Archive for October, 2009

New Orleans is a city full of vibrant music, bold parties, and spiced up cuisine. So it’s no surprise that Pappadeaux is a big, bold, and loud restaurant eager to usher in some fun. Even on a typical Tuesday in October, Pappadeaux was drawing big crowds. Who says you can’t have fun on a Tuesday?

There are times when you dine out purely for the food and other times you go for an experience. The experience side is done right! Right off the bat, the hostess is knowledgeable and eagerly gives you a brief tour of the fresh seafood available that evening. Décor is geared for fun as well, with tall ceilings and monstrous chandeliers in the shape of compasses. pappagumbo


So now that you’re feeling bold and ready to have fun, all that’s left is that party in your mouth! Dishes are boldly seasoned and one could never mistake them as bland, but might some find them over seasoned? The appetizer trio is the first item sampled and it consists of shrimp and crawfish fondue, calamari, and fried alligator. The calamari was a bit chewy, the deep fried alligator could have passed for chicken fingers, but the true oddball was the fondue. Shrimp and crawfish swam in a soupy bath that had cheese melted on top similar to french onion soup.


Speaking of a soup type dish, next up was the gumbo. The flavorful broth was joined by spicy andouille sausage, shrimp, crawfish, and rice. A good gumbo has layers of flavor that work together, while the broth was flavorful, the ingredients didn’t work harmoniously. This gumbo felt as if it was thrown together and not created, as if each ingredient was cooked separately and then put together at the last minute without a chance for the flavors to marry.pappashrimp


First entrée was the Stuffed Shrimp Montage. Large oven baked shrimp are stuffed with crab cake and a parmesan cream sauce. There is no shortage of flavor here! If you’re looking to taste the shrimp, then there is too much flavor. Over seasoned and over sauced, these jumbo shrimp get lost in the flavor shuffle. The parmesan topped lobster is luckily restrained from the over seasoning. The salty characteristics of the parmesan actually work quite well with the very fresh lobster.


A smile is brought to my face when I see the dessert tray. Sweet potato pecan pie was a nice twist to the often too sweet dessert, while toasted pecans added a delicious crunch. Key lime pie is a personal favorite dessert, although this version is very sweet with only a hint of tartness, true key lime should be the opposite.pappapecan


Entrée prices range from the mid teens to upper forties, so diners have plenty of options. So what does all this add up to? A fun, loud, and bold restaurant that may please the everyday masses, but will leave true foodies with a little too much spice in their mouth.



798 W. Algonquin Rd

Arlington Heights, IL

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Eric Smith, NBC5Chicago Street Team

In the fourth year of installment, Fashion Focus Chicago once again lit up the runway with the latest couture fashions this past weekend at Millennium Park. A gathering of the City’s upscale fashionistas and industry insiders, this was a collection of creative intellectuals on the scene-to push the envelope of Chicago’s fashion industry. A call to all in the know that although we are in the Midwest-far away from the East and West coasts, the Windy City is here-determined to make an imprint in the marketplace, and we will do so with our own sense of style and flair.

Chicagos Hot Couture

Fashion in Focus

Within minutes of arriving I was graced with the presence of Melissa Gamble- Chairwoman of the Mayor’s Fashion Council, Jason Felger-Executive Vice President of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Alice Berry-Chicago Native-designer and Fashion Council member and the one and only Mayor Daley who launched the Council and subsequently Fashion Focus Chicago to establish the city as a fashion destination.

Most impressive was the fact that these collections debuted the next rising stars of top students from Chicago’s fashion design schools: Columbia College Chicago, The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago, Academy Chicago and the School of the Art Institute Chicago.


Dress Code 2009

From the looks presented on the runway this evening, the goal of establishing a fashion mecca here is well in sight! To learn more and score event tickets visit
Fashion Focus Chicago.

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DWD signNBC5meby April Lawson

They say green is the new black, but what the devil is a Nutrition Stylist? Debra Ward is a River North designer with a unique holistic approach to style. Her company DWD doesn’t just design clothing, but also bodies from the inside out. While some designers ensconce their clients in layers of diaphanous fabrics, DWD believes as within so without -viewing the person as a complete being. After 25 years in the business, Ward has evolved from her role as Wardrobe Consultant to Nutritional Stylist and now offers Nutritional Coaching in addition to chic urban style.

