WBEZ | Culture http://www.wbez.org/news/culture Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The tale of the two-flat http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164044282&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Most older U.S. cities have a signature kind of building. In Brooklyn it&rsquo;s the brownstone, one standing shoulder-to-shoulder to the next. In Philadelphia, newcomers and visitors are struck by the distinctive row houses.</p><p>What about Chicago? Well, it&rsquo;s a city known for its skyscrapers, for sure. Outside of downtown, though, you won&rsquo;t find soaring steel and glass. In the neighborhoods, it&rsquo;s wood, brick and stone. The real workhorse of Chicago&rsquo;s built environment is the modest, ubiquitous (yet fascinating) two-flat.</p><p>You know the building. Two stories, with an apartment unit on each floor, usually with bay windows greeting the street through of a facade of brick or greystone. Most were built between 1900 and 1920.</p><p>Two-to-four unit apartment buildings make up 27 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s housing stock, according to data from the <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">DePaul Institute of Housing Studies</a>. The rest is split evenly between single-family homes, condominiums and buildings with five or more units.</p><p>We recently got a question that returns some wonder to this everyday building. Our question asker, who chose to stay anonymous, is particularly interested in why the two-flat became so popular. And she wants to know who calls these buildings home. As she observes in <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">the question she submitted to Curious City</a>, they&rsquo;re somewhere between suburban houses and big apartment buildings:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago-area two-flats straddle the line between apartments and homes. Who were they originally designed to serve? Has that changed?</em></p><p>The answer to that last part? It&rsquo;s revealed in a story, one you&rsquo;d miss if you choose to focus on the city&rsquo;s skyline or crane your neck to see the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower. It turns out the advent of the humble two-flat mirrors the development of Chicago&rsquo;s middle class. And in many ways it still does today, but in the wake of the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, that may be changing.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A Bohemian building boom</span></p><p>Through the late 1800s, European immigrants made up almost half of Chicago&rsquo;s population. Hundreds of thousands of Polish, German and Czech people settled here, often making their first home in narrow one-story buildings usually made out of wood. Those came to be called worker&rsquo;s cottages.</p><p>As Chicago&rsquo;s big industries grew &mdash; Sears, McCormick Reaper and Western Electric, to name a few &mdash; so did the population. Soon it made sense for developers and architects to build up as they built out. Hence two- and three-flat buildings, which offered denser housing, and gave the owners a shot at some extra income from renting out their extra unit.</p><p>We found several architects from the era who built two-flats by the dozens on spec, meaning they weren&rsquo;t designing for a specific client, but acting as &ldquo;owner-architect&rdquo; in the parlance of records from the era. Many of them were Bohemian. (Today, the former Bohemia is part of the Czech Republic).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/czeckad.jpg" title="An ad for Lawndale two-flats steered toward Eastern European immigrants. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum) " /></p><p>In fact, along with Jen Masengarb of the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> &mdash; whom we partnered with on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">this voting round</a> and helped us research this story &mdash; we found an old article from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> that shows the connection between the city&rsquo;s booming Czech population and its sprawling housing market. A headline from <a href="http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/28540648/" target="_blank">Oct. 17, 1903</a> crows: &ldquo;BOHEMIANS IN LEAD AS BUILDERS OF HOMES.&rdquo;</p><p>At the convention of the Building Association league of Illinois, Bohemian Frank G. Hajicek boasted of &ldquo;$12,000,000 in shares in force&rdquo; held by the &ldquo;the Bohemians of Chicago.&rdquo; It was a point of pride for the 28-year-old resident of the South Lawndale neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Never in the history of the world, I believe, have people in a foreign land established themselves in homes so securely and rapidly as have the 200,000 Bohemians who make Chicago their home,&rdquo; said Hajicek in 1903.</p><p>In the heavily Eastern European Southwest Side neighborhoods of Pilsen (named for the Bohemian city of Plzeň), North Lawndale and South Lawndale, many of those homes were two-flats.</p><p>With Masengarb&rsquo;s help, we dug up some documents at the<a href="http://www.chicagohistory.org" target="_blank"> Chicago History Museum</a>, including a 1915 &ldquo;Book of Plans&rdquo; that enticed homebuyers to order away for all the materials needed to build a two-flat sized for a typical Chicago city lot.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/bookofplanslarger.png?X-Amz-Date=20140820T230405Z&amp;X-Amz-Expires=300&amp;X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&amp;X-Amz-Signature=0e3a3a6a0b29d425259052b3703515ab7598cbe280873635b935a1af08c36ea4&amp;X-Amz-Credential=ASIAIN5BXQNEZUY6CGKQ/20140820/us-east-1/s3/aws4_request&amp;X-Amz-SignedHeaders=Host&amp;x-amz-security-token=AQoDYXdzEB0agAL1JM9/evUYo4zSi5EslSe4w5BCdnblR6iWx/OMP5VfT%2BTAXjgZ5GaXATLEghwaxfzb23bqamb0oLMxy3ZkcNKr8Rx/VTnvM1pL6cqjnGhtdXbrNNdAN//OVwvuG7g2Dyi6mPMO4fVgnN4V8WkR8hTLLZCT7gvfClyS20d68gLiDZG0dNSfoTtV3ksuk60iO3zpM0HSgfdeUtqRArO0%2B%2BJVHEQ3MfYTDZ7ylKDcSYE1PACMgJ0UMv%2Bs0Iv5/yThsTk9v63rXfQCZe7sPT4L2QEDttAAWsnkXzPcwAKv8UDLe4axr%2BmfDZV8AoMj9nEj2iGWosSLs6DQHO2kqCBOauAzIOv%2B058F" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bookofplansinset.png" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. Click for larger view. " /></a></div><p>&ldquo;Our design No. 144 is a two-family flat designed for a money making proposition,&rdquo; begins one such ad. &ldquo;Anyone wanting a comfortable home and at the same time a good income on the investment will do well to consider this proposition.&rdquo;</p><p>Many, it seems, did consider it. A 1910<em> Tribune</em> article reported $38 million of flat building, &ldquo;a new high record in this field, exceeding by over $4,000,000 the figures of 1908, which also established a new record.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A &lsquo;workhorse building&rsquo; in a western paradise</span></p><p>Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that it often wasn&rsquo;t young first-generation immigrants buying Chicago two-flats. Instead it was those who immigrated to Chicago as children in the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century had built up enough money to graduate from renting.</p><p>&ldquo;What appears to have happened is that the Czech population was essentially moving further west, out of Pilsen and other sort of areas, Maxwell Street areas, to newer land, I guess you could say,&rdquo; says Matt Cole of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, which administers the <a href="http://www.nhschicago.org/site/3C/category/greystone_history" target="_blank">Historic Greystone Initiative</a>. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where the name California [Avenue] comes from &mdash; it was like their western paradise.