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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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Check out the weekly “Word On the Street” segment on “24/7 Chicago: Secrets of the City,” Saturday nights at 12:05 a.m. following SNL.


One of the most talked-about new spots in the city has to be ZED451, located at the corner of Clark and Superior in the bustling River North neighborhood. That’s where we decided to use as a backdrop for this week’s 24/7 Chicago “Word On The Street” segment.

My first impression was the absolute sheer size of the restaurant. No matter what type of ambience you’re looking for, you’ll definitely find it in here somewhere. My choice this summer will be the rooftop deck — for happy hour — which sports a variety of seating and even real grass!

The waiters walking around with choice cuts of meat will remind you of a Brazilian steakhouse, but the folks at ZED451 will be quick to correct you. They’re going for a more international feel with this restaurant. Here’s another tip — hang out at the chef’s table and get the meat right of the grill for maximum enjoyment.

 Visit www.zed451.com for more information, and check out DLeo’s blog earlier this week on his experience at the ZED. 


I thought I would have to write this blog myself, but it looks like Liz beat me to the punch. Needless to say, you have two more days to check out this cultural fest. Click here to read Liz’ review on Artropolis.


Apparently Looptopia was so nice they had to do it twice. Yes, the dusk till dawn celebration is back for another year, scheduled for May 2. More than 100,000 people are expected to converge on the downtown area for this year’s festivities, comprising of around 100 venues. The Street Team blogged this last year, and will be back at it again this time around. Log on to http://www.looptopia.com for more information.

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Liz Holland, NBC5 Street Team

If you haven’t made it to Artropolis… you have two days left. There is something for everyone with five exhibitions of antique, modern, and contemporary work of over 2,000 artists. The space is massive and almost difficult to take in all at once with the many interesting pieces. I have to admit, there is some great people watching if you can pull you eyes away from the art!

Elizabeth McClancyI loved the antiques and work of emerging/independent artists – most whom were there to share their thoughts and inspirations. Chi Town was in representation with my favorites being Clifton Henri, Gabriel Mejia, and Jeremy Tubbs. Also, check out Fahamu Pecou with his critique of modern hip hop and pop culture through self portraiture and Elizabeth McClancy with The Democratic Principles Project, a series of paintings capturing a vivid likeness of national leaders in social-change debate.

You undoubtedly will get tired along the way, but there are various food and wine stops throughout, as well as bluprint restaurant in the lobby. Also, when your feet get weary, take a load off at the shoe shine where they proclaim, “We are artists in motion!”

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


222 Merchandise Mart Plaza

April 25-28, 2008


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Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)

From the moment I met this soul diva back in high school, I knew she had a voice sent from heaven.  Rhythm & Blues runs through her blood (literally) and you can hear it in every lyric and every note she delivers.  She’s had three major album releases, which in this day and age of the music business is rare…most artists get one shot.  She’s hit three in a row…So why is Syleena Johnson “R&B’s Best Kept Secret”??? Well, the secret is finally out.

Chi-town’s own soul siren is “delivering” another chapter in the book of Syleena with her fourth album release, “Chapter 4: Labor Pains” set to hit retail and online distributors on September 2nd, 2008, the day after Labor Day.  There is more significance and irony to the title because the release date is also Syleena’s “born day” and like her previous releases, the inspiration for the album is drawn from life experiences such as becoming a wife and a mother over the past year.

In this day of digital downloading and decreasing album sales, this album is even more of a “labor of love” since this is Syleena’s foray into the independent route.  She recently launched her own label Aneelys Records (Syleena spelled “Backwards”) which came via an exclusive worldwide distribution deal through Federal/Universal Music Group.  Instead of having a major machine with the major marketing dollars, all the risks and hard work will be taken on by Syleena and her “A-Team”.

