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March 2009 Archives

3 Things We Love About ... Chicago politicians

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1. They make funny faces: Just watch when Mayor Daley blows his top. His cheeks turn fire engine red while he shakes his fist and turns those iconic bushy eyebrows into little devil horns. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's giant frown, seen most recently during his impeachment and removal from office, is a rib tickler as well.

2. They've got great nicknames: There's former Ald. Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, Ald, Eugene “Mean Gene” Schulter, Cook County President Todd “Toddler” Stroger, county commissioner, Jerry “The Ice Man” Butler, State Rep. Rickey “Hollywood” Hendon and, last but not least, Cook County commissioner Bill “Hog with the Big Nuts” Beavers.

3. They “vacation” together: When given a choice, elected officials (and their cronies) facing time in the federal hoosegow usually pick the same “country club” prison camp in Oxford, Wis. Former Gov. George Ryan is still there. Other notable past visitors include: former U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, former Chicago aldermen Larry Bloom, Virgil Jones and Ambrosio Medrano, Cook County commissioner Martin Tuchow and former Calumet City Mayor Jerry Genova.


HEY! YOU GOT THREE BETTER ONES?
Tell us your three favorite things about Chicago politicians!


"Yum-o!" "Deelish!" Expect to hear these and other Rachael Ray catchphrases often during her 500th episode, airing tomorrow, April 1 at 2 p.m. (check your local listings).

In addition to appearances by Matthew McConaughey and Barbara Walters, the landmark show will feature the Jen Ultimate Oatmeal Cherry Cookie, made by Barrington, Illinois' own Jennie and Vera's Cookies.

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This will be the second time the perky host has showcased the treat, so she must really love it...or else Jennie and Vera have some major dirt on Ray. Perhaps some photos of her drinking from a coffee cup from Starbucks instead of her beloved Dunkin' Donuts?

In any case, have some local pride and tune into the show tomorrow. Just be warned, you'll probably end up with a virtual shopping cart full of cookies before the hour's up.

Free fine art is not dead in Chicago

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One of the exhibits in honor of the Day of the Dead celebration at the Mexican Fine Arts Museum in Pilsen. (Sun-Times file)


Just because the Art Institute is raising its admission prices doesn’t mean that art has been priced out of your reach.

The Mexican Fine Arts Museum (1852 W. 19th, 312-738-1503) is free year-round, as is the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago (5550 S. Greenwood, 773-702-0200).

Chicago residents with valid library cards also can also check out a Museum Passport that gets two adults and two children into one of 13 museums for free, including the Art Institute, the Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Each library location has a limited number of passports for each of the 13 museums and only one passport can be checked out at a time.

And if that weren’t enough, just about every museum has a free general-admission day. Here's a list of times and locations ...

18 other things to do with the Art Institute's $18

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Are you roaring about the Art Institute's price hike? We have some alternatives. (Sun-Times file)


BY MISHA DAVENPORT Staff Reporter

We’re not saying you should avoid patronizing the Art Institute of Chicago once their general admission increases to $18 on May 23.

Yet in these tough economic times, many are really thinking long and hard before giving up their entertainment dollars.

We discovered there’s a lot you can do in the city for $18 or less, though. Here are 18 suggestions ...

Chicago: It's a man's, man's, man's town

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OK, move along, ladies. This one's for the guys.

Yo, dude. Like livin' in Chicago? ’Course ya do. And according to AskMen.com, Chicago is the best city for men to live in. We ranked No. 1 in the site's ranking of 29 world cities that offer the most to men, including such factors as the rate of employment, ratio of single women to men, frequency of cultural activities and sporting events and — most importantly — the cost of a pint of beer.

The rest of the top 10 manly hamlets: 2. Barcelona, 3. San Francisco, 4. London, 5. Sydney, 6. New York, 7. Berlin, 8. Hong Kong, 9. Copenhagen, 10. Paris

Enjoy the love: "Striking the perfect balance between fine arts and sports, Chicago offers world-class cultural fixtures like the Art Institute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago International Film Festival, and professional sports teams like the Chicago Bears and Cubs — complete with storied pasts and diehard fans. In addition, the city boasts one of the world's most diverse restaurant scenes and is internationally recognized for its signature pizza, Italian beef and hot dogs. This October, Chicago will participate as a finalist to host the 2016 Olympics, which will further enhance its global reputation and support the claim that it is indeed the best city for men to live in this year."

Ahem. And every year.


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What goes better with a bunch of classic Chicago food than an appearance from a classic Chicago musician? The organizers of this year's Taste of Chicago are betting blues musician Buddy Guy will bring out the best flavors of the city when he headlines on July 4.

He's not the only performer who'll be competing with food-on-a-stick for attention. Other headliners include Charlie Wilson (June 26), Counting Crows (June 27), The Wallflowers (June 28), Barenaked Ladies (June 30) and Ne-Yo (July 1). There will also be the annual Broadway in Chicago showcase on June 29, and a fireworks display (with music from the 85th Army Band) on July 3.

As reported by Jim DeRogatis earlier, there will also be a second stage this year, at Balbo and Columbus, curated by the likes of Bloodshot Records (June 27), Earwig (June 30), Thrill Jockey (July 3) and the Hideout (July 4), who will present "A Patriotic Salute to our 44 Presidents," featuring one performance for each of our leaders.

For more information, check out the official Taste of Chicago website

If you're planning on going to all three days of Lollapalooza this summer, you might as well save some money on that festival pass. Early-bird tickets go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. for the low, low (OK, not so low) price of $175.

Bands have yet to be officially announced, but rumor has it the lineup will include the Beastie Boys, Depeche Mode, Jane's Addiction, Tool and Kings of Leon.

Jim DeRogatis has been reporting the leaks here and here.

Get your passes here.

From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Cagney’s
A Lincoln Park Irish pub that does its own thing.

Off the Beaten Path: Loop Tavern
Drink in or take out at this Uke Village (not Loop) slashie.

Weekly Treat: Two-fer Tuesday at Brisku’s Bistro
Wash down your $2 burger with two-buck domestic beers.

Man We're Crazy About: Palette Bistro
Cuddle up for a romantic dinner on Diversey.

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

Warning: Haastyle art alters views of Chicago

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We've been talking views — of the handsome Chicago skyline for last Saturday's Earth Hour — but there's an artist in town who has created some radically new and different views of the city. He's even coined his own term for the art. The artist is Nick Haas, and his photo collages are Haastyle.

Haas takes photos of the city — the El tracks, the Loop, the lights, what have you — and then, instead of picking the good ones and slipping them into frames, he layers the images, knits them together, uses technology to make intriguing photomosaics that sometimes create an entirely new viewpoint on sights and scenes we take for granted.

