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Archive for the ‘Bears’ Category

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

When the Bears shift location of their preseason practices and scrimmages, you truly know that autumn is near. On Thursday, the Bears broke Training Camp in Bourbonnais, and packed their bags for heading north to Halas Hall. It’s there, in the posh suburb of Lake Forest where the Bears will finish up the second half of their 2009 NFL preseason. The immediate focus will be on prepping for the preseason home opener versus the New York Giants on Saturday night.

This practice game will feature three Bears stars: Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, and Greg Olsen, who did not play in the preseason opener. “We want them to have a good series before they come out. Our history has been, for the most part, that in the second game the guys will play into the second quarter,” Lovie Smith told the media following the final practice session at Camp Bourbonnais.

The final session downstate featured a cutesy switcharoo. Many players switched jerseys with each other. Watching quarterback Jay Cutler dropping back and throwing passes while wearing Brian Urlacher’s number was a unique, if not bizarre experience. Usually #6 Cutler wearing Urlacher’s #54 was a great show of solidarity, and should make people forget what ex-teammate and current Minnesota Vikings receiver Bobby Wade claims Urlacher allegedly said about Cutler.

Lovie spoke about Cutler and Urlacher bonding through jersey sharing. “They kind of look alike, big stature, but that’s a tradition with our players right now, a lot of energy in camp. There’s nothing like the last day of training camp…I can still tell who Devin Hester is, some of the little skill guys even in a lineman number, you can still feel good about who he is,” Lovie said of the chicanery and tomfoolery.

So far this preseason has been industry standard. You’ve seen…

1. The multitude of really dumb fans reading too much into preseason gamesbears-logo.jpg (i.e. idiots who now think the Cutler deal was a waste just because he looked terrible during the glorified practice in Buffalo last week).
2. Desperate sportswriters hyping up anything at all in order to manufacture something to talk about out of a non-story (Cutler’s Saturday night comments about Devin Hester were still being discussed on sports talk radio today.)

3. Position battles that might not sort themselves out until when games actually have significance. (Other than Hester, who’s going to play Wide Receiver?)

Expect more of all three between now and when the season kicks off in northern Wisconsin September 13th.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

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Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video) In this day and age of ringtone rappers, one-hit wonders, and soft-core sex-laden R&B, it’s like a breath of fresh air when a hidden gem can shine through all the filler. With a small selection of songs in commercial radio’s playlist, consumers sometimes are force-fed a daily dose of “microwave music” where the supply often overshadows the demand. Quality soul music is more abundant than one may think…you just have to “listen”. Julie Dexter is here to fulfill that demand. The world-renowned, Birmingham, England-bred, singer/songwriter displayed her dynamic range at a rare showcase this past weekend at the new “it” spot, julie dThe Shrine (located at 2109 S. Wabash). Julie Dexter’s vibrant style and jazzy vocals exude soul and her followers came out to support her. The showcase presented by IGM Entertainment had a record crowd turn out to hear the UK songstress perform favorites such as “Ketch A Vibe” and “Faith” off her 2002 album, “Dexterity”. The very popular jazz group, Zzaje, backed the intimate performance at The Shrine. Dexter, who has shared the stage with soulful legends such as Sade and modern heavy-hitters like Jill Scott, Eric Roberson, and Amel Larrieux kicked off her set with a tribute to another legend that inspired her by the name of Michael Jackson. She later transitioned to a jazzy bebop version of Beyonce’s “Déjà vu” that would have made the best “scatters” proud. After paying homage to other greats, Julie Dexter gave the crowd what they came to see…a one-hour set spanning her decade plus career from her first EP, 2000’s “Peace of Mind” to 2005’s “Conscious”. It’s not too late to get familiar with this classically trained musician who writes, arranges, composes and produces her own music. “The Julie Dexter Collection” drops this fall. Do yourself a favor and “Ketch the Vibe”. www.juliedexter.com

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC Chicago Street Team

Three weeks a go the buzz was humming about Market, the new West Loop sports bar that was opening on Randolph Street.  Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams is supposedly part owner of the new venue along with two other Chicago restaurateurs.  Unfortunately, on opening night the restaurant was serving food, but not beer, wine or cocktails, due to the lack of a liquor license.   However, last week Market received the green light from the city and is making up for time lost by serving great cocktails to complement their terrific food.

