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Eric Smith, NBC5Chicago Street Team

On Location at  The Shrine with Soul Songstress Aniba Hotep.

Who is Aniba Hotep-please explain for the world to know.

I am a Messenger of Peace-the person who sees the happy ending to the path of life.  Consider me a combination my unique life’s experience and applied knowledge-from mentors who have gone before me.  Living through these experiences-this is who I am.  Where it all began was in my hometown, performing in talent shows and composing my own music in an academic honors programs, which lead to a chance to perform at the famed Apollo theater as a young child.

Aniba Hotep

How do you define your style…is it Soul Music or is it R&B?

My style is absolutely Soul Music.  Originally from small town in Virginia, my musical roots were being established in the Church from age 11.  My sound is influenced by my religious upbringing-infused with the blues.  Listening to me perform-you can hear Southern based Soul a kind of Soul Blues-akin to many of the greats like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Johnny Taylor, Al Green and Billie Holiday.

When I first heard you play you reminded me of some of the great disco classics from the days of Salsoul Records.  How do you feel about disco and house music?

Where I’m from-house is GoGo music.  And when I first moved here-I fell in love with the older stuff like First Choice and Loleatta Holloway-and you can hear some of these songs incorporated in my live sets.  However, I would not have labeled what I heard and listened to at that time as house music.

How does fashion play a role in your music?

Fashion is very much intertwined with my music.  When first arriving in Chicago-I started first expressing myself on the poetry scene and then transitioned into the music.  Even then, I wanted to leave a mark in all facets of this are.  When people see a show they deserve a visual-and fashion would never not be a factor.

What do you enjoy most about your art and performing?

Aniba Hotep-Live

I enjoy the songwriting aspect of my art.  I write most of my material and music.  Building a song that people appreciate-pleases me.  Once an audience is engaged in my art-that’s when I am most comfortable and closer to finding a love for the stage.

What about the city of Chicago influences you?

I became an adult in the city of Chicago.  It has always influenced me musically.  Before arriving I was always in record stores listening to and looking for records from Chaka Khan, Ramsey Lewis and Booker-T-the Chicago taste in music was similar to what I was listening to and what I like to give in my shows.

What’s in store for your fans in 2010?

I plan to continue with the“All Souled Out” concert series-we already have a growing fan base.  The next time you can come to see me play will be at The Morseland-Friday, February 26 at 9pm. We plan to perform at the upcoming Chicago Soul Music Festival and will look to book an overseas tour.

Come on out an see the most soulful band out of Chicago since Earth, Wind and Fire-Aniba Hotep and The Sol Collective!

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Yesterday, Tomorrow was Today . . .

Every year we make resolutions that we can’t or don’t keep.  We set ourselves up for failure by setting unrealistic goals or by not establishing a plan of action to reach those goals.  When we fall off the wagon we say – I’ll start again on Monday or on the first or, the infamous, “tomorrow.”  Well, keep in mind that the “tomorrow” that we talked about yesterday is now TODAY – so let’s get 2010 off to a good start with a few tips for maintaining your resolutions and solutions for common resolutions!

  • Put your resolutions in writing.  Nothing beats the accountability you’ll feel when you re-read the promises you’ve made to yourself.  Post them on your computer as a screen saver or on sticky notes on your computer, desk phone, bulletin board, dashboard or all of the above!  Let them serve as ever-present reminders of your goals.
  • Develop an action plan.  What are the steps to reach your goals?  Plot those steps on your calendar, setting reminders and breaking your resolution into manageable chunks so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by your ultimate objective.
  • Chart your progress.  For those long term goals, be sure to monitor your progress.  Give yourself a pat on the back (or massage, purse, Wii game or a lite beer!) for those first five pounds, five new customers or five stacks of unopened bills that you’ve finally gone through!
  • Be realistic.  Be sure that your goals are set high enough that you really have something strive for, but not so high that they are unattainable.  Stretch yourself – your mind, body and spirit!
  • Yesterday, Tomorrow was Today!  If you fall off the wagon or get a little off your path, “now” is always a good time to self-correct!  You don’t have to wait until tomorrow, or think Monday morning is a magical start date.  Acknowledge the slip, determine the reason (if you can), adjust your game plan (if necessary), dust yourself off, forgive yourself and make it happen, baby!

