Notes & Calendar 2/22/17


A week’s worth of developing stories, odd events, and signs of the times, culled from the desks, inboxes, and wandering eyes of the editors

Win Some, Lose Most

Though this week’s issue of the Weekly features an article exploring how the Illinois State Lottery exacerbates disparities in school funding in South and West Side neighborhoods, it is nevertheless a fact that sometimes people do win the lottery, and that sometimes those people are from the South Side of Chicago. As reported by DNAinfo, Nathaniel Dorsey of South Shore won $4 million off a scratch-off lottery ticket he purchased at Food Town in Chatham two weeks ago. While this victory does not, by itself, alleviate the drastic inequities in investment and funding among Chicago’s neighborhoods, we at the Weekly wish to congratulate Nathaniel on his winnings. Statistically speaking, a lottery ticket purchased at Food Town in Chatham is still just as unlikely to win you the lottery as a lottery ticket purchased anywhere else, but for the superstitiously minded, Food Town’s address is 935 E. 79th Street.

Clerks and Kickbacks

This past Friday, the Sun-Times reported a new revelation in the ongoing corruption investigation into allegations of pay-to-play in Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office. Court documents show that a senior-level employee gave a $10,000 loan to Brown’s husband’s company at the request of an unnamed “Individual A.” According to the Sun-Times, “Individual A is clearly Dorothy Brown,” based on details revealed in court documents and records. Brown denies any wrongdoing and has not yet been charged, and her attorney asserts that Brown’s husband’s company paid back the loan. Federal prosecutors allege that Brown herself requested the loan, but this was not the first time that one of Brown’s employees made a significant loan to her husband’s company, Goat Masters Corp. Sivasubramani Rajaram was hired in 2014 after loaning $15,000 to the company at the suggestion of an unnamed high-ranking employee. The late Narendra Patel, a longtime Brown campaign donor, also gave a North Lawndale building to Brown and her husband at no cost in June 2011—the couple eventually sold it for $100,000. These revelations only add to a long list of questionable monetary transactions between Brown and her employees, which includes accepting cash birthday gifts from her employees and charging them “$3 or more—cash only—for the right to wear jeans on ‘Jeans Day,’ ” according to the Sun-Times.

Out of the Classroom and Into the Streets

Last Thursday, February 16, thousands of Chicagoans took to the streets as a part of a national “Day Without Immigrants.”  While immigrants and undocumented people showed up to the march, which ran from Union Park to Federal Plaza in the Loop, they didn’t show up elsewhere, both at work and at school. At least thirty restaurants and businesses in Pilsen and Heart of Chicago shut their doors to customers in solidarity with the day of action, according to DNAinfo. Chicago Public Schools also reported that on the “Day Without Immigrants,” attendance dropped to a little more than eighty-five percent, which means that about 50,000 students stayed home. On the same day in 2016, attendance was almost ten percent higher, at ninety-four percent. Schools with predominantly Hispanic student populations saw an even lower attendance rate of seventy-six percent, compared to ninety-five and ninety-four percent attendance rates on the two days preceding the day of action. Some classrooms at those majority-Hispanic schools were only half-full. CPS administrators anticipated this drop in attendance, sending out a memo to parents via email that maintained that absences related to the day of action would be counted as unexcused.

It’s not possible to know how many CPS students are undocumented or come from families with undocumented members, because it’s against federal law for a school district to collect information on students’ documented status. In compliance with Chicago’s sanctuary city status, CPS has stated that it will not allow ICE or other federal immigration agents inside schools without warrants or court orders. But CPS employees who teach kids as young as elementary school have reported to DNAinfo that children whose families face the threat of deportation are often scared, worried, and distracted in the classroom even when they do attend school.

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Forum on Immigration Policy with Rep. Bobby Rush

Illinois Institute of Technology, 10 W. 35th St. Thursday, February 23, 5:30pm. Free. (773) 779-2400.

