Notes & Calendar 4/25/18

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


CLEAR as Mud

The Chicago Police Department wants you to know that they’re not just meatheads: they can sink money into algorithms and data, too. Last year, the department released data from a “Strategic Subject List” where individuals’ likelihood of being in a crime was scored on a zero to 500 scale. Just two weeks back, billionaire Ken Griffin put $10 million toward its “Strategic Decision Support Centers,” where University of Chicago Crime Lab wonks will analyze gunshot noise and other data. But even if you shelve the racial profiling and the inherent violence of policing, there’s one small snag: the police’s  data is full of holes. As Mick Dumke of ProPublica Illinois reports, the CPD’s “gang database”—part of its central data warehouse, called CLEAR—is based in large part on circumstantial evidence, like tattoos and secondhand comments from sources. It also contains thirteen “people who are supposedly 118 years old [and] two others listed as 132.” The notion is funny, but the stakes for those on the list are not: the CPD “regularly [cites] the database during criminal investigations, immigration enforcement and court proceedings,” and getting off the list is near-impossible. As usual, the CPD’s technocrat rebrand holds up better in press release than in practice.

Illinois Spends Less Than One Cent Per Book Per Prisoner

There are few statistical drops quite as drastic as the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) plunge in spending on books for inmates in the last few years. According to data obtained from a public records request by Illinois Newsroom, the state prison system spent roughly $750,000 each year on books in the early 2000s, but last year spent a mere $276 across its 28 correctional facilities. Of course, when it comes to allocating financial resources for educational programming in a state-run prison system that’s struggling to cover the cost of running its facilities, books are low on the hierarchy of needs. According to director John Baldwin, IDOC is still behind on its payments from debts incurred during the state’s budget stalemate back in 2016, and has requested more than $400 million before the fiscal year ends in June to pay off its existing obligations. There isn’t a specific budget appropriation for reading materials, but when asked by Illinois Newsroom about the drop-off in funding over the last eighteen years, IDOC officials didn’t give a response. Which isn’t surprising—prison libraries generally aren’t hot priorities for cash strapped facilities. But given studies that show the direct effect increased educational programming has on reducing recidivism rates, maybe it’s time to reassess priorities and add a few more titles to the bookshelves?

Who Cursed South Works?

The curse of the South Works land continues, this time in the form of soil contamination found on the 440-acre chunk of land. This is not the first times developers have hit road bumps in their attempts to repurpose the old U.S. Steel site located in South Chicago. After the U.S. Steel factory itself closed in 1992, there was a short-lived plan to install a Solo Cup factory. Then, in 2004, the developer McCaffery Interests indicated interest in purchasing the site, but would ultimately walk away from the deal a little more than a decade later because U.S. Steel was not ready to to sell. Most recently, the city announced in 2017 that it had reached a deal with two European developers—Barcelona Housing System (BHS) and Emerald Living—interested in erecting 20,000 residential units and an assortment of other commercial and office spaces on the site. Both companies bill themselves as environmentally savvy companies, and have put forth plans to turn South Works into a model green community packed with modular structures. Environmental savviness or not, it looks like the actual environmental conditions of the site—a vague report of soil contamination that neither the developers or the city have yet elaborated on—have put off the construction plans yet again. We’ll see if BHS and Emerald Living make it past this hurdle, or if their plans will bite the (contaminated) dust just like McCaffery Interests’ did.



Aquinas Literacy Center Tutor Training

Aquinas Literacy Center, 1751 W. 35th St. Friday, April 27–Saturday, April 28. Contact volunteer coordinator. (773) 927-0512.

For the last twenty years, the Aquinas Literacy Center has been providing one-on-one English language tutoring to adult immigrants in McKinley Park. The center relies on volunteers for their work; participate in the training session at the end of April, and you can begin lending a hand in their mission. (Michael Wasney)

Chicago’s Gifted & Classical School Options: What’s Best for Your Child?

Illinois Institute of Technology, 10 W. 35th St. Saturday, April 28, 10am–noon. $15.

