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February 2009 Archives

Chicago's Top 20 Songs

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Maybe it's all those Chelsea Handler promos he's featured in, but for some reason Chicago is showing some major love for T.I. this week, even bringing his past hit, "Whatever You Like," back into the mix (it was parodied during the election four months ago, people). Regardless of the Atlanta rapper's upsurge, he can't compete with Kanye West and Lady Gaga, who hold down the top two spots for the third straight week. Your move, Chelsea.

Here are this week's top 20 songs based on Chicago-area radio airplay...

Daily Deal$: Friday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Black Rock
$12.50 buckets of Coors Light; 25-cent wings

Exedus II

$3 Jamaican rum punch

Horan's Snug
$4 20-ounce Guinness

Other Side

$4 drafts of Blue Moon

Red Line Tap
$2.50 PBR and Berghoff bottles

Two weeks 'til Pitchfork tix

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Music fans - circle March 13 on your calendars. Actually, while you've got the pen out, circle July 17, 18 and 19 as well. The first date is when tickets for the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival go on sale. The July dates, of course, are when the actual celebration of independent (and, increasingly, classic) music goes down in Union Park.

No word yet on who will be playing the fest this year, but with past lineups including Public Enemy, Sonic Youth, De La Soul, Spoon, Animal Collective, Girl Talk, Andrew Bird and others, you can bet you're going to want these tickets.

Sonotheque's got soul

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Local fans of Chicago's Numero Group -- the revivalist label that's unearthed dozens of classic soul, gospel and funk recordings from all over the country -- no longer have to live in isolation. To celebrate the release of its 26th compilation, "Local Customs: Downriver Revival," the label will throw a party at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3 at Sonotheque. The night will feature a 30-minute documentary about the making of the album (which draws its content from a home recording studio in Ecorse, Michigan), as well as a DJ set including records taken straight from the Numero vault.
Check out the label's blog for a sneak peak, including two free cuts from Ecorse gospel singer Shirley Anne Lee, exclusive video footage and a story primer for a project that was three years in the making.


And if you're excited about this event, don't forget about the Eccentric Soul Revue, Numero's first live concert, which goes down on April 4 at the Park West. The show will include performances from greats like Syl Johnson ("Different Strokes"), The Notations, Renaldo Domino, Nate Evans, The Kaldirons and The Final Solution, whose soundtrack for the unreleased blaxploitation film, "Brotherman," was put out by Numero last year.

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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Billed as “perpetually six months clean and sober,” comedian Andy Dick headlines iO on Thursday as part of the “Del Close 75th Birthday” weeklong celebration in honor of the 10th anniversary of the passing of Close (the founder of longform improv). Tickets are $10. Show time is 10:30 p.m. at the theater, 3541 N. Clark. Call (773) 880-0199. The Lindbergh Babies 2.0 open.

Club Hopping, Feb. 27-March 5

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This Chicago-based Mexican-American band is the vision of brothers Jorge and Angel Ledezma and vocalist Lupe Martinez. The trio was interested in creating a sound that took inspiration from, and paid homage to, their Mexican heritage. The band’s sound is influenced by Brazilian Tropicalia, Motown, German Krautrock, traditional Mexican trio music and the symphonic pop sound of the ’60s. Also on the bill: Tirra Lirra, the Singleman Affair, A Lull. At 8 p.m. Saturday at Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake. Tickets, $5 in advance, $8 at the door. Call (312) 666-6775; — Mary Houlihan

Daily Deal$: Thursday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Bottle Bar
$3 bottles of 312, $5 Absolut martinis, $5 cocktails; free manicures 7-10 p.m.

Citizen Bar
$3 domestic bottes; $3 burgers/chicken burgers

$3.99 build-your-own-personal-pizza (two toppings); $3.50 call mixers

Uptown Lounge
$3 Amstel, $5 bomb shots

Vines on Clark
$3 pints of Guinness and Harp; half-price cheeseburgers


Acme Miniature Flea Circus
6:30 p.m. Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art; $12 ($10 for seniors, students, and center members; $8 for children under 12)
A popular pastime during the Victorian Era, the flea circus has essentially been exterminated with the rise of television, but this acclaimed show aims to bring it back. With a purple top hat and majestic voice, Professor A.G. Gertsacov directs Midge and Madge, stars of the Acme Miniature Flea Circus, to pull chariots, dance on a tight wire and perform other circus-like stunts. Come one, come all...but leave your dogs at home.

Train your liver at St. Practice Day Pub Crawl

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Only 20 days left till St. Patrick's Day. Are you ready to consume mass quantities? Like any all-day marathon event, you require training. That's what St. Practice Day is for.

On Saturday, head to Streeterville for the St. Practice Day Pub Crawl, beginning at 8 p.m. at Timothy O'Toole's, 622 N. Fairbanks Court. After loading up there on suds, Jameson shots and accessories (green Paddy's Day garb is encouraged, and beads etc. will be available), you'll wander — with increasingly meandering direction, no doubt — through other area bars, including P.J. Clarke's, the Reagle Beagle, D4 Irish Pub and Cafe and Lizzie McNeill's.

A guys' night out on the town

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The birds flock together for nights out all the time, but what about the bees? Instead of just "hanging" and ordering pizza, we like this Citysearch list of suggestions for a classy, smoky, swanky guys' night out on Chicago. Whether you're in suits or ball caps, hitting a couple of these places with your buddies can help foster the bromance.

Dave Dresden brings his beats to Crobar

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Dave Dresden — one half of the acclaimed, now-defunct DJ duo Gabriel & Dresden (but he has a new partner shortly, Mikael Johnston from Mephisto Odyssey) — is not only performing this weekend at Crobar's Chicago outpost, the show is billed as the kick-off to his Crobar residency. (This makes it sound as if he'll be back every weekend, though we can only find another scheduled date back at Crobar in May.)

Power pop flows through Aqueduct shows

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022609aque.jpg Dave Terry — the lone man behind the rock moniker Aqueduct — is a pop songwriter, for sure. He dresses it up in a lot of indie-rock cool — particularly his impressive keyboards, which manage to be retro without the saturating irony of so many others who consciously "go retro" — but the carefully structured bones of his songs are made of melody and heartbreak. He's a post-postmodern Big Star, a grungy Howard Jones.

And he's back in town this weekend, part of the Amplify New Music Series, 10 p.m. Friday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. Tickets are a measley 10 bucks. The Foundry Field Recordings and Light Pollution open the show.

Remember: Nothing beats rock

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Your chances of winning millions in the Illinois Lottery are roughly one in a gazillion (we're rounding up here). Your chances of taking home the $500 prize in the Lotto-sponsored Rock Paper Scissors tournament at Victory Liquors tonight? Much better, unless the Lincoln Park bar decides to seriously flout the fire code.

In any case, the free, bracket-style competition should be a good time, and even if you're knocked out early, you'll be able to enjoy $4 Miller Lite pitchers and 3 Olives martinis as well as giveaways. The fun starts at 8 p.m.

From the schoolyard to the film fest

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Say the words "kick ball," and immediately I'm back in fifth grade, getting a pre-taste of athletic terror courtesy of Mrs. Holloway in her purple pant suit. The dusty field. The big rubber ball. The shuffling of gangly feet.

That may still be how it is in the schoolyard, but in Chicago the sport has grown up — into a full-contact, foul-mouthed, hard-drinkin' freakout. See for yourself when "Left Field," a documentary about local geeks' punishing pastime, premieres at 7:30 tonight at the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee.

Here's a trailer of what looks like a hilarious film, which we found via Chicagoist:

This is about as "breaking" as news gets in the music world: Metro will host a special midnight show this Saturday, featuring none other than legendary MC Rakim. The God will be supported by some of our favorite local artists, The Primeridian, Que B.I.L.L.A.H. and DJ Intel.

Get your tickets here ($15) or risk getting turned away at the door. What will you do then, stuck in Wrigleyville in the middle of the night? It's not like there are any bars around there or anything.

Yo, Ne-Yo!

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If you're a Ne-Yo fan (and who doesn't love the R&B juggernaut these days, with hits like "Miss Independent" and "Closer"), you were probably excited when you found out about his February 27 show at the Chicago Theatre. Then you found out that it could cost you as much as $100 to see the dude. This may be the "Year of the Gentleman," but it's also the "Year of the Recession."

But your stinginess has paid off, because now you can see him for next to nothing, though he probably won't be doing any singing. The crooner will be stopping by Lumen after the show (no doubt to get his picture taken by photographer Marc Moran at the Yearbook Social), so reserve your table now. Complimentary cover before 10 p.m. w/RSVP.

Stay warm — with hands free to hoist a beer!

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Andy Katzman slips into his Snuggie at a friend's apartment on a bitterly cold January night. (Sun-Times file)

Life is so much rosier now that I can stay warm and blog at the same time, thanks to the convenient sleeves on my Snuggie. If you, too, have joined the Snuggie cult (Or Slanket, or whichever brand of blankets with sleeves you choose), you'll soon find another glorious use for the hands-free function of the invention — hoisting a few, this spring during the Snuggie Pub Crawl along Lincoln Avenue.

Originally scheduled for March 21, news today via NBC Chicago has the event moved to April 18. (Er, will we still need the snuggliness of a Snuggie in April?) More than 2,300 people have signed up already. And, NBC adds, "Don't forget, it's BYOS – Bring Your Own Snuggie. You can purchase Snuggies at local retailers like Walgreens, or order them online by this Saturday, Feb. 28 to ensure delivery before the pub crawl. And a nice side note, the Snuggie Pub Crawl team is donating proceeds from the event to the AC-Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania."

Daily Deal$: Wednesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Angelina Ristorante
20 percent off entire bill for Lakeview residents

$5 martinis, $3 Stoli drinks

Gruppo Di Amici
$5 martinis

$4 Miller Lite and Corona Light (buy a 12-ounce of one, get a 7-ounce of the other for free); $2 mixed shots; $2 tacos, $2.50 soup

The Rail
$1.50 burger w/fries, 50-cent chili; $4 bombs, $3 drafts of Sierra Nevada

The neverending Restaurant Week

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Do you wish Restaurant Week would never end? Well, you’re in luck, as many participating restaurants have extended their prix-fixe specials through March 6.

brasseriejoinside200.jpgBrasserie Jocarnivale200.jpgCarnivale

Included on the list are Brasserie Jo, Carnivale, La Madia and Le Lan. Each offers three-course menus, priced oh-so-fairly at $22 for lunch and $32 for dinner. And we hear rumors that ajasteak is extending its $22 prix-fixe meal indefinitely!

Now, when are we gonna get a Chicago bar week?

Mac. Cheese. I want to go to there

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The build-your-own macaroni & cheese with procuitto and chicken, being built at Kuma's Corner, 2900 W. Belmont. (Sun-Times file)

Like PB&J or gin and vermouth, few marriages are more sublime than a bowl of firm macaroni and a variety of gooey cheeses. If you, too, love a cheesy mac attack, you'll enjoy reading this Gapers Block account of last week's sMACkdown benefit at Goose Island in Lake View, featuring local chefs trying to make the aged-old dish their own. Some interesting combinations. Oxtail? Seriously?

Don't waffle. Celebrate National Pancake Week!

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Photo from 312 Dining Diva.

This morning's bowl of cereal suddenly seems like "Oliver!"-esque gruel after looking at that. But then, pancakes are not just for breakfast anymore, as you can discover during National Pancake Week. The 312 Dining Diva ponders the flap about flapjacks and has this round-up of where to get your griddle on around Chicago during this "event."

If you have trouble perfecting the art at home in the skillet, try Batter Blaster — pancake batter in a whipped cream-like can. Just squirt it in the pan, wait and flip.

Other recommendations? Do tell.