“The urban environment fascinates me,” says Haas in a statement. “I love everyday objects — buildings, power lines, cars, train tracks — for their complexity and functionality. We coexist with them, yet take them for granted and they go unnoticed. We interact with these objects everyday, but overlook the role they play in defining the city's appearance and behavior. This idea inspires much of my artwork.”

Haastyle is currently on display at Thos. Moser showroom, 607 N. State. For more, see his portfolio.

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With his love for oration, it was only a matter of time before Hideout co-owner Tim Tuten headed off to Washington. Tuten, a longtime employee of the Chicago Public Schools, is headed to Washington, D.C. next month to join U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's staff, according to the Reader.

He says he'll be back in town often, but who knows...so you'd better get yourself to the Hideout soon to witness one of his legendary, long-winded band intros. May we suggest Ingebridgt Haaker Flaten on Saturday?

'This American Life' back to the big screen

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Ira Glass just keeps moving to bigger and bigger media. First, his influential radio show started here in Chicago, then moved to cable TV as a Showtime series. Now he's hitting the big screen. "This American Life" — if you haven't yet seen the ads for it ahead of the movie trailers — is returning to movie screens for another one-night-only, live-via-satellite event to be broadcast to select movie theaters on April 23.

Glass will host a new episode of the program, joined by contributors Dan Savage, Starlee Kine, Mike Birbiglia, David Rakoff and Dave Hill. There will also be a new cartoon by Chris Ware, visuals by Arthur Jones and a very special appearance by Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Firefly" and the current series "Dollhouse."

The event will be shown at these area theaters: Addison 21, Addison; Lincolnshire 20 w/ IMAX, Lincolnshire; AMC South Barrington 30, Barrington; AMC Yorktown 17, Lombard; Randall 15 w/ IMAX, Batavia; Naperville Showplace, Naperville; Century Stratford Square, Bloomingdale; New Lenox Showplace, New Lenox; Carbondale Showplace, Carbondale; Niles Showplace, Niles; AMC River East 21, Chicago; Orland Park Cinemas 14, Orland Park; Chicago City North, Chicago; Pekin Showplace, Pekin; Chicago Webster Place, Chicago; Willow Knolls 14, Peoria; Showplace 16, Crystal Lake; Rockford Showplace, Rockford; Century 16 Deer Park, Deer Park; Savoy 16, Savoy; Edwardsville Stadium 12, Edwardsville; Springfield West Showplace, Springfield; Elgin Fox Theatre, Elgin; AMC Cantera 30, Warrenville; Evanston 18, Evanston; Cinemark Woodridge 17 w/ IMAX, Woodridge; Gurnee Cinemas 20, Gurnee.

Art Brut books five-night Schubas residency

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We're loving the residency thing Schubas has going on with local bands. Now one of our favorite British rock bands has booked a five-night residency in this fab room: Art Brut will play Schubas on June 8-12. Tickets are $15, and five-day passes are available. The new album is "Art Brut vs. Satan," produced by Frank Black. Salivate, salivate.


This oughta wake you from your Monday blues.

Centerstage is giving away two free tickets to the Deadmau5 and Crookers show, April 11 at the Congress Theater. This is modern house/rave music at its finest, kids. Other acts include Late of the Pier, The Whip, Zebo, Willy Joy, Brad Owen, Loyal Divide and Noise/FloorCrew.

Be the first to email Centerstage with the subject line: Deadmau5 and you'll get your name plus one on the guest list. The show's 17+.

Twista and Prince go crazy

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Twenty-five years ago, a Minneapolis artist by the name of Prince released a little film called "Purple Rain." The biopic became one of the most popular music movies of all times, spawned a soundtrack that topped the charts for a record 24 straight weeks, and turned the blouse-wearing guitarist into a household name (and, eventually, a symbol).

So how's Prince celebrating the film's silver anniversary? By appearing on a track with Twista, of course. "i Can Make You Say," the first song leaked off "The Calm Before the Storm (A Prelude to Category F5)," the Chicago rapper's upcoming mixtape with DJ MoonDawg, was produced by Kanye West. Fake Shore Drive's got it for your listening pleasure.

Down get bogged down by peat

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Hillary Clinton enjoys a shot of Crown Royal while visiting Bronko's Pizza in Crown Point last April. (Sun-Times file)


Whiskey!

Sorry, too early on a Monday? Still suffering from Saturday? Well, Chicago doesn't slow down, bub, so suck it up. In fact, right here at the beginning of the week there are several opportunities to suck up some whiskey.

Delilah's is showcasing the best of both worlds. Tonight, the bourbon experts at this bar — really, this is not only one of the coolest bars in town but one of the best stops for real bourbon lovers — will be spotlighting a different brand of Kentucky whiskey every two hours from 6 p.m. to midnight. You'll even get a mini-lecture on each bottle's whims and wonders. Tuesday, same plan, but this time it's Scotch whiskey. Glasses pour at 7 p.m., offering Glenlivet single malts. At midnight, glasses raise to toast the 18-year Chivas blend.

Two other peaty parties:
• Try out Templeton Rye, a whiskey made in (wha?) Iowa, during Classic Cocktail Night at Fizz Bar & Grill, 3220 N. Lincoln, from 8 to 10 tonight. RSVP for a seat, (773) 348-6088.
• Join in the Great Whisk(e)y Debate at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Five Star Bar, 1424 W. Chicago. The tasting-slash-whiskey class is led by reps from numerous whiskey brands, including Canadian Club.

And these are just the warm-up acts for WhiskyFest on Wednesday! It's the ninth annual event, featuring "more than 200 of the world's finest, rarest, and most expensive, single malt and blended Scotch, Irish, bourbon, Tennessee, Japanese, Welsh, Canadian and other whiskies from around the world to sample in one Grand Ballroom." VIP tickets are sold out, order others fast.


A snowy case of the Mondays?

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Photo from Chicagoist.

Yes, it snowed yesterday. but take heart. Spring will ... spring. Just flip through these photos from Chicagoist. Opening day for the White Sox is next week! See, Monday all better.


Apartment hunting? A fan of 'Wedding Crashers'?

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Doing some apartment hunting this weekend? Has the recession got you looking for a cheaper pad? Well, this ain't it. Vince Vaughn is renting out his River North townhouse. Great location, movie theater, $9,500/month. But, really, it'd be kind cool to make out your rent checks to Vince Vaughn ...

Best of Chicago? You be the judge. Again.

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The Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago round-up is in for ’09. Let the arguing and squabbling begin over the lil' rag's choices.

