The Chicago Tribune moves into a new digital ‘space’ age

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

The Chicago Tribune’s move from the Tribune Tower to Prudential Plaza was not just a change of address for the storied paper, it was a change in the corporate organism itself.

With the move, newspaper leadership used the opportunity to shake up the newsroom and reconfigure the layout, transforming a legacy newspaper into a 21st century media player, active online and in print with its reporters feeding stories into myriad digital platforms.

Christine Taylor, managing editor of audiences, explained how the new newsroom layout—devoid of a lot of offices and cubicles—is improving how the staff reports the news. “We can move quicker to facilitate a more organic conversation,” she said of the open floor layout.

Reporters hard at work in the new Tribune newsroom.

The editorial department has five offices reserved for senior staff while everybody else, including multimedia editors, mostly digital natives, work shoulder to shoulder, she said.

Those editors help shape reporters’ stories as they’re written to better deliver the news to specific digital platforms.

“As we pursue different ways we tell stories, we’re not just driving everything toward the printed product and we want the people who understand those platforms best to be part of the conversation,” Taylor said.

In this way, the journalism giant hopes to compete with digital-only news outlets, like Buzzfeed, that operate across social media platforms in order to maximize exposure to a younger, tech-savvy audience, she said. Taylor said the Tribune will not sacrifice quality for clicks.

“I try to understand why [readers] tend to gravitate toward [digital] storytelling and then ask how do we participate in that space,” Taylor said. “How do we sell stories on those platforms and get those readers to interact with us?”

If that is the main question facing legacy news outlets, Tribune leaders believe the Prudential Plaza could provide the answer. Without walls to divide the newsroom, the operation works like a hive—each reporter working on his or her story, toward a common goal of greater readership. At the center of the newsroom, reporters have access to digital metrics, scorecards that track how well stories are performing and connecting with readers.

“As we pursue different ways we tell stories, we’re not just driving everything toward the printed product and we want the people who understand those platforms best to be part of the conversation.”

– Christine Taylor, Managing Editor, Audience

“One of the ideas around the restructuring was to put the audience at the center of everything we do,” Taylor said.

It’s a new way of reporting, in a new location, and Facilities Director Lynne Allen said the move was rough, especially on long-time employees who felt a personal
connection with the old tower.

“It was hard for people,” Allen said. “It’s an iconic building.”

For nearly a century, that iconic building was home. The Tribune moved into the Tower on July 6, 1925. Within those walls, presidents visited with editors, Ann Landers, Mike Royko and Gene Siskel banged out innumerable columns and hundreds of reporters pursued leads, called up sources and did the work that earned the paper 25 Pulitzer Prizes.

Despite the move, that history is far from forgotten in the Tribune’s new home in Prudential Plaza. In one corner, two couches, relics from Ann Landers’ office, sit ready for reporters to use during a break.

Historic front pages, etched in glass and illuminated from behind, line hallways. Quotes, taken from Tribune Tower’s front lobby now glisten in new shiny steel, old relics and artwork juxtaposed against a sleek modern day office interior. A historic wooden editorial board table, with chairs so worn that the leather has split, are given prominent positions in the the office landscape.

“If we had good furniture, we tried to reuse it,” Allen said.

In the middle of it all, a broad highway of a staircase connects the Tribune’s three floors. Allen calls them the “town hall stairs,” designed to accommodate staff for all employee meetings. The staircase also opens up the space, unifying the separate floors.

Eastlake Studio designed the space, and Allen said adding the wide staircase through the heart of their property in Prudential Plaza was no small feat.

“This was probably the most ambitious part of the project,” she said. “The stairs interconnect our space and make everything make sense.”

This, Allen explained, is a big difference from Tribune Tower.

“The Tower was a dark space with small windows,” she said. Floor to ceiling windows surround the office space at The Prudential Plaza. “Here, it’s nice to look out over Millennium Park all day long,” Allen said.

She said the newspaper looked at several properties but Prudential Plaza
was the best.

“We couldn’t have ended up at a better place,” she said.

Chicago artist opens U.S. Pizza Museum

With museum, Chicago gets a slice of the pizza history pie

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Everyone knows pizza has long been big business in Chicago. With dozens of restaurants all through the city and suburbs offering a wide variety of styles and traditions, it is no surprise that Chicago is known as a destination city for pizza aficionados.

