WBEZ | Culture http://www.wbez.org/news/culture Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Portage Park church mourns 'favorite son' Cardinal George http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/portage-park-church-mourns-favorite-son-cardinal-george-111906 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cardinal francis george as altar boy_picmonkeyed.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Parishioners at Cardinal Francis George&rsquo;s boyhood church are mourning the late Roman Catholic leader.</p><p>George grew up in the Portage Park neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest Side at St. Pascal Church. He went to Catholic school here and was ordained here. He&rsquo;s described on the church website as their &ldquo;Favorite Son.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/remembering-chicagos-cardinal-francis-george-111900" target="_blank">George died Friday</a> after a long fight with cancer.</p><p>Photos lining the back of St. Pascal&rsquo;s show George at every stage of his life: as a baby, an altar boy, graduating from school here, and years later, greeting the Pope.</p><p>Parishioners gathered around the photos and shared memories before mass started Sunday.</p><p>&ldquo;No matter where he came to visit, he came back with a smile and hope,&rdquo; Danny Klbecka, a longtime parishioner recalled. &ldquo;He was a great man, and we&rsquo;re sorry he&rsquo;s gone. We&rsquo;re going to miss him, we&rsquo;ll all miss him.&rdquo;</p><p>The cardinal often returned to visit the church and to see childhood friends.</p><p>&ldquo;He was our great success story,&rdquo; said St. Pascal&rsquo;s Pastor Paul Seaman. &ldquo;He was symbolic of what St. Pascal and the Catholic church is all about. He was a man of faith, he was a man of service, he cared about people, and he was very genuine in the life he lived.&rdquo;</p><p>The pastor and parishioners alike described George as a kind man who was devout in his faith, and they offered insight into the longtime spiritual leader.</p><p>In his sermon, Father Seaman said George talked about his bouts with cancer. At one point, the cardinal felt he was sure he was dying. He said he felt cold inside and out. But a nurse held his hand and told him to fight.</p><p>George said he learned the only thing we take into eternity is our relationships. And although his most important relationship was with God, Seaman said, during a meeting with priests the cardinal said he regretted not becoming friends with more of them. He always wanted to be fair and didn&rsquo;t want anyone to feel they were &ldquo;in&rdquo; or &ldquo;out,&rdquo; Seaman said, adding that such an attempt at fairness came at a high personal cost.</p><p>The cardinal had a strict interpretation of church teachings and was often described as rigid or rule-driven by some.</p><p>Rev. Seaman said George believed that if we learned merely from our experience, our range of knowledge would be too narrow. He saw the history and teachings of the church as a broader and wiser teacher.</p><p>Seaman said the point wasn&rsquo;t the rules, but a relationship with God. Without that relationship, the cardinal said, religion was just a set of burdensome rules.</p><p>St. Pascal isn&rsquo;t the only parish remembering the cardinal. Churches across the region said prayers for him over the weekend, and tributes came pouring in from religious and political leaders.</p><p>Muslim and Jewish leaders here offered sympathy. Leaders of the Muslim Community Center said George made arrangements for Muslims to pray within Chicago churches, denounced injustice and collaborated on public policy issues.</p><p>&ldquo;The Muslim Community Center along with the world will miss this truly committed person of interfaith understanding,&rdquo; leaders said in a statement.</p><p>&ldquo;Leaders of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago join with the entire Jewish community in remembering with joy, respect and gratitude the faithful friendship of Cardinal George,&rdquo; a statement said, adding George &ldquo;continued the path of his predecessors, Cardinal Cody and Cardinal Bernardin, in building a relationship built on foundations of mutual respect.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Pope Francis sent this telegram from the Vatican:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;To the Most Reverend Blase Cupich<br />Archbishop of Chicago</p><p><br />Saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Francis E. George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese. With gratitude for Cardinal George&rsquo;s witness of consecrated life as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, his service to the Church&rsquo;s educational apostolate and his years of episcopal ministry in the Churches of Yakima, Portland and Chicago, I join you in commending the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father. To all who mourn the late Cardinal in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Details: <a href="http://www.archchicago.org/passing-of-francis-cardinal-george/schedule" target="_blank">Funeral services</a> for Cardinal George.