WBEZ | alcohol http://www.wbez.org/tags/alcohol Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A visit to the world's first boozy Taco Bell http://www.wbez.org/news/visit-worlds-first-boozy-taco-bell-113054 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Twisted Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze with Tequila_Chillag.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res442830390" previewtitle="You'd never know it was a Taco Bell, except for the big sign that says &quot;Taco Bell.&quot;"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="You'd never know it was a Taco Bell, except for the big sign that says &quot;Taco Bell.&quot;" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/img_5907_wide-d5d5af99e2ba51ad710e4b0faf97497b490c955f-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="You'd never know it was a Taco Bell, except for the big sign that says &quot;Taco Bell.&quot; (Ian Chillag/NPR)" /></div><div><p>&quot;DO NOT LEAVE THE PREMISES WITH YOUR DRINK,&quot; says the woman behind the counter at the Taco Bell Cantina in Chicago. I can tell by the way she looks me in the eye that what she means is this:&nbsp;We finally have booze at Taco Bell. Don&#39;t be the guy who ruins it for everybody.</p></div></div><p>This is the first Taco Bell in the world to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/15/440648138/in-a-push-to-attract-millennials-taco-bell-offers-beer-and-wine">serve alcohol</a>, and I am here for its Grand Opening. The moment you walk in, it makes perfect sense. Alcohol and Taco Bell! This is your two friends who you always knew would get together.</p><div id="res442831015" previewtitle="The perfect pairing."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="The perfect pairing." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/img_5922-b4d20e618b760f65ad4022b21fdd21c67ae575c4-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 600px;" title="The perfect pairing. (Ian Chillag/NPR)" /></div><div><p>The premises in which I am required to stay until I finish my drink &mdash; a Twisted Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze With Tequila (TM) &mdash; do not look like a normal Taco Bell. It looks like Taco Bell saw how Chipotle dressed on the first day of junior high and begged its mom to get it the same clothes. The tables are wood. There is art. There are people waiting for tables. There are people taking pictures of their food.</p></div></div><p><img alt="Louise Price and Stanley Opalka, two of the many people taking pictures of the world's first boozy Taco Bell." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/img_5914_wide-9028eafb96cdbe7a5821b24a5755e8034e5d6c95-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 168px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Louise Price and Stanley Opalka, two of the many people taking pictures of the world's first boozy Taco Bell. (Ian Chillag/NPR)" /></p><p>Nick Keenan and Nick Maker sit together at a long table near the door. The last remains of bright red Twisted Cantina Punch Freezes With Tequila slowly melt in front of them. &quot;It&#39;s like drinking a 7-Eleven Slurpee,&quot; Keenan says. &quot;If you add liquor to anything, people will come,&quot; Maker adds.</p><div id="res442830626" previewtitle="Louise Price and Stanley Opalka, two of the many people taking pictures of the world's first boozy Taco Bell."><div><p>My friend Kirby and I sit at a bar along the storefront window. Nearby, there&#39;s a couple lingering at their table after they&#39;ve finished eating. To people passing by, we look like the painting &quot;Nighthawks,&quot;&nbsp;except everybody has Meximelts and Twisted Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freezes With Tequila.</p><p>The Twisted Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze With Tequila is delicious. It&#39;s a slushie, super sweet with a vaguely Mountain-Dew-like flavor &mdash; exactly the daiquiri you&#39;d make if you were eight years old and given the chance to bartend. With it, Taco Bell has added ice cream headaches to the carnival of humiliations you can experience at their restaurants.</p><img alt="USB Ports! Millenials love USB Ports!" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/img_5928-9dbf23af3ac806e01de2b8e916ca44352be14172-s800-c85.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 225px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="USB Ports! Millenials love USB Ports! (Ian Chillag/NPR)" /><p>Kirby orders the Twisted Margarita Freeze With Tequila. It differs in color from my drink by only a shade, like we&#39;re deciding between two paint samples for the walls of a torture dungeon. His tastes like the powder you use to make Lemon-Lime Gatorade before you mix it with water. He points out they could have salted the rim with mashed up Doritos at least.</p></div></div><p>Love it or hate it, Taco Bell is often just food purgatory. It&#39;s a place you go on your way to somewhere else: right off an exit ramp so you can eat and get back on the road, or a stop between last call and passing out with your clothes on. But this is different. You can see it on the face of every person in here: Taco Bell is the place we planned to go tonight.</p><div id="res442831297" previewtitle="This is art."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="This is art." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/23/img_5917_wide-0ddeb1b08597aed265d4bbf5241e6907b86fa2d8-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="This is art. (Ian Chillag/NPR)" /></div><div><p>[Epilogue, and a warning: The copious sugar in the Twisted Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze With Tequila far outpaces the alcohol in its effect on the body. Later, when I get home, I&#39;m wired. I can&#39;t sleep. Or maybe, just maybe, what&#39;s keeping me up is the residual thrill of being there for Taco Bell history.</p></div></div><p>No, it&#39;s definitely the sugar.]</p><div><em>Ian Chillag is the&nbsp;</em><em>senior</em><em> producer of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/wait-wait-don’t-tell-me" target="_blank">Wait, Wait ... Don&#39;t Tell Me.</a></em></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/09/24/442822266/a-visit-to-the-worlds-first-boozy-taco-bell" target="_blank"><em> via NPR&#39;s The Salt</em></a></p></p> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 13:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/visit-worlds-first-boozy-taco-bell-113054 Hangover helper: Tips to prevent a horrible headache http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/hangover-helper-tips-prevent-horrible-headache-111317 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cn_hangover_sci_wide-eb5664df1582feefa7f6dcfbf6ea2fdbff7586c0-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The first time I&nbsp;ever&nbsp;got tipsy was during a champagne toast at a cousin&#39;s wedding reception.</p><p>All was good, until the room started spinning &mdash; and the sight of my cousin&#39;s bride dancing in her wedding dress was just a whirl of lace.