Syleena kept the production in-house (so to speak) by enlisting hometown producer Toxic for her amazing lead single, “It Is True” which is now getting rotation at Urban AC radio outlets.  This heavenly ballad professes Syleena’s true love for her new family in a beautiful and compelling way.  The listener will get drawn in from the opening angellic harps backing Syleena’s sultry voice as she weaves a tale about “girl meets boy”, they fall in love, and grow old together. 

Although a lot of Syleena’s music deals with the pains and struggles of women, one continuous message throughout her music and everyday life is the strength she gets from God.  “Labor Pains” I’m sure will be no different in that regard.

As always, support your local artists and make sure you check out “Labor Pains” when it drops.  Real Rhythm & Blues is coming back!


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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team

Just so the guys don’t feel left out, I thought I’d share with you what I have been buying for myself and for my male clients so we can look oh so cool as the weather (finally) warms up.

1. The off white blazer. It’s the transformational piece of the summer. It has the formality of a dinner jacket, but it’s made of cotton and, ideally, it’s a bit cropped and tight to the body. Dress it down with jeans and wear it everywhere you want to look “oh so cool.” Think Ashton Kutcher on the cover of Details.

details magazinePhilip Lim 3.1 blazer at Jake, $695
Buy the Gucci one he’s wearing if your budget allows. I bought the version from Philip Lim 3.1 (shown here) for $695 at Jake on Oak Street. It feels amazing on! Banana Republic makes a shawl collared version from their Heritage Collection for $375.

2. The skinny tie. If you must wear a tie, it should be a skinny one or at the very least  much skinnier than the one you are most probably currently wearing. Unless you shop in the big and tall department, your tie should be no more than 2 inches in width, and this summer, preferably in a bold rep pattern. Try Jil Sander, Z Zegna, Theory, Band of Outsiders or Dries Van Noten.

I can’t live without my Band of Outsiders ties, which you can find at Barneys, Apartment Number 9 and Jake. For summer I bought a silk cream and yellow rep stripe by Dries van Noten at Barneys, $155. I also bought a red and white horizontal stripe knit tie from Alexandre Savile Row, $95, at Macy’s State Street. Both of them look amazing with a white shirt! (See #5 below.)

3. The trainer shoe. This summer I can’t live without Puma’s AMQ canvas street low top designed by Alexander McQueen, $200. Only 100 pairs were made and they are available at Saks (while supplies last, as they say.)

4. The terry cloth shoe insert. Unless you are at work, you don’t have to/shouldn’t wear socks in the warm weather months–even with dress shoes. Buy yourself several pairs of the “Cool Off” terry cloth shoe inserts from Aldo, $6.99. They will absorb the sweat and smell from your bare feet, and you can throw them in the wash like socks. Pure genius. Consider this must have a gift from me to you!

5. The narrow collar trim fit white dress shirt. Enough said. It’s the only shirt that looks right now. Just go buy one that fits that exact description.

6. The trim fit polo. Hugo Boss Orange Label at the flagship store on Michigan Avenue carries the best one of the season in 3 colors, black with blue sleeve detail, brown with yellow and cream with gray. Peer polo, $75.

7. The pinstripe white cotton pant. Wear it casually with a polo or throw a black sportcoat over it with a white shirt. Either way, you look completely appropriate when you need to navigate the vast wasteland between jeans and dress pants. You can find the “Producer” pant at Express for $39.50. But the best one can be found at Club Monaco. I bought myself and my clients the Ethan model with black stripe, $129. It comes already cuffed, which makes it look sleek and ultra cool.

8. The ribbon belt. If you don’t want to wear a tie, you can still look polished if you wear a ribbon belt instead of a leather one. Club Monaco makes 7 different colors, $39.

9. The skinny black jean. You don’t have to pay a lot for a great one. Express has the best pair around for $99. Just steam out the creative wrinkling. I’ve bought them for all my clients and they love them. The find of the summer, for me, is the midnight blue mineral wash stretch denim at American Apparel for $68. I’m going to live in that pair all summer.

