is allowed out, because he never wants the night to end. I now have to amend that to include a couple of married women who get away for the weekend.

It was definitely more hanging out and eating out than I typically do in one weekend, but at least I was spared the hell of Navy Pier and Millenium Park which many out-of-towners insist they must visit because someone told them that’s where it’s at. Here’s a list of some of the spots we did hit around town:

Cuatro: I usually hit this spot on a Saturday night, but I’d heard they attract a good crowd on Thursdays as well. We came across an energetic crowd late Thursday, groovin’ to some classic house. The food is always fabulous, and we stopped by again on Saturday for dinner. Be sure to check out percussionist Louie Louie and DJ FLX on May 26 for what is always a great time. No cover!

M Lounge: Tiny lounge located in the South Loop. Great place to stop by to start out your night, or to wind down toward the end of the evening. Did I mention it’s tiny? This is not the place for claustrophobic folks. I do suggest leaving the wine list alone and concentrating on the cocktail menu.

Room 21: It’s getting harder to find a parking spot in the area of 21st and Wabash these days. I thought Cuatro would be packed, but the draw these days is Jerry Kleiner’s new spot. If you don’t have time for dinner, it’s definitely worth stopping in for a drink to hang with the see and be seen crowd.

Solo 1530: By day it’s a restaurant, by night, the DJ spins and the vibe changes at this South Loop hotspot. My friends were intrigued by the crowds coming in and out of there, so we ended up here twice. You might get stuck in line, but at least there’s no cover!

Victor Hotel: Unquestionably one of the coolest spaces in town. Most of the nights I’ve been here the DJ played upbeat, techno-style tunes, but on this Friday night the vibe was different — more hip hop and old school house. Nice crowd to boot. Score!

Outlet Shopping: Gurnee or Aurora? Those are the two main choices for outlet shopping around here. Sure, Aurora has more high-end shops, but I take issue with outlet stores that aren’t really outlets, and Aurora seems to have many of these. Gurnee has a Off Saks store, which for me, is worth the trip alone.

Division Street: One of my favorite strips in Chicago to kill a few hours on a weekend afternoon. It’s a little more laid-back than the hustle and bustle of nearby Milwaukee and Damen. Lunch at Bravo was amazing (goat cheese and marinara appetizer and spicy potatoes), and you’ve got to love the boutique shops in the area. Big ups to my man Kennedy at Casa De Soul and the folks down at Noir — even if they don’t seem to be stocking any new men’s clothing anymore. I also came across a fairly new spot called Amisha Boutique (2019 W. Division, 773-227-7878). The women’s boutique is owned by two twins from Sierra Leone who donate a percentage of all sales to underprivileged children. Very cool! Finally, a lot of people don’t seem to know about the Aldo outlet at Division and Milwaukee. Two pairs of kicks for $30. Score!

Unquestionably, there’s no shortage of things to do in the Chi. If I can just get those gals to get ready in under an hour we can actually them all!

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New Shoes


Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

As the infectious Paolo Nutini ditty “New Shoes”
puts it: “Hey, I put some new shoes on and suddenly
everything’s right.”

Well, guys suddenly the right men’s shoe is a white shoe.
Impractical, hard to keep clean and looking new, they
make for the ultimate fashion statement. Rappers made
them cool by sporting Addidas models. By last summer
every hipster on both coasts (and some of us here in
the heartland) could be seen wearing a white lace-up
sneaker or loafer with dress pants and jeans.

Now its your turn.

Whether they come in leather, canvas, pure white, off
white, with some colorful detail or none at all, they
give every pair of pants a new twist and a dressed
down chic appeal. Be sure to Scotchguard a few coats
and if you need to keep the leather looking new–and
clean–use Murphy’s oil soap and a tothbrush.

Oh, and don’t even think of wearing socks with them.
Buy terrycloth insoles that you can throw in the wash
after every wearing @ Aldo for $6.99 a pair.

Here are some of my favorite pairs in stores now:

Paul Smith makes a lace-up pair in canvas($175),
leather(($195) and a deconstructed canvas wigtip with
a rope sole($270)–my absolute favorite pair– all available @ Meiman Marcus.

Cole Haan makes a great off white driving moc with
natural leather detail ($165) @ Cole Haan.

Puma has 3 leather models: MY-1-Reborn ($140),
Levitation ($100), Traveller ($120) and several canvas
slipons for $40-$65 @ Puma on North Rush Street.

