Notes & Calendar 2/14/18

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

CPS to Phase Out Englewood High Schools, Not Shut Down

On Monday, CPS reversed its decision to close all four neighborhood high schools in Englewood. Instead, TEAM Englewood, Harper, and Hope will “phase out” over the next three years, remaining open until current students graduate, without accepting freshmen. Robeson will close; when the new school opens there in 2019, it will only take freshmen. Put one way, it sounds like a victory for Englewood families who would have had to send their kids out of the neighborhood next year. But it is still unclear where the class of current eighth graders (freshmen in the fall) will go. Despite promised extra funds from CPS, TEAM, Harper, and Hope will still face the (likely worsening) lack of students and resources that prompted the closings in the first place. Their empty buildings will still need to be repurposed eventually. And, as WBEZ reported in November, CPS has used phase-outs before as a proxy for the less popular “closings.” But what else can the district do, with too-large buildings and shrinking enrollment? On the West Side, politicians are looking for solutions, given feedback that community members don’t want school closings, not even in exchange for a shiny new building. They might consider creative uses of school spaces, or look back to a 2011 report from Englewood residents on how to attract students to neighborhood schools.

The Future of Rib Tips and Hot Links?

South Side–style barbecue—the kind cooked in a glass-encased aquarium smoker and served alongside fries and Wonder Bread—is a dying art, according to a saucy profile Kevin Pang wrote for Saveur Magazine. He offers a sobering estimate for the number of people left who can be counted as professionals when handling an aquarium smoker: maybe twenty at best. Those that do are tasked with literally and figuratively keeping the South Side–style flame alive (and of course, tempering that flame with water when the smoker gets too hot). Barbecue joints that are still smoking their pork rib tips in aquarium smokers, like Lem’s Bar-B-Q on 75th, tend to be on the South Side or in the south suburbs. Once these disappear—which might happen if today’s pitmasters can’t find a willing cohort of youngsters to become pitmasters themselves—this mouthwatering tradition might run dry not only for Chicago, but for the world.

Expanding Voter Access and Education in Illinois Jails

On February 7, 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law led a statewide coalition of organizations and public officials—including Pritzker running mate and state Rep. Juliana Stratton—to announce the introduction of HB 4469. Currently, many of the almost four million people who have a past felony conviction in the state, and many of the 20,000 people who are being detained before their trials, either do not have access to vote or do not know they are eligible to vote. HB 4469 is designed to expand voter access and education efforts in Illinois jails by measures such as mandating that county jails establish a process that allows detainees awaiting trial to cast their ballots during elections, directing county jails to provide a voter registration application to any detainee eligible to vote, and providing those being released with an updated registration form.

Mark Konkol’s Executive Message for Reader Editor: “You’re Fired”

There’s something particularly callous and cruel about firing someone for no particular reason after they return from their honeymoon. That soap opera-level dramatic sentence is unfortunately true of Jake Malooley, the talented, recently fired editor-in-chief of the Reader, the city’s other, larger alt-weekly. Crueler still, the man whose “vision” Malooley was removed to make room for is Mark Konkol, the former DNAinfo columnist, producer of the CNN Rahm Emanuel reelection vehicle Chicagoland, and noted bike lane hater. Mark Konkol––we take no pleasure in reporting––was installed as the Reader’s “executive editor,” above the editor-in-chief, just last week. Be sure to watch this space for sure-to-be withering critiques of his sure-to-be impending Reader (or Sun-Times) columns.



Roundtable on Gun Violence in Hyde Park

Build Coffee, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. Thursday, February 15, 11:30am–1pm. Free. Must register online at

Renato Mariotti, a candidate for Illinois Attorney General, will host a conversation with Khary Penebaker, a Democratic National Convention representative, to discuss gun violence in Hyde Park. (Samantha Smylie)

Black History Month African American Lit Fest

Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St. February 3–26.

Kick off Black History Month by getting lit with the African American Lit Fest. The Soulful Chicago Book Fair, in partnership with the Chicago Public Library African American Services Committee, will host a series of events with local authors, poets, and storytellers throughout the month. (Erisa Apantaku)

Pilsen Community Town Hall on Rent Control & Property Taxes

St. Pius V Parish, 1919 S. Ashland Ave. Monday, February 19, 6pm–8pm. Free.