Now that we’ve got a game plan in order, here are a few common resolutions and some things To-Do in connection with them!

  • Get Physically Active!  Getting fit isn’t just about going to the health club.  Here are some other ways that you can meet your fitness goals.
    • The Mature H.O.T. Women’s Program liberates the spirit of the dancer to reign free in every cosmopolitan woman. This workshop is designed to strengthen the body, challenge the mind and nurture the soul through the synergy of modern, ballet and jazz techniques.  Classes begin on January 18th and are offered on Monday evenings in the Loop and Wednesday evenings at the South Shore Cultural Center.  Check out photos from the first workshop series!
    • Sno Gophers – While skiing may not be practical for an everyday fitness routine, it is great exercise!  Sno Gophers is an African-American ski club and each year it plans a number of regional and national ski trips.  The regional trips include day trips and overnight trips and each trip includes generous amounts of camaraderie amongst ski enthusiasts and rookies!  You don’t have to break a leg or go for broke to take part in this exhilarating winter sport!
    • The Chicago Park District is offering you an opportunity to “Break a Sweat, Not the Bank!”  Continuing through Sunday, January 10, 2010, work out for free at all Chicago Park District Fitness Centers.  Even after the 10th, you’ll find that the CPD has ϋber reasonable rates and there’s probably a fitness center really close to where you live and/or work!
  • Start My Own Business!  Whether there’s an idea that you’ve dreamed of pursuing for years, or you’ve dabbled at something without giving it your full commitment, there are low cost options available to assist you in making your dream a reality!
    • The Chicago Urban League offers a Business Boot Camp that will guide you through a number of critical areas, including writing your business plan, financing your business, marketing and much more.  The 16-week series begins on January 12th and you can either register for the entire series for $200 or drop-in on the classes that interest you for $20-25.
    • Since 1986, the Women’s Business and Development Center has helped prospective and established women business owners achieve economic independence through entrepreneurship. From workshops and seminars to business coaching and financial assistance, they will help guide you to business and economic success.  Here, too, you will find reasonable prices and programming that addresses some specific issues faced by female entrepreneurs.
    • SCORE Chicago is another excellent resource for new businesses.  SCORE Chicago provides free business counseling, management consulting, and low cost workshops.  They advise on how to get a business loan and offer other resources like templates for a business plan.  SCORE counselors can help the entrepreneur start a business or a small business owner grow and prosper.  The organization has more than 25 locations in the Chicago area.
  • Travel!  If the travel bug’s gotcha, there are some real cool opportunities to take part in a variety of travel adventures!
    • The University of Chicago’s Graham School of General Studies offers, among other fantastic opportunities, a variety of “travel study” programs.  Through the Graham School, you can visit any number of exotic locations in small groups designed to ensure that you get the most out of the experience.  Lectures, discussions and exploration will provide you with a thoroughly enriching cultural experience!
    • Black Girl Travel creates extraordinary travel opportunities for extraordinary women!  The tours are designed from scratch by Black Women for Black Women.  Coming up in 2010:  Italy, the French Riviera, Spain, Egypt and more!
    • Sankofa Odyssey is another cool way to make your way around the world – by sea!  Their trips include travel from luxurious yachts to “bareboat chartering” (where everyone participates in sailing, cooking, cleaning and partying!).  In July, Sankofa journeys to St. Martin, St. Barts, Anguilla and the Leeward Islands!
  • Find Love!  If the club, bar and party scene didn’t do it for ya in 2009, try something new in 2010!  Explore some of Chicago’s art exhibit openings this year or attend art lectures.  If music is your thing, take advantage of some of the world music series or the lunchbreaks at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Winter is a great time to take in some Chicago theater!  Plan your attendance around opening night or on nights with a post-performance discussion or reception.  The point is that by regularly participating in specific cultural events that interest you, you are bound to start regularly coming across people with similar interests.  Soleil’s To-Dos can help, because we have the most comprehensive listing of culturally diverse Chicago events!  Take advantage of our search options by viewing only those categories of events that interest you.
     
    Whatever you decide To-Do, make it a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Eric Smith, NBC5 Street Team

On location at Eve’s Parlor in Humboldt Park.