</p><p>Of course, if you&#39;re an uninitiated teenager, any amount of alcohol can go straight to your head. But, decades later, bubbly wine still seems to hit me faster than, say, beer. It turns out there&#39;s a reason.</p><p>&quot;Some of the dizziness you can feel after champagne is due to both the brain getting [a little] less oxygen and also the [effects] of the alcohol at the same time,&quot; explains researcher&nbsp;<a href="http://www.colorado.edu/ibg/people/279">Boris Tabakoff</a>&nbsp;at the University of Colorado, Boulder.</p><p>All the bubbles in sparkling wine are carbon dioxide. The C02&nbsp;competes with oxygen in our bloodstream, says Tabakoff, who studies the effects of alcohol on the body.</p><p>And according to a Princeton University<a href="http://www.princeton.edu/uhs/healthy-living/hot-topics/alcohol/">explainer</a>&nbsp;on alcohol absorption, carbon dioxide &quot;increases the pressure in your stomach, forcing alcohol out through the lining of your stomach into the bloodstream.&quot; That can speed up the rate of alcohol absorption &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/12/31/258588280/does-champagne-actually-get-you-drunker">albeit temporarily</a>.</p><p>So if you want to stay steady on your feet, sip that bubbly slowly. And if you want to prevent a hangover, swap your next glass of bubbly for water. Alternating between alcoholic beverages and H20 can help prevent the dehydration that accompanies a night of drinking.</p><p>&quot;What happens when you first start drinking,&quot; Tabakoff explains, &quot;is that a hormone that controls your water balance, an anti-diuretic hormone, is suppressed.&quot; And this leaves us heading for the ladies&#39; or men&#39;s room &mdash; which can precipitate a pounding headache in the morning.</p><p>But Tabakoff says dehydration is not the only reason we get a headache.</p><p>&quot;High levels of alcohol in the brain have fairly recently been shown to cause neuro-inflammation, basically, inflammation in the brain,&quot; he says.</p><p>This is why taking aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, can help us feel better.</p><p>Now, alcohol isn&#39;t the only headache-producing culprit in our drink glasses. Many alcoholic beverages, such as wines and beers, contain toxic byproducts of fermentation, such as aldehydes. And Tabakoff says if you drink too much, you can feel the effects.</p><p>&quot;If these compounds accumulate in the body, &quot; explains Tabakoff, &quot;they can release your stress hormones, like epinephrine and norepinephrine, and as such can alter function in a stresslike way&quot; &mdash; paving the way for a hangover.</p><p>Tabakoff says distilled spirits contain fewer of these toxic compounds than other types of booze, which explains why some people report feeling fewer hangover effects if they stick with vodka or gin.</p><p>Obviously, the only sure way to avoid a hangover is to not drink alcohol. But if you are going to indulge, Tabakoff says the tried-and-true advice &mdash; eat something before you drink, and while you drink, makes good sense.</p><p>&quot;Food is very good for the purpose of slowing the absorption of alcohol,&quot; he says.</p><p>Adding liquid calories to your cocktails &mdash; say, Coke, ginger ale or sugary punch as a mixer &mdash; is a good way to slow absorption, too. In fact, a study we&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/01/31/170748045/why-mixing-alcohol-with-diet-soda-may-make-you-drunker">reported</a>&nbsp;on back in 2013 determined that a diet soda and rum will make you drunker than rum mixed with sugary Coke.</p><p><a href="http://artscience.nku.edu/departments/psychology/facstaff/ft-faculty/marczinski.html">Cecile Marczinski</a>, a cognitive psychologist who authored that study, found that the average breath alcohol concentration was .091 (at its peak) when subjects drank alcohol mixed with a diet drink. By comparison, BrAC was .077 when the same subjects consumed the same amount of alcohol but with a sugary soda.</p><p>&quot;I was a little surprised by the findings, since the 18 percent increase in [BrAC] was a fairly large difference,&quot; Marczinski told us at the time. She says the difference would not likely have been as large if the subjects &mdash; who were all college age &mdash; had not been drinking on empty stomachs.</p><p>And here&#39;s another self-evident tip when it comes to drinking: Pace yourself.</p><p>&quot;We can get rid of most of the alcohol we drink if we [limit] drinking to one drink per hour,&quot; Tabakofff says. This way, &quot;our blood alcohol levels don&#39;t start accumulating.&quot;</p><p>One drink per hour is a rule of thumb, but that can vary depending on height or body size. Bigger people tend to be able to handle a little more alcohol, and smaller people a little less.</p><p>And remember, Tabakoff says, a single drink is less than you might think. It&#39;s 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or a shot of liquor.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/12/30/371950986/hangover-helper-tips-to-prevent-a-horrible-headache" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 11:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/hangover-helper-tips-prevent-horrible-headache-111317 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 A shot of history: Ingredients of the Chicago speakeasy http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616 <p><p>Ask people around the world to play word association with &ldquo;Chicago,&rdquo; and you&rsquo;ll hear a few common responses. Modern architecture and bruising politics have nothing, it seems, on our Prohibition-era gangster reputation.</p><p>&ldquo;You go anywhere and it&rsquo;s Al Capone or Michael Jordan,&rdquo; says Liz Garibay, who runs the website <a href="http://www.talestavernsandtowns.com/" target="_blank">History on Tap</a>. &ldquo;In Chicago we have this love-hate relationship with gangsters. It&rsquo;s not the most pleasant side, but at the same time people love to talk about it.&rdquo;</p><p>To that end, Garibay says the bar owners around town with any connections to that era are happy to play it up. It&rsquo;s good for business.</p><p>Even modern bars are reappropriating that speakeasy vibe. Take <a href="http://theviolethour.com/" target="_blank">The Violet Hour</a>, a favorite spot of the recent University of Chicago alumna who asked our question.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the secrecy is interesting. There&rsquo;s something sort of cheekily illicit about [speakeasies] that I think is cool,&rdquo; says<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616#elena"> Elena Hadjimichael</a>, who was part of a student team that<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918" target="_blank"> tackled a Curious City question about Chicago&#39;s wholesale produce markets</a>. Her question for Curious City gets at what made the original original speakeasies successful:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What sorts of buildings housed speakeasy bars in Chicago during the Prohibition era? What made these buildings particularly well suited for speakeasies?