Archive for April, 2008

Janelle Rominski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

I have to hand it to her – Chelsea Handler handles herself quite well. After checking out her book tour and show schedule on her Myspace page, I thought Chelsea would be a walking zombie when I saw her perform at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan last week. I was wrong.

Chelsea Hanlder is a comedienne, author and host of Chelsea Lately, the television series on E! Entertainment.

Hailing from Livingston, New Jersey, Chelsea was born to a Jewish father and a Mormon mother. She is also the youngest of six children. Her unique upbringing has helped her career in comedy because she has plenty of interesting stories to tell.

Chelsea came out and took immediate control of the stage. The theatre was packed and the overly-excited audience seemed ready for some good laughs.

I love attending comedy shows. I had never been to a comedy show fronted by a female before, so I was excited for what was to come.

Chelsea broke out with a comic bit on growing up and discovering masturbation. She touched on some intimate times with exes and the surprises that came along with hooking-up. She also spoke candidly about how her father thought she was a lesbian. Her self-deprecating humor had everyone laughing up a storm.

Her show assistant, a.k.a. her “Little Nugget”, Chuy was not at the show. However, she made sure he was there in spirit. Chuy also appears on the cover of her latest book.

Prior to the show, Chelsea held a discussion and book signing at the Borders in Oak Brook. After her show she signed books for hundreds of her fans.

You can learn more about Chelsea from her two books. She is on tour in support of her second book release, Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. Her first book release was My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands.

Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

Na zdrowie! Do you know what that means? It’s “Cheers,” or literally “to your health” in Polish. Chicago has the largest number of Poles outside of Warsaw, and this Saturday is the Polish Constitution Day Parade and Poland In The Park. You can practice your new-found Polish word at any of a number of events this weekend. One is Beer Fest 2008. (Need I say more?) Then there’s Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Toast Of The Town, Champagne Night at Lumen, and a Make-Your-Own Vodka Class at Pastoral. Then there are the free wine tastings at Wine Styles and Just Grapes.

Some events whose sole purpose isn’t to get you plastered include the fashion show at the School of the Art Institute, a Crawfish Boil Cooking Class at The Chopping Block, and a bus tour of highlights from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. If you want to feel like you’ve done some good, attend Art Benefitting Children, or support the MS Walk.

While you’re downtown this weekend you might see a bunch of people walking around in a daze and saying “Dude.” They could just be exhausted after the all-night Looptopia celebration, or they could be participating in the Global Marijuana March, which culminates in a rally in Daley Plaza to promote the legalization of the drug.

Czesc! (That’s bye! in Polish.)

Type The Local Tourist into the Search bar in the upper right hand corner of the page to see my reviews, bands of the week, trivia questions, upcoming events, and more or just click here. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Blagica Bottigliero, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

(For more ideas, stories and my POV on life in Chicago, take a look-see here. You can also follow me on Twitter).

2287704938_644b99d328_mI’ve lived and worked in buildings that typically had a ‘door person’. Whether they checked in guests, helped with packages or ensure there was proper security – they provide a great deal of service.

Time and time again, I see office workers and condo residents (including their guests) treat these ‘front of the house’ people like second class citizens. You may want to think twice about this..

The door person sees and knows everything that goes on in a building. Whether you are coming in late, hosting scrupulous guests or fighting with someone outside – the door person is a silent tab keeper.

Similarly in office buildings, the door man/woman gets to know who works in the building, who does not belong in the building and most importantly, lets you in when you forget your pass.

I’m currently using some office space at the Illinois IT Association’s TechNexus Clubhouse. This building happens to be the former headquarters of Orbitz, a place where I was proudly employeed between 2001 and 2004. There is a new security system in the building that I’m not familiar with. When I come to visit TechNexus for a day of work, I need to go to the front desk and ask special permission to be buzzed up.

I was pleasantly surprised and taken aback when the doorman looked at me and said, ‘I remember you. You used to work here, right? Go on up’. How’s THAT for memory? How’s THAT for caring about your job enough to remember someone that used to pass by your front desk…four years ago?

If nothing else, I hope this tid bit reminds you to be respectful of everyone, regardless of job posting. We all need help with our mail, dry cleaning, neighborhood tips or even a friendly face to chew the fat with.

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Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Tea

Apocalyptica brought Chicago an evening of hair tossing metal complete with matching skull thrones, a clear acrylic drum set, and…. four cellos. The band who gained notoriety with their string renditions of Metallica songs has long moved on from a cover band to an original force. The group has worked with a variety of guest artists including Dave Lombardo (Slayer) and Ville Valo (HIM) and is currently on tour with their sixth studio album, Worlds Collide.

See photos from Apocalyptica at the House of Blues Chicago

Apocalyptica at the House of Blues ChicagoThe group played primarily new material from the recent US release including tracks “Grace”, “Ion”, and “Last Hope”. Other original material included “Bittersweet”, “Betrayal/Forgiveness”, and covers of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, “Seek and Destroy”, and “Nothing Else Matters”. A combination of the band’s energy and humor made the hour and fifteen minute set slip by leaving us all wanting more. Apocalyptica played two encores for the craving fans and left the stage with a bow and hi-fives to the crowd.

Sunday evening was an exciting break to get a dose of metal with something a little different from the guitar ruling genre. Apocalypica’s mix of classical beauty with the speed and edge of hard riffs transformed on stage to an experience unlike hearing them on CD. After witnessing these Finnish rockers live I can strongly say, yes, I would like some distortion with my cello please.

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 Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)

When you’re involved in “the industry”, sometimes you can get a little spoiled or even jaded attending concert after concert and event after event.  Things kind of become “old hat” and you feel like, “Oh I’ve been here before”.  This could be even more so stated for my wife and I as we attended the “Heart of the City” tour this past weekend during its two Chicago stops.  We’ve both worked closely (in different capacities) with the two “New York Giants” of the Hip-Hop & R&B game…her with Jay-Z, me with Mary J. Blige.  We weren’t like most fans in attendance who spent their hard-earned dollars to see two of the greatest do their thing, but we are fans nonetheless.  When “Hova” and “MJB” hit the stage of the United Center, all those indifferent thoughts were put to bed and we once again witnessed why these two are two of the greatest who’ve ever picked up a microphone and Chicago showed them the love they deserved.

When 8pm hit, the Chicago Bulls theme song began to play and some fans were surprised by an opening set from songwriting phenom, The Dream (Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body, Rhianna’s “Umbrella”) who also served as a host for the show.  Dream set things off on a high note with his hit single “Shawty Is A Ten” with several provocative female dancers in tow.   He followed that up with his current single, “I Love Your Girl” and finished it off with the even more risque “Falsetto” which contained more bumpin’ and grindin’ then an R. Kelly concert.

Dream ended his set with a witty dialogue to kill time and then after he exited the stage the countdown literally began to the main event.  After a 15 minute intermission, the lights went out and a video interview montage with Mary J and Jay-Z appeared on opposite sides of the stage.  This sent the super diverse crowd which ranged from the barely post teen to the “old school” into a frenzy.  As the video faded into a helicopter view of the New York City skyline, the large curtain onstage dropped to the ground revealing Mary and Jay standing back to back in their shining glory.

The two icons appropriately kicked things off with their classic collabo “Can’t Knock The Hustle” off of Jay’s legendary debut album, “Reasonable Doubt”.  From that point on they enticed the crowd by making brief appearances in each others sets on songs like Mary’s “Real Love (Remix)” sans Notorious B.I.G. and Jay’s “Song Cry” from “The Blueprint” album.   However it was ladies first as Mary tirelessly performed hit after hit…sometimes only enlisting accompanying vocals of the sold-out crowd on songs like “I’m Goin’ Down”, her rendition of Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thang” and the mad black woman’s anthem, “Not Gon Cry”.  We even got treated to a little bit of theater on songs like “Your Child” as she had an interpretive drama ensemble act out the lyrics.  Mary commanded the audience as she ran through her entire catalogue bringing the house down on songs like “No More Drama” and ending things on a happy note with her single “Just Fine”.

After Mary ripped the roof off the United Center, u would think the crowd would’ve been exhausted….wrong!!! The video montage started again and chants of “Hova, Hova, Hova” began and the calls were answered.  As the small orchestra began to play, “Jigga-man” himself rose from underneath the stage displaying the all too familiar “Roc-A-Fella hand signal”.  Jay kicked it off letting us know that the “Roc Boys” were definitely in the building and like Mary, he effortlessly smashed his entire catalog…barely breaking a sweat.  At one point he even took us to the club and played classics like “Who U Wit”, “Money Ain’t A Thang”, and “Feelin It” before he let the crowd decide he was going to perform “Big Pimpin'”.  As he has on many other tour stops Jay couldn’t resist a little hometown politics as he asked the crowd if they were ready for change and threw up a huge pic of Barack Obama which drew thousands of applause and cheers.

After Jay performed his “Encore”, my wife and I decided to make our way to the door to beat the parking lot pimpin and gridlock.  As we made our way through the aisles, Mary and Jay re-united one last time to perform the title track for the tour.  The love was definitely in the room for these two music icons and all those who paid $150 and up for their concert tickets definitely got there monies worth and then some.

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Laura Lodewyck, NBC5 Street Team

I’m not the big plate of pasta girl. Not that I have the super model stamina to live on nothing but olives and champagne and diet pills, no; I simply like my big plates to be filled with lots of tiny different foods. In other words, as my brother says, “My favorite food is snacks.” So true.

Given this, tapas is the obvious choice as my restaurant favorite. Now I know that life is subjective and everyone has a right to an opinion, blah blah blah, but if you don’t like Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, I don’t trust your opinion on taste or fun, and I’m not even sure that you are human. Sorry. Maybe it’s partly due to the fact that every time I’m there I’m celebrating, and maybe it’s partially that we always drink a lot of sangria, but I’m all about their patatas bravas. I’m not entirely sure if it’s an actual “authentic” recipe like you might find if you visited Spain, but I don’t care. And although I’ve met with argument on this one, I’ve found that Ba Ba Reeba is also the most affordable and best bargain for what you get. (And we always get a LOT.)

Then there’s Emilio’s Tapas and Cafe Iberico, which are always fun — but when are sangria and cheese not fun? Emilio’s queso de cabra is a hot goat cheese garlic tomato mess of deliciousness, but overall Emilio’s is somewhat pricier. Iberico’s fine, but just not my favorite. I feel like I always get caught in the corner seat by the bathroom directly beside an incredibly loud stranger. My disapproval stems partly from the fact that I typically enjoy taking the role of Incredibly Loud Stranger myself, but also because there seems to be something about the acoustics in that place that elevates the drunken roar of diners to an impossibly loud pitch. It defies physics.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to 1492 Tapas, so I’ll have to give it another try, especially given that I walk by it daily and the promotions (Monday specials on sangria and beer, Tuesdays wine and martinis, etc) are enticing. I remembered enjoying it, but I don’t remember much else. Perhaps it was those drink specials.

Lucille’s Tavern and Tapas is also enjoyable, but given that they also serve French onion soup, it’s somewhat less true to the tapas theme. Ole Lounge is relatively new and has some fancy-pants delicious drinks, and Arco de Cuchileros is always yummy and bills itself as the “most authentic” tapas restaurant, which I appreciate.

What have a missed? Tiny Twist in Wrigleyville, where we found it’s not so easy to get a table, and Sangria on Weed Street, which I have yet to try because everything (including the giant rotating bubble-letter sign and the fact that it’s on Weed Street) leads me to believe it’s more club-y and less tapas-y. Which is totally fine, but just not what I’m looking for in my tapas restaurant.

Besides, I already have a favorite…and I apparently don’t like change. I’m always up for a suggestion, though! Email me at llodewyck@nudehippo.com.

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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team
Summer’s right around the corner. I know, I know, we just managed to thaw out, but the lakefront path bathrooms are open, the cops are on bicycles and horses, and Chicagoans are actually smiling at each other, so that means our fun season has officially begun.

As a Midwestern gal, fun and food are intertwined, and summer means barbecue, so when I was invited to visit The Smoke Daddy I donned my elastic-waist pants and headed with a friend to “pig” out. Alan Ortiz and I arrived on time for our reservation, but since they were running a little behind we grabbed 2 stools at the tiny bar. Don’t ask me how we lucked out with those because the place is a veritable madhouse.

We weren’t waiting more than a few minutes before they seated us in the back by the kitchen and the bathrooms. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Except The Smoke Daddy is small and so busy that almost anywhere you’re seated it’s going to be loud and there’s a likelihood you’ll get jostled a bit by other patrons or by the staff racing through. It was actually entertaining, with my view of the servers running a steady stream of food to the tables, the bar back carrying rack after rack of glasses back and forth to the kitchen, and the now three-deep bar full of good humored patiently waiting customers.

Julia greeted us quickly, efficiently took our order, and served it within five minutes. I’m not kidding – five minutes. In front of us we had ribs, pulled chicken and pork on white bread, sweet potato fries, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, and smoked pit beans. Oh yeah. They were all good and I’d order them all again. Then we shared iron skillet cookie topped with ice cream and I was afraid that Charlie was going to roll me out of his chocolate factory for being too greedy.

I’m not sure I can go into much more detail about the food. I know the meat’s smoked in house and they make their own sauce and I liked it, a lot. But other than that I’m just not that picky about my barbecue. What’s important is that I can’t wait to go back, and in a city of a gazillion restaurants that’s a statement.

The Smoke Daddy is not for everyone. It’s loud and crowded and my mother would hate it. But sit me outside when they’ve got some live music going on and I’m drinking a beer while my fingers are covered in sauce and I get bumped by the bar back wearing a shirt that says “Nice rack” and you’ll see one happy woman.

The Smoke Daddy, 1804 W Division, (773)772-MOJO
Live music nightly
Hours: Sun – Wed 11:30am to 11pm, Thurs – Sat 11:30am to 1am

The Smoke Daddy barbecue sauce is available at boutique grocery and specialty stores like Treasure Island.

Type The Local Tourist into the Search bar in the upper right hand corner of the page to see my reviews, bands of the week, trivia questions, upcoming events, and more.

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