On a recent evening, I was given a unique look into what I makes Chicago tick. And what makes Chicago tick is the unique personality of the artistic community that beats to their own drum. In this instance I had the opportunity to meet Chicago’s very own Angela Eve.

Eve's Parlor

Angela Eve is a Headliner, Producer, Artist, Model and photographer. She is an accomplished multi-media and performance/dance artist-graduate of The Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Fine Arts. She is a professionally trained actor and graduate of The Second City Conservatory. She has her own line of wearable art, toured with major music festivals including OzzFest and has established her own Twisted Tassel Burlesque Festival among quite a few noteworthy accomplishments.

It could be easy to see why she is a person of interest; as a driving force and icon on the Chicago art scene. But even more compelling is what is in her heart and the compassion she feels for others. Splitting her time between Chicago and New Orleans, Angela Eve-along with fellow artist Anastasios Ketsios-has been at the forefront of a fine art photo documentary project entitled, “Home, This Was”-a narrative involving the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the people and their daily lives. Together they examine and analyze this narrative through the lens of a camera for all to see and experience.

Even more close to her heart has been the recent diagnosis of her mother having breast cancer. While the debate rages on in Washington for Universal Health Care for all-in Angela Eve’s case it couldn’t be more obvious the importance of the matter. Her mother, who is far from wealthy, has insurance coverage…although no where near adequate to cover the whopping $15,000 deductible required for treatment.

It will be Angela Eve’s new mission to raise the money to help her mother in this time of need-the best way she knows how. As such she will be organizing her only Fall show/benefit-“Kinky Xmas” on Wednesday, December 9th at the Debonair Social Club with two performances at 10pm and the other at Midnite-admission is free. Ring in the holidays with a sense of purpose and have some fun while you’re at it!

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Glenn Murray, NBC5 Street Team

Authenticity Preview Party: 4 Guys, 4 Girls and a Board Game

This Saturday at Dream (1750 North Clark) games will be played, disagreements will be had, the audience will roar and if you’re lucky you might walk away with a cruise vacation. No, Dream is not about to move to a talk show format. The lounge will host a preview party for the growing in popularity relationship board game Authenticity. “We had so much fun we decided to do it again” said game creator Sheila Brown. “But this time we wanted to give the audience an even more realistic look at the board game complete with conversations that follow”.

If you don’t know about the game (www.playauthenticity.com) it’s great for couples, (dating or married) to get to questions that you may not ask in general conversation. The topics range from Sex and Romance, Religion, Family, Finance, Life and Real Life Situations. There are also some fun twists in the game like the “Pick Your Pleasure” Section and every turn around the board requires you to plant a kiss on your partner (helpful if you may not provide the “right” answer for your partner). All in all the game is design to help the relationship win.

The brave souls joining me on the panel answering questions from the game include: Theresa Carter (Street Team and Thelocaltourist.com), Melinda Joseph (Raymi Productions), Derrick Lane (Art After Dark), Luke Jensen (Luke Jensen & Company Management and Consultations), Tish Murray (actress, model), Michael Hahn (beyondthegoodlife.com), Zondra Hughes (author and editor of N’Digo Magapaper). The event is hosted by Sarah Vargo of Maven. Doors open at 7PM with a pre event reception and the game panel begins at 7:30. Attendees who purchase a copy of the game that night are entered into a drawing for a 6 day cruise vacation for two. Admission to the event is free. For more information call 1-866-533-9884 or email info@220communications.com.

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Eric Smith, NBC5Chicago Street Team

On location at TEAMiFIT Lifestyle Center-676 N. LaSalle Street-with Founder, President and Wellness Coach-Amy Leffel.

Speak a little bit about your background-life before TEAMiFIT and how all this happened?

I received my undergraduate degree at Indiana University in Exercise Physiology and Public Health.  I worked as a personal trainer and exercise specialist-teaching fitness classes at gyms across the city.  Then I went back to school to get my masters degree in Education, where I worked with kids from 1st grade all the way up to 8th.  While as a school teacher, I was also teaching fitness classes and working as a personal trainer on the side.  So I have about seven years working in fitness.  This has been my passion, so doing this doesn’t feel like work.