Out of Order
Thursday, February 26 at darkroom, 9 p.m.; $5 before 11 p.m. with RSVP to
Out of Order, a new monthly party at darkroom from popular promoters Sang Yi and Paul Rodriguez, aims to offer Chicagoans an eclectic, dance-friendly option for the monotonous nightlife. Tonight, the party kicks off with hip hop legend Steinski, a live performance from local band to watch Hey Champ and tastemaker DJs Intel and Trancid.

Smile! You're on the Fountains of Wayne DVD

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If you were at the last big (indoor) Fountains of Wayne show in Chicago, here's hoping your hair looked fantastic — because the DVD of the show goes on sale next week. "Fountains of Wayne: Live in Chicago" is available March 3 from Shout! Factory. Here's a sneak peek ...

In other Fountains of Wayne-related, Chicago-band and generally awesome power-pop news: Get this — there's a new band called Tinted Windows, and its four members are ... singer Taylor Hanson of Hanson, guitarist James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, bassist Adam Schlesinger of Ivy and Fountains of Wayne and drummer Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick. They'll unveil themselves at the South by Southwest fest/conference down in Austin in a coupla weeks. Check out the news — and a video sample — here.

Daily Deal$: Mardi Gras Edition

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Today, we'll be plucking five great deals from Centerstage's guide to Mardi Gras events.

115 Bourbon Street
$3 you-call-it

Dunlays on Clark
$5 Hurricanes, $3 Big Easy shots; $10 Mardi Gras menu specials

Fat Cat
$4 Abita beer; $7.95 all-you-can-eat buffet

Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
$30 all-you-can-eat-and-drink

Stretch Run
$5 Hurricanes, $6 "Storm of the Century"

Neighbors hear sour note in Rascal Flatts

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Here we go again. If you're excited about the recently announced Rascal Flatts concert at Wrigley Field, you need to go talk to the residents of Wrigleyville. The neighborhood group — which consistently battles the park every single time it tries to stage a concert there — is protesting this show as being one too many for residents to bear.

Elton John and Billy Joel are scheduled in the Friendly Confines July 16 and 21, but the July 18 Rascal Flatts show as drawn a decidedly unfriendly response from the Southport Neighbors Association, which is begging aldermen to nix the country show. One of the claims is that the concert would attract too many people to the neighborhood during the association's seventh annual Summer on Southport Festival.

It's a really big city, folks. If you don't want to live next to a major national event venue, try the peace and quiet of Rogers Park. It's a buyer's market out there.

Let the bon temps roulez right here in Chicago

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So you didn't find the time to schedule days off for the road trip to Mardi Gras this year. But don't settle for a stale King Cake from the grocery store. There's plenty of bon temps you can roulez tonight in Chi town, and Centerstage has a crazy-long list of all the available options.

And take heart. If you were actually in New Orleans tonight, you'd have to (a) dodge bullets and (b) catch plastic swag from this real genius ...


Kathy Griffin lands A-list book deal

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Uh, can you still claim to be on the D-list when (a) you're spotlighted at nearly every awards show and (b) you land a $2 million book deal? That's what's reported, via our Book Room blog, today about Oak Park's own Kathy Griffin — celebrity skewerer extraordinaire. Will her yuks be as hilarious without her breathy "um's" and urgent "wait, wait's"?

Open and shut-tered

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Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.



Tapas Valencia – This small-plates tapas spot used to be in Bloomingdale, but moved to the South Loop earlier this month. Now, we’re not trying to pass judgment on Bloomingdale or nothin’, but where would you rather be?

Café Bella – They’re only serving lunch at this Logan Square BYOB for now, but a dinner menu is in the works. Owner Hector Pena named the place after his daughter. Good thing he didn’t name her Salmonella. (crickets chirping) Hello? Is this thing on?

Avila – The former Club 720 in River North opens Friday and boasts three floors of Latino-inspired dancing. You don’t want us to dig our salsa shoes out of the closet, because once we do, it’s on!

Closed … for now:

Osteria di Tramonto – But the swanky Wheeling spot’s closing is only temporarily, while they remodel. In the meantime, sister spot Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood is open all day.


Closed … for good:

Bar Chicago – It’s hard to believe this Division Street staple was open for nearly a decade. We remember coming here a lot in our younger days. We don’t remember much beyond that, but we’re pretty sure we made it in the door.

Check back here every Tuesday with more openings and closings (and snarky comments, of course). And be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's list of new restaurants and bars.

Shhh! It's a secret!

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Even the band doesn't know where it'll be playing.

Psst. We have some information about a music show coming up on Thursday. The key word here is "some."

Who's playing? Shiny Toy Guns, with art from photographer Benjy Russell and illustrator Glen Hanson. Where will it happen? We can't tell you.

Seriously, we would if we could...but those details (and tickets, for that matter) will only be given out to those who head to on Thursday and answer a series of "local" questions. We're guessing you'll be required to know a little more than "the Cubs play at Wrigley Field," so get to studying.

And if you do find out where it is, please let us know. We're supposed to be an informative blog here, after all.

Jai ho!

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"Together at last! Let's celebrate with some whole wheat naan at Marigold."

Are you one of those movie lovers who holds onto your ticket stub after seeing a particularly great movie? Good news: That scrapbook is finally going to come in handy.

Bring your stub from the Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire" into Marigold, Uptown's upscale modern Indian spot, on any weekday or Sunday until March 22, and you'll get 15-percent off your bill. So go ahead, invite your Latika (or Jamal) out for some succulent Aachaari lamb chops and tandoori chicken. Just make sure to end the meal with some chai - and tip your waiter extra well.

Ian's Pizza - Thursday.jpg
"Mmm...wish I had some copper lager to go along with this mac 'n' cheese pie."

Everyone knows that pizza and beer are a match made in taste-bud heaven. But not all such pairings are created equal. For example:

Domino's + Icehouse < Lou Malnati's + Heineken < Piece + Golden Arm

Where Wednesday's collaboration between Sheffield's and Ian's Pizza will fit in, we're not exactly sure. The two Lakeview favorites have teamed up for a seriously creative meal; $25 gets you four-courses of Ian's pies, with complementary brews selected by Sheffield's Beer School beer dude Phil Kuhl. Check out the menu after the jump, then make your reservations fast, as space is limited (note: a second dinner was just added for Wednesday, March 4 at 7 p.m.).

Daily Deal$: Monday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

$1 cans of PBR; $5 cheese pizza

Paramount Room
$1 off craft beer drafts

Roscoe's Tavern
$12 pitchers of Stoli Blakberi lemonade, $3 Off martinis and Manhattans, $3 off double cocktails, $6 frozen cocktails, $6 grape bombs, $2.50 bottles of Bud, Bud Light and Bud Light Lime

$21 select bottles of wine

$10 domestic buckets; 25-cent wings

From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Feast Gold Coast
New incarnation of Wicker Park spot is drawing rave reviews.

Off the Beaten Path: Wings Around the World
A melting pot of chicken wing goodness on the South Side.

Weekly Treat: Keep it Cheap at Crossroads Public House
Get 50-cent wings and $2 Coors drafts every Tuesday.

Man We're Crazy About: The Shire
More than just a one-trick pony in Lakeview.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

'I can't stop having these visions'

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Here's the new video for Kanye West's "Welcome to Heartbreak," directed by Nabil, via Vimeo.

KANYE WEST "Welcome To Heartbreak" Directed by Nabil from nabil elderkin on Vimeo.

Cool, eh? But, Kanye, dude — the Cosby sweaters. Really? Really.

Morse Theatre code: S.O.S.

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The Morse Theatre, which opened last fall on the Far North Side to great acclaim, was just about to hit its stride ... but now has announced it's closing after a March 7 show by Paris Delane. (Duncan Sheik is there March 6.)

Time Out confirms the rumors and acknowledged that the future of the restaurant in the space, the Century Public House, is up in the air.

The long-defunct Morse reopened in October as a resplendent music hall, restaurant and broadcast studio. Jazz drummer Winard Harper christened the 299-seat performance space, followed by a weekend stint by the Taj Mahal Trio. The place has a fantastic sound system and became the home of several regular classical and jazz performances aired on WFMT.

Viva la Sazerac! Drink and donate to New Orleans

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Photo from Cocktalia.

Drink up to save New Orleans! We're loving this post about the Sazerac, a cocktail born in the early 1800s in New Orleans — America's first branded cocktail, traditionally made with Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Herbsaint Anis Liquor and Peychaud's Bitters.

Says URChicago:

"The Illinois distributor of Sazerac, Judge & Dolph, created Chicago Sazerac Month to assist in the recovery and renewal of New Orleans. Beginning on Fat Tuesday — February 24th, 2009 — at participating restaurants and bars, all proceeds from 'The Sazerac' will be donated to help re-build The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans and support the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans. Act fast — the drink-to-donate deal ends on March 31st, 2009."

Where in Chiago can you drink to donate? Particpating bars are the Drawing Room, Sepia, the Violet Hour and the Whistler.

Nowadays, you're behind the times if you hear an album for the first time on the day it is released. But there's so much music out there, it's hard to know which of the many available leaks are worth your time. Wouldn't it be nice if someone made the choice for you? Decider does, and it will be that person (or entity, if you want to get technical about it). Along with the Empty Bottle, Reckless Records and WHPK, the Onion-endorsed site presents "The Weekly Leak" each at Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago.

The listening party will preview hot upcoming releases in their entirety every Monday at 9 p.m., for free. The events also include ticket giveaways and the chance to own the albums a day before everyone else who hasn't already downloaded them illegally.

Tonight's playlist:

Pan American - "White Bird Release"
The Fall - " Transfusion"
Black Lips - " 200 Million Thousand"

Owners Victor and Nancy Garcia of Papa's Cache Sabroso.

1. Garlicky chicken jibaritos from Papa's Cache Sabroso, located in the heart of Paseo Boricua. (2517 W. Division)

2. Biking through the 207-acre park, which was named for Alexander von Humboldt, a German naturalist who never set foot in Chicago. (1400 N. Sacramento)

3. Chilling at the Continental (formerly The Hiawatha) where DJs spin rock, indie, and downtempo styles til 4 a.m., and cocktails rarely cost more than $7. (2801 W. Chicago)

What are your three favorite things about Humboldt Park?

Chili, anyone?

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You've barely finished breakfast, but here we are ready to stir up some lunch cravings. How does some spicy, meaty chili sound? Pretty good, right? Well, you only have to wait a couple hours 'til you can get some at Rockit Bar & Grill's first-ever ChiliFest, running through Friday.

Like the restaurant's annual summer BurgerFest, this event will offer guests four different preparations of the featured dish throughout the week, plus one special variety courtesy of executive chef James Gottwald. We suggest going for the $8 chili sampler, featuring Wagon Wheel Chili (black angus beef, wagon wheel pasta and cheddar), Rockit's signature turkey chili and a portion of that day's special; the list includes a gumbo-style chili in honor of Fat Tuesday and the Four-Alarm Farmer, a meatless version with garden vegetables and dried ancho chilies. Speaking of four alarms, firefighters get a free bowl of chili just by showing a badge.

Seeing as Gottwald won last week's Mac 'n' Cheese Smackdown, you might also want to try the chili mac, which includes four-cheese mac 'n' cheese with turkey chili on top ($12).

The full schedule is after the jump. Rockit opens at 11:30 a.m.

Daily Deal$: Friday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Brisku's Bistro
$3 Smirnoff cocktails, $1 bottles of PBR; $5 all-you-can-eat pasta

$5 Stoli martinis, $5 bombs

The Pony
$3 pints of Sierra Nevada, $5 gumbo

Pippin's Tavern
$3 Miller High Life, $5.50 Absolut

Globe Pub
$4 Tetley's, $9.50 all-you-can-eat fish and chips

Chicago's Top 20 Songs

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Apparently, in these times of uncertainty, Chicagoans prefer that their music chart stays consistent. How else to explain the fact that there's only one new entry in the top 20 this week, and it comes from a singer who's no stranger to the list (you may call her Ms. Fierce).