When it comes to music, we can't help but agree with the perspective of Radio Free Chicago:

"Miles Raymer has tapped Stranger Waves as Best Rock or Pop Act for the Reader's Best of Chicago 2009 poll. Really? The best? Or was this an obscure/controversial choice by design to grab The Reader a little attention? Then again, maybe this was a much needed attempt to save the publication a little street cred after the audience poll resulted in a winner of Poi Dog Pondering (ouch!)."

Here's the video they offer as evidence — for or against?


This bartender's on a mission from God

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Quick, take a coffee break! At 3 today, "SNL" veteran Dan Aykroyd will be mixing drinks at the South Loop outlet of Binny's, 1132 S. Jefferson. He's promoting his new vodka brand, Crystal Head — inspired by his "fascination with ghosts, spirits and extraterrestrial life." Yeah, whatever, just go knock one down with a Blues Brother. Lasts till 5, and it's free admission (you pay for your drinks).

If you miss it today, he'll be back on Saturday, 1-3 p.m., this time pushing his new cabernet and chardonnay.


Chicago's Top 20 songs

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Keri Hilson carries the load at No. 1 this week, with frequent contributor (on this chart) Lil Wayne on board, 'Turnin' Me On." T.I. and JT fall to No. 3 on the day T.I. gets put away for a year.

Meanwhile, the hot Lady Gaga show this week helped keep her two, count 'em two, tracks on the Chicago chart.

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

Monday a beautiful day for U2 tickets

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Don't forget: Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday for U2's concert Sept. 12 at Soldier Field. Exercise that dialing or mouse-clicking finger this weekend, then hit those Ticketmaster outlets (here's the Chicago page). Prices are set at $32, $57, $97 and $252 -- plus, of course, the dreaded Ticketmaster "convenience fees."


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Big news, fans of giant plastic bubbles: The Flaming Lips have been added to the lineup for the Pitchfork Music Festival, July 17-19.

The Oklahoma-based psychedelic rockers, known for their outlandish live shows, will close out the festival on Sunday night. Jim DeRogatis and some readers have already submitted their dream set lists (unfortunately, the band will NOT be participating in the "Write the Night" series as originally reported).

Buy tickets ($75 for a three-day pass) here.

Jill + Julia = jubilation!

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Don't know about you, but we really need a good laugh this weekend. And what luck: Two intelligent, funny gals have teamed up for what must surely be a really intelligent, funny show. It's the Jill & Julia Show, featuring former "Saturday Night Live" comedian Julia Sweeney and the original "I Kissed a Girl" songwriter, Jill Sobule, touring with "a delightful set that mixes witty songwriting with a little bit of social commentary." Tickets still available for tonight's show, 7:30 p.m., at the Lakeshore Theater.

Obama poster art

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Since Barack Obama became our 44th president, his face has actually become slightly less ubiquitous than it once was (he still appears in our dreams on the reg). His likeness remains as inspirational as ever, though, a fact that "Officially Unofficial - Inspired Art for Obama" should reinforce.

The exhibition of prints, posters, photographs and videos inspired by Mr. Change runs April 1-May 31 at the Chicago Tourism Center, 72 E. Randolph. Participating artists include Ray Noland (the "GoTellMama!" poster series), Shepard Fairey (the infamous "Hope" poster) and Sol Sender (official Obama '08 logo).

Admission is free; hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. There will also be special gallery talks at 12:15 p.m. on April 16 (Noland) and May 28 (Scott Thomas, curator and former Design Director of the Obama campaign).

Earth Hour: Fading to black

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OK, yes, there are still a lot of lights on in this photo from March 29 last year — but not as many as there usually are. Really. This was what the Chicago skyline looked like during Earth Hour 2008. Tomorrow, it might even be darker than this. Earth Hour 2009 takes place from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. In 84 countries around the world (starting at 8:30 p.m. in each time zone), individuals, businesses and municipalities will dim or turn off all non-essential lighting for the hour. It's a way of highlighting global climate change — and reminding us how much energy we waste on lights and electric appliances we don't use all the time ... but still have on, sucking juice from the power grid.

Last year, it was similarly nippy on Earth Hour night, and we huddled in the auto on the curb at Montrose Harbor, keeping the nippy at bay with a few nips from some spiked hot chocolate (except the driver, of course) while watching the skyline ... slowly ... fade ... away. Pretty cool. Pretty freaky. We imagine it's interesting to watch from the Hancock observatory, too.

Centerstage also has this list of eco-friendly Earth Hour eats and drinks.

Chicagoist has a few more.

3 Things We Love About ... Friday night (March 27)

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1. The L.A.-based octet Ozomatli showed Drew Barrymore a good time in “Never Been Kissed.” The group’s bringing its melting-pot influences to the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, for a 9 p.m. show. Tickets are $20.50; call (312) 923-2000.

2. Chen’s Chinese and Sushi, 3506 N. Clark, celebrates 15 years in business from 4 p.m. to midnight. Customers will receive a $20 gift certificate for a return visit. Call (773) 549-9100.


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3. The Duchess of Chicago burlesque, Michelle L’Amour, presents a one-night-only “striptease history of Chicago,” with special emphasis on its crime and corruption. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. at Subterranean, 2011 W. North. Tickets are $15; call (773) 278-6799.


HEY! YOU GOT THREE BETTER ONES?
Tell us your three favorite things for Friday night.


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Tax day is just around the corner (19 days away from our count, although we’d rather not think about it). If filing your taxes has you feeling the blues, head to BBQ joint/blues bar Smoke Daddy (1804 W. Division) on April 15 for $2 Miller products, half-priced BBQ wings (only four bucks) and music by Sue Hughey, who we hope is taking a huge tax hit … you know, so she’ll be extra bluesy.

A little further north, head to Frasca in Roscoe Village on April 15 and get the sales tax paid on your tab. We would say that’s a great way to stick it to The Man, except we’re assuming they’ll pick up the difference, instead of just skirting the tax from the city. Either way, that’s 11 percent you don’t have to worry about.

Know of any more tax day specials? Tell us. In the meantime, search our listing of daily deals all over town.

Club Hopping, March 27-April 2

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OZOMATLI
Like Latin music? African? Hip-hop? Anything with a good beat? This octet is right up your alley. While some bands with similar melting-pot influences tend to sound a little unfocused and unoriginal, this L.A. group never fails to entertain. The fun begins with Parker House and Theory at 9 tonight at the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn. Tickets, $20.50. Call (312) 923-2000; www.hob.com/chicago. — Centerstagechicago.com.


More club shows after the jump ...