TEAMiFIT at Chicago Soul Music Festival

Amy Got Soul

The initial concept was exercise on location at different outdoor venues across the city.  What gave you the idea to get started that way?

I’ve had this vision a long time.  April through September every year we hold outside classes.  So you’ll have classes happening all around the city…Lincoln Park, West Loop, West Town, River North, Gold Coast, Lake View and South Loop.  We also take these classes to the beach.  And as the weather cools we bring this more of this action to our space here.

So what makes TEAMiFIT different?

TEAMiFIT Lifestyle Center

TurboKick

TEAMiFit is a one-stop shop promoting health and wellness!  You can come here and get fitness classes for adults and kids.  We have Strictly CORE, TurboKick, Zumba, Strength Boxing classes and more…we’ve got all kinds of flava flava-including Power Yoga and Power Pilates.  We’ve got specialized workshops like plyometric training focusing on high-intensity movements for high impact.  We also have small group personal training called ‘Armed and Dangerous’ for only six people, to work with a personal trainer at a discounted price.  And beginning in November we are going to have educational classes ‘Doing Life Together’, where our lifestyle coaches will educate based on personal experience using their expertise to focus on what our members want.  Topics will include like how to eat right when working out, how to balance life, how to spend smart over the holidays, educational self-massage, couples massage, etc.  The lifestyle coaches will be here to educate and build relationships with our clientele.  We’re basically doing life together.

TEAMiFIT

TEAMiFIT

Amy is definitely on the move in Chicago and wants to get your body moving.  For additional information and register for classes visit TEAMiFIT online and Facebook.  To hear the entire interview, download the audio casts below.

Part 1  Interview w/Amy ‘Body’

Part 2 Interview w/Amy ‘What You Waiting For?’

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Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

Michael Buble has sold 22,000,000 albums (so far) worldwide. His singing voice is impeccable.  His songs capture romance, heartache, love and every other emotion that goes along with any relationship you’ve ever been in. His song “Everything” is a very popular first-dance song at weddings. And his live performances are unreal. No wonder he’s got millions of fans worldwide chomping at the bit, anticipating the release of his third album “Crazy Love”. The album was initially supposed to be released on October 13, but due to fan demand the album will now be released 4 days prior (October 9). You can pre-order it now.

I had the priveledge of being the very first radio personality in the USA to speak to Michael Buble as he begins his mass promo for his new album.  An even bigger honor was having him serenade me…I still have the goosebumps!

Listen to our conversation in Cara’s Connection at the WTMX website:

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Eric Smith, NBC Chicago Street Team

On location at the Studio L’amour, West Loop. There is nothing better than an original, and Michelle L’amour is just that-dancer, choreographer, business woman, teacher, promoter and most of all Queen of Tease!

How did you become Michelle L’Amour?
My background training was in Classical Dance. But I didn’t get a chance to do Burlesque until after college when I was asked to choreograph and perform a Burlesque show. I didn’t really know what it was at the time but I said yes because I wanted to dance and perform. Then I heard the music and was completely hooked and knew that this is what I was meant to be doing.

So when you say you heard the music can you elaborate on that?
The music is the classic dirty jazz, bump and grind style music…it’s really great…great drums, horns…

Michelle L'amour

Michelle L'amour

What makes you different than most women in and outside of the business?
Well, one of my goals was to draw attention to the Chicago Burlesque scene and what I was doing here. I really wanted to pull attention to this city because I love this city and I think it’s great and deserves the attention. My first step in doing that was winning the Ms. Exotic World title in 2005, which is like the World Series of Burlesque. And then I did America’s Got Talent the first season so that definitely drew attention here. But I had also been teaching, because this was one of my goals, to educate the people in the city about Burlesque what it was and what it can be today. I’ve been teaching Burlesque for about 4 years now and have since opened my own dance school Studio L’Amour which has been open for about a year.

For those of us who don’t know can you describe what Burlesque is?
Burlesque is all about the tease. Exaggerating your femininity, showcasing the curves and really playing up the fact that you are a woman.

So would you define what you do more as art or entertainment?
I think art can be entertainment. And I think I do both.