</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to determine Chicago&rsquo;s ideal speakeasy building, since speakeasies came in almost as many varieties as there were speakeasies. (How many is that? It&rsquo;s hard to confirm an exact number, <a href="http://www.umich.edu/~eng217/student_projects/nkazmers/prohibition1.html" target="_blank">but probably thousands</a> &mdash; more than there are bars in the city today.) Illegal gatherings to drink in the back of a warehouse, a candy store or a backyard were all technically speakeasies. Still, a few common elements made it easy to get away with skirting this very unpopular law.</p><p>Here are a few things that most &mdash; if not all &mdash; Chicago speakeasies needed.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>1. Secrecy</strong></span></p><p>Speakeasies were common, but they still had to operate in the shadows, in the legal and sometimes literal sense. &ldquo;It was probably in a place where you could make a little noise and get away with it,&rdquo; says Craig Alton, who leads Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.gangstertour.com/" target="_blank">&quot;Untouchables&quot; gangster tour</a>. Some places boarded up their windows, or moved their saloons to back alleys. Gioco, an Italian restaurant in the South Loop, still has the back room where illegal booze was served to guests including Al Capone. The building, 1312 S. Wabash Ave., was a cold storage facility at the time. According to Alton, this made it easy to keep the beer cool. Thick vault doors prevented sound from escaping and tipping off authorities.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>2. A cover or front</strong></span></p><p>Sometimes being invisible from the street wasn&rsquo;t enough. To keep up appearances, a lot of speakeasies had legitimate businesses up front. Twin Anchors in Lincoln Park was across the street from a school (now the LaSalle Language Academy), so the adjacent building housed a school supplies store, as well as a shop selling soda and candy. The two buildings were eventually joined, and Mrs. Keefer&rsquo;s Schoolbook Store became Twin Anchor&rsquo;s kitchen. But between schoolbooks and Tante Lee&rsquo;s Soft Drinks (named after the tavern&rsquo;s original owner, Lee Tante), it was maybe the last place you&rsquo;d think to look for booze. &ldquo;Other than maybe putting in a church or a convent or something,&rdquo; says Paul Tuzi, one of Twin Anchor&rsquo;s owners, &ldquo;they probably couldn&rsquo;t have come up with anything more benign to hide the operation.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/alibi.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 620px;" title="Bert Kelly’s Stables, 431 N. Rush St., was a famous jazz club and speakeasy. (Photo courtesy University of Chicago archives)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>3. Access</strong></span></p><p>While you didn&rsquo;t want law enforcement to find its way to your speakeasy, you needed it to be accessible for patrons and the back-of-house help that would load in your illegal alcohol. Subterranean networks helped &mdash; sewers or access lanes under the street &mdash; and in older parts of Chicago these were common. <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/uptown-greenmilljazz-bar-history-owner-bartender-musicians/Content?oid=12784766" target="_blank">The Green Mill benefitted from tunnels</a> connecting the bar to neighboring establishments of their Uptown block. Likewise in Pilsen (a neighborhood partially spared by the Great Chicago Fire), speakeasies used basement connections to a subterranean network of access tunnels hidden beneath the city&rsquo;s original street grid. According to Craig Alton, one former funeral home on the 700 block of West 18th Street hosted wakes, parties and other get-togethers downstairs after their services, serving alcohol they ran through the underground tunnels. We couldn&rsquo;t verify that particular story, but it&rsquo;s true that in older neighborhoods like Pilsen, Chicago at one point raised sidewalks off the city&rsquo;s swampy foundations to make space for sewers and other infrastructure that could have been useful for illicit transport.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/drawings-at-gioco.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gioco.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Top: Drawings on the wall at Gioco, an Italian restaurant in Chicago's west loop. Bottom: The back room at Gioco. The space hosted a speakeasy during prohibition, using its thick safe doors to shield the windowless back room from foot traffic on Wabash Avenue. The building was a cold storage facility during that time, so it was easy to keep the beer cool. (Photo by Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><strong style="font-size: 22px;">4. Connections</strong></div></div><p>Running a successful speakeasy was impossible without connections. Bar owners relied on a network of people to transport alcohol, pay off cops and bounce unruly patrons, among other things. That often involved the mob, but it didn&rsquo;t have to. As long as you were somewhat discreet and had a person who brought in regular shipments of alcohol, you could run a speakeasy. <a href="http://www.twinanchorsribs.com/" target="_blank">Twin Anchors</a> was so named because the owner during Prohibition, Captain Herb Eldean, was a harbor master at Chicago&rsquo;s Monroe Harbor. &ldquo;He had more access than most people would have to the possibility of acquiring liquor coming down from Canada into the port here,&rdquo; says co-owner Paul Tuzi.</p><p>That Great Lakes connection was critical to sustaining under-the-table taverns all over the city, according to <a href="http://www.talestavernsandtowns.com/" target="_blank">History on Tap</a>&rsquo;s Liz Garibay. &ldquo;Location, location, location. It&rsquo;s the whole reason Chicago is even here,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;The fact that we had access to a couple of waterways, and we&rsquo;re so close to Canada, was helpful.&rdquo;</p><p>Some tavern owners didn&rsquo;t have to look across the border for a reliable source of alcohol. Schaller&rsquo;s Pump in Bridgeport is considered by many to be the oldest bar in Chicago still serving drinks. Now it&rsquo;s flanked by parking lots and gravel, but during the early 20th century its neighbor was the South Side Brewing Company. Prohibition forced the brewery to boost production of low-alcohol &ldquo;near beer,&rdquo; but barrels of its more potent products found their way into Schaller&rsquo;s Pump.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/236180239/A-Mixologist-s-Guide-to-a-Chicago-Speakeasy" target="_blank">(Check out our mixologist&#39;s guide to a Chicago speakeasy).