Archive for July, 2008

Jennifer, NBC5 Street Team

Brooke and I are not typically “party animals” though you probably can‘t tell by the summer agenda.  However, the most recent stop on our activity list was a place full of fantasy.  No, it was not like “the plane, the plane” Fantasy Island.  We visited the next best thing, Lincoln Park’s very own Fantasy Kingdom.

A couple of years back, Brooke had a princess party at Fantasy Kingdom and there was non-stop fun for the kids as they dressed-up and ran around the boutique-style miniature town.  Tried and true, it was definitely a kiddie haven. And as we saw this past weekend at another birthday celebration, Fantasy Kingdom is still a top pick.

It doesn’t surprise me that the toys, dress-up clothes and play structures at Fantasy Kingdom are still in pristine condition.  I’d say that it’s partially due to some basic rules. For instance, you must have on a pair of socks and sanitize your hands before stepping one foot into the play area. But for the most part, this family owned businesses’ preservation and overall success can be attributed to a huge amount of care and professional hospitality.  Always welcoming and attentive, the Allen family runs a well-functioning play-land that is great for private parties, public play times and special holiday events.

So get ready to see sparkling fairy princesses, knights in shining armour, and “a magical world of make believe” (rest in peace Mr. Rogers) as  Fantasy Kingdom proves to be a wonderful world of fantasy right at your finger tips. 

Brooke’s Blog: Fantasy Kingdom is fun!  It makes me happy because I had my 4th birthday there and all of my friends came. I love the dress-up part and giving pretend flowers to my mom and dad.      

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D.C. “Fete TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

Tune in to 97.9 The Loop during the 7:00 am hour Friday morning, as I guest appear with morning radio personality Johnny B. 

I will provide my review of four new restaurants in Chicago, which include OTOM, C-House, Hub 51 and Ajasteak. Drop us a line after the show and let us know if you agree with my take on these new hot spots in the Windy City! 

If you miss the morning show, check out my blog right here on the NBC5 Street Team and eFete.net tomorrow for my reviews

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Naywri Wright, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Have you’ve seen the new Acura TSX? Well if not, everybody has heard of Gen Art right? Well, Gen Art is hosting the launch of the 2009 TSX tonight and you can be the first one to check it out at the Lakeshore location of the W Hotel.

After you get your car fix, head upstairs to the Altitude room, the highest floor in the W Hotel, and jam to the music of DJ Stylings of E-Six and Roan. Ladies and gents, mix, mingle and rev your engines because this is going to be hot one!

W Chicago – Lakeshore, Altitude Rm.

July 31, 07:30 PM – 10:30 p.m.

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LaShonda Matlock, NBC5 Street Team

The Underground (56 W Illinois) nightclub will be packing in the celebs this weekend with a celebrity line-up  that you just can’t miss! Singer Katy Perry (I Kiss A Girl) hosts Thursday, MTV reality show host ‘From G’s To Gents’/rapper Fonzworth Bentley brings some “class” on Saturday while DJ Flosstradamus hits the turn-tables on Sunday!  Good luck getting in!

Moby will be spinning over at Vision (632 N. Dearborn) nightclub on Saturday August 2nd.

Sarah Vargo’s “Diva Series” continues tonight at J-Bar (next to The James Hotel. Tonight is the launch party for newcomer “Swoon Magazine“. Smooches!610 N Rush St)

And a few other very note-worthy mentions from CS Magazine party at Zed 451 ( Tuesday night! Samantha Goldberg, jewelry designer of “One of One Jewelry” looked radiant, Amy Tara Koch was reporting the latest trends, while the debonair Jeff Corney, who is an architect for Solomen Cordwell Buenz stopped by.  And you know the event was the talk of the town due to the entire Gen Art team was there: Laura Lachman, Meghan Goulette and Marcia Callaghan and Stacia Mayfield. Hi ladies! VERY HOT!739 N Clark St)

Hosts D. Graham Kostic’s mother Mary Kostic, also attended the event looking absolutely fabulous in Cynthia Rowley! Seriously, she gave every woman in the room a run for their money! TOO FIERCE!

