WBEZ | Chicago http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en When social media fuels gang violence http://www.wbez.org/news/when-social-media-fuels-gang-violence-113212 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/7910370882_39d180fb66_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have become an everyday part of life for many young people &mdash; and increasingly, the way some, including rival gang members, threaten each other.</p><p>The practice is called &quot;cyber banging,&quot; and it&#39;s often led to fights and even death.</p><p>Jaime, 17, has been in a gang for two years and is trying to leave. NPR agreed to use only his first name for his safety. Logging onto a computer at the YMCA of Metro Chicago, he clicks on a video in his Facebook feed. It shows a group of young men mugging for the camera, flashing gang signs and guns. Jaime says it&#39;s one of many so-called gang pages online.</p><p>&quot;Social media is just endorsement, that&#39;s all,&quot; he says. &quot;To endorse where you come from, what gang you are in.&quot;</p><p>He points to one of the men who pushed his way to the front of the video for a just a moment. &quot;He got killed a week after [by] the rival gang. It was crazy, and now people actually make pictures making fun of him,&quot; Jaime says.</p><p>He says there will be retaliation over that disrespect. Using social media to gang bang reaches across all platforms. There is still rancor in some Chicago neighborhoods over a long-running feud on Twitter between Chicago rappers Chief Keef and Lil JoJo, both associated with rival gangs. Three years ago, shortly after Lil JoJo issued a taunt along with his location, he was killed.</p><p>This year, police say cyber banging fueled the death of another Chicago rapper.</p><p>Shaquon Thomas was called Young Pappy. On YouTube, there have been nearly 2 million views of his song &quot;Killa,&quot; which glorifies gang life and violence. He was gunned down in May.</p><p>Eddie Bocanegra, a co-director of Metro Chicago YMCA&#39;s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention program, says gang banging on social media for some is a way to get street credibility. Others that post gang raps think it&#39;s a way to make it big in the music industry, where dark and violent lyrics &mdash; so-called &quot;drill music&quot; &mdash; sells. But Bocanegra says the potential for violence spurred by social media extends even to those not in gangs.</p><p>&quot;This kid could simply say, &#39;Hey, I was in class today, and the girl next to me was really cute. Her name is so and so. I thought she was fine,&#39; &quot; he says. &quot;Well, this girl has a brother who is in the street who really already has a reputation of being violent or has a boyfriend, and he sees that post. Now it&#39;s like, &#39;Hey, why you making comments about my girl?&#39; &#39;Why you making comments about my sister?&#39; And it just escalates.&quot;</p><p>Chicago police do monitor social media sites, and they&#39;ve been able to work with school social workers to prevent some violence from occurring. Desmond Patton, a professor of social work at Columbia University, says he and fellow researchers want to take those efforts a step further.</p><p>&quot;One idea is that if we can decode the language, then perhaps we can send triggers to social workers, violence workers who are embedded in these neighborhoods already, so that they can utilize the strategies they already have to reach out to youth before the post becomes an injury or homicide,&quot; Patton says.</p><p>Patton conducted what he calls an &quot;Internet banging study.&quot; He interviewed current or former gang members between the ages of 14 and 24 in some of Chicago&#39;s toughest neighborhoods. He asked them what they see on social media, how they use it, how they believe it connects to violence in the neighborhood, and, he says, &quot;under what conditions are they responding to situations and posts online that they believe to be threatening.&quot;</p><p>One of the scientists working with Patton to create a cyber banging gauge is Henry Lieberman, a visiting professor at MIT&#39;s Media Lab. He plans to devise an algorithm to understand content on social media and how words turn to violence.</p><p>&quot;You want to be able to recognize patterns like that and then you can suggest to people to try to do things that de-escalate the situation,&quot; Lieberman says.</p><p>Meantime, Patton says there is much more to come, including more interviews and scientific testing, in the quest to use social media that&#39;s so essential to young people to curb gang violence.</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/10/07/446300514/when-social-media-fuels-gang-violence">NPR&#39;s All Tech Considered</a></em></p></p> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 09:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/when-social-media-fuels-gang-violence-113212 Sandra Cisneros crosses borders and boundaries in 'A House of My Own' http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2015-10-06/sandra-cisneros-crosses-borders-and-boundaries-house-my <p><p>For many students, Sandra Cisneros is required reading. She tells stories of working-class Latino life in America, particularly Chicago, where she grew up, and where she set her well-known book,&nbsp;<em>The House on Mango Street.