Live from your living room: new experiences to have at home

By Stephanie Racine

 

Virtual museum tours

Travel through the travel ban and visit some of the world’s most famous museums on a virtual tour. Some of the tours available include the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, which houses works from famous French artists such as Gauguin, Monet and Degas. Locally, virtually visit The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum and The Adler Planetarium, available through Google’s Art and Culture Platform. Visit artsandculture.google.com.

 

Help out a local Library

The Newberry Library is looking for volunteers to help transcribe historical letters from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The process is simple and can be done on the Newberry’s website. Read letters and diaries from people who lived in the midwest and those expanding the West, including some Native American history. Click here to get started.

 

Livestream a zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo will be going live on Facebook every day at 2 p.m. through April 9. One of their animals will be highlighted each day and an activity will be shared. Those without Facebook can watch the daily video on The Cincinnati Zoo’s website, or YouTube.

 

Foster a pet

PAWS Chicago is always looking for foster homes for their pets. Apply to foster a pet online at the PAWS chicago website. Fostering of some pets have specific requirements. Other pet rescues organizations looking for fosterers include the Anti-Cruelty Society and ALIVE Rescue.

 

At-home meditation

Meditation apps can help for relaxation and mindfulness. Calm and Headspace are apps that offer free or paid options. Listen to calming sounds or guided meditations in soothing voices. Available on the Apple App store and Google Play. 

 

Social media concerts 

A number of famous artists have taken to social media to perform livestream concerts. John Legend, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Keith Urban have taken requests on Instagram. Stay tuned on social media for the next surprise live performance.

One Earth Film Festival connects people to the planet

by Elisa Shoenberger

The One Earth Film Festival hopes to change hearts and minds about the environment, sustainability, and climate change through the power of film. The festival will be presenting 48 films throughout Chicago from March 6-15.

“I think film presents us with stories,” said festival president Ana Garcia Doyle. “These are mostly documentaries. They put people into a place where they can connect with someone’s story or a story of a group of people.” 

But the festival screenings include more than just the movies. Each show has action partners related to the documentary. Action partners include the Nature Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defence Council who provide additional information and help people who want to get more involved, said Cassandra West, publicist for the festival. 

“We want them to take something from the film and inspire them to look around their community to see how they can make the environment they live in more sustainable,” West said.

Each year’s festival presents a broad spectrum of films covering areas of conservation, climate change and sustainable agriculture. Several films highlight issues in Chicago and Illinois. “It personalizes the issues in a way that few other things can,” Doyle said.

Director Ines Sommer will be showing her film “Seasons of Change on Henry’s Farm” at Patagonia, 48 E. Walton, from 5:30-9 p.m. on March 12. The film is about Illinois organic farmer Henry and Brockman who takes a fallow year. His former apprentices take over the farm but end up facing unexpected consequences—notably flooding.

“I think as the climate is changing, our food production will absolutely be impacted, farmers are already struggling now. Ultimately it will impact what we see on food shelves,” Sommers said.

Many films take the story of climate change and conservation and add the human element to them. “When people find out we are doing environmental work, they think we are talking about lightbulbs, not driving… we are, but it’s so much deeper than that. I do hope people will think it’s a human issue,” Doyle said.

The festival started when a group of people met after an event with community organization Green Community Connections in 2012, West said. Now in its ninth year, the festival has expanded from Oak Park to Chicago and other suburbs. There’s also a youth filmmaking contest with entries from all over the US.

For more information, visit oneearthfilmfest.org

A novel approach: Local writer Richard Rose works in new genre

by Doug Rapp

Local writer Richard Rose thought his screenplay, “Comic Crusaders,” would never get off the ground. It had been optioned twice by movie producers but never made.

Then Savant Books reached out, looking for works to publish as screenplay novels, which Rose describes as a bridge between novel and screenplay. He offered up “Comic Crusaders” which was released last November.

Rose described the plot in two sentences, likening his summary to the logline for a movie in TV Guide: “A teenage cartoonist uses a magic pen to bring a superhero to life to help him find his father who has mysteriously disappeared. In so doing, he unwittingly unleashes a grotesque supervillain and his dark legions challenging him to find a way to save his father while preventing the dark legions from taking over the world.”

To read a screenplay novel, “the reader has to use his or her imagination,” the semi-retired financial advisor said. “The action and the dialogue move the story forward at a much faster pace.” 

Whereas a novel or story might describe a scene in several paragraphs, Rose said he opens a scene in “Comic Crusaders” in an adolescent’s bedroom with a simple, “A teenage junkyard.”