Market is a multi-faceted restaurant and sports bar that offers guests traditional American classics with an aesthetic flair by Chef Joe Rosetti.  The menu boasts a variety of appetizers, salads, specialty sandwiches, pizza, burgers and main dishes.  Chef Rosetti’s cuisine is definitely above average  compared to other recently opened luxury sports bar in the city.  The “Mac and Cheese Muffins” and “Popcorn Shrimp” are must have starters.  Their braised beef and BBQ pulled pork “Sliders” are not only very tasty, but plentiful.  Sanwedges to try are “The Body Builder”, piled high with oven roasted turkey  and “The Strip Club”, consisting of Chile rubbed chicken and peppered bacon.  If you like turkey burgers, then try “The Herky”, served with avocado and thick cut turkey bacon and truffled fries.  Folks are raving about the “Mustard and Maple Glazed Salmon” main dish and the giant chocolate chip dessert served warm a la mode style.  There really isn’t a dish that is not worth trying at Market and you will forget that it’s supposed to be bar food.

Market’s main dining room is sports bar chic and has a casual vibe.  The first floor features 20 42′ inch flat screen televisions and one 92′ inch projection screen.  They have three outdoor places to eat and drink, including the Beer Garden, Rooftop Lounge and Sidewalk Cafe.  The summer months should make this a great place to hang and enjoy great weather and food.

Market is located at 1113 W. Randolph in the West Loop.  The restaurant opens for lunch at 11 am.  Log onto www.marketbarchicago.com for more information.  Watch Fete Select TV on www.efete.net for an inside look into the newest and hottest restaurants in Chicago.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

Mike Ditka and Mikayla Sweeney

Mike Ditka and Mikayla Sweeney

 

Bright lights and big dreams came to life during the 22nd Annual Wish Ball last Saturday. More than 700 guests filed into Chicago’s Union Station – and not to take a train. The space was transformed into an area ripe for bidding, eating, drinking and dancing. Honorary Chair Mike Ditka, former head coach of the Chicago Bears, was on hand to greet guests and show his support for the Foundation. Also on the scene were six “Wish Kids,” sporting big smiles and their Sunday best.

Before the seated dinner, guests perused the silent auction items while making their way through a mini Taste of Chicago, sampling bites from the Park Grill, cibomatto, Blue 13, La Madia, Morton’s and Mike Ditka’s. Emceed by Peggy Kusinski of NBC 5 Chicago, the night included a special show by performers from The Second City and Barack Obama – um, that would be our very own Street Teamer Reggie Brown!

Peggy Kusinski (NBC 5 Sports) and Reggie Brown (NBC 5 Street Team)

Peggy Kusinski (NBC 5 Sports) and Reggie Brown (NBC 5 Street Team)

The live auction raised some serious cash for the Foundation with enticing items such as a private dinner party at the winner’s home, prepared by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard ($10,000) and an opportunity to race a Ferrari 355 Challenge race car ($12,550). At the end of the evening, guests enjoyed dancing to the Bluz Brothers Band and sampling sweets from a dessert table donated by the Affina Hotel.

Proceeds from Wish Ball 2009 will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois, helping to grant nearly 150 of the 700 wishes the Foundation will give this year to Illinois children facing life-threatening medical conditions. This event is made possible by support from generous sponsors, including sponsor GATX Corporation and Platinum Sponsors Baxter, Macy’s, PotashCorp and Unum. Since being founded in Illinois in 1985, the Foundation has granted more than 8,000 wishes. For more information, visit  www.wishes.org or call 312.602.WISH.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

It may only be Wednesday, but it’s not too early to start thinking about what you’ll be doing this weekend. Even though the current economic climate has kept many wallets closed rather than open lately, you may want to consider taking a gamble on spending – literally.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 5th annual Casino Chicago Hold Em’ Poker Tournament will be held this Saturday at the Chicago Marriot Downtown Magnificent Mile (540 N. Michigan Avenue). The largest charity gaming event in the Midwest cfflogo11couldn’t be pulled off without a little help, so thanks to the new 500 million-dollar Horseshoe Casino and Larry Roesche Family Auto,  this successful fundraiser can continue.

