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145.Bull.China.Shop_credit Joe Dator.jpg

Each New Yorker caption contest starts with a single-panel cartoon without a caption. Lawrence Wood, a Chicagoan, is the contest’s most frequently appearing credit.

Joe Dator

The Rundown: Chicago’s caption contest king

Plus, meet the Chicago teens designing their own streetwear.

Good afternoon, and happy Pride Month! A rainbow flag was raised in Daley Plaza today to kick off the celebration. Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. Meet the Chicagoan who has won The New Yorker caption contest more than anyone else

Local public interest lawyer Larry Wood has won the magazine’s celebrated Cartoon Caption Contest eight times — and he’s reached the finals on seven other occasions. Now, he’s written a book about his winning ways, WBEZ contributor Graham Meyer reports.

Your Caption Has Been Selected narrates the history of the contest, in which many of the images were rejected cartoon submissions that were stripped of their original captions and repurposed.

In the book, Wood analyzes the original captions, various submitted captions and occasionally grumbles about winners. He also indulges in displaying his contest wins.

For those looking to improve their caption writing, Wood gives advice about how to frame the task, such as identifying the speaker and their facial expression.

“You’ve got to end on the punch line,” he told WBEZ. “You have to eliminate every unnecessary word. You’ve got to avoid, at all costs, exclamation points, which I just hate. I am shocked at the number of people who come up with a good joke but don’t know how to tell it.” [WBEZ]

2. Mexico elected its first female president, with thousands of Mexican nationals voting in Chicago

Some waited in line for more than 10 hours for the first election in which Mexican nationals could cast a vote in person at consular offices around the world, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Voters chose Claudia Sheinbaum, aligned with the left-wing party Morena, to succeed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

But not all Mexican nationals in Chicago had a chance to vote.

As the Tribune reports: “While 1,317 Mexican nationals registered to vote in person in Chicago, there were only 1,500 available electronic ballots on a first-come, first-served basis for those who did not register but who had a valid Mexican voter’s identification card, according to the National Electoral Institute, or INE.”

People from throughout the Chicago area traveled to the city’s Mexican consulate to try to access one of the available electronic ballots. [Chicago Tribune]

3. Illinois residents can claim a bigger state tax credit next year under the new budget

Individuals will be able to claim a $2,775 standard exemption for the 2024 tax year, my colleague Dave McKinney reports for WBEZ.

The increase from $2,425 means an extra $69 for families of four, and the tax credit will once again be tied to inflation after lawmakers last year quietly removed that condition.

Since 2011, the standard exemption has increased with inflation. Had the deduction been allowed to stay in step with actual inflation, the 2023 standard deduction amount would have been $2,625.

When Pritzker and Democrats decided last year to keep the $2,425 amount in effect for the 2023 tax year, it allowed $114 million to be diverted elsewhere in the budget. Under last year’s law, the inflation increases would return for the 2024 tax year and continue through the 2028 tax year. [WBEZ]

4. Illinois’ use of cameras that read license plates amounts to ‘dragnet surveillance,’ a lawsuit claims

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Illinois seeks to end the state’s use of cameras that record license plates, geolocations and photos, saying they violate the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments, Emmanuel Camarillo reports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The suit accuses state police, Gov. Pritzker and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul of “tracking anyone who drives to work in Cook County — or to school, or a grocery store, or a doctor’s office, or a pharmacy, or a political rally, or a romantic encounter, or family gathering — every day, without any reason to suspect anyone of anything, and are holding onto those whereabouts just in case they decide in the future that some citizen might be an appropriate target of law enforcement.”

Automated license plate readers, which most large police departments in the country employ, use software to scan the license plates of every passing car. They record the date, time, GPS coordinates and photos.

Illinois State Police received more than $12 million grants in 2021 to get more high-definition surveillance cameras after a surge in expressway shootings. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Meet the Chicago teens designing – and selling – their own streetwear

Some high schoolers say they started their own brands for the profits, while others are jumping into streetwear in pursuit of a creative outlet, my colleague Anna Savchenko reports.

They sell everything from hoodies to ski masks. The teens operate out of homes in all corners of the city and its suburbs, mostly selling to their high school peers, but also shipping clothes to young people as far away as New Jersey or California.

One of these teens, Tevence Smith, told WBEZ he’s in the streetwear market to create art and to tell the story of the Black community in his Austin neighborhood on the West Side.

“Clothes mean a lot to us,” Smith says. “Whether it’s the way you tie your shoes, whether it’s the way you wear your pants. Clothes [are] a way to express yourself, a way to be free.” [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • President Joe Biden is preparing an executive order that would shut down asylum requests at the U.S.-Mexico border after 2,500 migrants arrive a day. [AP]
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci testified at a House subcommittee hearing about the U.S. COVID-19 response and the origins of the virus. [CNN]
  • Hunter Biden’s trial on gun charges started today. [NPR]
  • Gymnast Simone Biles won her ninth all-around championship. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Summer is the most affordable season to see top-notch performances, from theater to dance, with many shows free or reduced cost. My colleagues Courtney Kueppers and Mike Davis put together a list of the best as part of WBEZ’s 2024 Summer Guide.

From Shakespeare all over the city to the CSO’s summer residency at Ravinia, there’s a plethora of great, affordable shows happening in and around Chicago this season. [WBEZ]

This list of performances is just the first in a series of summer stories that’ll help you make the most of summertime Chi. Keep an eye out for guides to foods to eat, places to read and the best neighborhood street fests.

Want more suggestions for things to do? Text FUN to 312312 for a weekly text with our top pick.

Tell me something good …

What summer treats are you most looking forward to?

I’m excited to get my first matcha soft serve of the season and have been stocking up on summer fruits.

Feel free to email me, and your response may be included in the newsletter this week.

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