The longtime Streeterville resident had been thinking of ways to reach today’s readers after observing people in bookstores.

“Kids don’t read like we did,” Rose said. “They’re very impatient. They’re looking at video games and movies.”

Rose, who has also published several novels and short stories, thinks screenplay novels like “Comic Crusaders” are one way to reach them. 

Richard Rose

“It’s a revolutionary way to beget a new genre and attract a much younger audience,” he said. 

The roots of “Comic Crusaders” go back to Rose’s childhood in Kokomo, Ind. He and his brother Charlie would create comic strips with superheroes and villains parodying well-known citizens of his north-central Indiana hometown. Over time, Rose said, it morphed into the story it is today.

“It’s lighthearted and a fun read,” he said, contrasting it with contemporary superhero stories that he characterized as violent and lacking humor.

Rose said he is working on “Redemption,” a sequel to his novel “The Lazarus Conspiracies,” about a maverick Chicago cop who uncovers a deadly conspiracy.

“Comic Crusaders” is available at Amazon.com


Get your brackets ready for March Madness

by Jon Cohn

It’s all about the brackets in March. 

Bracketology, to be precise. No, it’s not about shopping  hints from the fix-it folks at your local hardware store. And these brackets will definitely not  be sold on the Home Shop- ping Network. 

The brackets that come to the  forefront this month are all basketball induced. College basketball to be precise.

 For the uninitiated, brackets refer to a 68 team tournament, involving the top college basketball teams. Now  famously known as March Madness, it has become all the craze the past couple decades.

The cool thing about the tournament is that it brings in even the non-sports fans. Chicago residents who may  never glance at a college basketball score during the regular season, and who may think the “three second rule” has  to do with picking up food that you dropped on the floor, suddenly become fans. 

Office pools, family and friends lotteries, posted brackets everywhere. Just the general buzz of conversation can  bring the most remote of fans into the frenzy.

Often we have a favorite team. Maybe it’s the college we  attended. Maybe it’s a local school (not much here in Chica- go with only Loyola University a contender to make the “big  dance”), or maybe it’s a team you just happened to pick out of the selection hat and if the piece of paper said “Duke”— lucky you. My pick is often a school that ends in “Technical Institute,” which usually means my players will graduate with great jobs but my team loses in the first round.

All the fun begins with Selection Sunday on March 15. Once it begins, the games come at you in waves. It is a three-week whirlwind that culminates on Monday April 6 with the National Championship.

Finally, one of the 68 competing teams will be crowned as Champion.

And then March Madness quietly recedes.

John Cohn is a New Eastside resident.  

Cover image courtesy of PNG Tree.

Volumes Bookstore begins new chapter in Gold Coast

by Doug Rapp

A popular Wicker Park bookstore has opened a second location at 900 North Michigan Shops in the Gold Coast. Rebecca George, who co-owns Volume Books with her sister Kimberly, said they were approached by the six-level shopping destination after they had a successful pop-up store at Water Tower Place during the 2018 holidays.

“They recognized that most of their clientele were more local and how they can serve the needs of that local community in a more effective way…I think our missions align a little bit,” George said

A former educator, George said the response to Volumes’ new downtown location, which opened in late September, has been positive.

“Everyone’s very thankful that there’s a bookstore nearby,” she said. “We already have a number of regulars we see on a weekly basis.”

Similar to their original location, the new Volumes will feature supplemental programming. George said they’re hosting weekly story time and may branch out beyond their fifth-floor location to do events in the Aster Hall space on the fifth and sixth floors. She added that they’re starting a happy hour book club next month and another afternoon book club catering to retirees living nearby.

George said they will host author events as well, including mystery/thriller writers in late March. John F. Hogan, who wrote a history of the Chicago Water Tower, spoke in December but bad weather hampered attendance, so they may reschedule that, George said.

“We’ve got lots of plans in the works,” she said, noting that 900 N. Michigan wants more programming for community building. “We’re just now getting into the programming aspect and what we hope to build over there.”

George said it is challenging to open a bookstore these days downtown.

“It’s like any bookstore—it’s a tough margin business, it’s a small margin business,” she said.

George said joining the established 900 North Michigan Shops makes it easier.

“No bookstore in today’s world could open ground level downtown,” she said. “It’s impossible. The cost is too insane anywhere in downtown Chicago…The trouble with being downtown right there is that in a vertical world, everyone’s really contained especially in the cold months.”

George said they’re hoping to reach out to businesses and hotels in the area to raise awareness and are considering a delivery service for customers with limited mobility. Despite the challenges of opening a new location, George said she’s pleased with what she, her sister and their employees have established.