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes covers religion for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/lynettekalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/portage-park-church-mourns-favorite-son-cardinal-george-111906 Emanuel tells Spike Lee he doesn't like name 'Chiraq' for film http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-tells-spike-lee-he-doesnt-name-chiraq-film-111886 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/spikelee.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he told film director Spike Lee that he&#39;s not happy the working title of Lee&#39;s upcoming motion picture is &quot;Chiraq.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel says he and Lee had an &quot;honest, frank conversation&quot; Wednesday and suggested the name would be offensive to the many good people who live in the Englewood neighborhood where the film takes place.</p><p>The mayor says he thinks that the subject Lee told him his film would deal with &mdash; black-on-black violence &mdash; is an important topic that should be examined.</p><p>But he says he&#39;s not pleased the title might be &#39;Chiraq,&#39; a word that suggests the city is as violent and dangerous as the war zone of Iraq.</p></p> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 08:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-tells-spike-lee-he-doesnt-name-chiraq-film-111886 Homaro Cantu was more than a showman http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 <p><p>To a lot of people, the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-famed-chef-homaro-cantu-owner-of-moto-found-dead-on-northwest-side-20150414-story.html">late chef Homaro Cantu</a> was all about showmanship, gadgets and tricks of molecular gastronomy.</p><p>He was famous for edible menus, a fish that would cook itself on your table and fruit that became a carbonated juice box.</p><p>But what a lot of people didn&rsquo;t understand was that this mad scientist chef was about something even bigger: Homaru Cantu&nbsp;wanted to save the&nbsp;world.</p><p>When WBEZ reporters <a href="https://soundcloud.com/chewingthefat/ctf-ep-27-future-food">visited his Moto kitchens last year</a>, we were greeted by typical Cantu. He was playful, warm, articulate and bursting with ideas to make the world a cleaner, healthier more delicious place.</p><p>He showed us his digitally monitored indoor farm that he said could grow produce with astonishing efficiency.</p><p>&ldquo;All of these products are grown to such a precise degree that this stuff will grow 50 percent faster than their genetically modified counterparts in their best season,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it will all be composted by stuff that comes right from the kitchen.&rdquo;</p><p>He told us about plans to put a beehive on the roof with a path down to the indoor farm, &ldquo;So bees can come down here, then pollinate and leave.&rdquo;</p><p>He explained his strategy for &ldquo;smart composting&rdquo; that would customize the raw composting materials to the plants they&rsquo;d nourish.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1792.JPG" style="height: 200px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Chef Homaro Cantu at Moto with kitchen staff and Anthony Bourdain" /></p><p>&ldquo;Plants are like humans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t want the same diet&hellip;. When we start analyzing what plants really want and giving it to them, that&rsquo;s going to get us a more flavorful product, that&rsquo;s going to grow more efficiently without chemicals and genetic modification.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><div>He told us about his many ideas for saving energy and reducing food miles. And he shared his enthusiasm for the potential of the miracle berry (which makes sour things taste sweet) to help diabetics and cancer patients while improving overall public health.</div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been such a long road,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But I think we are at a point where we can educate people about what they should be eating rather than what big companies want them to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>I realized I&rsquo;d had Cantu all wrong. Sure he was great at putting on a show. But his wild restaurants seemed to be just one way to showcase his plans to tackle some of the biggest problems our planet faces today.</p><p>Cantu stressed that, although he was patenting the research, he wanted it to be available to everyone.<br /><br />&ldquo;[After we file the initial patent] we want people to steal from us,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Food should not be owned. Food should be a collective effort for everyone, like open source software.