“We provide a nutritional plan based on fashion desires so you get an ideal body to go with the style. You get Little Black Dress meals, and DWD InsideWrapped Sweater Jabari Glynnissoups to maintain that body. It’s smart, sexy and healthy.” Says Debra.

You get the complete package:  whole mind, whole food and whole body. DWD is Located at 501 N. Wells near Illinois.

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Fashion Pictures 222

Desiree, NBC Chicago Street Team

I cannot think of a better time of the year for a Victoria’s Secret Grand Opening than during the week of Chicago’s 2009 Fashion Focus. And, in what better location than downtown’s Magnificent Mile? But you know what would be even better, given the spirit of Halloween? If an angel flew in from up above—wings and all—to celebrate with guests. Wait a minute. That did happen! Well, almost.

While Victoria’s Secret Angel, Supermodel Marisa Miller, wasn’t wearing her wings, but instead, a pair of tight black jeans, platform heels and a pink t-shirt with the words, “Victoria’s Secret Chicago,” it still felt like our prayers—whatever they may be—were answered. Despite the wet weather, both men and women lined-up around Michigan Avenue anxiously awaiting autographs, and decked out with the pink VS striped umbrellas the store provided.Fashion Pictures 223

At first, I was taken aback, annoyed even. Not just by the angry crowds, ‘He told us to wait out there, so why do they get to wait in here?’, but by the bodyguards wearing earpieces. ‘Surely Obama is not back for fashion week, and surely Marisa does not think she’s the president, does she?’ I thought. But, the moment Marisa floated out, everyone—myself included—praised the lord (or maybe cursed him).

Her nose was so perfect and tiny, her forearms so skinny and toned; even her dirty-blonde hair looked like a halo rose high above her head (someone must have handed her ten of those umbrellas this morning). The women wished they’d worn heels today and the men wished they’d either worn heels too or done 500 crunches. At least some of us remembered to wear our Body-By-Victoria’s Secret push-up bras (shhhh…it’s a secret).Fashion Pictures 196

As Marisa sat down to sign autographs and we all did back flips with each of her hair flips, there was too much Grand Opening action to ignore. Make-up artists not only painted faces but gave cheekbone consultations, sales women handed out gift cards in excess of $500, and orange juice in champagne glasses danced around waitresses’ heads. Hmmm…perhaps they were really mimosas – I never got my hands on one so I can’t be sure.

To continue the spirit of the season, the place was decorated like a scantily-clad Halloween—but better. Golden wings in the sky, flying bras, tassels, fringes, and translucent corsets. I even spotted baggy mom pajamas for the evening’s end; a perfect opposition to transition from hours of suffocating breast-pushing and stomach-squeezing.Fashion Pictures 212

But, as with all of Victoria’s Secrets, the experience is never quite complete without the creepy guy. Typically, he’s someone else’s boyfriend sitting in the only chair that happens to be right outside YOUR dressing room. It was my cue to leave when I asked creepy guy, ‘Here with the wife, ha?’ and he naively responded with, ‘Yea. Shopping with my wife and daughter.’ Gross. I’ve never ever gone underwear shopping with my dad. Not even while running errands at Wal-Mart as he’s in the automotive section.

Although the spirit of this holiday was over for me, I long to use my gift card another day, but mostly, for smaller forearmFashion Pictures 208s and a nose that does not move left to right while making facial expressions.

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Spa EM side 2by April LawsonSpa EM Front

If you are accustomed to the factory assembly line get ‘em in and crank ‘em out philosophy of the average manicure joint then you are in for a treat at Spa Emilia on 21 West Elm. After 21 years they have developed a reputation for the best manicures and pedicures in Chicago bar-none. On any given day you may find yourself seated next to some of the city’s most successful and savvy businesswomen. Anyone from Christy Hefner to our nations current Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers to the founder of the original White party. Even HARPO Studio’s books a weekly spa day with them.