U.S. Representative Bobby Rush will host a forum on “Navigating Today’s U.S Immigration Policy,” a response to recent executive orders targeting immigrants and refugees. Join Rush in discussing the implications of these changes with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other groups. (Hafsa Razi)

Free Food for Summer Youth Groups: Info Session

Archdiocese of Chicago Food Service, 5343 W. Roscoe St. Thursday, February 23, 10am–11am. RSVP required by phone or email. (800) 545-7892.

The Illinois State Board of Education and the Archdiocese of Chicago combine forces to host the “FREE FOOD for Summer Youth Groups” information session. Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and others will talk about the problem of youth hunger in the state, and how summer youth groups serving children eighteen years or younger can acquire free food and resources. (Michael Wasney)

The Interview Show: Benefit for the Voting Rights Project

Lagunitas Brewing Chicago, 2607 W. 17th St. Tuesday, February 28, 6pm–9pm. $16.50.

WTTW’s Interview Show comes to Lagunitas to raise money for the Voting Rights Project, an effort by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to increase access to voting and civic participation in low-income communities of color. The show features representatives from Lagunitas and the Project, as well as writer and sociologist Eve Ewing. (Hafsa Razi)

Metro Planning Council Roundtable on Historic Pullman

Metropolitan Planning Council, 140 S. Dearborn St., Ste. 1400. Wednesday, March 1, noon–1:30pm. $15 for MPC donors, $30 for non-donors. RSVP required. (312) 863-6010.

At this roundtable, presenters will talk about Pullman’s recent resurgence, what lessons from this resurgence can be applied elsewhere in the city, and how the company town can fulfill the promise of its National Monument status under a new federal administration. Attendees will also discuss how to use Pullman’s growth to lift up surrounding South Side neighborhoods. (Joseph S. Pete)


Buried Alive: The Art of James C. Harrison

Elephant Room Gallery, 704 S. Wabash Ave. Closing reception Friday, February 24, 6pm–8:30pm. Through Saturday, February 25. Wednesday and Thursday, 1pm–5pm; Saturday, 11am-5pm. Free. (312) 361-0281.

Buried Alive is a retrospective of the dark, revelatory paintings of the late Brooklyn-based painter James C. Harrison, who worked from 1950 to 1990. The show exhibits “paint-drawings” that, inspired by Jungian psychology and jazz improvisation, echo the chaotic style of Harrison’s better-known contemporaries Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg. (Sam Clapp)

Your Hyperbole Could Be A Screensaver

Randy Alexander Gallery, 1926 S. Wabash Ave. Closing reception Saturday, February 25, 6pm-8pm. Free. (347) 233-1528.

Chicago artist and Northwestern grad Erin Hayden has incorporated everything from text to emoji to giant ants in her multidisciplinary works. She made a striking first impression in the Intention to Know exhibit at Stony Island Arts Bank. Her new solo show, which closes Saturday, features new paintings, installation, and video. (Joseph S. Pete)

Heather Mekkelson: In Absentia Luci

4th Ward Project Space, 5338 S. Kimbark Ave. Opening Sunday, February 26, 4pm-7pm. Through Sunday, March 16. Saturday, 1pm-5pm. Free.

Where will you be on Sunday the 26th if not here? In her new show in Hyde Park gallery 4th Ward Project Space, Heather Mekkelson examines the fundamental constructs of time, space, and number that guide us in discovering our place in the universe through her own sculptural constructions and assemblages. (Corinne Butta)

Chicago on My Mind

Garfield Park Arts Incubator, 301 E. Garfield Blvd. Opening Friday February 24, 6pm-8pm. Through Sunday, February 26. Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm. Free. (773) 702-9724.

Referencing the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1969 exhibition Harlem on My Mind, curatorial residents Sadie Woods and La Keisha Leek revise the concept to apply to Chicago. They bring together works that unite a vision of Chicago cultural and social practice. (Corinne Butta)


Lee Fields & The Expressions

Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St. Tuesday, February 28, doors 7:30pm, show 9:30pm. $20 standing room, $25 seats. 17+. (312) 526-3851.