In light of ongoing gentrification in Pilsen, the Pilsen Alliance, the South Side chapter of the DSA, and the Illinois chapter of Our Revolution are hosting a community town hall on solutions to the housing crisis through the implementation of rent control and reform to the property tax assessment system. Attendees will include gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Daniel Biss and State Rep. Theresa Mah. (Sam Stecklow)

Fabian Elliott @ Chi Hack Night & City Tech Black History Month Speaker Series

Braintree, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th floor. Tuesday, February 20, 6pm–9:30pm. Free. Must register online at

Chi Hack Night and City Tech are hosting a speaking series for Black History Month to encourage diversity in the civic-tech community in Chicago. On February 20th, Fabias Elliot will talk about the experiences that led him to found Black Tech Mecca in 2015. (Samantha Smylie)

Democratic Primary Congressional Forums

3rd District: Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Pkwy, Palos Hills. Wednesday, February 21, 7pm–8pm. Free.

4th District: First forum: Riverside Township Auditorium, 27 Riverside Rd., 2nd fl., Riverside. Thursday, February 15, 7pm–9pm. Free.

Second forum: Cicero Community Center, 2250 S. 49th Ave, Cicero. Monday, February 26, 7pm–8pm. Free.

In the rapidly approaching Democratic primary—which, in Chicago, matters a whole lot more than the general election—you can never be too well informed. In that spirit, we encourage everyone living in Illinois’s 3rd and 4th congressional districts, which include a number of South Side neighborhoods, to attend these upcoming forums, hosted by a coalition of west suburban Indivisible groups and the League of Women Voters of Chicago, respectively. In the 3rd District hear from incumbent conservative Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski and liberal nonprofit founder Marie Newman. In the 4th, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, nonprofit founder Sol Flores, and Chicago police sergeant Richard Gonzalez all make their pitches as to why they should replace outgoing Rep. Luis Gutiérrez. (Sam Stecklow)

Chinese New Year Celebration

Chinese American Museum of Chicago, 238 W. 23rd St. Saturday, February 17, 2pm–4pm. Free. (312) 949-1000. RSVP required.

Ring in the Year of the Dog at the Chinese American Museum’s annual celebration, complete with food, music, arts and crafts, and a Chinese lion dance, performed by acrobatic dancers to represent luck for the coming year. (Tammy Xu)

Expanding Your Horizons Chicago

UofC Kent Chemical Laboratory, 1020 East 58th St. Sunday, March 24, 8am–3pm. $5. Registration opens February 12.

Chicago-area girls in grades 6-8 come together each year for this career conference focused on STEM fields. Students take part in a day of workshops and hands-on activities led by women in these fields. Online registration is mandatory; scholarships are available. (Rachel Schastok)


Diana Solis Fundraiser

Pilsen Outpost, 1958 W. 21st St. Saturday, February 17, 5pm–10pm. $10-$100.

Diana Solis is a Chicago-based painter and illustrator whose paintings and drawings have been showcased in Chicago, Mexico, Spain, and Germany. Now, she needs your support to travel to the Czech Republic this summer. Come for raffle prizes, great music, and snacks and beverages. All ages are welcome. (Maple Joy)

Artist Block Vol.10: Love Stinks

Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar, 960 W. 31st St. Saturday, February 17, 1pm–6pm. Free. 21+.

Drink, draw, and collaborate at one of Bridgeport’s best-known pubs for the tenth volume of the Chicago Creative Collaborators’ Artist Block. You can borrow doodle paper, art supplies, and coloring pages––and you don’t even have to be an artist to attend this free, low-key public hangout. (Joseph S. Pete)

Eclipsing Workshop: Nourishing Noir with Nicole Melanie

Arts and Public Life, 301 E. Garfield Blvd. Friday, February 16, 5pm–7pm. Free. (773) 702-9724.

Vegan chocolatier Nicole Melanie will lead “Nourishing Noir,” a workshop on the historical context and cultural significance of black foods. She’ll also discuss the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet. (Roderick Sawyer)

Rezident: Featuring Instituto Grafico de Chicago

Lo Rez Brewing, 2101 S. Carpenter St. Friday, February 16, 7pm–11pm. Free. (312) 738-1503.