</em></p><p>The meaning of home has been a central theme in Cisneros&#39; life and work. And in her new memoir,<em>&nbsp;A House of My Own</em>, she writes about leaving home, her parents&#39; house &mdash; without getting married, which was a shock to her father.</p><p>&quot;Unless you&#39;re exiled from your father&#39;s house for some transgression, you really are expected to live there,&quot; she tells NPR&#39;s Ari Shapiro. &quot;And if you don&#39;t marry, you&#39;re expected to stay there and take care of your parents. I&#39;m an only daughter in the middle of six brothers. And I think I did things that were rather shocking if I had been a man.&quot;</p><hr /><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Interview Highlights</strong></span></p><p><strong>On her father, an upholsterer</strong></p><p>My father was a craftsman, and I&#39;m a craftsperson, too. And I have the same standards of making things, putting them together and ripping the seams apart if they don&#39;t match. I think my father, as a&nbsp;tapiceros,&nbsp;an upholsterer, taught me a lot about mastering craft and taking the time to make something well if your name was going to be put on it. And, you know, I always admired that my father had this little business card that said &quot;Cisneros Upholstery: Custom Quality Furniture.&quot; And my dream was to have a card that said: &quot;Sandra Cisneros, Writer. Custom Quality Work.&quot; And I finally did it ... I showed it to my dad. And he was so &mdash; he looked like he was going to cry when he saw it.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cisneroscover.jpg" style="float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 414px; width: 280px;" title="Cover of 'A House of My Own.The much-loved author of The House on Mango Street presents a collection of true stories and nonfiction pieces, spanning nearly three decades, that, read together, paint an intimate portrait of a literary legend's life and career." /></p><p><strong>On her mother, whom she describes as a &quot;prisoner-of-war mother&quot;</strong></p><div id="con446352246" previewtitle="Related NPR Stories"><div id="res446352245">&nbsp;</div></div><p>She was an unhappy camper. My mom really wanted my life and didn&#39;t realize that she was opening the path for me to follow my dream. And then at the end of her life, I think she felt so unhappy that she had wasted her life, that she hadn&#39;t achieved what she had aspired to as a young person. And that dissatisfaction and that person that used to exist before she became a mother &mdash; you know, I understood her better at the end of her life. I could understand who she wanted to be and how we came into the picture and kind of thwarted her plans. She didn&#39;t realize what she&#39;d done. She could only see what she had not done.</p><p><strong>On writing about women&#39;s lives and stories</strong></p><p>You know, when I was a child, I always felt that I wanted to rescue my mom from the slights of her mother-in-law. She had a lot of pain that she opened up to me about as a little girl. And I always wanted to come to her rescue and, as I became a writer, to tell her story. But I felt always that my mother knew so little about her own mother and her own grandmother, and all of the women in the family just got erased, that I wanted to honor them as much as I could. Write about them, think about them, even though I didn&#39;t know their names, to somehow imagine their lives.</p><p><strong>On crossing borders and boundaries</strong></p><p>I guess I didn&#39;t realize I was gonna be crossing borders my whole life. Even in Chicago when I grew up &mdash; because I lived in the border zone between black and white communities. Usually in Chicago, it&#39;s so segregated, you have a brown corridor, to create a wall. And I didn&#39;t realize that growing up in Chicago, even then, I was living on the borderlands.</p><p>Maybe my job is to be an amphibian so that the water people and land people can understand each other. And I think, especially in this time, climate of fear, who better to travel between these two worlds than those of us who are mixed race, or&nbsp;<em>mestizos</em>.&nbsp;We&#39;re the diplomats, the ambassadors, so to speak, during the age of <em>susto&nbsp;</em>[fear].</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/06/446301433/sandra-cisneros-crosses-borders-and-boundaries-in-a-house-of-my-own" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2015-10-06/sandra-cisneros-crosses-borders-and-boundaries-house-my Confronting community problems through architecture and design http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/confronting-community-problems-through-architecture-and-design-113169 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/JuanMoreno1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Anyone who drives on the Kennedy has likely seen Juan Moreno&rsquo;s work. The Northeastern Illinois University El Centro building is mostly glass, with vertical dividers turning it from yellow to blue to yellow, depending on the direction on the expressway.</p><p>Moreno&rsquo;s office building on Wabash Avenue is a frenetic space under the &lsquo;L&rsquo; tracks, surrounded by the noise of nearby road repairs. The lively business district gets constant care and attention, unlike Gage Park on the city&rsquo;s Southwest Side.</p><p>&ldquo;In the corporate world, there isn&rsquo;t this kind of desire to go into our communities of need,&rdquo; said Moreno. &ldquo;And give our gifts as architects, our ideas, our vision &mdash; to try to uplift the community.