&rdquo;</p><p>Jen Masengarb and I take Cole up on his offer to point out one such western paradise: <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/North+Lawndale,+Chicago,+IL/@41.8582574,-87.7139721,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x880e328a692e8e51:0x26c3604dc3282d76" target="_blank">the part of North Lawndale known as K-Town for its K-named avenues (Kostner, Kildare, Keeler, etc.)</a> near Pulaski and Cermak Roads. In 2010 K-Town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its collection of classic Chicago apartment buildings.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/masengarbktown.jpg" title="Reporter Chris Bentley, Jen Masengarb and Matt Cole with Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago meet in K-Town to learn about Chicago's two-flats. (Photo courtesy Anne Evans) " /></div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a microcosm of Chicago architecture,&rdquo; says Cole, pointing out stately greystones, single-family brick residences and flats in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Prairie to mashups of any and all architectural detailing popular between 1900 and 1930. &ldquo;The reality is that the two-flat and three-flat are the workhorse building of this period of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>During our neighborhood walk, Masengarb points out that for a lot of early 20th century Chicagoans, the two-flat was a vehicle of social mobility.</p><p>&ldquo;This two-flat is that bridge, I think, between that older 1880s, 1870s housing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And then the bungalow which was the even bigger dream, and a bigger yard, my own space and nobody living upstairs, clomping around. &ldquo;</p><p>Consider Frank Stuchal. Census data shows in 1888 he immigrated to Chicago from Bohemia as a 13-year-old with his parents and two sisters. The census is taken every 10 years, and every 10 years as his income increased &mdash; Stuchal was first employed as a typesetter, then a print shop foreman, and finally business manager for a newspaper &mdash; he moved further west along Cermak avenue. In 1900 the 24-year old Stuchal rented an apartment at W. 23rd Street and South Spaulding Avenue with his two sisters. In 1920 he and his wife owned a two-flat, half of which they rented out to a German family. By 1930 he and his wife were raising their son in a bungalow they owned in the southwest suburb of Berwyn.</p><p>The 1920 census shows the street lined with two-flats occupied by second generation Czech, German, and Polish immigrants in their 40s and 50s, raising Chicago-born teenagers. Stuchal&rsquo;s neighbors included butchers, policemen, bookkeepers, bricklayers and librarians.</p><p>That two-flat Stuchal owned in 1920 was in K-town, near 21st Place and Keeler Avenue. It was built in 1916, and <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank">it&rsquo;s still there</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Capture_0.JPG" style="width: 610px; height: 234px;" title="Frank Stuchal's two-flat was built in 1916. (Google Streetview/Google)" /></a></div><p>Today it&rsquo;s owned by Arquilla Lawrence, whose parents moved in when she was two years old.</p><p>&ldquo;And I love it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been my home all my life, ever since I was two we moved into the neighborhood. I&rsquo;ve been here my whole life except when I went away to college.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many African-Americans, Lawrence&rsquo;s father moved to the neighborhood from the South &mdash; Oklahoma, in his case &mdash; during <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/545.html" target="_blank">The Great Migration of blacks to northern cities </a>during the middle of the 20th century. After World War II the neighborhood became the first African-American neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so well kept,&rdquo; says Corey Brooks, who also grew up in K-town. &ldquo;Because most of [the property owners] migrated from the South. This is where they put their roots in, so they all know each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Brooks introduces us to his wife, Rita, who is on her way to check in on her mom. Both of them moved back to their childhood homes in order to care for their parents. Turns out it&rsquo;s not just the neighborhood&rsquo;s property ownership that has lasted all these years.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my childhood sweetheart,&rdquo; says Rita, pointing to Corey. &ldquo;He was my first boyfriend! Then he got married to someone else, I got married, I lost my husband, and then two years ago we found each other and got married.&rdquo;</p><p>Before we leave K-Town, Jen Masengarb surveys the mishmash of early 20th century architectural styles on display.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a metamorphosis or an evolution. We&rsquo;re gonna try this over here on this block, and then this is five years later we&rsquo;re gonna try this &hellip; You can just see it evolving in the way that we live and the decisions that we&rsquo;re making in terms of what our families need, what is stylistically impressive,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This architecture is us, it&rsquo;s a reflection of us.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Losing equity: Is the workhorse getting exhausted?</span></p><p>So the form of two-flats were basically a response to economics and demographics, as well as the size and shape of a Chicago city lot. They no longer house predominantly Czech and other Eastern European immigrants, but today&rsquo;s tenants share a lot with their neighbors across the decades &mdash; many of them used two-flats to build community and a little bit of personal wealth in the form of equity. The two-flat was a bridge to a better life for the families that built Chicago as we know it.</p><p>One hundred years later, however, it&rsquo;s not clear how much longer two-flats will be able to fill that role.</p><p>K-town is well kempt, thanks in part to incentives from its historic district status. But two-flats are expensive to maintain. And since the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, a lot of two-flats in other neighborhoods around Chicago are sitting vacant or being bought by developers who don&rsquo;t occupy the units.</p><p>And sometimes the ownership moved in the other direction. Eric Strickland tells us he bought a K-Town two-flat in the 90s. When he purchased the building on 21st Place, it was divided into three units. Once he&rsquo;d saved up enough money, Strickland converted the two-flat into a single-family home. He lives there now with his wife and daughter.</p><p>During the housing crisis two-to-four unit properties were disproportionately impacted by foreclosure. And Geoff Smith from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a> says two-flats don&rsquo;t really make economic sense for new development, so they may well be lost to history in lower-income neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;What you see more commonly is a single-family home targeted for owner occupancy, or you see a larger rental building,&rdquo; Smith says.</p><p>He adds that, if older two-flats fall into disrepair, there will likely be no two-unit rentals to replace them. &nbsp;&ldquo;The concern is that in some of these more distressed areas, where there is a substantial stock of these buildings, there is a risk in some neighborhoods that this kind of housing could be lost,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>That prospect matters. According to data from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a>, today there are more than 76,000 two-unit apartment buildings in Chicago. In some neighborhoods &mdash; Brighton Park, New City, and South Lawndale &mdash; they still make up more than two-thirds of the housing stock, as well as a substantial proportion of the city&rsquo;s affordable housing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://housing-stock.housingstudies.org/#13/41.8759/-87.6436" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/depaulmap.PNG" style="height: 300px; width: 620px;" title="Click to view full map from DePaul's IHS. " /></a></div><p>Prices for two-to-four unit buildings in distressed areas of Chicago fell roughly 70 percent between the pre-crash peak and current figures. That means many homes in those areas are worth less than they were in 1997, says Smith.