The Mix: Really cool things to do

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PEOPLE GET READY
Touring behind his recently released "Soul," (his sixth studio album), Seal (above) headlines at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $45-$75. Call (312) 902-1500; www.ticketmaster.com.


More events after the jump ...


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Spandexxx
Friday, March 27 at Sonotheque, 9 p.m.; free with RSVP to rsvp@enpriseentertainment.com, $10 otherwise
When she was just in high school in the late '80s, Lady Tigra, along with Bunny D as L'Trimm, laid down one of the most popular underground Miami Bass songs ever, "Cars with the Boom." Now, a decade later, she's back blasting speakers with fun, throwback hip-hop and dance jams and headlining URChicago.com and Venus Zine's monthly dance party, Spandexxx. Most of the crowd at Sonotheque was likely in diapers when L'Trimm hit the scene, but Lady Tigra is no nostalgia act; she's still promoting, writing jingles and producing in New York (and somehow still looks just as young as the club kids getting down to her sounds). Cassette and Count Rockula also perform along with resident DJs Rocktapussy. Get there early for free Red Stripe from 9-10 and giveaways from Chicago's best independent, woman-owned sex shop, Early to Bed.

’09 Chicago Blues Fest lineup revealed

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Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings performing at last year's Lollapalooza. They'll be back in the park this summer for the city's blues festival. (Sun-Times file)


The lineup for the 2009 Chicago Blues Festival has been revealed. Headliners include Bettye LaVette, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, plus a 70th birthday celebration for Eddie C. Campbell. The fest is June 12-14 in Grant Park, and if the recession has given you the blues, hey, get happy — this is one of many free city festivals!

See the full schedule after the jump ...


R.I.P. South Side St. Pat's Parade

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Hope you enjoyed yourself last week at the South Side St. Patrick's Day Parade. Turns out that may be the last one. We're reporting: "The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee has decided it will not stage the popular parade on Western Avenue in 2010."

That green river just turned a little blue.


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We pity the maid.

Planning on a rendezvous at the Swissotel Chicago this weekend? You've got company. From 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Shedd Aquarium experts will be bringing some slimy friends to the hotel's lobby for the Very Important Kids Animal Encounters event. Expected guests include a blue-tongued skink (pictured) and a 12-pound yellow-footed tortoise. No reservations are necessary.

Open and shut-tered

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Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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3 Things We Love About ... Rogers Park

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1. How, from Juneway Terrace to Loyola Avenue, by merely walking no more than a block or two east of noisy, congested Sheridan Road, there's another world of lakefront beaches and parks, big and small.


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Bartender Rob Mozol pours a bottle of Wyder's Peach Cider into a glass at Red Line Tap, the bar attached to Heartland Cafe. (Bridget Montgomery/Centerstage)

2. Warm cornbread from the Heartland Cafe (7000 N. Glenwood). Ours never turns out this good. Paired with the cafe's delectable vegetarian chili ($8), it's a perfect meal year-round, but especially on cold or rainy days. The Heartland is also a great place to plug into what's going on politically and otherwise in Rogers Park and feels more like a community gathering space than a restaurant.

3. Lifeline Theatre (6912 N. Glenwood). The ensemble's motto is "big stories, up close," and whether it's inspiring children's theater like "Flight of the Dodo" that never talks down to its audience or engaging literary adaptations of mature work such as "Mariette in Ecstasy," Lifeline rarely disappoints.


What are your favorite three things about Rogers Park?


3 Things Bonnie Hunt loves about Chicago

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Here at Our Town, we have our running list of "3 Things We Love About ..." — and over at NBC Chicago they've got hometown talk-show host Bonnie Hunt talking about her favorite three things about the city ...


lakesidecafe.jpgThe "chicken" portabello sandwich at Rogers Park's Lake Side Cafe. (via Flickr)

It's often been said that Rogers Park is the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago. Nowhere is this more evident than its wide array of restaurants; walk down Clark Street and you'll find everything from a Caribbean bakery to a Middle Eastern cafe within a few blocks.

The Rogers Park Dinner Crawl: A World of Taste, sponsored by 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore (he of the infamous foie-gras ban) and DevCorp North, aims to showcase the 'hood's many ethnic offerings. The event takes place this Sunday from 4-8 p.m., with samples available from the following participating restaurants:

African Harambee
Carribbean American Bakery
Charmers Cafe
Common Cup
Grande Noodle
Heartland Cafe
Jamaica Jerk
Lake Side Cafe
Las Islas Marias
Los Portales
Luzzat
Morseland
Masouleh
Sahara Kabob
Taste Food & Wine

Tickets cost $25 in advance, or $30 at the door (the DevCorp North offices at 1557 W. Howard). Apparently it's already half sold-out, so get on it! Each participant will receive a "passport" to get stamped at each location, as well as a map. There will be free shuttle service with four stops along the route.

Download your favorite Disturbed show

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Can we bang heads here in Our Town? Yes we can. And if you're one of those tattooed headbangers who follows Disturbed well beyond their hometown limits, you'll scream even louder to know that the Chicago-based metal band is offering "official" bootlegs throughout its current Music as a Weapon IV Tour, which kicked off this week up in cheesy Wisconsin (but doesn't roar back to Chicago until May 16 at Charter One Pavilion on northerly Island). The lowdown: "The download package will include the entire show in 256K, DRM-free MP3 format (18 to 20 tracks), exclusive photographs from the show, exclusive artwork, and the full set-list — all for just $9.99." Start clicking here.


Spiaggia has Obamas' vote, but what about Beard?

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President-elect Obama and Michelle Obama walk out of Spiaggia restaurant after having dinner Nov. 8 in Chicago. (AP file)


One of President Obama’s favorite places to eat and the chef of three popular restaurants are among the Chicago nominees for the prestigious James Beard Awards, announced yesterday in Chicago (the first year the awards were announced here).

Spiaggia — chef Tony Mantuano’s upscale North Michigan Avenue restaurant — is in the running for “outstanding service” in the Beard Awards, the restaurant industry’s top honors, named for the late food writer. Spiaggia is a favorite of the president and first lady.

Also nominated for Beard Awards from Chicago:
• Chef Paul Kahan — of Blackbird, Avec and the Publican — is up for “outstanding chef.”
• Mindy Segal of Bucktown’s Hot Chocolate for outstanding pastry chef.
• Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, the popular restaurant chain, for outstanding restaurateur.
Bin 36 for outstanding wine service.
The Publican for best restaurant design and graphics.
• And Alinea — the first cookbook by chef Grant Achatz, not his restaurant — nominated in a cookbook category.


From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Sunda
A taste of the Orient from the Rockit/Underground team.

Off the Beaten Path: Side Street Saloon
Good cheer and cheap beer on the edge of Lakeview/Lincoln Park.

gios200.jpgGio's Sports Bar & Grill

Weekly Treat: Two-Buck Burger and Fries at Gio’s
Eat cheap on Tuesdays at this Lincoln Square spot.

Man We're Crazy About: Beachwood Inn
Laid-back atmosphere and wonderfully tacky decor in Wicker Park.

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

Time magazine discovers Pitchfork

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Chicago's own Ryan Schreiber — founder of the Pitchfork web site — has, as noted by The Daily Swarm, been lauded for his work on the online indie-rock haven by none other than Time magazine. The newsweekly named Schreiber among its annual "Time 100" for "steering opinion (and sales) with its infamously forthright record reviews; even its detractors can’t help but look at it three times a day." Time defines his cred by pointing out he was an early backer of such bands as Arcade Fire, Interpol and — uh, can someone help us with this one? — Relevant Elephant (?!).


Kanye & Common take Chicago hip-hop to Texas

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Last weekend's South by Southwest music festival down in Austin, Texas — the spring break of the music industry — was a blast, and you can read all about it on Jim DeRogatis' blog (and read and read and read). One of the crowning moments was this performance by Chicago's own hip-hop icon Kanye West ... which turned into a performance by Chicago's other hip-hop icon, Common ... which then included a visit by Erykah Badu who, literally, let her hair down ...


One Gore-geous evening

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Next up in the Chicago Theatre's popular "Speaker Series: Minds That Move The World": former Vice President Al Gore. Mr. Inconvenient Truth will speak on climate change at 7:30 p.m. on April 1, with The Week editor-at-large Sir Harold Evans moderating. Tickets range from $35-$185; get 'em here or here.

Other upcoming Speaker Series events:

April 22: Chris Matthews interviewing Tucker Carlson, Arianna Huffington and Paul Begala

May 28: Charlie Rose interviewing James Carville and former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove


Go eat at Chen's this week. Why? Because all who dine at the Wrigleyville restaurant today through Sunday will get complimentary $20 gift certificates good for use on your next visit (as long as it's Sunday-Thursday).

That's like four dragon rolls for the price of two! Just watch out for the mercury...Jeremy Piven knows what we're talking about.

That ain't hip-hop

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If you're planning on heading to Earatik Statik's record-release party Saturday at Subterranean, you should know about the controversy surrounding the show.

Turns out that DJ 3rd Rail (aka The Hip-Hop Avenger), one of the openers and a longtime DJ on WNUR 89.3 FM, doubles as a "Guardian Angel." These are volunteer crime patrollers who roam streets, subways and other public areas at night, trying to keep them safe for all.

The trouble stems from this video, which shows 3rd Rail and other angels aggressively detaining two young'uns for tagging at the Western Blue Line station.

We're not saying defacement of public property should be allowed without repercussions, but we do know that graffiti stands as one of the four pillars of hip-hop culture (along with rapping, DJing and breakdancing). As such, this action certainly hurts 3rd Rail's credibility as a true member of the hip-hop movement, especially as one who admits to having been a graffiti writer at one time.

There's been talk in the community of boycotting the show, though that would detrimentally affect the many other acts deserving your attention (like All Natural, Juice and Diverse), so we wouldn't recommend it. But just be aware that things could get ugly during 3rd Rail's set.

With the Spring Equinox upon us, the Our Town staff shares three things we love about springtime in Chicago.

1-7 cruze weather 3.jpg1. Return to the lakefront: When the boats are back in Belmont Harbor, you know it's time to kick your butt into gear and start enjoying the lakefront again. Whether jogging, rollerblading, biking or bouncing, hot bodies are always a welcome return to the lakefront each spring. Which reminds us -- this could be an ideal time to whip yourself into shape. We suggest any number of area boot camps to jump-start your path to rock-hard abs.

2. Grant Park: The last time Chicagoans converged in Grant Park en masse was to celebrate the election of our 44th president. With spring, we return to Grant Park for reasons somewhat less grandiose, but noble nonetheless: softball. Dig those dusty cleats out of the closet, get the gang back together and register for a league through Chicago Sport and Social Club or Players Sports Group

Travel Trip Chicago Architecture.jpg3. Sightseeing boats: Sure, we roll our eyes whenever out-of-town guests suggest them, but we're always pleasantly surprised at how engaging the architecture, history and skyline boat tours can be. Shoreline Sightseeing tours have already begun. Wendella boats hit the river with architecture tours, wine tasting tours and water taxis April 3.

What did we miss? In the comments section below, tell us what you love about spring in Chicago.

Open Heartland

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Well, that was fast. The Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park, which was closed last Thursday by city health inspectors, has re-opened today after passing re-inspection.

Don't worry, the "macrobiotic" plate will still be available.

Jurassic Five (plus 13)

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Apatosaurus dinosaur

As noted on the front page of today's paper, the Brookfield Zoo turns into Jurassic Park come April 4, when the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit opens. The world's largest animatronic dinosaur, a replica of the nearly 60-foot-long Ruyang Yellow River dino, will be the centerpiece, but there will be 17 other animals vying for your attention.

Check out the photos here, and get yourself out to the zoo between April and October. Admission to Dinosaurs Alive! will be $5 for adults and $3 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and older. General zoo admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children 3-11 and seniors. Children 2 and under are admitted free

Like the folks at TOC, we're big fans of the Chicago Public Library's latest ad campaign, "Not What You Think," which features tattooed librarians and music-mixing grandmas, all in the name of highlighting the cooler side of the shush-happy sanctuaries.

Now you can get in on the action by entering CPL's new poster-design contest, open until April 9. The only stipulation is that you need to use the URL chipublib.org somewhere in your art; the rest is up to you. The contest will be judged by Jay Ryan (The Bird Machine) and others, and the winner will get his or her poster displayed around the city. Of course, it's all free; the library wouldn't have it any other way.

bengordon500.JPGBen Gordon will be at Bull & Bear on Thursday.
As if you needed another reason to take a long lunch tomorrow, Chicago Bulls guard Ben Gordon will host Bull & Bear’s March Madness Kick off party, watching the opening-round games at the newish River North sports bar. The event will benefit Ben's “A New Life Foundation.”

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Cut Copy DJ Set
Wednesday, March 18 at Berlin, 9 p.m.; $10
If you couldn't get tickets to Cut Copy's show at the Vic Theatre or if you want to get up close and personal with members of the band, head across the street to Berlin to catch the after-party, appropriately titled the Cutters Party. The band gets behind the turntables along with fellow Aussies Knightlife, Daisy O'Dell and Jordan Z.

Talkin' 'bout the bouts

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This year's installment of the legendary Chicago Golden Gloves boxing tournament (past champions include Joe Louis and Cassius Clay) kicks of with preliminary rounds on Thursday at the St. Andrews Gym, 1658 W. Addison. We're not usually big fans of boxing, but the event's special twist got us interested.

Sun-Times News Group staffers Brad Engel (sports editor at the Naperville Sun) and Shenequa Golding (a reporter at the Southtown Star) have been training for the tourney since January. Only Golding's actually gonna fight (Engel doesn't want to be the next Glass Joe, apparently), but we're told it's a good time no matter who's in the ring. So check the schedule and head over to Lakeview; with $10 admission and $4 beers, it'll be cheaper (and more entertaining) than watching sloppy fighting outside McFadden's at 2 a.m.

Get Smart, again

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The Museum of Science and Industry's Smart Home, which first opened to the public from May 2008 through January 2009, was pretty cool, but it needed a little something extra. An automated sound system and moisture-monitoring plants can only impress for so long. That's why, over the past couple of months, the home was renovated and outfitted with tons of new, even even cooler stuff, like a robot that'll get rid of your snow (the I-Shovel, pictured) and a "green" baby nursery. Check it out for yourself when tours begin again tomorrow.

3 things we love about ... Chicago-style Hot Dogs

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1. The assemblage of textures, flavors and colors is unparalleled -- warm dog, soft bun, savory mustard, crunchy pickle, tart sport pepper, sweet green relish, sharp onion, mellow tomato and lip-smacking celery salt.

2. It makes the rankings of the Zagat restaurant guide -- it's that good. This year, Hot Doug's, 3324 N. California, slipped in between Spiaggia and Frontera Grill as the 17th best place for food in Chicago.

3. Only in Chicago do we pay for a side of insults with our hot dog -- and still go back for more. (Wieners Circle, 2622 N. Clark, dishes up hearty helpings of both.)

Hard up for cash?

The Admiral Theater may be your savior. The gentleman's club is hosting its first-ever "So You Think You Can Strip?" contest over a four-week period beginning March 26. The winner gets $5,000 and a trip to Vegas to compete in the national finals. All the details are here (note: you may want to wait 'til you get home to start the application process).

Open and shut-tered

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Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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You probably can't tell from the writing style, but we're big fans of Nelson Algren 'round these parts. So you can bet we'll be toasting the Chicago writer's would-be 100th birthday (he died in 1981) on March 28.

But there's no need to wait 'til next week. As part of Columbia College's Story Week, a group of locals, including author Joe Meno and photographer Art Shay (the guy behind Nelson Algren's Chicago), will gather at the Harold Washington Library Center tonight for a tribute to the man and the writers he inspired.

The Polish Triangle in Wicker Park, where the Algren Fountain sits, would probably be a more suitable spot, but we guess it would be hard to watch a documentary screening as buses careen by. in any case, the event is free and begins at 6 p.m.

From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Tapas Valencia
Tasty tapas spot moves to the South Loop.

Off the Beaten Path: Jake’s Pub
One of Lakeview’s last hole-in-the-wall bars.

Weekly Treat: Tuesdays Are Half as Nice at Moxie
Get half off glasses of wine and crab cakes on Tuesday nights.

Man We're Crazy About: Cork & Kerry
Who says the South Side Irish fun has to stop on Sunday?

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

In a theater-crazy town like Chicago, stage exploits aren't limited to the weekend. There are a lot of great shows (and great deals) to take advantage of before humpday even arrives. Every Monday, we'll alert you to a few interesting early-in-the-week shows you may want to catch. If you want to see the whole list, just head here.

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Solid Gold Cadillac
8 p.m. Thursday at Athenaeum Theatre
One woman shakes up corporate America.in Open Eye Productions’ return to its "silly roots."

Not Enough Air
7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday at Timeline Theatre Company
Find out how journalist/playwright Sophie Treadwell created her controversial play, "Machinal."

The Secrets Project
7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday at Peter Jones Gallery
“I have judged people based on the contents of their iPods"...and other admissions.

Ware on the air

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Quick: Name your favorite graphic artist.

Chances are, unless you recently read Frederick Peeters's touching "Blue Pills," the first name that came into your head was probably Chris Ware. The man's pretty much a god, and we're lucky that he calls Chicago home.

Really lucky are the boys at Bad at Sports, who secured an interview with Ware for their latest podcast. Check it out here.

Putting the "art" in "party"

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Drink with a purpose tonight at Cobra Lounge, which hosts a release party for the first (and only) issue of Mouthpiece Magazine, a publication made by students at the International Academy of Design and Technology (our neighbors here in the Mart Plaza building).

The event, which starts at 8 p.m. (there will be a 7 p.m. meet-and-greet session if you're an early bird), features entertainment from DJs Broken Gold as well as specials like $2 Jim Beam, $2 Lone Star beer and half-price burgers. Copies of the mag will be on sale for $5, with all proceeds going toward the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education.

Pi Day deliciousness

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Eat this whole thing and watch your belly's circumference increase.

So tomorrow (March 14) is Pi Day. Don't pretend like you don't know why. MenuPages blog offers up a few tasty ways to celebrate (including one-day-only pies at Bleeding Heart Bakery), but they all fall on the sweet side of things. Are you really going to crave pastry after a few hours of green beer?

Here are some recommended ways to round out your Saturday, savory-style.

Improv Fest tix on sale today

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Ok, just kidding about not posting Andy Dick photos. He just looks too funny.

This isn't totally gratuitous; the wayward (but Celebrity Rehab-ing) comedian will be performing April 18 as part of the Chicago Improv Festival (April 13-19). Tickets for all performances go on sale today; mainstage shows, including Dick, Frangela and FACEBOOK (with Rob Riggle), cost $20 each.

Visit lakeshoretheater.com or call (773) 472-3492).

No AM This PM

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DJ AM was set to perform at Enclave tonight, making his first appearance in Chicago since being involved in a near-fatal plane crash last year. However, the show's been cancelled. According to the Boots Girls, he almost boarded "another airplane which recently crashed and fatally killed several passengers," and has decided to cancel all out-of-town spinning gigs requiring air travel. Can't blame the guy.

Stay tuned for a rescheduled performance; in the meantime, check out one of our other recommended club events tonight.

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Pete Rock
Friday, March 13 at Zentra, 9 p.m.; $10
Hip-hop producer and DJ Pete Rock, best known for his '90s collaboration with MC CL Smooth, has been staying busy since the two found success with the infectious "Reminisce." He has a collection of well-regarded collaborations and instrumental albums under his belt in recent years, so don't look at this as solely a throwback show. Rock is joined tonight by Dirty Social DJs Intel and Merk for 3 floors of hip-hop fun.

3 Things We Love About ... Friday night

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With the endless options for a Friday night in Chicago, how can we possibly narrow it down to just three events? By being cheap. Here are three things to do tonight that won’t make you hate yourself in the morning.

1. Cocktails and Clay
The Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell, hosts 45-minute sculpting sessions taught by an artist. Materials are provided, if you’re feeling crafty. Or focus on the “cocktails” side of things and enjoy the cash bar and DJ.
8-12 p.m. (773) 324-5520. $15 suggested donation

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2. Free appetizers at Province
Former Nacional 27 chef Randy Zweiban rules benignly at Province, 161 N. Jefferson, where there’s eggplant art on the walls and petrified Manzanita trees hanging from the ceiling. Sample his menu — influenced by Central and South America, as well as Spain — for a very happy hour and a half.
5-6:30 p.m. (312) 669-9900. Free

3. Rednofive reunion
The club, at 440 N. Halsted, marks its 11th anniversary by gathering past DJs, door staff and bartenders for a blowout. There will complimentary appetizers from 10-11 p.m., and the party continues the next night with live music and a fashion show.
(312) 733-6699
— By Paige Wiser


HEY! YOU GOT THREE BETTER ONES?
Tell us your three favorite things to do Friday night!


But wait, we've got more. Sun-Times staffers jot down their three things about Friday night in Chi town after the jump ...

Winter veggies at seasonal farmers market

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For those of you who begin craving the return of farmer's markets — which always seem to start so laaaaaaaate — Crain's has an item mentioning Saturday's super-cool Andersonville Winter Farmer's Market at at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 W. Foster Ave.: "In addition to root vegetables, mushrooms and other goodies, the market will have baked goods, live music and kids' activities." It runs 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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GREEN RIVER
You have to see the Kelly green the Chicago River attains on St. Patrick's Day to believe it. Bagpipers will provide the background music as the dye is dumped into the river at Columbus Drive at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, a ritual that is viewable from both the north and the south banks. Call (312) 421-1010.

MONSTER MADNESS
Thumbnail image for attack of the giant leeches dvd front.jpgFans of the triple feature should head to the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee, on Saturday for a triple treat at 6:30 p.m.: "Attack of the Giant Leeches" (1959), "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" (1958) and "The Mummy" (1959). All three films will set you back $10. Also available for purchase will be vintage toys and collectibles. Doors open at 5 p.m. Visit www.portagetheater.org for more information.

Club Hopping, March 13-19

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EVEN IN BLACKOUTS
All good things come to an end, but some end before their time. Even in Blackouts, Chicago's premier acoustic punk band and the post-Screeching Weasel combo led by John "Jughead" Pierson, will play its last public show after what he calls "seven years of struggle and the most amazing life-changing times" Friday at Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State, after opening sets by Glittermouse, Highball and Let Me Run starting at 6 p.m. Tickets, $7. Call (312) 949-0121; www.reggieslive.com. -- Jim DeRogatis

More club shows after the jump ...

Eat your heart out, Quick Hits

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Who says sports columnist Elliott Harris is the only one who can show gratuitous photos around here? Former Playboy supermodel and current VH1 “Celebrity Rehab Presents … Sober House” star Amber Smith (above, if you couldn't tell) will be at the Leg Room (7 W. Division St.) on March 20 to sign autographs, take pictures and chat with fans starting at 10 p.m.

Additionally – and tell us if you think this is maybe a bad idea to pair with someone on a show called “Celebrity Rehab” – the Gold Coast club will have a special vodka tasting starting at 11, along with specials like $4 Malibu drinks and Corona bottles and $7 Long Islands. Admission is $10 (ladies free before midnight).

And no, similar photos of Andy Dick will not be appearing here anytime soon.

U2 tribute band for St. Pat's weekend

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If you weren't able to get into the U2 radio chat this week in Chicago (they flap their jaws in Chicago, they play a secret show in Boston, figures), you can still rock like a self-ordained Irishman this St. Patrick's Day weekend. Elevation is one of the best U2 tribute bands around, and they're playing at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Abbey. Tickets are $10 here.


Win: Tricky Tix

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Want to see UK trip-hopper Tricky at Epiphany Church tomorrow night? You could win one of 10 pairs of tickets courtesy of Time Out Chicago Just email before 3 p.m. (subject line: Tricky). They'll be drawing 10 names at random for guest list (plus one) spots.

Here's a taste...

Excuse me, sir, can I talk to you about ... hip-hop?

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The Sun-Times offices are next door to the massive Merchandise Mart, a Pentagon-sized behemoth on the riverbank, all strangely placed shops and looooong corridors. Yesterday, two young men were stopping people outside the food court — actually collaring people and making a case for their ... hip-hop. Who does that anymore? Who did that ever? They're called Villian. Their pitch: they want to raise enough money to go to Atlanta and produce a record. So of course I forked over five bucks for their CD EP, which is pretty all right (listen here). Surely there's a Chicago producer that could give some hard-workin' boys some love?

Here's a little slow-burn Villian freestyle ...

Willie Wonka's beer factory

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It's debatable whether Three Floyds' Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout is the best beer in the world, as some devotees have claimed. What's not debatable is that it's one of the toughest beers to get your hands on. The Munster, Indiana brewery only sells the stuff one day a year (April 25), and predictably, things get pretty crazy as folks try to get their hands on as many bottles as possible.

In an effort to minimize the insanity, Three Floyd's is instituting a "golden ticket" system, according to the Chicago Reader's Food Chain blog: you'll have to pay $10 just for the privilege of getting in line (the money goes to charity).

The tickets go on sale on Tuesday, March 17 on the Dark Lord Web site (registration required).

Cheap Trick offspring debuts new music

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How far does the apple fall from the tree? Find out tonight — when Miles Nielsen, son of Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, celebrates the release of his debut disc, "Miles." Show's at 7 tonight at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee. Rick allegedly will join him on stage. Here's a sample of his schtick ...


'Two moths ... and I just squished them!'

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One of the midnight movies at the Music Box this weekend and next weekend is the much-ballyhooed feature by music's Flaming Lips, "Christmas on Mars." It's never too late to celebrate this holiday when the going is this weird. "I wanted it to feel like some kind of drug-damaged foreign film," Wayne Coyne told Pitchfork. It's less than an hour and a half. Perfect way to cap off a gonzo night on the town.


Pitchfork's new look

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Chicago's indie-rock bible, the venerated Pitchfork site, unveiled a sleek new look this week. We're not crazy about it just yet — looks a little bland, and seems like a lot less info on the home page — but we'll give it time ...


Do you like stand-up? Or improv comedy?

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NBC5's site is "debating" the merits of stand-up comedy vs. improv in this report ...

Vote for your preference here.


Chicago definitely a player in the indie film world

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We're not above pointing out interesting reading in the competition, and RedEye currently has a nice story about Chicago's stature in the indie film world (though, really, an online story about film ... without any films?). Tasty tidbit: "More than 20 indie films were shot in Chicago in 2008, up from 17 in each of the prior two years, said Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office. One of these films, 'The Merry Gentleman' directed by Michael Keaton, hits theaters in May."

"The Merry Gentleman" was at Sundance last year, where Keaton gave this interview ...

And the trailer, full of Chi town shots ...


Meanwhile, beyond the big movie stars, click here for a recent example of indie short film that we love: "The Pickup," winner of the audience award in the Film Racing make-a-movie-in-one-day contest, by Chad Queen.


St. Paddy's Day parades Saturday and Sunday

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There are St. Paddy's Day parades, and then there's the annual South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade. Which is, like, the only St. Paddy's Day parade. The cheerful mayhem kicks off at noon Sunday, from 104th Street and Western Avenue. Read more about this parade here.

North Siders still afraid of the South Side can pretend they're getting the real Irish experience at the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade, starting at noon Saturday.

Tips for successful parading:
• Dress appropriately and layer up if it is chilly.
• Wear comfortable shoes good for walking as there is limited parking.
• Bring chairs and blankets for folks who cannot stand the parade's two-hour route.
• Get there early. Crowds arrive as early as 9:30 a.m. to get spots close to fences lining Western Avenue.
• For a family-focused crowd, head to the east side of Western Avenue or the west side of the street from 113th to 115th streets.
• To soak up the last warmth of the sun, stay east of the route as the sun dips behind buildings in the west.
• Do not carry open alcohol containers. Better yet, leave the booze at home. (Time Out Chicago has an excellent, in-depth discussion of this issue.)
• Smile pretty for the parade's official photographer roaming the sidelines.


Early word on the new Cool Kids tracks

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Over at Fake Shore Drive, Andrew Barber writes an in-depth analysis of the new tracks and album coming soon from Chicago's Cool Kids. That includes this single, "Pennies," which should make you feel very lucky not to have these young men as neighbors ...


Hootie Hoo!

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Ever wanted to compete in a Top Chef-style challenge? On April 4, head to the Chopping Block's Merchandise Mart location and you could do it with some actual contestants (no Padma, sorry).

Season Five finalists Carla Hall and Stefan Richter will be participating in the fifth annual "True Flavors Celebrity Cook-Off" to benefit True Child, a national organizations helping children break through stereotypes. The chefs (whom we'll dub the "lover" and the "fighter"), will be part of teams that will have 35 minutes to cook a three-course meal with secret ingredients revealed only moments before the contest begins. Here's the kicker (cue knife-slashing noise): bid enough in the preceding live auction, and you could be part of the action as a sous-chef.

The event runs from 6-9 p.m., and tickets cost $150. Order here.


Proposed price hike might make art lovers scream

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The economy is spiraling down, but the stimulus bill managed to keep its millions for the National Endowment of the Arts. Surely that means artistic endeavors will be made more accessible for all, so that if we can't feed our bellies we can at least feed our souls through these trying times.

Wrong.

A committee of the city's park board today approved a price hike for the Art Institute of Chicago, and the full board meets to consider the measure at 4 today. If approved, art lovers will face a 50 percent increase in the admission price -- from $12 to $18 -- and students and seniors would see prices rise from $7 to $12, a 71 percent increase. Just three years ago, admission was free.

Follow the developing story here.

While flipping back and forth between the Summit and Big Sky conference tournament games last night, you might have paused to wonder...how does my girlfriend feel about me watching all this college basketball? The answer (unless you're dating Ashley Judd): probably not so good.

Keep yourself out of the doghouse (until the Big Dance) by taking her to Red Kiva's new "Chick Flicks" event tonight. For the first three Wednesdays of each month, the lounge will show a favorite female film at 7 p.m., and offer complimentary popcorn, half-price bottles of wine and specialty martinis. A 50-percent-off gift certificate to Kaya Day Spa will be given away each week.

Tonight's movie: "My Best Friend's Wedding," starring Julia Roberts. It should be at least half as exciting as your average Big Ten game.

Read on for the full list of flicks.

It's a beautiful day ... for massive hype

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Yep, U2 came. U2 sat. U2 talked. Big whoop.


Go on tour with Fall Out Boy!

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Want to go on tour with Fall Out Boy? Not likely, but now you can try to enjoy the experience of a totally retro online video game, FOB Trail. As pointed out by UR Chicago, it's a rip-off off "Oregon Trail," but it still might be worth a few slack moments at work.

Saturday morning's all right for buying

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On stage will be two men, 176 keys and a lot of hit songs. If you missed your chance at tickets for this summer's two Billy Joel & Elton John double-headers at Wrigley, some more seats just opened up — and will be available at 10 a.m. Saturday through tickets.com or by calling (800) THE-CUBS. Tickets will not be sold at the Wrigley Field Box Office. Prices are in each range: $55, $95 and $175 plus service charges.


Open and shut-tered

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Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

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Just opened: Delicious Cafe
Quality sandwiches and coffee in North Center that live up to their name.

Off the Beaten Path: Byblos Mediterranean Cuisine
Marvelous Middle Eastern, with belly dancers too!

Weekly Treat: Threes are Wild at Durkin’s
Get $3 beers and $3 Jack Daniels cocktails at this Diversey Avenue dive.

Man We're Crazy About: Café Bella
Bistro on a budget with art gallery class in Logan Square.

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

U2 2 DJ @ Metro 2moro?

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Remember that secret U2 show we told you about last week? Well, the secret's out in a big way. Everyone seems to be pretty confident that Bono and co. will be doing something at Metro tomorrow night. In a slyly evasive tweet, the Wrigleyville music club says "U2 will not, I repeat NOT be playing, DJing, or otherwise appearing in Smart Bar tomorrow." (Our emphasis added.)

As to the question of what that "something" will be, TOC thinks it has the answer: a DJ set.

Sad? You'll get to see the Irish guys live come fall, as the band will reportedly kick off its North American tour at Soldier Field (yes, a decidedly less intimate venue) September 12. You can actually buy tickets for that show.


Achatz on Oprah

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Ok, we'll bite. