WBEZ | Oak Park http://www.wbez.org/tags/oak-park Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago writer's passion for opera tied to memories of JFK's death http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-writers-passion-opera-tied-memories-jfks-death-109228 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_0.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Richard Rothschild is a freelance writer and editor living in Oak Park, Illinois. On the night of November 22, 1963, Rothschild was supposed to see a performance of Richard Wagner&#39;s &quot;Götterdämmerung&quot; at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.</p><p>The performance was cancelled because of President John F. Kennedy&#39;s assassination. But as the weekend unfolded, the 13-year-old began to see parallels between the tragedy of the stage and the tragedy of real life.</p></p> Fri, 22 Nov 2013 16:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-writers-passion-opera-tied-memories-jfks-death-109228 There is 'home' there http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/there-home-there-108810 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4110857626_80c28d7bac_z.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/spylaw01)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">I tell people where I live and they say little to nothing. I tell people where I came from, where I started, and they show an understanding that I live where I currently do for a reason.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">For a large part of my childhood, I straddled the line between city girl and suburban girl. My grandparents, currently living in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, like to say that they raised me during the first years of my life. I have vague memories of my immediate family&rsquo;s time in this neighborhood, but I will always remember my grandparents&rsquo; home &ndash; truly, my second home &ndash; in a quiet enclave of the area.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">The blocks were long, very long, seemingly neverending. The houses were never small and usually fit somewhere between just right and too much. Later, while living in Oak Park, my friends would never believe that you could stand in the middle of one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city and confuse it for the simplicity of the suburbs.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">&ldquo;The houses are just as big,&rdquo; I used to begin. Thinking about our cramped apartment off Lake street and later, our stucco bungalow, I would add, &ldquo;Even bigger.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">When you are young, it is difficult to understand one&rsquo;s hood as anything other than home. I had no concept of Austin&rsquo;s violence. I remember New Year&rsquo;s Eve and the wave of gunshots that would go off in celebration. It was a frightening, if not expected reminder that other people existed when the streets get quickly quiet and the sky gets quickly dark at night. In winter, we were kept indoors, kept away from any perceived dangers.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">&ldquo;Do you remember how their used to be shops all up and down Madison?&rdquo; my mother asked my aunt. We were all gathered around the dining room table at my parents&rsquo; home in Oak Park for a final, gluttonous, post-birthday meal.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">I looked up. My mother turned toward me.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">&ldquo;It was like we had our own downtown,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But then the riots happened.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3597296136_45320e21c3_z.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Flickr/Laurie Chipps)" />When talking about the neighborhood her family finally settled in after moving around the city after their migration from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, my mother has a tendency to end her statements with, &ldquo;But then the riots happened.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">Nothing else needs to be said. For her, for many people, there was the &ldquo;before&rdquo; and the &ldquo;after.&rdquo; The West Side of Chicago, like many black-dominated neighborhoods across the country, never truly recovered from the riots after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.&rsquo;s assassination. An older generation is in mourning of what they once knew. A younger generation is in mourning of what could have been. An even younger generation knows no difference at all.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">Why do some neighborhoods thrive while others find constant suffering? It is not for lack of effort. The blocks around my grandparents&rsquo; home are largely calm and friendly. Just like in my childhood, I still see women setting up snow cone stands in front of their homes. Kids still play with each other, running up and down the block until the weight of the sun and the weight of the day has worn them out. Neighbors still know and speak to each other.