Today In The Culture, April 8, 2022: EXPO Chicago Opens | Sundays on State Dates | Lime Scooters Are Back

Porcupette/Photo: Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo


EXPO Opens

The Art Newspaper takes the measure of EXPO. WBEZ offers its highlights of the ninth edition of EXPO. The Trib looks at the display of the 2008 Obama “HOPE” portrait. The Reader asks, “What’s fair about art fairs?” looking at the parallel “Barely Fair.” The Chicago Defender checks out Black artists at EXPO. Here’s the EXPO Instagram. A compendium of Newcity EXPO coverage is here.


The GSA’s Case Against Consumers And Century Buildings 

Why does no one ever suggest moving the federal courthouse into a secure, sterile zone all its own, somewhere deep into the prairie? WGN-TV goes long on the federal case for demolishing those two early-twentieth-century Loop skyscrapers in “Why have feds spent millions on vacant Chicago buildings they now want to demolish?” Part of the answer: judges anticipate a “mass casualty event… an attack on the nation’s largest federal courthouse… would leave a scar on the City of Chicago—in fact, our entire country—not seen since the tragic events of 9/11.” (Here’s a more optimistic “pre-renovation” glimpse of the interiors from 2017 when the buildings were to house 429 apartments.)

Chicago Loop Alliance Announces Sundays On State Dates

Chicago Loop Alliance has set the return of Sundays on State, the event series that closes stretches of State Street in the Loop to vehicle traffic. Sundays on State is free and open to the public and will take place this year with an expanded footprint on State Street from Lake to Monroe on July 24, August 7 and 21, and September 4. More here.

Trib Warns Of Demise Of Michigan Avenue Shopping

“According to the Urban Land Institute, the vacancy rate on Michigan Avenue stands close to a troubling twenty-five percent. Chicago is losing significant sales tax revenue,” offers the Tribune editorial board. At Water Tower Place, which has been handed over to its lender, “Macy’s is no more, Foodlife quietly disappeared with little media notice, and the loss of tenants has proved pernicious. It’s the same story farther south on Michigan, where other buildings are struggling to survive, and the once-glittering Shops at North Bridge, commonly known as the Nordstrom mall, is flailing… Twiddling thumbs of denial at the crisis on Michigan Avenue is hardly an option for the city… Improving the perception of safety obviously is crucial, but the city has to find subtler means of doing so than parking cruisers in the middle of the street, lights flashing, which signals an environment that is not compatible with a gentle evening stroll to do some shopping.” Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas was curt on WGN radio’s afternoon news about potential changes: “I’m trying to figure out what is magnificent on the Magnificent Mile about Target.”

Lime Scooters Are Back

Chicago will again be one of the 200 cities in which Lime scooters sail the streets. “Thank you to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Commissioners Kenneth Meyer (BACP), and Gia Biagi (CDOT) and the Chicago City Council for bringing back e-scooters for this two-year program as gas prices rise and access to affordable, safe, and sustainable ways to get around becomes even more important,” the corporation’s director of government relations LeAaron Foley says in a release. “Lime has a proven track record of building an e-scooter sharing program tailored to the City of Big Shoulders, built on equitable access, local hiring, and carbon-neutral operations. As part of our commitment to connect neighbors and the city, we’re excited to bring back our automatic fifty-percent discounts to all rides starting on the South and West sides to better enable first/last mile transportation access, further educate Chicagoans on proper riding, and introduce a brand new fleet of Gen4 scooters to the city’s streets and trails. We are grateful to the City of Chicago for the privilege and the opportunity to again serve all Chicagoans and help this city build a more equitable and sustainable transportation system.”

Advocating Barriers On CTA Platforms In Light Of Recent Violence

At Streetsblog Chicago, John Greenfield makes a case for barriers on CTA platforms. There “are strategies, such as railings or moving screen doors, deployed on systems around the world to block people from going on the tracks, whether accidentally or intentionally, that can help save lives and reduce service delays… Why aren’t platform barriers more of a thing in the U.S.? Cost and technical challenges are the main obstacles.”


Union Isn’t Fancy, It’s Frugal

“This craft ethos doesn’t just mean that the menu has some fancy cachet; it also helps keep Union more affordable, especially in a time of inflation and increased costs across the board for restaurants,” reports Chicago magazine. “By doing all of its butchering in-house, Union keeps its entrees affordable; all of the extra bits go into the charcuterie cave to be turned into sandwiches at Lardon. ‘We have to be very crafty. In this post-COVID moment, everything is hard; but guest demands haven’t changed.’”

California Clipper Hopes To Put On A Show

“The California Clipper woke from its pandemic slumber with a few cosmetic changes and new ownership,” reports Eater Chicago. “Local musicians have entertained customers utilizing the small rear stage. New ownership, Orbit Group… say they’ve upgraded the space’s sound system and made other updates. They say the stage was underutilized and hope better sounds and other changes will draw larger acts on occasion.”

1900 Schlitz Tied House In Little Village Yours For $351,000

On Milwaukee enthuses over a Little Village Schlitz remnant from 1900: “What a gem it is. Look at that gravity-defying turret! And it’s still got its Schlitz globe medallion! The multi-unit former tied house tavern has twelve rooms, including six bedrooms, and two baths and is currently for sale for $351,000. It’s unclear how much of the original saloon space survives.”