</p><p>So if the &ldquo;money making proposition&rdquo; that two-flats once promised to working families is more elusive these days, what will become of the lower-income neighborhoods where these historic buildings are most prevalent?</p><p>&ldquo;Because of changing population dynamics, the changing nature of the city, in some areas you are going to see demand in decline. You may not see it recover, and there just may not be an economic value to some of these properties,&rdquo; says Smith. &ldquo;Hopefully some prescient, some really far forward-seeing investor can come in and say &lsquo;these properties have value for the long-term.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist and reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Follow him at cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research for <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">the Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> and contributed reporting to this story. </em></p><p><em>Correction: A draft of the text for this story misstated the time period during which the majority of Chicago two-flats were constructed. The correct timeframe is between 1900 and 1920.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 Try to do something nice—and face a year in jail http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-08/try-do-something-nice%E2%80%94and-face-year-jail-110667 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DARREN ROBBINS 2.jpg" title="Darren Robbins (photo courtesy Darren Robbins)" /></div></div><p>Though he&rsquo;s been living in a small town in Southwestern Michigan for the last few years, Darren Robbins is a familiar face in the Chicago music scene. The 48-year-old musician was the long-time leader of <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-11-14/entertainment/0811120110_1_clive-davis-bomb-stage-fright">Time Bomb Symphony</a>, a band that flirted with major-label success, and he still handles social media for <a href="http://superiorst.com/">Superior St. Rehearsal Studios</a>, which means that a heck of a lot of local artists hear from him regularly.</p><p>Robbins also is a cancer survivor; the former owner of a successful T-shirt business who was profiled in <em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/business/smallbusiness/28sbiz.html?_r=1&amp;adxnnl=1&amp;pagewanted=all&amp;adxnnlx=1408302181-u007bJyWozAGdjeUUcUSYQ">The New York Times</a>,</em> and a popular street artist who, inspired by Shepard Fairey and using the name <a href="http://www.lemmycornhole.com/">Lemmy Cornhole</a>, does a booming business selling cornhole boards and T-shirts adorned with the face of Marty Feldman in <em>Young Frankenstein. </em>He admits he also on occasion decorates skate parks and other spaces&mdash;when he&rsquo;s specifically invited by the property owners.</p><p>What Robbins is not is a reckless, property-trashing tagger, much less a menace to society. Yet the police in Dowagiac and the prosecutor in Cass County, Michigan are doing their best to demonize him as such, and they seem determined to punish him for &ldquo;Malicious Destruction of a Building, less than $200,&rdquo; which he was told at arraignment carries a maximum sentence of up to a year in jail and $2,000 in fines (penalties that are confirmed <a href="http://www.criminalpropertydamage.com/michigan/">by a state website</a>).</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MARTY_be_original.jpg" style="height: 432px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>The trouble started on July 23 when Robbins, with the best of intentions, sprayed the message &ldquo;I love you Jolene&rdquo; on the side of a vacant building that happened to be on the route his friend had to take to the hospital to receive treatment for breast cancer. Here&rsquo;s how he tells the story:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;I was not thinking of myself, but of the fear and loneliness that she must have been feeling in those early morning hours. As a longtime romantic at heart, I have long been a fan of grand gestures, and I couldn&rsquo;t help ask myself, &lsquo;What would Lloyd Dobler do?&rsquo; Dobler, of course, was the teenage protagonist in the film <em>Say Anything</em>...</p><p>&ldquo;Whatever I was going to do, I knew it had to be big&mdash;something that there would be very little chance of missing as she drove by. A cheap can of spray paint would have done the trick, but that would have been permanent. Instead, I opted to spend 10 times what a can of spray paint cost and procured a few cans of marking chalk. I then spent a few days spraying the chalk on a multitude of surfaces to determine which was the most temporary and easiest to remove. Of the three brands I purchased, Krylon came off with a water hose, or a bucket of water and a brush. Worst-case scenario, the chalk disappears in the first rain storm, or fades altogether in a few weeks.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Krylon.jpg" style="height: 1000px; width: 300px;" title="Says the manufacturer: Provides excellent temporary marking... easily removed from hard surfaces." /></div></div><p>&ldquo;Knowing my friend had to be at the hospital by 6 a.m., I left the message around 3 a.m. and promptly fell into bed around 4 a.m. with the intent of removing the message when I awoke. Of course, I never got the chance, because my slumber was interrupted by a visit from the police.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Robbins has had many a sleepless night since his arrest contemplating the ramifications of what seems like over-zealous small-town justice. All that <a href="http://www.casscoprosecutor.com/Prosecutor">Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz</a> will say on the record is that he cannot comment on ongoing prosecutions. But local law enforcement is doing their best to spin a very different story from the one Robbins tells.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Victor-Fitz.jpg" style="height: 408px; width: 450px;" title="Victor Fitz (Cass County Prosecutor's Office)." /></div><p>Officials portray Robbins as a &ldquo;stalker&rdquo; whose message to Jolene was most unwelcome; they add that the woman barely knows him, and doesn&rsquo;t even have cancer. They also say he&rsquo;s &ldquo;been tagging all over town,&rdquo; and that the punishment they&rsquo;re seeking is so stiff because he has a prior conviction in 2005 for tagging.</p><p>&ldquo;I was able to get the guy from the TV station to tell me what they told him and, believe me, it took me aback,&rdquo; Robbins says. &ldquo;But it did make me see exactly how comfortable they are in feeding half-truths to the media to scare off any press scrutiny.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, Robbins says the 2005 conviction actually stems from a traffic accident in a neighboring town, and that Dowagiac officials &ldquo;have credited me with every unsolved tag or act of vandalism in this town from the dawn of time in hopes of getting the big one&rdquo;&mdash;the Jolene message and malicious destruction of a building&mdash;&ldquo;to stick.&rdquo;</p><p>As for Jolene, whose last name is being withheld in this report out of respect for her privacy, stalking is the last thing Robbins&rsquo; message brings to mind, and she is indeed battling cancer.</p><p>&ldquo;All I know is that I love what Darren did for me,&rdquo; she told me. &ldquo;How can anyone see saying &lsquo;I love you&rsquo; as a bad thing? I was in such a bad place&mdash;some days I still am&mdash;but when I think of seeing that message, I still get goose bumps. He is someone I love having in my corner.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Robbins is angry&mdash;and worried.