How did you take something like this(Burlesque) and do it in Chicago visa vis New York or LA?
I really think that teaching women helped break the ice a bit. If you can get women on your side you are in good shape, we are harder to please. Women learn in class what it takes to do Burlesque, that it is not as easy as it looks and it is my job to make it look easy. So when they come to class using muscles they didn’t know they had, and let things jiggle that they didn’t think they were supposed to let jiggle one gains a large amount of appreciation for the art form. It’s something fun you can bring your boyfriend to-it brings sexuality in a great light.

Well enough read…to hear the entire interview click to download now.

Stay tuned for upcoming events at Studio L’Amour including:

StripTease Classes/Dr. Sketchys-Figure Drawing Class/LipShtick

Naked Girls Reading/Sex Body Fashion Show/The Tassel and Twirl Workshop

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Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)

I recently got to talk to Vanessa Simmons ( of MTV’s “Run’s House”, “Daddy’s Girls”), Wesley Jonathan (“What I Like About You”, “Roll Bounce”) and producers La Monde Byrd and native Chicagoan, Mekita Faiye (who also plays one of the lead characters) about their hilarious new comedy “Speed-Dating: The Movie” which will be released in the coming months. Check out what they had to say…

DL: Tell us about the “SPEED-DATING” movie and the great ensemble cast you’ve put together…

MEKITA: Oh wow, “SPEED-DATING” will be the must-see movie of 2010! It’s about these three guys who come up with this scheme that involves speed dating to raise money for their club and to meet women. It’s kind of like “Wedding Crashers” and it takes you on a wonderful journey with a lot of laughs along the way. The cast includes Wesley Jonathan, Chico Benymon who many know from the show “Half & Half”, Leonard Robinson of MTV’s “Wild’n’Out”…we have Vanessa Simmons, of course, from “Run’s House”, Emmy award winner ChriPoster #4 of 9s ElliottHolly Robinson-Peete, Clint Howard (brother of Ron Howard) who was recently in “Night At The Museum 2”, rapper Chingy, Kelly Perrine…the list goes on and on.

DL: Where did you come up with the concept for the film?

LA MONDE: The writer and director Joseph Elmore originally came up with the idea and from there we took it, shaped it, developed it a bit and then the actors breathed life into it.

DL: Wesley, you play the lead character “TOO COOL” in this film and your career spans decades in film and television, what attracted you to this project?

WESLEY: I just read the script and it was funny to me. I originally wasn’t the first choice to play “Too Cool”, but time had passed and the project sort of came back around to me and I also found out that Chico and some my partners from the business were in it so that was an added plus because I like working with my friends.

DL: Vanessa, we got to see on the “Daddy’s Girls” show that you prepared for your role by going on an actual speed dating event. What was that experience like?

VANESSA: Oh man, I had a lot of fun! I like a lot of hands on experience to prepare for roles that I’m doing, so the fact that I got to go on an actual speed dating event for the first time was actually kind of fun, but weird at the same time because the guys thought they were going to go on a real date afterwards.

DL: The “TOO COOL” character was a bit of a ladies man/womanizer…were there any real life “players” you drew from to develop this character?

"Too Cool" (Wesley Jonathan) meets "Kiki" (Camille Mana) in "Speed-Dating"

"Too Cool" (Wesley Jonathan) meets "Kiki" (Camille Mana) in "Speed-Dating"

WESLEY: Nah, not really. I was able to play this guy pretty straightforward because he was just being cool. In films like “Roll Bounce” and other projects I’ve worked on, I’ve definitely borrowed from other characters. I did get to adlib and improv and be silly during the filming of some of the speed dating scenes.

DL: Vanessa, ironically your character ELIZABETH is the “church-going” girl who gets involved with the DOG character played by Chico Benymon. Everyone knows your real-life Dad is the legendary Rev. Run of Run D.M.C. , so do guys get intimidated by you having the “preacher’s kid” stigma?

VANESSA: Unfortunately, yes! I’m like, listen guys, if I love you and I like you and I’m bringing you home, my Dad’s gonna give you that benefit, I think, until I turn my back…so I’ve heard. I just usually have to prepare guys when they meet him, but he’s a Dad like any other Dad. As far as Elizabeth, I like the character a lot and can relate to her in a lot of ways because she’s the good girl and she’s not doing the crazy things the rest of the girls are doing.

