Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Erik Sorensen, NBC5 Street Team

It will be a somber St. Patrick’s Day for those of us slowly coming to terms with the absence of our beloved South Side Irish Parade. On March 25th of 2009, the South Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee announced that the event would be cancelled, indefinitely. The decision was welcomed by some, but widely regarded as the end of a cherished era by most.

For many, the parade was as much a staple for their neighborhood as any event; so much so, that it grew in popularity every year and eventually became too large to manage. Or so the explanation goes.

South Side Irish Parade Route

While there were many legitimate factors that influenced the cancellation, (namely public intoxication, trampled property, unruly behavior) none represent what gave the parade its heart and soul: the families. It was about gathering to celebrate our Irish heritage, but you always got the sense there was more to it than that. Droves of families and friends poured faithfully each year into Western Avenue like a green human river; walking distances from as short as their front lawns to neighborhoods miles away.

Some of my earliest and fondest memories can be attributed to that parade. I watched it with my family and relatives as a child; marched in it as a boy scout; attended it with dear friends as a teenager; played in it as part of the Marist High School Marching Band and returned to it as a spectator, and an adult. It was an event to share with your children, and your children’s children. A gathering of proud people surrounded by the buildings and streets they love. It was the celebration of the neighborhoods the event represented, and the stores you rode your bike to as a kid. It was the South Side Irish Parade, and it was ours.

(Replacing the event will be the South Side Irish Parade Family Fest, held on Saturday, March 13th, hosted by the Beverly Arts Center. The daylong festival features family-friendly activities including: bag pipers, an Irish soda bread contest, a small children’s parade, dancers, a best dressed “Irish dog” contest and an array of Irish-themed arts.)

Admission (from 11am-4pm): $10 Adults,
$7 Seniors, Free for children under 12
Admission (after 4pm): All tickets $25


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Chasity Chaos, NBC Chicago Street Team

Penny Starr Jr., producer of “The Velvet Hammer Burlesque” a self-titled documentary film on the Los Angeles neo-burlesque troupe, will be in town to conduct a burlesque workshop August 29 at Think Big Studios located at 2120 W. Grand Ave.Penny Starr Jr

The granddaughter of Philadelphia’s legendary burlesque performer Penny Starr, Starr Jr. decided to dedicate herself to uplifting the legacy of her grandmother after producing the film. “You can only live with the circus for so long before you want to join,” said Starr Jr.

The workshop boasts the following classes:

11am-12pm – A Burlesque Routine in 10 Moves or Less

12:15pm-1:15pm – Rhinestone Application & Design Principles

1:30pm-2:30pm – Take it Off: Pop vs. Peel Striptease Techniques

In addition to holding the workshops, Starr Jr. will also assist Chicago’s own burlesque production company Vaudezilla in celebrating the year anniversary of BROADZILLA!, a free burlesque show held the last Friday of every month at Exit, 1315 W North Av.

For more information on the workshop, visit http://vaudezilla.com/pennystarrjr.htm

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team




It was only because of the invitation from my best friend who was visiting from out-of-town that I went to Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement 1956-1968 at the Field Museum.  It just kinda seemed old hat – I’ve studied civil rights and didn’t think I had anything to gain from the exhibit, so it wasn’t really on my radar.  But, as I viewed the exhibit and rounded the corner from the first wall, I found myself frozen in place and time, and in tears.

The Road to Freedom is the largest exhibit of civil rights photos and memorabilia that has been assembled in twenty years.  As soon as I entered the space, I was struck by the solemn and reverent air, an ambiance created by low lights, deep blue paint, the continual looping narrative of a video tape about the civil rights area and, of course, the photographs. The solemnity was so profound that people spoke in hushed tones and there was the occasional “shhhhhhhhh” directed toward children.

Alone . . .

Alone . . .

While the civil rights era is not a new subject for me,  nor for most of us, the images were compelling.  I was struck by the youth of the people photographed, unknowns as well as Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, John Lewis and, of course, Dr. King.  But, my breakdown occurred when I reached the photos of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High. Young Elizabeth Eckford did not get the message that the date for the African American students to start school had been pushed back by one day. So, this fifteen-year-old girl arrived alone and was the target of unimaginable venom. Even as I look at the picture today, I get chills as I think of the strength it must have taken for her to keep moving.

The exhibit gave a clear sense of the commitment people had to this movement that lasted not days, weeks or months, but years. Years to attain basic civil rights. Years.  Commitment.  Personal danger.