Partners Grace Sniezynski and Elizabeth Gilewicz are endearing and committed to providing unparalled customer service. You will be greeted at the door with a cup of organic herbal tea whose bright fresh green color is surreal.  (Even the premium tea leaves are a customized mix by wellness gurus DWD and cannot be store bought.)  “We want customers to have a lovely, pampering experience … an escape from their stressful lives. So every manicure and pedicure includes a fabulous massage to relax them and improve blood circulation,” says Grace. “Our staff is mostly European. The difference is more extensive training than the usual one year in the U.S. To protect our business, we are very selective about who we hire. They must take pride in what they do.” Spa Emilia is a Gold coast neighborhood jewel that no woman should miss.

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Jeff BarakaJeff Baraka, NBC Chicago Street Team

jp shot2

Tomorrow night, singer/songwriter Jen Porter and Chicago inde label, Stonecutter Records are throwing a release party for her 4th original studio album, “Closer to the Surface”. She’ll perform the entire album with a 7-piece band.

Her style is expansive and universal, though best described within rock/folk rock and adult contem- porary genres. You can’t help but love her power house voice, rhythmic piano and mellow, acoustic guitar.

9pm, Thursday, 10-22-09

Martyrs’ Pub, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

$7 cover

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]Glenn Murray, NBC5 Street Team

The mortality rate for women with low to moderate income suffering from breast cancer remains alarmingly high. As a result, minority women are disproportionately affected. Understanding breast health and proper screening saves women’s lives.
To help raise awareness, Dance Pink presents a sultry evening of sizzling Latin dance music on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM at Rumba, 351 W. Hubbard Street, Chicago, Illinois tickets are $35 in Advance and $50 at the door. Dance Pink will benefit A Silver Lining Foundation.
The event features a Salsa lesson, fabulous raffle prizes including the grand prize a 6 day Cruise Vacation and an opportunity to dance with Chicago’s top instructors. Advance tickets are available for $35 which includes a buffet from 6:00-8:00 and one free drink. Tickets are $50 at the door. Complimentary cocktail and hors d’oeuvres will be served from 6-8pm.

Dance Pink: Tonight 6PM - 9PM Rumba 351 West Hubbard

Dance Pink: Tonight 6PM - 9PM Rumba 351 West Hubbard

The mission of Dance Pink is to raise awareness about the higher-risk and less positive outcomes of breast cancer among low-income and uninsured women and to raise funds to increase access to early detection and affordable screening.
Rhonda Bell, a Breast Cancer survivor who attributes her surviving the ordeal to her access to excellent health care, first held the event in 2007 with great success. This year promises to be even better in terms of support and attention.
I plan on attending Dance Pink tonight in support of all the friends and love ones who have suffered at the hands of this dreaded disease. I hope you’ll come out to support the event tonight. For advance tickets visit the web site http://www.dancepink.org.

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Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

No doubt, Chicago is jam packed with incredible musicians.  We are so lucky.

Here’s a talented lady who I’ve been fortunate to see perform at several shows and she completely blew me away every time – her voice, her personality, her charisma – wow, she’s got the whole package going on!  Be sure to catch Jen Porter this Thursday at Martyr’s as she celebrates the release of her new CD “Closer To The Surface“, recorded right here in Chicago.  It might just be one of your last opportunities to catch her in such an intimate setting…with any luck it won’t be too long until she’s touring the world promoting this CD!Jen Porter Party

Stonecutter Records

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Last season, the Chicago Bulls experienced a dramatically positive growth spurt. A team that actually lost at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the early part of the season grew together and gelled enough to qualify for the postseason. And in those playoffs, they gave the defending World Champion Boston Celtics all they could handle in a physical seven-game series that featured more overtime sessions than any other series in NBA history. It was probably the most exciting playoff series that the professional hardwood has ever seen, but a first round exit is still a first round exit, so 2008-09 was not exactly the most memorable season in Bulls history. But after building some positive momentum last season, what will the Bulls do with it now?

Their sophomore Head Coach Vinny Del Negro is as good a clue as any. Here are some of the highlights of what he’s told the media this preseason

About taking it to the next level…

“The 2nd half of last year I think we started to come into our own a little bit, kind of me feeling the guys out, them feeling me out how we’re gonna play. Now there’s a familiarity…now we just have to improve, you have to put the work in on the practice court and hopefully execute in games.”