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">This is more than I can say about where I currently live. I am friends with the women in my three-flat apartment building, but I know no one else on my block. A couple that lives in a condo building next door only pause in my presence to stop their dog from mauling my arm as it has tried to do since I first moved into my building two years ago.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">There is community where I grew up, where my family is from, where my grandparents still live. But sometimes community is not enough. A cul-de-sac was built at the end of my grandparents&rsquo; block to deter loitering on the corner after a shooting.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">&ldquo;I was on the couch and had to jump to the floor,&rdquo; my grandmother once said to me about the incident. This was a comical image in my head at the time, but she gave me this look. This was not the first time it happened, she seemed to be saying. It was the first time she was telling me about it.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">The <em>New York Times</em> recently <a href="http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/can-you-tell-an-up-and-coming-neighborhood-by-its-emergent-energy/?src=recg" target="_blank">asked</a> if we can tell which neighborhoods are &ldquo;next&rdquo; based on their &ldquo;emergent energy.&rdquo; I would say yes, this is possible, but also coupled with more practical factors. How close is it to public transportation? What is its proximity to other &ldquo;good neighborhoods?&rdquo; Is it safe, or rather, can it be safe? Is its identity too strong to be overtaken by the forces of gentrification? (Because in the end, isn&rsquo;t a &ldquo;next&rdquo; neighborhood almost always about stripping bare its essence?)</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-160ccd6f-73ed-0905-468a-9ad6231bdab4">Even living in it, one can never know a place truly. There are more pockets of my neighborhood I do not know than ones I do. To write off any one neighborhood is to discredit and discount the people living in it, trying to make it something other than what most see. I can feel that energy in parts of Austin, that spark needed to turn a place around, but sometimes a spark is not enough. If a weak and battered foundation exists, one spark can destroy everything in its path. It is easier to destroy than to build.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 01 Oct 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/there-home-there-108810 How 90s rap, Shel Silverstein, and Oak Park influenced a former Chicagoan director http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-04/how-90s-rap-shel-silverstein-and-oak-park-influenced-former-chicagoan <p><div class="image-insert-image ">For <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CDMQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jonahansell.com%2F&amp;ei=dpJtUZ-rKsWbygGO3IHwBQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNE39MQUQC60ax_8htzQdZSPfJkQ9A&amp;sig2=eQBwHEDrxpOd6OKYBnXp3A" target="_blank">Jonah Ansell</a>, Chicago mattered. His experiences growing up in and near the city in the Western suburb of Oak Park directly nurtured his creative pursuits. His latest work, <a href="http://cadaverthefilm.com/"><em>Cadaver</em></a>, is a lushly-constructed and visually-mesmerizing graphic novel and animated short film starring Oak Park teen and fashion/media mogul Tavi Gevinson, Academy Award winner Kathy Bates, and Christopher Lloyd. It tells the story of a cadaver who wakes up to tell his wife a final goodbye only to discover a truth about death he did not know in life. A mix of child-like storytelling with more mature themes, <em>Cadaver</em> is a testament to the power of the grand narrative in creating works of fiction. The film plays April 23 at the <a href="https://boxoffice.mcachicago.org/public/show.asp" target="_blank">Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago</a>. A discussion and book signing follows.&nbsp;Tickets are available&nbsp;<a href="https://boxoffice.mcachicago.org/public/show.asp" target="_blank">online</a>.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t appreciate how nurturing of an environment I was in until I came back,&rdquo; Ansell said about his experiences growing up in Oak Park. Ansell&rsquo;s family moved to the suburb from the city when he was young. It was his experiences attending William Beye Elementary School, growing up on Humphrey Avenue, reading voraciously &ndash; that shaped his love of storytelling. Ansell counted one experience &ndash; painting murals on the walls of the elementary school &ndash; as particularly affecting.</div><p dir="ltr"><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5078289485536516">&ldquo;This concept that this communal space doesn&rsquo;t just have to be a walk through and that you can empower kids to do what they want to do was powerful,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The idea that you could make stuff and comment on the human experience as performance stuck with me.