As I moved further through the exhibit, I was captivated by photos of people on the sidelines. African-Americans cheering on the protesters – both Black and White.  Whites glaring as protesters passed in front of their homes.

I remember after Roots aired, a popular Black male comedian joked with great braggadocio about what he would have done to massa if he were Kunta Kinte.  The Road to Freedom made me wonder: what would I have done if I were alive then? Would I have been on the front line or would I have been on the sidelines cheering the protestors on or would I have been too scared to participate in any way whatsoever.  I then asked myself – is what I’m doing now reflective of what I would have done then? What about you? Are you a participant or a spectator? Are you committed to a cause? Passionate about it?

I urge you to visit the Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement 1956-1968, and take your children or a child in your life and ponder these questions.  It is a powerful reminder of changes that can be made with sacrifice and commitment.  The exhibit ends on September 7th.

Looking for more To-Do?  Visit www.so-LAZE.com!

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Desiree, NBC Chicago Street Team
“Hi, I’m Desiree, Gal about the Globe,” I excitedly shouted, as I was introduced to Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizzare Foods. Andrew, standing proudly in front of his “Strange Foods” table, smiled back, shook my hand and took my business card as I proceeded to flatter him, recounting why I love what he does and love to do it too. Well, the travel part that is; not really so much as eating chocolate covered grasshoppers, scorpions, caterpillars, or a stingray’s heart for breakfast.DSC00365

Andrew, one of the “special guests” of last night’s Dos Equis Most Interesting Academy at the Museum of Science and Industry, was a sweetheart. His brown eyes were a bit glazed over from tirelessly greeting guests and plugging the goey-duck clams considered a delicacy in China (that’s pronounced gooey—duck), but he took a moment to ask how I got started in this “biz,” referring to the travel industry and working as a tour operator. “Well…” I realized that my story began when I up and moved to Rome to study in college, which followed up with me moving to London, Chicago, and the rest is history. He laughed with that coy, famous smile and told me something very valuable about myself. While he’s met a few other tour operators traveling the globe, their stories are the same, “they all got hooked while studying in college.”

This is funny to me, as I didn’t originally mean to keep traveling. I just didn’t want to go home. I wanted to stay in Rome. But, for the last few years at least, perhaps traveling has proven to be about the journey and not quite the destination as my trips have been whirlwinds. I conceded, asking where he’s actually from, and of course he responded, “New York City.” Although Andrew is from the center of the universe, I didn’t hold it against him, since, given his occupation, he’s probably the only New Yorker that makes it out of Manhattan. Likewise, he loved that I’m from Texas and recounted a show of his in the Austin Hill Country last year, just before we took a couple photos.DSC00363

Andrew returned to his “Strange Foods” table, pampering the large, phallus-shaped clams and enthusiastically posed for more photos. But, it was not our last encounter. Throughout the evening, I was dragged over for more pictures with various groups of friends, forgetting that, hmmm…perhaps Andrew would rather us just try the clams instead, and get on with it. Most guests stuck with blood sausage, another favorite of his, and watered it down with some food located at a table nearby that should’ve been referred to as the “Safe Foods” table, as it included chips and salsa as well as buffalo wings.

Footnotes: Thanks to Reggie Brown, fellow NBC Chicago Street Team member (and famous Barack Obama impersonator) for originally introducing me to Andrew Zimmern and taking some photos.

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Hungry Z, NBC Chicago Street Team

The Taste of Chicago was born July 4th in 1980, and is now the second largest tourist attraction in Illinois. For 10 days, this free admission festival is the place to be, injecting the city with a spirit of hunger and attracting a few news stories along the way. To add some spectacle to all the gluttony, there will be live performances by Ne-Yo, Counting Crows, Wallflowers, Barenaked Ladies and more.

In the midst of these hard economic times, Taste will offer a better value than ever this year. Each restaurant will offer a choice of two Taste portions instead of one. The taste portions are smaller and cheaper sample versions of the regular-sized portions.

Fifty different vendors will be vying for a spot in your belly, but not all of them deserve it. Must-try items include B.J’s Mustard fried catfish, O’Brien’s Celtic corn, Original Rainbow cones, and Garrett’s caramel and cheese popcorn.

Visit NBCChicago.com for a full list of Hungry Z’s Taste hits and misses.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


Arturo Gomez and Megan Klehr (Photo by Tyler Curtis)

Arturo Gomez and Megan Klehr (Photo by Tyler Curtis)

It’s not every day that you run into billionaire Kenneth Griffin (#97 on Forbes 2008 list of the 400 richest Americans) but he was one of  many donors, art enthusiasts and collectors who attended the sold out Young Modern event last Friday. More than 1,200 guests attended the late night celebration which was part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s two-week festivities surrounding the opening of the new Modern Wing.

Mother and son duo Margo and Jason Pritzker co-chaired the event which included much more than gallery hopping and cocktail sipping.  Those appreciating the art of fashion enjoyed a show featuring local designers Marisa Swystun and Michelle Barone. Music was also a large component and included celebrity DJ’s Tommie Sunshine, Dark Wave Disco and DJ LoPro, with additional performances by Deep Blue Fields, Goran Ivanovic Group, Kalyan Pathak and Jazz Mata. Performance art by Industry of the Ordinary, and Igor Josifov took place in various galleries in the Modern Wing. Famed music and video director Vincent Haycock of Debonair Social Club transformed a portion of the space into a club-like atmosphere complete with multiple bars, lounge furniture and yes – servers holding out pizza boxes offering up slices of sustenance.

Nate Berkus and Friends (Photo by Tyler Curtis)

Nate Berkus and Friends (Photo by Tyler Curtis)

The event in itself was a work of art and could not have been executed without some of the city’s young executives, artists, entrepreneurs and nightlife impresarios. The Art Institute assembled a host committee which included Toni Canada, Glenn Eden, Claudia Gassel, Roxy Goebel, Arturo Gomez, Ted Haffner, PJ Huizenga, Brook Jay, James Kao, Sam Peter, Eric Sheinkop, Marisa Swystun, Stephen Tourell, Patrick Wood and Alex Zamiar. Sponsors of the event included Deloitte LLP, NAVTEQ, FIJI Water, PricewaterhouseCoopers, POM Wonderful and Grey Goose.

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Reggie Brown, NBC Chicago Street Team

May 1st marked the season opener for Mario’s Italian Lemonade, the  nostalgic gem of Little Italy that’s been serving some of Chicagoland’s most treasured treats since 1954. But this isn’t your average lemonade stand. I had the chance to hang curbside with owner Mario DiPaolo and took home more than an order of Italian ice, I got a glimpse into the history behind Mario’s.


While Al Capone’s crew was busy mixing up moonshine and other types of hooch on the block, the Dipaolo’s were mixing up something of their own.  It all started back in 1954 when Mario’s parents, Mario and Dorothy opened up the first lemonade stand.  In 1959, the family bought the property at 1068 W Taylor St where Mario Sr. and son built the structure which evolved from a simple green countertop to its present facade, where it still stands today. Back then, it used to take little Mario 2 hours to make one 3 1/2 gallon batch of lemonade by hand with a single crank machine.  With the product increasing in demand, an automatic machine was incorporated into the picture to help increase the supply.The frozen lemonade sold for 2 cents and came in a squeeze cup, no spoon or straw.  Aside from the time passed and the unavoidable affects of inflation, little else has changed around the stand since the old days.

Needless to say, the stand holds a lot of sentimental value for Mario, which even granted him the opportunity to meet his wife Maria, one of the unsung heros of the family business.

“A girl asked for a job, we fell in love, and we’re married for 25 years. She’s a big part of our business and our success,” Mario said.

It’s still a family affair. The Dipaolo’s, their three children and extended family  all contribute to the group effort. The Dipaolo’s keep serving up smiles by honoring old school business ethics.

“The customer is the most important person in the business. It takes years to get ’em and one bad time to lose ’em,” Mario said. “God put me on the face of this earth to make lemonade and that spot over there is meant to be a lemonade stand!”  

Known for being the first to offer diverse flavors in Italian ice,  new concepts are constantly in development. For now, the menu offers these 16 choices infused with chunks of fruit and pieces of lemon and served with a straw and spoon:

Lemon, Watermelon, Banana, Cherry, Lime, Strawberry, Blue Raspberry, Orange, Pineapple, Chocolate, Coconut, Cantaloupe, Grape, Pina Colada, Fruit Cocktail and the seasonal favorite, Peach (Available mid to late August only)



The most popular menu choices are peach (seasonal), lemon, watermelon and pineapple; any of  the flavors can be combined to create to your own custom combination. Right now I’m crazy about the  fruit cocktail. The frozen treats start out at $1 for a small (tax included) and range in sizes all the way up to the jumbo, $6.25 for a  1/2 gallon take home tub. 