On how little you can read into the Bulls 5-2 preseason record…

“Every time you’re keeping score, you always want to win, but sometimes there’s a lot of young players out there and that usually dictates some mistakes and the flow of the game can get changed a little bit when you’re trying to conserve some guys’ minutes, so the rotations aren’t down and that throws guys into different positions sometimes.”

On Tyrus Thomas, and his convalescence…

“He needs to get back in shape, he’s been out a little bit, and get the flow back offensively, defensively, be our shot blocker back there, and make open 15 footers. If he runs the court with his athleticism and gets after it defensively, it’ll give us a big boost. He knows what he needs to do, he just needs to go out and do it consistently.”

On improving the team’s much maligned defense…

“We have to find a way to get stops at key times, but also we need to rebound better defensively. Some times we’re getting key stops, but not getting that basketball, hopefully with a little more size the rebounding numbers will get better.”

The subject on everyone’s mind, the health of Derrick Rose…

“He needs to get back. It is a day-to-day thing. He’s been doing some running and he’s been on the bike. We may have him in shooting drills, but not full-contact drills…It is possible he will not be ready for the opener against San Antonio. I hope he practices tomorrow but it is really day-to-day.

Season tips off October 29th.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ sports-writing at:

-the site he founded The Sports Bank.net

-NBA analysis at Walter Football.com

-“Patrick Kane Chronicles” at Buffalo Sports Daily

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JenChicago, NBC Chicago Street Team

There’s something funny going on in River North on Tuesday, October 20th. Sarah Vargo of Maven and Fred Farris of Key Management have teamed up with The Joynt to host Stand Up Against Cancer which benefits local charity Imerman Angels. The party and the awareness are going down at 650 N. Dearborn (@ Erie) and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate all the good things that are happening under Johnny Imerman’s inspiration!

The show starts at 6:30 and features a laundry list of talented comedians along with headliner Kira Soltanovich, from Girls Behaving Badly and The Phony Phone Booth on The Jay Leno Show. Have you seen this bit? It’s hilarious! What WON’T people do for a free picture?!?! You can find the clips here or check it out in this week’s edition of The SAUCE, hosted by Yours Truly, below. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door with limited seating.


**Hugs and Kisses from JenChicago.com!

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Desiree, NBC Chicago Street Team If you didn’t make it to the Meals on Wheels 2009 Celebrity Chef Ball Friday night, then too bad so sad. The real celebrities of the evening were the guests; my girlfriends and I felt honored as the best chefs of Chicago’s premier restaurants cooked for a cause while serving us their sexiest dishes and delicious desserts. Celebrity chef hosts included Jimmy Bannos (Heaven on Seven), Stephanie Izard (Drunken Goat) and Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno). The annual event, held at Macy’s on State Street, benefits Meals on Wheels “to ensure Chicago’s seniors and disabled DSC00463population retain a lifestyle of independence and dignity.”

While tickets to the Chef’s Table sold out before Friday night, most guests came afterward for four hours of the fabulous Chef Tasting Party. Cocktails, gambling and music ensued on the seventh floor of Macy’s, and I spotted dresses and suits covered in guacamole, pork rib and lobster bisque soup before the night’s end. Favorites dribbling down my dress included the pequeno peppers stuffed with goat cheese from Tizi Melloul, butternut squash ravioli from Socca, sushi from Sunda, and ceviche from Adobo Grill.

Other featured restaurants included Boka, Vermillion, Lockwood at the DSC00462Palmer House Hilton, Osteria Via Stato, Terragusto and the Gage. If you missed Friday night though, The Local Tourist says you’re in luck: there’s another, smaller ball in Ravenswood tonight, benefiting the Scleroderma Foundation.

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Blagica, NBC Chicago Street Team
As I went through my singledom in Chicago, I used to glance at pregnant women and wonder what it’d be like when the day came that I was preggers. Would people do what I did and observe oncoming CTA passengers for possible expectant mothers – and give up my seat in an instant?  Would people hold doors for me as I used to do? Would folks at the grocery store offer to carry my bags to the car as other pregnant women before me? Would strangers judge me for drinking or eating something that they don’t’ think I should?

I hit my 28-week mark in a few days. Here are my observations to date – some may surprise you, as they did me.