But look at it this way: As long things stay the same, Kanye remains on top of the world, which means he probably will be too busy gloating to complain about the fact that the Academy Awards failed to recognize his greatness, AGAIN. Hugh Jackman thanks you, Chicago.

Here are this week's top 20 songs based on Chicago-area radio airplay...

Soulive show cancelled

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If you were planning on catching Soulive at the Park West tomorrow night, better plan on doing something else (may we suggest another concert?). The show's been cancelled.

Note: We were going to make a "Soul-dead" joke here, but then we learned the gig was scrapped due to an injury. And we want to stay classy.

We would like to salute the CIMM

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Ok, we just went from being somewhat interested in the first Chicago International Movies and Music fest (March 5-8) to being very excited about it. Why? According to Chicagoist, the event will be capped by the debut of Wilco's long-awaited live concert film, "Ashes of American Flags," filmed during the Southern U.S. portion of the band's 2008 tour. That screening will happen on Monday, March 9 at the Music Box (7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., $10), but now that we started looking at the Web site, it turns out there are a lot of exciting things going on during the weekend. Things like:

  • A March 5 appearance by acclaimed director Lech Kowalski, who screens his "Camera War" with live accompaniment by composer Mimetic
  • A live performance from the Dex Romweber Duo (March 7 at the Double Door), with special guest Martin Atkins, who presents his directorial debut, "16 Days in China" (there will also be music at Schubas)
  • An exhibition of legendary rock photographer Richard Bellia's work (March 6 at Th!nkArt Salon, 1530 N. Paulina)

The fest (co-organized by Bulgarian filmmaker Ilko Davidov and M's frontman Josh Chicoine) kicks off on Wednesday, March 4 with a party at the new St. Paul Cultural Center, 2215 W. North.

Daily Deal$: Thursday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Chen's Mandarin Szechwan Cuisine
Half-price martinis

Gallery Cabaret
$1.50 drafts and $4 pitchers of Leinenkugel Red; $3 drafts and $10 pitchers of Stella Artois

Grand Central
$2 well drinks, $5 Crown & colas, half-price bottles of wine; half-price appetizers

Kasey's Tavern
$2.50 Miller products, $4 Long Islands

Lincoln Tap Room

$4 pints of Fat Tire, $2 cans of Hamm's and Strohs, $5 Absolut cocktails

Broads on the Bayou

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Red Hot Annie will treat you right tonight.

Ok, we can't do much better than this tagline: "Beads! Boobies! Booze! Burlesque!"

In honor of Mardi Gras, Vaudezilla is taking over the Blue Bayou this month, offering free burlesque shows every Thursday at 10 p.m. Red Hot Annie hosts, but the other performers rotate (tonight's roster includes Wham Bam Pam, Bonny Babs, Paris Green, The Honey Buns, Lady Jack and Salome Slaughter).

Blue Bayou also offers plenty of classic New Orleans food and drink, so go ahead, enjoy yourself. But before you sip that fifth Hurricane, try to remember what happened last time, hmmm?


Circus Cats of Chicago: a Purrformance Like No Other
1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at Woodstock Opera House
Animal trainer Samantha Martin's Amazing AcroCats perform a variety of entertaining tricks, including riding a skateboard, jumping through hoops and caterwauling in a three piece all-cat band called the Rock Cats. This family-friendly show will delight children and parents alike.

Holy beer!

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Thanks to 312 Dining Diva for reminding us that today is the 11th Annual Toast to Harry Caray. Fans of the late Cubs announcer will be celebrating worldwide at 7 p.m., but local fans get a special treat.

All day today, you can stop into one of Harry Caray's four locations (River North, Wrigleyville, Lombard and Rosemont) for 101-cent beers. In addition, the first 101 fans to arrive at any location will get a complimentary pair of replica glasses and a "Cubs Fan, Bud Man" hat. Harry's wife, Dutchie, will lead the toast promptly at 7 p.m., with a round of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" immediately following.

We'll let you guess the significance of that "101" number. Got it? Yeah, sorry 'bout that, Cubs fans. Have another drink.

The city that networks

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There are some perks to unemployment at first. You can wake up late. You can wear pajamas all day. You have plenty of time to read awesome blogs like this one. But sooner or later, you're going to get tired of all that. And while hovering over Craigslist and adding 250 new connections on LinkedIn seems productive, there are other ways to get yourself back under those fluorescent office lights.

Enter Out of Work Chicago, a community created by unemployed professionals for those who share their affliction. Its Web site is full of advice, news and, yes, job postings. And now, the community is launching a weekly series of networking/happy hour events to get you doing some face-to-face networking. The launch party takes place Wednesday, February 25 at Flatwater, 321 N. Clark, from 5-9 p.m. Attendees will include unemployed Chicagoans, but also hiring managers and recruiters, so you might want to change out of those pajamas. They were getting a little ripe anyway, weren't they?

Complimentary wine and cheese will be served. You can (and should) register online.

Daily Deal$: Wednesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Cadillac Ranch
$1 well and call drinks, $1 drafts of MGD and Miller Lite, $2.50 mega mugs

Easy Bar
$3 Goose Island, $4 Stoli cocktails

Houndstooth Saloon

Half-off all drinks, $4 specialty margaritas; $3 appetizers, $1 tacos

Jefferson Tap and Grille
$4 Guinness, Smithwick's, Harp, Half & Half and Black & Tan drafts

Poag Mahone's
$15.50 buckets of Bud/Bud Light, $3 vodka cocktails; half-price chips and salsa and spinach artichoke dip after 3 p.m.

Get ‘Lost’ at The Fifty/50

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Popular Wicker Park bar The Fifty/50 is screening episodes of ‘Lost’ every Wednesday night and offering special Lost-themed drinks. Choose from the Flight 815 (a selection of three different shots of Skyy vodka), the Dharma-rita (a mysterious margarita beer cocktail) and The Orchid (Blue Zephyr English Gin, herb steeped white cranberry, apricot wheat beer and soda).

Will the bar start hurtling back and forth through time like the island? Will you start seeing visions of people you know in different stages of their lives, thereby freaking you out completely? Will some bug-eyed guy come find you after you leave and try to get you and your friends to all go back, for the sake of the bar? Will this week’s episode completely blow your mind?!?! You’ll have to head to Fifty/50 to find out.

Drink specials run from 7:30-9:30 p.m. and the entire lower level is reserved for Losties (who, incidentally, are the only people who will understand anything about this post).

Food with Integrity

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We recently had a chance to sit down with some of the marketing folks and a chef/guacamole mixologist at Chipotle so they could give us and other media-blogger-types their schpiel on their “Food with Integrity” program. They told us about their farm-raised this, organic that, yada yada and get a free burrito – and, being the connoisseurs that we are, we will sit through just about anything for a free burrito. We had heard some of it before – the organic vegetables, the farm-raised meat – but there were a few interesting points.

The chain has started a new program with all of its Loop locations (and they’re hoping to expand as much as possible) to send all leftovers at the end of the night to Pacific Garden Mission, a south side homeless shelter. How cool is that? And, really, how hard would it be for other restaurants to do this? Here’s hoping a trend is started to help give back to those who need it most.

Chipotle is seeking LEED certification for many of its new restaurants, which would make it among the first in the country to do so.

They’ve put a huge stress on local farming for all their area restaurants. The goal is to be 100 percent local in the future. Go Illinois!

Did you know Chipotle accounts for 4 percent of the total guacamole production in the entire county? Up to 60 avocadoes go into each batch of their savory guac.

Most importantly to anyone dining, they make a mean burrito. If you thought they were good before, you should try ‘em when they’re free. Check out their Chicago locations, including the newest one in Logan Square.


Dre Day 2009
Wednesday, February 18 at Small Bar, 9 p.m.; free
Wednesday the 18th is Dr. Dre's birthday, so breakdance star Anacron and a slew of Chicago's creative and genre-bending hip hop DJs, like Intel, Pickel, Trew and OnceAMonth, are throwing a party to celebrate his production work and legacy (note: this is a version of the parties that started in the Twin Cities several years ago). Depending on how old you are, either NWA, "The Chronic" or Dre's work with Eminem probably influenced your middle school and/or high school years in some way. Come reminisce, play the $20 Sack Pyramid game, take your picture as Dre on the "Chronic" album cover and put back an $8 40-ounce of Olde English. (Previously.)

Another one bites the dust

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According to TOC, Touch and Go Records, the celebrated independent Chicago label that has released albums by TV On The Radio, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ted Leo and the Butthole Surfers, as well as dozens of lesser-known (but much loved) punk bands, is closing up shop. It'll continue to manage its considerable back catalog, but will not release new music.

If this news is officially confirmed, this is a sad day for Chicago music. Console yourself with this video of Steve Albini's group, Big Black, performing at Touch and Go's 25th anniversary celebration in 2006 (which coincided with the Hideout Block Party's 10th anniversary).

Top Chef wants to know your GPA

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Excited for the new episode of "Top Chef" tonight? Imagine how excited you'd be if you were actually on the show. You could be next season, if you have play your cards right. And follow all the submission guidelines, which are many, according to the MenuPages Blog. Seriously, it's like applying to college all over again.

By March 1, you'll need to send in the following:

  • a few-paragraph written summary about yourself

  • pictures

  • a completed application

  • a 3-5 minute audition video

  • your resume

You said you'd do anything to get close to Padma. Now's your chance to prove it.

Daily Deal$: Tuesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Bill's Blues Bar
$2 cans of PBR, $3 Jager shots


$6 pitchers of sangria

Gannon's Pub
$2.75 bottled beer; $3 hamburgers w/ fries

Louie's Pub
$2 cans of PBR

Half-price appetizers; $5 Jameson, $5 shots of SoCo

One-buck luck

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What can you get for a buck these days? At Brasserie Jo (59 W. Hubbard), a whole lot. Tonight's Beer Education class, from 5:30-6:30 p.m., includes information on what makes a good "winter brew," plus samples of 5-6 beers and passed hors d'oeuvres. The class will be led by Brasserie JO beverage director Erin Phillips and Jason Ebel of Two Brothers Brewing Company, and it costs just $1.

Reservations are required; call (312) 595-0800.

For more Tuesday deals in your 'hood, check out Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database.

Open and shut-tered

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Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.


Markethouse – Supposed to be a mostly locally sustained menu. More updates as events warrant, as well as (we hope) a better Web site.

Naf Naf – Naperville gets what the owners bill as casual Israeli. We will forgo the easy joke about what happens if an uptight Palestinian walks in – as we have a strict policy about getting involved in holy wars.

Feast – The popular Bucktown spot opens up a new location in the Gold Coast (in the old Cru digs). Another spot is planned in Lincoln Square this summer. What will they do after that? Try to take over the world!


Zia – The New Mexican (as in the state, not recently prepared Mexican food) spot moves out to make room for the new Terragusto on Armitage. Guess we’ll have to find somewhere else to get our sopapilla fix.

Nicky’s – We’re pretty sure we’re talking about the Nicky’s Drive-Through on Roosevelt, but there’s so many damn Nicky’s restaurants on the south side, it’s hard to keep them straight.

Open (again):

Bleeding Heart Bakery – After some, uh, drainage problems last week, the popular bakery is back up and running – and offering a special "Kitchen Sink Cookie" (oatmeal with flax, dried fruits and chocolate) for $2.50.

God We Hope It Doesn’t Close:
Mr. BeefBank problems loom for the popular River North beef stand. I mean, an Italian beef is an Italian beef. But you gotta love the ambience of the place, as well as the history. C’mon, somebody’s gotta pony up to help these guys out. We got about a buck-fifty in our pockets to help the cause.

Check back here every Tuesday with more openings and closings (and snarky comments, of course). And be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's list of new restaurants and bars.

If you've spent a decent amount of time in bars around Chicago, you no doubt have seen Claudio Lopez Velez. The gentleman, whom most know as the Tamale Guy, seems to have a knack for knowing just the right time to show up with his cooler full of cheese, chicken and pork tamales (in convenient six-packs). We've yet to find a better way to spend $5 after midnight.