10. Anything in Yves Klein blue. Try the J Lindeberg golf shirt at Stockholm Objects in Hinsdale, $96, or my pick, the Oliver Striped ribbon belt at Club Monaco for $39.

And guys, let me know what you can’t live without this season……

Happy shopping! 


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Reggie Brown, NBC5 Street Team

Can you hear it coming? Do you feel the storm brewing? AKIRA’s Revolution begins tonight at Crobar showcasing the hottest new street fashions by Monarchy and Creative Recreation.  Back in 2002, the brainchild of Jon Cotay, Eric Hsueh and Erikka Wang was born smack dab in the middle of Bucktown. Since then, the AKIRA empire has been spreading like wildfire. Just take a stroll down North Ave and you’ll see the blazing red awnings lighting up the block. AKIRA has given Chicagoans access to boutique fashions that keep us in a direct flow of New York and LA trends while also tossing in some Chicago hometown flavor.

AKIRA’S fashion events have earned them a reputation for not only putting on a great show, they also know how throw a great party.  Tonight’s show, The Revolution is no exception. It will definitely have something for everyone and is moving onward and upward in the true AKIRA style. Incorporating international dance troupe 2XS into the mix will kick it up a notch and ready the audience for an unforgettable event. Known for their high intensity and diverse dancing styles, 2XS will  be heating up the stage with interactive dancing throughout the show. 

Hot styles hailing from the west coast are the focus of the evening.  Gentleman, have you rolled up to the club with designer kicks on that the bouncer deems unacceptable? Tonight, check out the freshest footwear by Creative Recreation. Known for their style of incorporating the appearance and prestige of a dress shoe with the feel and design of an athletic sneaker, this Orange County bred company can make those uncomfortable confrontations a distant memory.  And have no fear ladies,  plenty of funky foot fashions await you too. 

The regal threads on display tonight are those of the LA based Monarchy clothing line. Providing a premium blend of old world style with a new school twist, Monarchy’s new collection reigns supreme. Any detailed-oriented individuals will surely dig these garments made from the finest American, Japanese and European denim. Get on up off your couches and get out on this beautiful night. This revolution will NOT be televised. Print out an invite for you and a guest at www.akirachicago.com
and get there before midnight for complimentary admission.  See you there!
Doors Open at 9:00-Show Starts at 12:00

Crobar 1543 N Kingsbury Chicago Il, 60622 (312)266-1900


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Cara CarriveauCara “Cara’s Basement” Carriveau, NBC5 Street Team

I lost my father to cancer.  I know far too many relatives and friends diagnosed with cancer.  While it’s no long the “c” word whispered secretly, cancer affects a staggering amount of people and it’s imperative to raise money to help find a cure. 

This Sunday night I’ll be the emcee of a night of music benefiting the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The Chicago Music Guide presents Live Life is at Joe’s Bar in Chicago. Come experience live music from Live Life Benefit From The Chicago Music GuideParis Delane’s Tye Dye Skye, Jennifer Peterson Band, Ellen Rosner, Tracylynn & 55 South, Gina Gonzalez, White Buffalo Is Born and Twin Ray (Desiree Irwin). Doors open at 5:30, the live music begins at 6:30pm. Tickets are only $20 plus there is an awesome silent auction. You can bid on autographed items from Bon Jovi, Counting Crowes, John Hiatt, Steve Vai and more – CLICK HERE for the full list.

I had an enlightening conversation with Paris Delane on my podcast Cara’s Basement.  He’s passionate about his involvement with this cause – in fact, he radiates passion about life.  His adoration for his mother is especially touching as we approach Mothers Day.  Listen:

(Type my name in the search bar to see/hear more of my posts including interviews with The Bravery, Lovehammers, Triumph’s Rik Emmett, Shooting Star, Mike Tafoya comedian Lee Camp & more)

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team

Walk into any  women’s fashion retailer this spring and summer,  and you’ll be struck by the candy colors and bold prints. This will not be the summer of the little black dress.

