Notes & Calendar 5/2/17

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



It is difficult to know exactly how one should feel upon learning that Mayor Emanuel’s third CPS CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, has been sentenced to four and a half years in a prison nicknamed Camp Cupcake, which the government refers to as Federal Prison Camp Alderson. (As many have noted, Martha Stewart served her time there, potentially taking any number of self-improvement sessions offered—from Cosmetology to Brisk Walking to the yoga classes that Stewart reportedly started at the prison camp.) On the one hand, Byrd-Bennett appears to have recognized the error of her ways, somewhat: through sobs, she told federal district judge Edmond Chang that running CPS was much more difficult than she expected, according to DNAinfo, somewhat echoing President Trump on healthcare reform. On the other, her emails about what she planned to do with her kickback money from the $23 million worth of CPS contracts for largely inadequate principal “training” she steered towards her former employer—“tuition to pay and casinos to visit (:”—ring quite loudly when considering the financial hoops the district is jumping through at the moment, self-imposed as many of them may be. If only the person who hired her was as concerned with providing adequate education across the entire city as he is with paying out millions to consultancies and mentorship programs.

A Grocery Store for Woodlawn

On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that a new Jewel-Osco grocery store would come next year to Woodlawn, at 61st and Cottage Grove. This may have been even bigger news than the Obama library for neighborhood residents, who have long hoped for another full-service grocery store in addition to the Aldi at 66th and Cottage Grove. The planned 48,000-square-foot store (with drive-thru pharmacy) is part of the city’s efforts to eradicate food deserts and was possible only after continuous public investment in housing, transportation, infrastructure, and more. “I’ve always said, if we put public investments in, the private sector will see them as a major economic engine for growth,” Rahm told the Sun-Times.

The opening of the store is, by all means, an attempt to revitalize the community. According to DNAinfo, tax incentives such as TIFs were not pursued by DL3, one of the developers of the grocery store, to fund the construction. The long-term impact of this new project, however, especially combined with that of the Obama library, requires more observation and evaluation, since the last thing residents want to see is the gentrification and dislocation that so often follows the launch of a “revitalization plan.”

The Oldest Bar in Chicago, Schaller’s Pump, is Now Closed

Schaller’s Pump, the oldest bar in Chicago, closed its doors on Sunday, April 30, 136 years after George Schaller began operating the family-owned bar in Bridgeport in 1881. George worked alongside his son (also named George) serving food and drinks to White Sox fans, politicians, and neighborhood regulars alike; even members of the Daley family frequented the bar. The second George Schaller eventually passed the ownership down to his son, Jack, during the 1960s. Jack ran the bar for decades with the help of his children, including Kim Shinnick. When Jack passed away last May—along with the senior citizen exemptions that gave the bar a tax break—Shinnick and the family continued to run Schaller’s.

Schinnick was reached for comment in the bar’s final days, but declined to give details to the Sun-Times. As the bar closed Saturday night, locals packed in to get their last drinks.

CPS’s Groundhog Day

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has seen his own shadow, and Chicago Public Schools will be getting three weeks of school in June after all. Last Friday, a Cook County judge ruled against the district in a lawsuit against the state, charging Governor Bruce Rauner with discriminatory funding practices against the city’s minority students. Prior to the ruling, Emanuel and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool warned that without a favorable outcome to the lawsuit, public schools in Chicago might have to close two weeks early, on June 1, in order to accommodate a $130 million budget hole, and pay a $719 million bill to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund. But the city reversed course on Friday—school will remain in session until June 20.

Was a shortened school year ever even on the table? According to an analysis by WBEZ, there are several ways CPS can stay open without money from the state—borrowing more money, making a partial or delayed pension payment, or pulling money from the city’s tax increment financing (TIF) districts. But most of these alternatives would put the district deeper in debt or reliant on temporary funding. These are the terrible, actual options facing Chicago students. It’s time for the district to confront them, instead of making empty threats.



Cook County Safety & Justice Community Conversation

Chicago State University (Cordell Reed Building), 9501 S. King Dr. Wednesday, May 3, 6pm–8pm.

Cook County officials will be hosting a conversation to discuss progress on criminal justice reform in the past two years, specifically regarding pretrial release laws. This is the third in a series discussing safety and justice measures in Cook County. There will be an opportunity for questions and feedback. (Mira Chauhan)

Gone Dark: What’s Happening with that Vacant Building

Greater Grand Crossing Branch Library, 1000 E. 73rd St. Wednesday, May 3, 6pm–7:30pm. (773) 329-4111.

Some Chicago neighborhoods have an abundance of abandoned buildings, while others have very few. Learn about the tools and resources available to uncover why that vacant building near you might be abandoned, and how it affects your neighborhood. (Roderick Sawyer)

HCVP Accommodations Workshop

CHA South Office, 10 W. 35th St, 5th floor. Thursday, May 4, 2pm–4pm. Free. Register at

This program features information about the CHA’s programs to help voucher holders navigate difficult situations. Focusing on your rights as a voucher holder, at this event CHA staff will offer suggestions for escaping domestic violence and show you how to request an accommodation and apply for a hardship exemption. (Adia Robinson)

Go Red Por Tu Corazón Mother’s Day Celebration

Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St. Sunday, May 7, 12:30pm–4pm. Free.