&rdquo;</p><p>Like a lot of people in Chicago, I knew Cantu was facing a lawsuit from a former investor. But the news of his death Tuesday came as a great shock--and the suspected suicide even more so. Of all the chefs I&rsquo;ve known, few have had such ambitious technological plans, such a profound stake in the future and such visionary ideas for making the world a better place.&nbsp;</p><p>His cooking will be missed by diners. His heart and humor missed by his family and friends. But it&rsquo;s almost impossible to say what society will miss with the loss of Cantu&rsquo;s ideas and innovations, which he aimed at helping all of us.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 Moto chef Homaro Cantu found dead in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/moto-chef-homaro-cantu-found-dead-chicago-111875 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/homarocantuted2011.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chef Homaro Cantu has been found dead in Chicago.</p><p>The 38-year-old Cantu was known for blending science and fine dining at his Michelin starred restaurant Moto in the city&#39;s West Loop.</p><p>Authorities say Cantu&#39;s body was found Tuesday in a building where he had planned to open a brewery.</p><p>The Cook County medical examiner&#39;s office confirmed the death but did not release a cause. Authorities did not say his death was suspicious.</p><p>Cantu headed Moto, which focused on molecular gastronomy cuisine. Customers dined on edible menus, carbonated fruit and a fish preparation that cooked in a tabletop polymer box, among other foods.</p><p>Before opening Moto, Cantu spent four years as a chef at Charlie Trotter&#39;s Chicago restaurant. Trotter died in 2013.</p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/moto-chef-homaro-cantu-found-dead-chicago-111875 Why Easter bunnies don't make the best pets http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-easter-bunnies-dont-make-best-pets-111819 <p><p>When my daughter started pleading on the phone, I was adamant and firm: She could absolutely not bring home a bunny from the farm where she was staying.<br /><br />But 15 minutes later, I found myself saying, &ldquo;OK fine we&rsquo;ll keep them for a trial period.&rdquo;<br /><br />That was last August &mdash; now every morning we wake up early to feed our little black and white furball named Binky. He gets to eat fresh, thoroughly washed organic greens long before we make our own eggs and coffee. We have a 50-pound box of timothy hay on the porch and we&rsquo;ve placed bunny litter boxes all over the house.</p><p>In short, my home has become bunnytown and I am its No. 1 public servant. Parents who are thinking of buying their kids a cuddly little bunny for Easter, might want to think twice.</p><p>&ldquo;Speaking personally I have a dog, a cat and three rabbits, and the rabbits are definitely the most high maintenance,&rdquo; says Marcia Coburn, president of the Red Door Animal Shelter in Rogers Park. &ldquo;They have to have hay, they have to have freedom to run around, yet you have to do bunny-proofing, just like child-proofing in your home. You have to protect your electrical cords because they will chew through them. You have to find an exotics veterinarian because they can&rsquo;t really be seen by a dog or a cat vet.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /><br />I only became aware of these things after we got our bunny, and after I hopped on the many rabbit care websites. Here&rsquo;s what I learned:</p><ul><li>Rabbits are really bad pets for small children</li><li>They don&rsquo;t like to be picked up</li><li>Their bones break very easily</li><li>If they are exposed to loud sounds, they literally can die of fright by having a heart attack</li></ul><p>Oh and P.S., they also live for about 10 years. So we expect to be caring for them long after the the kids leave for college.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s just one of the reasons abandoned rabbits are expected to flood places like Red Door Animal Shelter in a few weeks.</p><p>&ldquo;The people who buy them at Easter end up saying, &lsquo;Well, what am I doing with this? This isn&rsquo;t what I thought it would be,&rsquo;&rdquo; Coburn said. &ldquo;And then they end up dumping them outside and Red Door ends up rescuing about 50 rabbits a year.&rdquo;</p><p>Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that annual pet rabbit sales numbers are unknown, it notes that rabbit breeders &ldquo;usually supply young small rabbits to satisfy customer demand and may see a seasonal increase in demand for rabbits at Easter. &ldquo;</p><p>According to the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals &ldquo;Thousands of ex-Easter bunnies are abandoned to shelters or into the wild each year when their novelty wears off.&rdquo;</p><p>Some groups have also pushed for a ban on rabbit and chick sales in the weeks leading up to Easter and a few independent pet stores have voluntarily agreed to do so.&nbsp;</p><p>But for those who do purchase rabbits, another challenge is finding companions for them. Researchers say bunnies get angry and depressed when they&#39;re in single-rabbit homes. But they&#39;re actually pretty particular about their pals, which is why experts recommend choosing a new bunny mate through a series of speed dates at places like Red Door.&nbsp;</p><p>Most will do best with a bunny of the opposite sex, explained Red Door Vice President Toni Greetis, &ldquo;but occasionally two boys will get along just fine. Still, we&rsquo;ll never introduce two girls because they&rsquo;re very territorial and can fight.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rabbies.jpg" style="height: 192px; width: 320px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: left;" title="Binky and Queenie chowing down on some delicious organic greens" />Some rabbits need several dating sessions with numerous candidates. But Binky was lucky to fall in love with a dainty little black rabbit called Brooklyn on his first date. We then needed to take them home for a series of bonding sessions, which consisted of peeing to mark territory and mounting each other.</p><p>&ldquo;Rabbits will mount each other regardless of whether or not they are fixed in order to determine dominance,&rdquo; Greetis says. &ldquo;Sometimes it&rsquo;s the female who will mount the male, but what we are looking for is certain body language. Is the bunny that&rsquo;s on the bottom tolerating being mounted? That&rsquo;s a good sign.&rdquo;</p><p>If you want to know how our bonding sessions went, all you need to know is that the demure little rabbit that we used to call Brooklyn, is now named Queenie.</p><p>We&rsquo;ve had to get used to a lot of things, like having rabbit litter boxes around the house. We can&rsquo;t leave town without finding trained rabbit sitters.&nbsp; And we have accepted that our wood work and furniture are going to be full of chew marks.</p><p>For fun, sometimes we watch a series of videos by comedian Amy Sedaris on things like how to massage your bunny.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JnuxGLa2reg" width="560"></iframe></p><p>If this doesn&rsquo;t sound like a great time, you may want to stick with chocolate bunnies this Easter.</p><p>But us? At this point we wouldn&rsquo;t have it any other way.</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;"><em>@monicaeng</em></a><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">&nbsp;</span><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 09:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-easter-bunnies-dont-make-best-pets-111819 Flamin' Hot Cheetos top some Chicago Public School vending machines http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/flamin-hot-cheetos-top-some-chicago-public-school-vending-machines-111773 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cheetos.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last week Michigan became the latest state to opt out of the federal Smart Snack standards. The rules regulate what can be sold in school fundraisers and vending machines that help schools pay the bill. More than 22 states have pushed for some kind of exemption from these rules since they went into effect last July.</p><p>So just how stringent are they?</p><p>The snacks must be:</p><ul><li>&ldquo;whole grain rich&rdquo; if they are grain-based, meaning 50 percent whole grain</li><li>no more than 200 calories</li><li>no more than 230 mgs of sodium</li><li>no more than 35 percent sugar, by weight</li><li>lower in fat, meaning no more than a third of their calories can come from fat</li></ul><p>So all that&rsquo;s left is kale, right?</p><p>Well, not really. In fact, under these new rules, two of the top sellers in some Chicago Public Schools are reformulated Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheetos and Kellogg&rsquo;s Pop Tarts. This is not exactly what Dr. Virginia Stallings envisioned when she chaired the Institute of Medicine committee whose recommendations would form the backbone of the Smart Snack rules.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I thought the top sellers might be things that had more nutrients in them than Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheetos,&rdquo; said Stallings, who is a professor of pediatrics at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. &ldquo;But let me say that one of the things we were absolutely expecting and appreciate is that the food companies would look at these recommendations and they would, in fact, reformulate their products.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>To Stallings, the reformulated Cheetos, in smaller portions, with more whole grain, less sodium and less fat, represent an evidence-based improvement over the old formula.</p><p>But to folks like Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, a health analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, the snacks represent&nbsp;&nbsp; mixed messages to kids.