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Theresa Carter, NBC5 Street Team

“She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.” Mark Twain “Life on the Mississippi,” 1883

The dog days of summer are definitely here. If I were covered in fur I’d be begging for a bath. Fortunately I’m not, but if you’ve got a four-legged friend who is, take your pooch to the Anti-Cruelty Society this Saturday for Doggie Wash and Day Spa. To spoil both man and man’s best friend, try the Canine Cruise on Lake Michigan.

During his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days DJ Jazzy Jeff often played second behind Will Smith, but Thursday night he’s the top dog at Lumen. And despite what Eminem said, Moby will be leading the pack at Vision on Saturday.

Your dogs’ll be barking after the 6th Annual Run For Gus 5k Run/Walk for Children’s Memorial Hospital. Take the “Glitzy Gold Coast” tour and you can walk through the “lap” of luxury. Your children will look at you with puppy dog eyes if you don’t take them to Bears Family Night on Friday, although if you spend too much time in the beer garden you may end up in the dog house.

All right, you’re probably wishing you could muzzle me right now, but I can’t let sleeping dogs lie. For the last month and a half I’ve been working my tail off. The Local Tourist’s been a bit of a mutt and I’ve been grooming it to be a pure-bred. I’ll have a big announcement next week when I let it out of the kennel.

Have a great weekend! (I know, I know, this week was a groaner. Feel free to bark at me.)


p.s. Thanks to everyone who came to Texas de Brazil last Thursday! It was a great event and a fantastic venue.

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Glenn Murray, NBC5 Street Team

What’s hotter than a July day in Chicago? The people, places and things that you’ll find on my monthly  “Hot List”.  Without a doubt, the music at the Ven Sherrod Image Gallery in the University Village neighborhood last Friday night added a few extra degrees to the temps inside the tri-level venue. ”.The smooth jazz and soulful R & B of Llae-F performing at the After Hours Wine and Chocolate Tasting ( part of a monthly tasting series around the city).  The crowd was whipped into a frenzy (a combination of wine, from  the South Loop Winestyles, thanks to owner and “Wine Diva“ Tracye Hinton, the humidity in the air, and smoldering sounds produced by the trio of musicians). Llae –F is headed by Junius Paul and features William Kurk on keys and frequent guest Corey Wilkes on trumpet. Catch them soon, you won’t be disappointed. The band’s next performance is August 15th and 16th at Andy’s Jazz Club, 11 East Hubbard.

“Kreatively Hot”: Kreative Soul owner and jewelry artist Madame Pilar is on a major hot streak.  She was recently featured on the cover of N’Digo Magapaper and her store, located at 3744 North Broadway, was selected by Uptown Magazine as a Chicago traveler’s destination for 2008. Pilar is also the host of  “Meditation Mondaze”  on WKCR Internet Radio where she’s interviewed everyone from Gospel superstar Yolanda Adams to rising stars like Dwele.  Other “jobs”  this renaissance women holds include hosting events (she happened to be the host of the “Music and Lyrics” event) and being a loving,devoted, wife and mother. And her talent knows no boundary as she can lay down a mean verse on the mic!  Find out more about Kreative Soul:  www.kreativesoulsbypilar.com 

I  remember last year accompanying photographer Clifton Henri to the famed Harlem Book Fair. At that event he wowed New Yorkers with his unrivaled ability to create provacative images.  This year, the man we like to call the “Young Gordon Parks” (his idol and inspiration)  has taken another city by storm. Besides showing at every major art event in the Chicagoland area, he ventured to New Orleans during the 4th of July  and was featured at the Essence Music Festival’s Art Pavillion. Artists are selected by the magazine to display at this very high profile exhibit and judging from the work he’s produced over the past few years, he won’t be turned down soon.  See more of Clifton’s images at: http://www.kreationsart.com 

That’s my hot list and I’m stickin to it…speaking of hot, I’m off to Milwaukee to catch the Cubs and Brewers.

Until Soon… Glenn

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JenChicago, NBC5 Street Team

Before I officially moved to Chicago, Jason Alba (so nice!) of JibberJobber, connected me with Liz Strauss of Successful and Outstanding Bloggers. I have met so many people through SOBcon that I feel like I get I’m drinking from a fire hydrant when I am around all of these smarties! Lots of information!