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5078289485536516"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cadaver3.jpg" style="height: 279px; width: 500px;" title="(Cadaver/MCA Chicago)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span><em>Cadaver</em>&nbsp;began as a poem Ansell wrote for his sister on her first day cutting open a dead body in medical school. The poem was a means of providing a touch of humor and humanity to the medical profession. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;We as humans are not islands,&rdquo; Ansell said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not separated from what we do in life.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Although he claims she rejected the work, the story stayed with him long after he wrote it.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;In this light-hearted whimsical ride, I realized there was a worldview about how people are, what life is, what love is,&quot; Ansell said. &quot;It was all wrapped up in this little tiny poem.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>This story of the human experience soon sprang forth as a fully-formed narrative.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5078289485536516">The work begged for a visual component that was as immediately captivating, but still embraced the small scale of the project. More than 400 artists working in a variety of mediums were interviewed for the project. The crew eventually chose Seattle-based 2D animator and artist Carina Simmons. Simmons&rsquo; illustrations are angular and visceral with a style more realistic and human than not. Emotions are vividly drawn and felt by audiences.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5078289485536516">When creating <em>Cadaver</em>, which in its simplest form is a love story, the crew saw Simmons&rsquo; work as a complement to the emotional scope of the story. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;You have to be careful that it doesn&rsquo;t come across saccharine or sugary sweet,&rdquo; Ansell said. &ldquo;We knew we had to add a little edge, so it would emotionally land where we were attempting for it to land. That&rsquo;s where that artwork helped clarify the film we were trying to go for.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>The animation took about three months and the entire film production took six months, with the artist stationed in Seattle, the animator in San Francisco, and many of the crew based in Los Angeles.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tavi%20Gevinson%20and%20Jonah%20Ansell%20-%20MCA.jpg" style="height: 478px; width: 500px;" title="(Tavi Gevinson and Jonah Ansell/MCA)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5078289485536516">Casting actors was surprisingly less complicated. Gevinson was the first hire. A longtime family friend, Gevinson was the first person Ansell approached and she immediately signed on. The two previously worked together on another film, <em>First Bass</em>, shot on location at Wrigley Field. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>In terms of Lloyd and Bates, Ansell and his crew created a wish list of people they assumed would reject them and the two actors were at the top of their list. However, after emailing them and providing a few visual samples of what the work would look like, both signed on. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;It was a Hail Mary,&rdquo; Ansell said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5078289485536516">Ansell cites influences ranging from George Carlin to 90s rap. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;For a kid growing up on Humphrey, this had a positive impact: what you can do with words, how you can bend words, how you would bring energy to what you&rsquo;re saying,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5078289485536516">Ansell also said he looked toward the storytelling structure of some of his favorite childhood authors: Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Ansell&#39;s summer mornings were spent outdoors playing with friends, but his afternoons were often spent reading. This love of reading informed the creation of a graphic novel in addition to the film. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;Whenever you have an idea for a story, you always wonder, what is the best medium to tell this story?&rdquo; Ansell said. &ldquo;[With books] you can linger, you can pause, you can flip the page back. You can&rsquo;t do that with film.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><strong>Britt Julious</strong> blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Apr 2013 13:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-04/how-90s-rap-shel-silverstein-and-oak-park-influenced-former-chicagoan Oak Park's Continental Divide http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/oak-parks-continental-divide-105662 <p><p>Most of Chicago is flat as a pancake. That&rsquo;s why the neighborhood I grew up in was special. We had a hill. I was so impressed that when I got my first camera, I went out and took a picture from the top of its dizzy heights.