The newly opened U.S. Pizza Museum. Photo by Angela Gagnon

But now there’s more than pizza. Last month the U.S. Pizza Museum opened at the Roosevelt Collection Shop, 150 Roosevelt Road, adding an important side dish to the meal itself—history.

Kendall Bruns founded the museum several years ago as a series of pop-up events at various pizza restaurants. With gathered steam—and funding—he is hoping to make the Roosevelt Collection address a permanent home of his pizza memorabilia. Indeed, the museum itself is less a collection of pizza lore and myth as it is a collection of pop culture ephemera—important to pizza lovers of the late 20th century and a fun trip down memory lane for most people.

An ode to Chicago-style pizza at the new museum. Photo by Angela Gagnon.

The space opened Aug. 10 and judging from the people waiting to go inside, there are plenty of people who are interested in checking it out.

“We’re just here to learn about pizza and Chicago,” said museum visitor Shaheen Thasa.

The pizza museum made national news and, maybe predictably, the announcement was met with outrage among New York City pizza fans who took to Twitter to complain that any pizza museum should belong to New York.

“I’m not biased or anything, but Chicago pizza is the best,” Thasa said. Bruns, the founder, has taken pains to remain neutral in the debate. He displays memorabilia from around the United States and in interview after interview, he would not pick a favorite style of pie.

Bruns describes himself as a pizza agnostic and said the national social media debate about his museum was not intentional.

Bruns said he hopes pizza unites more than it divides.

“People can get passionate, but it doesn’t have to be this division,” he said. Bruns said any type of pizza can be tasty.

The collection of pizza memorabilia is located in the Roosevelt Collection. Photo by Angela Gagnon.

“I enjoy all different styles of pizza,” he said. “And everyone should.”

He explained that the food should unify Americans because whatever style they grew up eating, the food itself has a special place in most peoples’ memories.

“People have this connection to their memories of the pizza they ate growing up,” he explained.

Another visitor said good pizza depends less on the region and more on the preparation.

“I think any pizza that has a hand-tossed crust, grated mozzarella cheese and home-
made sauce is good,” said museum visitor Daniel Gulco.

To find out more about the U.S. Pizza Museum, its hours and ticket prices, visit uspizzamuseum.com

The Palmer House gives guests a glimpse into historic Chicago

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

One of the oldest hotels in America sits right outside of New Eastside, at 17 E. Monroe St.

The historic Palmer House | Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The Palmer House Hilton was intended as a wedding gift from Potter Palmer, an innovative businessman and the hotel’s namesake, to his new, much younger wife, Bertha, an educated socialite who was a champion for women and the arts.

The hotel first opened in 1871, but was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire just two weeks later. It was rebuilt across the street, re-opening in 1873, according to the Palmer House’s director of publicity and resident historian Ken Price.

Price has been with the Palmer House since 1983 and leads a guided tour of the hotel called “History is Hot!” Participants eat lunch in the hotel’s Lockwood Restaurant & Bar, and visit the Palmer House’s one-room museum, which opened in 2010.

The one room Palmer House museum. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The history Price teaches doesn’t rely
on timelines and dry facts. Rather, he takes names and dates and weaves them
into enthralling narratives, giving life to historical figures.

The Palmer House became a social
hotspot over the years, attracting famous
guests from all over the world including
many U.S. presidents, Charles Dickens and
Buffalo Bill. Musicians like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Liberace have performed in the hotel’s Empire Room.

An original recipe brownie served at the Palmer House. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The hotel was advertised as the first fire-proof hotel in the world, and the first to installlighting and telephones. Potter Palmer also invented an early version of the elevator, Price said. Perhaps most importantly, one of the most popular sweet treats in America was invented at the Palmer House—the brownie.

The kitchen still serves brownies made with the original Palmer House recipe.

It isn’t necessary to stay at the Palmer House to experience its historic beauty. Just pop in the lobby for a drink to experience the Grecian frescos on the ceiling, 24-karat gold chandeliers and bronze angel statues.

Haute Dogs to help Canine Companions

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

A different breed of fashion show is coming to Chicago on Sept. 20 at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel, 108 E. Superior St.

Haute Dog, a fashion show wherein both human and canine models walk the runway, will support Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that provides assistance dogs free of charge to adults, children and veterans with disabilities.

A woman and dog on the runway at a Haute Dog event. Photo by Marcin Cymer

Haute Dog began as a costume contest in Los Angeles, but three years ago, Canine Companions expanded to Chicago andchanged the format, according to Molly Schulz, the public relations and marketing coordinator for Canine Companions.