Public Transportation
Believe it not, the majority of people do not offer up their seat to me. Of course, I’m fine on my feet (most days), but when I hop on the #3 or #4 in the morning, the people that are sitting in the very front (which is reserved for folks with needs or pregnant ladies) don’t usually glance up to see if someone else needs the seat.  At this point, I wonder, ‘Do I ask to sit down’? It’s an odd predicament to be in. The seat is for me, yet I feel weird that I have to ask to sit down. For crying out loud, I once hopped on the bus and saw a mother carrying her child standing at the front of the bus. I had to yelp over to the sitters and ask something to give up her seat.

Takeaway: Folks, when riding the CTA, take a peek to see who is stepping in to your train/bus. They may need the seat more than you.

Grocery Store
The Whole Foods and Dominick’s in the South Loop always offer to help me to my car.  Nice.

Takeaway: Jewel, you need to add this policy at the register.

Eat & Drink
I attended the Windy City Wine Festival with the hubby and was carrying around an EMPTY wine glass – this was something we all received when entering the grounds. I wasn’t even drinking wine and women all around me continued to snicker and talk about me. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. I went to the check-in of the festival and requested a bracelet to show everyone that I was a ‘designated driver’.

Takeaway: Treat others how you’d like to be treated. By the way, later in your pregnancy, a glass of wine week isn’t a bad thing.

Random Comments
I am always amazed by the amount of people that ask me ‘When are you due – you like you are about to pop’! Some random guy at an Au Bon Pain said something to this effect a few weeks back and I just stood there with my mouth agape. There is something about being pregnant that brings out the inquisitive nature in folks, I guess?

Takeaway: Would you like it if I leaned over to you and said, ‘Wow, you look like you are piling in the Portillo’s eh?’

Overall, people have been nice with doors and giving me space to move, but the natural human element of staring and wondering remains.

Anyone have interesting experiences of their own?  Do tell!

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Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

If you’re a fan of rock music then you must be very familiar with the legendary guitar riff’s of Rik Emmett.  He was part of the amazing power trio Triumph, providing killer licks in great songs like “Fight The Good Fight”, “Lay It On The Line”, etc.  Here’s an opportunity to catch him in an intimate environment and also help out a great cause, Pizza’s 4 Patriots:

Wow, what killer line-up.  As it turns out, several of those artists have appeared in my podcast Cara’s Basement:

Rik Emmett-

Ronnie Platt-

Kevin Chalfant-

See you at Durty Nellies on Saturday, October 24!

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Theresa Carter, The Local Tourist, NBC Chicago Street Team

The Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival is returning this December 12 to Congress Theater. The lineup is all set, except for one spot. The Last Banjo Standing contest is open through Thursday for a chance to open for Dr. Dog, Emmitt-Nershi Band, Majors Junction, How Far To Austin, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones and many more.

Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival - Avett BrothersThey’re keeping this a local affair, so competing bands must be from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, or Minnesota. Submit two tracks and then beginning October 16 send all your fans to vote daily.

Break a leg!

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Rikki Greenberg, NBC5 Street Team

It’s time to shake up your Saturday routine.

Enough with the afternoon mall trips and hours spent watching college football. Baseball is long gone and I’m pretty sure the laundry can wait another day so why not do something fresh and fun like catching a rugby game provided by the Chicago Lions RFC. Oh and you get to help raise a little money while you’re at it too.

The Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club and the Chicago Hope Academy High School have joined forces for the second annual “Lions for Hope” benefit on October 24th. The festivities begin with a duel between the Chicago Lions D1 squad and the undefeated D1 Pearl City, followed by a black tie (optional) banquet at 6 PM at the clubhouse building located at 2433 West Roosevelt Road, just west of Western Avenue.

Still trying to understand the concept of rugby in Chicago? I totally understand. It’s hard to fathom any team beyond Da Bears/Da Cubbies/Da White Sox in our beloved city. The Chicago Lions Rugby Football Club is not the weird, red-headed step child of the Detroit Lions nor are they are a  semi-professional 40+ softball league. The Lions have been around since 1964 and is a founding member of the USA Rugby Super League. They are the premier rugby union club in the Midwest and have reached the Rugby Super League and National 7’s playoffs nine times over the last decade (including the National 7’s Championship in 2007).