“I really enjoy that community,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of really interesting people. I’m excited for what we can get done there in the world of books.”

Pinched on the River opens wine bar with dollar deal

by Doug Rapp

A local eatery is offering mid-week wine deals.

On Wednesdays, Pinched on the River, 443 E. Illinois St., is offering first glasses of wine for $1.

From 6 to 8 p.m. on hump days, customers can try a glass of red, white, rose or sparkling wine for a buck. The choices will be rotating varieties selected by staff, general manager Nasi Dimashi said. 

The wines will be offered upstairs at Pinched, where their coffee shop is located, but are also available downstairs at the main bar in the restaurant. 

Dimashi said the restaurant, which serves fast-casual eclectic Mediterranean food, started the deal in late January.

“People want to grab a quick drink,” Dimashi said. “We thought, why don’t we offer wine since we have so many delicious ones?” Customers aren’t obligated to eat but can grab a drink for a nice “mid-week break.”

“We want to bring some unique wines you don’t find daily yet they are delicious,” he said, noting that many came from countries not known for wine, such as Bulgaria and Slovenia.

Dimashi said his favorite is the Pullus pinot grigio from Slovenia, which is dry but looks like a rose since it’s fermented with the grape skins to give it a rosy shade.

“It’s a very interesting wine,” he said. 

The initial dollar wine night exceeded their expectations, Dimashi said. They thought a few people might stop by, but “the entire place filled up…which was a good problem to have,” he said.

The response from the neighborhood has been great, he said. “Overall the neighborhood has been very supportive. We’ve seen an increase in walk-in traffic.”

In addition to wine, Pinched offers cider and beer, both traditional and craft, including local breweries such as 312 and Two Brothers, which makes a special hazy IPA called Son of a Pinched exclusively for the restaurant. 

Happy hour at the main bar is 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. 

Pinched on the River, named because of the “pinch” of many flavors, Dimashi said, is the business’ second location. The original is in Lombard and owner Ranka Njegovan chose Streeterville when looking for restaurant space in the city.

“We wanted to be somewhere neighborhoody,” Dimashi said. “It’s a friendly environment, a family environment, and touristy with Navy Pier nearby…I love the neighborhood.”

Doorperson of the Month: Zack Gardner, Park Millennium

by Mat Cohen

Despite his Texas roots, Zack Gardner has been able to work through the shock of the Chicago winter to become New Eastside News Doorperson of the Month.

Gardner has been working at Park Millennium for nearly six years, but he still misses the Texas heat.

“I still haven’t gotten acclimated with the weather,” he said. “I’ve never spent so much money on a jacket.”

Gardner was born in Little Rock, Ark., raised in Texas and went to school in Dallas. After graduating, he moved to Chicago in 2013 with his twin brother, who works at the Signature Room. The cold weather was not ideal, but having a warm heart and interacting with residents has helped.

“I love to talk to people,” he said. “I’m a people person, I love to interact with kids, I like learning new things about people and just having a conversation.

“I guess you could call me a social butterfly.”

Gardner enjoys playing and coaching basketball when he’s not working. He has a Chihuahua-Terrier mix who occasionally accompanies him at the building.

“There’s definitely strong relationships with the residents, as well as kids and animals,” he said. “I probably know more animals’ and kids’ names, versus their parents’ names.”

Zack’s cousin referred him to the building, and he views the residents as family.

“We’re pretty much living in someone’s home, to be honest. That’s why I don’t really look at it as a job,” he said. “When I’m training people I tell them, ‘It’s a job for you, but not for them. You’re pretty much in somebody’s basement and if you stay long enough you’ll turn into family.’”

Zack said the only bad part of his job is when residents move away.

“I enjoy working with the people here,” he said. “This is a very nice, diverse environment, and everyone’s in good spirits, so that helps the job a lot.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s nice to establish those relationships.”

Police asked to patrol sidewalks at CAPS meeting

by Mat Cohen

At the Feb. 6 New Eastside  CAPS meeting, community members and police discussed competition for sidewalk space by pedestrians, scooters and Segways. 

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt by these yo-yo’s,” one male resident said, noting that many violators know they are in the wrong, but do it anyway. 

CAPS Sgt. Anthony Dombrowski said any change in  patrols by the police department will have to be dealt with  on an individual basis. “It’s one of many different people competing for space,” Dombrowski said.

 A woman brought up an incident regarding her friend pulling  out of a garage onto North Garland Court when a man pushed  over a trashcan and dented the  car. She said there was a police car on the street but they didn’t do anything about it.