&rdquo;</p><p>And an area like Gage Park could use the help. It has different kinds of infrastructure problems: Its streets are punctuated by potholes, bridges crumbled to where the rebar steel peeks out from the concrete. Weeds grow tall and wide through sidewalk cracks in front of a multitude of empty buildings.</p><p>Moreno noted the differences between the rapid repairs happening near his office that might inconvenience commuters downtown, and the visible neglect in this mostly working-class Latino community. He believes that lack of attention can affect a resident&rsquo;s psyche.</p><p>&ldquo;Because they walk by it and those buildings talk to them. And it makes them feel like people don&rsquo;t care about them,&rdquo; said Moreno. &ldquo;That they (problems from neglect) are in communities of color. And it&rsquo;s a constant reminder when they look at that.&rdquo;</p><p>Rows and rows of one and two-story brick, pre-war homes line the streets of Gage Park: Brick homes and vacant lots. But a gleaming structure pierces the horizon &mdash; a giant, modern, glass-and-metal building &mdash; and in its shadow, kids played at its feet on the artificial turf.</p><p>The UNO charter Soccer Academy Elementary School could easily be mistaken for a museum or airport terminal. Moreno said he&rsquo;s happy his design gets that kind of reaction.</p><p>&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t always have to be the same prototype. We can think about their role in the community, the way learning is approached,&rdquo; said Moreno. &ldquo;And I think this school does a great job in doing that.&rdquo;</p><p>Punctuating the past with designs for the future isn&rsquo;t for everyone. Just north, in Pilsen, there&rsquo;s been lots of talk about gentrification in recent years. The Mexican neighborhood is known for its European-styled buildings dating back to the 1800s.</p><p>Crystal Quintero was peering into a soon-to-opened Giordano&#39;s restaurant on 18th Street, across from a Subway restaurant. The new pizza place is going into an old building that once housed a youth art studio. Some residents might see the chain going in and think, &lsquo;there goes the neighborhood.&#39; But Quintero didn&rsquo;t see it that way.</p><p>&ldquo;I was going to fill out an application,&rdquo; said Quintero. &ldquo;I want to work here so I&rsquo;m going to fill out an application online.&rdquo;</p><p>And that&rsquo;s one of the fundamental challenges for today&rsquo;s architect &mdash; how to transform space for the future while preserving the integrity of its past.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a></em></p></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 08:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/confronting-community-problems-through-architecture-and-design-113169 Chicago begins inaugural celebration of built environments this weekend http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-begins-inaugural-celebration-built-environments-weekend-113147 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Biennial 151001.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If Chicago&rsquo;s buildings could talk, they&rsquo;d probably speak in a variety of languages. &nbsp;</p><p>The city is well-known for its diverse architecture, making it an ideal spot for North America&rsquo;s largest architecture exhibition. Hundreds of architects, urban planners and designers are flocking to Chicago to share their work at the inaugural <a href="http://chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org/">Chicago Architecture Biennial</a>.</p><p>The three-month long exhibition is designed as a forum for creative-types to share new design ideas for cities through conversations, exhibits and tours around the city.</p><p>Joseph Grima is the event&rsquo;s co-artistic director.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really the opportunity to affect the lives of individuals, groups, but also of entire communities,&rdquo; Grima said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s one of the things that exhibition explores, is the impact of good architecture on communities both in Chicago and other cities.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago Cultural Center is currently home to many of the exhibits, which includes full-scale houses from designers from places like Mexico and Vietnam.</p><p>Tatiana Bilbao is a participating architect from Mexico City. The house she designed is built from simple materials -- like wood and industrial pallets. Bilbao prioritized affordability so that the poorest families in Mexico aren&rsquo;t confined to one-room dwellings.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very important that people have a very comfortable place to live, and normally these people don&rsquo;t have the chance,&rdquo; Bilbao said. &ldquo;If you have a (better) place to live, you can be a better citizen.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/heOuwXh0mAQ?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Many of the participating architects are working on Chicago-based projects too.</p><p>Thomas Jacobs, an architect from the firm Krueck + Sexton. His designs are meant to address the empty lots seen all over the city. One of his projects included a design that would alter the way buildings are oriented on a city block. The design allows more daylight to enter the home, while avoiding windows that look directly onto a next door neighbor.