The event serves not only as a fundraiser, but a celebration of a partnership between the Chicago Hope Academy and the Chicago Lions RFC. The Chicago Hope Academy started its first rugby team coached and supported by Lions players last year. The young men and women who attend the coed, non-denominational college and life preparatory school were exposed not only to the sport of rugby, but to a positive and supportive mentoring relationship between them and the Lions players.

The banquet gives the public a chance to meet the Lions players, as well as Chicago Hope students, teachers, supporters, family and friends, as well as an opportunity to donate to two extremely encouraging local organizations.

Tickets to the event can be purchased for $100 (guests of players, teachers and staff are $50) online (Chicago Lions website and/or Evite) or by contacting Hope Academy President and Founder Bob Muzikowski (312-781-2739), as well as Chicago Lions RFC President Keith Brown (312-952-1028).

For more information about the game and/or event, make sure to visit http://www.chicagolions.com or http://www.chicagohopeacademy.com.

Can’t wait to see you there!

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team This not quite safe at work video, captured by John Tsarouchas of Palestra.net/ESPN UWIRE is a MUST WATCH! Fitz gets candid in describing the offensive line, which has not been very good at run-blocking or pass-blocking this season. (Other than pass and though, they’ve been just fine!) And they were especially bad again in Saturday’s win over Miami of Ohio. NU is 4-2, but in order for them to finish with a winning record, they’ll need to get their running game going, and the OL to play much better down the stretch against tougher competition. Hearing this Ozzie Guillenesque, not for the kiddies gem makes listening to 1,000 “we’re just focusing on what we do” and “we’re just focusing on our next game, not looking ahead” type cliches worth the while.

Enjoy by clicking here


See more of Paul M. Banks’ sports-writing at:

-the site he founded The Sports Bank.net

-NBA analysis at Walter Football.com

-“Patrick Kane Chronicles” at Buffalo Sports Daily

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team “It’s exciting in Chicago, it’s the first time in a long time that people are expecting a good season out of the Hawks, and that’s a good thing. I feel like we could be a better team than we were last year but we know it’s not going to easy,” said Patrick Sharp, one of the Hawks’ top scorers during 2009-10 training camp.

Expectations are indeed high for a team deemed by many the Western Conference favorite. It began this past weekend in Finland, in a two game split with the Florida Panthers, and debuted in North America with a loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. Despite the inevitable ups and downs of a roller coaster off-season, the Hawks are trendy like Taylor Swift when it comes to picking a Cup participant.blackhawksshow

“They’re warranted, we have some good hockey players here. Going all the way to game five against Detroit opened some eyes and there’s expectations,” said the newly acquired John Madden. There is one Blackhawk who will be under the spotlight more than any other. If Left Wing Patrick Kane is looking for a song to encapsulate his upcoming season, perhaps its 2pac’s “All Eyes on Me.” No player in the Olympics or the NHL will have the spotlight shined as bright upon him this winter. “Kaner” is the face of the franchise, EA Sports NHL ’10 video game, and when February comes, Team USA hockey.

And when the Hawks take to the road, opposing fans will heckle him, worse than Hawks fans heckle any member of the Red Wings. Of course, on the other hand, a lot of people in this country have very short term memories, so if we see a couple “Hatrick Kane” nights early in the season, pretty much everyone will forget what happened in Buffalo on August 9th.

For a more in-depth preview of the forwards click here, goaltending and defensemen go here. For more with Patrick Kane, follow this link.

The Blackhawks open their home slate versus Colorado tonight at 7:30. There will be a special red carpet event on Madison Street from 5:00 to 5:30 P.M. Players will arrive via limousine on Madison Street in front of Gate 3 and will each be introduced before walking down a red carpet and into the United Center. Blackhawks Radio Play-By-Play Announcer John Wiedeman will serve as the master of ceremonies for the event, which attracted thousands of fans last season.  It’s free and open to the public and also features appearances by Blackhawks alumni, executives, broadcasters, Tommy Hawk, the team’s mascot, and the Bud Light Ice Crew.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ sports-writing at:

-the site he founded The Sports Bank.net

-NBA analysis at Walter Football.com

-“Patrick Kane Chronicles” at Buffalo Sports Daily

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Aristotle famously declared that “man without a city is either beast or god,”  by which he meant that communal participation is the defining characteristic of being human.  So when Anthony Luciano, the New York based accessories designer whose newest collection of lux handbags is flying off the shelves at Neiman Marcus, responds aphoristically in an email that “I’m not participating in the recession,” you have to  wonder if he is some glib beast whose head is stuck in the economic sand or, quite possibly, the incarnate deity that  every retailer could use  at the moment.