I thought that in interviewing Liz we would talk much more about blogging, in particular, or social media (she’s an expert there, too) but as it turned out, we sat down and had us a good old heart to heart.

As people are continuing to explore their life’s purpose, some very “real” issues come up. Here Liz and I discuss self-promotion. Even if you are not a business owner or a entrepreneur, or an up-and-coming talk show host, *wink, wink* I believe the lesson applies to all…

Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Roll your shoulders back and expect good things.

Easy enough, eh?

Find more at JenChicago.com

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Theresa Carter, NBC5 Street Team

If you were one of the many people trying to get into Epic Burger last night and wondering why there was a packed house drinking cocktails, it was their VIP Grand Opening.

Yes, that’s right. A burger joint had a VIP Grand Opening, complete with white tablecloths, wine, and Goose Island beer. Since opening a couple of months ago Epic Burger’s gotten quite a bit of press, including my own rave review, so I wasn’t surprised by the crowd of people.

This wasn’t really a hoity-toity affair. I was taking my son to “Blues Brothers” in Grant Park after the event and our casual tarp-appropriate attire wasn’t out of place. Once the food starting coming out of the kitchen no one would’ve cared if we were wearing kilts and lederhosen anyway. Servers fought a losing battle, barely getting out of the kitchen with their trays of quarter-cut burgers. It was a veritable feeding frenzy as we grabbed burgers with grilled onions, with horseradish havarti, portabello mushroom sandwiches, turkey burgers (still my favorite), and egg and bacon sandwiches on locally-baked buns. The poor women carrying the trays almost had to smack hands just so they could make it to the front of the restaurant, and if the guy with the fries had thrown his tray in the air not a single one would’ve hit the ground.

Is Epic Burger really that good? Oh sure, some of the press of the crowd had to do with the “free” effect, but the fans who were turned away and left disappointed last night were more of a testament. It’s just fresh, organic food without frills and with flavor. Nothing hoity toity about that.

Epic Burger
517 S State St

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Megan Bowers, NBC5 Street Team

Well…maybe not my waistline, but let’s be honest, who walks into a bakery with the expectation of eating healthy? My point exactly.

The other week while I was out exploring the many neighborhoods of this great city, I happened to stumble upon a newly-opened bakery in Old Town on 1543 N. Wells.

Twisted Sister Bakery has only been open a couple months, but it is safe to say they have worked out any new store glitches, because their product is extremely scrumptious!

I tried their banana chocolate chip cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting and it blew my expectations of a regular cupcake. This isn’t the Little Debbie stuff your mom used to throw in your lunchbox. This stuff is the real deal with that has the freshly-baked pure ingrediants taste that your grandma used to make.

I took my mini cake of deliciousness to go and to make the experience even more enjoyable, they placed the cupcakes in little personalized cardboard boxes to keep the frosting from getting smudged.

My grandma wouldn’t do that for the cupcakes she made me, so I give Twisted Sister one extra gold star.

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LaShonda Matlock, NBC5 Street Team

 The CS Magazine party for Victor Alfaro at Zed 451 was HOT Tuesday night and I’m NOT just talking about the heat!  The roof-top party brought out the city’s crème de la crème of A-listers including: fab Candace Jordan fashion editor of Today’s Chicago Woman, Brenda Sexton of Chicago Link Proudctions, the one and only Bunky Cushing (LOVED the shoes!), Carrie Lannon of Lannon Communications,  Kate Templin Executive Editor of Michigan Avenue Magazine, Barth Adams of creator of the new A:M Vodka, former City Controller Barbara Lumpkin, Amanda Puck of XA, The Experimental Agency and Amalie Drury of CS Magazine.

The event was hosted by D. Graham Kostic fashion associate “extraordinaire” of CS Magazine and host of Glossed & Found whose always oh, so stylish!

But the guest of honor was the true star of the party and he was perfect! Victor Alfaro fashions are simply put luxurious sensibility.  His 2008 fall/holiday Women’s Collection was ultra feminine, polished, glamorous, surprisingly affordable and still VERY chic! Let’s just put it like this, Victor is one of my new favorite top designers! Check out my other site The E-Biz tomorrow for a full write-up and display of Victor Alfaro’s fall/holiday 2008 Women’s Collection!  Trust me, your going to LOVE IT!

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Kim Katz, NBC5 Street Team 

I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago covering the CineVegas Film Festival, just chillin’ by the Luxor  pool  and chewing my nails over which celebrity I could get to appear on my new BuzzNews.TV show, when I got the call from my editor that an email had arrived for me in our general mailbox from Kevin Costner . Kevin actually remembered a positive review that I had given him and his band last year, and was inviting me to attend his upcoming concert in Chicago. Kevin and his band, Modern West, are a top notch group of musicians who play a pleasing blend of original  country/rock with a little bluegrass feel to it, and they totally rocked the House of Blues last week. 

"The Greenroom with Kim Katz" and guest Kevin Costner.

"The Greenroom with Kim Katz" and guest Kevin Costner.

It was kind of surreal when I  walked into the soundcheck with Kevin Costner onstage singing. I tried to keep cool as he came down and introduced me to his friends as a person whose writing he admired. Hey, my  best buddy and editor, Ken Payne, was there and was blown away too, so it’s not just a girl thing.

Kevin then gave my show “The Greenroom with Kim Katz” a really thoughtful exclusive interview about his music and band which you can watch below.

If you are a big Costner fan and  you want to see the whole interview complete with hugs and kisses (MEOW!) and read what I wrote about his concert in detail and his new political comedy “Swing Vote”  which opens August 1,  check out my regular column “The Katz Meow” in Buzz Magazine at www.BuzzNews.Net and the full length video on www.BuzzNews.TV.

The  House of Blues concert was really energetic and fun, with the entire audience standing , dancing and cheering pretty much the entire time. I brought my mom along  and to have a super nice superstar like Kevin Costner give her a hug at the after-party  was absolutely a dream come true. I tell you this to give you an idea of how gentlemanly Kevin is for real, and ladies, if you are wondering how he looks in person — he is tanned, TALL  and hot, hot, hot. 

I’m  proud to be an NBC5 Street Team member so honk if you were at the concert -and be sure to leave me some feedback here, I’d love to purr about the night with some  rockin’ loyal Costner fans! 

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Opening Pandora’s Box

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

It’s often said that music is the soundtrack of our lives, but it’s just as easy to track our personal journeys through the methods we use to play those sounds.

I’m old enough to remember playing my parents’ 45s and full-length albums, and the curiosity I felt when the 8-track player entered the scene. When Bob Marley died in 1981, my dad broke down and bought a cassette player so he could tape all of the radio stations playing tributes. It was probably a good 10 years after that before I could afford a CD player and CDs, and a few years later when “MP3” became a part of my vernacular, names like Napster and Limewire entered the fray. And of course, the iPod came along and shattered all of it to pieces.

I may be a little late to this party, but this past weekend, I discovered the next evolution in my personal musical education — Pandora.com. Nuff respect to the Sun-Times‘ Andy Ihnatko for featuring this site on Saturday. The concept is simple. You type in a band or song that you like, and the site creates a channel for you, and plays music similar to it, based on a complex set of algorithms they’ve constructed. In a word, it’s genius. Without typing in anything specificaly related to Jimi Hendrix, it started playing some rare Jimi cuts that I love. And when I typed in some sample-heavy music, such as bands like Breakestra, it started playing the original sampled 70s funk songs. Whole new world. It’s like the “You Might Like This” feature on Amazon.com on steroids. Plus, you can bookmark the song and artists which are kept on file for you, with specific links to buy it from Amazon or iTunes to create your instant playlist. (Tip: Buy from Amazon, which gives you the actual .mp3 file, not a protected version.)

My lady friend has already seen the writing on the wall — there’s a new gal in town, and her name is Pandora.

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Liz Holland, NBC5 Street Team

As a Wisconsin Badger, I am quite familiar with the products of Miller Brewing Company being surrounded by many Milwaukee natives, aka “Miller loyalists”.

Well, Miller’s making some changes – and there’s a Chicago twist. On June 30, Miller Brewing Co. and Molson Coors announced MillerCoors, a 50-50 joint venture to consolidate resources and compete with combined force against rival Anheuser-Busch, a plan that will cut over $500 million annually to their budget.

Most excitingly, the new venture is coming to Chicago! Beating out Dallas, Chicago was chosen for the new headquarters as a neutral site outside of the Milwaukee (Miller) and Denver (Coors) offices.  They won’t be closing any of the eight local breweries in Wisconsin, but they will be relocating up to 400 new employees or should I say “beer enthusiasts”.

I think this might ruffle some feathers, being that Miller beer is a product that is integrated into the image of Milwaukee, not to mention the additional rivalry with Chicago. What else do people do while watching the Packers vs. Bears game but drink beer? Dilemma!

Nevertheless, the move is slated for June 2009, and the MillerCoors site will be located at one of three possible locations: 350 N. Orleans (the Sun-Times building), 250 S. Wacker, or 33 S. State (the old Carson Prarie Scott building).

Let me extend a warm welcome! Cheers!

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LaShonda Matlock, NBC5 Street Team

The Michigan Avenue Magazine  private reception with Bill Maher at Enclave was the place to be at Friday night!  Hot music, great drinks and the fashions were amazing! May I say Amanda Puck from The Experiential Agency is FIERCE!  People attending the event included: Bill Maher and Daniel Uslan (Midwest President and Publisher of Michigan Avenue magazine)

Slideshow: Bill Maher At Enclave

And now on to the JUICY stuff — the FASHION! TV personality and Chef Cat DeOrio was hot in Chloe, Managing editor of Michigan Ave. Lesley McKenzie looked stunning in a dark green number, wish I knew the designer?!  Julie Bensmen knows her fashion in Furla Boots and Susanna Homan wore Cynthia Rowley.

Rachel Schwanz of The Entertaining Company wore some Giuseppe shoes that I would’ve killed for and our very own Marcus Riley of NBC5 was looking very cool and sexy for ladies as ALWAYS! (wink!)

New entertainment news show 24/7 Chicago was on the scene working hard getting the scoop, with host Catie Keogh and exec. producer Collen Kelly.  And oh, the women! I worship Trevisn Kutti owner of G’bani who wore an outfit that made the whole room stop and look!  She was fabulous!  *snap, snap*

So if you missed this party, don’t worry the official September launch party for Michigan Avenue Magazine is right around the corner. And well be here to definitely give you the scoop 1st! FIERCE!!!!!

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Lola, NBC5 Street Team

I’ll be honest, I was probably one of the last people to find out about Mad Men. My obsession was born out of a recent blissful if slightly embarrassing On Demand binge. (You can watch all the episodes of Season 1 in the TV Entertainment section) Since viewing all of the episodes (twice) I have been not so patiently awaiting the start of Season 2 in a meaningless blur of emptiness and sorrow. Alas, tonight is the night!

Mad Men portrays the lives and loves associated with a fictitious Madison Avenue ad shop in the 1960s. In what many industry insiders argue is an exaggerated tone, the all male ad executives

the cast wine, dine, womanize, and somehow find time to come up with genius ad campaigns. Realistic? Not really.  But the romantic idealism of the early 1960s is beautifully depicted and just as addictive as the cigarettes and day-drinking omnipresent in every scene.  

The only women at Sterling Cooper are the secretary pool,  all young and most beautiful. They dote on their bosses using any and all means necessary.  Joan Holloway, the hot to trot redhead secretary-in-chief instructs newbie Peggy Olson on her first day – “He may act


like he wants a secretary, but most of the time they’re looking for something in between a mother & a waitress. And the rest of the time well…” Peggy figures that one out before the end of the first episode.