It’s rare to find the stand without a line that stretches down the block but the service is always quick and friendly and is well worth the short wait. Make sure to take in as much as you can, the stand is only open 4 1/2 months a year and will be closing its doors until next year’s season on September 15. 

So get on over there and tell em Reggie sent ya!

Mario’s Italian Lemonade

1068 W Taylor Street

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

There are three things that can make a restaurant shine.  Great food, excellent service and a good vibe.  Although many restaurants may have those characteristics, there are very few that truly exhibit an instant homey feel.  The neighborhood spot Rosal’s is all about food and family.  Walking into this family-owned restaurant instantly makes customers want to stay for a while.little20oscar-after1

Rosal’s, located in Chicago’s “Little Italy” neighborhood is named after the dream of  Roseanne and Salvatore Perry, hence Rosal’s.  The 19 year old Italian restaurant is about wonderful Sicilian food served in abundant portions.  The menu is extensive and is sectioned by Antipasti, Pasta & House Favorites, Vitello, Pesce, Pollo, and Carne dishes.  All of the dishes that came out of the kitchen looked absolutely scrumptious, but there are few favorites that may help to narrow the selection process.  The “Grilled Calamari” is a must start with dish.  The “Eggplant Parmigiano” and “Shrimp Alla Anival” are pasta entrees that are very popular among regulars.  Meat dishes such as the “Veal Steppanjohnno”,  “Chicken Scallopini with Prosciutto” and “Grilled Pork Chops” will satisfy any hearty appetite.    The bread on the table is warm when you sit down and the olive oil sprinkled with parmesan dipping sauce is perfecto!  The waitstaff will encourage substituting sauces or adding meatballs that will help make the perfect meal.  Don’t expect a prententious environment, but an intimate, cozy and family atmosphere that saw many tables chatting with one another.

The desserts are tradtional with “Tiramasu” and “Cannoli” on the menu, but the “Peanut Butter Pie” could do the trick as well.  The prices are very reasonable and bottles of wine are very affordable.  Rosal’s is located at 1154 W. Taylor Street.  For more information log onto www.rosals.com.  For more dining options and an inside look into Chicago’s newest and hottest restaurants log onto www.efete.net and watch Fete Select TV.

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

Well – I’ve got some great ideas for ya! From the incredibly expensive to the unbelievably free, there’s always something To-Do in Chicago!

For those of you who have managed to remain recession-proof, celebrate your accomplishment at the fabulous Night of 100 Stars!  This red carpet gala takes place at the DuSable Museum and honors Chicago’s African-American Historymakers.  Unlike some black tie galas, guests at the Night of 100 Stars honor “the code” and dress in their finest!  At $300 per ticket, you can mingle throughout the museum while sipping cocktails, enjoying lavish hors d’ouevres and being entertained by live music.  A brief program will honor the Historymaker Award recipients, yet provide ample opportunity for you to soak in the ambiance as you begin to realize that you, too, are one of the beautiful people!

John Francis Ficara

John Francis Ficara

If that price tag is a little too steep for you, for only the $3 cost of DuSable Museum admission, you can take a tour of “Beyond Forty Acres and a Mule:  Black Farmers Since Reconstruction.” 

Black family farms, formerly a way of life and source of pride for many, are fast disappearing. Explore the changes through the eyes of award-winning photographer John Francis Ficara.

In five distinct sections, Distant Echoes follows Black farmers through their daily struggles and triumphs. In Legacy of the Land, family farms are brought to life through images of husbands, wives, and children at work on the farm. African Americans have come to equate land ownership to independence, wealth, and full citizenship. Believing that owning and working the land makes them masters of their own economic fate, Black farmers have frequently sacrificed everything to keep their land and remain independent farmers.

Real Men Charities is hosting a Recruitment Breakfast on Saturday morning to recruit a few good (real) men for its annual Father’s Day Real Men Cook event.  Enjoy complimentary breakfast and find out how you can be a participant in this year’s 20 year anniversary for Real Men Cook.  They’ll also be offering a three-hour sanitation training session, which, I believe, is a prerequisite for participation in the event.

The African Festival of the Arts is also celebrating the big 2-0 this year!  The African Festival of the Arts is one of the most highly anticipated and widely attended neighborhood festivals.  Full of good food, good vibes and – oh yeah – great art, the festival energy is contagious!  The 2oth Anniversary Celebration begins this Friday with a free exhibition of the African Festival of the Arts Featured Fine Art Collection: 1993-2008.  How many posters have you collected over the years?  Come and check out what you’ve missed!