Anthony Luciano
Anthony Luciano
“I can only expand,”  he wrote in another email exchange, ” by saying I believe that even in tough economic times people are still drawn to beautiful and unique things which is what I do best. I have, of course, put more price conscious items into the line to attract a more discerning client but I will always do special custom made lux accessories.”
Eureka. Who needs any more bedazler logo crazed “status” bags? Who ever needed those in the first place?  In his current collection, Mr Luciano’s uses soft waxed and hand painted python to remarkable effect, producing, for instance, weightless hobo carryalls with over exaggerated leather tassels and irresistibly soft clutches with feminine floral touches. The waxing and painting produces solid colored  surfaces that remind one of licorice or liquid, even. Colored python skins have a subtlety akin to watercolors.
Even in July of last year someone had the good sense to point  out to Women’s Wear Daily that “if you want people to part with their money, they have to feel like they are getting something for it.” One wishes more retailers and designers shared WWD’s and Mr. Luciano’s insight. People don’t want basics in a down economy. They already have plenty of those. And they’ve already had it with  items whose prices bear no relation to craftsmanship.
purple python clutch
purple python clutch
Even  if you’ve only recently started pinching your pennies, giving you something for you money is not a new concept for Mr. Luciano. Inside each of his handbags you’ll find he has sewn in a penny, his trademark since he started his company in 2000. “It’s an Italian tradition. When you give a handbag or wallet as a gift you should put money in it first for good luck.”
WHERE: Neiman Marcus Michigan Ave on Thursday October 8th and Friday October 9th
WHAT:  Meet Anthony Luciano and  watch him construct pieces by hand on the selling floor. Take the opportunity to collaborate with the designer and choose from a variety of hand picked frames from his vast collection to create a custom bag.  Anthony will help you choose the perfect leather and sketch a design and make your unique piece.

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Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

Funny thing about secrets, everyone knows one, and everyone wants to hear the juiciest one. It can be something as scandalous as infidelity, or something as innocent as that one ingredient you just can’t share. When it comes to dining out, everyone wants to be the one to discover that one great place no one knows about yet. Psst…I have a secret, Parker’s in Downers Grove just might be that place.parkerpizza

Away from the spotlight of the big city, Parker’s boasts a large menu with a focus on freshness. Glance over the menu and you will know exactly where your particular dish hails from. Our journey starts in Naples with their VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) certified Margherita pizza. Buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, and Basil adorn a thin crust with just the right amount of chew.parkersalad

Surfer dudes will make the trip to South Beach with a salad tower loaded with grilled salmon, avocado, fresh mango, scallions, ice berg, and drizzled with honey cumin dressing. Don’t head for land just yet, the cold water oysters Rockefeller are stuffed with baby spinach, parmesan cream sauce, and topped with melted Swiss cheese.parkeroyster

To warm up on a cool night the excellent bouillabaisse is loaded with king crab, mussels, and other favorites in a rich saffron tomato broth that pleases your soul. For a visual treat, the Lake Superior Whitefish Wellington is a show stopper. This is a case where all the ingredients should be enjoyed in each bite. On it’s own the whitefish is a tad dry, but when you add the Shitake’s, pine nuts, leeks, and the lemon beurre blanc sauce is when you discover its true harmony.

Fear not, carnivores shall not be left out in the cold. The lamb trio is a must try for the lamb lover. Two tender chops star in a dish accompanied by lamb sausage and braised shoulder. If low and slow is more your speed, then the red wine braised short ribs will have your mouth watering.parkercotton

You must not leave without dessert! While many fine choices are found on the menu, the absolute show stopper is the cotton candy. Oh yes, the childhood treat that you grew up with is available and is more fun than ever. Spun in house, this Vermont maple sugar treat will tickle your funny bone as well as your taste buds.

Entrée’s range in the mid twenty dollar range which is reasonable for this amount of freshness and fun. So the secret’s out! Parker’s offers comfortable upscale dining with a fun youthful twist.