Doors open at 6:00 pm with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, which will be served throughout the evening. The first round of the poker tournament and all games including blackjack, roulette and craps will begin at 7:00 pm. The winner of the tournament will earn a spot in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this June. Previous winner Jerry Azumah (former Chicago Bear) will be back in the hot seat to defend his title, among other notable Chicago influencers like Richard Roper.

You don’t have to play to enjoy the open bar, food stations and live piano music from Mike Stuionsky of the Red Hed Piano Bar. Tickets range from $500 for tournament players and non-player guests, to $100 for Casino guest tickets only.  Which ever route you take, you can’t lose, as your contributions help those with cystic fibrosis win the game of life.

For tickets visit: www.cfholdem.com

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC Chicago Street Team

Finding a good place to watch the big game can sometimes be a challenge.  The challenge is finding a place that has a good crowd, plenty of televisions, but most importantly great food and drinks.  Chicago has a lot of those places to choose from, but if you just head a little north of downtown, O’Donovan’s Pub & Restaurant is the place to be.xmas-20081

O’Donovan’s, located in the North Center neighborhood, can attract a large crowd.  However, the venue is spacious enough for everyone to get a table or a seat.  The food tastes much better than the average pub in town and the cocktail specials are just what you’re looking for in this economy.  Their menu consists of burgers, sandwiches, paninis, wraps, soups, salads and a variety of appetizers.  But they also have hearty entrees such as “Prime Rib”, “BBQ Baby Back Ribs”, “Brick Chicken” and “Chicken Marsala”.  The mashed, baked and au gratin potato side dishes alone will have you salivating.  O’Donovan’s has weekly drink specials.  Depending on the day, you can enjoy five dollar martinis, five dollar champagne cocktails, or half off a bottle of wine.  There is also a thirty cent wing and two dollar burger and fries night.  Their Sunday brunch features an all you can eat buffet for $13.95 that includes an omelette and waffle station.  O’Donovan’s Easter brunch will increase to $15.95 per adult and $7.95 per kid.

A nice touch that also adds a little entertainment to O’Donovan’s is Al James the magician.  Al provides ‘table-side” magic for guests that includes card, coin and rope tricks.  He creates images with balloons for kids, which makes the restaurant family friendly.   O’Donovan’s outside cafe and beer garden makes it the perfect hangout place during the summer months, which keeps north-siders coming back again and again.

 O”Donovan’s is located at 2100 W. Irving Park Road.  For more information or to make brunch reservations call (773) 478-2100 or log onto www.odonovansbar.com.  For more restuarant reviews and to get an inside look at the newest and best Chicago restaurants, watch Fete Select TV on www.efete.net.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team When the downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade kicks off Saturday at noon, many Chicagoans will be reminded why this is a Bears town first. One place they’ll be sporting blue and orange in lieu of green is “Da Bus,” a renovated old school bus celebrating the Chicago Bears. I’ve been on Da Bus, which features a shrine to and autographs from pretty much every Bears Hall of Famer you can name. The tailgate surrounding it is THE place to be when pre-gaming for the Bears at Soldier Field.

Da Bus, kicking off its 20th season of tailgating with its annual placement in the parade, is proud to hook up with the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a charity that takes care of underprivileged children. Da Bus, along with a float from country radio station US-99, will be joined by the kids from The Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in their march along the parade route.dabus

I’ll be hitching a ride as well and earlier this week I spoke with bus owner/developer and Bears superfan Tim Shanley. “Da Bus is float number 36 this year, which puts us back on television. Both WGN and ABC are covering this event, so don’t forget to hit the record button before you leave the house on Saturday,” Shanley said.

For those looking to get “Irish,” Shanley’s crew and I will be hitting a parade afterparty at a hotel bar downtown. “Da Bus will supply sandwiches, bottled water, Pepsi and 7-UP for the duration of the parade, and we will start to really celebrate when we park at the Hilton near Kitty O’Shea’s, which will be celebrating the day with Irish music and plenty of cold beer,” Shanley proclaimed.

This weekend go green and also GO BEARS!

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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