</p><p>Jacobs said architects are well-equipped to address the sometimes simple problems that arise in communities.</p><p>&ldquo;I think a lot of the work that you see at the biennial, deal with some of these fundamental questions,&rdquo; Jacobs said. &nbsp;&ldquo;How could you improve neighborhoods and communities? And some of the things are very simple. It doesn&rsquo;t necessarily take a lot of money or technology. It&rsquo;s just orienting the building in a smarter way could do a lot to create space that is more usable and better for people.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other private sponsors were on hand Thursday to preview the exhibits. Emanuel said &ldquo;the study and discussion of architecture is engrained in the civic fabric of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>He also pointed to a favorite project of his, the Chicago Riverwalk, as an example of how changing a space can improve the mood of an environment.</p><p>&ldquo;As cities have a renaissance, how we think of sustainability, how we think or urban planning and creating a space of commonality, can make a difference in the livelihood of a city,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>The Chicago Architecture Biennial is free and open to the public. Designs are on display at the Chicago Cultural Center. There are a number of projects scattered around the city and along the lakefront. The exhibition opens Sunday and also includes free architecture tours.</p><p><em>Meredith Francis is a WBEZ news intern. Follow her<a href="https://twitter.com/MMLFrancis"> @MMLFrancis</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 15:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-begins-inaugural-celebration-built-environments-weekend-113147 Inaugural museum week kicks off tomorrow http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-30/inaugural-museum-week-kicks-tomorrow-113125 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/field museum Flickr Lisa Andres.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Starting Thurday and lasting for a week, 11 of Chicago&rsquo;s museums and the Lincoln Park zoo are taking part in Chicago&rsquo;s inaugural <a href="http://chicagomuseumweek.com/">Museum Week</a>. Visitors can enjoy free admission, discounts and special exhibits at select locations.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/dray4255?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">Don Hall</a>, museum lover and events director at WBEZ, talks about some of the best museums on and off the list for Museum week.</p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-30/inaugural-museum-week-kicks-tomorrow-113125 MacArthur ‘Genius’ focuses on immigrant education http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-09-30/macarthur-%E2%80%98genius%E2%80%99-focuses-immigrant-education-113119 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/0929_juan-salgado-624x416.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Juan Salgado&nbsp;is president and CEO of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.idpl.org/" target="_blank">Instituto del Progreso Latino</a>&nbsp;in Chicago, and is among the 24 winners of this year&rsquo;s MacArthur Foundation &ldquo;genius grants&rdquo; who will each receive $625,000 over five years, no strings attached.&nbsp;Salgado&rsquo;s organization has become a national model for helping immigrants learn English and improve their work skills.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 10px; font-size: 0.9375em; line-height: 1.4285em; font-family: 'Droid Sans', arial, sans-serif; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RosH3OM1Qdc?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;What we do in Instituto is we believe that any learner can become basically a college student &ndash; that if you&rsquo;re at a fourth grade, sixth grade reading level and you&rsquo;re an immigrant mom, you can become a registered nurse, a master&rsquo;s degree nurse,&rdquo; Juan told&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s</em> Robin Young. &ldquo;The reality is that we&rsquo;ve taken over 500 previous low-wage income earners and just changed their lives. They&rsquo;re now making $24, $27, $36 an hour where they used to make nothing or minimum wage.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/09/29/macarthur-genius-juan-salgado" target="_blank"><em>&mdash; via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-09-30/macarthur-%E2%80%98genius%E2%80%99-focuses-immigrant-education-113119 Songs We Love: Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas, 'Sign Spinners' http://www.wbez.org/news/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners-113072 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bajas1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Bitchin Bajas (pictured) join Natural Information Society on Automaginary." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/24/bajas1_wide-4ac16221161d4fbdf72d61ff399140bf8f361050-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="Bitchin Bajas, left, join Natural Information Society on Automaginary.