We’ve got a lot of culturally-themed theater productions in town at the moment and they cover a broad range of topics, which raises the issue of “traditional” versus “urban” Black Theater.  The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit takes this discussion head on with A la Carte:  The Candied Yams EditionThink that August Wilson is more of a cultural icon than Tyler Perry? Then come and “duke it out” with another fiery discussion that will sure to keep you coming back for more! Our panel consists of Adrian Dunn and Byron Johns from Hopera World Music Inc.’s Chronicles of a Fallen Hero and Rashida Shaw, a Performance Study PHD Candidate from Northwestern University, among other notable panelist and participants.

Looking for more To-Do?  Visit www.so-LAZE.com and make it a fabulous weekend!

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Fayth a.k.a. Relaxocat, NBC5 Street Team

Somewhere around 500 B.C. the ancient artisans of Athens created vases and other vessels known as  Red-figure pottery.  These pieces of fine pottery and the method used to create them are considered by art historians as some of the most important examples of early art based on both technique and figure depiction.   Here in Chicago 2008, the work of Nicholas Freeman (a rather modern man) presents us with the visual qualities of this technique, but with updated representations and symbolism.



…using Greek mythology as the base of western storytelling, the paintings use the moral root of particular myths and draw parallels between them and contemporary social and political practices.  The work calls attention to the perpetuation of symbolist imagery and societal behavior throughout the history of western thought. – Nicholas Freeman


Photo courtesy of Karen Hoyt

These works are simply beautiful and bear a resemblance to pieces that one might find in a museum’s collection of ancient Greek art.  They have the appeal of finding treasure from an archeological expedition – fragile, meaningful, and mysterious.  If you have an appreciation for fine art and the delicate techniques used to create symbolic imagery and fine pottery, visit the Finch Gallery for the opening receptions on Friday and Saturday of this elaborate collection of vases.  Nicholas will be there to better explain the techniques used and the images he chose.  The process is really quite elaborate and definitely worth learning about, not to mention the work itself being truly amazing.  And if you’re in the neighborhood at the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival, you have no excuse not to come because the gallery is right around the corner!

  • Opening receptions for the work of Nicholas Freeman
  • Friday and Saturday, November 21-22 from 7-10 p.m.
  • The Finch Gallery – 2747 W. Armitage

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team

Live long enough–or hear the theme song of “The Facts of Life” often enough– and you eventually learn “you take the the good/you take the bad/and there you have the facts of life.” Yes, more than 70% of the gay vote went to Barack Obama–more than went to Clinton or Kerry–and yes, 70% of our black brothers and sisters in California voted to deny gay men and women the fundamental civil right to marry.

Quite honestly, it’s been a bittersweet week for me.  While I fully share the abundant joy of the historical moment with my black brothers and sisters as we finally bore witness in Grant Park to Martin Luther King’s dream, 70% of the black voters in California embraced the nightmare logic of this country’s miscegenation laws that would have made the marriage of Barack Obama’s mother and father illegal in America and just applied it to gay people.

Thanks. Does Hallmark make a card for that? 

Early in June of 2002, I found out that the Cuban singer Albita was going to play at Ravinia so I called a good friend of mine, who happens to be Nigerian, and told her she simply had to go to the concert with me. I had seen Albita  perform two years earlier at RFK Stadium at the concert for gay rights which coincided with the March on Washington. Though much bigger names played that night–Melissa Etheridge, Chaka Khan, Garth Brooks, George Michael among them–Albita who came on early in the night simply blew me away with an amazing voice and an infectious Afro-Cuban sound. I came back to Chicago and immediately bought her CD “Son.” If it were vinyl, I would have surely worn it out in the first week.

Please, I implored my friend, come with me to hear this woman. “Ok, I’ll make you a deal,” she said. “I’ll go if you come with me to the Miriam Makeba concert later this month.”

Um. Sure. And who is Miriam Makeba? When is the concert? Wait a minute, the tickets I have for June 19 have some woman named Miriam as the opening act? It’s this Makeba person!

Amazed at the coincidence, I listened as she explained about “Mama Africa,” and why I had better get my skinny white behind to Ravinia even if Albita weren’t on the bill.

So we went to Ravinia together, curious about what we would each discover and just to make matters even more interesting we dragged along a mutual friend who had heard of neither woman.