Join the Instituto Gráfico de Chicago and Lo Rez Brewing for craft beer, live music, an auction, and “Dichos y Diretes,” a collection of the work of nine Latinx and Latin American printmaking artists from the IGC. Show up early so you don’t miss the happy hour fundraiser for the National Museum of Mexican Art. (Roderick Sawyer)


Winter Blue

Some Like it Black, 4259 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Unit D. Thursday, February 15, 6pm. $5 donation. (773) 891-4866.

The final session of the Winter Blue series features artistry from urban rock fusion band Black Flowerz Movement and a sizzling open mic lineup of Chicago talent. Get ready for poetic prose and rhythmic vibrations for the soul. (LaToya Cross)

Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot

Harper Theater, 5238 S. Harper Ave. Thursday, February 15, 7pm–8:30pm. (773) 834-1936.

Barbara McCullough’s new film tells the story of influential jazz musician Horace Tapscott, whose activism got him blacklisted in the seventies. After the screening, McCullough will discuss the film with composer Renée Baker and series curator Jacqueline Stewart. (Neal Jochmann)

Black Cinema House Presents: Oscar Brown Jr.

Black Cinema House, 1456 E. 70th St. Friday, February 16, 7pm–9pm. Free. (312) 857-5561.

Songwriter and playwright, politician and activist, poet and actor––it might be clichéd to suggest that someone contains multitudes, but Oscar Brown Jr. did. Join his daughter, the singer Maggie Brown, for a retrospective screening and discussion at the Black Cinema House. (Christopher Good)

Bit x Bit

DADS, 2515 S. Archer Ave. Saturday, February 17, 8pm–12am. $7 before 10pm, $12 after. (312) 451-2962.

Bit x Bit is returning for another installment at Chicago’s own Digital Arts Demo Space. Come to see some innovative electronic musicians, including Hypnogram and Aethernaut—and catch the multimedia work of some VJs as well. Can’t make it? The event will be livestreamed at (Michael Wasney)

Work on the Sabbath featuring The DOT

BING Art Books, 307 E. Garfield Blvd. Sunday, February 18, 3pm. Free. (872) 256-9702.

This “Sunday Service” is sure to refuel your soul for the week ahead with instrumental selections from The DOT, a three-piece band comprised of organist/pianist Justin Dillard, guitarist Vinnie Roof, and drummer Samuel Jewell. The group fuses avant-garde jazz and modern R&B with soul-funk sounds.  (LaToya Cross)


Poetry Out Loud City Regionals

Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St. Wednesday, February 14, 10am. Free. (312) 787-7070.

Chicago high schools participating in this annual competition sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation will send their poetry recitation champions to the city regionals this Valentine’s Day. Students are judged both for presentation and accuracy, with the winner advancing to state finals and a chance at the national finals held in Washington, D.C. in April. (Tammy Xu)

Welcome to This House

Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Saturday, February 17, 7pm-10pm. Free. (773) 702-2787.

The second part of a two-night celebration of lesbian experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer’s work, this night is the Chicago premiere of Hammer’s 2015 documentary on the life, loves, and homes of the poet Elizabeth Bishop—a project whose commitment to the memories and “unexpected details” embedded in buildings and landscapes recalls a line from one of Bishop’s own poems: “no detail too small.” (Julia Aizuss)

Sydney R. Daniels Oratorical Festival

Harold Washington College, room 1115, 30 E. Lake Street. Tuesday, February 27, 2pm–4pm. Free. (312) 553-5600.

The annual Sydney R. Daniels Black History Month Oratorical Festival by Harold Washington College’s English, Speech & Theatre Department offers scholarships to all participants, including $1,000 to the first-place winner. Orators are tasked with commemorating educators, humanitarians, scientists, politicians, and other influential African Americans. (Joseph S. Pete)

The Extraordinary Everyday Marriage Duo

South Side Weekly Radio Hour, Tuesdays in February, 3pm–4pm WHPK 88.5FM or

Listen to authors Sean and Dorian H. Nash during segment two of a four-part series dedicated to love and relationships. The Duo will share key elements they have learned for building and sustaining a healthy marriage, as described in their book, Do You Love Me Still? Listeners are invited to call in their relationship questions for the Duo to answer live on-air for the final segment on February 27. Questions can be voice mailed now to (224) 215-1890. (The Weekly Read)


Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Friday, February 9–Sunday, March 11. 7:30pm Tuesday–Saturday, 7:30pm; Saturday–Sunday, 3pm. $15–$60. (773) 871-3000.