(Jeremiah Chiu/Courtesy of the artist)" /></div></div><div><div><p>Over the past five years, the groups&nbsp;<a href="http://naturalinformationsociety.com/">Natural Information Society</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://bitchinbajas.tumblr.com/">Bitchin Bajas</a>&nbsp;have become staples of Chicago underground music, but from opposite ends. NIS leader Joshua Abrams has one foot in the city&#39;s improvisational jazz scene, a communal tradition that extends back 50 years to the heyday of the&nbsp;<a href="http://aacmchicago.org/">AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians)</a>. Cooper Crain of Bitchin Bajas moves in more avant-rock circles, primarily as guitarist for the psych-leaning quartet Cave.</p></div></div><p>But NIS and Bitchin Bajas have something else in common: they both make repetition-based, meditative music that can be therapeutic, calming the mind through the ears. NIS centers this effect via the instrument Abrams plays called the&nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sintir">guembri</a>, a three-string Moroccan lute on which he plucks out patterns that his band-mates augment with drums, guitars, and the harmonium.</p><p><img alt="Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas, Automaginary (Drag City)" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/24/bitchinbajasnaturalinformationsociety_automaginary_mini_sq-e6818ff51b7fd248a628a9d0ed6231415cedfb20-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas,Automaginary (Drag City)" /></p><p>Crain&#39;s trio creates their sonic oasis using synths, organs, and wind instruments, building beatific drifts out of rising tones. These tools turn out to be remarkably compatible on the groups&#39; first collaborative album <em>Autoimaginary</em>. The insistent, hypnotic pulses of NIS meld with Bitchin Bajas&#39; drone-tinted layers like gentle rain falling from dense clouds.</p><p>&quot;Sign Spinners&quot; hits the ground with Abrams&#39; running bass, then quickly ascends, as sparkly keyboard figures and shimmering guitar accents mirror each other. Things gradually intensify, cresting when a plaintive flute perches atop the bubbling mix. This airy, spacious music grows and grows without ever sounding cluttered. On the surface, &quot;Sign Spinners&quot; seems to barely move from where it began. Abrams&#39; loop churns along throughout, and no sudden left turns come up along the way. Yet by the time the song ends, you&#39;ll likely feel mentally transported &ndash; perhaps to the same blissful place where Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas seem very happy to spend their time together.</p><p><em>Autoimaginary</em><em>&nbsp;</em>is out now on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dragcity.com/">Drag City</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/25/443202778/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners?ft=nprml&amp;f=443202778"><em>via NPR&#39;s Songs We Love</em></a></p></p> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 16:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners-113072 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 Chicago mayor pushes historic tax increase to fix city's finances http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-pushes-historic-tax-increase-fix-citys-finances-113047 <p><p>Rahm Emanuel, who was re-elected this year after a tough campaign, says the tax hike is the best way to address deep financial problems caused in part by Chicago&#39;s vastly underfunded pensions.</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/AP_165738935866.jpg" style="height: 306px; width: 600px;" title="Mayor Rahm Emanuel outlines his 2016 proposed budget before the City Council, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Chicago. In his speech Emanuel called for a phased-in $543 million property tax increase, along with $45 million more for schools. He also called for other fees, including for garbage collection and ride-sharing services. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)" /></div><p><strong>TRANSCRIPT</strong></p><p><strong>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST</strong>:</p><p>This year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel got himself re-elected after a tough campaign. And now comes a tough question of governing. Candidates did not talk much about higher property taxes during the campaign, but now the mayor wants Chicago aldermen to approve a tax increase. The mayor says the tax hike is the best way to address deep financial problems caused in part by Chicago&#39;s underfunded pensions. NPR&#39;s Cheryl Corley reports.</p><p><strong>CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE</strong>: Mayor Emanuel first talked about Chicago&#39;s good economic news during his budget address, pointing to a big drop in the city&#39;s unemployment rate and the relocation of several business headquarters to the city. But there&#39;s always been a looming fiscal crisis, and Emanuel said the seeds of it began long ago, when questionable borrowing by the city created long-standing deficits, and inadequate contributions to employee pensions left Chicago with the worst-funded pension system among major cities.</p><p><em>(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)</em></p><p><strong>RAHM EMANUEL</strong>: Raising property taxes is a last resort. It is why we have never increased them in the last four years, but we must solve the pension challenge we inherited, and there are only two options.