</a></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>5. Emergency precautions</strong></span></p><p>Even if you had a good cover and had paid off the right people, it didn&rsquo;t hurt to have a backup plan. At Schaller&rsquo;s Pump, there&rsquo;s still a peephole looking south from the bar area. That came in handy when patrons and barkeepers needed to keep an eye out for unwelcome visitors. Twin Anchors had a half-size door installed in the back of the saloon so drinkers could escape in a hurry, but Tuzi says he has no evidence the bar was ever raided. (Though he did use it to escape inclement weather outside when he was still living in the building above the bar.)</p><p>While secrecy and good connections were probably the most critical parts of any successful Chicago speakeasy, some bar owners added their own innovations. Simon&rsquo;s in Andersonville has a bank teller&rsquo;s window tucked under the stairs. &ldquo;In that day if you took your check to the hardware store or the butcher shop or the shoemaker,&rdquo; says owner Scott Martin, those people would cash your check for you, but would take a percentage of your check for the risk of cashing it, much like a currency exchange does today.&rdquo; So Swedish immigrant and World War I veteran Simon Lundberg installed a bullet-proof bank teller&rsquo;s window (in what today is storage space), offering to cash checks free of charge. He also advertised free sandwiches on Fridays. &ldquo;So you would get a free belly full of food and get all of your hard-earned money, which you&rsquo;d oblige by gettin&rsquo; a beer and a whisky.&rdquo; Of course, it rarely stopped at just one drink.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/twin anchors.jpg" title="Paul Tuzi, one of the owners of Lincoln Park's Twin Anchors Restaurant &amp; Tavern, shows off a half-size door at the back of the bar, which he says was installed during prohibition to enable quick escapes. (Photo by Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>That entrepreneurial spirit seems to fit with Simon&rsquo;s history. The bar began when Lundberg noticed the patrons of his cafe spiking their drinks with whisky, so once he&rsquo;d made enough money from legitimate business, the Swedish immigrant bought the building next door and turned its basement into the NN Club &mdash; the &ldquo;No Name&rdquo; Club or maybe the &ldquo;No Norwegians&rdquo; Club, jokes current owner Scott Martin. A spare and cramped basement now used to store liquor for Simon&rsquo;s bar, the N.N. Club still has its original hand-painted sign. Decorative Swedish wall painting known as rosemaling peeks out from behind racks of liquor bottles.</p><p>After prohibition, Lundberg brought his drinking club upstairs. Simon&rsquo;s Tavern still has its original 1933 mahogany bar, and the bank teller door lined with 12-gauge steel and three panes of bullet-proof glass. Now people cash their checks elsewhere, of course, but they still oblige themselves a beer and whisky. Or several.</p><p>&ldquo;My mother and her sisters used to have come every other Friday night to get my grandfather out of here,&rdquo; says Martin.</p><p>A faithful clientele creates a powerful profit motive &mdash; one worth skirting the law and going through all that trouble for.</p><p>So to answer Elena Hadjimichael&rsquo;s question about what buildings housed speakeasies, and what made them well-suited to be speakeasies, let&rsquo;s recap: Speakeasies need secrecy or privacy; they often used a cover or front to keep up appearances; and they needed access to shipments of alcohol.<a name="elena"></a></p><p>It&rsquo;s not the building itself that made a successful speakeasy, so much as its management and business savvy. And that much about running a bar hasn&rsquo;t changed &mdash; even if modern speakeasies, like the ones that inspired Elena&rsquo;s question, don&rsquo;t have to worry about hiding the booze.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elena%20photo.jpg" style="height: 289px; width: 190px; float: left;" title="" /><span style="font-size:22px;">We&rsquo;ve got an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p>Our question about speakeasies comes from someone who has only been able to legally drink for two years. Elena Hadjimichael graduated in early June from the University of Chicago, where she majored in international studies. Now she&rsquo;s off to New York University, where she&rsquo;ll study law. But before she skipped town, Elena wanted to learn about the history of Chicago&rsquo;s prohibition-era watering holes.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my favorite bars in Chicago is The Violet Hour, which is kind of in the speakeasy style,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So I was interested in what more original speakeasies might have been like in Chicago.&rdquo; Another &ldquo;modern speakeasy&rdquo; that comes to mind, she says, is <a href="http://nymag.com/listings/bar/angels_share/" target="_blank">Angel&rsquo;s Share</a> in New York&rsquo;s East Village. It&rsquo;s an exclusive whisky bar cached behind a Japanese restaurant.</p><p>Elena grew up in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. She spent three years in Paris before coming to Chicago. She also happens to be a member of the University of Chicago team that tackled a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918" target="_blank">Curious City question about Chicago&rsquo;s wholesale produce markets</a>.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a reporter for <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City</a> and a <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">freelance journalist</a>. Follow him at cabentley.com and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/236180239/A-Mixologist-s-Guide-to-a-Chicago-Speakeasy" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/speakeasy%20graphic%204.jpg" style="height: 906px; width: 620px;" title="" /></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616 What are you giving up for Lent? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/what-are-you-giving-lent-105499 <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/511389398_556c659ff3.jpg" style="float: right; height: 304px; width: 300px;" title="Flickr/exfordy" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.26830687760580285">I didn&rsquo;t mean for this to be Catholicism week on my blog but it&rsquo;s going that way. I don&rsquo;t have an interview with a saint lined up for Friday or anything though, don&rsquo;t worry.</span></div><p><br />A few days ago my friend Erica asked me what I was giving up for Lent. <em>Ugh</em>. It&rsquo;s Lent again?<br /><br />My first instinct was to say &quot;Nintendo,&quot; which has been my joke answer since about 7th grade once I had passed the point of actually wanting to play Nintendo (unlike my brother, for whom giving up Nintendo would actually have been a sacrifice.) This is an example of your traditional sarcastic Catholic answer, which often takes the form of &quot;Catholicism&quot; when questioned &quot;What are you giving up for Lent?