</p><p>Actually, our hill wasn&rsquo;t a real hill. The rise along Narragansett Avenue was a ridge. Long ago Lake Michigan was much larger, and its waters covered most of what&rsquo;s now the city of Chicago. The ridge marked one of the ancient lake&rsquo;s beach lines.</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/Narragansett%20Hill.jpg" title="'Narragansett Hill', 1959" /></div><p>That same Narragansett ridge stretches into Oak Park. Once I became an adult, I never paid much attention to it. Then, a few years ago, I was driving west on Chicago Avenue through Oak Park. Just as I crested the ridge I saw the historic marker on the parkway to the right.&nbsp;</p><p>The marker told the story. My childhood ridge was a continental divide.&nbsp;</p><p>The ridge separates two great watersheds. The rain that falls on the east of the ridge eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The rain that falls on the west of the ridge goes toward the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.&nbsp;</p><p>Chicago was settled because of its convenient location between the two great watersheds. Think of the native peoples&mdash;or Marquette and Jolliet&mdash;paddling their canoes down Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, portaging a few miles over the ridge, then catching the Des Plaines River on the way to the Mississippi. We all learned that story in Early Chicago History 101.&nbsp;</p><p>The Oak Park markers were erected through the efforts of retired architect Bill Dring. With the help of Dennis McClendon at Chicago Cartographics, he located a 1927 map that identified the ridge as a continental divide. This particular one is known as the St. Lawrence Divide, because the east-flowing waters reach the Atlantic via the St. Lawrence River.</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/03-04--Oak%20Park%20Marker.JPG" title="Oak Park's Continental Divide" /></div><p>A few spoilsports have claimed that the Oak Park ridge isn&rsquo;t an actual continental divide. Drop a bottle into the water and send it west from the ridge toward the Mississippi and the Gulf. If that bottle doesn&rsquo;t get picked up or smashed, it&rsquo;s still going to wind up in the Atlantic eventually. So what&rsquo;s the big deal?&nbsp;</p><p>I don&rsquo;t buy that argument. Over 70 percent of the earth&rsquo;s surface is water, and all of it flows together at some place or another. The continents are really nothing more than giant islands. So if you want to get hyper-technical, you have to throw out the Rocky Mountain Divide, too.&nbsp;</p><p>Most of us will never get to Four Corners, and never be able to stand in four states at once. But with very little effort, we can straddle two great watersheds. So let&rsquo;s all celebrate the Oak Park Continental Divide. &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 05 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/oak-parks-continental-divide-105662 Something out of nothing: creativity and the Chicago fashion scene http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/something-out-nothing-creativity-and-chicago-fashion-scene-105395 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Remi.jpg" style="height: 477px; width: 620px;" title="" /></p><p>Creativity is not a matter of place. And yet, when we talk about creative scenes in Chicago, we often talk about the ways in which the city lacks rather than what the city can provide. It is a common argument, one that is framed around the pursuit of music, of visual art, of writing. But this argument fails to acknowledge the ways in which limitations can govern our decisions. For the Chicago creator, it is a matter less about opportunities and more about the self. What can one create out of nothing? How far can one push one&rsquo;s self without the support, the resources, or the market to color their frame of knowledge?</p><p>For young fashion designers in the city, this creates perhaps an even tougher challenge than one struggling in the art or music worlds. Chicago lacks the media resources, fabric sources, production factories, retail stores, and history that exists in a city like New York. But as in any creative pursuit, the disadvantages also provide a chance to experiment with one&rsquo;s work and develop without set rules or paths in line.</p><p>&ldquo;In New York, the industry is there, the track is in place,&rdquo; said Liz Patelski, one of two designers behind the new Chicago-based label <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Remi-Canarie/281772398559953">Remi Canarie</a>. &ldquo;To be able to be out of the NY scene, yet still be a part of it &hellip; it allows us to be in this creative bubble.&rdquo; This creative bubble has proven successful in the development of the line which mixes the high construction of menswear with softer, more traditionally feminine fabrics and cuts.</p><p>&nbsp;</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/Rack.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Remi Canarie is more than just a passion project from two young and creative local designers. It is also a coastal challenge, one that asks whether or not the high-design of New York, London, or Paris, can be accomplished in a city that &ldquo;works.