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think it says to them that, of course, I can eat these. And when they are outside the school, if they see the same item at a grocery store, they don&rsquo;t recognize the difference,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Even more concerning, is that their parents don&rsquo;t either, according to a Rudd Center study showing that many parents are misguided into thinking that these [reformulated] items are good for their kids.&rdquo;</p><p>To see this in action, all you have to do is drop by a Chicago Public high school vending machine where reformulated Pop Tarts and Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheeto Puffs occupy several slots. In an interview with WBEZ Wednesday, CPS&rsquo;s head of Nutrition Services Leslie Fowler said she had no idea schools were selling the snacks.</p><p>The district, she said, has prohibited reformulated snacks for about a year. Still, a list of approved snacks that CPS provided to WBEZ on Wednesday includes Baked Cheetos and Reduced Fat Nilla Wafers. Another list the district sent to WBEZ earlier Wednesday included reduced fat Cool Ranch Doritos as an approved snack. But when WBEZ noted that snack was also &ldquo;reformulated,&rdquo; the CPS official claimed she&rsquo;d given us the wrong list.</p><p>To add to the confusion, Fowler told WBEZ Wednesday that the &ldquo;only Cheeto that is approved is the whole grain puff,&rdquo; which are not included on the latest list but are featured in several district machines.</p><p>Regardless of what CPS rules actually are, it&rsquo;s clear that the much maligned Smart Snack rules still leave plenty of room for things like reformulated Flamin Hot Cheetos. And while it&rsquo;s true the reformulation reduces fat and salt, the snacks still feature six artificial colors and nearly 30 ingredients.</p><p>New York University Nutrition professor Marion Nestle thinks part of the problem is that the rules encourage companies to hit certain nutrient numbers rather than providing real food.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;This is a classic case of nutritionism,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;If you set up nutrition standards, the food industry can do anything to meet those standards and this is a perfect example of that...So this is a better-for-you junk food. And, of course, the question is: is that a good choice? And no, of course, it&rsquo;s not.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /><br />When asked to discuss the issue, Cheeto maker Frito Lay would not grant WBEZ an interview. Instead, the company wrote &ldquo;We offer a variety of Smart Snack compliant products in schools in portion-controlled sizes to suit a variety of tastes, including the Reduced Fat, Whole Grain Rich Flamin&#39; Hot Cheetos.&rdquo;</p><p>Lane Tech Senior Tyra Bosnic said she&rsquo;s disappointed in the vending machines at her school. She wished they better mirrored the machines she&rsquo;s seen in Europe.<br /><br />&ldquo;They have better drinks there and there&rsquo;s more water accessible,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There they have things like pumpkin seeds in the machines. Here we just have gross, whole grain Pop Tarts and Cheeto Puffs.&rdquo;<br /><br />The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it couldn&rsquo;t comment on the wisdom of selling Cheetos at school, but that its latest rules have already helped kids eat &ldquo;healthier.&rdquo;<br /><br />It&rsquo;s not just kids who are drawn to the&nbsp; orange curly snacks. For cash strapped school administrators, Cheetos can&nbsp; deliver plenty of green. Under the current CPS deal with Avcoa Vending, schools&nbsp; get a 20 percent commission on all sales; and that can add up to more than $10,000 in discretionary spending a year. So, why not stock this teenage favorite?</p><p>&ldquo;Because schools have an obligation to teach children how to be successful adults,&rdquo; says Rochelle Davis of Chicago&rsquo;s Healthy Schools Campaign. &ldquo;And learning about how to be healthy is a critical part of that.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, one vending machine rep noted that kids are going to buy Cheetos at the corner store and that few entities need money more than schools. Stallings, who wrote the original recommendations, questions whether schools should be selling any snacks at all.</p><p>&ldquo;Selling food to children outside of the school lunch and breakfast should not be a source of revenue for the school,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s exploiting the children&rsquo;s health.&rdquo;</p><p>Instead, advocates like Rochelle Davis of Chicago&rsquo;s Healthy Schools Campaign suggest raising the revenue through things like plant sales and dance-a-thons.</p><p>&ldquo;I just got an email about a school trying a dance-a-thon,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So the kids are going to be up and moving and the community is going to be supporting that instead of a traditional fundraiser.