Jeff Awardwinning playwright Antoinette Nwandu’s Breach: a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate is a comedy about family, friendship, and motherhood billed as “a love letter to black women.” Caren Blackmore stars as Margaret in her debut on the Lincoln Park stage. (Joseph S. Pete)

Eye of the Storm: The Bayard Rustin Story

eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Friday, February 9–Sunday, March 11. Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm. $40, discounts available for seniors, students, and groups. (773) 752-3955.

Playwright McKinley Johnson tells the story of behind-the-scenes Civil Rights Movement organizer Bayard Rustin, whose work garnered him the moniker “The Architect of the March on Washington.” Despite Rustin’s efforts and achievements, he was persecuted for being gay. In conjunction with the play, a Contemporary Conversation on Race, Sexuality and Politics will be the topic of a joint panel scheduled with eta and the UofC Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture on Saturday, February 10 at 6:30pm with the playwright as well as social justice leaders and scholars from Chicago. (Nicole Bond)

All My Sons

Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Extended through Sunday, February 18. Tickets $20–$68. (773) 753-4472.

Charles Newell directs Arthur Miller’s 1947 Drama Critics’ Award-winning play All My Sons. Featuring Timothy Edward Kane, John Judd, and Kate Collins, this dramatic tale, based on true events, weaves business, love, and tragedy, and established Miller as an American theater icon. (Nicole Bond)


The Black Farmer

KS-Holistic Training and Development Center, 10340 S. Western Ave. Sunday, February 18, 3pm–5pm. Tickets $25.26. Ages 10+. (773) 938-0324. RSVP at

Join Jacqueline Smith, gardener, earth stewardess, and owner of GrowAsis Urban Garden Consulting. Smith will talk about the role of Black farmers in America and Africa, current farming practices, and indigenous food growing. Refreshments will be provided. (Emeline Posner)

City Bureau Public Newsroom: Property Taxes

Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. Thursday, February 22, 6pm–8pm. Free. (773) 819-5188.

Property taxes got you confused, stressed, or generally down? At this week’s public newsroom, journalists at ProPublica Illinois will first walk you through their reporting on Cook County’s unfair and error-ridden property tax system, and then help you through your own assessment or appeal—bring a copy. (Emeline Posner)

51st Street Community Farmers Market Internship Applications

Send applications, questions, to Stephanie Dunn, Applications due February 15.

United Human Services, a food pantry that operates twelve community gardens and farms in Back of the Yards, is looking for three farmers market interns and three farming interns for the coming season. The marketing internship will offer a $500 stipend for ten hours a week from May to October, and the farm internship is unpaid, with a free produce share and money-making opportunities at weekly farmers markets, for sixteen hours a week. Candidates will be interviewed and selected by March 15. (Emeline Posner)   

Chicago Food Policy Summit

South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. Friday, February 23, summit 9am–5pm, reception 5:30pm–7:30pm. Reception $10, summit and reception $20.

Registration is now open for the thirteenth annual Chicago Food Policy Summit, organized around this year’s theme “From Survive to Thrive.” The event is hosted by the Chicago Food Policy Action Council, a volunteer organization advocating for equal access to healthy food options in the city. Details about summit workshops, speakers, and vendors to be announced. (Tammy Xu)

Healthy Food Hub Pop-Up Market Day

Chicago State University Library, 9501 S. King Dr. Saturday, February 24, 11am–1pm. (773) 410-3446.

Come find produce, spices, and other goods at the Healthy Food Hub’s Chicago State University pop-up market day. The Englewood-based agricultural cooperative is taking a break from its normal weekly schedule for the winter, so don’t sleep on what may be the Hub’s only market day until the spring. Arrive at 9am to participate in an intro class for the Hub’s Lifeboat Permaculture Design Certification and Commercial Farm Training. (Emeline Posner)

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