</p><p>&ldquo;I have come to realize that there is no end to the strong-armed idiocy displayed by prosecutors and law enforcement alike across the country,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a teenage gang-banger, but a 48-year-old business man, musician, and artist who never thought a simple message in chalk could send me to jail for a year.&quot;</p><p>Indeed, his crime, if it is one, seems more akin to what kids regularly do with chalk in the school yard. But this ain&#39;t child&rsquo;s play: Robbins is due in court in Cassopolis, Michigan for a pre-trial conference on Sept. 22, with his jury trial scheduled to start at 9 a.m. the next morning.</p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 06:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-08/try-do-something-nice%E2%80%94and-face-year-jail-110667 Bringing live music back to the South Side http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bringing-live-music-back-south-side-110663 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/music_140815_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A handful of musicians get a peek at the second-floor space they will soon be jamming in.</p><p>They&rsquo;re checking out a new club called The Promontory, an industrial space with a concrete floor and exposed beams. Oxblood red curtains and chandeliers grace the room.</p><p>&ldquo;The group is called South Side Big Band. And it&rsquo;s destined to play music on the South Side. I have no inspiration to play anywhere North,&rdquo; said arranger Tom Tom Washington. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been playing together for over 50 years, music all over the world. We&rsquo;re already known by everybody.&rdquo;</p><p>Individually, band members have played for some of the biggest soul, jazz &amp; R&amp;B artists from the last few decades.</p><p>Washington produced music for groups like the Chi-Lites and Earth Wind &amp; Fire. Some guys played with jazz giants -- from Charlie Parker to Dizzy Gillespie to Sun Ra. While others did session work for 1960s Chicago R&amp;B acts.</p><p>&ldquo;We like to have our young people look at us and sort of go back and do some kind of study and research and learn the history of jazz in America. As we play we hope to sort of continue the legacy,&rdquo; said tenor saxophonist Gene Barge, a former staffer for Chess Records.</p><p>To help keep the legacy alive, Washington formed the South Side Big Band in the 1990s.</p><p>He said they want to pay tribute to the old ballrooms and music clubs that featured jazz and R&amp;B on the segregated South Side. For a long time now it&rsquo;s been hard to find many live clubs playing this kind of music anywhere but the North Side.</p><p>But Jake Austen, The Promontory show booker, said Hyde Park is an area with a rich musical heritage that deserves more.</p><p>&ldquo;What we kinda want to do here is combine what they&rsquo;re successfully doing in other parts of the city like have this kind of legacy of successful rock clubs and music clubs and jazz clubs. But also respect the neighborhood and the South Side, the history and also what&rsquo;s happening now. It&rsquo;s diverse here, we can have all kinds of music here but you do not want to ignore the music here that&rsquo;s a real foundation,&rdquo; Austen said.</p><p>Upcoming shows include artists ranging from Roy Ayers and Stanley Clarke to Brokeback and the Eternals and country singer Kinky Friedman.</p><p>The Promontory&rsquo;s owners already have a successful track record with the music clubs Empty Bottle on the North Side and Space in Evanston. Clubs like the Shrine and Reggie&rsquo;s are South Side exceptions. But Austen said The Promontory wants to cater to an older crowd as well as local college kids.</p><p>&ldquo;I hope people would be willing to come to the South Side to see something because we&rsquo;ve all had to go to the North Side to see so many things,&rdquo; Austen said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s only fitting that the Promontory will kick things off with the 22-piece South Side Big Band.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bringing-live-music-back-south-side-110663 Cabbage War: West Ridge vs. Rogers Park http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nsU07hchILU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163030116&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We receive a good number of questions about Chicago neighborhoods: Among other things, we&rsquo;ve learned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831" target="_blank">how their boundaries are formed</a>, how the city&rsquo;s roster of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">neighborhoods grew through annexation</a>, and how the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538" target="_blank">ethnic composition of neighborhoods can sometimes change </a>surprisingly quickly.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648#laura" target="_blank">Laura Jones Macknin</a> of the Ravenswood neighborhood sent along one of the more puzzling queries along these lines. Laura had been working on a health-related survey project in several Chicago neighborhoods. For reporting purposes, her team needed to distinguish between West Ridge and Rogers Park, which are tucked into the northeast corner of the city.</p><p>As Laura researched the neighborhoods&rsquo; dividing line, she bumped into historical references to an altercation between the two areas &ndash; one with a vegetative flair. The issue took hold of her enough that she sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was behind the so-called Cabbage War in West Ridge and Rogers Park? I would like to know more because, you know ... Cabbage War.</em></p><p>Well, the Cabbage War had very little to do with cabbages per se. And though it&rsquo;s easy to dismiss such an oddly named conflict, this 19th century showdown involved something that neighborhoods and even entire cities continue to fight over today: parks and the taxes to create and maintain them.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Unfriendly neighbors</span></p><p>As West Ridge and Rogers Park evolved from being independent villages to neighborhoods of Chicago in the late 19th century, residents carried animosity towards one another. Rogers Park was urbane compared to the decidedly rural West Ridge, which grew a considerable amount of &ndash; you guessed it &ndash; cabbage. Rogers Parkers would hurl the &ldquo;Cabbage Heads&rdquo; epithet toward West Ridgers, and they prided themselves on the fact that they lived in a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; part of town where booze was outlawed. West Ridge, on the other hand, was home to several drinking establishments. The West Ridgers considered Rogers Parkers to be effete snobs, or &ldquo;silk stockings&rdquo; in the 19th century parlance.</p><p>This cultural divide persisted as things came to a head on the political front in 1896. The two areas (now Chicago neighborhoods) had proposed competing plans to create and fund parks. Notably, at this time, there was no unified Chicago Park District, and it was common for local communities to create separate parks authorities, which would sometimes compete for tax dollars. During the campaign to decide which parks plans would prevail, West Ridgers and Rogers Parkers exchanged harsh words and &mdash; in at least one case &mdash; deployed brutal tactics.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s stop the tale here. This is no <em>Game of Thrones</em> epic. Unlike that unfinished opus, the chronicle of Chicago&rsquo;s Cabbage War doesn&rsquo;t need umpteen books: You can get the gist (and all the drama) in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsU07hchILU&amp;list=UUkpMCLrDFxb1n74GOOw81-w" target="_blank">our short animated story</a>!