 Dombrowski said to email him to put in a formal complaint against the officers who were allegedly present and who did not take action.

There was general concern among residents regarding the increase of marijuana in the city. A woman asked, “How do you test someone if they’re high if you  can’t smell it?” 

Officers said there’s no chemical test, but it’s a similar situation  to a DUI test to see if the person is able to follow instructions clearly, as well as other indicators to see if they are intoxicated.

 Dombrowski said that “violent  crime is the focus” of the Chicago Police Department. He said  violent crime doesn’t occur much in the 1st District, but in the areas where it does, there’s a lack of  trust and cooperation with police.

He said a lot of robberies and arrests happen at, or close to, the CTA.

“The mayor is very concerned with what’s going on at the CTA and there’s going to be some changes.” Dombrowski did not  elaborate on what those changes might be.

 The next CAPS meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. March 5 at 400 E. Randolph St.

Image courtesy of PNG Tree. 

‘The heart of the city’: State Street Corridor to be revitalized

by Stephanie Racine

“Elevating State” will be the goal and catchphrase of a new plan to revamp the State Street Corridor in the Chicago Loop.

The State Street Corridor plan was the main focus of the Chicago Loop Alliance and Foundation Annual Meeting on Feb. 20. Ernest Wong, co-founder and principal of Site Design Group, presented his plan for the revitalization.

“I am excited about the State Street Corridor plan,” said Deputy Mayor of Economic and Neighborhood Development Samir Mayekar in his speech at the meeting. 

State Street has a long history of being the hub of commerce and tourism in Chicago, Wong said. Marshall Field’s and Sears were heavily visited by locals and tourists for many years in the 1900s, but Wong recognizes commerce has changed.

 “Retail is more of an experience” he said. 

With commerce change, so must the location change, according to Wong’s proposal. Wong has looked to other famous streets for inspiration and examined why they are so popular.

Great activities and destinations, safety, equitability, accessibility and an inviting nature are all aspects of a street designed to be visited, Wong said. 

He observed the humor of streets in Shanghai with anthropomorphized dumpling sculptures and noted that it really is the people that make a place. 

Wong plans to conduct workshops this year that focus on three features of developing State Street—place, mobility and market. 

Wong and Chicago Loop Alliance welcome the opinions of residents on how to Elevate State Street in the upcoming months. By late 2020, using the workshops plus feedback from residents, Wong will solidify the plan for the corridor. 

“The Loop is the heart of the city, and we want to make sure the heart is strong,” Mayekar said. 

To learn more about the project and to lend your voice to the upcoming plan, text ELEVATE to #63566 or visit loopchicago.com/elevatestate

Streeterville doctor’s class helps expectant parents know what to expect

by Stephanie Racine

Expectant parent classes can cost a substantial amount in downtown Chicago. For example, classes at Northwestern Hospital cost from $50-$120.

 But Dr. Daniel Weissbluth, a pediatrician who has an office in Northwestern’s campus in Streeterville, is out to buck the trend.

We figure it should be free,” he said. 

Dr. Weissbluth’s office offers free prenatal classes on topics including CPR and infant safety, breastfeeding, sleep and newborn care. 

“We saw an educational gap and we wanted to fill it,” he said.

The classes include important information for new parents. Dr. Weissbluth said most first-time parents are unaware of the sleep deprivation that comes from having a new baby.

New parent Jessica Kushner took the classes at Dr. Weissbluth’s office in preparation for her son Lorenzo, born Oct. 14, 2019. The most valuable class she took was Newborn Care: The First 48 Hours and Beyond, Dr. Weissbluth said. Newborn Care covers the delivery process in the hospital and what to expect once new parents arrive home.

“I would have been walking in blind,” Kushner said.

The internet is inundated with information about having a baby, but Dr. Weissbluth’s classes gave Kushner a baseline of truth, she said. 

The classes are intended for first-time parents and family members who want to attend are welcome—as long as they register in advance. 

The instructors offer their email address for participants to follow up with any questions they may have. Dr. Weissbluth’s office is also available for information. 

“We encourage questions,” Dr. Weissbluth said. 

Northwestern Hospital offers free tours of their triage, labor and delivery and postpartum floors at Prentice Women’s Hospital. Registration is required. Visit classes.nm.org for information. 

For other expectant parent classes, UChicago Medicine offers free classes at their Hyde Park location. Visit uchicagomedicine.org for information.

Dr. Weissbluth’s Streeterville office is at 737 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 820. For questions about the free classes or the practice, call (312) 202-0300. Register for classes at weissbluthpediatrics.com

Dr. Weissbluth also has offices in Bucktown and South Loop.

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