&quot; (This year the popular sarcastic answer is &quot;The Pope.&quot;)<br /><br />But Lent is a complicated time for Catholics who have one foot in and one foot out of the faith. Why do we get ashes, give things up, stop eating meat on Fridays? Many of us don&#39;t exactly remember but we do it anyway because it&#39;s ingrained, because it&#39;s strangely fun (&quot;What are you giving up for Lent?&quot; is a good conversation starter) and we have those old feelings of obligation.<br /><br />My first thought was &quot;Booze&quot; and then I felt like Dan Aykroyd did in <em>Ghostbusters</em> when the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man popped into his head. &quot;No wait! Sugar. Cheese. Facebook. Aargh!&quot; The second I thought it, I knew that&#39;s what I needed to give up based on the fact that I really, really didn&#39;t want to.<br /><br />After I had the baby, alcohol took on a new role in my life. I mean, I always enjoyed it. But a glass of wine at the end of the day after having a kid just takes on a different feeling and meaning than it did before, partially because to go out to a bar and get one is an expensive, inconvenient luxury that comes along a lot less often. Pre-baby, I rarely used to drink at home, except when people came over, but now people come over all the time, to see the baby, plus we&rsquo;re home all the time. Holding the baby in one hand while balancing a glass in another is something I&#39;m getting pretty good at. So maybe it&rsquo;s worth just working on cutting back.<br /><br />I&#39;m also trying to lose those last ten baby pounds. Nobody cares if I lose this weight but me. I can fit into my clothes. I look more or less the same as I did before I had the baby. But I know I&#39;d like to lose them and I&#39;m pretty sure that cutting out the booze for a while will help, not to mention that I signed up for the Soldier Field 10 Mile race in a few months and I know it&#39;d be a lot easier to run it without a ten pound barbell hanging from my neck. (I also decided to quit weighing this Lent, too, in a slightly more positive pledge.)<br /><br />I looked at my calendar to see if I had many events coming up that would be utterly worthless without me drinking and sure enough there are some that will be tough: Valentine&rsquo;s Day. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/rosie-schaap-interview-104518">Rosie Schaap</a>&#39;s alcohol-themed <a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/event/drinking-men-rosie-schaap">reading this Friday</a>. <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/funnyhaha.php">Funny Ha-Ha</a> next Friday. Various get-togethers with friends. What was I thinking?<br /><br />It&#39;s not that big a sacrifice, I know, but it&#39;s a challenge I knew I should take on by how much I didn&#39;t want to. &quot;You just had a baby!&quot; some friends offered to me as an excuse. &quot;You didn&#39;t drink for nine whole months!&quot; Well, that&#39;s not totally true and that argument doesn&#39;t really fly: this would be something I do for myself (and I guess maybe God? But I&#39;m not going to get into that). I also don&#39;t buy into that whole exceptions thing: cheating is cheating, even if it&#39;s on Sundays. If my first thought was &quot;You should go without drinking for a month and some change,&quot; it&#39;s probably worth trying.<br /><br />So here we go. If I&#39;m out and I&#39;m at a bar, take a look at my hand and if I&#39;m drinking something that looks suspiciously fun, feel free to say &quot;But you published a blog about this&quot; and shame me to death. Let&#39;s do this. Come Easter Sunday, it&rsquo;ll be all about the mimosas at brunch, hold the O.J.<br /><br />What are you giving up for Lent? (And if you&rsquo;ve got a sarcastic answer, it had better be a really hilarious, original one, and &ldquo;Giving up reading your blog&rdquo; does not count.)</p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 09:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/what-are-you-giving-lent-105499 American history, seen through a shot glass http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-18/american-history-seen-through-shot-glass-92160 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-19/whiskey shots_Flickr_Kirti Poddar.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When you order a couple of beers at your neighborhood bar, you're not just having a drink, you're taking part in a grand old tradition stretching back to the birth of our nation and beyond.</p><p>When the first British colonists began to wash up on our shores, the very first thing they built was usually a tavern.</p><p>"It sounds absurd, doesn't it?" author Christine Sismondo tells weekends on <em>All Things Considered </em>host Guy Raz. "But it kind of served as the initial infrastructure while everyone was waiting for everything to be built properly, and it just wound up being all things to all people."</p><p>Sismondo is the author of the new book, <em>America</em><em> Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops</em>. She says she was inspired to write it after traveling through America and realizing how many important events in the country's history had their roots in bars and taverns.<br> <br> "This is where people organized, this is where people aired their grievances, this was where people spread political propaganda," Sismondo says. You could get a tumbler of whiskey, and you could find out what your neighbors thought about the latest news — and what they planned to do about it.</p><p>Boston's Green Dragon tavern, for example, is thought to be where the Boston Tea Party was planned.</p><p>"The tavern is really considered the cradle of the revolution," Sismondo says.</p><p>Even after the Revolution, taverns continued to serve as social and political hubs, eventually giving rise to the machine politics of the 19th century.</p><p>"That's part of what everybody gets really concerned about," Sismondo says. "The 'rum, Romanism and rebellion' that comes out of the saloons, and that the political system being completely controlled in major urban centers by the buying of votes through alcohol."</p><p>It's a good argument for Prohibition, if you're on the losing side of an election, Sismondo says. She adds that Prohibition was partially the result of an odd alliance between progressive Northerners and conservative Southerners who worried that blacks and immigrants might be gathering and organizing in bars.</p><p>Yet that freedom to gather and organize is the most important aspect of the bar, Sismondo says.</p><p>"I think it's the whole sense that we have the right to congregate, to associate and to effect political change," she says, "and that, I think, is really born in the bar."