</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="laura"></a>Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question asker FOR WEB.png" style="height: 245px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="" /></p><p>Did you hear Laura Jones Macknin&rsquo;s voice at the top of our animated story? There&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;re actually familiar with it. Laura sent her question to us while working in a healthcare outreach program, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2669689/">but she&rsquo;s also an actor</a>.</p><p>She&rsquo;s also performed voice work in local advertisements, including some for Central DuPage and Swedish Hospitals.</p><p>Laura wrote us early about her interest in the Cabbage War story. &ldquo;It&#39;s so odd and whimsical (Cabbages on poles! Cabbagehead slurs! Farmers vs. Northwestern!) that I wanted to know more about it,&rdquo; she wrote.</p><p>She also pressed us for a little <em>Game of Thrones</em> reenactment but, alas, the historical record might be a bit too scant to sustain a book or TV series.</p><p><em>Illustrator and reporter Simran Khosla can be followed&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/simkhosla" target="_blank">@simkhosla</a>. Sincere thanks to the <a href="http://rpwrhs.org/" target="_blank">Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society</a> for expertise, materials and interviews.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 Get set for the Summer Music Film Festival http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-08/get-set-summer-music-film-festival-110643 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/musicfestival.jpg" title="" /></div><p>If you, like me, prefer your rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll at night in cool, dark places free of the broiling sun, drenching rain, and oppressive obnoxiousness of the festival scene, you&rsquo;ll be glad to hear that <em>Sound Opinions </em>has once again partnered with the venerable Music Box Theatre on Southport to present the fourth annual Summer Music Film Festival, starting Friday with Jonathan Demme&rsquo;s timeless Talking Heads concert film <em>Stop Making Sense </em>(with Greg Kot and me kicking things off) and running through Tuesday, Aug. 19.</p><p>Among my personal picks this summer: Prince&rsquo;s enduringly campy <em>Purple Rain; </em>Richard Lester&rsquo;s groundbreaking and still hugely influential <em>A Hard Day&rsquo;s </em>Night; the new documentary about the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, <em>Finding Fela, </em>and <em>The 78 Project Movie, </em>a film with Chicago roots about the all-consuming search for rare old 78 rpm discs.</p><p>The full schedule follows below, and a portion of the proceeds from all screenings benefit WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio. A five-admission pass is $45, individual tickets are $9 to $12, and more info can be found at <a href="http://www.summermusicfilmfestival.com">summermusicfilmfestival.com</a>.</p><p><strong><u>Friday, August 15</u></strong></p><p><strong><em>A Hard Day&rsquo;s Night,</em></strong><strong> 3 p.m.</strong></p><p><strong><em>Stop Making Sense</em></strong><strong>, 7 p.m. (hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot) and 9:30</strong></p><p><strong><em>Purple Rain</em></strong><strong>, midnight</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>Saturday, August 16</u></strong></p><p><strong><em>Finding Fela</em></strong><strong>, Chicago premier, 2:30 p.m. </strong></p><p><strong><em>The 78 Project Movie</em></strong><strong>, 7 p.m. (Midwest premier with director Alex Steyermark and producer Lavinia Jones Wright)</strong></p><p><strong><em>Good Vibrations</em></strong><strong>, 9:30 p.m.</strong></p><p><strong><em>Purple Rain, </em></strong><strong>midnight</strong></p><p><strong><em>The Rocky Horror Picture Show</em></strong><strong>, midnight</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>Sunday, August 17</u></strong></p><p><strong><em>The 78 Project Movie</em></strong><strong>, 3 p.m. (with Alex Steyermark and Lavinia Jones Wright)</strong></p><p><strong><em>Rubber Soul</em></strong><strong>, 7:30 p.m. (Lennon interviews doc, with director Jon Lefkovitz)</strong></p><p><strong><em>A Hard Day&rsquo;s Night,</em></strong><strong> 9:45 p.m.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>Monday, August 18th </u></strong></p><p><strong><em>God Help the Girl</em></strong><strong>, musical feature directed by Belle and Sebastian&rsquo;s Stuart Murdoch, 7:30 p.m.</strong></p><p><strong><em>A Hard Day&rsquo;s Night, </em></strong><strong>9:45 p.m.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>Tuesday, August 19</u></strong></p><p><strong><em>Stop Making Sense</em></strong><strong>, 7 p.m.</strong></p><p><strong><em>Purple Rain</em></strong><strong>, 9:45 p.m.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-08/get-set-summer-music-film-festival-110643 What Robin Williams taught us about teaching http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-robin-williams-taught-us-about-teaching-110638 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_14.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Amid all the remembrances today of Robin Williams and the <a href="https://storify.com/shamani/oh-captain-my-captain" target="_blank">tributes to his many famous roles</a>, among the most commonly invoked are not one, but two memorable portrayals of great teaching.</p><p>The phrase &quot;<a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=oh%20captain%20my%20captain&amp;src=typd" target="_blank">Oh Captain, my Captain</a>&quot; is echoing across Twitter, a line from 1989&#39;s Dead Poets Society. In this role, Williams turns the stuffy conformity of a 1950s boarding school inside out. As a young, handsome, floppy-haired English teacher with the highly apropos name of John Keating, Williams makes the classroom a stage, pulling out all the stops to get his students excited about the wonders of poetry, and, by extension, life.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vq_XBP3NrBo" width="620"></iframe></p><p>He whispers in the students&#39; ears, rips pages out of the textbook and leaps onto the desk to hail the vital necessity of great literature: &quot;In my class you will learn to think for yourselves again &mdash; you will learn to savor words and language!&quot;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vdXhWS7lLvs" width="620"></iframe></p><p>We would all be lucky to have at least one teacher like this: a truly great lecturer whose passion for his subject is infectious. In the climactic scene, his students pay homage to a master who has changed their lives.</p><p>But this is not the only paradigm for great teaching.</p><p>In 1997&#39;s Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon is an autodidact &mdash; a primarily self-taught genius. He finds an academic mentor, an acclaimed mathematician played by Stellan Skarsgard. But his relationship with Robin Williams&#39; character is at the emotional core of the film.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qM-gZintWDc" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Williams plays a therapist, not a teacher per se. But it&#39;s clear that he&#39;s there to teach Will Hunting what he really needs to know: how to get out of his own way, to grow past his abusive and lonely childhood and to put aside his guilt at moving beyond his rough background in South Boston. He does this by meeting Will on his turf, by opening up and by listening as much as he talks.</p><p>Back in 1993, California State University professor Alison King wrote an article for the journal <a href="http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/27558571?uid=3739976&amp;uid=2&amp;uid=4&amp;uid=3739256&amp;sid=21104049910801" target="_blank">College Teaching</a> that became hugely influential. The title: &quot;From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side.&quot;</p><p>&quot;In most college classrooms, the professor lectures and the students listen and take notes,&quot; she begins. She advocated updating this model with one of &quot;active learning,&quot; where understanding is constructed in the mind of the student. The teacher is there not to captivate his or her audience, but to get them talking, processing information and reformulating it in &quot;new and personally meaningful ways.