Notes & Calendar 3/21/18

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


Out of House and Home

You know what they say about assessors: they make an ass out of you and me, right? Okay, so that’s not how it goes, but with Joe Berrios gearing up to defend his office from challenger Fritz Kaegi (and a last-minute ballot addition, Andrea Raila), it feels fitting. In recent weeks, the highlights of his three decades in public office have resurfaced: the nepotism, the racketeering, and, um, the excessive fundraising. But last Thursday, with only days remaining before the primary, a new bombshell dropped. A study by Professor Christopher Berry of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy joins earlier reports by the Civic Consulting Alliance, the Tribune, and ProPublica in showing that Berrios has routinely undertaxed high-value properties and overtaxed lower-value homes in his stint as assessor. But this time we have a number, which amounts to a reshuffling of wealth from low-income homeowners to the wealthy to the tune of $2.2 billion, per Berry’s study. (This figure doesn’t even account for the “regressive and inaccurate assessments of commercial and industrial properties” throughout the city, as the Tribune put it, but we don’t want to get too depressing.) Berrios has made a fuss about Berry’s methodology, but unexpectedly pivoted to actually promising to fix the problem. The machine creaks on, nimble as ever.

Amazon’s Prime Real Estate

Amazon, which last year had been accepting applications from cities all over the United States in search of a new home for its second headquarters, has narrowed down its list to nineteen cities—including Chicago—that are willing to prostrate themselves to our new technological overlords and the possibility of 50,000 new high-skilled jobs and billions of dollars in investment. While most of the process has been hush-hush, Amazon will be making a visit to Chicago this week to tour at least three sites that Chicago has suggested as offerings to please Our Most Generous Benefactor Amazon, which may include locations like the Fulton Market District, the South Loop parcel The 78, or even the Burnham Lakefront. The Lucy Parsons Labs, a data and transparency activist organization, filed a lawsuit against the city to release the bid in full to the public, mostly in response to a report that Chicago offered Amazon nearly $1.32 billion in tax breaks as an incentive. Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted that “the city is ready” for Amazon HQ2, as if Chicago has not been extremely ready, if not more ready, for things like mental health clinics, strong public schools, and police reform, none of which would require the city to grovel at the feet of Jeff Bezos.

That’s The Chicago Way

With the March state and county primary at a close and the 2019 citywide elections approaching, election season is in the air, and some incumbent aldermen across the city have already began making moves to fight their primary challengers. That is, except for 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran, who has already declined to run for reelection as he fights a different battle: eleven counts of wire fraud, two counts of bribery, and two counts of extortion in federal court. Cochran is accused of pressuring two local businessmen for bribes. One, a liquor store owner, made a $7,000 donation in hopes of favorable treatment, telling investigators “that’s how things happen in Chicago,’” according to a tweet from the Tribune’s Jason Meisner. Cochran is also accused of siphoning off his ward’s charity fund to pay for “college tuition for his daughter, trips to Indiana casinos, accessories for his Mercedes, and other personal splurges,” according to the Tribune. But Cochran’s been making moves of his own; his lawyer, Christopher Grohman, filed a motion in court last Friday to split the indictment into two trials. Grohman stated that it was actually the feds who extorted the witnesses: “It was only…after continued interrogation and threats from the FBI, that he changed his tune and said he did feel some pressure from [Cochran] to donate money,” Grohman wrote in the motion. With FBI threats on one side and Cochran’s alleged bribery on the other, this case is making for some windy politics. Although the explosive claims against the FBI might raise eyebrows, the rest of the filing prompts predictable eye-rolling: Grohman wrote that the fraud charges can be explained away by “sloppy bookkeeping practices” on the part of Cochran and his staff, and said that a single trial would be unfair because of “the pervasive skepticism about Chicago politicians in general.”



The Big Idea Show

BOP Biz Chatham Suites, 644 E. 79th St. Through March 30. Fridays, 9am–11am. Free. (773) 891-5939.

Every Friday, the Big Idea Show provides a platform for business owners, activists, and entrepreneurs alike to discuss their big ideas. Hosts Linda Perez and Toure Muhammad—business owners in their own right—will discuss the secret to succeeding in Chicago with their guests. Find out that secret for yourself by attending this Friday. (Michael Wasney)

African Youth Forum

United African Organization, 4910 S. King Dr. Saturday, March 24, 11am–3pm.  (312) 949-9980.

This annual forum aims to encourage young people of color to find common ground and strengthen ties through dialogue. Join the United African Organization for an afternoon of workshops and discussions on immigration, education, employment, and more. (Adia Robinson)

Mental Wellness: Supporting the Whole Black Woman

Greenline Coffee, 501 E. 61st St. Saturday, March 31, 11am–2pm. $12. (312) 880-9739. register at

Sista Afya’s founder Camesha Jones will lead this workshop on Black women trailblazers in mental wellness field. You will learn how a holistic approach to mental wellness can help you break down barriers in your life. (Adia Robinson)

Rocket Men Book Launch

Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr. Thursday, April 5. 7pm–9pm. $35 (includes a copy of the book).