On a more serious note, the show deeply explores the duality of Don Draper. He is Sterling Cooper’s star Creative Director, a devoted husband to picture perfect ex-model turned stepford wife Betty Draper, and oh yeah…a shameless philandering playboy. More of Don’s secrets are revealed with each episode of Season 1 and his mental state becomes oddly reminiscent of a Tony Sopranoesque hidden he-man depression. (Or perhaps not so odd, show creator Matthew Weiner wrote for The Sopranos)

Catch Mad Men tonight at 9pm central on AMC or have your DVR catch it for you. Season 2 takes place in the mid 1960s, as times start to change with more attention to civil/women’s rights. To use the vernacular of the time, it’s bound to be positively swell!

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank

You’ve likely seen it by now on SportsCenter, your local news or on your favorite sports blogs: the infamous minor league fight between the Cubs single A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs and the Cincinnati Reds’ affiliate, the Dayton Dragons. The video is being forwarded to millions of inboxes every day. These same Chiefs take on the Kane County Cougars at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night at 7:05 PM. Tickets to the Cougars-Chiefs contest at the Friendly Confines start at just $5; so here’s a chance to see the baseball cathedral on the cheap. The Chiefs are currently managed by Ryne Sandberg, an iconic figure for a whole generation of Chicago Cubs fans. The 2005 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductee is considered to be one of the greatest second baseman in history. Sandberg had no part in this infamous brawl though because he was away in Cooperstown for the annual Hall of Fame weekend ceremonies. Sandberg’s fill-in, as well as the Dragons’ manager, were both ejected.

I caught up to Sandberg right before his Chiefs visited the Chicago area to start a three game set with the Cougars earlier this month. I asked him about all the fans that swoon around him at every minor league game. “I sign autos for about 20-30 minutes every single day whether we’re at home or on the road. Since its Opening Day last year the routine hasn’t stopped. I hear all the stories about grandparents and great-grandparents. Everyone’s a fan of mine and the Cubs; so I see all the pictures of me posing with these kids when they were three or four years old and now they’re in the 20s and 30s standing there in line for autographs. It takes me back, looking at the old stuff, seeing what these people collected and bring out of the closet. Some days I’m amazed; other days it’s the same stories repeated, it’s all good stuff,” Sandberg said.

I’ll be at Wrigley on Tuesday night attending Sandberg’s pre and post-game press conferences. Before I find my place in the press box, I’m going to be a guest on the MILB Radio podcast, which will be broadcasting live from the Cubby Bear. If you’re going to the game or going to be in Wrigleyville, please come by and check out all the baseball-related fun!

For part two of my Ryne Sandberg interview click here. For more Chicago Sports analysis and discussion click here.

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Natalia Avilez, NBC5 Street Team

I first discovered Allá a little over a year ago when a good friend of mine, Myke Adams, insisted that I listen to them.

Allá, a Chicago-based Mexican-American trio, was created by brothers, Jorge and Angel Ledezma. While still staying true to their Mexican-American heritage, they have found a way to combine a variety of sounds such as the Brazilian Tropicalia movement, Motown, German Krautrock experiments and made it work. Although Allá’s first album, Es Tiempo  ( Crammed Discs) was released in June, it has been a vision of Jorge for six years.

I was lucky enough to be at Schubas on the day of their record release show where I, along with other Allá believers, were able to experience their multi-dimensional sound firsthand. The lava-inspired lighting not only suited a portion of Alla’s personality, but emitted a warm glow from lead singer Lupe Martinez. The highlight of my night was when the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, and Allá performed their own rendition of the song Calabria. Allá has done performances all over the globe and it does not look like they are stopping any time soon. The next time you can catch Allá here in Chicago is on August 9th, at Permanent Records located at 1914 West Chicago Ave. Hurry because who knows where they will be next!


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Janelle Rominski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Mario sang some sweet tunes last Sunday at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee for their ‘Sunday Rocks! Concert Series‘.

During the summer, on specific Sundays, Six Flags features many well-known national touring acts to you for free (with theme park admission or a season pass).

Last weekend, I stepped out of my musical comfort zone to attend a non-metal, non-rock concert. I attended an R&B concert featuring Mario. I always try to expand my horizons and this was a perfect time to do so. I was familiar with Mario’s hit single, “Just A Friend 2002”.