“We really wanted to find a way to combine the fashion industry and that fantastic … culture of Chicago with Canine Companions,” Schulz said.

A Haute Dog fashion show took place in Columbus, Ohio earlier this year.

This year’s models include Ravi Baichwal from ABC 7 Chicago and Natalie Bomke from Fox 32 Chicago, among other notable names. The human models will be accompanied on the runway by their own dogs or by a puppy from Canine Companions.

Members of the Greater Chicagoland Chapter of Canine Companions will volunteer at the event, assisting dog recipients and their canines. Shultz said the volunteers will be there to “mingle and talk to people so they can really hear about our mission firsthand from the people that we serve.”

A woman and service dog at a Haute Dog event. Photo by Marcin Cymer

Tails in the City, 1 E. Delaware Place, a luxury pet boutique, will provide all of the hound-some clothing for the dog models, Schulz said. Designers for the humans include Alice + Olivia, Contessa Bottega, Vince and Burdi.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Canine Companions for Independence.

In addition to the fashion show, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction will be available for guests, making for a paw-si-tively un-fur-gettable event.

Anyone can stargaze at the Adler

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Stargazers take note: If the night sky is unavailable, try the Adler. 

Guests get a campfire lesson on star gazing at Camp Adler. Photo by Taylor Hartz

Through the Adler’s Adler after Dark events, adults—the shows are 21 and over—have an opportunity to see something they would otherwise miss: The sky.

In August, the dome theater was set up to show the sky above in an experience called Look Up, with guests laying around a cozy mock campfire on fleece blankets strewn about the room. Host Maggie O’Brien, a facilitator at Adler playing the role of a fellow hiker, led this session where she was on a mission to spot some stars and catch a glimpse of a meteor shower.

Using a sky map on the dome screen, O’Brien pointed out stars and constellations that Chicagoans can see without trekking out into the country.

The best spot to make right now, said O’Brien, is a glimpse of Mars. O’Brien explained that thanks to a process called “opposition,” Earth and Mars are currently traveling in orbit close together, making the distinctly red planet visible from downtown. The best place to see it, said  O’Brien, is near the lakefront, or anywhere with a limited number of street lights.

In September, the Adler is asking its patrons to get decked out in their favorite ‘90s fashion and sing along to some throwback hits while learning about the rise of the internet. The night of nostalgia, themed around the decade, will take place on Sept. 20.

In October, Adler will get in the halloween spirit with a spooky look at “the deep.” This Adler After Dark event will explore the deep ocean and deep space.

All After Dark events feature specialty cocktails that fit the theme, along with other bar offerings.

“Moon juice” cocktail at Camp Adler. Photo by Taylor Hartz

“It’s not the Adler you remember as a kid, this is a unique way to experience the museum,” said Sater.

Tickets for each monthly event, held on the third Thursday of each month, go on sale the third Friday of the previous month and each month features a different theme.

In August, attendees were invited to learn about space travel. The team at Adler brought NASA astronaut Brian Duffy and the current NASA team behind the Space Launch System to talk about “extreme camping” – or, living in space.

“I’m not sure there could be any more extreme camping than going to the moon and Mars,” said Marcia Lindstrom, Strategic Communications Manager at NASA Space Launch System.For more information visit https://www.adlerplanetarium.org/adler-after-dark.

Is it OK to touch? A New Yorker learns Chicago pizza rules

By Tom Conroy | Staff Writer

To fork or not to fork? As a native New Yorker, I always struggle with the moral conundrum of whether or not I should be eating deep dish with my hands or using a
knife and fork. Am I legally allowed to pick up a slice of deep dish pizza? Am I allowed
to fold it? When in Chicago, I want to do as the Chicagoans do, so I went straight to
the source.

The legendary Giordano’s Pizzeria, which has more than 40 locations in the Chicago area, provides a breakdown of pizza-eating styles on their website and what that says about your personality.

Their analysis of the fold-it-over-and-eat-it method says that you are an efficient and clean eater who multitasks at a fast pace. As a native New Yorker who works in media, I could not agree with this more— standing in a crowded pizzeria in Manhattan with no seating while wolfing down a couple of slices can only be accomplished with this method.

The site describes the knife-and-fork method for deep dish pizza as indicative of a patient person who savors the meal. I’m usually at a savage level of hunger when preparing to eat pizza, so I have no time for such formalities.