</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Sun, 18 Sep 2011 12:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-18/american-history-seen-through-shot-glass-92160 Illinois kids are getting more responsible http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-kids-are-getting-more-responsible-86182 <p><p>Kids these days are engaging in less risky behavior than they did a decade and a half ago, according to a new study of Illinois teens by Children&rsquo;s Memorial Hospital. Compared to the mid-1990s, Illinois teenagers are drinking less, smoking less and being more responsible on the roads.</p><p>Jennifer Cartland analyzed the numbers, from the Illinois Youth Risk Behavior Survey. She says while some might assume kids&rsquo; behavior is getting worse, the improvement likely won&rsquo;t surprise people who work directly with teens.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we still tend to demonize teenagers a little bit and get very frustrated with them,&rdquo; Cartland said. &ldquo;But I think people who work in high schools see these changes happening with the kids they&rsquo;re working with.&rdquo;</p><p>Cartland says that, while it&rsquo;s impossible to know the cause and effect based on just this data, it seems like public health messages are getting through.</p><p>Her report finds drinking, huffing, smoking and fighting have all been on the decline. Fewer Illinois kids now are riding without seatbelts or getting in the car with a drunk driver. One number that hasn&rsquo;t changed much is youths reporting a suicide attempt in the last year. That has stayed fairly steady, at just under 10 percent.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 May 2011 21:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-kids-are-getting-more-responsible-86182 Turnaround school gets turned around again http://www.wbez.org/story/turnaround-school-gets-turned-around-again-85474 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-20/Sims.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama and congressional leaders may be trying to cut the federal budget, but they’ve agreed to pour more than a half-billion dollars of new funds into Race to the Top, the president’s signature education program. It aims to turn around low-performing schools by taking steps like bringing in an outside group to replace the staff and run the school. Education Secretary Arne Duncan helped pioneer that model as Chicago schools chief. The city now has 12 turnaround schools. But their record is mixed and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has not said where he stands on them yet. A school near Chicago’s Garfield Park shows that the turnaround strategy is anything but a panacea.</p><p>MITCHELL: When classes change at Orr Academy High School, Tyese Sims drops everything and joins a dozen security guards patrolling the halls. She’s the new principal. And she keeps an eye on all three floors.</p><p>SIMS: I run up these stairs every day, all day.</p><p>MITCHELL: I bet you’re in pretty good shape.</p><p>SIMS: I guess!</p><p>SIMS (to students): Excuse me. What are we doing? Keep it moving.</p><p>MITCHELL: Almost every student in sight is wearing a school-issued polo shirt, either black or gold.</p><p>SIMS: Come on. Hurry up. 30 seconds.</p><p>MITCHELL: By the time the tardy bell rings, the halls are empty again.</p><p>SIMS: You don’t hear loud noises coming out of the rooms. It’s quiet. It’s calm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Orr Academy is undergoing its second turnaround in three years. In 2008, Chicago officials consolidated three small high schools that had occupied the building. To run the new Orr, the district contracted a nonprofit group called AUSL. That’s short for Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL brought in new teachers and staffers and a new principal. But student test scores after the first turnaround remained dismal. And Sims says there were other problems.<br> <br> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script></p><div id="tableau_hide_this" style="width: 654px; height: 634px;">&nbsp;</div><object class="tableauViz" style="display: none;" width="654" height="634"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F"><param name="name" value="PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors/Dashboard1"><param name="tabs" value="no"><param name="toolbar" value="yes"><param name="animate_transition" value="yes"><param name="display_static_image" value="yes"><param name="display_spinner" value="yes"><param name="display_overlay" value="yes"></object><noscript>Dashboard 1 <br /><a href="#"><img alt="Dashboard 1 " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;PS&#47;PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors&#47;Dashboard1&#47;1_rss.png" height="100%" /></a></noscript><div style="width: 654px; height: 22px; padding: 0px 10px 0px 0px; color: black; font: 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float: right; padding-right: 8px;"><a href="http://www.tableausoftware.com/public?ref=http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors/Dashboard1" target="_blank">Powered by Tableau</a></div></div><p>SIMS: When I came before — profane language, being disrespectful to peers, being disrespectful to other adults — I did see it. It was just something I wanted to change.</p><p>MITCHELL: Now AUSL has changed Orr’s principal again. The group brought in Sims in the middle of the semester. During her first month, the school gave students 310 out-of-school suspensions. A handful resulted from behavior the district calls “very serious” — things like assault, alcohol use and vandalism. Most suspensions concerned infractions like tardiness, disobedience and disruption. Sims says she also dropped almost three dozen students for poor attendance.</p><p>SIMS: If we’re really preparing them for the real world, there’s no way we can keep a job and, with missing this number of days and being tardy, they’ll think, ‘Wow, my high school didn’t prepare me. This was acceptable there, but now I’m in the real world and it’s not like that.’</p><p>LANG: When you’re first starting something new and you’re changing, people have to take it seriously.</p><p>MITCHELL: AUSL’s Debbra Lang oversees Orr and two other high schools the group runs for the Chicago district. Lang says AUSL is applying what’s called the broken-windows theory. It’s a way some police try to keep the peace by focusing on low-level offenses like vandalism. Lang says the approach works for schools, too.</p><p>LANG: The precursor to fighting is often a slew of curse words. And so we would much rather intervene — deal with the cursing — rather than having it lead to fighting. What we’re really encouraging is an environment where learning can take place.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not everyone is happy about that encouragement. 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett got so many calls about Orr Academy’s latest turnaround that he held a community forum with Principal Sims. She got mixed reactions there from parents...