Seasoned soul and funk artist Lee Fields is stopping by Pilsen’s Thalia Hall in support of his latest album with The Expressions, Special Night. One of the hardest working soul artists around with a forty-three-year career, Fields is a sure tonic for classic soul aficionados of every age. (Efrain Dorado)

Black & Brown Babes Vol. 3

The Dojo, address available through FB page. Saturday, February 25, gallery 8pm, music 9pm. $5 donation. 18+.

The Black & Brown Babes Collective is holding their third showcase at Pilsen DIY space The Dojo featuring numerous local artists and musicians. Among the stacked lineup is rapper/singer Milly Mango, Latin funk band Súbele, dreamy hip-hop group Oracle, soulful singer Bernie Levv, and beatmaker DJ Abel. Complementing the performances is an installation by art collective And Then There Was Black. (Efrain Dorado)

The Beat Era

Brent House, 5540 S. Woodlawn Ave. Friday, February 24, doors 6pm, show 7pm and 8:30pm. $35 general admission, $15 students or under 21. $5 more on all tickets purchased at door. (773) 947-8744.

Party like a beatnik in a celebration of counterculture music and poetry from the 1950s to early 1960s. Saxophonist Dudley Owens and his trio will play jazz that Kerouac, Ginsburg, and Burroughs could have snapped their fingers to. Attendees are encouraged to dress for the period and can partake of light refreshments and participate in a silent auction. (Joseph S. Pete)

The Dred Scott Decision: Oscar Brown, Jr.’s 3/5 Myth

Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave. Saturday, February 25, 3pm-4:30pm. Free. (312) 857-5561.

Rebuild Foundation musician-in-residence (and recent Weekly featuree) Maggie Brown will recite sonnets about the Dred Scott decision and “other issues related to the peculiar institution of slavery.” The poetry will be set to music from the catalog of Maggie’s father, the jazz legend and singer/poet/civil rights activist Oscar Brown, Jr. (Joseph S. Pete)


Intersectional Women’s Issues at Applied Words

Hosted by Guild Literary Complex, location TBA. Tuesday, March 14, 7pm. Free. (877) 394-5061.

March’s installation of the “Applied Words” series of critical conversations, hosted by Guild Literary Complex, will focus on the representation of women in media and the impact these representations have on young women. Dr. Nicole Spigner, a professor of African-American literature at Columbia College, will moderate the discussion. (Jake Bittle)

By the Apricot Trees

eta Creative Arts, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm through Sunday, April 2. See website for prices. (773) 752-3955.

eta’s new production, written by Ntsako Mkhabela, follows the story of TK, the only girl arrested in a famous series of protests led by black South African schoolchildren in 1976. The children took to the streets of Soweto, a town outside of Johannesburg, to protest the introduction of Afrikaans as the official language of schooling. They were met with a brutal response from the police. (Jake Bittle)

Blacks in Green Presents: The Suitcase

King Branch, Chicago Public Library, 3436 S. King Drive. Saturday, February 25, 1pm–2pm. Free. (312) 747-7543.

Naomi Davis, the founder of Blacks in Green and the granddaughter of black sharecroppers, will give a lecture tracing her family’s journey from Mississippi to Chicago in the Great Migration of the early twentieth century. Davis will explore the hopes and fears that drove the exodus, as well as the culture her grandparents brought with them. (Sam Clapp)

The Violet Hour: the Life of Leontyne Price

South Shore Cultural Center, Robeson Theater, 7059 South Shore Drive. Sunday, February 26, 4pm. Free, donations welcome. (773) 667-0241.

Joelle Lamarre performs her own work exploring the life and career of internationally acclaimed soprano Leontyne Price, from her rise to prominence during segregation to her final performance at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1985. (Nicole Bond)

Various Artists Independent Film Festival (Call for Submissions)

Submissions close Friday, February 27. For full submission guidelines, visit

The second round of submissions for this independent film festival welcomes contributions that are “100 years old or 100 days old,” and of all genres, as long as they’re under forty-five minutes. As with last fall’s round, the festival promises cash prizes and celebrity judges who will review all submissions. (Jake Bittle)

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