Chicago isn't exactly New York City or San Francisco when it comes to amazing sushi joints. I was just walking through San Francisco's Japantown earlier this week, and couldn't get over the number of Japanese restaurants patronized by ex-pats. But we do have a few gems. I think the thing they all have in common is that there is a gentleman behind the bar who has put in his time as an apprentice somewhere, washing and cooking rice; understanding the proper balance between rice vinegar and sugar and treating those little white grains with the respect and care they often fail to receive at lesser, cookie-cutter sushi joints. He knows how to purchase, select and cut his fish, and since his clientele is a shade more serious than the usual gaggle of amateurs, he spends more time slicing sashimi or making elegant, yet simple and pristine nigiri - draping his slender pieces of fish over the vinegared rice and attaching it with the slightest dab of wasabi (occasionally straight from the wasabi plant itself, grated to order) - instead of cranking out spicy tuna rolls and deep-fried godzilla/bagel/Philly/dragon/kitchen sink maki all night.
Nov. 10, 2010
Chicago's top headlines, piped straight to your earbuds.
In today's episode: a new report on Chicago's housing woes;Chicago TV history; remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald.
It's all the news that's fit to podcast. Click above to listen.
Nov. 9, 2010
Quick, someone tell me what this photo means?? Is this Craig's List before there was Craig's List? (photo by Cragin Spring/Flickr)
Top story: Hmmm, the Sun-Times reported that Congressman Luis Gutierrez secured a condo with the help of Tony Rezko. Today, Politico ran this article: "Luis Gutierrez: Sun-Times's Rezko story 'false'". The congressman contests the article's assertion that Rezko delivered upgrades to his place. The Sun-Times managing editor stands by the article. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If it does indeed pan out that Luis Gutierrez did accept this from Rezko and he lied to Politico, what is the fallout? Any? Are we in a world now where politicians (heck, and everyone else) can lie to the media without consequence? And if he isn't lying, what consequence (if any) is there for the media getting it wrong?
B story: Last night, I was up working on the site and my Tweet Deck kept alerting me to a flurry of my friends tweeting Conan O'Brien updates. At the risk of sounding out-of-touch, might I tell my friends to cool it?
Nov. 9, 2010
During my recent foray to New England for Louie Vortis’ wedding—one of two reasons I’ve been absent from this blog of late—I took a brief detour to the sad, gray, and beyond-depressed town of Lowell, Massachusetts, to stop at the grave of a literary hero.
I discovered and fell in love with the work of Jack Kerouac as a teen, at the same time I was devouring the writings of the late great rock critic Lester Bangs. When I became Bangs’ biographer, the realization of Kerouac’s enormous influence on him made perfect sense.
Though Kerouac moves in and out of fashion in literary circles, one aspect of his legacy remains alive and well in the rock world: that wandering quest for kicks so poetically depicted in On the Road.
Nov. 9, 2010
Gabi came to Chicago to do something she quickly found out she didn’t want to do after all. When she returned from the arts program Atlanta in 1996 she took a secretarial job.
My big skill, for years, she tells me, Was to do the same thing over and over again at the exact same pace for 10 hours a day. I would call people and be like, Did you answer the survey? Oh, You didn’t answer it? Oh, You don’t know where the survey is? Let me fax you another copy. It was a crazy job.
It was also a frustrating one, as I recall, and Gabi and I had several six-packs worth of discussions about the nature of feminism at the time.
When I moved here, she explains, I worked for a lot of super strong women who—it was like, I couldn’t square it. Strong women who weren’t running work places that were very empowering. That’s my most diplomatic way of putting it. I had a host of jobs where I was like, Wow. I respect you as a strong woman, but I really can’t deal with the way you’re treating me. She laughs.
What’s amazing to me, I tell her, is that you stayed here.
Here’s my logic about Chicago. I’ve got it worked out. I work it out every year around mid-February.
Nov. 9, 2010
If you're at all a fan of Tampopo - and I mean the seminal cult film about the quest to create the perfect ramen shop - then you're going to really appreciate the tiny restaurant of the same name on the city's far Northwest Side. The owners named it after the movie, afterall, and even though they're Korean, they manage to exude the same polite demeanor, with an exacting precision when it comes to executing their beloved bowl of char siu ramen. If this doesn't make you hungry, I'm not sure what will.
Nov. 9, 2010
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's triumphant post-election return; Illinois' trouble with teaching its teachers; Are Chicago charer schools pressuring some students to leave?
Nov. 9, 2010
"Billy Elliot" closes Nov. 28 at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre ending a disappointing run of eight months. The buzz is that dirty words are to blame. The big musical, about the young Northern England boy who wants to be a dancer, won 10 Tony Awards on Broadway and opened here last April to sensational reviews. It was expected to run for two years, like "Wicked" and "Jersey Boys." Instead, it's often played to less than 50% of capacity.
Street talk is that families and theater parties stayed away in droves when word-of-mouth circulated about the show's rough vocabulary and background of 1980's English industrial strife. The musical is entirely faithful to the 2000 hit movie upon which it's based, but the film was marketed to adults while the musical has been pitched as family-friendly. If it doesn't past muster in Chicago, it won't past muster anywhere outside New York City, so much of the rough stuff has been cut or rewritten during the Chicago run, but too late. There will be more fine-tuning at the show's next stop, Toronto.
A member of the "Billy Elliot" company believes the show's multi-cultural casting also has been a factor.