&quot; This is the &quot;guide on the side&quot; model, with the student placed at the center.</p><p>In his blazing, virtuosic performances, Williams embodied the sage on the stage &mdash; a manic, wisecracking sage, sure, but one who always held the audience spellbound. As Good Will Hunting&#39;s Sean Maguire, a character who overcame his own rough upbringing and struggles with the loss of his wife, he risked vulnerability. This quieter, generous performance won him an Oscar. He was playing a guide on the side, the kind we would all hope to have in our lives.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/08/12/339735740/what-robin-williams-taught-us-about-teaching" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-robin-williams-taught-us-about-teaching-110638 'Shark Week' fuels shark-meat feeding frenzy at restaurants http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-restaurants-110632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mako-tacos_slide-f11f760df53a04ca706a264b9f1bfffb35b87775-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Discovery Channel set <a href="http://www.deadline.com/2013/08/shark-week-snaps-up-ratings-records-for-discovery-channel/" target="_blank">viewership records</a> in 2013 as millions of people tuned in to watch sharks feed, sharks attack, extinct giant sharks and researchers catch and tag sharks. Discovery&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/shark-week/tv-shows/tv-shows.htm" target="_blank">Shark Week</a>&quot; returned on Sunday, and this year, to the dismay of conservationists, restaurants and markets nationwide are feeding the frenzy with a slew of shark meat promotions.</p><p>Shortfin mako shark, a slow-growing fish whose numbers are declining, seems to be the species of choice. It&#39;s being featured on menus all over the country &mdash; at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DocMagrogansOysterHouseUniversityCity" target="_blank">Doc Magrogan&#39;s Oyster House</a> in Philadelphia; <a href="http://www.sybergs.com/MENU/MAINMENU.aspx" target="_blank">Syberg&#39;s</a>, a small restaurant chain in St. Louis; <a href="http://www.sandbaraz.com/site/" target="_blank">Sandbar Mexican Grill</a>, with locations in Chandler, Ariz., and Phoenix; and <a href="http://gtoyster.com/pages/about.php" target="_blank">GT Fish and Oyster</a> in Chicago. In Louisiana, has a special on blacktip shark fillets at $4.99 a pound. Twitter is meanwhile over Shark Week specials, which often feature shark tacos and shark-themed cocktails.</p><p>Michael Clark, a sales rep with Fortune Fish And Gourmet, a seafood supplier outside Chicago, tells The Salt he has never seen such high interest in shark meat.</p><p>&quot;In 12 or 13 years, we have had virtually nobody looking for shark, but this year [for Shark Week] people are jumping all over it,&quot; says Clark, who is currently carrying Atlantic shortfin mako shark sourced from a supplier on the East Coast of Canada.</p><p>Shortfin makos are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/overview#introduction" target="_blank">red list</a>&quot; of species at risk of extinction. The Atlantic population is declining and &quot;<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161749/0" target="_blank">vulnerable</a>,&quot; with numbers estimated to be as low as just 30 percent of the species&#39; historic levels.</p><p><a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161751/0" target="_blank">Pacific</a> shortfin makos are also slowly disappearing, according to the IUCN, though their population may be in better shape than their Atlantic cousins. The Monterey Bay Aquarium&#39;s <a href="http://mobile.seafoodwatch.org/fish/103/shark" target="_blank">Seafood Watch</a> program calls shortfin mako from California and Hawaii a &quot;good alternative&quot; to more vulnerable options, but generally recommends against consuming shark.</p><p>Conservationists working to protect sharks are disappointed in the shark-eating craze being fueled by Shark Week.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s opportunistic,&quot; says Sean Van Sommeran, founder of the <a href="http://www.pelagic.org/" target="_blank">Pelagic Shark Research Foundation</a> in Santa Cruz. &quot;[Restaurants] are using the celebrity of sharkism to sell more tacos than they normally would.&quot;</p><p>Angelo Villagomez, with the Pew Charitable Trusts&#39; Global Shark Conservation campaign, notes that the Atlantic shortfin mako&#39;s &quot;vulnerable&quot; IUCN rating is the same as that of the polar bear. &quot;But you wouldn&#39;t want to eat polar bear tacos,&quot; he says.</p><p>In fact, some restaurants have specifically chosen not to serve shark during Shark Week because of customer concerns. The Lancaster Taphouse in Saskatchewan, for example, planned to serve mako shark last August. But an outcry on social media caused managers to turn tail and yank the item off the menu, <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/morningedition/episode/2013/08/05/shark-not-on-the-menu/index.html?cmp=rss&amp;utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">according to</a> CBC News.</p><p>In spite of declining populations, the number of shortfin mako sharks landed by fishermen has actually been on the rise since 2006. That year, American commercial fishermen reported catching about 222,000 pounds of the fish, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By 2012, that figure had grown to nearly 389,000 pounds.</p><p>Catches of most other shark species are at all-time lows, according to Villagomez. He says this is not because of decreasing demand but decreasing shark numbers. &quot;We&#39;ve hit &#39;peak shark,&#39; &quot; he jokes.</p><p>Fishermen worldwide kill between 70 and 100 million sharks every year. Most are killed for their fins, which are sliced off the animals and, eventually, dried and used to <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2011/10/21/141587542/photos-show-sheer-scale-of-shark-fin-trade" target="_blank">make shark fin soup</a>. Often, the rest of the carcass is thrown overboard.</p><p>While Americans seem to hunger more for shark during Shark Week, China has a much larger year-round appetite.</p><p><a href="http://www.wildaid.org/about" target="_blank">WildAid</a>, a San Francisco group dedicated to marine protection, has been campaigning to curb the demand for shark fins in China. The efforts may be working. According to a WildAid <a href="http://wildaid.org/sites/default/files/SharkReport_spread_final_08.07.14.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released Aug. 4, prices for shark fins are down about 50 percent in China, where fishermen are also receiving 80 percent less money for the product. And 85 percent of about 1,500 Chinese consumers surveyed online by WildAid said they&#39;d stopped eating shark fin soup in the past three years, largely out of sympathy for sharks.</p><p>WildAid&#39;s founder Peter Knights says he isn&#39;t particularly bothered that a few American restaurants are serving shark meat, given the overwhelming global demand for their fins. In fact, Knights is more concerned about Shark Week itself.</p><p>&quot;I think Shark Week does more damage to sharks than eating the occasional shark in a restaurant,&quot; Knights says. &quot;Shark Week is all about vilifying sharks. They always have about 20 shows about shark attacks and none about what&#39;s happening to shark populations.&quot;</p><p>He adds: &quot;It would be nice if people didn&#39;t start to desire shark meat as well [as their fins], but I guess if you&#39;re going to kill a shark, it&#39;s better to use 85 percent of it rather than one to five percent.