The problem is, you never know if the Tamale Guy is going to stop by the bar you're in on any given night; the best you can do is make a guess based on past experience. But that uncertainty could be a thing of the past, now that tamaletracker is here.

Here's how it works: Whenever someone sees Claudio at a bar, they can tweet a reply to this user; he'll then let all his followers know where the man is selling his wares. Armed with this info, imbibers can make a slightly more informed decision about where to do their drinking. Is it a perfect system? Maybe not. But it can only get more efficient as more people participate. So start following...and your chances of ending your evening in tamale heaven will be greatly increased.

07072008_tamaleguy.jpgThe Tamale Guy in action at one of many Chicago bars.

Six more days of discount dining

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If you couldn't manage to snag a seat for Chicago Restaurant Week (February 20-27), you need to seriously up your OpenTable game. But we're not here to criticize...we want to help. And the concurrent Chicago Chef Week (February 22-27) should lift your spirits, not to mention give your clicking finger a good kick in the caboose (all reservations can be made on

The six-day event has a similar bent to Restaurant Week: three-course prix-fixe dinners cost $32 per person, and lunches (offered at Province and Sepia only) are $22. The difference is that each participating restaurant is known for being chef-driven. The spots in question:

Adobo Grill, 1610 N. Wells and 2005 W. Division
Boka, 1729 N. Halsted (Giuseppe Tentori)
Green Zebra, 1460 W. Chicago
Landmark Grill + Lounge, 1633 N. Halsted
Lockwood, 17 E. Monroe
Mado, 1647 N. Milwaukee
Old Town Brasserie, 1209 N. Wells
Perennial, 1800 N. Lincoln
Province, 161 N. Jefferson
Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson
Sola, 3868 N. Lincoln
Spring, 2039 W. North
Topaz, 780 Village Center, Burr Ridge
Vie, 4471 Lawn, Western Springs
Vinci, 1732 N. Halsted
Vermilion, 10 W. Hubbard

Thievery Corp. stole a Poi Dog again

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Thievery Corporation — the nucleus of which is the highly regarded DJ and production duo Rob Garza and Eric Hilton — returns to Chicago this weekend, in a gig now moved to the Aragon Ballroom because of high ticket demand (though it's not sold out yet, tickets still available here).

No surprise there, as not only is the band's "outernational" musical blend highly infectious but because one of the members propping up their beats is Chicago's own Frank Orrall. You might know him as the sweetly scratchy voice of Poi Dog Pondering. He's toured and recorded with Thievery Corp. before, and it's a perfect fit.

He's the one banging the tom-toms in this video ...

Have Snuggies jumped the shark?

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Few "As Seen on TV" items have caught on as quickly as the now-ubiquitous Snuggie, aka "the blanket with sleeves." Stories were written about its popularity. Photo galleries showed enthusiasts in all their warm, fuzzy glory. But now things are getting serious. The date for the first official Snuggie Pub Crawl has been set.

On April 18, Snuggie-wearers from around the city, and possibly the world, will gather somewhere (the location is TBA) to toast their toastiness. As of this writing, 1856 people had at least signed up for information, so you know this thing is gonna be huge. If you don't have the appropriate garb already, you can buy one on the crawl's website. Just make sure to order by February 28, or you could get left in the cold.

Popera: Top 10 opera-pop culture moments

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Not a fan of opera? Operaphobes don't realize it, but arias and overtures turn up everywhere in pop culture: films, commercials, television, books and video games. Here are several examples how pop culture has embraced opera:

First up is "What's Opera, Doc?" Animation genius Chuck Jones creates his own cartoon opera from snippets of Wagner's "Tannhauser," "The Flying Dutchman" and "The Ring" cycle as Elmer Fudd tries to "kill the wabbit."

Check out the other nine while you're at it.

From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Toasted Ox
A breath of fresh air on this busy Lincoln Park strip.

Off the Beaten Path: El Taco Veloz
A colorful décor highlights an even more colorful menu.

Weekly Treat: Buy American at Toon’s
All domestic bottles are just $2, and pints of 312 are only a buck more.

Man We're Crazy About: Dine
Get ready for Restaurant Week at this West Loop favorite.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.


Seems like pretty much everyone has a mac 'n' cheese memory. Whether it was the first lunch you were allowed to make yourself (from the blue box, natch) or your aunt's special, extra-creamy recipe trotted out for every family get-together, the mix of pasta and cheese serves as the ultimate comfort food.

Well, forget all those warm, fuzzy feelings, because Thursday's Mac 'n' Cheese Smackdown at the Goose Island Brewery in Wrigleyville (3535 N. Clark, 7-10 p.m.) has way more to do with cut-throat competition than with bringing you back to your youth. We're betting most of the entries will include ingredients your aunt never thought of, anyway. Mac attackers include Top Chef Stephanie Izard, Giuseppe Tentori (Boka), Chris Pandel (The Bristol), Amalia Obermeier-Smith (Kuma's Corner), John Chiakulas (Mity Nice Grill) and Roger Herring (Socca).

For $50 in advance, $75 at the door, you'll get to taste the creations, plus appetizers, dessert, beer, wine and an exclusive MACtini cocktail courtesy of Adam Seger, mixologist at Nacional 27. There will also be live entertainment and a silent auction. The whole event benefits the Organic School Project, so you can feel good about overindulging. At least for a few hours, before your stomach starts to rebel against you.

Daily Deal$: Friday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club, 3700 N. Halsted
$30 3-course prix fixe including martini, appetizer and entree

Cactus Bar & Grill, 404 S. Wells
$5 Patron Silver shots

Hogs & Honeys, 901 W. Weed
$2 drafts, $3 Coronas, $5 flavored Smirnoff drinks; no cover all night for single ladies

Driftwood, 1021 W. Montrose
$2.50 Miller Lite

, 2417 N. Clybourn
$6 bombs; 35-cent wings

Love stinks

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Can’t stand the thought of Valentine’s Day? Join fellow love-haters at Cobra Lounge’s Valentine Massacre, featuring a burlesque show with Miss Maya Sinstress and Kendra James (these badass chicks will break your heart – literally), a freak show that involves nails driven into body parts, and metal band Skank. So, you know, should be a pretty upbeat night.

The show starts at 9 tonight and there’s no cover. If that’s not enough, assorted Stoli and Kilo Kai drinks are just $4. At those prices, if you have a significant other, we suggest breaking up with them immediately.

Check out more singles events this weekend here.

Chicago's Top 20 Songs

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How this for a heartbreak cure: Two straight weeks at the top of the charts in your hometown. That's where Kanye West sits with "Heartless," but he'd better stay hustlin' if he hopes to fend off his hard-charging "Slow Jamz" partner, Jamie Foxx. The moonlighting actor clearly believes in diversifying his assets, as he has three entries on this week's list--two of them new. We'll be interested in how that battle shakes out.

A quick shout-out to our girl Rihanna, who's had a rough week all around. Her seven-spot drop doesn't mean much in the scheme of things, we admit, but who's to say a boost next week wouldn't lift her spirits? It's worth a shot, Chicago.

Here are this week's top 20 songs based on Chicago-area radio airplay ...

On Sale Saturday

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Get your credit cards for the following Chicago-area shows will be on sale this Saturday (sale time in parentheses):


Billy Joel & Elton John, July 21 at Wrigley Field (10 a.m.)

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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The Pretenders will rock the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Expect songs from their most recent album, “Break Up the Concrete,” as well as hits from its 30-year repertoire. American Bang will open. Tickets are $43. Call (312) 559-1212;

Club Hopping, Feb. 13-19

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What Material Issue was to the alternative-rock explosion in the U.S. in the early ’90s, the Godfathers were to Brit Pop in the U.K.: The band arrived on the scene just a bit too early to benefit from all that would follow, though a strong argument can be made that its 1988 album “Birth, School, Work, Death” is at least as good as anything Oasis has ever given us. The group is now in the midst of an extremely finite reunion tour, and it performs its only U.S. gig Saturday night at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, after opening sets by Javelinas and the Norwood Park All-Stars starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 the day of the show; call (773) 549-4140;
— Jim DeRogatis

Daily Deal$: Thursday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Mr. V's Pizza, 5285 N. Elston
$5.95 pasta and chicken parmesan

The Pony, 1638 W. Belmont
$4 Stoli drinks; $2 off appetizers

Sterch's, 2238 N. Lincoln
$2 Miller Lite drafts, $3 Stella & Newcastle drafts, $4 Svedka & Bacardi Rum drinks

Tavish, 1335 W. Wrightwood
$3 microbrew drafts

Ritchies Night Club, 2648 W. 59th
$1 domestic beer, $2 shots, $3 mixed drinks


1. Monotonix and Turbo Fruits
9 p.m. Sunday at Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia; $12
One of the most exciting live rock bands out there, Monotonix is known for performing on the floor among the crowd, setting instruments on fire and stealing drinks from audience members. When the members found themselves banned from most venues in their hometown Tel Aviv, they decided to take the show on the road. Touring the U.S. and Europe since 2006, theirs is a concert you experience, not watch. Catch Monotonix's stage antics and Led Zeppelin/Thin Lizzy-inspired riffs, as well as opening act Turbo Fruit's Kinks-esque neo-surf/garage rock for a night your eardrums won't soon forget.

For more of this weekend's music, including Jeff Tweedy, Cheer-Accident and Buckwheat Zydeco, check out the calendar.

Chicago's Next Top Rock Model

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These days, just being a talented musician isn't enough; you've gotta know how to strut your stuff, too (M.I.A. knows what we're talking about). So it's not surprising that some of Chicago's hottest performers have agreed to take the stage as models for tonight's Rock Steady Fashion Show at Moonshine, 1824 W. Division.

The free event, which features designs from local boutiques Bonnie & Clyde's, Una Mae’s, Process & Content and Guise Chic, puts a fashionable twist on the rock parties this Wicker Park spot has been hosting since last fall. DJ Dani Deahl, Matt ROAN (of Crossfader Kings) and Jessica Gonyea and Chess Hubbard (of Rocktapussy) are just some of the models who will work it on the catwalk.

Guest DJs Dragon Wars kick off the party at 9:30 p.m. (RSVP for a hosted Stoli bar 'til 10:30pm. The show starts at 10:30 p.m., with drink specials including $3 PBR drafts, and $4 Maker’s Mark and Jameson cocktails.

Matt Roan ain't afraid to look good.

Practice makes perfect

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Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day a few weeks early with the Streeterville “St. Practice Day” pub crawl on Feb. 28. The crawl will start at Timothy O’Toole’s at 8 p.m. and continue to six different neighborhood bars.

There is no charge, and participants are encouraged to wear all things green. O’Toole’s will supply necklaces, hats, buttons and other accessories. You supply the money for Jameson shots, bar brawls and the puke on the sidewalk outside after you’ve had too many.

Participating bars:

Timothy O'Toole's Pub

The Reagle Beagle
P.J. Clarke's

D4 Irish Pub and Cafe

Lizzie McNeill's

Grape Street and Vine

Here's the latest buzz

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Already on your third cup of coffee today? First of all, slow down. Unless you're an Air Traffic Control operator, you don't need to be that focused. Second, we have some information that might interest you. CoffeeFest 2009 comes to Navy Pier next weekend (February 20-22).

While the three-day event (admission: $40) mainly covers the business of the bean (scintillating workshops include "Easy Maintenance on Brewers and Espresso Machines That Can Save Big Money" and "The Ambiance of Your Café - Getting Crowds In Your Door"), you can count on a ton of samples, as exhibitors will be on hand from all over the country. And everyone can appreciate a good latte pour, right? The winner of the Millrock Latte Art Competition will walk away with $5,000; that should be enough to support that Starbucks habit for at least a month.

Don't flake on this fest

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We're not talking lopsided snowmen here, folks.