Author Robert Kurson penned a new book, Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8, about America’s second manned voyage to the moon. Apollo 8 crew members Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders will participate in a panel discussion at the Hyde Park museum, where visitors also can see the Apollo 8 capsule and mingle at a cash bar. (Joseph S. Pete)


Opening Reception: Arte Diseño Xicágo

National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Opening reception Friday, March 23, 6pm–8pm. Through August 19. Free. (312) 738-1503.

Arte Diseño Xicágo, part of Art Design Chicago, examines the early artistic involvement and influence of Mexican immigrants in Chicago. This exhibition will include photographs and objects that focus on years between the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the Civil Rights Era of the 1970s. (Roderick Sawyer)

Cine Mexicano de la Época de Oro

National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Sunday, March 25, 1:30pm–3pm. Free with registration. (312) 738-1503.

Pilsen’s National Museum of Mexican Art and Cineteca Nacional have been screening a series of movies from Mexico’s golden age of cinema during the 1940s and 1950s. Sunday, they’ll show Enamorada, a romantic comedy set during the Mexican Revolution by the Palme d’Or-winning director Emilio “Indio” Fernandez. (Joseph S. Pete)

Part II: West Side/South Side: Coalitioning Around School Closures

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St. Thursday, March 22, 6pm–8pm. (312) 413-5353.

In 2013, Chicago experienced  one of the largest school closures in history. In line with ongoing efforts to mobilize for equitable public education, as well as a part of their current exhibition, “Claiming Space: Creative Grounds and Freedom Summer School,” the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum opens their doors for activists and educators alike to strategize for new solutions in 2018. (Roderick Sawyer)


The 2018 Chop Top Challenge: Kickoff Party

Gearhead Workspace, 305 W. 31st St. Friday, March 23, 6pm. Free. BYOB.

The rules of the Chop Top Challenge are simple: take a car, hacksaw the top off, and drive from Chicago to New Orleans. (+500 points if your car is a PT Cruiser or Pontiac Aztek). Even if you’re not putting pedal to metal, stop by Gearhead for brews, pizza, and choons from Bong Mountain, Oscar Bait, and Land Speeder. (Christopher Good)

Eleven “Jazzy” Divas

DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Friday, March 23, 7pm–10pm. $35, museum members $30. (773) 947-0600.

Celebrate Women’s History Month with an emotional and memorable performance by this all-female musical ensemble. Between jazz, R&B, blues, and gospel, there’s something for everyone. Emmy Award–winning vocalist Joan Collaso will host. (Veronica Karlin)

This is Bate Bola: Ben LaMar Gay & Africans with Mainframes

Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St. Friday, March 23, 8pm–11pm. $10 in advance, $12 at door. (773) 823-9700.

Acclaimed filmmakers Ben Holman and Neirin Jones will debut their newest documentary––a fifteen-minute exploration of the Carnival tradition of Bate Bola in Rio de Janeiro––with performances by Ben Lamar Gay, who scored the film, and Africans with Mainframes, the acid house duo of Jamal Moss (Hieroglyphic Being) and Noleian Reusse. (Christopher Good)

Civic Orchestra Community Concert

South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. Sunday, March 25, 3pm–5pm. $5. (312) 294-3000.

The Civic Orchestra of Chicago will showcase a wide-ranging selection of American music in South Shore as part of its eleventh consecutive season. The afternoon will be conducted by Tito Muñoz, the music director of Arizona’s Phoenix Symphony, and will include classic pieces composed by Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Samuel Barber, Jennifer Higdon, and Aaron Copland. (Veronica Karlin)

Soul-Frica Sundays

Renaissance Bronzeville, 4641 S. King Dr. Sunday, March 25, 7pm. No cover. (773) 690-5416.

End your week right and dance the night away in Bronzeville. Resident DJs Terry Hunter and Greg Winfeld––each with a formidable history in Chicago’s house music scene––will spin soul, R&B, and whatever gets the people moving. (Christopher Good)


Graphic!: Art, Technology, and Social Change Chicago Humanities Festival

Venue SIX10, 610 S. Michigan Ave. Thursday, March 22, 6:30pm–8:30pm. $10–$20. Student, teacher, and member discounts available.

MacArthur Fellow LaToya Ruby Frazier, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and United States Artists President and CEO Deana Haggag will present their work at Graphic!: Art, Technology, and Social Change. The event kicks off the Chicago Humanities Festival’s yearlong Graphic! theme, which explores how new visual forms on mobile screens, social networks, and streaming services are changing the world. (Joseph S. Pete)

Note, De-note: TURUMBA

filmfront, 1740 W. 18th St. Thursday, March 22, 7pm–10pm.