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/11/339579328/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-at-restaurants">via NPR&#39;s The Salt blog</a></em></p></p> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-restaurants-110632 Wheelchair-bound couple describes budding romance http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/wheelchair-bound-couple-describes-budding-romance-110626 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140808 Greg Rebecca_bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve actually known each other for six years,&rdquo; Rebecca Wylie says while talking to her boyfriend Greg Anger in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, recorded at the Chicago Cultural Center. They met on Facebook when he was a freshman at the University of Missouri, her alma mater.</p><p>&ldquo;I was in the hospital and I was not sleeping, and Greg was the only one on Facebook at one in the morning, and it kind of just turned into a romance.&rdquo; &ldquo;You&rsquo;re a tough egg to crack, let me tell you,&rdquo; Anger says.</p><p>Wylie is working towards a Law Degree from Loyola University in Chicago with a focus on health care. She is also a quadriplegic, and uses a wheelchair. &ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t born with my disability,&rdquo; she says. &rdquo;I was seven years old when it happened. So I do know what it&rsquo;s like to ride a bike and run around.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;What about you?&rdquo; she asks Anger, who is getting a Master&rsquo;s in higher education administration from the University of Alabama, and who also uses a wheelchair. &ldquo;You haven&rsquo;t had the experience of riding a bike like everyone else.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Everything that I&rsquo;ve gotten in my life is somehow connected to me being disabled,&rdquo; Anger said. &ldquo;Which is weird because it&rsquo;s not something that I like to use to identify myself, like, &lsquo;That&rsquo;s the wheelchair basketball player,&rsquo; or &lsquo;That&rsquo;s the guy in the wheelchair.&rsquo; And I don&rsquo;t really like that per se, but then again everything I have gotten in my life is because I&rsquo;m disabled. I wouldn&rsquo;t have went to the University of Missouri to play basketball. I wouldn&rsquo;t have started talking to you.&rdquo;</p><p>And it&rsquo;s the talking to each other that has helped sustain both of them through difficult times.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of hard for me to put into words,&rdquo; Anger said. &ldquo;She has a wonderful heart and personality.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s just very accepting of who I am regardless of any of my abilities or disabilities,&rdquo; Wylie said.</p><p>&ldquo;Living with a disability provides so many daily challenges,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And you have no idea what those challenges are going to be because everyday the challenge is something different. Dealing with that and pushing through it, are the hardest and most rewarding things.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s really nothing we can&rsquo;t do together,&rdquo; Anger said. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re gonna get me to move back to the freezing cold Midwest, you can pretty much do anything because I will tell you that that was not on my plans and now there&rsquo;s nowhere I don&rsquo;t want to be as long as you&rsquo;re there too.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 15:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/wheelchair-bound-couple-describes-budding-romance-110626 No more reservations: Exclusive restaurants require tickets instead http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead-110624 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/next-kitchen_slide-f12e40b01b21d2fe3c0e2984fca1727556c7f9c5-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Have you ever wanted a ticket to see your favorite band so much that you could taste it?</p><p>You set the alarm, and start calling or clicking right when the tickets go on sale. You try again and again, until, finally, you snag a ticket. And even though the process is a pain, when you succeed, you feel like part of an exclusive group.</p><p>In the future, going out to eat could become a lot like going to a sold-out rock concert. In fact, some of the hottest restaurants now sell tickets instead of taking reservations.</p><p>In Los Angeles, classically trained French chef <a href="http://www.ludolefebvre.com/about/" target="_blank">Ludovic &quot;Ludo&quot; Lefebvre</a> sells tickets for a five-course meal at his 29-seat bistro, Trois Mec, for about $100 a pop, including tax and tip. On one recent evening, the menu featured avocado citrus crab ceviche followed by veal belly with crispy artichoke and Parmesan.</p><p>Lefebvre says he likes the comparison to concert tickets. When asked about the to-die-for concert ticket when he was growing up in France in the late 1980s, Lebebvre doesn&#39;t hesitate. &quot;U2. Definitely. U2,&quot; he says. One time, he waited on the phone for what seemed like forever, but finally scored tickets to see Bono and the lads.</p><p>Now, Lefebvre is a rock star chef. Tickets to dine at Trois Mec are sold online and sell out in minutes.</p><p>The restaurant ticketing system was invented by <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/pub/nick-kokonas/45/634/2a1" target="_blank">Nick Kokonas</a> in 2011. He co-owns Chicago restaurant Next, which specializes in theme menus, such as &quot;Paris 1906,&quot; a meal based on legendary chef August Escoffier&#39;s seminal <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Escoffier-Culinaire-Complete-Translation-English/dp/0831754788/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1407179720&amp;sr=1-2&amp;keywords=le+guide+culinaire+escoffier" target="_blank">Le Guide Culinaire</a>, and &quot;el Bulli,&quot; a nod to the now-closed Spanish temple of modern cuisine by the same name.</p><p>Tickets for Next meals go for about $300 a head for several courses and beverage pairings. Currently, the restaurant&#39;s theme is &quot;Chinese: Modern.&quot;</p><p>The menus at Next change three times a year. So diners can buy season tickets, like you would for the opera. Last December, the restaurant sold around $3 million worth of season tickets in a few hours.</p><p>The number of exclusive eateries that sell tickets for meals is growing. The latest chef to join the club is <a href="http://www.starchefs.com/cook/chefs/bio/Daniel-Patterson/coi" target="_blank">Daniel Patterson</a>, who owns the San Francisco restaurant Coi.</p><p>Patterson had been frustrated by the number of reservations that were canceled at the last minute, which resulted in as much as 15 percent of his tables going empty. And that got reflected in customers&#39; bills. &quot;A big part of our price has to do with the fact that a small portion of our guests don&#39;t show up,&quot; he says.</p><p>Now that he&#39;s adopted the ticket system for his restaurant, Patterson saves money on no-shows. He passes that savings along to customers, offering a discount for diners who take early or late seatings.</p><p>The issue of no-shows plagues many small, chic restaurants. That makes tickets even more appetizing for them.</p><p>Ticket pioneer Kokonas says, &quot;We are rolling it out to about 10 to 20 restaurants over the next couple of months worldwide.&quot;</p><p>Over the next six months, expect to see tickets sold at hot spots in Austin, Texas; Boston and Philadelphia, among other cities in the U.S. Abroad, Kokonas says his ticket business model will expand to England, Europe, Australia and Hong Kong.</p><p>But some chefs are resisting the change &mdash; even in Los Angeles, no-show central.</p><p>&quot;Within the restaurateur world, LA is known as the one city where people don&#39;t have any respect for restaurants,&quot; says celebrity chef <a href="http://www.curtisstone.com/" target="_blank">Curtis Stone</a>. &quot;They don&#39;t make reservations. They just show up ... with more people than they booked for.