DL: Mekita, you did double duty in this movie as Wesley’s love interest and producer for the movie. Were you nervous going into your first starring role and wearing hat as producer?

MEKITA: It’s funny you ask that. It was definitely a challenge and I look back on it amazed at how I got through it, but I owe that part to God.

DL: What’s next for everybody?

WESLEY: I’m in a new movie coming soon called “The Obama Effect” directed by Charles Dutton and another called “B-Girl” and I’m currently working on a new project “Four to the Floor” with Evan Ross.

Vanessa Simmons

Vanessa Simmons

VANESSA: As you know my sister [Angela] and I have the Pastry clothing line which is doing very well and we’re expanding right now and couldn’t be happier. “Daddy’s Girls” is in its second season and Vanessa’s making her way around Hollywood and has some upcoming projects on the horizon.

LA MONDE: Stay tuned for “SPEED-DATING” to be released soon. This film is testing well with men AND women in the preliminary screenings and I think we have an incredible project on our hands. I’ve got to give a quick thanks to Blacksingles.com and HurryDate.com as well!

To check out the trailer and find out more regarding “Speed-Dating: The Movie” you can go to www.speed-datingmovie.com

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Desiree, NBC Chicago Street Team

Authenticity, a relationship game for adults, celebrates its first year, with a party open to the public this Thursday, August 20. The evening begins in Lincoln Park, at Dream Boutique Lounge on 1750 N. Clark, from 6 – 9PM, and includes free admission for all. The venue will feature samples of the game for guests to play, as well as food, entertainment, prize giveaways and an exciting live performance by recording artist Spike Rebel.

Stephanie Green from Soleil’s To Dos and our NBC Chicago Street Team will host the event, with panelists including Kevin Foster (the MATE group), Sandria Washington (Founder Writeous Media), as well as Ben Soldinger and moi, Desiree Prieto from the NBC Chicago Street Team. We’ll join a live discussion, answering questions from the game.

Additionally, guests will have a chance to take the game home, as it’ll be available for purchase at the party! To RSVP, check out the the event’s facebook page. You can also find more information on the game at the Authenticity website . See you on Thursday!

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Glenn Murray, NBC Chicago Street Team

Kiss and Make Up With Intimate Evenings features candid, open discussions on relationships and the dynamics of how they work. The company’s goals are to create workshops that build a solid foundation to promote and enhance awareness of self and healthy relationships. These workshops are designed to assist individuals and couples as they navigate through the challenges that accompany love, intimacy, relationships marriage and the pursuit of happiness.
The next discussion will take place Friday, July 24th and will feature the creator of the Relationship Board Game “Authenticity” Sheila Brown. She will discuss the game and allow participates to sample the questions.

The company’s founder Yolanda “Yanni” Brown has been featured at seminars and private events and has expanded her business to included specialized couples seminars. She brings in a variety of relationship experts, utilizes out of the box techniques and is slowly gaining a following with her monthly discussions. Visit the web site at http://www.intimateevenings.com

Kiss and Make Up With Intimate Evenings
Relationship Discussion For Men and Women
Date: Friday, July 24, 2009
Time: 8:30pm – 11:30pm
Dance
1012 West Randolph
Chicago, IL
Admission $7

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Ashley Lobo, NBC Chicago Street Team

Summer may not feel like it’s here, but don’t let your summer dreams rip at the seams. The single scene is heating up this Friday with the 9th annual “Summer Lovin ” event held at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Chicago Magazine and The Auxiliary Board of Northwestern Hospital partnered to host this summer’s coolest party.  You can dance the night away to celebrity DJ; White Shadow, while sipping drinks and tasting treats from 15 of Chicago’s best restaurants.  Not to mention, you can meet and mingle with Chicago Magazine’s “top 20 singles” of Chicago. Did someone say Chicago Blackhawks Adam Burish and  Luvabull Shannon Lersch? The best part is that all of the proceeds will benefit brain tumor research at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Who says you can’t find love and help find a cure all at the same time?