Needless to say, it was a magical night of music. We went to see a concert but Albita and Miriam put on a celebration of life. Despite the fact that most of the songs were in languages we surely didn’t fully understand,  there was no mistaking the universal language of joy, heartache and exile in their music and in their voices. We all walked away that night not as people of different races, genders and sexual orientations but as celebrants of a common, and yes, a sometimes deeply flawed, humanity. I was deeply saddened to hear that the truly amazing “Mama Africa” died this week. But despite the sadness, I was able to find solace in the hope, fearlessness and tenacity of a life lived by example and against injustice.

Her struggle makes mine a little more bearable today. As Albita sang on that magical night, “Azuca’ pa’ tu amargura,” Tom.

Sugar for your bitterness, Tom. 


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Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

I’ve been recording my podcast Cara’s Basement from my house for almost two years.  It’s very convenient – I do interviews over the phone with artists who are all over the world, so sometimes I’m talking to them at strange times.  In this case, it was 7am.  I had just gotten out of the shower.  Wearing nothing but a towel, I chatted with former Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor.  Maybe that’s “TMI” but I can’t tell you how wierd it was to be talking to him while I was practically naked.  I kept thinking how envious many other women would be.  Let’s face it, Duran Duran played a pretty significant role in the popularity of MTV and was a majorly H U G E group in the 1980’s.  They still are – I have plenty of friends who still totally dig Duran Duran and their recent material has been great.

Andy Taylor wrote a juicy tell-all book, “Wild Boy” .  If ever there Andy Taylor Wild Boywas someone who lived the life of a rock star, it was him.  It’s a really fun book to read and it was remarkable talking to him about what it was like to play at Live Aid  when the much-anticipated Led Zeppelin took place (they were onstage right after Zep!), performing for Princess Diana and almost getting assassinated, filming video’s with real elephants and almost drowning, and much more.   You can listen to our conversation now at www.CarasBasement.com.

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Cara Carriveau, NBC5 Street Team

Anyone who grew up in Chicago and listened to the radio in the 60’s have fond memories of Clark Weber. I didn’t move here until 1989 but I’ve heard about him over the years and was very excited to pick up his new book, “Clark Weber’s Rock & Roll Radio: The Fun Years, 1955-1975”.  It’s a really cool coffee-table book with lots of great pictures and extremely entertaining stories.  The best part is the CD that comes with it with plenty of radio clips from back in the day.

I am so glad that I made a point of meeting him at a book signing.  He’s had quite an interesting life & career in radio.  I admire him and consider him a mentor.   His book is a must for anyone who is a fan of radio or a fan of music from the ’50’s-’70’s.

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team

During the past few days I’ve been trying to put the finishing touches on the redesign of my website. A Higher power willing, the new home page will be up today with the rest of the pages gradually coming along in two weeks.

One of the pages I still have to redo is the “about tom” page, which essentially serves as my virtual/online resume. 

Watching Sarah Palin speed date her way to foreign policy cred at the United Nations yesterday made me think how much more impressive my fashion credentials would be if I followed her example:

met Calvin Klein once in Chicago and saw him once walking the boardwalk on Fire Island with David Geffen.  I’ve stood in line with Christy Turlington at O’Hare waiting for a limo. I’ve met Todd Oldham and Zac Pozen. I’ve had dinner with Rubin Singer and his staff. Rubin worked for both Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass. 

I’ve dished about Condoleza Rice‘s wardrobe with Albert Kreimler of Akris.  

I’ve  rescued away Thierry Mugler from hangers on by asking him to tell me how his then recent interview in Time magazine with the art critic Linda Nochlin (whose essays I used to teach, not ban) came about. I was wearing a Dolce and Gabbana vest. This happened on Mykonos, no less.

You can, if you wish really hard, see parts of Turkey, our strategic NATO ally in The War Against Terror, from Mykonos.

I’ve slept with someone who’s slept with Marc Jacobs (and who hasn’t, you say) and no one got anyone pregnant.

Probably because none of our mothers were hockey moms.

I introduced Narciso Rodriguez to Michelle Obama. I styled the first magazine cover with Michelle who favors Maria Pinto‘s clothes. Maria Pinto used to be an assistant to Geoffrey Beene. Geoffrey Beene reprimanded Narciso for copying his clothes. So, by Palin logic, I’ve also met Mr. Beene, twice(!)–although he’s dead.  

Geoffrey Beene’s signature fragrance was called Grey Flannel, and tonite I will be wearing a grey Band of Outsiders three piece suit to the Giorgio Armani party sponsored by W magazine, which this month has Anne Hathaway on it’s cover. She was one of the stars of The Devil Wears Prada. Prada used to own Helmut Lang which is now designed by Nicole and Michael Colovos.