1000 31st Street

Downers Grove. IL

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Lindsay_small_2Lindsay Saewitz, NBC Chicago Street Team

Old Towners rejoiced as Old Town Social opened to the public in late August, adding a much-needed casual yet sophisticated spot to Old Town’s roster of pubs, dive bars, and fratty hang-outs. But the locals weren’t the only ones excited…North Siders and Downtowners alike came together to welcome the new bar to the neighborhood.

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in to Old Town Social is the unique decor, combining turn of the century style with IMG_4298modern day chic. The bar is filled with rich mahogany wooden structures, draping red curtains, bold chandeliers, and even a reading room complete with books and a fireplace. The main bar area lives up to the “Social” part of its name by featuring long, communal tables, but tucked away you’ll find a handful of intimate table-for-twos embedded into the wall. Venture to the back of the bar up a few steps where you’ll find more intimate booths and an additional cocktail area with its own bar. Not only will you get a drink quicker in this spot, but you’ll also be in the perfect position for some people watching.

Old Town Social’s menu is quite impressive, featuring upscale bar food and small plates from a former Blackbird sous chef. You will also not be disappointed with the drink selection, which includes an extensive list of craft beers and seasonal specialty cocktails.

The classiness may start to dwindle as you party into the wee hours and suddenly notice you’re back in an overcrowded bar with 90’s hip hop blaring over the speakers. But fast-forward a few weeks to when the novelty dies down and the bar has solidified its identity, and I think you will find that Old Town Social is just the new thing that Old Town has been waiting for.

IMG_4293Old Town Social
455 W. North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610

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]Glenn Murray, NBC5 Street Team

Authors and Artists Chicago celebrates its 6th year with a 3 event 12 hour day this Saturday. The event features independent writers, artists, and music acts at 3 different locations around the Chicagoland area.

Saturday from noon to 5 Azizi Books at Lincoln Mall in Matteson hosts a book signing featuring workshops on self publishing and how to write your first book. Featured author will be mystery writer Sylvia Hubbard, who founded the writer support group the Motown Writers Network and has held conferences on writing, self publishing and blogging. (For more information visit www.azizibooks.com ). Admission is free.

From 6 – 9PM the events moves back into the city for “Art Across Cultures” at Murphy Hill Gallery 3333 West Arthington 3rd Floor of the Homan Square Building. The super gallery will host over 20 artisans and also will host the featured authors for a book signing. Admission is free www.murphyhillgallery.com

Tonight at 9 Ai Japanese Restaurant will host “Unplugged” featuring performances by top independent acts Spike Rebel, Aniba Hotep and Paulette “Passion” Stinson. Admission is $25. As part of this event 2 lucky attendees will win 6 day cruise vacations in a special drawing.

For more information on the events visit www.authorsandartistslive.com

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If you weren’t able to make it to New York Fashion week this year, perhaps you can make it to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile on Saturday.

David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, the design duo behind the label Rag and Bone, will be making a personal appearance in Chicago, first on the 5th floor of Saks between noon and 2 pm and then at Intermix between 2 and 3:30pm.

This is the second visit by the lads to the Windy City in a year. Since they were last here at Hejfina in Bucktown, they have opened a second store in New York’s Soho neighborhood and both have become fathers for the second time.

It’s a testament to the speed with which this young label has ascended as a retail darling, and to the positive reviews for their  Spring 2010 show, that they  can swoop into town and, in a “who’s-your-daddy” show of force, land at both Saks and Intermix.

Fall 2009 collection

Fall 2009 collection

While the Fall collection was inspired by a trip to Japan and the movies because, as Wainwright confessed, “I’ve always wanted a samurai sword and I’ve always loved Star Wars,”  Rag and Bone’s strength is in what he describes as “our English, military-school heritage mixed with a utilitarian, made-in-America ethos.”

The focus of their appearances in Chicago will be to promote the women’s line but guys don’t let that intimidate you. The lads make, among other things, some of the most covetable vests and leather jackets you’re likely to see, so you should run accross to the men’s store at Saks and invest in your future (stylish self).

Saks Fifth Avenue is located at 700 North Michigan Avenue and Intermix is located at 40 East Delaware in Chicago. Intermix will be offering  15% off any purchase of Rag and Bone.


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