Brennan Holness, the restaurant manager at the Giordano’s near Millennium Park, 130 E. Randolph St., assuaged my fears when I asked about the proper way to eat
their famous deep dish pizza.“You can do whatever you feel most comfortable doing,” said Holness, a Los Angeles native who has been with Giordano’s since 2016. “I would recommend waiting for it to cool down a little bit before you go to pick it up.”

I knew I could count on a fellow transplant from one of the coasts to guide me in the right direction. Holness seemed perplexed by my use of the term “pie” to describe a pizza, but was not judgmental toward my East Coast lingo. He recommended either a Giordano’s Special (sausage, mushrooms, green peppers and onions) or a Chicago Classic (the same, but with pepperoni instead of sausage), so I guess I’m ordering one of each when I go.

Maybe I can find someone to share them with me first.

While learning about the some of the more prominent deep dish destinations in the city, I was intrigued by their histories and their connections to each other.

For instance, Lou Malnati, whose restaurant now sits at 439 N. Wells St., originally worked at Pizzeria Uno, 29 E. Ohio St. It calls to mind the history of New York pizza—how Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s came from Patsy’s, while Totonno’s came from Lombardi’s, which is considered to be New York’s first pizzeria. Giordano’s was founded by brothers Efren and Joseph Buglio in 1974, when they perfected their Mama Giordano’s Easter Pie into their famous so-called stuffed pizza, an even deeper variation of the traditional deep dish.

Now I have all the tools necessary to assimilate myself to the Windy City. I didn’t want people looking at me like the outsider I am—I just want to eat some pizza.

Annual funny fest features female talent

By Matthew Reiss | Staff Writer

August marks the return of the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival and Chicago comedian Amy  Leuenberger is a name to watch this year.

Leuenberger, who also works in New Eastside as both a paralegal and yoga instructor,  jokingly notes that her comedy career has been born out of out of rejection — and she’s okay with that. For years, Leuenberger performed as part of a popular sketch comedy group. Over time, cast members left the group for other pursuits and Leuenberger continued with a solo career. 

Amy Leuenberger. Photo courtesy of Chicago Women’s Funny Festival

After training at Second City, Leuenberger immersed herself in performance, making appearances at several clubs throughout Chicago. Her comedy is based on life experience, with an absurd twist that comes from her sketch writing days.

Over the past six years, the CWFF has become a venue catering to all genders and all types of comedy, including stand-up, improv, sketch, musical comedy, burlesque and forms yet to be categorized.

In addition, Leuenberger said she estimates only about 10 percent of Chicago stand-up comedians are women, meaning that CWFF is a rare opportunity for women to perform new material, network with other performers and appreciate each other’s work in a positive, accepting environment.

This year, 400 performers will perform 70 shows beginning Aug. 23 and running through Aug. 26. Leuenberger will perform a stand-up set at 10 p.m., Aug. 25, and then emcee for the rest of the hour.

Here are four other acts audiences shouldn’t miss at the CWFF:

  • Off Off Broadzway — A Chicago-based burlesque parody act that has been getting rave reviews for a decade.
  • Harpreet Sehmbi — a Toronto based stand-up comedian and improviser, graduate of Second City’s Conservatory, host of the Darjeelings of Comedy.
  • Anarchy: An Improvised Rock Opera – Exactly what the name suggests, a Chicago group of comedians who are also supremely talented musicians.
  • Salma Hindy — Received a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering, then hit the road from Toronto, touring North America as a stand-up comedian.

Published July 31, 2018

Updated August 3, 2018

Reaching new heights—adaptive rock climbing comes to Maggie Daley Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Published July 4, 2018

At first glance, the Maggie Daley Climbing Wall might seem daunting.

The mere thought of ascending 40 feet by gripping tiny rocks would give anyone pause, let alone someone in a wheelchair.

But, through a partnership between Adaptive Adventures and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, anyone who wants to climb can.

Al Schiewe, one of the adaptive climbing lead volunteers, secures climber Suzen Riley in the ARC (adaptive ropes course) harness in preparation for her ascent. Photo by Angela Gagnon

For the third year, the Maggie Daley’s Climbing Wall hosts climbing opportunities every second and fourth Monday of the month for people with physical disabilities. Instruction, adaptive gear, support and encouragement are all provided.

Chris Werhane, the adaptive sports lead
in Chicago, says the Intro to Climbing
program welcomes about 40 climbers and
volunteers.

“We focus on what’s most comfortable
for the person climbing, what’s needed for
them to be successful,” Werhane said.
The adaptive equipment options can be
customized to fit the climber’s needs.