As Bette Midler (who I have seen in concert) would say: “Shall I go on?”


part 2 


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Reggie Brown, NBC5 Street Team

Tonight was an exciting night for the Street Team at Trump Tower for the 2008 Emmy nominations party hosted by Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times. Congrats to the Street Team members who were nominated for the Outstanding Achievement for Alternate Media/New Media Interactive category for coverage of Looptopia Live, the nominees included: Marcus Riley, Zach Christman, Mark Luciano, Kaylee King, Theresa Carter, Erik Sorensen, (Yours Truly) Reggie Brown , Jim Grillo, Angie Gormas, Susan Noble, Shlomi Rabi, Jennifer O’Neal, Laura Lodewyck, Chasity Johnson, Blagica Bottiglero, Liz Holland, LeAnn Trotter, Nicole Thomas and Damaris Woodbury.  

The coverage of Looptopia was a groundbreaking and web spinning phenomenon that synchronized live video streaming, blogging, over the phone correspondence and data submissions on a level never seen before. It was a pleasure and an honor to participate in such an event and come October 18, I hope we can bring this one home. Words can’t express the joy I feel right now, until then, Street Team do your thing and continue to make me proud.

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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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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team

Given the national reaction to my last blog, I’ve decided that, if you care to indulge me this summer, I’ll be posting more of my running musings on substance, style and popular culture.

Music videos are by definition a triumph of style over substance. You literally have only 4 minutes to savor the hope of attaining your 15 minutes of fame.

There are no more videogenic singers on the planet right now than Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Rihanna, he the Magnum XL cum laude graduate of the Bryan Ferry dripping-with-detachment-school-of-personal-style, she the Barbados born beauty of the legs that start somewhere around her earlobes and end at the floor.

Both are perfectly matched in their vocal inability to (thankfully) make it past the top 12 on “American Idol.”

While they have each made compelling visual statements in their own videos, who knew that they would be so perfectly matched in the most palpably erotically charged and relevant music video of 2008 for the single “If I never see your face again?”

It’s a refreshing alternative to the insufferably pretentious Madonna and Justin Timberlake collaboration “4 minutes to save the world,” which wears its misguided attempt at substance right in it’s title.

“4 minutes” tries to sell us on the (yesterday’s news cliche) Madonna-as-cougar-Justin-as-boy-toy but the sexual tension comes off as pathetically Oedipal.  Justin is no more than the wind machine to her current Stevie Nicks-like inability to move coherently or gracefully. “Stand back, stand back” I keep thinking to myself.

(Note to Mad: You’ve really lost your touch and missed the cultural vibe entirely, just like the other gal who was recently peddling her experience in an effort to save the world .) 

“If I never” on the other hand, has it’s visual finger right on the jugular of the cultural moment. (To anachronistically combine Bill Clinton and Barak Obama’s political playbooks, “It’s about change stupid.”)

Unlike the pedantic “4 minutes,” “If I never” brilliantly oozes studied nonchalance both lyrically and, most importantly, visually. The on screen pairing of Adam and Rihanna is frought with at least as much transgression as that of the anscestoral Adam and Eve.

There’s no apple or serpent here, just a microphone which is audaciously wielded about like a shared sex toy and (given the political moment) as a middle finger to the historical interracial intolerance of the miscegenation laws.

Lyrically, the song reminds me of the best line of dialogue  ever from an American movie. In “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” a film which oddly enough is famous for a scene involving a piano and a microphone, Michelle Pfeiffer confronts Jeff Bridges about their “relationship.” Bemused, he asks her: “Relationship? What relationship? All I did was [expletive] you twice!” 

I assume that’s the exact same response we would get from our current president, as the next election looms, if we were to confront him as an electorate about our collective 8 year relationship.

And if he were ever to find it within himself to say sorry for the economic and military  reality he created and is leaving behind, I can hear Rihanna singing her current solo single “Take a Bow” in its entirety, sort of an “Exhale to the Chief: “Don’t tell me you’re sorry cause you’re not. You’re only sorry you got caught.”

Click here to see the video of “If I never see your face again.”


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

Sure, Blues Fest is going on the weekend. But if you’ve been there/done that and would rather check out something different (but still cultural) there’s a WAY cool festival Saturday in the heart of Lincoln Park (corner of Webster Avenue and Larrabee) at Oz Park. There will be plenty of activities for children and adults including the Chicago Children’s Choir, The Jesse White Tumblers, The Old Town School of Folk Music…… plus much, much more.