In this workshop, parents of pre-K through fifth grade students will learn how to guide their children through the testing process and apply to CPS’ selective enrollment schools. Hear from guest speakers that can guide you through the best test prep resources that fit the needs of your child. Learn about the opening of new classical schools, the difference between gifted and classical schools, and much more. Seating is limited. Adults only. (Maple Joy)

Foundations of Money Management

Genesis Housing Development Corporation, 7735 S. Vernon Ave. Saturday, April 28, 10am–noon. Free. Registration required. (773) 994-6670.

This workshop is perfect for those who experience chronic financial issues. At the presentation, Genesis Housing will go through everything from budgeting to banking 101. The event is free, so you won’t have to worry about cinching your belt tighter just to attend. (Michael Wasney)

CCC/CHA Partners in Education Information Session

Malcom X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd., Room 1102. Wednesday, May 2, 10am–noon, noon– 2pm, and 6:308:30pm. Free. (312) 553-2830.

CHA and City Colleges are teaming up to host several information sessions on how eligible participants can attend City Colleges of Chicago at low or no cost. Learn about the program deadlines, requirements, and academic programs to put you on a path to a better career. To be considered for funding, you must attend an information session before registering for classes. (Maple Joy) 

Black Women, Sex and the Lies our Mothers Told Us

Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St. Monday, May 7, 6pm–8pm. Free. (773) 947-0024.

The Silver Room is inviting all mothers/daughters/aunts to come by and hear author and community psychologist Dr. Hareder McDowell read excerpts from her new book. The event will also give attendees the opportunity to discuss their own experiences around the dynamics of mother-daughter relationships within the Black community. Come with open hearts, and open stomachs as well—wine and light refreshments will be served alongside the discussion. (Michael Wasney)

Wurd Is Balm 2018

Chicago State University, 9501 S. King Dr., 2nd floor of the Student Union building. Sunday, May 13, 7pm–10pm. Free.

As has become tradition, Chicago State University will be holding its eighth annual Wurd is Balm open mic poetry jam to celebrate (the end of ) National Poetry Month. Whether you’re a poet or poetry lover, this will be a great space to meet Chicago writers, and to showcase your own writing if you have it. Regardless of the reason that motivates you to attend, rest assured that you won’t find a better event post-National Poetry Month. (Michael Wasney)


Steve Coleman Residency

BING Art Books, 307 E. Garfield Blvd. Friday, April 27, 7pm–9pm. Free. (872) 256-9702.

Steve Coleman is the sort of musician whose technique takes paragraphs and subhedings just to gloss: “overlapping cycles, timbre, structure, intuition…” The peerless, South Side–raised, avant-jazz alto saxophonist will perform with his Five Elements outfit every Friday this month.  (Christopher Good)

Hymen Moments, Squared Off, Without Light, Blue Ribbon Glee Club

Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St. Friday, April 27, 7pm–11pm. $7 at door, all ages with guardian. (773) 823-9700.

The team behind Punk Rock & Donuts has banded together for another night of thrash n’ trash at the Co-Pro. Local, all-woman Misfits tribute band Hymen Moments will headline, with support from hard-hitting traditionalists Squared Off––plus Blue Ribbon Glee Club, an unironic punk acapella group. (Christopher Good)

Thaddeus Tukes’ Viibez

Greater Grand Crossing Branch Library, 1000 E. 73rd St. Saturday, April 28, 2pm–3pm. Free. (312) 745-1608.

Thaddeus Tukes, a Near West Side–raised vibraphone virtuoso, expresses more with his mallets than most of us can with our voices. Now, he’s bringing the jazz to Greater Grand Crossing with a five-piece outfit of vocals, saxophone, drums and bass. (Christopher Good)

Da Woodlawn DJs Spring Fling

7421 S. Chicago Ave. Saturday, April 28, 8pm–2am. $10 at the door. Free food and BYOB.

Is your weekend missing some great house music? Make your way over to Grand Crossing this weekend to listen to Woodlawn’s finest. DJ Jammin Jeff, DJ Ser’Gio, DJ Donell, DJ Reverb, DJ J’ House, DJ BT and DJ Stutta—they’ll all be there, and you should be too. (Michael Wasney)

BadEgg Presents: Cyberpsycho Goth Rave

MoySpace, 502 W. 28th St. Saturday, April 28, doors open at 9:30pm. $5 at door.