I, along with millions of other people know Mario from his stint on “Dancing with the Stars”. Mario’s dance partner was Karina Smirnoff (most noted for dating Mario Lopez).

Slideshow: Mario Concert

Last Sunday was hot and sunny and Mario’s fans were sweating for him big time. I haven’t been to a concert that was so intense with fan adoration in a while. It felt like every person in the theatre knew his lyrics – except for me.

Mario came out to the crowd with his nice jeans, white sunglasses and jacket on. Mario took off his jacket to reveal his white tee. He eventually took off his shirt and sunglasses, right before he brought a lucky fan on-stage to serenade. He made a quick wardrobe change and concluded his show in a nice black business suit.

Young Steff and Colby O’Donis opened up for Mario. O’Donis is signed to Konvict Muzik, a record label owned by singer Akon. Singer Rory, made a special appearance with Colby on the Six Flags stage.

Closing out the ‘Sunday Rocks! Concert Series’ this weekend is London native, Natasha Bedingfield. American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks will be performing a special show at Six Flags Great America on Saturday, July 16th.

Mario singing “Just A Friend 2002”:

Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team

Lights, cameras, action honey! Vegas is coming and you better stack your chips. I’m talking feather hats, fish nets, show girls and over 3200 slots!! Opening 08.08.08 and only 20 minutes from Chicago – get ready for the Midwest’s all-new Horseshoe Casino!! The Venue- a $500 million dollar development- is described as one of the largest, boldest, most exhilarating casinos and entertainment centers ever; with a world class poker room, 650-seat buffet, and celebrity performers… it’s unprecedented.

Fellow blogger Shlomi and I enjoyed Horseshoe Casino’s debut at The Penthouse on Mag Mile. PR firm, The Experiential Agency, threw the swaggy event stocked with delicious food, gorgeous people, live music, and big laughs. There was something there for everyone and this was just a taste of what’s to come.

Opening weekend performances by Josh Kelley, Smashing Pumpkins, and Bette Midler have me excited. If I can get backstage, I may come close to completing my bucket list- 1. marry George Clooney and 2. perform with Bette Midler. Is that too much to ask!

Visit http://www.harrahs.com for your chance at big fun.

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JenChicago, NBC5 Street Team

It’s officially here. Thrillist Chicago. It’s a free daily email and they only cover what they like. Why waste your time with NOT fun stuff (ie: bad reviews) is their logical position. The magazine is targeted at “guys like us” says co-founder Ben Lerer, and I think it has kickin’ stuff for everyone.

Dave, the local editor for Chicago does a great job of finding cool things to do and write about. I didn’t say that these things are all necessarily reasonable priced, but definitely cool. (I haven’t stopped thinking about this bronze appliqué holster that was featured a few weeks back by Skin.Graft. )

The party was a ton of fun and everyone was wonderfully nice. The 50/50 is an awesome bar and did a phenomenal job of hosting us. They have an amazing staff, good music and nice clean restrooms. (We love that, don’t we, Ladies?) Therefore, I say, the launch was a huge success with music, an open bar, Jet Blue giveaways and more.

Sheesh… It’s a dirty job…

If you want to get in the loop with Thrillist Chicago, you may join here.

(A special “Thank you” to Michelle Molina for being my videographer. Music: Kevin MacLeod)

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Jennifer, NBC5 Street Team

It never fails that every year when I just get into the summer groove, stocking up on the latest sandals and trendy fashions, my summer euphoria comes to a screeching halt a bit sooner than I’d like.  I wish I could go out to the mall this time of year and see nothing but beachwear and sandals, but instead I’m reminded of the fact that summers in Chicago are short lived. Yes my friends, it’s time to do the whole boot and winter coat shopping once again. 
O.k. people, I’ve said all that to make a point. What is it you wonder? Well point being, if you want to find some great deals on fall/winter fashions, I recommend high-tailing it over to Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale. For some reason, prices go up August 4.  As usual, I’m being facetious but we all know that getting something for regular price when you could have gotten it on sale is beyond irritating. 
FYI- Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for as the ancient proverb goes, “the early bird gets the worm!” (or something like that)  Holla at ‘cha girl if you know of any other good sales around town!

