The neighborhood is home to arguably the best cheap burger and fries in the city. Beverly’s beauty is visible in its hilly streets and oversized lots, with homes designed by this legendary architect among others. Mansions snake along Longwood Drive and the neighborhood’s interior boasts an array of architectural styles, from Tudor to Italianate to Queen Anne to Spanish Colonial.
It isn't a WBEZ event.
It does, however, fit all the criteria behind the nature of gathering smart people in a room and sharing food while hearing stories.
The Live Lit scene has exploded (in a tiny, artsy sort of way) in Chicago since The Moth came in four years ago with the StorySlam at Martyrs (host Brian Babylon celebrated his fourth year in that venue just last Tuesday and I will be celebrating my second year hosting The Moth at Haymarket Pub & Brewery on November 11th). Lately, Live Lit nights like StoryClub, WRITE Club and Guts & Glory have been getting a lot of press and audiences hungry for the thrill of seeing live stories in bookstores and bars are growing in number.
None of them, however, invite the hungry audiences to bring food for each other and feed both their bellies as well as their minds. None except Janna Sobel's Here's the Story.
Last week - from Wednesday to Saturday - hundreds of WBEZ and Vocalo listeners banded together with our partners at Chicago Cares and 18 other Champions to participate in our very first Day of Service. Volunteers paved new areas for beautification, painted school murals and displays, planted gardens in needed areas, cleaned community homes and had a party for a group of assisted living seniors. It was astounding.
We live in a world of technology where a click on a thumbs up icon is a signifier of activity. A retweeting tells the world that we support specific communities or ideas. Commenting on a blog post or an online article counts, on some level, as joining the discussion.
While there is nothing wrong (and everything right) about digital activism, nothing can replace actually showing up and digging in. A FaceBook share will not paint a mural; an Instagram photo of a garden cannot replace planting the seeds.
With that in mind, WBEZ and Chicago Cares is hosting our first ever Day of Service event. Yes - it takes place on multiple days and the culminating performance party takes place in the evening but "WBEZ's A Coupla Day's of Service with a Performance in the Evening" just didn't have the same ring, right?
Unlike the Chef Battle, the Winter Block Party or the Global Activism Expo, this particular event cannot happen without YOU.
The recent White House Correspondence Dinner was referred to as a "nerd prom" which, from my vantage point, is a bit of an insult to both nerds AND proms. No Daliks, no lightsabers, no taped glasses or dweebs sitting in the corner sniffing Sharpies. Not in Washington.
In Chicago, however, there are events that fit far more comfortably in the "nerd prom" category and I'm here to clue you in on a few.
Chicago poets, Robbie Q. Telfer and Shanny Jean Maney, founded The Encyclopedia Show in 2008. In five short years, these two co-hosts (along with a plethora of collaborators) have peeled back the veneer of polite research and exposed their audience to detailed (and often funny) live encyclopedia entries about Fungi, Cheerleading, Skyscrapers, Puberty and Punctuation among many, many other topics you were dying to know about without ever asking the question.
Tomorrow night (Thursday, May 2) The Encylopedia Show (with the help of Nina Coombs, George Decelles, and others) presents everything you could possibly want to know about The Origins of Life. Cheap tickets, a great time and you might be a tad smarter when you leave.
Tonight we celebrate a year of MOTH StorySlams in Chicago at the Park West for The Chicago MOTH Grandslam. For the Live Lit scene, the Grandslam is sort of like the SuperBowl of Stories and the ten storytellers (all past StorySlam winners this year) are gunning for a win.
If you are unfamiliar with the Live Lit scene, I'd suggest you crawl out of your bomb shelter and get a little sunlight on those Morlockesque retinas and get involved. In the past few years, this scene has exploded all over Chicago and represents a genuine rallying cry for face-to-face communication between audiences all over and ordinary people telling their very personal stories.
The Grandslam is sold out, so you're out of luck there but you can catch either the ridiculously funny Brian Babylon on the last Tuesday of every month for The Moth at Martyr's and myself at Haymarket Pub and Brewery every second Monday. The two of us host the slam which encourages you - yes, YOU - to sign up and tell the audience a story. A true story. Based on a pre-selected theme.
In addition to The Moth Storyslams, there are a multitude of storytelling nights all over the city and, believe me, once you get a taste for these events, you get hooked pretty fast.
Spring is trying - hard - to break free this April. It is likely that one morning, we'll all wake up and it'll be 98% overnight and Spring will have to wait to come to the party next year. While we have the time, however, one must embrace the sporadically chilly but not-so-much so weather and venture from our domestic cave dwellings and see people and things.
This past Saturday, WBEZ, Vocalo and the UIC Social Justice Initiative co-presented the Sixth Annual Global Activism Expo. While the day was slightly overcast, inside the Main Hall of the UIC Forum, the sun was shining brightly.
"...an uncommonly spectacular day... an amazing thing you and your colleagues have assembled." - Joan Rothenberg
"Thank you, thank you, a million times over to you and all the staff for the great job pulling of yesterday's Expo!