Archive for October, 2007

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

A few weekends ago I found myself living in the Bizarro World. I realized that I had spent a Saturday akin to what a woman might have done — I went shopping and got my hair AND my nails did. And then while driving home, I started crying for no particular reason. Actually, that last part never happened, but it could have.

Thankfully, we live in a society where it’s OK for a man to be securely heterosexual, but yet enjoy a day at the outlet mall instead of camped out on the couch watching football. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but 30 percent off at the Off 5th Saks Avenue Outlet? C’mon!

I love a bargain, and have been known to eyeball an item for months before actually purchasing it. Another advantage to being a guy shopper? Our stuff can sit around forever without any turnover, whereas women have to decide whether to buy it now or risk it not being there next time around.

The problem with living in the city and being a bargain shopper and somewhat of a clotheshorse, is that you often have to make a trek out to the suburbs to find what you’re looking for. The aforementioned Off Saks is a good example.

But another destination for high-quality fashion at bargain prices has come closer to home for us city dwellers. Loehmann’s has just set up shop at 151 N. State St. If you’ve never been to Loehmann’s before, they carry brands such as Kenneth Cole, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan, just to name a few. We’re not talking about bargain basement Value City-type prices, but the brands and the quality of the merchandise is top-notch. Think of an upscale version of TJ Maxx or Marshall’s.

Check it out when you get a chance. Just leave all the 42L blazers and 34-32 slacks alone. It’s such an enjoyable experience it may just help stave off that good cry for another day or so.

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

SO…ever have one of those periods in your life that you feel so overwhelmed and overworked that it’s hard to see the blessings?

In the past few weeks I’ve been clocking some back to back 12 hour days in addition to working at least one day of the weekend. Ah, the life of a fashion stylist!
This weekend was the first one in quite some time that I didn’t have to work. I really love what I do, but all work and no play makes Tom a grumpy boy.

It took this weekend of rest for me to realize that this has been quite an amazing month in my life. In October, I made my national “debut”, if you will,
in InStyle magazine’s “Fashion 101” section, page 276
to be exact.

Then on the 16th, a double whammy. I made my national television debut on “In the Loop with iVillage” and by the time I got home from the show , it turns out I had
also made my national newpaper debut in USA TODAY which quoted me (first) in it’s article “Style becomes a real issue in ’08 presidential race.”

On the 17th, Stockholm Objects, a wonderful boutique in Hinsdale, hosted my very first in-store appearance. I spent the day meeting with some of their best
clients and helped them select some great pieces which found a good home in their very own closets. Oh, look here’s a picture of me at the event!

If your’re not familiar with SO, as it’s also known in shorthand, it’s well worth the trip for for it’s eclectic designer pieces from Scandanavia, especially
the knits from Anna Holtblat. In addition to clothing, the store carries home acessories.

Stockholm Objects is located at 26 W. Chicago Avenue in Hinsdale but will be moving to a nearby new and bigger location sometime after the new year. Check out
their website or call 1 630 655 0966.

And to top it all off dear friends, as I was about to
post this entry this morning, I was watching “Oprah” who was
doing a show on the importance of dressing appropriately for
advancing your career, only to hear Adam Glassman, the creative
director of O magazine, tell the friend who I had styled
from head to toe for the segment that she was a perfect fashion “10.”

I almost collapsed on the floor like Marie Osmond.

So, now I wonder what November will bring, besides a great Thanksgiving.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Over the past year or so, the folks at Facebook.com have made a couple of moves that have caused the social networking site to explode in popularity and threaten Myspace’s dominance, if not in numbers, then certainly in the all-important coolness factor.

Last year the site opened its doors to non-college students, which caused its subscriber base to swell, but another move has also created increased interest in Facebook. The site now allows outside developers to create applications to use on the site to interact with your friends. The applications range from music players to Celebrity Likeness to adding the ability to virtually kick or headbut someone, or to send them a drink.

One of the most popular applications is Naughty Gifts. The developers claim that about 5 million people have added this application which allows you to send virtual risque gifts like blow-up dolls or a pair of FMBs (boots). The naughtier the gifts you send, the higher you rise in the ranks of naughtiness — from a prude to a wannabe, swinger, hustler and finally, a legend.

If you’re not on Facebook, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering what all the fuss is about. And I’m not nuts about the whole application craze either. But here’s where it gets kind of cool.

Going.com is taking this particular Facebook application offline and throwing a Naughty Gifts party at Reserve Nightclub on Friday. Makes sense that it’s held in conjunction with Halloween. Last year comedian Bill Maher famously said that “women must admit that Halloween is just an excuse to dress like whores,” so as you can imagine, things will be getting a little naughty. Log on to Going.com for more details on the party, click here to view some pretty naughty Halloween pics from Level Nightclub last year, and check out my podcast interview with Going.com’s CEO below. And for God’s sakes ladies put some clothes on! Or not.

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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

Each week I feature a band on The Local Tourist. I have three simple rules. The band must be from Chicago and must have an upcoming Chicago show. And of course, I also have to like their music.

Fortunately, Chicago has more great bands than the Cubs have excuses for bad seasons.

I’ve had the opportunity to see this week’s band, Lucid Ground, twice: once at Double Door in all their rock star glory, and once at McGinny’s (313 W North Ave) where they played a fantastic acoustic set.

Don’t just take my word for it. Have a listen, and then go see them at Elbo Room this Wednesday, or at Double Door on November 3.

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Chicago Changed My Life

The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

Six years ago, Oct 20, I moved to Chicago. This single event changed my life more than any other (except for the birth of my son, of course).

I had been wanting to move here for awhile. My son lives with his dad et al in the far west suburbs and I’d been commuting from Indianapolis to see him. That is not a short commute, and I-65 has to be the most boring stretch of highway this side of Kansas. I knew the mile marker number for every rest area, gas station, town, and point of interest. Yet, I kept delaying the move. I didn’t know a soul up here, except for my parents, and they lived in another suburb. Besides that, I’m as stubborn as a redheaded Irish Taurus can be and I wasn’t about to follow my ex up here, uh uh no way.

Then came September 11, 2001. On September 15 I drove up to Chicago, found a place with a view of the Sears Tower, and signed the lease with a move-in date of October 20. My parents didn’t even know I had been looking until I was already on my way back to Indy. I had to move to Chicago, and move here now. I was missing out on too much in my son’s life, and I was missing out on too much of my own.

Looking back I know I had been in a holding pattern. I’d finally graduated from college, but instead of pursuing a career with my Journalism degree I remained an office manager and toyed with the idea of freelancing. I dabbled a little in web design, creating a site for my mom with links to sites focused on her interests, and playing around with the idea of a health-focused website. Moving to Chicago kicked my bloomin’ you-know-what into gear.

Ten of us caravaned up I-65, and my parents met us at my new apartment in the sky. Most of my friends who’d helped spent the night, and we went out to celebrate my move. I was afraid that when they left the next day I would be terribly lonely.

Sunday evening, after they’d all left, I poured a glass of wine and looked out my window across the Merchandise Mart to the soaring Sears Tower and thought “I’m home”. It was as simple as that.

The next day I went for an interview at Kinzie Chophouse and breathed a sigh of relief when I was hired (yes, I moved here without a job, to my father’s chagrin). I had decided I was going to wait tables because I wanted the flexibility a restaurant job would offer me, and the pay was better than being an office manager or a neophyte journalist. I knew I wanted to work for myself, but I had no idea doing what, beyond knowing I needed to write.

I spent the next few months getting to know my new home. I reveled in being 3 hours closer to my son and getting to explore the city with him. I met a wonderful friend who became my Chicago Sherpa and showed me his favorite local haunts. I loved inline skating to the lakefront and walking to Michigan Avenue and hearing the rumble of the Brown Line as it passed 18 stories below. But, I was frustrated with trying to find grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. etc. etc. that were close to my home. I was new here and the city-wide sites were more confusing than helpful. Finally, I had one of those Aha! moments. I can’t tell you the date or where I was or what I was doing. All I can tell you is that I wanted to create a neighborhood based guide to Chicago, and I would start with my neighborhood, River North.

My first effort was amateurish at best. Fortunately, I’ve learned a bit over the years! Now it’s hard for even me to believe how much TLT’s changed. I saw Susan Frasca this week, the owner of Kinzie Chophouse and Mambo Grill, and we reminisced to that fragile beginning. She was there for me when I started The Local Tourist, and supported this crazy dream I had of creating a one-stop spot for both locals and tourists. She remembers how excited I was when I got my first four subscribers – and they weren’t family or friends. Now I’m in a position to give back by helping to promote her efforts. That is a wonderful feeling.

Another wonderful feeling is watching my parents go from “when are you going to get a real job” to “when are you going to expand to other cities so we can check them out.” You can imagine their feelings. Their 31-year-old daughter moves to Chicago with a college degree and chooses to be a waitress, then decides to create a website, of all things, when she has no technical background and barely knows her subject matter! To their immense credit, they kept their concerns to a minimum and simply supported me. I have the best parents in the world, and I’m glad that I can finally start giving back to them.

“Wonderful feelings” are where I suppose I’m going with all of this. I feel so incredibly blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to not only create a life that I love, but also that my job is to help people enjoy their own lives more. I get to help you choose where to go and what to do so that you can grab the most out of every day. By featuring local bands I get to help the incredible talent we have in this city. By asking those silly trivia questions each week I get to entertain by trotting out Chicago’s volumes of quirkiness as well as promote local businesses with their prize offerings. With my new partnership with local search engine Fave all Chicagoland businesses have an equal chance of exposure and everybody can find what they’re looking for close to where they are.

The best part? When my teenage son gets old enough he wants to work for me.

If someone would have told me six years ago that this would be my life, I’m not sure it would have surprised me. Chicago has a way of making dreams seem within reach, even if you’re not sure what they are yet. I’ll quote Irv Krupcinet: “There is none other quite like my city of big shoulders.”

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Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

This past Sunday night, the red carpet was rolled out for local filmmakers Kenny Young, Carl Seaton and Producer Phil James for their latest movie “Redrum” (Which in case you didn’t know, spells “Murder” backward — very clever!).

A large gathering of Chicago socialites and a few Hollywood celebrities descended upon the DuSable Museum for the Chicago premiere screening of “Redrum” which stars the aforementioned Young (who also directed the film), Jill Marie Jones (former lead actress in the hit sitcom “Girlfriends”), Terri J. Vaughn (“The Steve Harvey Show”), Jenifer Lewis (“What’s Love Got To Do With It”), and Chris Spencer (“The Jamie Foxx Show”). The screening was preceded by an intimate VIP reception where complimentary cocktails and hor d’ourves served while the DJ played jazz-inspired house tunes. Comedians Joe Torry (“Poetic Justice”) and Rodney Perry (“Johnson Family Vacation”) who also star in the movie were in the house shaking hands and taking pictures.

At 9 p.m., patrons made their way into the museum’s theater to check out the film. Kenny Young and producer Phil James took the stage to thank their investors and introduce “Redrum”, which is a hilarious dark comedy about a conservative, suburban, married couple, Bryan and Tanya Diggs (played by Young and Jones), who have lost that spark in their marriage and decide they want to spice things up.

In “Redrum”, when a minor fender bender causes Bryan to accidentally commit murder, the couple discovers that inflicting death on people that “deserve it” gives them the thrill they have been yearning for. Brian later comes to the realization that what him and his wife are doing is wrong and tries to persuade her to stop murdering too. Their love for one another is finally put to the ultimate test when their worlds collide in an unforgettable showdown.

Unlike their award-winning film debut, “One Week”, which dealt with the serious topic of infidelity and the risk of HIV infection, “Redrum” is a witty horror movie, which is heavy on the laughs and very low on the blood and guts. Young and Jones share a great chemistry on-screen and keep the audience laughing with their deadpan humor and expressions. To best sum it up, “Redrum” was like a cross between “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”. This is a good alternative Halloween movie that you should check out when it hits theaters and/or your local Blockbuster soon. Support your local filmmakers!

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Ben Soldinger, NBC5 Street Team (video)

For those of you who have read some of my prior blogs, you would know that I intend to raise the awareness of the art form known as The Blues, which Chicago used to be the capital of. Here is a can’t miss night of entertainment that happens every Monday night from 9:00 until 1:00am at Ruby Nightclub (Ohio and LaSalle – great location) produced by my brother, Shane Soldinger. This night has recruited none other than Vance ‘Guitar’ Kelly and his Backstreet Blues Band to be the house band performing for most of the evening. After just a couple of months since Ruby’s Blues Night inception, this event has become known within the professional musician circles and has become a haven for these sorts of artists to hang out. A musical merry go round of some of Chicago’s finest musicians jumping up on stage for a song or two has become the norm. Sound like fun? To add an extra nice touch, there is a free hot BBQ buffet to soak up all the libations you’ll be consuming. Oh yeah, there is no cover.

This Monday in particular will be fun because my brother’s band, The Highway Robbers, have flown in from California for a CD release party. Their sound is early Rolling Stonesish with Bob Dylan-like lyrics promoting peace, freedom and rock n roll. Grass roots rock and roll – another crucial genre that is getting lost out there. Bring your clients, bring your friends, bring your family. Support the good guys and have yourself a great evening!

Ben’s Blog Archives:

Tavern On Rush

Chicago – ‘Home of the Blues?’

PARLOR Restaurant

Wednesday Nights at Sushi Samba

Quiet Comfort Lounges

Guns N Roses

The Perfect Casual Italian Restaurant

Into The Wild


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