Aldo offers Redouane( $109.99) and Bodiccius ($100)among many others.

At Barneys you can find John Varvatos for Converse
natural colored canvas laceup with black laces ($95)
as well as Tods “Scuba Pierced” model, a while leather
sneaker with natural suede detail ($395), perfect for
the most conservative among us as well as a great
Father’s Day gift.

And finally @ Untitled at 2707 N. Clark you can find a
leather lace-up($190) and even a patent loafer ($170)
by SWEAR. Both are the essence of cool. I swear.

Happy shopping!

www.TheBestDressedList.com

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)
I like a good night out. Combine that with celebrating a friend’s job promotion and you should have a winning formula. Last Saturday night, half of my formula was perfect. My good friend, John, was promoted and a few of us helped him celebrate at Lincoln Park bar Krem (the former Sauce). The other half of the formula, Krem, wasn’t so hot.

Krem’s interior is uber chic. Clean white furniture, complete with bed, looks on to a white bar and matching, but oh so uncomfortable, chairs. I liked the glow of the space, but wasn’t into the seating arrangements. The center of Krem has low slung table/bench sets with little ‘Reserved’ placards on each table. The place was dead (this was around 10) and everything was reserved. Fine by me, I’ll have a drink at the bar.

I ordered at $8 mixer and tried to relax in my chair, while the repetitious music thumped in my ear. Ok, ok. I know this is a club. I got it, but come on. Having a conversation with anyone, let alone your friends, is a shouting match or game of ‘you scream in my ear, then I’ll scream in yours’. John arrived with his crew and looked into getting us one of the ‘Reserved’ slots. Interesting. If we were willing to pay $250 per bottle (two bottle minimum), we’d get a table. I love the hype imposed by the bar that the area was taken, yet if we had the $500 to fork over for our group, things magically opened up.

This ain’t Vegas, people. It ain’t Miami, either.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Chicago should be as cool as Vegas or NYC’. Sure – to a degree. Part of why I love living in Chicago is the fact that we have some of the best music and clubs around. I don’t want to fork over at least $100 to feel like I DESERVE to hang out. This is one of the reasons why I don’t pay cover ($20 at Soundbar last time I checked). Hey, having an exclusive hang out for celebs, sports types or the upper echelon of Chicago socials scenes, I get. VIP rooms and secret alcoves have been in style since the days of John Hancock.

-Remember the days in the late 90s when going to a club or lounge was about, gasp, dancing?

-Remember trying out new dance moves or encircling your friend to see them challenge someone new?

-Remember watching that MC Hammer video and thinking, ‘Ooo, wait ’till my friends see me bust out that step?’

-Remember breaking your dad’s VCR because you taped 3 hours of MTV and rewound and fast forwarded videos to memorize the choreography? (Sorry, Dad)

At 11 p.m., the folks at Krem removed the chairs from the bar. Great. Not only am I not allowed to sit in the ‘reserved’ area without buying a bottle, but I can’t even continue sitting on the ill-fitting chair at the bar. Luckily, John loves to dance and he and I made an impromptu dance floor of our own by the cool Reserved Table People. We got some stares, but then again, it’s um, dance music, isn’t it? How can the DJ throw in early 90s hip hop and we not dance? It would be a disgrace to my Chippewa Valley High School friends if I didn’t bust a move for old time’s sake.

I left around midnight, to find a drunk Krem-er about to get into a fight with the door guy. I then tried getting a cab, only to have the Krem Valet guy tell me I can get one down at the North Avenue light. Nice, really nice.

Aside from the interesting white decor and closeness to Lincoln Park, Krem’s really not doing anything different. I’ll stick to my downtown options of uber hip bars and down-to-earth holes in the wall. Throw in a few spots with a dance floor and I’m good to go.