WHEN: 7pm on Friday, June 19, 2009
WHERE: Museum of Contemporary Art.  (220 East Chicago Ave.)
TICKETS: $75 in advance $85 at the door
MORE INFO: http://www.summerlovin.net

Summer Lovin

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Shlomi Rabi, NBC5 Street Team

The other day I was in a particularly profound and introspective mood, which got me thinking about the truly important things in life: finding one’s true voice, figuring out the meaning of happiness, and trying to imagine what Ellen would look like if she got a red perm, or, perhaps, a short, spritely Jewfro. With each sip of my Chicagotini (vodka, crushed ice, organic snow flakes, giant ice cubes and natural hail), I could feel myself getting smarter. It was not until Andy came home, turned off the strobe lights, opened a window to let out the smoke, and demanded that I “put on some normal clothes”, that I got off cloud nine and realized that one of the most truly important things in life is finding someone who’ll take you just the way you are.

And a great place to find that special someone is Flirting For Disaster at Hydrate, on Thursday, February 5th. The event benefits the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago , which has been hosting a series of the Flirting events throughout the city since 2001. Advance tickets are $20 and will buy you delicious hors d’oeuvres by HB Home Bistro and Halsted’s, performance by the beautiful divas of Kit Kat , a leather fashion show by Shel-Don, and oh yeah–a room full of potentials! All proceeds from the event will go to facilitating response to disasters in the Chicagoland area, which should be enough reason to get anyone to put on their finest, look their cutest, and start getting their flirt on.

feb-5-invite

To learn more about Shlomi’s take on the greatest city in the world click here.

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Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)
Yesterday I took an impromptu trip to the movies to see the advanced screening of “Not Easily Broken” at the AMC River East Theater (located at 322 E. Illinois St.). Initially the movie wasn’t on my “must-see” list for 2009, but my expectations were pleasantly surpassed in this light-hearted family drama.

“Not Easily Broken” is an adaptation of the book by the same name written by renowned pastor and author Bishop T.D. Jakes who also served as one of the producers of the film along with it’s star, Morris Chestnut (“Boyz N The Hood”, “The Best Man”). The film centers around a couple in the prime of their marriage, Dave (played by Chestnut), a former baseball player turned modest construction foreman who’s athletic professional dreams were short lived by a career-ending injury and Clarice, played by Taraji Henson (“Baby Boy”, “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), a successnot_easily_broken_113ful real estate mogul who is into her career and lifestyle more than her husband. This creates conflict in the relationship when Dave begins to lose interest as a result of Clarice’s neglect and puts his focus into a local baseball group he coaches in the inner-city of Los Angeles. Things are further complicated when the two are involved in a serious car accident that nearly cripples Clarice, and forces Dave to be her caretaker while having to deal with the increasing household bills and his meddling mother-in-law convincingly portrayed by Hollywood staple, Jenifer Lewis (“Madea’s Family Reunion”, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”).

This film takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride through the eyes of Dave, as a man who is made to feel like his manhood is being stripped away at every turn, but he is “not easily broken” and fights to save his marriage, the kids in the community he cares for and his sanity. His desire to have a family of his own is also a driving force of his character. Chestnut eloquently portrays this conflicted man amongst a great supporting cast that includes Wood Harris (“The Wire”, “Remember The Titans”), Kevin Hart (“Soul Plane”, “Scary Movie 4”), Niecy Nash (TV’s “Reno 911!”), Eddie Cibrian (“The Cave”, TV’s “Third Watch”) and Maeve Quinlan (“South of Nowhere”).

This definitely a film geared towards married couples, but I would recommend it for families as well due to the fact that it’s short on profanity and big on heart. There are of course moments midway through the film that will tug at the heartstrings which I won’t give away here. TD Jakes first foray into film, 2004’s “Woman Thou Art Loosed” which starred Kimberly Elise was also a welcomed surprise when I saw it and this one follows suit. For those of you who may shy away from religious-themed films, Jakes and the director (the great Bill Duke in this case; “Hoodlum”, “Cover”, “Rage In Harlem”) do a good job of conveying Christian family morals that make the viewer relate, while not being “preachy” and still keeping the film contemporary and also not limiting it to being a film catered to predominantly African-American audiences I might add. If you’re not too busy watching Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway battle it out in Vera Wang or being terrorized by torchered souls and exorcisms this weekend, I would add “Not Easily Broken” to your “must see” movies this weekend.