</p><p>MOTHER: Two-day suspension for ‘damn’ — for the words — I think that that’s a little harsh.</p><p>GRANDMOTHER: I like your approach to what you’re doing at the school with the children. They need to have some respect.</p><p>FATHER: My son comes home suspended two days. Where was that phone call to the parents?</p><p>MITCHELL: ...and from teachers and counselors.</p><p>TEACHER: The history at Orr has been inconsistency. You take your kids to Whitney Young, they know on Day 1, ‘I can’t curse in class.’ This year, we’re getting that message half-way into the third semester. That’s where you’re going to get push-back from students.</p><p>COUNSELOR: I’ve never seen Orr any better than it is now. You can walk in that school — I would ask anybody to walk in that school and just walk around.</p><p>MITCHELL: The alderman’s forum also turned out young people. An Orr Academy senior stood up and said she’d like a turnaround of some school staff attitudes.</p><p>STUDENT: Students curse out adults. Adults curse out students. The students are the only group of people being addressed for that.</p><p>MITCHELL: A community organizer spoke up for students who end up on the street.</p><p>ORGANIZER: This is not the first time where we had phone calls from parents, saying, ‘I feel like my kid is getting pushed out.’</p><p>MITCHELL: But Alderman Burnett urged everyone to give the school’s new leaders a chance.</p><p>BURNETT: We just lost a principal at Orr because they didn’t think he was doing well enough. So these principals, just like everyone else, have a duty to do things in order to keep their jobs too.</p><p>JENNINGS: This is a daunting task.</p><p>MITCHELL: Jack Jennings of the Washington-based Center on Education Policy says there’s not much evidence yet that the turnaround model works.</p><p>JENNINGS: These schools serve very poor students who bring the problems of poverty into the school — namely one-parent homes, sometimes parents being on drugs. These schools generally are in dangerous neighborhoods. Sometimes there’s a lack of security in the building itself. These schools have teachers that are frequently discouraged because they’ve tried to improve for years and they’re not being given adequate help. And a number schools do everything right and they still don’t succeed in turning around. And some schools that have become better, if they don’t receive assistance over a couple more years, will slide back and wind up in the same type of trouble [that they were in] before.</p><p>MITCHELL: Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s team didn’t respond when we asked whether he’d try to turn around more schools. This week he did announce that two AUSL officials would fill top city education posts. The turnaround approach isn’t the only vision for improving the nation’s worst schools. In Chicago, the teachers union suggests more social services for students and decent jobs for parents. Those remedies could be expensive, though. At Orr Academy, Principal Sims insists that simpler steps can go a long way.</p><p>SIMS: It’s just structures in place so we can have a safe, orderly environment for our students so learning can take place.</p><p>MITCHELL: Simpler steps like getting kids to class on time.</p><p>SIMS: Let’s go baby. Come on, let’s hustle.</p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/turnaround-school-gets-turned-around-again-85474 Gloria Materre named new Chicago liquor-control commission director http://www.wbez.org/story/alcohol/gloria-materre-named-new-chicago-liquor-control-commission-director-83923 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-18/gloriamaterre.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There's a new head of the body that oversees alcohol and cigarette sales laws in Illinois.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn has named Gloria Materre to be the next executive director of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. Materre is the outgoing executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.</p><p>At her new post, she'll be responsible for implementing decisions of the seven-member commission, including disciplinary measures. The body also monitors the enforcement of laws that bar underage sales of alcohol and cigarettes.</p><p>Materre replaces Lainie Krozel at the commission. The governor's office says Krozel is returning to a position she held before - as chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Revenue.</p></p> Fri, 18 Mar 2011 17:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alcohol/gloria-materre-named-new-chicago-liquor-control-commission-director-83923 Winning a referendum is no silver bullet http://www.wbez.org/story/200-cut-rate-liquors/winning-referendum-no-silver-bullet <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-13/REFERENDUM_Rea_Woods.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The idea behind a referendum is to give voters a direct voice in making their community better. These ballot questions can cover anything from stem-cell research to the fate of an empty lot. They may be binding or just advisory. Last month, referenda were on ballots in nine Chicago precincts. But it&rsquo;s not clear the voters will get what they had in mind &mdash; even if they were on the winning side. We&rsquo;ll hear now from WBEZ reporters in three parts of the city. We start with Chip Mitchell at our West Side bureau.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Kurt Gippert lives near a building here in Humboldt Park that seemed like a magnet.<br /><br />GIPPERT: Gang banging, loitering, drug sales, some prostitution, tons of urinating.<br /><br />MITCHELL: It was a liquor store.<br /><br />GIPPERT: In 2010, we had at least nine people shot in front of that store.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Under city pressure, the store closed last fall. Gippert and his neighbors wanted it gone for good, so they turned to a 77-year-old Illinois law that lets voters ban selling alcohol in their precinct.<br /><br />GIPPERT: It&rsquo;s the only power we had &mdash; the only surefire, effective thing that was going to last longer than six months or a year.<br /><br />MITCHELL: They petitioned to put the referendum on last month&rsquo;s ballot. And voters passed it about 4-to-1. Starting next week, the precinct will be dry. There&rsquo;s just one problem.<br /><br />SOUND: Car alarm.<br /><br />MITCHELL (on the scene): The place with the gang bangers in front wasn&rsquo;t the precinct&rsquo;s only store selling alcohol. I&rsquo;m outside a CVS a few blocks west. The clerks inside tell me booze accounts for about half their sales. But there&rsquo;s also a stream of customers who rely on this CVS for everything from prescription drugs to shampoo and milk. Without its liquor sales here, some of these folks worry CVS might close this store.<br /><br />CUSTOMER 1: Some of my family members get their prescriptions filled here. And it&rsquo;s really convenient that they can walk here instead of worrying about getting a ride or catching the bus.