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JenChicago, NBC5 Street Team

Tuesdays at sunset in Grant Park. *sigh*

I almost don’t even have to say anything more…. The Chicago Outdoor Film Festival is an amazing gift that everyone is invited to enjoy and many take the city up on it.

Grab a blanket, snacks, your best pals and some sparkling grape juice (because technically… there’s no alcohol allowed. Umm… right.) and head out to enjoy a picnic with about a million (I have no idea how many people… a lot) other friends of Chicago.

Thank you to all of the people that chatted with me. Thank you, Daley for helping to make this happen. I think this video exemplifies so much of what is wonderful about Chicago. Beauty, energy and wonderful people. It’s no wonder we are a candidate city for the 2016 Olympics! (Whoop- whoop!)

Oh, Chicago… I just love your guts!

Music by Rick Cates, City Lights.

More videos and fun at JenChicago.com

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Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

Paradise means different things to different people. To some it’s a tropical island, but for me it’s amazing food. At times the search for amazing food is just as elusive as that tropical island. A small restaurant claiming to have that special something is “Paradise Pup”. A tiny shack of a restaurant located in Des Plaines, “Paradise Pup” would not be your first stop in your search for paradise. Talk to the locals and they’ll tell you they have the best burgers around, period. Let’s find out.

First thing you notice as you pull into the small parking lot is, that this is a really small place. Step inside and then you really notice how small this place is. This joint is smaller than most people’s living rooms, and that includes the kitchen! Want to sit inside? Good luck, belly up to one of the six possible stools and rest your food on the counter. But the loyal patrons don’t seem to mind. During lunch hours the line stretches out the door (even in the winter). Seating is a little more reasonable during the warmer months since they do have a few actual tables outside.

The menu here is pretty basic and pretty small. Burgers, dogs, Italian beef, a chicken sandwich, and milk shakes are pretty much it. Since this place is known for burgers I decide on the double cheddar burger and a hot dog. Just as my food arrives a stool opens up and I grab a seat. The dog is a hot Vienna beef dog that is good but a little wrong at the same time. Whenever I order a hot dog I ask for everything, this time that included a slice of cucumber. Cucumber? No, I’m not talking about the pickle, but a separate slice of cucumber that had no place on my dog. The other small complaint was that the sport peppers were really dark green and almost as long as the dog itself. The burger on the other hand was 2/3 lbs of deliciously charred beef topped with cheddar, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and ketchup. Wow! This burger was simply amazing. It’s like the sky parted and the heavens handed me a burger! This is stranded on a tropical island with both Ginger and Mary Ann good. Charred on the outside and dripping with juice from the inside. I honestly had to pace myself otherwise I would have finished it in two minutes. Paradise found!

Since my burger was so good I had to stop by again and sample something else from the menu. On this day I went for the Italian beef and seasoned fries. While not as good as the burger, it sure doesn’t disappoint. The thinly sliced beef is tender, juicy, and has wonderful flavor. The bread at some places is too soggy for my taste, but their bread balances crustiness and juice soaked goodness perfectly. The fries were nicely seasoned and had a nice crisp texture.

All that’s left is dessert. My brother orders their Oreo shake while I go for the banana and coconut shake. Both shakes start with real ice cream and milk, my brothers is loaded with Oreo and is really good. My shake is a little different since they blend a whole banana in the mix and then top it with whip cream and toasted coconut. Different and wonderful.

Want to stop by and grab some dinner? Forget about it. Hours of operation are 11am-5pm Monday-Saturday. This place is family owned and operated and they are happy with their hours as they are. Prices are bargain for the high quality of food here. A double cheddar, fries, and a pop will run you about $8. Worth every penny. Overall “Paradise Pup” offers excellent food, good value, short hours, and cramped seating. My recommendation? Come after normal lunch hours or take it to go, and you’ll have one of bestburgers anywhere.

1724 S River Road
Des Plaines, IL 60018
(847) 699-8590

Check out all my reviews (good and bad) by clicking here. Search by city and/or cuisine. And don’t forget to email suggestions of where you want me to visit next!

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