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Amy Zanglin, NBC Chicago Street Team 

Last week Sheffield’s held it’s first “Date My Ex, Please” event. Couples not only had the chance to get to know each other at the event, but they could also get the skinny on that person from their ex.

What better way to get the scoop on someone than from their past girlfriend/boyfriend? The only catch is, you have to be willing to offer up your ex, who you’re now friends with, to someone else.

Click here for the full story, video and slide show on www.nbcchicago.com.

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Fayth aka Relaxocat, NBC5 Street Team

I don’t really care for the color pink and I’m not mushy.  On the other hand, I love interactive art installations and unique things that make you say, “Wow, that was really cool and now I’m all happy!”  So with no further adieu, let me introduce you to “Pink: A (Love) Courier Service”.

Love on the line...

Love on the line...

In July I found out about some great people that come from Austin, Texas.  One of them is the Street Team’s new blogger, Desiree.  The other people are artists, poets, and performers that comprise “Pink: A (Love) Courier Service”.  What is it?  Don’t  think about cheesy flowers or cards, neither of which can convey your message.  “Pink” is the most unique interactive art (and cycling) project to arrive in Chicago in some time.  And time is limited because Pink is only around until August 15th.  You absolutely must go because it’ll brighten your day and the day of someone you “Pink”.  It’s a courier service delivering your love notes in a bottle.  This is not a business so really they do this out of love for their project.  They don’t define love for you; no cliche’ cards, no “hearts and flowers” or things that will taint your experience.  The experience is one that is not only fun, it is strangely simple and it’s almost confusing (except for typing on a manual typewriter, which was actually cool).  Who needs email and text messages for love notes anyway?

Click here to see a slideshow of the Pink experience.  A couple of my friends “pinked” people and one of them loved it so much she became a volunteer courier, code name “Cicada”.  Show up at the “Love Factory”, housed in Wicker Park.  A white room with pink accents and furniture, but NOT girlie or overdone.  It’s bright, simple, and inviting.  You are gleefully greeted – “Welcome to Pink! Are you familiar with our service?”,  follow the pink dotted line, then take time to decide what to type – yes, that’s “type” as in typewriters, not computer keyboards – onto your pink piece of paper.  If you need help or guidance, ring the bell on the desk and they’ll help you out, point you toward books of poetry for inspiration or maybe tell you something funny to make you relax.  They seem to know that the simplicity is disorienting for some.  Once you’re done, make your donation in the jar on the table (this is a non-profit project so don’t be a cheapskate because someone is after all delivering your love), and send your note down the line – don’t forget to shout, “Love on the line!!” – everyone else will too, so do it because it’s exhilarating.  Sometime thereafter your message is bottled and delivered by a pink clad volunteer bicycle courier to anyone you want to send some love to within the city limits.  Pick up some “Pink” gear – big bottles of massage oil look appealing especially if you consider how happy your love note recipient is going to be.  If you’re a guy and think that this is a “chick” thing, you’re wrong.  I hung out there for nearly an hour and only saw guys sending notes.

“Pink” is the project of Jaclyn Pryor aka Heffi McHefferson who began “Pink” back in Austin where 2,007 people sent notes.  The project then rode off to Portland, becoming “Pink On Tour”, landing here on July 26th.  Don’t walk in there like I did and say, “I’m looking for Jaclyn.” because everyone who volunteers there goes by a code name, hence everyone in the room will say, “There’s no Jaclyn here!”.  I thought, “Ok,  I’m Relaxocat!”.  Remember, though this is a service, it’s also performance art.  I was relieved to hear from Heffi that she wasn’t a fan of the color pink either. She told me she chose it for many reasons, but the project had her “reprogram” how she felt about it.  She was right, the project changed my vibe about the color too.  Are you wondering how it’s art?  You have to interact with the project to understand, but in simpler terms you can also elect to allow your note to be printed in an upcoming book that they will soon have published.  Heffi, Nancy, Prince Pony or anyone in the factory will chat you up if you want to find out more.

  • What: Pink: A (Love) Courier
  • Where: 2215 W. North Ave. (click here for a map)
  • When: Until August 15th – Wed-Sun, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Cost: Free, but please donate to support the project
  • More info: Pink and Pink In Chicago

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