Cybergoths, get your chokers and JNCOs at the ready. It’s time to log in. Queer art collective Bad Egg is bringing an enigmatic lineup of beatmakers and noisemakers to its first party: Seshwan50k, Sweetie Poison, cmfrtfck, IT-XPO and more. (Christopher Good)


An Evening with Nikki Giovanni

American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Ave. Thursday, April 26, 6:30pm–8pm. $12, free for members. (312) 374-8790.

Acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni, who is considered one of the best-known African-American poets and was named a “Living Legend” by Oprah Winfrey to boot, visits the American Writers Museum in the Loop. The prolific Langston Hughes Medal Laureate and Grammy Award nominee will read from her many works, which includes more than thirty books. (Joseph S. Pete)

Masters of Soul Motown Revue

Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Friday, April 27, 8pm. $38, $34 BAC Members. (773) 445-3838.

Celebrate the legendary songs and performers of Motown in this ninety-minute show featuring the music, dance, and costumes that made Motown famous. Older generations can reminisce to the soundtrack of their youth while younger generations will be introduced to many of the greatest musical acts ever recorded. (Nicole Bond)

The Gün (Gold Day)

Filmfront, 1740 W 18th St. Saturday, April 28, 6pm–7pm. $5–$7 suggested donation.

Come by The Gün (Gold Day) to see two short films by the Chicago-based Turkish artist Hale Ekinci. Attendees will get to participate in the Turkish tradition—the Gün—that is the subject of the first film, where women gather and exchange gifts, gold coins, and good company. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Ekinci and two Chicago-based Turkish academics. Bring a donation to recreate the circumstances of an actual Gün—filmfront will also do its part by providing tea, dessert, and a vegetarian meal. (Michael Wasney)

Comfort Stew 

eta Creative Arts, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Friday, April 20–Sunday, May 20. Friday through Sunday, 8pm; Fridays and Saturdays, 3pm; Sundays. $15–$35. (773) 752-3955.

Playwright and poet Angela Jackson weaves a tale of a missing child ripped straight from the headlines. Her play, directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce, concerns how parents love their children in an evening of “memory and hope” and the “actions of the spirit.” (Joseph S. Pete)


Sketch Thursday

Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar, 960 W. 31st St. Thursday, April 26, 7pm. Free, cash bar. (773) 890-0588.

As if you really need a pretext to hang out in the beloved Bridgeport bar, which boasts a well-curated craft beer list (including selections from the in-house Marz Community Brewing Co.) and some of the best Polish-Korean fusion around. Here’s one anyway: Sketch Thursday invites everyone, artist or not, to drink, draw and hang out. (Joseph S. Pete)

Cumbia & Stanzas

AMFM Gallery, 2151 W. 21st St. Thursday, April 26, 6pm. Free.

Brown and Proud Press invites you to AMFM Gallery for a Latinx poetry showcase and cumbia dance party! In addition to poets, there will be DJs spinning and vendors with various products available. Come through: this night is guaranteed to be a lot of fun, and might just inspire you to pick up the pen yourself! (Roderick Sawyer)

Stomping Grounds

National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. Saturday, April 28, 7:30pm–9pm. Free, or $5 for reserved supporter tickets. (312) 738-1503.

The Mexican Folk Dance Company of Chicago, the Natya Dance Theatre and the Trinity Irish Dance Company will perform at the Pilsen museum. It’s part of a two-month citywide tour of “authentic rhythmic world dance companies,” which will make stops at venues like the Beverly Arts Center and the DuSable Museum of African American History. (Joseph S. Pete)

Yollo Spring 2018 Exhibition

Yollocalli Arts Reach, 2801 S. Ridgeway Ave. Friday, May 4, 5:30pm–7pm. Free. (773) 521-1621.

Yollocalli is holding a showcase for the work of all its wonderful and talented youth artists. No matter what medium you’re into, there will be a little bit of something for everyone: photography, written work, graffiti and mural painting, and much more. Yollocalli is a kid-friendly space, so bring the whole family. (Michael Wasney)

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