Oak Park resident and climber Suzen Riley uses an adaptive ropes course (ARC) harness along with the pulley system and handle-bar style “ascender” to experience the thrill of the climb. When she climbs, volunteer belays assist with the pulley system, and Riley grips the ascender to ratchet herself up.

“When you get up there, it’s so beautiful,” Riley said. “It’s good exercise and you feel this exhilaration that you’ve actually done it.”

The trained volunteers who assist with the climbs are just as vital to the process as the equipment.

Some climbers use side support wherein a volunteer climbs next to them as they ascend the wall. The side climber might help place a weaker limb on the rock or provide verbal assistance for visually impaired climbers. There is no limit to the styles and customized assistance climbers can use.

Adaptive Adventures was founded in 1999 by two individuals with physical disabilities who saw a need for sporting opportunities. Adaptive Adventures provides programs, camps and clinics for cycling, climbing, kayaking, skiing, sailing, scuba and more.

Greg Zbrezezny, the Chicago Program Director of Adaptive Adventures, added that they provide scholarships, too.

“The goal is to make it accessible to everyone,” said Chicago volunteer and belayer Megan Snowder.

The outdoor program will run through October, weather permitting. To learn more or to register, visit www.adaptiveadventures.org

Go like a pro to Millennium Park’s summer events

By Julie Whitehair | Community Contributor

Published July 4, 2018

Millennium Park is a hub of summer entertainment for tourists and Chicago- ans alike. From free movies to ticketed concerts, Millennium—and its Jay Pritzker Pavilion—often draws a crowd. Here’s how to enjoy the park’s performances like a pro.

Get there early

Make sure to get to Millennium Park well before the performance starts—the general admission lawn fills up fast for the park’s most hyped shows. Definitely don’t arrive
late, or you might end up sitting on the hard concrete ground for the rest of the night. Keep an eye on the park’s Twitter account @Millennium_Park for updates, incase the crowd reaches capacity.

Bring refreshments—but check if alcohol is allowed at your event

Food and non-alcoholic beverages are always allowed at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, but a few events prohibit any outdoor alcohol. You can check which days alcohol is prohibited at the City of Chicago’s website and expect officials to check bags at the entrance—the city’s placing a new security perimeter and bag check for all events at the pavilion this summer.

As for food, some visitors pick up sandwiches for a snack, while others bring a full-on spread—tiny tables, gourmet cheese platters and all. Just make sure any coolers are smaller than 26 inches long, 15 inches wide and 15 inches in height and avoid bringing metal knives or cutlery in order to adhere to the park’s guidelines listed on
their website.

Pick a spot to meet ahead of
time

Meeting up with friends can be difficult when they’re giving vague directions to where they’re sitting. Avoid this by meeting outside the park or designating a spot near a notable location ahead of time—don’t be the person obnoxiously standing and waving in the crowd right before a show begins.

Rub-a-dub-dub, your drink’s in a tub

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published July 4, 2018

Rubber ducks in a cocktail—need we say more? When we heard about the adorable, bubbly cocktail at The Bassment, 353 W. Hubbard St., we had to see—and taste—it for ourselves.

At Bassment, an underground live music venue below The Hampton Social Club, they serve their speciality cocktail not in a glass but in a bathtub. That’s right, The Bathtub arrives exactly how it sounds, in a miniature ceramic tub with tiny golden faucet taps—
but instead of water and bubbles, it’s filled with a tasty beverage.

This Instagram sensation is made with cucumber-infused vodka, jalapeño and a foamy layer of bubble bath made of lemon meringue. To complete the look, it’s topped off with an adorable rubber ducky.

At Three Dots and a Dash, 435 N. Clark St., make sure you’ve got your camera out and ready, because at the tiki-themed River North bar, you’ve got to get the perfect shot before you take the first sip. At Three Dots and a Dash glasses are designed to
look like tiki totems, skeletons and fish and the drinks themselves are vibrant hues of coral, teal and purple. Each is garnished with something different, from rubber toy sharks and skull-topped toothpicks to fresh tropical flowers and mermaid swizzle sticks.

The Caribbean punch is served in a heavy stone vessel, carved to look like a coral reef fish with big eyes and crooked, jagged fangs. It’s topped off with a tiny colorful skull, a lime slice and a bright pink flower.

The fish is filled with aged Jamaican and Panamanian rums, lime, pineapple, sarsaparilla, falernum and fassionola for a unique, flavorful summer refreshment.

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