&quot;</p><p>Stone opened his 25-seat restaurant, Maude, last January. It takes reservations the old-fashioned way: by phone. And it&#39;s always sold out.</p><p>Stone has investigated the ticket business model and found that it has some shortcomings.</p><p>&quot;Problem is,&quot; says Stone, &quot;some people out there don&#39;t feel as comfortable with computers or making reservations online.&quot;</p><p>Tickets also require consumers to pay for their set, multicourse meal in advance.</p><p>And tickets can be resold, which has lured ticket brokers into the market. For the most desirable menu at Next in Chicago, Kokonas says, there were &quot;people posting them on Craigslist and StubHub for a couple thousand dollars apiece.&quot;</p><p>Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer <a href="http://www.pulitzer.org/biography/2007-Criticism" target="_blank">Jonathan Gold</a> of the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> calls Lefebvre one of the most interesting chefs working in the U.S. And even Gold has had trouble getting tickets to Trois Mec. As payback for having to troll for tickets, he jokes, &quot;I would love to see scalpers outside Trois Mec. It would give me so much pleasure.&quot;</p><p>Call it a dessert of sweet revenge.</p><p><em>Jeff Tyler is a radio reporter and screenwriter living in Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/05/337834577/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s The Salt blog on Aug. 5</a></em></em></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead-110624 In Chicago, neighborhoods that are too black don't gentrify http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-neighborhoods-are-too-black-dont-gentrify-110622 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/4078294934_2075aa0ed5_o-1-_vert-818749762e22fbc8b4877fdbe97cc7058dbdddf8-s51.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>So here&#39;s one way folks tend to think about gentrification in big cities: poorer (therefore: browner) neighborhood becomes more attractive to folks of more means (therefore: whiter) who are in search of lower housing costs. As more and more better-off folks move in, new amenities and fresh investment follow. And that, in turn, brings more demand for the neighborhood among potential gentrifiers, which pushes up housing costs and drives out the people of color who lived there before.</p><p>A <a href="http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/08/a-new-view-of-gentrification/" target="_blank">new study by Harvard researchers</a> suggests that there&#39;s also a racial ceiling to how neighborhoods gentrify, at least in Chicago, the city they examined. Robert Sampson and Jackelyn Hwang found that neighborhoods that are too black tend to stay that way.</p><p>&quot;It used to be referred to as &#39;white flight,&#39;&quot; Sampson said, referring to the postwar years in which whites left big cities as more blacks moved into them. &quot;But we refer to it in the paper as &#39;white avoidance&#39; &mdash; [gentrifiers are] not moving into neighborhoods where there are lots of black people. In Chicago, the [neighborhoods] that are gentrifying are the ones where there was a white working class, or Latinos, but not many blacks.&quot;</p><p>The researchers started with earlier data showing neighborhoods that appeared to be undergoing gentrification. But when they looked at those same areas more recently, they found that in areas where the population was 40 percent black, that gentrification seemed to grind to a halt.</p><p>Indeed, Sampson said that many of the neighborhoods that have become synonymous with gentrification &mdash; like the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn &mdash; actually underscore their study&#39;s findings. That neighborhood <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/05/02/fashion/20130502-WBURG.html" target="_blank">has a reputation of being a hive of hipsters</a> who moved in and displaced all the black people who lived there before. But before it gentrified, the neighborhood actually boasted a sizable Polish-American working class and a large Latino population, while its black population had always been very small. (It was about 7 percent in 1990.) Sampson said the <a href="http://nymag.com/nymetro/realestate/neighborhoods/features/11775/index2.html" target="_blank">Bed-Stuys</a> and <a href="http://nymag.com/realestate/features/48328/index4.html" target="_blank">Harlems</a> of the world &mdash; heavily black urban neighborhoods that have seen lots of whites move in &mdash; are outliers, not the rule.</p><p>The researchers used a novel method of qualitative research to determine how much change a neighborhood had experienced &mdash; a mix of Census data, surveys of thousands of Chicago residents, and Google Street View:</p><blockquote><div><p>The new research builds on a 1995 study that examined gentrification trends in nearly two dozen cities across the country, including nearly half of the census tracts in Chicago. The earlier study categorized census tracts according to how gentrified they were based on how much visible reinvestment they were seeing.</p><p>To examine whether those trends had continued, Hwang and Sampson targeted areas that had earlier been identified as gentrified and adjacent census tracts, and began using Google Street View to examine them in painstaking detail.</p></div></blockquote><p>From Google Street View, the researchers gathered visual evidence of hundreds of blocks around Chicago. They tagged evidence of new construction, renovations of existing homes, public improvements, and signs of &quot;disorder&quot; like graffiti or litter.</p><p>&quot;While gentrifiers prefer a certain level of diversity &mdash; there&#39;s a sense that gentrifiers are hip, urban pioneers &mdash; there&#39;s a kind of diversity threshold wherein gentrification goes up, but then you get to a certain level [and it stops],&quot; Sampson told me. &quot;Really segregated, less-diverse neighborhoods tend to have less gentrification over time.&quot;</p><p>Hwang said that they controlled for things like poverty, the amount of public housing, and availability of public transit, which showed that race was a key factor in how much change a neighborhood saw. That&#39;s pretty consistent with other research on race and housing, she said.</p><p>&quot;In a lot of the literature on segregation and residential preferences, studies have found that people have preferred neighborhoods with more whites and least preferred neighborhoods with all blacks &mdash; and Asians and Latinos in the middle,&quot; Hwang said.</p><p><a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/" target="_blank">As Ta-Nehisi Coates&#39; blockbuster story on reparations exhaustively outlined</a>, Chicago has a particularly sordid history when it comes to race and housing. The city&#39;s policies and their consequences have contributed to deep levels of residential segregation there, and Sampson said that history continues to shape the way Chicagoans think of different neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;[There&#39;s a] perception that predominantly black neighborhoods are higher-crime, more disorderly,&quot; he said. &quot;And that&#39;s feeding into which neighborhoods &mdash; among poor neighborhoods &mdash; are being gentrified.&quot;</p><p>Hwang said that also means that the same neighborhoods that saw massive disinvestment when they became mostly black and poor are not benefiting from the waves of new construction and new businesses that gentrification necessarily brings along with it.</p><p>&quot;What&#39;s really happening is that the neighborhoods that could use some reinvestment and renewal aren&#39;t even being touched,&quot; she said.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/08/08/338831318/chicago-neighborhoods-that-are-too-black-resist-gentrification" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s Code Switch blog</a></em></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 13:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-neighborhoods-are-too-black-dont-gentrify-110622