If you’re overwhelmed by the choices out there and want to make sure you’re spending your money wisely in this rocky economy, here are some practical tips on how  to wear color and pattern.


Happy Shopping!



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Cara Carriveau Cara “Cara’s Basement” Carriveau, NBC5 Street TeamSwiffer Sam

As a mother of two I’ve had plenty of time to come up with idea’s for inventions to make my life (and other mothers) easier. Like attaching a swiffer to the bottom of a diaper so my son can help me clean the floor. And I had the idea of including a place for an ipod and attaching speakers on a jogger long before that existed.

One of my biggest pet peeves as a parent is the fact that so many restaurants don’t provide changing tables. We went to all the effort to ban smoking in Illinois for the sake of our health yet we often have to put our precious babies’ bare bottoms on the disgusting bathroom floor to change their diapers. I’ve been shocked to take my kids to restaurants that even cater to them with their own special menu, yet don’t think to install a changing table.

So my big idea is to start a rating system for restaurants that include that information. Often when you visit websites reviewing restaurants they”ll indicate extra information, such as if they are accessible for wheel chairs and offer valet parking – I think knowing ahead of time that you don’t have to place your child’s body on dried urine on the floor would be awfully nice. And, how about actually installing those changing tables in both the womens AND mens rooms? There are plenty of Dad’s who need to change a diaper who have to deal with even more disgusting floors in their restroom.

Okay, enough venting. For now.

Type my name in the search bar to see/hear more of my posts including interviews with The Bravery, Lovehammers, Triumph’s Rik Emmett, Shooting Star, comedian Lee Camp and rocker Mike Tafoya. Heck, I’ll make it easy for you…just click HERE.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

You ever just have one of those days? A recent Thursday started out well enough. I got up at the crack of dawn and headed to Dre’s Diesel Dome BootCamp. My intentions were good, but I pushed myself too hard and pulled a hamstring. After limping home, I hopped on the Vespa to head to work — except it wouldn’t start.

This is when your subconscious starts telling you to cut your losses and call in sick, but I jumped in a cab and headed to work anyway. While there, I encountered an issue that I can’t document here for fear of legal ramifications. I limped down the street for lunch and it started raining. If I had a dog, I’m sure it would have died that day.

Then, about 2 p.m., things started to change. Our planning editor said “Hey Marcus, would you like to go to the John Legend concert tonight and interview him?” Ummm, let me think about that.

Slideshow: John Legend Concert

Even better, they gave us unlimited media passes, so I was able to get two video cameras and two still photographers inside The Vic. I met Legend on the tour bus, and he was friendly, open, and without a trace of celebrity ego. Not all of our interview made it into the video piece, but we talked about his upcoming CD, the art of the love song, he and Kanye’s trips to Harold’s Chicken and even politics. Off camera we discussed hair products.

When’s it’s all said and done, I guess life can be like Chicago’s weather — if you don’t like it, wait a few minutes, because it’s bound to change.

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Right Zed Fed

Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)

“Free food??? I’m there!!!” This was my reply when I got the invite from my good friend at the Burnham hotel for one of the pre-grand openings of the stylish restaurant/bar and lounge, Zed 451. 

Located in the heart of the River North part of downtown, Zed 451 has a very busy atmosphere from the moment you walk through the door.  There are several rooms inside, both upstairs and downstairs bustling with hosts and hostesses, servers and patrons.  The eye-catching wood decor gives you a warm, inviting feeling with several large fireplaces…almost like you’re stepping into a huge ski lodge.  The first room you see is the bar and lounge with it’s cool intimate lighting and music…great place to unwind after a hard days work.  A huge wine storage area partially fills the space with an assortment of wines from all over the world.