In 16th-century Italy, beggars, using chalk on the plazas outside cathedrals, copied paintings of the Madonna by Raphael and his contemporaries. Through these street painters, an artistic tradition was born. Today, chalk festivals are celebrated throughout the world. Chalk Festival 2008 brings this Renaissance tradition to Chicago.

This fun-filled art festival benefits Art Therapy Connection (ATC). ATC provides mental health services to children and teenagers with limited or no access to help. ATC works to develop self-awareness and self-management skills in children and teenagers by integrating art with therapy to achieve social, emotional, and academic success. This year alone, ATC is proud to provide services to approximately 150 children and teenagers during the school year. Since it’s inception in 2002 ATC has empowered over 700 Chicago Public School children and teenagers.

If you’re an artist, please find it in your heart to donate your time to the Chalk Festival on Saturday. Or, if you would like to donate money, that’s cool. Maybe you’d dig volunteering. It’s all good – check out the details on how to help on the ATC website.

Thanks to ATC Board Of Directors member Christopher Campagna for turning me on to this unique event!

Type my name in the search bar or click HERE to see/hear more of my posts including interviews with Alanis Morissette, The Bravery, Lovehammers, Triumph’s Rik Emmett, Matthew Santos, Shooting Star, Mike Tafoya comedian Lee Camp & more.

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team
I owe John Galliano an apology.

I’ve never really been one that cared much for the theatrics of fashion. I’m far more impressed by the actual garments and their construction, fit and wearability. Many of the fashion shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris are not presentations of visionary design but bi-annual excercizes in egotistical masturbation for coked up designers, models, fashion editors and assorted courtesans.

Gosh Tom, you say, doesn’t that sound fun?

Apparently, not anymore to Donatella Versace who, having recently kicked her decade/s long habit with blow, produced the most extraordinary spring couture show in recent memory.

One of my absolute favorite designers, the late Franco Moschino, used to call the whole idea of runway presentations “the fashion vampiress” because it really does suck the blood out of real creativity when you have to present a collection regardless of whether you have anything worthwhile to present.

Today, a client sent me an AP article on the polygamist wives and it brought to mind two of my least favorite designers, John Galliano and Marc Jacobs. (Yes, I am a fashion heretic.)

I’ve never really cared for Galliano’s vision of how women should dress and all the theatrics he engages in on his runway for Dior have never been able to distract me from that point . (As Leann Womak once sang, “I just hate her, I’ll think of a reason later.”)

I can be much more direct about my dislike for Marc Jacobs. Copying other people’s work (sure, you can call it paying homage, if you want to look the other way) and putting your label on it year after year, collection after collection is not my idea of genius. Oh, that reminds me to CC Tory Burch on this.

So, enter the polygamist wives, who are apparently taking their fashion cues from Ann B. Davis’ character Alice on “The Brady Bunch.” Some of us fashion buzzards are  wondering how influential their look might become, given that “inspiration” in fashion is serendipitous.

Alluding to Mr. Jacobs’ penchant for “homage,” Susan Cernek, the fashion editor of glam.com wrote that the womens’  look “sounds like a good Holloween costume…or Marc Jacobs Spring ’09.”

Well, I’ve got news for Ms. Cernek. John Galliano beat him to the punch(line) in his Dior Spring ’07 collection. It was a collection so dreary, one wonders whether he was way ahead of the rest of us by researching fundamentalist Mormon sects. Maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong about him and the man is a visionary and a psychic!

Read the AP story on cnn.com  which does a good job of explaining some of the sociopolitical aspects of these womens’ appearance and a review I wrote of the Dior exhibit when it appeared at The Chicago History Museum.


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The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath, but wait no more. After the holiday hiatus, the weekly Chicago trivia contest is back!

Chicago's Provident HospitalAlthough Chicago is still extremely segregated, it actually was home to the first integrated hospital, Provident Hospital. Prominent black surgeon Dr. Daniel Hale Williams was the founder of the hospital, and he also performed the world’s first open-heart surgery on stabbing victim James Cornish, saving his life.

Q: What year was this groundbreaking hospital founded, and when did Dr. Williams perform the life-saving procedure?
Chicago Sinfonietta
This week’s prize is tickets for two to the Chicago Sinfonietta’s annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Email your answer to trivia@thelocaltourist.com for your chance to win two tickets to this concert!

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