&rdquo; Although young at ages 24 and 25 respectively, Patelski and co-designer Lisa Panza create wares that are smart, sophisticated, and beautifully-constructed. The two met at the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) and credit the school for providing a support system that emphasizes the importance of design and gives students the freedom to pursue conceptual work. It is only in a city like Chicago where two young designers can eschew the typical path of a young designer (internships, assistant design positions) and instead make something of their own.</p><p>&ldquo;In my mind, my end goal was to have my own line, so why not work toward that for the next two years?&rdquo; asked Panza. Panza and Patelski did not create in a vacuum. Both are skilled designers with a background rich in awards and experience. During her time at SAIC, Panza won the Gladys V. Pick Scholarship, Nick Cave Award, The Walk Scholarship, and The Menswear Award for her talents.Patelski worked in New York City under CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, Cushnie et Ochs, as a patterning and production intern. A Park Ridge-native, she transferred to SAIC and upon graduation in May 2011, she won the Eunice W. Johnson fellowship from the president of Johnsons Publishing Company, Linda Johnson Rice. The $25,000 fellowship, the source of funding for the duo&#39;s label, was created in 2010 in honor of Rice&#39;s mother and Ebony Fashion Fair founder Eunice W. Johnson.</p><p>The fellowship, while providing a strong leg up in their production process, does not draw away from the work put into the overall process. The two hit the ground running with their designs in October of 2012 and spent the prior year learning the business of owning and operating their own company. This involved everything from creating their own on-the-fly logo and attending Chicago Fashion Week panels for guidance on how to succeed in a city that does not cater to their field.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_6871.JPG" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">In many ways, Remi Canarie is a Chicago brand. This is not just a statement of location. It is also one of history and inspiration. Patelski and Panza&rsquo;s influences, although seemingly disconnected, are rooted similarly in ideas of the past, Americana, and the perception of place.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;American roots is who we are,&quot; Panza began. &quot;We&rsquo;re asking what does it mean to be an American designer?&rdquo; Patelski agreed. &ldquo;What is it about Chicago? It&rsquo;s the city of big shoulders, and so we moved towards menswear, workwear, uniforms. That is Chicago.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div>A major influence for the duo is the birth of American football. Long hours were spent in the Chicago History Museum researching football players from suburban Oak Park. Found images were used as part of their lookbook to help construct the identity of the line and also as a direct aesthetic influence on the finished pieces. A long-sleeved off-white and gray sweater and a loose silk blouse both feature thick strips of fabric that run down the front, a replica of the leather strips used on early uniforms for traction.</div><p>In addition to the traditional imagery of football, the two also found inspiration in the costumes of the Rolling Stones. Besides sporting recreations of American football uniforms, the two found inspiration in the creation of the band&rsquo;s sound as a whole. The Rolling Stones were, in many ways, a reflection of the music they discovered from America. They created songs that were in response to and challenge of what they had heard. In a similar vein, Remi Canarie is a reflection of the difficulties, history, and ethic of Chicago. This is design as a reflection of the city in which they live and work.</p><p>Their name extends this idea to a literal end. Although &ldquo;Remi&rdquo; derives from a Kerouac character, &ldquo;Canarie&rdquo; is born out of Canaryville, one of Chicago&rsquo;s oldest and most identifiable (if not insular) neighborhoods. But its insularity is also a reflection of a city &ndash; this city &ndash; of neighborhoods. It is about identity, roots, and the way place can define the things we want and do.&nbsp;To make it in Chicago is to make it everywhere. It is not so much about the successes that the city provides as it is the way the city alters the perception of what one can possibly do. &ldquo;Being in Chicago, there&rsquo;s not as much pressure to follow the same pursuits,&rdquo; Patelski said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re taking the opportunity here to define ourselves.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Follow Britt on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms">@britticisms.</a></em></p></p> Thu, 07 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/something-out-nothing-creativity-and-chicago-fashion-scene-105395 Alderman accuses bank of ‘redlining’ http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-alderman-accuses-us-bank-owner-%E2%80%98redlining%E2%80%99-103151 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5396_Mitts1-scr.