The main dining area was overwhelming with the surrounding all-you-can-eat harvest bars that included the freshest of food items including: cheeses, soups, salads, and fruits.  If you’re not careful, you can easily fill up quick in this area and not have enough room for the main course.   

After nibbling on a few appetizers from the Harvest Bar, it was time for the real deal.  The main course set up at Zed 451 is very similar to Fogo De Chao.  Instead of a red and green coaster, you place a stone on your table to alert the chefs that you are ready to eat.  One by one they start to bring several meat, fish, and poultry selections for you to choose from until you can’t eat another bite.

Far be it for me to be the restaurant critic — not to mention that beggars can’t be choosy — but I have to be honest and say I was a tad bit underwhelmed by some of the food.  With the exception of the chimichurri chicken wings and the citrus-glazed salmon, a lot of the steak portions left a little to be desired.  Perhaps it was me being greedy, but the portions didn’t come as frequent as I would have hoped, and the near nail in the coffin was the restaurant running out of the chocolate desserts.

All in all, my experience at Zed 451 was good and the staff was very friendly and attentive.  For a new hotspot, I would definitely recommend and give it another try.

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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).

I’ve been proudly wearing my ‘Forever Marshall Fields‘ pin for a few months now.

I haven’t shopped at Macy’s Chicago since the switch.

I’m one of those people that called up Federated in protest.

I still think the merchandise, brands and overall ‘feel’ of shopping has changed.

It was time to bite the bullet and visit Macy’s last weekend. I had a wedding shower to get to and the bride registered with Macy’s. Of course I wanted to get her what she wanted, so off to Macy’s I went.
Annie wrapping gifts as Macy\'s
I was apprehensive. I found the gorgeous Lenox wine glasses my friend requested and started chatting with the Registry staff. Turns out, the women that helped me out were with Marshall Field’s before Macy’s. I wasn’t shy about expressing my feelings about the new store and how many of us feel Macy’s isn’t up to par as Field’s. Carnita rang me up and threw in a 10% off code – that was really sweet. The department manager came over and I learned, she too, was a Field’s person.

The first thought that came to mind? Why don’t these former Field’s people start a blog? I know I’d get a kick out of hearing the stories of these retail veterans and understanding why they work at Macy’s.

As I pondered this thought, I headed over to Gift Wrapping. This is when I fell in love with Annie. Annie’s been wrapping gifts at Macy’s for three years and was with Field’s 12 years before that. Annie was quiet at first, but we started chatting. I could have spent my entire afternoon with her.

Will I shop at Macy’s more often? I’m not sure. What I do know is that I hold a great deal of respect for the team that came from the world of green and entered the world of black.

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Cara Carriveau
“Last Chance” is one of my all-time favorite songs.  It’s one of those tunes that whenever I’ve played it on the radio I instantly get a ton of phone calls…people asking, “Who is that band?” or “Where can I get that CD?”.  Well, that band isShooting Star Shooting Star.  They have a ton of great songs, many that were quite popular in Chicago:  “Breakout”, “Hollywood”, “Flesh and Blood”, “Hang On For Your Life”, “Tonight”, and much more.

I was honored to welcome original Shooting Star member Van McLain and new lead singer Ronnie Platt to Cara’s BasementVan shared a lot of fun stories from the band’s long history and he explained the meaning behind “Last Chance”.  There’s quite a bit of similarity between Shooting Star and Spinal Tap.  You’ll hear why in this interview:

The best is saved for last.  At the very end of the podcast you will hear the exclusive world premier of “George’s Song” with Ronnie Platt on vocals!  You can watch the brand new video of that song HERE.

Type my name in the search bar to see/hear more of my posts including interviews with The Bravery, Lovehammers, Triumph’s Rik Emmett, comedian Lee Camp and rocker Mike Tafoya.  Heck, I’ll make it easy for you…just click HERE.