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Sarah Vargo, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

There are so many new nightclubs opening up right now, but I have to say one of my favorite new venues is Plan B. If you haven’t been there yet, you can expect to enter a place where the mood is so carefree and there is no ‘attitude’ at the door or inside. In fact, there are two stripper poles right inside which seems to suggest demonstrating that carefree attitude in the form of an interpretive dance routine. I have witnessed my share of entertaining performances already….and it’s been quite entertaining.
There is never a cover and on Wednesdays Plan B offers fondue and $4 Three Olive vodka (Three Olive Grape and soda is now my favorite drink). Thursdays are my favorite because DJ Lee Michaels spins mash-up music and they offer $5 Mac N Cheese and $3 cans. If you befriend owners Mark Perres and Ryan Golden, be careful because they will make sure you’re the life of the party and there is never a dull moment here. That’s why I love going there! Since they are so gregarious, I know it’s a guaranteed good time!
So is it wrong that Plan B is usually my Plan A? I think not! And tonight you should check out my friend Mookie Lee’s (Survivor Fiji 14) charity event at Plan B. It is called Active Chicago and he’s raising money for underprivileged kids to sponsor their extra-curricular activities. There is a $30 all-you-can-drink package from 8-11pm. I recommend getting there early because it will be packed! Check out http://www.activechicago.org for more information.

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Katrell Mendenhall, NBC5 Street Team
(Video)

Opening Ceremonies were yesterday at Solider Field for one of the largest track and feild events held by “Special Olympics”.

The three day event starts today @ Eskersall Stadium on Yates and 83rd from 9-4pm. This year’s honoary Head Coach is Darin Erstad of the 2005 World Series White Sox. There are over 2700 registered althletes from ages 8-84 and 100 Chicago Public Schools that participate every year. The Special Childrean’s Charities has been the official financial suppoters for 38 years. Many people don’t know the Creator of the Special Olympics is Justice Anne Burke. With the help of Mayor Daley and the Chicago Park District everyone is committed to making this a wonderful program.

This is a great event to support and the weather outlook for the next 3 days are predicting to be in the 70’s. So if you live in the area or have the time to come out… don’t hesitate!

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Katrell Mendenhall, NBC5 Street Team
(Video)

One of the things I love most about Chicago is the variety of food. No matter the price you can always find something of substance to fill your taste buds. Well, all day I was craving a chicken cesar wrap from the “Iguana Cafe” on Halsted and Grand. Although I have been to the Iguana Cafe several times it had been quite some time since my last visit. I was starving, and knew I had no worries when it came to good food and a laid back environment where I could talk with friends and watch the games.

I usually have to drive around and find parking but not this time, I found a great parking spot directly in front so I just knew it was my lucky night. I walked in spoke to familiar faces and it got even better as I noticed my favorite spot near the window was available! Could I be so lucky? The waiter came over and handed me the menu but remember I had been thinking about this chicken cesar wrap all day so I knew exactly what I wanted… I could taste it. I ordered the wrap with iced tea and my friend ordered a smoothie and dessert and here is where things went bad. The service was by far the worst I’ve received. She was not friendly or inviting by any means. At one point her demeanor was so bad that she made us feel uncomfortable. The drink I ordered I never received and the dessert did not arrive in a timely manner. I liked to chalk it up to her having a bad day because I enjoy the restaurant so much and I was truly disappointed.

For those of you who have never been to the Iguana, the ambiance is care free…some people come to do work on their computer, others conduct meetings or just hang out with friends. The food was exactly what I expected nothing less than great, it was the service that went bad.

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Wow. I just went to the mailbox and saw Chicago Magazine’s June edition, with the title of this post being on the cover. From my past posts, you know how much I love Chicago, but love my South Loop neighborhood even more. I had no idea it was getting so much attention and seen as the next big neighborhood – compared to the rest of the U.S.

The article did a pretty cohesive job detailing the evolution of the neighborhood, from the construction of Dearborn Park to the addition of new schools and restaurants. I liked the walking map they included in the story, along with an historical tour of what once was Al Capone’s stomping ground.

The realistic observation that the new high-rises and their empty commercial spaces are nice conveniences, however, the leases are too high for people starting out with their ‘lil shops, is dead on. If the developers can be more convincing with the banks, perhaps these spaces can be more affordable. Or, our new Alderman, Bob Fioretti, can lend an entrepreneur a hand.

Whatever way you slice it, your dollar will go a bit further in the South Loop, but if you ask me, I wouldn’t mind less cranes across the skyline or less sounds of jackhammers pounding into the ground.

Pick up Chicago Magazine’s June edition for more details…

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Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Knowledge is truly a wonderful thing. Over the last few years, we’ve become more educated when it comes to what’s in our food, where the ingredients come from and what those ingredients really do to our bodies.