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 279px; width: 250px; " title="Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th Ward, is angry about a plan by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp to close a branch in her neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />An alderman on Chicago&rsquo;s struggling West Side is steamed about a plan by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp to close a full-service branch in her neighborhood.</p><p>Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward) said the company&rsquo;s decision to shut down its U.S. Bank outlet at 4909 W. Division St. blindsided her. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re leaving high-and-dry with no warning,&rdquo; she said, calling the process &ldquo;disrespectful.&rdquo;</p><p>The branch is an anchor of Austin, a mostly African-American neighborhood hit hard over the years by factory closings and, more recently, home foreclosures.</p><p>But Mitts said there is still plenty of banking business for company officials to keep the branch open. &ldquo;The money is good but they don&rsquo;t want to be in the neighborhood,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s redlining.&rdquo;</p><p>U.S. Bancorp spokesman Tom Joyce bristled at the alderman&rsquo;s accusation. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s off base and unfortunate,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;In 2011, we put more than $152 million into affordable housing and economic development in metropolitan Chicago,&rdquo; Joyce said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re a proud citizen of the Chicago area and the Austin neighborhood and we&rsquo;ll continue to serve the neighborhood.&rdquo;</p><p>When the branch closes November 16, Joyce added, the company will leave an ATM and start shuttling seniors from that part of Austin to nearby U.S. Bank locations two or three times a month.</p><p>The branch on the chopping block was once part of Park National Bank, a&nbsp;commercial chain owned by Oak Park-based FBOP Corp. The chain was known for charity and investment in low-income areas. U.S. Bancorp acquired FBOP holdings as part of a 2009 federal rescue.</p><p>Austin community groups fought the U.S. Bancorp takeover. In 2011, bowing to pressure from the groups, the company agreed to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into affordable-housing efforts in Austin and Maywood, a nearby suburb.</p><p>U.S. Bancorp says it has 88 branches and 1,600 workers in the Chicago area.</p></p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 05:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-alderman-accuses-us-bank-owner-%E2%80%98redlining%E2%80%99-103151 While in Chicago, Springsteen drummer honors Frank Lloyd Wright http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/while-chicago-springsteen-drummer-honors-frank-lloyd-wright-102288 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9068043-2.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 615px; " title="" /></div></div><p>A day before sitting behind the drumkit for two of Bruce Springsteen&#39;s sold-out concerts at Wrigley Field last weekend, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg entertained a small audience at Oak Park&#39;s Unity Temple.</p><p>&quot;Besides being my generation&#39;s biggest Beatles fan, I happen to be a true Frank Lloyd Wright nerd &mdash; I mean &#39;aficionado,&#39;&quot; Weinberg told a group of about 150 people assembled in the auditorium of the Wright-designed church at 875 Lake St. last Thursday.</p><p>Weinberg&#39;s lecture was part of the &quot;Break the Box&quot; series of distinguished speakers, sponsored by the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation.</p><p>The New Jersey native said he has been a devotee of the architect since childhood, when a relative allowed him to visit the Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York while the modernist masterpiece was still under construction. As a teenager, he&#39;d search out Prairie School architecture with his high school buddy and future film producer (and fellow Wright devotee), Joel Silver.</p><p>Weinberg said traveling with the E Street Band allowed him to visit Wright homes in buildings across the country. When the band came to Chicago in 1977 to play the Auditorium Theater, Weinberg said he arrived equipped with a map he annotated with the location of Wright buildings.</p><p>&quot;Back in the 1970s when the E Street Band was starting out, my recreation was to seek out &mdash; some might say &#39;stalk&#39; &mdash; owners with homes designed by Mr. Wright,&quot; he said. &quot;I would knock on the door and introduce myself: &#39;My name is Max Weinberg and I&#39;m with the E Street Band.&#39; And I could tell by these folks, they&#39;d never heard of the E Street Band.&quot;</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/P9067969.