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: One option - cutting services. Emanuel ticked off cost cutting reforms made in previous budgets, but said to cover the pension costs, he&#39;d have to let 20 percent of the police force go, 40 percent of the city&#39;s firefighters and take other severe steps. The other option is his proposal - a record half-billion-dollar-plus tax hike spread over four years that would fund the pensions of firefighters and police. After the mayor&#39;s address, Alderman Robert Maldonado says such a massive tax hike will be hard for him to sell to residents in his Chicago ward.</p><p><strong>ROBERT MALDONADO</strong>: To get another slap in the face in terms of property taxes, that&#39;s not something that they&#39;re going to stomach easy.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_974543055433.jpg" style="float: right; height: 219px; width: 340px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Mayor Rahm Emanuel, center, shakes hands in Council chambers before outlining his 2016 proposed budget to the City Council Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)" /><strong>CORLEY</strong>: In an effort to block the proposed tax hike, Emanuel has asked Illinois lawmakers to approve expanding tax exemptions for owners of less expensive homes. That would mean the lion share of the tax would fall on the owners of more costly homes and commercial buildings. But getting approval is a tough prospect in a statehouse where the Republican governor and the Democratic-led legislature have been locked in a stalemate over the state budget since July 1, and the governor has called for property tax freezes. Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said Emanuel has also ignored suggestions made by the city council&#39;s progressive caucus.</p><p><strong>CARLOS RAMIREZ-ROSA</strong>: It included things like an alternative minimum property tax for downtown skyscrapers.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: But Alderman Will Burns says the proposed Chicago property tax hike is a necessity.</p><p><strong>WILL BURNS</strong>: It&#39;s to make sure that our city doesn&#39;t end up in bankruptcy. We don&#39;t have some federal judge dictating how much pensioners receive or what city services are funded or what the taxes are going to be. We have an opportunity to avoid becoming Detroit, and that&#39;s what we&#39;re doing today.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: In addition to the tax hike for pensions, Emanuel is taking other steps to repair the city&#39;s low credit ratings and ease an estimated budget deficit of $750 million. One includes requiring all Chicago property owners to pay for garbage pickup. Currently, Chicago is just one of three major cities, along with Boston and New York, that hauls away garbage free for most residents. Recognizing all the political risks that come with approving the tax hikes and fees, Emanuel offered Chicago aldermen a pep talk of sorts.</p><p><em>(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)</em></p><p><strong>EMANUEL</strong>: I believe we will be remembered as the men and women who pulled Chicago back from the financial brink and made Chicago stronger.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: Otherwise, said Emanuel, Chicago&#39;s fiscal challenges will continue to grow. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/23/442761566/chicago-mayor-pushes-historic-tax-increase-to-fix-citys-financial-woes" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-pushes-historic-tax-increase-fix-citys-finances-113047 Latino Chicago parishioners hold high hopes for Pope's visit http://www.wbez.org/news/latino-chicago-parishioners-hold-high-hopes-popes-visit-113021 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/rosary.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><strong>LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST</strong>:</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Washington is normally pretty blase about visiting leaders, but the pope&#39;s visit this coming week appears to be different. People are coming to town. Hotels are already filling up. Traffic is already jammed. Father Manuel Dorantes says the pope&#39;s visit will have special meaning for his parish, the Church of the Immaculate Conception on 44th in southwest Chicago. The Mexican-born priest told me most of his parishioners are, like Francis, from Latin America. Most of them are undocumented. Many are poor. I asked him what the people in his pews are hoping to hear from Francis.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>MANUEL DORANTES:</strong> I think what my community hopes to hear is a message of embrace, an embrace of their reality, specifically the issue of immigration, the issue of violence that is affecting our city, the issue of families being segregated because of the immigration issue and racism, to be honest with you. It&#39;s a constant battle for my community.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WERTHEIMER</strong>:<strong> </strong>You said families are segregated - separated, you mean? Like some of them are back home in whatever country they left?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>DORANTES</strong>: Yes, on one end, it&#39;s people who have left their home countries and the family members that are still back home. And also, people who have been separated through our deportation system.