&rdquo;</p><p>But can a dance-a-thon rake in the cash like Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheetos? With all the resistance against even these initial rules, it may be some time before we get to find out.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Clarification, 3/26/2015: After this story was published Chicago Public Schools officials claimed CPS uses vendors other than Avcoa. They have not yet responded who those vendors are.</em></p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/flamin-hot-cheetos-top-some-chicago-public-school-vending-machines-111773 Can embracing March Madness make your office more productive? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-embracing-march-madness-make-your-office-more-productive-111742 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bball cropped.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>The snow is melting. The potholes crackling. The sun shining. And yes, it&#39;s <a href="https://youtu.be/8q6X-N4sJ1o">March Madness</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s thrilling, it&rsquo;s exciting, it&rsquo;s quintessentially American. Some 77 million people across the country are expected to come down with some form of March Madness this year. Pete Kadens is one of those people.</p><p>&ldquo;For a couple years out of college, I worked for a big company out of New York. I hated every minute of it, frankly&mdash;but there were two days I hated more than any other,&rdquo; Kadens said.</p><p>Those two days were the Thursday and the Friday of March Madness.</p><p>&ldquo;I saw that actually no one was working. There weren&rsquo;t smart phones but people brought in mini televisions, had them under their desks,&rdquo; Kadens explained.</p><p>Firms like Challenger, Gray &amp; Christmas <a href="http://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/its-march-madness-years-madness-could-cost-19b" target="_blank">calculate</a> the cost of such antics. They estimate a $1.9 billion loss in productivity---when workers like Kadens spend time researching picks, filling out brackets and watching games on their computer...they&rsquo;re not working.</p><p>But Kadens made a commitment to his post-college, cubicle-confined self: If he ever started his own company, he was going to be different.</p><p>&ldquo;My company would have vacation days. And together, instead of working, we would celebrate and watch March Madness,&rdquo; Kadens said.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s exactly what he did. Every year, his company, SoCore Energy, cancels work on the first Friday of the tournament. He invites employees, clients and vendors to come meet at a bar to enjoy some drinks, some games and some outside-of-the-office time with coworkers.</p><p>The rationale, Kadens said, is much bigger than his love of college basketball.</p><p>&ldquo;The NCAA Tournament is all about David vs. Goliath. And everyone, I don&rsquo;t care who you root for, everyone wants to see the underdog win,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Kadens said seeing employees with their family and friends helps him understand the biases they bring to the table.</p><p>&ldquo;This event gives us a forum to meet those people and understand someone&rsquo;s underlying bias--why John acts this way--that gives you more context...there&rsquo;s a rationale to it, it&rsquo;s not just, let&rsquo;s go have fun,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But, as it turns out, there may be some merit to the party plan. NYU Professor <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/leeigel/2015/03/17/stop-the-insanity-about-ncaa-march-madness-ruining-workplace-productivity/" target="_blank">Lee Igel</a> seems to think so&mdash;he&rsquo;s an expert in decision making and behaviors at work in the sports business.</p><p>&ldquo;We would&#39;ve thought it completely insane to let people take the time, away from their work on company dime, to go off and do something like watch basketball games or fill out brackets,&rdquo; Igel said.</p><p>But he says that type of thinking is outdated.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>According to Igel, the nature of &ldquo;work&rdquo; in America has changed. 100 years ago, most people worked with their hands. In the 21st Century, we&rsquo;re working with our minds. It&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;knowledge work.&rdquo;</p><p>He added there&rsquo;s no need for fake spreadsheets or secret live streams--it will ultimately hurt companies in the long run. And further, Igel argues, today&rsquo;s workforce needs these periodic distractions.</p><p>&ldquo;We need people to actually get away from the same thing, over and over and over again,&rdquo; Igel said. &ldquo;This idea of indulging in March Madness with cloak and dagger, we don&rsquo;t need that anymore, we don&rsquo;t live in that world, we don&rsquo;t work in that world...stop the insanity over March Madness.