<br /><br />MITCHELL (on the scene): Do they have cars?<br /><br />CUSTOMER 1: No.<br /><br />CUSTOMER 2: I got three kids, so we need milk. If you get something for them from the corner store, it&rsquo;ll probably be old.<br /><br />CUSTOMER 3: Everybody around here, I guess, is poor. So they need to get to a place that most of them can walk to. Bus fare is high. Cab fare is high. So, yeah, it would hurt them.<br /><br />MITCHELL: CVS isn&rsquo;t answering whether it&rsquo;ll keep the store open once it quits selling alcohol. Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) supported the referendum. But he admits there&rsquo;s collateral damage.<br /><br />MALDONADO: We don&rsquo;t have a lot of retail in the area. And we have never heard complaints about CVS. However, if they depend on liquor to remain viable, then they should not be open.<br /><br />MITCHELL: I ask Maldonado about other precincts in his ward.<br /><br />MITCHELL (on the scene): Businesses that are selling alcohol and doing so responsibly, without a lot of problems out in front, do they have anything to worry about?<br /><br />MALDONADO: No, they don&rsquo;t have to worry as long as they are conscious about their own responsibility [to be] a good business neighbor.<br /><br />MITCHELL: And as long as residents don&rsquo;t vote the precinct dry. Reporting from Chicago&rsquo;s West Side, I&rsquo;m Chip Mitchell.<br /><br />MOORE: And I&rsquo;m Natalie Moore at our Side South bureau. The situation was different in a 3rd Ward precinct along East 47th Street. Voters didn&rsquo;t take aim at all liquor. They had specific targets: Night Train, Wild Irish Rose, Thunderbird &mdash; cheap, fortified wines that some residents say attracted low-end elements to the neighborhood. The referendum was nonbinding, nothing more than an opinion poll. Still, the majority voted to ban fortified wines at two stores. No more malt liquor either. But one of the stores took 22-ounce malt liquor off the shelves in July.<br /><br />MICHELIS: Took a hit on sales, between $20,000-$25,000 a month, but I gained it from the wines I put in the store.<br /><br />MOORE: Steve Michelis owns a store called 200 Cut Rate Liquors. Michelis says voters got what they wanted. He says the loitering and begging in front of his place stopped last year. Still, he didn&rsquo;t mind last month&rsquo;s referendum.<br /><br />MICHELIS: I don&rsquo;t care. I don&rsquo;t have anything to hide.<br /><br />MOORE: Maybe another reason Michelis didn&rsquo;t mind so much was because he was already getting other pressure &mdash; from Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd).<br /><br />DOWELL: You have people who stand outside, they drink it, they throw the can down, they beg for money or they go back in and get some money from somewhere and go back and buy another can.<br /><br />MOORE: Residents targeted Aristo Food and Liquor on the ballot, too. While residents gathered signatures for the nonbinding referendum, Dowell had her own approach. She&rsquo;s been working on getting the owners to sign agreements to stop selling the cheap liquor. She&rsquo;ll then attach them to their liquor licenses with the city. That would make them binding. The owner of Aristo says he plans to comply with Dowell. But the alderman says she&rsquo;s still waiting to hear back from him. Reporting from the city&rsquo;s South Side, I&rsquo;m Natalie Moore.<br /><br />YOUSEF: And I&rsquo;m Odette Yousef. Here on the North Side, one alderman and some voters are not on the same page. And, the issue isn&rsquo;t liquor. It&rsquo;s land use.<br /><br />GLAZIER: There&rsquo;s going to be three large driveways next to each other.<br /><br />YOUSEF: This is Josh Glazier.<br /><br />GLAZIER: Two for trucks coming in and out of the project, and one for several hundred cars that are going to remain inside the building.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Glazier lives behind this unused hospital garage in Lincoln Park. He&rsquo;s not happy about a developer&rsquo;s plan to turn it into a grocery store.<br /><br />GLAZIER: The community really objects to the grocer and the trucks.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Glazier says Ald. Vi Daley (43rd) has heard him out. He and others recall her saying she&rsquo;d stay neutral until the community reached a consensus on the project. But in spite of overwhelming opposition at public meetings. . .<br /><br />GLAZIER: We&rsquo;ve been hearing for quite some time that the alderman had this secret list, with the names of all the project&rsquo;s supporters and opponents. And increasingly she&rsquo;s been telling us the count was very close. And we didn&rsquo;t feel like a secret list should be the basis for any decision on the project.<br /><br />YOUSEF: So Glazier and fellow opponents gathered signatures to put the issue on their precinct&rsquo;s February ballot.<br /><br />YOUSEF (on the scene): So you knew going into this that this would not be a binding result?<br /><br />GLAZIER: Of course it was not going to be a binding result, but it was going to create some transparency.<br /><br />YOUSEF: And that&rsquo;s what Glazier says he got. Most voters opposed the project at the polls. So he was stunned to hear Ald. Daley&rsquo;s official position just days later. In a statement, she wrote, &ldquo;I will not delay this project any longer and I will vote to approve this project at City Council.&rdquo; Daley said only a narrow majority of voters opposed the development. She said she heard from many ward residents who do want it. They live outside the precinct that voted on it. I asked Prof. Christopher Berry of the University of Chicago if that was a legitimate reason to discount the referendum results:<br /><br />BERRY: Well, it&rsquo;s a legitimate tack to take, but the only way we would really know the answer is to have some sort of scientific public opinion poll that was done, that included everyone in the affected geography.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Berry says referenda are anything but scientific. They&rsquo;re often put together by self-selected groups on one side of an issue. And, usually, only a small fraction of voters come out to decide it. Berry says with referenda, the real story often isn&rsquo;t about how the vote came down. It&rsquo;s that an issue came down to a vote at all.<br /><br />BERRY: When you see a referendum, which means citizens have to be directly making this policy, it suggests some sort of failure or breakdown in the process between the citizens and their representatives.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Berry says those breakdowns are rare because politicians usually want to get reelected. But, in Lincoln Park, that&rsquo;s not the case. Ald. Daley retires in May. On Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, I&rsquo;m Odette Yousef, WBEZ.</p></p> Mon, 14 Mar 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/200-cut-rate-liquors/winning-referendum-no-silver-bullet