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WERTHEIMER</strong>: The Holy Father will preside at a mass of canonization when he&#39;s in Washington for Father Junipero Serra. Do you think your parishioners will take notice of that? Will they care about it?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>DORANTES</strong>: Definitely. To them, it&#39;s a point of pride in recognizing that this man, who is now going to be recognized as a saint of the church, was a missionary, and he went out of his own experience in Spain to come to the new world. And it&#39;s very much a similar type of experience for them. That&#39;s the experience of many of my parishioners - coming from their own country, leaving their country behind and coming into a new reality.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And so the fact that he is becoming a saint, the fact that the Pope is canonizing him and the very fact that Junipero Serra, the very first time that he brought the gospel to the United States - at least to the Southwest part of the United States - he did it in Spanish, in the language of my community. It&#39;s an immense point of pride and joy in knowing that one of our own will become a saint in this nation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WERTHEIMER</strong>: The first American-Hispanic saint.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>DORANTES</strong>: Yeah.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WERTHEIMER</strong>: But it&#39;s also true that there are some native communities that are concerned because they think that a lot of people died - a lot of native-born people died when the Europeans came to the United States. Is that concerning?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>DORANTES</strong>: You know, from our experiences, these Latino immigrants - did this constantly, right, going back to the colonization. You know, it&#39;s literally the Franciscans were baptizing - my forefathers, my foremothers were baptizing them. And soldiers were basically pointing swords towards them. That&#39;s part in parcel of the way we have received the faith.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Now, it&#39;s important to recognize that one thing that often happens is that we begin to see a reality of the 16th century with eyes and with the knowledge that we have in 2015. On the other hand, though, there are things that are defensible, and there are things that are not defensible. And the mistreatment of a human being is not acceptable. And the church claims in her teaching that a saint is not perfect. And often, I think, that&#39;s when we get into the struggle. We assume that because the person is being canonized that they were doing everything right. That&#39;s not what the church really understands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WERTHEIMER</strong>: Are you excited about the fact that Pope Francis is going to be traveling around the United States, meeting with all sorts of people, Catholics and others as well?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>DORANTES</strong>: I am. I think our young people and my community is looking for him to build bridges. Not just to come and just reaffirm Catholics or to confirm Latino Catholics and their faith. To bring people who are maybe very different, who may think differently, who may have different ideologies, different political agendas, and to provide an encounter between them. Our country is completely divided, where we have proponents who claim that what we need is walls - walls of separation. And you can, you know, apply this to either the economy or to social issues.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And so at a point where our country is so divided, I hope and I&#39;m so excited - I really can&#39;t wait to hear, you know, many of his speeches. But the one of, really, a lot of significance, for me at least through symbolism, is going to be when he makes that address at Independence Mall, where he&#39;ll be using the podium that President Lincoln used to deliver the Gettysburg Address. And I feel that we&#39;re in a different time today, but yet the situation is very similar to what President Lincoln had to deal with back in his day - a country that was divided.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And through that speech, at least historians claim that, that speech really turned things, turned the wave, you know, for the North and the South to be united again and for brothers to recognize that they were killing their own brothers. The pope is going to be using the same podium. And my hope is that as we are so divided politically, ethnically, racially - you name it, the division exists and it&#39;s very tangible - that he will be able to build bridges among us. And that&#39;s why I&#39;m so excited.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>WERTHEIMER</strong>: Father Manuel Dorantes, he&#39;s the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Chicago. Thank you very much.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>DORANTES</strong>: Thank you.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/20/441936817/latino-chicago-parishioners-hold-high-hopes-for-the-popes-visit" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></div></p> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 10:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/latino-chicago-parishioners-hold-high-hopes-popes-visit-113021