Filmfront’s latest screening series, subtitled “A Money Series,” presents films that dramatize the “dehumanization of individuals and communities as a result of money”—and offer up their own critiques. First up is famous Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik’s 1981 film Turumba, about a village torn apart by the papier-mache needs of the Munich Olympics. (Julia Aizuss)

Note, De-note: MANDABI

filmfront, 1740 W. 18th St. Sunday, March 25, 7pm–10pm.

If you attend and enjoy the first film in filmfront’s “Note, De-note” screening series, you’ll be delighted to find the second screening is just a few days later. Next up is pioneering Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène’s Mandabi (The Money Order), a 1968 film based on his own novel that takes on corruption and bureaucracy. (Julia Aizuss)

BCH Mixtape Vol. 3

Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, 1456 E. 70th St. Friday, March 23, 7pm–10pm. (312) 857-5561.

Black Cinema House showcases four independent short films—Rhonda Nunn’s “I Remember,” Angela Dugan’s “Jermaine,” Katheryne Michelle Johnson’s “Daisy,” and AuMar’s “Plastic Symbiosis”—for its Mixtape series in an effort to uplift and reflect the full breadth of Black perspective in cinema. The screenings will be followed by a discussion of themes like memory, family, and the dichotomy between past and present. (Joseph S. Pete)

Of Whales, Time, and Your Last Attempt to Reach Me

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Thursday, March 29–Saturday, March 31, 7:30pm. $10–$30.

Part of dancer Molly Shanahan’s artist statement affirms that her primary source is the body. It holds mysteries that we, collectively, have not even begun to understand. Shanahan says that through live performance, we experience these mysteries together in shared space and time. This presentation is sure to prove exactly that. (Nicole Bond)

Literally Dozens of Showings of Black Panther

Various South Side locations, check theaters for show times.

If you haven’t heard—Black Panther is the super-charged superhero movie that is breaking records: a predominantly Black cast featuring Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett, a Black director (Ryan Coogler), and over $1 billion at box offices.  Several South Side theaters have over a dozen shows a day, crowding out most of the other big film releases. At Harper Theater, they’re sharing the love with A Wrinkle In Time, another Black creator–led blockbuster that’s at the #2 box office spot. (Katie Gruber)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Through April 15. $38–$71. (773) 753-4472.

The classic 1967 film about the latent racism that surfaces when an upper-class San Francisco couple hosts their daughter and her Black doctor fiancé has been adapted for the stage by playwright Todd Kreidler. The acclaimed Marti Lyons, who’s directed for several theaters in Chicago, makes her Court directorial debut with this still-topical adaptation. (Joseph S. Pete)

Songs of the Chicago Freedom Movement: A Concert Remix

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park West. Wednesday, April 4, 7pm–9pm. $25. (312) 719-3740.

The Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training presents this all-ages concert commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination. With a call to action looking at the years from 1968 to now, this concert features jazz, gospel, folk, and choral ensembles. (Nicole Bond)


Lake Michigan Fisheries Workshop

Chicago Maritime Museum, 1200 W. 35th St. Tuesday, March 20, 6pm–8:30pm. (773) 376-1982.

The Chicago Maritime Museum is “calling all anglers, charter captains, and lake enthusiasts” for a free workshop on changes in the Lake Michigan food web, yellow perch fisheries, and lake trout reproduction. At the helm will be Mitchell Zischke, an assistant professor at Perdue with expertise in fish biology and fisheries science. (Emeline Posner)

March Sustainability Forum

Hermann Hall Ballroom, Illinois Institute of Technology, 3241 S. Federal St., Ste 102. Friday, March 23, 12:30pm–2pm. Free with online registration.

Join Alec Brownlow, a DePaul geography professor who studies sustainable urban development, for a lunchtime lecture on politics and sustainable urbanism as part of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s March Sustainability Forum. (Emeline Posner)

Good Food Expo: The Good Food Festival

UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd. Saturday, March 24, 10am–5pm. Entrance free with online registration. (312) 874-7360.

It may be the last in a month-long stretch of food policy and farming conventions, but it’s certainly not the least. For the fourteenth iteration of the Good Food Expo, expect exciting presentations—on beekeeping, quail-keeping, foraging, and more—from familiar faces. (Emeline Posner)

Chicago Food Encyclopedia

Ruggles Hall, Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St. Thursday, April 5, 6pm-7:30pm. Free, but tickets required. (312) 943-9090.

A former Tribune food editor, a professor emeritus of Roosevelt University, and a food journalist and historian have assembled an encyclopedia of Chicago food. Its entries are ordered A-Z, and include Alinea, Rick Bayless, and, of course, hot dogs. Come to hear co-editors and contributor Bill Daley discuss their “ultimate reference on Chicago and its food,” and stick around after to get a copy signed by them. (Joseph S. Pete)

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