Well, that little spring-tease was fun...but it's over now. Like it or not, we've still got another month or two of full-on winter, so you might as well make the best of it. Start with this weekend's Snow Days Chicago, a first-year fest that aims to show there's more to do with the white stuff than ski on it. There's not likely to be a whole lot of actual snow throughout the five-day event (which kicks off in about an hour), but the organizers will have the machines pumping out flakes as needed. A lot will be necessary for the full schedule of activities, including:

  • A snow-sculpting competition featuring teams of professionals from around the country. Proposed sketches include a bust of Einstein and an anatomical Valentine heart.
  • The Snowboard Rail Jam, with snowboarding demonstrations from 6-8 p.m. daily, plus a competition on Saturday night, beginning at 6 p.m.
  • The Activities Igloo, where kids can learn all about important cultural events like Presidents' Day, Abe Lincoln's birthday and African-American History Month through storytelling and arts and crafts.

Snow Days Chicago runs from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursday, February 12 through Sunday, February 15 and from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Monday, February 16 in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park (Balbo and Michigan). Get the complete list of scheduled activities and photos of snow sculptures at

Honestly, it's time to party

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If you can possibly take a break from fawning over the next Abraham Lincoln (aka President Obama), tomorrow would be a good time to do so. Why? Because February 12 is, er, would be, Honest Abe's 200th birthday. Thanks to the tall, bearded one's strong connection with our fair state, you'll find plenty of local ways to show the 16th president some love.

Time Out Chicago has a great list of events, including a reading of "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" at City Lit, the Chicago History Museum's kid-friendly party (with penny admission!) and the very cool online exhibit, Lincoln at 200.

We've got a few more ideas:

  • Join the Civil War Round Table of Chicago for its next meeting on Friday, February 13 at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, 350 N. Orleans. The timely topic: "Lincoln as War Leader," presented by past president Bruce Allardice. $5 for the presentation (7:30 p.m.), $40 if you want to come early for dinner. (630) 460-1865
  • Find your new favorite Civil War text at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, 357 W. Chicago. There are over 8,500 books to choose from.
  • Enjoy the view (and the breakfast food) at Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln. From the wall of pennies to the Abe-centric mural, we can't think of a better setting for a low-key commemoration. Just look for the big, hairy face looming over Lincoln Avenue.

To help alleviate the financial crisis many of us are in, Excalibur Nightclub (632 N. Dearborn) is starting 312 Stimulus Wednesdays. Basically a reason to party on the cheap during the week, Excalibur offers $3 Smirnoff, Bacardi, Cuervo, Malibu, etc. cocktails along with $2 domestic brews.

But the real deal (umm, maybe) is the $1 shots they’ll offer all night. The only catch: It’s dealer’s choice, so who knows what kind of concoctions the bartenders will be offering. So, it’s kind of like playing the stock market lately, only much cheaper (and probably a lot drunker).

Doors open at 9 p.m. and the deals are in effect all the way to 4 a.m.

Saturday, February 14 at Abbey Pub, 9 p.m. ; $5, 18+
The thought of doing prom again at a legal drinking age (well, the show is 18+, but most attendees will be old enough to drink) with fun dance music you actually want to hear, while dressed up in a tacky dress/pieced-together thrift-store suit, sounds fun. Add in the fact that the music is from the hottest DJs to come out of Chicago in years, Flosstradamus and it’s easy to see why this party has been one of the best things for the young crowd to do on Valentine's Day for the last few years. Single or coupled up, wear your best prom outfit (be as fancy, hip or cheesy as you want, anything goes) and just be ready to have a fun time. The above video should give you an idea of the attitude of the night.

That's Amano!

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Steak tastes better when you're not overcooking it.

So, you decided not to to play the reservations game for Valentine's Day. We don't blame you; those phone-answerers can make you lose your appetite within seconds. But hey, you've still got to eat, right? If you're not totally confident in your ability to pull off the romantic meal your better half deserves, you might consider giving Hugh Amano a buzz. The former Uncommon Ground sous-chef (and rising food blogger) will work with you to create a menu, head to the store with you and then...cook it for you in your own kitchen.

Chances are his services will be hard to come by on Saturday night, but he'll be available for future dates as well. Because if Valentine's Day is the only day you treat your sweetie to a gourmet feast, you're just a pawn of Hallmark.

Call Hugh at (773) 561-1836 or email

Feeling bookish?

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This month's installment of the Bookslut reading series, tonight at Hopleaf, should be a doozy, as it happens on the same day that the jam-packed AWP Writers Conference kicks off downtown.

Some special guests are likely to make an appearance, but we know this for sure: poets Idra Novey, Brandi Homan and Hilda Raz will definitely be there to read their latest works. As event organizer Caroline Eick puts it, you might just get "swept away" by a writer you previously knew nothing about. The event is at 7:30 p.m. in the Hopleaf's second floor room; a private bar will offer a selection of Belgium brews and wines.

Outdoor drinking tonight

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Cody's beer garden is not usually crowded this time of year.

If you just can't bear to spend any of the last few remaining spring-like hours ('til, you know, spring comes) inside, the TOC Blog notes four places that promise to have their patios open this evening:

Sheffield’s, 3258 N. Sheffield

Cody’s Public House, 1658 W. Barry

Village Tap, 2055 W. Roscoe

Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott

Daily Deal$: Tuesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Blue 13, 416 W. Ontario
$35 three-course dinner menu

Couch Bar & Grill, 2344 W. Grand
Half-price appetizers

O'Donovan's, 2100 W. Irving Park
$5 vodka Red Bulls, $5 martinis, $3.75 drafts of Sam Adams

Rumba, 351 W. Hubbard
Two-for-one dinner, half-price bottles of wine, $2 draft beer, $10 pitchers of beer and sangria, $10 appetizer and drink combo

Wine & Vine, 105 S. York, Elmhurst
$7 glasses of wine

Open and shuttered

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Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

Terragusto on Armitage – If you don’t think a restaurant making its pasta fresh every day makes a difference, you haven’t been to the original Terragusto on Addison. Seriously, go to either location if you haven’t already. It will change your notion of how pasta should be made. You can thank us later.

Pizza Fusion – This chain, which opens in Naperville, bills itself as an environmentally friendly pizza joint, all the way down to its hybrid delivery trucks. That’s all fine and dandy, just don’t skimp on the cheese and pepperoni.

Simone’s Bar – The bar is made out of an old bowling alley lane. No matter what else may come of this place, that one feature is pretty darn cool.

Chutney Joe’s – It’s traditional Indian fare served in convenient fast-food form. Now why didn’t we think of that?

Perry’s Deli on Maxwell Street – We love the original Perry’s, which is just a few blocks from the mothership. But we wonder how we always walk out of there having spent the high side of 11 bucks. We blame Bush and the economy.

Closed … for now

Bleeding Heart Bakery – Cupcake fans were no doubt surprised by the news that Bleeding Heart was shut down Monday by city inspectors. The owners state their case here, and promise to be open by the end of the week, and definitely for Valentine’s Day.

bleedingheart.jpgBleeding Heart Bakery(Sun-Times file)

Open … then Closed … then open again?
iCream – The revolutionary ice cream shop that makes its treats with some sort of molecular liquid hydrogen fusion process (we admit we were never science majors) was open for about an hour and a half last summer, but had to close down because of equipment problems (maybe they weren’t science majors either). Now they’re planning a mid-February re-opening in Wicker Park. We won’t hold our breath.

Check back here every Tuesday with more openings and closings (and snarky comments, of course). And be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's list of new restaurants and bars.

3 Things We Love About ... the DuSable Museum

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A photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hangs in the DuSable Museum during a previous exhibit. (Sun-Times file)

1. Tracing the epic journey of African Americans from Africa through slavery and up until the March on Washington as depicted in the Ames Mural.

2. Exploring the people and cultures of Africa through artifacts in “Africa Speaks.”

3. Being moved by the simple beauty and grace of Henry O. Tanner’s “The Study of the Thankful Poor.”

The DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m Tuesday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $3 adults, $2 students and seniors, $1 children ages 6-13. Sundays free for all. (773) 947-0600.

What are your three favorite things about the DuSable Museum of African American History?

Download the CSO's Grammy-winning symphony

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Some of Chicago's biggest winners at Sunday night's Grammys were in the classical categories. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra took another trophy for its recording of Bernard Haitink leading the dark and moody Fourth Symphony from Shostakovich.

Wanna hear those praise-worthy efforts? That pairing's not likely to be repeated at Symphony Center, so pick up the Grammy-winning recording — now available as lossless digital downloads. The Shostakovich is here, and there's more here.

Frankie Knuckles in the house

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You're young(ish), you like the dance music, and you keep hearing this name bandied about town — this Frankie Knuckles guy — as if he single-handedly invented house music or something.

Well, he pretty much did, right here in Chicago. Get schooled when the legend himself mans the decks at 10 p.m. Wednesday at SmartBar, 3730 N. Clark. It's free!

Happy Valentine's Day. We need to talk.

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Not everyone comes together on Valentine's Day. Sometimes, things come apart. So if that's what you're planning ...

Check out this list of the four best restaurants to dump your boyfriend or girlfriend (via Gapers Block).

Useful information, no? Of course, if your date takes you to the Rainforest Cafe for any reason, one of you oughta be breaking it off.

Get a taste of the latest 'Top Chef'

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As you wait for "Top Chef" alum Dale Levitski to finally open his hotly anticipated Loop restaurant, Town & Country, you can at least get a taste of what he's up to in the kitchen. Try "Dine with Dale," a new Thursday-night supper club at West Town's Relax Lounge.

Says Urbandaddy:

Show up this Thursday night around 7 p.m., and you'll find candlelit tables replacing Relax's normal cushioned seating cubes, and burgers and fries taking the night off in favor of a three-course menu that changes every week and includes things like citrus salad, chicken with sausage guazetto (slow-cooked sausage), even a stewed winter fruit topped with vanilla goat cheese ice cream."

It's Motherboy already?

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In a move that suggests Mayor Daley is as excited about the prospect of an "Arrested Development" movie as we are, the City of Chicago is presenting a series of Mommy/Son and Daddy/Daughter dances (and ice skating, and a teen dance) in honor of Valentine's Day. These events will take place in parks across the city, and most cost no more than a few bucks. No word on whether there will be prizes for the most "sympathetic" couples.

The full list is after the jump. Head here for more info.

Daily Deal$: Monday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Big City Tap, 1010 W. Belmont
$3.50 burgers; $3.50 you-call-it

Chalkboard, 4343 N. Lincoln
Half-price bottles of wine

N9ne Steakhouse, 440 W. Randolph
Half-price selected bottles of wine

Rocks Lakeview
, 3463 N. Broadway
$10 fried chicken

Underground Lounge
, 952 W. Newport
$3 Stoli, $3 Newcastle

From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Le Conakry
Go Guinean in Rogers Park.


Off the Beaten Path: Café Borincuba
Sample classic Cuban comfort food done Chicago-style.

Weekly Treat: Wrightwood Tap’s Two-Dollar Tuesday
All domestic drafts and well drinks are just a Jefferson away.

Man We're Crazy About: Madame Tartine
Cheeky River North bistro specializing in accessible French fare.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Stuart Dybek is one of many writers making an appearance at this week's conference.

It's a big week for books in the city, as the Hilton Chicago hosts the Association of Writers & Writing Programs' 2009 Conference, February 11-14. The event includes appearances from notable writers including Stuart Dybek, Nick Flynn, ZZ Packer, Joe Meno and keynote speaker keynote speaker, Art Spiegelman (of Maus fame). There will also be workshops, and a bookfair featuring every independent press you can think of (the full list is here).

If you can't afford the hefty $205 registration fee, or just want to check out life outside the hotel conference rooms, there will be plenty of off-site events. Our favorites:

Reading Under the Influence
7-10 p.m. Wednesday at Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield; $3
Literary and poetry journal editors will gather to read and discuss at this month's installment of the popular series. he event takes place in three rounds, with breaks in between each round so that audience members can engage in discussion with the featured readers to discuss their publications and events.