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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

“Chicago will give you a chance. The sporting spirit is the spirit of Chicago.” Lincoln Steffens “The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens,” 1931

Outdoor art fair season will be here soon, but in the meantime you can find plenty inside. This weekend five art fairs will take over the Merchandise Mart with Artropolis, and the River East Art Center is hosting ARTEahora Latino Art Fair.

As always, there are several ways to give back to the community. One is by going out to eat. Several Chicago-area restaurants are participating in Dining Out For Life and are giving a portion of their receipts to AIDSCare. The Have Mercy! Spring Gala is a benefit for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and March For Babies is the largest annual fundraiser for the March of Dimes.

I’m a bit of a networking fanatic, and there are some big ones this week. Tomorrow night there’s Schmoozefest (what a great name) at Macy’s. I’ll be attending Spring N Counter, a huge event with several participating groups. At Fall N Counter I made several valuable contacts so I’m really looking forward to this. Ladies who prefer a more genteel environment can join the Downtown Women’s Club for their 2nd Annual Spring Tea.

I’d also like to announce that I’m having my birthday bash on May 15! If you’d like to come help me celebrate, email me and I’ll send you an invitation.

This is a quick one today. I’m off to a networking event (one of 3 this week – see, I told you I’m a fanatic), and then to Tonic Room to hear Juzt Nutz, the band that was the inspiration for TLT’s band of the week.

Have a great weekend!


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Spring is finally here, and my love of Chicago has been renewed. Nothing makes me happier than to be out and about now that the weather is nice!                    
Last weekend, I went to the just opened Rebar, at the Trump International Hotel & Tower (named after the 50,000 tons of reinforced bar structuring the hotel). Needless to say, Trump did not disappoint my expectations for high end-hospitality, with the intricate design and floor to ceiling views overlooking the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue Bridge. 

Following the walking staircase to the mezzanine level, Rebar has a comfortable lounge setting with eye-catching black and white photography adorning the walls. Definitely a business crowd pleaser, this lounge is convenient for entertaining, with a VIP room seating 25 overlooking the immaculate lobby. At the bar, you can taste specialty cocktails with fresh squeezed juices and garnishes, as well as an extensive champagne list. They are also first on the scene to include “stirs” in their cocktails. I don’t know how functional they were, but they’re definitely a talking point!

Next to come from Trump Tower Chicago is outdoor patio dining at Sixteen Restaurant, which will open in summer 2009 when the construction is complete.

Trump International Hotel & Tower

401 N. Wabash Ave.


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Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching. The question is, where are you taking Mom to eat? You have time to figure that out you say? Unless you plan on cooking for dear old mom, you better make reservations now! Mother’s Day is May 11th which means you have about two weeks until the big day. Ok, so where should you go?

Don’t worry my friends, Hungry Z has got you covered. Stonewood Ale House in Schaumburg, is having a Mother’s Day champagne brunch from 11am – 4pm. Stonewood’s appearance makes it look like a much more upscale restaurant than it really is. Dim lights and hardwood floors give it a decidedly upscale look. Parking is a bit sparse but there is a complimentary valet if needed.

For $24.95 a person you get roast beef, honey glazed ham, mimosas, and more. If brunch isn’t your thing, visit them after 4pm when they’ll be serving their regular menu. They have fantastic ribs, chicken, and shrimp as well as a vast array of beers to quench any thirst. Stonewood is located at 601 Mall Drive in Schaumburg, call 847-805-0202 for reservations and treat your mama right! hungryz.com/stonewood

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Janelle Rominski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Chelsea Handler; host of E! Entertainment’s Chelsea Lately, comedienne and author will be making a stop at the Borders book store in Oak Brook to sign copies and discuss her new book titled, “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea“.

This comically-titled book was released on April 22nd which was a follow up to her previous book, My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands.

She will be at the Borders (in Oak Brook) on Thursday, April 24th from 6:30 pm – 8 pm, whereupon she’ll head up to Waukegan to perform at the Genesee Theatre for her nearly sold-out show.

Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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