Dedicated to the heart health of mothers (and all women), this event will include free events centered around heart-to-heart chats, hands-only CPR, family fun, and more. There will be activities for the entire family. (Roderick Sawyer)

Spring 2017: Get Employed Now

Woodlawn Resource Center, 6144 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Tuesday, May 9, 10am–noon. (773) 451-8077.

At this intimate version of a traditional job fair, employers will give attendees the opportunity to apply on site for jobs that are hiring right now. Featuring just thirteen exhibitors, representing fields from security to hospitality to counseling, this event will give attendees an upper hand at finding positions that will fit them best. (Adia Robinson)

Project Gentlemen 2017

Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Upper Wacker Drive. Saturday, May 27, 8am–4pm. Free. High school seniors. (773) 531-7719. Register at

This full-day interactive event aims to prepare young men graduating from high school for successful careers, healthy lifestyles, marketable skills, and balanced relationships. How? Through workshops, guest speakers, networking and on-site personal grooming, to name a few of the scheduled activities. Each gentleman attending will have the opportunity to leave with a complete business outfit from suit to shoes, as inventory permits. (Nicole Bond)


Geometric Complexions

Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St. Through Friday, June 9. ondays-Saturdays, 10am-5pm. (773) 523-0200.

The Zhou B Art Center will host an exhibit entitled “Geometric Complexions,” featuring thirteen artists working within a visual tradition originating as early as 1908 with Cubism. The exhibit will showcase a range of techniques and approaches to the medium. (Bridget Newsham)

Lesley Jackson: Walking with Rilke

4th Ward Project Space, 5338 S. Kimbark Ave. Through Sunday, May 7. Saturdays, 1pm–5pm, or by appointment. Free. (773) 203-2991.

Multimedia artist Lesley Jackson uses objects like gathered leaves, a rubber band, and tree bark to evoke the “romantic struggle with mortality” of the German poet Rainer Marie Rilke at this month-long exhibition in Hyde Park. (Jake Bittle)

On Writers and Writing: The Work, The Scene

Seminary Co-op, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. Friday, May 5, 6:30pm–8pm. Free. (773) 752-4381.

Peg Boyers and Robert Boyers will talk about managing the acclaimed Salmagundi, one of the country’s longest-running literary journals dating back more than fifty years. The editors will read their own literary work, discuss how they work with writers, and evaluate the highs and lows of a life in literature in the Hyde Park bookstore. (Joseph S. Pete)

Intercessions: Art as Intervention and Prayer

Rootwork Gallery, 645 W. 18th St. Through May 21; see website for performance schedule. (917) 821-3050.

“Intercessions” brings together visual and performance art to contemplate “the body and the spirit; the sacred and the profane.” The opening reception features the work of painter, sculptor, and performance artist Maya Amina, as well as percussion and mixed media artist Xristian Espinoza. (Hafsa Razi)

Chicago Zine Fest 2017: Friday Night Panel Discussion & Reading

Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan Street. Friday, May 5, 6:30pm–9:30pm. Free. (773) 837-0145.

The Chicago Zine Fest, one of the country’s largest exhibitions of underground self-publishers, kicks off with a UofC Library–sponsored panel about using zines for self-care and coping at the Bridgeport venue. After the discussion and Q&A, zinesters including Natasha Hernandez, Bianca Xunise, Weekly contributor Javier Suarez, Sage Coffey, and Fiona Avocado will read their work. (Joseph S. Pete)

Stoop Dreams: Opener and Fundraiser

Ageless Arts Tattoo & Body Piercing Studio, 2407 S. Kedzie Ave. Saturday, May 6, 6pm–midnight.

Little Village based creative collective Las Artelitas opens its third season with an art auction and fundraiser. This “accessible grassroots and resistant space” hopes to offers free workshops in the future and is fundraising to support several projects, including their Little Village School Supply Drive. In addition to art, this event will also feature a performance from Lily Be and live music from Mermaid N.V. (Adia Robinson)

Hyde Park Handmade Bazaar

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. Sunday, May 7, noon–4pm, showcase at 2pm. (312) 801-2100.; more info at

Dozens of artisan craft and food makers, from Nigerian fabric makers to fused-glass jewelers to mixed media artists, will showcase their wares at this annual fair. Browsers can wander the tables to the tune of music by DJ Sean Alvarez. (Jake Bittle)


Moonrunners Music Festival

Reggies, 2105 S. State St. Friday, May 5, 2pm; Saturday, May 6, 11am. $20–$45 for single-day tickets, $75 for a two-day pass. (312) 949-0120.

This two-day festival of “roots, rock, and blues” will be packed to the gills with too many acts to name in one blurb, or even in twenty. The headliners will be roots rockers Urban Pioneers and outlaw country artist Shooter Jennings, on Friday and Saturday, respectively. (Jake Bittle)

Lewis Del Mar, Anna Wise

Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St. Saturday, May 6. Doors 7pm, show 8pm. $16–$24. All ages. (312) 526-3851.