An Evening of Consumption
7:30 p.m. Thursday at New Wave Coffee, 3103 W. Logan; free
Join the folks who delivered food at last year's Bread Loaf Writers' Conference for an evening of quick, unfettered poems, essays, and stories on the theme of "consumption."

Featherproof Books AWP Afterparty

8 p.m. Friday at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont; $8
Here you'll get readings AND music (from ever-inventive rapper Serengeti and alt-rockers Bound Stems). The night will celebrate the releases of Kyle Beachy's The Slide and Amelia Gray's AM/PM, as well as the latest installment of The Dollar Store reading series.

Think Valentine's Day is a silly, manufactured holiday? It's probably the least ridiculous day of a month which also includes Plum Pudding Day (February 12), International World Thinking Day (February 22) and Public Sleeping Day (February 28). That's a lot of presents.

We were getting pretty tired of every day in the calendar having to commemorate something, but that was before we heard of the deals going on today for National Pizza Pie Day. Promotions like free slices at Frasca (4:30-7 p.m.) and a buy-one-get-one-free pie special at Dunlays on the Square sure got us in a celebratory mood.

If you can't make it to one of these spots, at least stop into your local parlor to celebrate with a slice or two. Just don't be surprised if your holiday greeting is met with a blank stare.

Frasca's pepperoni pizza tastes even better when it's free.

To many people in Chicago, the letters LAX signify little more than an airport code in a city far, far warmer than ours. But to some, the letters inspire thoughts of fast-paced on-field action, goals scored and jukes executed. That's right, we're talking lacrosse. And so will you be, if you head to Duffy's Tavern (420 1/2 W. Diversey) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. That's when there will be an informational meeting held on the Chicago Ladylax League, a (the only?) local post-collegiate women's lacrosse league aimed at getting girls back into the swing of sticks and nets. Free beers, too.

The league is run by Jennifer Sommers, who also heads the Chicago Lacrosse Association, whose goal is to promote a physically active lifestyle and community service. For more info/to RSVP, email Jennifer or check out the Facebook page.

girl's lacrosse front.jpg
This could be you.

Daily Deal$: Sunday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

200 East Supper Club,
200 E. Chestnut
$21.95 four-course prix-fixe menu

Duchamp, 2118 N. Damen
Half-price bottles of wine

Scarlet, 3320 N. Halsted
$6 Effen

Side Street Saloon, 1456 W. George
$3.50 pizza, $5 mini corn dogs

">Tizi Melloul, 531 N. Wells
$25 package includes bottomless glass of wine, three appetizers and belly dancing shows at 7 and 8 p.m.

3 Things We Love About ... Lincoln Park

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1. Eating a hearty Italian dinner at Pasta Bowl on Clark, then not even having to go outside to get to the Other Side, a rather raucous bar connected to the restaurant.

2. Knowing that the crust at Pequod's Pizza isn't burnt — it's caramelized, and that's what makes the pie one of the best deep-dish in the city.

3. The pond just south of Fullerton near the lake that you would swear was a nature preserve in the middle of the country and not 100 yards from Lake Shore Drive.

Excited about the Grammys tonight? Yeah, we didn't think so. The awards show has been somewhat irrelevant for some time (though we are setting the DVR for Lil' Wayne's acceptance speech). We couldn't even find more than a handful of Grammy parties at bars around town, and bars will find any excuse to host an event.

But good news, tonight is actually a great night for long as you're not sitting in front of a TV. Here are six shows worth your time and money (and one even features a former Grammy nominee, if you need that stamp of approval):


Rokia Traore
7 p.m., Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln;
Full disclosure: we are suckers for West African music. But we're not the only ones who love this Malian singer's mix of desert blues and electronic soul; heck, Time Out called her "the most exciting female African musician emerging on the international stage." There's something liberating about listening to songs where you can't understand the words, and can just appreciate the beauty of the sound, and here, there's a lot of beauty to go around.

Daily Deal$: Saturday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

The Dugout Bar & Grill
, 950 W. Addison
$3 chicken tenders

Four Treys Tavern
, 3333 N. Damen
$6 pitchers of Bud Light

Rebel Bar & Grill, 3462 N. Clark
$4 O Bombs, $6 stadium mug drafts; $4 wing baskets

Sluggers, 3540 N. Clark
$3.50 jumbo Old Style cans, $5 bloody marys, $4 SoCo lime shots

Tonic Room, 2447 N. Halsted
$5 Jager bombs

Scandinavian Beer

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By 4 p.m. today, you'll hopefully have gotten a serious amount of outdoor activity in, and will be ready for a beer. May we (and by we, we mean the TOC Blog) suggest a stop at the Local Option (1102 W. Webster)? That's where Ron Shelton of Shelton Brothers importers will be, offering samples of several Scandinavian beers, including Mikkeler and Nils Oscar. For $20, you'll get grilled thuringer sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut, plus tastes of all the new brews.

It may not be quite as cool as the bacon bra, but if you're looking for a way to combine meat and underwear, Isabella Fine Lingerie's "Beers, Brats and Bras" event could fit the bill. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m. today at 840 W. Armitage, guys can eat brats and drink beer while browsing for a Valentine's Day gift.

Not sure about your mate's bra size, and don't want to get caught snooping in her top drawer? Just ask Isabella's Boobologist, who can give you an accurate prediction just by looking at a picture. Where do you go to school for that?

Daily Deal$: Friday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Between Boutique Cafe and Lounge, 1324 N. Milwaukee
$30 small-plate trios from 6-7 p.m.

Crossroads Public House, 2630 N. Clark
$3 SoCo Lime, $5 Jager bombs, $20 all-you-can-drink-and-eat

Kendall's, 2263 N. Lincoln
$2.50 Dos Equis drafts, $4 Milagro shots, $5 Kilo Kai mixers

Sam's Grill, 416 N. Clark
Double hot dog, fries and a fountain drink for $6 (including tax)

Small Bar, 2956 N. Albany
$5 pints of Steigl

A good place for a tweet-up

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We're all atwitter (get it?) about the fact that Uptown's favorite brunch spot, Tweet (5020 N. Sheridan), is re-opening for dinner on Friday nights, starting tonight, according to the TOC Blog. Start with some crab cakes, then move on to entrees like fusilloni pasta with portabella mushroom truffle sauce, roasted sweet red pepper and goat cheese. Check out th the whole menu here. And if you've been to Tweet for brunch, you know that big portions are the norm, so expect to leave full. Dinner is served from 5:30-9:30 p.m.

Recession busters!

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Want a way to save some money, but not sacrifice your precious party time? Head to MaxBar's weekly Friday night "F*ck the Recession" (their asterisk, not ours) party. The Lincoln Park club offers drinks for a buck all night, and their "famous" (their word, not ours) $500 money drop on the dance floor at midnight.

So, let's recap: Cheap drinks and free money on the dance floor? Partying was never so prosperous!

Tweedy offers solo shows as Valentine's gift

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Two Jeff Tweedy shows — next week! — just went on sale today. Tweedy's offering himself to raise money for a children's scholarship fund, the Emanuel Congregation, and the Kawasaki Disease Research Fund for Children's Memorial Hospital. The shows hit the Vic Theater Feb. 13 and 14 (happy Valentine's Day, fans!), and you'd better be devoted to his music and/or the cause cuz tickets are $50 and $100.

Tweedy's band, Wilco, also just announced they'll be offering up their new concert DVD, "Ashes of American Flags," earlier than much-delayed the release date. In an effort to boost excitement for Record Store Day (April 18), the band is making the DVD available exclusively to independent retail stores for the occasion. (It reaches all retailers two weeks later.) It will serve as a teaser for the Chicago-based band’s next studio album, expected this summer.

Chicago's Top 20 songs

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The honeymoon's over, at least in Chicago. Beyonce's mega-hit has finally slipped out of No. 1 in Our Town's hot local songs chart — conquered by none other than Chicago's Kanye West, whose "Heartless" seems to be a slow-burn hit.

But be wary, Mr. West. Entering the chart this week is another woman who's difficult to unseat once she hits the top of the chart, Kelly Clarkson. And people seem to be going ape-crazy over her new song.

Here are this week's top 20 songs based on Chicago-area radio airplay ...

Have a PB&J weekend

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What's your recession food? Pasta? Spam (we said recession, not nuclear war)? Your own arm? For us, it's definitely peanut butter and jelly. Packed full of protein, fat, carbs and sugar, it's one of the more filling meals around for under a buck. Not to mention, it takes us back to the days when Mom would cut off the crusts and serve it up alongside a few carrot sticks and a glass of milk. Ah, those were the days.

Well, those days are back at the recently renovated Doubletree Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile, 300 E. Ohio. The Peanut Butter & Jelly Package, available weekends from now through March 1, is aimed at families with kids under 12. In addition to a welcome basket filled with PB&J sandwiches, Doubletree's signature chocolate chip cookies and popcorn, guests receive a free on-demand movie, complimentary use of the Lakeshore Athletic Club and discount certificates at area attractions.

It's a recipe for some awesome family bonding; at the least, it'll bring back nostalgia for a time when the only economic concerns you had were regarding your weekly allowance. Rates begin at $99 plus tax for a family of four; call (312) 787-6100 for reservations, or visit the Web site.

Is that fluff, too?

Listen before you leap

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Can't quite decide if the show's worth schlepping through the snow — or, this weekend, the melting slurry — and shelling out money for? Sample the music first. Follow our feed and listen to full tracks by some of the bands and singers booked in town this weekend. If we write about it, we'll blip a track or two so you can keep your eyes and ears peeled!

After the Grammys, a Grammy nominee

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Chicago's Syleena Johnson was nominated for a Grammy, and she's performing on Grammys night! But wait — the nomination was in 2004 (for her vocals on Kanye West's hit "All Falls Down") — and her performance this weekend isn't at the Grammys. She is, however, celebrating her fourth album, "Labor Pains," with a hometown show at 10 p.m. Sunday at Rednofive, 440 N. Halsted. Beats watching the actual Grammys, which will just be wrapping up by then.

Club Hopping, Feb. 6-12

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Whether you consider her the next great Swedish pop act since Peter Bjorn and John (whose Bjorn Yttling produced her acclaimed debut, "Youth Novels") or that country's answer to Bjork, Lykke Li is well worth a listen, and you can catch her live now as the indie buzz builds when she performs at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, after openers Wildbirds & Peacedrums, at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, $18. Call (773) 549-0203; -- Jim DeRogatis

More shows after the jump ...

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was born 200 years ago this month, and the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, will host an exhibition of images of Lincoln, some made during his lifetime, others from after his assassination in 1865. Tall Man of Destiny: Images of Abraham Lincoln will open Saturday in the 9th Floor Special Collections Hall and remain open during regular library hours through Feb. 28, 2010. Call (312) 747-4300;

More things to do this weekend after the jump ...

It’s above freezing! 25 reasons to go outside

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Spring definitely has not sprung. But after a long deep-freeze, the thermometer is forecast to kiss 50 within the next few days, maybe even this weekend. As Punxsutawney Phil just reminded us (that rat!), we’ve got at least six more weeks of winter ahead. Still, it’s all relative, and 40s sure feel like 70s after three months of frigid, and maybe we’ll actually see the lawns again (no one will be happier about this than your dog).

So — without rushing into anything (and you might keep an eye on the forecast) — if you’re looking for excuses to do something semi-outdoors, here are 25 possibilities that might help kick your seasonal affective disorder, even if you still have to bundle up a bit:

Daily Deal$: Thursday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

one sixtyblue, 1400 W. Randolph
$4 burgers and $4 craft beers in the bar

Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield
$5 martinis, $3 Bud and Bud Light

Stanley's Kitchen & Tap, 1970 N. Lincoln
$9.95 bourbon chicken

Volo, 2008 W. Roscoe
Free small plate with purchase of two entrees

Wild Pug, 4808 N. Broadway
$3 drafts of Sapporo, $6 sake-tinis

Better than a coffee break

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Need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, but have already hit your caffeine-intake limit for the day? No problem, just go for some corned beef instead; you might actually end up spending less money, depending on where you get your coffee.

Throughout the month of February, the Bar at the Berghoff (17 W. Adams) is offering $1 corned beef sandwiches with a beverage purchase from 3-5 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

So go ahead, grab a bite. A little tip, though: pop a breath mint if you're heading back to the office afterward. Bosses have a nose for these things.

finishedview3.jpgGinkgo Tree mural by Kevin Garbacz, an exhibitor this weekend's smART Show.

1. Wicker Park Bucktown First Friday and smART Show
Friday-Sunday at Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee
On the first Friday of each month, the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods host an artists' open house. This month, the First Friday event coincides with the Winter smART show. For a suggested $5 donation you can explore the historic Flat Iron Arts Building and view the art of over 100 resident, guest and student artists. Many studios offer refreshments, and impromptu performances will occur throughout the evening. Also look for performances and events at neighborhood venues Debonair, the Double Door and Piece.

Some chocolate with your vino?

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Que Syrah Fine Wines will host a Chocolate, Desserts and Wine tasting on Feb. 13 from 8-10 p.m. The popular Lakeview wine shop will partner with Sensational Bites for decadent desserts to pair with wine and beers. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to add the finishing touch to a fine Valentine’s Day dinner.

Check out Que Syrah’s Web site for more info. And for more V-day dinners, drinks and all around good times, check out Centerstage’s Valentine’s Day guide.


Dance at a discount

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No doubt you've heard something about the Batsheva Dance Company, whose "Deca Dance" hits the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, this weekend for two very special shows. If not, here's what Centerstage has to say:

Batsheva Dance, an Israeli company touring Chicago for the first time in decades, drips with cultural cachet. Co-founded in 1964 by Martha Graham and Baroness de Rothschild, this troupe performs contemporary dance pieces, mostly by artistic director Ohad Naharin. Critics call his work lusty, playful, and starkly entertaining. If you're into well-muscled, bed-headed Israelis, don't miss Batsheva's two-night-only stand. They might not be back for another 34 years.

If you want in on some of this sexually-charged action, there are still some tickets left. And it gets even better. Thanks to See Chicago Dance, you can get $10 off the $30-$89 ticket price by entering code MAX on Ticketmaster. If the mature performance isn't quite your cup of tea, you'd do well to check out the site anyway, as you can get deals on tons of shows, including Valentine's Day options like "Duets for My Valentine" at the Athenaeum and Centre East's presentation of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago.

SoKo's loss is your gain

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In this economy, it's every fashionista for herself; if you see a good deal, you've gotta pounce. And so, it's with only the slightest amount of guilt that we point you to the 40-percent-off sale at independent boutique SoKo Fashion (1925 W. Chicago). The reason for the unholy discount? The place is going out of business at the end of February, says Gapers Block.

We won't tell if you don't.

Daily Deal$: Wednesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Cortland's Garage, 1645 W. Cortland
$3 Bud/Bud Light bottles, $4 premium and import beers, $5 Ketel vodka cocktails; ribs tonight only

Duffy's Tavern, 420 1/2 W. Diversey
$1 Bud Light drafts

Leg Room, 7 W. Division
Half-price house drinks and martinis; $50 off bubbly

Motel Bar, 600 W. Chicago
$4 Amstel Light & Heineken, $5 Stoli cocktails (it's also burlesque night)

Villains Bar & Grill, 649 S. Clark
$2 PBR drafts; 50-cent jumbo wings

biz_markie.jpgNobody beats the Biz...

Fo Sho wth Biz Markie

Friday, February 6 at Rednofive, 10 p.m.; $10, free before midnight with RSVP to
We don't know when Biz Markie was cooler, when he was killing it with his genius late '80s/early '90s hip-hop hit "Just a Friend" or when he showed off his big ol' belly and made a mockery out of Celebrity Fit Club a few seasons back (hey, a check is a check). But seriously, Biz is often given props for his irreverent rhymes, beatboxing skills and hip-hop history knowledge. Tonight, he makes a rare appearance with DJ Cool V at an unlikely spot, Rednofive. Local superstars Hollywood Holt, Gant Man, Vyle, Zebo and Noise Floor Crew (Local Hero and Angel Alanis) also perform.

More events after the jump...

Supplementaire your wardrobe with Lupe Fiasco

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It's not too early to begin planning your summer style, and we think these new All-Stars emblazoned with Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco's lyrical opinions are pretty cool. Entitled the 100 Supplementaire, these kicks are part of the Product (Red) charity campaign, and they're due on shelves within the month at all Converse retailers.

Your first chance to dance

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Can't wait for the 8th Annual Chicago International Salsa Congress, February 12-15? You don't have to. The Old Town School of Folk Music (4544 N. Lincoln) hosts a dance preview tonight. Salsa DJs will spin as a mix of Chicago troupes take the stage. The event will be capped by award-winning dancers Griselle Ponce and Andy Cruz headlining the performance. 8:30-10:30 p.m., $5 suggested donation. Get tickets here.

Griselle Ponce will make you sweat.

There's plenty more salsa to come in the days before the weekend-long extravaganza of performances and classes at the Westin O'Hare, including the Mambo Allstars at Rumba (351 W. Hubbard) on Friday and Coco Restaurant & Lounge (2732 W. Division) on Saturday.

And everybody's celebratin'

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We can't count the number of times we've said, "Man, you know what this city really needs? A party night dedicated to Dr. Dre."

Well, thank god for the NSA, because someone finally picked up on our hints. Dre Day has come to Chicago — specifically, to Small Bar (2049 W. Division) on Feb. 18. The event, which started in the Twin Cities, includes attractions like the "$20 Sack Pyramid," a "your face on 'The Chronic' album cover" photo booth, 40s galore (while they last) — and, of course, tons of Dre tunes spun by local DJs like Pickel, Onceamonth, Intel, Maker, Trew and Kool Hersh. No cover.

All in all, it's a great way to get your Dre fix while you wait patiently for the release of the rapper/producer's new album, "Detox." We hear it's dropping real soon.


Put yourself into the new Plain White T's video

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OK, the jaded side of us understands that this whole thing is driven by marketers and PR people who are really starting to get how this whole Interweb thing works. But the romantic side of us can't help but gush a little at the Plain White Ts' sweetly tuneful new song, "1,2,3,4," the beautiful wintertime footage of Chicago in the video and the cute way you can now add yourself to the video just in time for a lil' Valentine's Day dedication. Hey, it makes Chi town look good and it scores us a few love points. It's win-win.

The backstory, from the crafty PR people: "This past December, Plain White T’s vocalist Tom Higgenson and director Mike Venezia hit the streets of Chicago to shoot a quick, inexpensive video ('just something fun to throw on YouTube,' says Higgenson) for new single '1,2,3,4.' ... Shot in 18-degree weather, the video follows Higgenson around his hometown of Chicago as he busks for passing couples. Captions identify each couple, along with tidbits about how and when they met. 'We were armed with only a camera and a guitar,' says Higgenson. ' "1,2,3,4" is a simple love song, and so we wanted to capture various love stories throughout Chicago.' ”

The hook: You can (a) make your sweetheart swoon and (b) help this local band's video go totally viral by hitting the video's Web page and personalizing it with your own photos and captions. The interface is easy to use, then you can send the video to your loved one (or your desired loved one). Easy, cheesy, not sleazy.

If your kids have already finished all the Twilight books and need something else to read, you might want to turn them onto Julia Alvarez's latest young-adult novel, Return to Sender. It's the story of a young boy whose family hires Mexican migrant workers to work on their Vermont farm. Questions ensue.

The In the Time of the Butterflies author will be reading from the book and answering questions at Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, tonight at 6 p.m. The novel will also be available for purchase.

Ticket alert: Throbbing Gristle

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Throbbing Gristle. Now, that would be a great name for a rock band...oh wait, it is the name of a rock band. And that band — one of the premier industrial groups in the world — is coming to Chicago on April 25. At a church, no less. Tickets for the show at Epiphany (201 S. Ashland) are on sale now on Ticketweb, according to the Reader. There will actually be two separate shows; the first will be a live soundtrack to the 1980 film "In the Shadow of the Sun," while the second will be a proper set spanning the band's career.

Hungry already?

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Just got a Twit-tip (made that one up) that's iPhone app just hit iTunes. This means it's even easier to find out which Chicago restaurants deliver to you, view menus, read reviews and place an order -- all without having to make any verbal or visual contact with another human being. This is progress!

Check it out here (we hear there are still a couple bugs to work out).

3 Things We Love About ... Bridgeport

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1. Drinking Okocim and Zywiec Polish lager in between free games of pool and darts at Herman's Gem Bar Lounge and Grill.

2. Frequenting Johnny O's for one of the city's cheapest lunches: $1.99 for a dog and fries.

3. Traditional dancing, a parade and the ultimate summer barbecue during August’s Croatian Fest.

What are your favorite three things about Bridgeport?

Daily Deal$: Tuesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

115 Bourbon Street
, 3359 W. 115th, Merrionette Park
$3 you-call-it (excludes premium liquors, martinis and Red Bull)

Bowman's Bar and Grill, 4356 N. Leavitt
$1 tacos (minimum three); $1 off draft beer, $5 margaritas, $15 buckets of Corona

Five Star Bar
, 1424 W. Chicago
$2.50 cans of Schlitz; $1 gringo tacos

Gamekeepers, 345 W. Armitage
$2 burgers

Union Park, 228 S. Racine
2 tacos for $2; $2 Miller bottles, $2 sangria

Open and closed

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Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.


Tocco – The new buzz-word among Chicago pizza (where we’re inexplicably always trying to improve upon the already perfect deep dish) is “wood-burning oven” – as if that’s supposed to make the pizza that much better. That said, this place is like Follia (from the same owners) only slightly less, shall we say, wallet heavy.

Wings Around the World –The new incarnation of WATW (recently moved from its original Bronzeville location) boasts more than 50 different sauces from nearly a dozen countries, including the Canadian-inspired “maple twist.” So, I guess we can add that to the list of “Canada’s cultural contributions,” just above Celine Dion but still well below Slap Shot.

Increase your cultural awareness at Wings Around the World.

35th Street Café – How did a place so classy get so close to the Cell? Just askin’ …

Faith & Whiskey – Ta’too, the bar that used to be housed here, was a really weird place. Faith & Whiskey has antlers for chandeliers and real motorcycles on top of the bathroom doors. So, there you go.


Fajita Grill – The food was fine, but the real draw was having guacamole made right in front of you, to your specifications. Mmmm. Homemade guacamole.

DeLaCosta – It’s better this way: We never knew if it was one word or three, what to capitalize and whatnot. Yes, we know we’re dorks. But we’re editors. We worry about these things.

Mangino’s – Independently owned (and reasonably priced) lunch spots in the Loop are few and far between, and this was one of the better sandwich shops around. So, yeah, take your five dollars and go grab a crappy foot long at Subway. That’s exactly what the economy needs.

Check back here every Tuesday with more openings and closings (and snarky comments, of course). And be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's list of new restaurants and bars.

3 Things We Love About ... Chatham

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1. Fried gulf shrimp at Haire's Gulf Shrimp. Were you expecting something else?


2. Ordering the Big Dat from Dat Old Fashioned Donut.

3. Monday nights featuring Tre' and the BlueKnights Blues Band at City Life Cocktail Lounge.

What are your favorite three things about Chatham?

Three for the show

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Today's a free day at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Which is awesome. But there are some worthy events coming up at the MCA that'll require you to open your wallet. Stuff like:

First Fridays
6-10 p.m.; $15.
If you're looking for a date for Valentine's Day, you could do worse than checking out this monthly event. The crowd tends to include some of the most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes our city has to offer - so you'd better dress to impress. This Friday's installment is called Temptation; how can you resist?