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 515px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Weinberg said he is active in the Wright preservation movement and talked about the need to restore Wright&#39;s famed Unity Temple, a blocky, 103-year-old structure that is among the first public buildings in the world made of exposed concrete. Though a functioning and nicely-maintained Unitarian church since it opened in 1909, the building has been damaged by water seepage, wear and time. In 2009, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Unity Temple to its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9068028-2.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p>During his talk, Weinberg also shared some good non-architecture stories, such as playing on Meat Loaf&#39;s landmark 1977 album <em>Bat Out of Hell </em>along with E Street keyboard man, &quot;Professor&quot; Roy Bittan. Weinberg said he played on three of the album&#39;s songs, including <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9hLcRU5wE4">the title track</a> and &quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMQzfncqOQc">Paradise by the Dashboard Light</a>&quot;&nbsp;&mdash; then was fired from the project by producer (and friend) Todd Rundgren.</p><p>&quot;He didn&#39;t like my drumming,&quot; Weinberg said.</p></p> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/while-chicago-springsteen-drummer-honors-frank-lloyd-wright-102288 Oak Park couple buys Hemingway's boyhood home http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/oak-park-couple-buys-hemingways-boyhood-home-100051 <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/Hemmingway%27s%20childhood%20home_Flickr_Guy%20Bisson_0.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px;" title="Ernest Hemingway's boyhood home in Oak Park, Ill. (Flickr/Guy Bisson)" /></div><p>The couple that purchased novelist Ernest Hemingway&#39;s boyhood home plans to live in and restore the historic house.</p><p>Kurt and Mary Jane Neumann closed on a $525,000 deal for the home in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park on Tuesday.</p><p>John Berry of the Ernest Hemmingway Foundation says the foundation bought the home in 2001 in hopes of turning it into a cultural center but couldn&#39;t make the finances work.</p><p>Kurt Neumann says his family plans to make their home available to visits by Hemingway enthusiasts. But he says they&#39;ll need to balance that with the fact that it will be their family home.</p><p>Ernest lived in the home until he graduated from high school and is believed to have written some of his earliest works in his third-floor bedroom.</p></p> Wed, 13 Jun 2012 09:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/oak-park-couple-buys-hemingways-boyhood-home-100051 Killing Pigeons Softly in Oak Park http://www.wbez.org/blogs/mark-bazer/2012-05/killing-pigeons-softly-oak-park-99478 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/piegeon.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 391px; " title="(Flickr/Thomas Hawk)" /></p><p>Oak Park, the town &mdash; or, excuse me, village &mdash; I proudly call home, is known for a few things.</p><p>For starters, there&rsquo;s Frank Lloyd Wright. People come from all around to take the &ldquo;See the Homes that Frank Lloyd Wright Was a Jackass in&rdquo; Tour.</p><p>Oak Park is also the boyhood home of Ernest Hemingway; if it weren&rsquo;t for Oak Park schools teaching him the alphabet, he never would have written any books.</p><p>More importantly, the village has also long been known for being a warm and inclusive community.</p><p>Now that wonderful and well-deserved reputation is being threatened. Don&rsquo;t get me wrong: People of all kinds are still welcome and encouraged to make Oak Park their home.</p><p>But . . . this week, the village board considered an ordinance that calls for KILLING &mdash;&nbsp;or, excuse me, euthanizing &mdash;&nbsp;pigeons.</p><p>It appears that there is, to quote the <a href="http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/05-22-2012/Oak_Park_pigeons_at_Marion_Street_could_face_capital_punishment">Wednesday Journal&rsquo;s Anna Lothson, &ldquo;a continuing presence of a flock of pigeons under the newly upgraded Marion Street el viaduct.&rdquo;</a></p><p>Don&rsquo;t these pigeons realize how perilously close they are to the <a href="http://marionstreetcheesemarket.com/">finest wine and cheese shop</a> the village has to offer?????</p><p>As someone who moved to Oak Park at least in part for the pigeons, this obviously has me enraged. Not enraged enough to have attended the village board meeting, but enraged.</p><p>To me, pigeons are one of the telltale signs of a great city. Name a great city and I&rsquo;ll show you pigeons slightly ruining the quality of life.</p><p>Now, name a, well, not so world-class city. You won&rsquo;t find any pigeons, I guarantee. When was the last pigeon that called Toledo (sorry, Mom and Dad) home? They&rsquo;d only improve the quality of life, so what would be the point?</p><p>Some, like Oak Park trustee Bob Tucker, might wonder why Oak Park can&rsquo;t just move the pigeons someplace else, like to Berwyn.</p><p>Again, to quote the Wednesday Journal, Mike Charley, environmental heath supervisor in the village, &ldquo;said it&rsquo;s proven pigeons return home.