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 12:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-embracing-march-madness-make-your-office-more-productive-111742 Chicago City Council passes Obama library ordinance http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-city-council-passes-obama-library-ordinance-111719 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CAY3HepUwAA_3VT.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s official: The University of Chicago can use city park land for its bid for the Obama Presidential Library.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago City Council signed off on Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s <a href="https://chicago.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2140125&amp;GUID=724A9444-6F25-4DA0-A5C7-B7FB19766038&amp;Options=&amp;Search=">proposal</a> to allow the university use of about 20 acres of land on the South Side in Washington Park or Jackson Park, should the president chooses the U of C bid for the coveted library. The proposal was Emanuel&rsquo;s way of soothing any anxiety the Obama Foundation had about the Hyde Park-based school&rsquo;s bid; or, as he calls, it, moving &ldquo;heaven and earth&rdquo; to make sure the library lands in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">Emanuel called the library a &ldquo;once-in-a-lifetime opportunity&rdquo; for the city.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If you have another [project with] half-a-billion dollar to three-quarter-of-a-billion dollar economic impact,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;I have a suggestion box, could you please put it in? I have yet to see it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Back in January, the Obama Foundation raised concerns over the city&rsquo;s lack of control over the proposed sites in the University of Chicago bid. Emanuel&rsquo;s land transfer would allow either park to be used, and in exchange, promises the Chicago Park District will receive additional green space.</p><p dir="ltr">On Wednesday, aldermen from all over the city stood up, one-by-one, in support of not just the park land proposal, but to share once again why they believe the library belongs in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Whether it&rsquo;s Jackson Park or Washington Park or North Lawndale, there&rsquo;s an opportunity to bring thousands of jobs, $750 million investment in communities that have not been invested in for years,&rdquo; Ald. Will Burns (4) said.</p><p dir="ltr">Others stressed Obama&rsquo;s Chicago roots and his connection to the South and West Side communities.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Every political decision that the president made, I was there with him,&rdquo; Ald. Leslie Hairston said. &ldquo;His roots are right there in Hyde Park, in the 5th ward.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The vote total almost ended with one dissenter: On the first roll call vote, Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) voted against the plan. But after some prodding from his colleagues, and a nod from Mayor Emanuel that any hiring for the library plan would come from the neighborhoods, he switched to a Yes vote.</p><p dir="ltr">But even with a strong vote total out City Hall, it will be the president and first lady who makes the final decision about where the library lands. The Obamas could <a href="http://www.barackobamafoundation.org/news/entry/obama-foundation-issues-rfp-to-four-potential-hosts-of-future-presidential">choose</a> Columbia University in New York City, the University of Hawaii or the University of Illinois at Chicago. According to multiple news reports, that decision isn&rsquo;t expected to come until <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBAMA_LIBRARY?SITE=AP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT">after Chicago&rsquo;s mayoral runoff election.</a></p><p dir="ltr">There is opposition to the park land plan outside of the council chambers: The Friends of the Parks group has long said that the mayor&rsquo;s proposal could set a &ldquo;dangerous precedent&rdquo; and that it has national parks groups watching. The group hasn&rsquo;t ruled out any potential legal action.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-city-council-passes-obama-library-ordinance-111719 Pi Day makes math delicious http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/pi-day-makes-math-delicious-111699 <p><p>Every circle, no matter if it&rsquo;s a pea or a planet, has the same circumference-diameter ratio. That ratio is pi.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a number. One that&rsquo;s not easy to quantify. Its digits go on and on and on&mdash;forever.</p><p>Pi has some interesting real-world applications: sound waves, global navigation, even rainbows have connections to pi.</p><p>Most people say pi equals about 3.14.