The Wild Duck
Runs through Feburary 15; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2:30 & 7:30 p.m. Sunday; $32-$56
You've only got a couple more weekends to catch this Ibsen-penned show about an impoverished family's fantasy world. Centerstage's review says the cast is full of "vigor and generosity."

Five Days in March
February 20-22; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday; $25
It's March 2003, and Japan is about to get involved in its first military conflict since World War II. Naturally, two young concert-goers decide to hole up in a Shibuya "love hotel" and fill the next five days with sex and drinking. Whether it's a conscious protest or not, you'll want to watch. And listen: it's performed in Japanese with English subtitles.

From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Crocodile
It’s a jungle out there in Wicker Park.

Red Light in the West Loop.

Off the Beaten Path: Red Light
Upscale pan-Asian establishment nestled in the West Loop.

Weekly Treat: Two-buck Tuesdays at Red-I Lounge
All beers are $2 at this South Side karaoke lounge.

Man We're Crazy About: Monticchio
Rustic Italian dominates the menu at this Uptown spot.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Park yourselves here, kids

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It's never easy to motivate yourself to get out and exercise during the long, cold winter. It can be even harder to get your kids to do it, especially with those darned computer games always calling their names. The Chicago Park District understands your troubles; that's why, starting this weekend, it will be offering 16 Neighborhood Sportsfest events around town. These (largely indoor) events, happening everywhere from Bessemer Park on the far South Side to Hamlin Park in Roscoe Village, include mini-tournaments with soccer, floor hockey, basketball and dodgeball, obstacle courses, fishing ponds, tumbling and more. For those kids who just can't tear themselves from electronic companions, there will also be Wii and Dance Dance Revolution games at some parks.

The schedule is after the jump. Not every activity is available at every park, so make sure to call (312-742-PLAY) or visit the Web site for full details before heading out.

This could be your kid.

Bleepin' lizards! Blago found in funny folk

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Greg Klyma is a clever singer-songwriter who bills himself as the "Rust Belt vagabond" and has played a few times at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival down in Oklahoma. While passing through downstate recently, he was inspired — as Woody would have been — to quickly throw together a small ditty about the particular political situation of the moment. The video above showcases his new folk song, "Bleepin' Blago," in two performances — one on WDBX, the other at Cousin Andy's, both in Carbondale.

Of the song, he writes on YouTube: "The shelf life of this song passed about two minutes before I wrote it, but I had an appearance on the radio and a gig in Southern Illinois to play. My true calling?"

Shelf life? That sure hasn't stopped "Saturday Night Live" (which still can't seem to get an Illinois accent correct). Or Second City. So bet on Klyma playing the song again when he's back through the area, April 17 at the Two Way Street Coffee House in Downers Grove.

What other Blago-riffic tunes have you heard around town? Have you written one? Comment below or email and do tell!

Call it a satay-cation

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Despite what this year's "Top Chef" has shown us, culinary students can make pretty darn good food. And since these budding chefs are still learning, they're usually happy to have anyone sample their fare - which is why cooking schools have long been known as prime spots to score gourmet meals at casual prices.

Kendall College
's Monday Night Dining Series continues this trend: For the next five weeks, diners will be able to taste "ethnic neighborhood" cuisine from five different regions (in order: Mexico, Poland, Southeast Asia, Greece, Indian) for just $38 each meal. That price gets you five courses plus non-alcoholic beverages, and it includes sales tax.

Dinners are BYOB, and seating begins at 6:30 p.m. The Dining Room is at 900 N. North Branch. Call (312) 752-2328 or visit the Web site for reservations.

Tonight's menu:
• Chicken Sopes with Salsa Verde
• Posole Soup with Crisp Tortillas
• Salad of Mixed Greens, Cactus & Roasted Corn
• Roasted Pork Loin with Mole Manchamanteles
• Mexican Chipotle Brownie, Mango Ice Cream and Crunchy Tuile with Mexican

Daily Deal$: Monday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Bogart's Bar & Grill, 9701 W. Bryn Mawr, Rosemont
Half-price appetizers; $10 domestic buckets (three bottles)

Estelle's, 2013 W. North
$3 burgers

Jack's Bar & Grill, 2856 N. Southport
Half-price bottles of wine, $10 domestic buckets

Jake's Pub, 2932 N. Clark
$2.50 bottles of Miller High Life

Zapatista, 1307 S. Wabash
$5 margaritas, $13.99 all-you-can-eat tacos

Six different ways to warm up

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So, according to our nemesis, Punxsutawney Phil, there will be six more weeks of winter. Before you fly into a SAD-induced rage, consider that this season ain't all bad. Actually, we've found six (fitting, huh?) upcoming winter-friendly happenings that'll make you forget spring even exists. Well, maybe we won't go that far.

Beer horiz 1-blog.jpg
Yes, a healthy dose of suds will help get you through many a cold Chicago night (and we've especially been loving Goose Island's new Mild Winter Ale), but we're actually talking about a play here. The show, conceived by Neo-Futurists Steven Mosqueda and Sean Benjamin, is performed at the brand-new Metropolitan Brewing in Ravenswood. If you hate watery, mass-produced swill, and love barley puppets, you'll love this show. Through March 7 at Metropolitan Brewing, 5121 N. Ravenswood; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.

3 Things We Love About ... Ashburn

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1. Trying to keep up with the 200-average bowling crowd at Bluebird Lanes. Oh well, there's always the arcade, or better yet, the bar.

2.  The cute wait staff and Sunday night trivia at Groucho's Pub & Lounge.

3.  Extra thin-crust pizza, Old Style, and South Side accents (did somebody say "sassage?") at nearly fifty-year old Vito & Nick's Pizzeria.

Lee Musso, known as Aunt Lee, serving pizza at Vito & Nick's. (Sun-Times file)

What are you favorite three things about Ashburn?

Set it, don't forget it!

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As we've mentioned previously, the Chicago installment of Anthony Bourdain's popular show, "No Reservations," airs on the Travel Channel tonight at 9 p.m. (note: many city-dwelling Comcast customers don't appear to get the channel at first glance; we've been told that re-scanning your channels may make it pop up at channel 62).

This means that some of your favorite area restaurants may soon be seeing a boost in business thanks to their time in the TV spotlight (maybe not a "Check, Please!" type bump, but still). If you've been meaning to try any of these spots, better get your reservations in now - better yet, set your DVR tonight and grab a table while the show actually airs. Below you'll find the 10 places Bourdain patronizes during his visit (and here are all 10 on a handy map).

bourdain_430_chicago.jpgThe chef stands by Calumet Fisheries on the South Side.

Avec, 615 W. Randolph
Blackbird, 619 W. Randolph
(ok, he doesn't really eat at these two, but he does dine in chef Paul Kahan's backyard)

Burt's Place, 8541 Ferris, Morton Grove

Calumet Fisheries, 3259 E. 95th

Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots, 7242 S. Western

Hot Doug's, 3324 N. California (also of note, Steelers fans, today's special dog is the Santonio Holmes, a gyros sausage with spinach raita, kalamata olives and haloumi cheese)

L20, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West

Moto, 945 W. Fulton Market

Ramova Grill, 3510 S. Halsted

Silver Palm, 768 N. Milwaukee

As the immortal Ron Michaelson once asked, "Why does lunch have to be so dull?"

Well, if the folks at NoMI had their way, it wouldn't be. The Park Hyatt's 7th floor restaurant offers up an out-of-the-ordinary Winter Lunch menu starting today.

For $25 (you might have to brown-bag it for the rest of the week), you get your choice of soup plus the chef's choice of salad - both served at once in a two-partitioned piece we'd like to see - followed by a main course and dessert. Soups include varieties like pumpkin and coconut with ginger and coriander; main courses include Peekytoe crab cakes and a steak sandwich with bearnaise aioli. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday. NoMI is located at 800 N. Michigan, (312) 239-4030.

Is it baseball season yet?

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No, still another couple months for that. But you can catch an exclusive screening of the new HBO series “Eastbound & Down” on Wednesday night at Wrigleyville’s Cubby Bear. The show, starring Danny McBride and featuring appearances by Will Ferrell, is about a washed-up baseball reliever (McBride) who gets run out of the big leagues and is forced to go home to North Carolina and work as a substitute teacher.


We’re not sure which former Cubs player this resembles most (too soon for Rod Beck?) but McBride eerily resembles pudgy former Phillies slugger (and current ESPN commentator) John Kruk. Decide for yourself at the preview, which starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. [Gapers Block is giving away 10 pairs of VIP tickets.] Or check out the show on HBO, which premieres Feb. 15.

3 Things We Love About ... Austin

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1.  Watching your hot dog get made in the open, stainless-steel kitchen of Ody's Drive Inn — no mystery meat here, folks.

2.  Taking in the Jens Jensen prairie-style landscaping and elegant Spanish Baroque Revival architecture of Columbus Park.

3.  The smothered porkchops, Salisbury steaks, and peach cobbler at MacArthur's, supposedly Obama's favorite soul food restaurant.

Smothered pork chops with greens and mac n' cheese at MacArthur's. (Sun-Times file)

What are your favorite three things about Austin?

Won't you be his neighbor?

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We don't know too many people who live by the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower (unless you count that mime in front of Water Tower Place), so the new "Neighborhood Friends" menu at the hotel's Cafe des Architectes seems oddly named. But in any case, you won't need to bring an electric bill bearing a local address to take advantage of chef Martial Noguier's creations on Sunday and Monday nights - as long as you're willing to pony up the $29 ($19 for children 6-10, free for kids 5 and under), you're good to go.

The three-course menu includes a choice of appetizer (broccoli veloute, poached egg with pork belly, cured baby coho salmon), entree (roasted root veggies, Lake Superior whitefish, chicken breast with sunchokes, flat iron steak) and dessert (warm bread pudding, creme brulee).

With a deal like this, you might consider moving in. Just don't tell the mime - he tends to be protective of his turf.

Daily Deal$: Super Sunday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Special Super Bowl Edition

The Spot, 4437 N. Broadway
A $15 all-you-can-eat buffet includes hot dogs, tamales, Italian Beef and Italian Sausage; for $10 more you can drink unlimited draft beers during the game.

Celtic Crown, 4301 N. Western
$4 32-ounce Miller Lite Mega Mugs; $2.75 Smirnoff bloody marys; 25-cent wings, $3.99 one-pound black-angus cheeseburger with fries

Finn McCool's
, 15 W. Division
$3.50 Miller Lite drafts; $4 Bloody Marys; $4 screwdrivers; 25-cent wings, $3.99 one-pound black angus cheeseburger with fries

Full Shilling, 3724 N. Clark
$2 Miller Lite drafts; $2.75 Smirnoff bloody marys; $3.50 all bombs; 25-cent wings, $3.99 one-pound black angus cheeseburger with fries

Merkle's Bar and Grill, 3516 N. Clark
$10 buckets, $4 22-ounce Miller drafts, $5 bloody marys, $5 bombs, 25-cent wings

3 Things We Love About ... Avalon Park

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1.  Browsing the goldmine of African-American political literature and incense at tiny Underground Bookstore.

2.  Dropping in for the Wednesday hoagie special at Taurus Flavors and leaving with an ice cream cone.

020109bjs.jpg (Sun-Times file)
3.  Mustard-fried catfish at BJ's Market & Bakery.  Need we say more?

What are your favorite three things about Avalon Park?

The wing's the thing

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If you're not a fan of the Steelers or Cardinals, the most important thing that happens during this year's Super Bowl probably isn't on screen; it's on your plate. For many people, that means chicken wings, and lots of 'em. With that in mind, Centerstage recently went on a quest to find the city's best wings in five different categories. Get your order in now if you want 'em in time for the game...

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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