&rdquo;</p><p>So, the answer is to just kill them? What&rsquo;s next, Mr. Charley? Doing the same to our <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/14/pf/boomerang_kids_move_home/index.htm">kids upon graduating college without jobs</a>?</p><p>Instead of seeking to humanely remove as many pigeons via death, Oak Parkers should be thankful. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/world/asia/fed-by-indians-monkeys-overwhelm-delhi.html">Thankful that we don&rsquo;t have kleptomaniacal monkeys roaming the streets, like they do in New Delhi</a>.</p><p>This, according to The New York Times, mere hours after the Great Pigeon-Killing Ordinance meeting: &ldquo;The monkey population of Delhi has grown so large and aggressive that overwhelmed city officials have petitioned India&rsquo;s Supreme Court to relieve them of the task of monkey control.&rdquo;</p><p>The Hindu religion, the article reports, says that people should feed monkeys on Tuesday and Saturdays.</p><p>&ldquo;(Veterinary Services Director R.B.S.) Tyagi expresses impatience with residents who feed the monkeys one day, then complain to the city when the monkeys steal their clothes on another day.&rdquo;</p><p>One solution in New Delhi is to hire a bigger kind of monkey to urinate around your home. The urine repels the smaller monkeys causing all the problems. The one drawback: The urine also repels people.</p><p>In any event, the official vote on whether to destroy pigeons is coming June 4. Write your congressman.</p><p><em>(The next Interview Show is Friday, June 1, at The Hideout, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Guests include chef Michael Kornick and author Rich Cohen.)</em></p></p> Wed, 23 May 2012 13:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/mark-bazer/2012-05/killing-pigeons-softly-oak-park-99478 Sam Giancana's house: The historic home Oak Park would like to forget http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-09/sam-giancanas-house-historic-home-oak-park-would-forget-96951 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-05/Giancana Home_Schmidt.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="329" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-04/03-09--Giancana Home.JPG" title="Giancana's Oak Park home at 1147 S. Wenonah Avenue" width="495"></p><p>Oak Park has three historic districts and dozens of historic buildings. There is no official recognition of the bungalow on the northwest corner of Wenonah and Fillmore. This is where Sam Giancana lived--and where he was murdered.</p><p>He was born Salvatore Giangana in the Taylor Street Italian settlement in 1908. After apprenticing in a teen gang he graduated to the Capone mob. In 1933 he married, and moved into a three-flat at 2822 W. Lexington Street.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-05/AP650519042.jpg" style="width: 328px; height: 512px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Sam Giancana walks into a federal building in Chicago on May 19, 1965. Giancana faced a federal grand jury looking into underworld activities. (AP/file)">Giancana climbed the organizational ladder using talents that can best be left to the imagination. He served time for operating an illegal still. During World War II he was rejected for military service. The reason given was a "constitutional psychopathic state and inadequate personality, manifested in strong anti-social tendencies."</p><p>By now Giancana had three daughters. In April 1945 he purchased a bungalow at 1147 S. Wenonah Avenue in Oak Park for $32,000. That's about $400,000 in today's money--and he paid cash.</p><p>The Giancanas joined St. Bernardine parish in nearby Forest Park. Though Sam wasn't often seen at Mass, his daughter Antoinette remembered that he donated an altar rail to the church. That particular gift has since been removed.</p><p>Giancana lived quietly in Oak Park. He didn't bother his neighbors, and they certainly didn't bother him. He was devoted to his wife Angeline--but that didn't stop him from becoming involved with other women. Mrs. Giancana died in 1954, and Sam never remarried.</p><p>As the 1950s moved into the 1960s, Giancana became the public face of the Chicago Outfit. He was always in the news.</p><p>Did he steal the 1960 election for Kennedy? Was he part of a plot to kill Castro? Was he involved in the Kennedy assassination? And what ladies did he romance? There's plenty of literature out there about these matters.</p><p>In 1965 Giancana was jailed for refusing to testify before a grand jury. He moved to Mexico after his release, but kept the Oak Park house. In 1974 the feds brought him back home for further questioning.</p><p>Now Giancana was scheduled to appear before a Senate subcommittee. Before he could testify he was killed in his basement by multiple gunshots. The date was June 19, 1975. The crime remains unsolved.</p><p>A few years after the murder, I bought a house down the block on Wenonah. The only thing my neighbors said about Sam Giancana was that they missed the FBI men who used to keep his place under surveillance. Having them around 24/7 made the neighborhood feel safer.</p></p> Fri, 09 Mar 2012 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-09/sam-giancanas-house-historic-home-oak-park-would-forget-96951