Obama Rues Social Media And “Anger-Based Journalism”

In a Chicago visit, former president Barack Obama on Wednesday “warned of the weaponization of disinformation across the world, while also urging social media and tech companies to be more transparent about how they are monitoring content that is leading to violence,” reports the Sun-Times. “Obama spoke at length about his concerns over a trifecta of the loss of local journalism, the nationalization of ‘anger-based’ journalism, and the growth of social media companies making profits off conflict. He said he believes platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube ‘appear to have some insight into what’s more likely to prompt insurrectionists, white supremacists, misogynist behavior and internet bullying.’” Adds the Trib, “Speaking about disinformation, [Obama] warns of a challenging future if autocrats such as Putin are not strongly challenged.”

Striking Workers Reach Tentative Agreement With WTTW

Striking WTTW workers could be back on the job today, reports the Sun-Times, as the public television station and members of the electricians union have agreed to a tentative deal to end the three-week-old strike. “The twenty-three striking employees were briefed on proposed terms Wednesday night and are casting votes online Thursday to approve or reject the deal, said Brett Lyons, business representative for Local 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers… ‘There were significant gives to the company’ on issues involving union work jurisdictions, a major issue in the strike, [a representative] said. In return, the union got a ‘healthy economic package’ and guarantees to hire full-time unionized staff.”

Lisagor Journalism Award Finalists Named 

The Headline Club’s got the list.

RogerEbert.Com Elevates Editors

On the ninth anniversary of the veteran Chicago film critic’s passing, Chaz Ebert announced new titles for the associate editors, including Nick Allen, Matt Fagerholm and Nell Minow, at the website that bears Roger Ebert’s name.


River West Residents Concerned About Casino Proposal

“Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corporation pitched its plan for a sprawling gambling complex on a thirty-acre plot near Halsted Street and Chicago Avenue, which is currently home to the Chicago Tribune’s printing plant—and the source of traffic headaches on a daily basis,” reports the Sun-Times. “The city even issued a traffic alert hours in anticipation of the 300-capacity crowd of neighborhood residents who gathered Wednesday in a warehouse at the proposed casino site for a public hearing on the project. It was the second of three public presentations scheduled for this week as Mayor Lightfoot mulls three finalists for the coveted casino license.” Notes Lynn Becker: “Bally’s proposal includes getting a temporary casino and up and running within a year within the existing Tribune Freedom Center building.” Notes Block Club: “Nearly 500 neighbors came out to oppose the casino planned for the prime riverfront site at Tribune Publishing Center. But Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. said, ‘A lot of my senior citizens who don’t come to these things like to gamble.’”

Printers Union Head, Little Village Community Activist “Augie” Sallas Was 86

August “Augie” Sallas, records Maureen O’Donnell at the Sun-Times, “spent most of his childhood at Angel Guardian orphanage on the North Side, became the first Mexican American chief of the Chicago Typographical Union Local 16. He was head of the union when it waged and then settled a bitter strike against the Chicago Tribune in the late 1980s. From about 1994 to 2014, Mr. Sallas, who was an ally of Mayor Richard M. Daley, was one of the first people visitors encountered on the first floor at Chicago’s City Hall, where he staffed the information booth and gave tours of the building… He also was president of the Little Village Community Council, founded the Hispanic American Labor Council and ran unsuccessfully for the Chicago City Council.”

Rainforest Cafe Can’t Become Dispensary Under Current Law

River North’s Rainforest Cafe is both too close and too far away for a proposed cannabis dispensary, reports the Sun-Times. “A dispensary can’t open within 1,500 feet of an existing pot shop unless it’s owned by a so-called social equity applicant… There are at least three dispensaries that appear to be within that distance. PTS, one of the original firms to get approval to sell pot in Illinois, does not have social equity status, a designation created to diversify the white-dominated weed business. Dispensaries that sell medical and recreational weed, like Consume in Norwood Park, also can’t legally move outside their designated medical district.”

Porcupette Prickles Brookfield Zoo

A newborn porcupette is soon on show at Brookfield Zoo. “The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, welcomed a new addition—a porcupette (baby porcupine) who was born on March 19,” the zoo relates. “The newborn is being hand-reared by animal care staff after it was observed the porcupette’s mom, nine-year-old Lucia, was not providing her offspring proper maternal care. The unsexed baby porcupine is thriving and cared for around the clock by animal care specialists. As the baby develops, times between each feeding will increase until it is weaned at around ten weeks old. Once weaned, staff will begin introducing the young porcupine to a diet consisting of a variety of vegetables, including sweet potato, green beans, corn, carrots, spinach, and kale, as well as a nutrient-based biscuit, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. At birth, a porcupette weighs just under a pound and is born with soft and bendable quills that protect the mom during the birthing process. After a few days, the quills harden with keratin—the same substance found in hair and fingernails—giving them their sharpness. Prehensile-tailed porcupines are born with a rusty-colored coat that helps them blend in with their environment. Similar to a deer fawn, a porcupette hides and waits for its mother to come to it for nursing.”

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