As my mother ordered some sangria from a local restaurant in metro-Detroit, I started thinking more about sangria. What a great drink. A mix of wine and fruit and not too strong for folks that don’t like plain wine. My mind then wondered to the recipe for Cafe Iberico’s famous sangria. I know some folks that used to work there and they shared the recipe for Iberico’s sangria (as of last fall). In the spirit of knowledge and consumer awareness, I thought I’d share it with you, Chicago.

Cafe Iberico Sangria
-Boxed, inexpensive California wine
-Orange juice, from frozen concentrate
-Orange soda from the bar gun (which contains a high dose of high fructose corn syrup)

To boot, take a look. The sangria is stored in those large garbage cans your parents put on the curb. Of course, the tub is lined with something to hold the sangria. Storing the drink in large quantities isn’t abnormal, however, I wasn’t a fan of the fruit flies flying around the vat.

Now, things may have changed since my last visit in Octoberish of 2006, but I thought I’d share. Everyone has their own version of making Sangria and Iberico didn’t deter too much from the basic how-to, but boxed wine and orange soda from the bar? Could they at least use Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck” and some other type of sweetener like honey?

So many of us care more about what we drink and digest. We might as well add that mantra to our evening drinks, too. Ladies, put your WeightWatchers Point counting or carb diets on hold when you drink that sangria, too.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

So after they turned off the lights on me at the Chicago Cultural Center (something about a flashlight tour), I decided it was time to get off the streets and head back to the NBC Tower.

I uploaded some of the pictures and video my fellow bloggers gathered over the last few hours and then I fell asleep — hard — at my desk. I guess you could say I’m not a true Looptopian, however, after heading to Millenium Park for the morning festivities at about 8:15 a.m. (I’m blogging from the park right now), I discovered that there are very few true Looptopians out there. The park is empty, save a few tourists and families.

So what have we learned from this first attempt at an all night party? You tell me. Thousands of people were on the streets this morning and last night, and I’ve heard the gamut of opinions on whether the promotion and execution of this event was satisfactory. Use the “Comments” section below each blog to voice your opinion, especially if you attended that event. Until then — Looptopians unite!

Slideshow: Looptopian Events

Your Pictures: Send Them In!

Survey: Looptopia A Success?

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Send Us Your Looptopia Pictures - Image From Angelique Mayes So this is where we rely on you, our readers, to hook us up with some pictures from Looptopia. Especially anybody who made it to the breakfast.

Got some pics for us? Upload them to http://www.nbc5.com/entertainment/13308533/detail.html

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Katrell Mendenhall, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

I went to the most amazing improv comedy sketch called “Uptown Poetry.” It was a collaboration of music, spoken word, drama and standup storytelling!

It was hillarious to say the least. This was by far the best event I’ve been to all night. It had so much creativity and bizarre improvisation!

It consisted of a team of six with only one female, and let me tell you, she held it down! They chose people of all walks of life and created there very own personalized poem. Along w/ poems, they used current music and made their own lyrics.

Check this group out on June 11 a Second City!

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Jocelyn Geboy, NBC5 Street Team

Things are taking a grim turn at Looptopia. For an event billed as the “first-ever all-night celebration of its kind in the U.S.,” it’s quickly turning into a not so all-night party that’s getting shut down.

Foot traffic was shut down on Michigan Avenue north of Washington, and the stragglers left in the Randolph and Wabash areas were being loudly admonished by police officers over loudspeakers to “go home,” and “disperse!”

Bad news for an event hyped to go all night long and a city that so desparately wants to host an event of an exponentially larger magnitude — the big O.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

As I headed out onto the street, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. There were a smattering of people all over the place. Columbia College also had an event tonight called Manifest, separate from Looptopia, and several of those students appeared to migrate north to join these festivities.

I did make it to the Chicago Cultural Center — where I’m blogging from now — and they’ve begun to let people back inside, although you have to take a round-about route to get here. On the first floor there’s several tables set up where people are playing chess. On the third floor, I took Janelle’s advice and checked out the sitar performance. Very soothing. I think I’ll hang out here for awhile.

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Susan Noble

As Mucca Pazza ended its act at Daley Plaza, about 100
of us wandered across the street and into First United
Methodist Church, were we enjoyed the soothing sounds
of Michigan Avenue Cantori — a study in contrast if
ever there was one.

I’m not sure what Vivaldi, Bach or Mozart would have
thought of Looptopia but, I sure am glad they made an appearance.

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