Lewis Del Mar—made up of two friends, Danny Miller and Max Harwood—will be performing at Thalia Hall this Saturday, including songs from their self-titled debut album. Their music is described as “a sound as challenging as it is comforting,” drawing influences from Latin folk and hip-hop. Also featured at the concert will be Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Anna Wise. (Mira Chauhan)

Kiki Walker

2040 (message a host for address, near Damen Pink Line). Saturday, May 6, 8pm–11:55pm. $5.

Kiki Walker of Springfield, Il. brings minimalist sounds to Chicago fans of “dreamy bedroom pop.” She’s joined by locals Yarrow (whose music is described as “drone music to listen to in the rainforest”), Big Guy (“dancing in gym class”), Judge Judy, and Executor, supposedly “the world’s most sensual band.” (Adia Robinson)


The Artists Lounge Open Mic

South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave. Every first and third Friday until June 30, 7pm–10:30pm. $7, $5 performers. (773) 373-1026.

This multi-genre open mic is the 2015 collaboration of wordsmiths Dometi Pongo and Johnetta “Awthentic Poetry”Anderson.  Poets, singers, emcees, musicians, and visual artists alike can showcase their talent every first and third Friday of the month, at the open mic’s newest home, the historic South Side Community Art Center.  (Nicole Bond)

Switch on Summer at Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain, 301 S. Columbus Drive. May 6, 4pm–7pm; fountain comes on at 6pm. (312) 742-3918.

The ninety-year-old Buckingham Fountain is a Beaux Arts icon of Chicago that crops up on both big and small screens. This summertime staple, modeled after the Palace of Versailles, attracts tourists the world over with its well-choreographed water shows that include a 150-foot jet. Locals should take note of this springtime show: the landmark fountain will be turned on at 6pm, and family-friendly festivities include free giveaways and a Beatles tribute band. (Joseph S. Pete)


Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S. King Dr. Saturday, May 6, 5:30pm–8:30pm. $15, $10 students and seniors, $8 groups of ten or more pre-sale only. (773) 624-8411.

Red Clay Dance Youth Ensemble and Academy present their fifth annual Dance4Peace concert to celebrate youth committed to creating works about “peace and positivity.”  This year’s event explores global citizenship and will include their Community Hug Award ceremony recognizing a local hero, culminating with the announcement of winners for their 2017 college and summer scholarships. (Nicole Bond)


Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. May 11–June 11. $15-$68. (773) 753-4472.

Long before there was Donnie Darko or Wilfred, there was Mary Chase’s 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Harvey. The titular character is an invisible rabbit that stands six feet and three inches tall and may end up imprisoning the “carefree and kind” protagonist Elwood P. Dowd in a sanitarium. (Joseph S. Pete)

Among All This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone

eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave. Friday, May 12–Thursday, June 8. $40, discounts available for seniors, students, and groups. Seating begins half an hour before performance.  (773) 752-3955.

Enjoy this revival tribute that celebrates the life of Vantile L. Whitfield as well as, of course, the Gwendolyn Brooks centennial. First performed to acclaim at eta back in the nineties, you now have a second chance to watch sketchbook vignettes of Black life come to together through Whitfield’s adaptations of poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks—don’t miss out. (Roderick Sawyer)

Never the Milk & Honey

The Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Through Sunday, May 28. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 8pm; Sundays, 3pm. $28-$37. (773) 609-4714.

It is written that there is a land of milk and honey, promised as respite for the faithful when the world ends. Explore what happens as covenants and faith are broken, when the world doesn’t end as expected, in Joseph Jefferson Award winner Shepsu Aakhu’s newest play, directed by South Shore native Carla Stillwell. (Nicole Bond)

Sign ‘O’ the Times

DuSable Museum of African-American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Wednesday, May 17, 7pm. $10, $5 for DuSable members.

In honor of the first anniversary of Prince’s death, the DuSable Museum, in partnership with South Side Projections, presents the Purple One’s 1987 concert film, Sign ‘O’ the Times. Film critic Armond White, the author of New Position: The Prince Chronicles, will introduce the screening. (Nicole Bond)

Angela Jackson: ‘A Surprised Queenhood’

Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Tuesday, May 30, 7pm–8:30pm. Free. (773) 752-4381.

The Centennial Brooks celebrations continue as acclaimed poet, playwright, and novelist Angela Jackson joins Beacon Press and the UofC Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture to discuss her new book, A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun: The Life and Legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks. (Nicole Bond)

BrooksDay@Nite: Praise & Jubilation

Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Wednesday, June 7. Doors 5:30pm, performance 6pm. Tickets $35 before May 7, $45 May 7 through the event day. (773) 324-4844.

This year has brought us myriad events in honor of the one hundredth birthday of Illinois’s thirty-two-year poet laureate, but this is the  official centennial birthday party celebrating the life and works of the incomparable Miss Gwendolyn Brooks. Featuring one hundred one-minute performances, hors d’ oeuvres, and cake, now is the time to buy tickets for cheap and even sign up to volunteer at the event. Nora Brooks Blakely, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Nate Marshall, and Patricia Smith will be among the many presenters. (Nicole Bond)

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