</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Pi Day is celebrated by math geeks around the world on the March 14.</p><p>This year is especially exciting because it&rsquo;s Pi Day to the fourth decimal point: 3.1415.&nbsp;</p><p>That won&rsquo;t happen again for a hundred years.</p><p>In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives jumped onto the math party wagon and issued <a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hres224eh/pdf/BILLS-111hres224eh.pdf">House Resolution 224</a>, designating March 14 as Pi Day.</p><p>Amid a dozen whereases was concern that American students were lagging behind in math and science compared to kids in other countries.</p><p>Lots of math teachers didn&rsquo;t need a House resolution to get their kids excited about math. That&rsquo;s true for Mara Lewis, who teaches 7th grade math at Catalyst Maria charter school in Chicago.</p><p>She remembers celebrating Pi Day when she was a kid.</p><p>&ldquo;I specifically remember we used to have this contest of who could find these hidden shirts that had pi, 3.14, all over it,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And I still have a shirt that I won because I found it. So I&rsquo;ve been talking to them about this before I introduced what pi was to them.&rdquo;</p><p>Sofia Salazar, one of Lewis&rsquo; students, is catching on.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s interesting because it&rsquo;s one whole number with so many digits behind it,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And you can use it for so many different things.&rdquo;</p><p>When asked what she already knows about pi, she offers a nuanced answer:</p><p>&ldquo;Well, it depends which one you&rsquo;re talking about. But pi would be 3.14 or the delicious dessert, which is my favorite.&rdquo;</p><p>There&rsquo;s no real connection between mathematical pi and food pie, and math teachers aren&rsquo;t the only ones buying into the fun.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/150313%20pie.jpg" title="Employees at Hoosier Mama pie shop in Evanston prepare for this year’s Epic Pi Day. (WBEZ/Greta Johnsen)" /></div><p>Paula Haney runs Hoosier Mama pie shop.</p><p>&ldquo;Pi Day is probably third after Christmas and Thanksgiving,&quot; Haney said. &quot;It&rsquo;d be Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then Pi Day.&rdquo;</p><p>As she slices and squeezes tiny key limes, she says she and her husband opened their first pie shop on March 14, 2009, the first unofficial official Pi Day.</p><p>Since then, they&rsquo;ve learned just what a big deal Pi Day is. Last year, their shop in Evanston exceeded expectations.</p><p>&ldquo;Rachel, who was managing the front that day, was on a step stool yelling out what pies we had and what pies we didn&rsquo;t,&rdquo; Haney said. &ldquo;We couldn&rsquo;t keep the menu board written fast enough.&rdquo;</p><p>Haney says on a typical Saturday, she makes about 170 pies. This year, she&rsquo;s prepping for more than 400.</p><p>All the attention may be igniting enthusiasm among students, but so far, Pi Day hasn&rsquo;t done much to change how American kids rank in math compared to the rest of the world. But teacher Mara Lewis thinks it&rsquo;s fun to keep trying.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a nice way to make math relevant and see, you know, 3.14, we use numbers in everyday life, March 14th. It could definitely be incorporated into standardized testing and also used as a break from it&hellip;the kids are very excited about it, so it&rsquo;s exciting for me as a teacher.&rdquo;</p><p>And after all, Pi Day is really about making math as delicious as possible.</p></p> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 14:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/pi-day-makes-math-delicious-111699 Oprah's Harpo Studios in Chicago to close in December http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/oprahs-harpo-studios-chicago-close-december-111649 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/harpo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Oprah Winfrey will close Harpo Studios in Chicago, where she filmed &quot;The Oprah Winfrey Show&quot; for more than 20 years, this December, and will transition production for her cable network to a studio in California.</p><p>Harpo Studios and the Oprah Winfrey Network made the announcement Tuesday. OWN recently moved into a new studio in West Hollywood, California, and work currently done at Harpo Studios in Chicago will now be done there.</p><p>Winfrey sold the Harpo Studios property in Chicago&#39;s West Loop neighborhood to a developer last year for about $32 million. She said in a statement Tuesday that Harpo Studios has been a &quot;blessing&quot; in her life and she&#39;s now &quot;looking ahead&quot; to inhabiting her California studio.</p><p>The city named the street outside Harpo Studios &quot;Oprah Winfrey Way&quot; in 2011.</p></p> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/oprahs-harpo-studios-chicago-close-december-111649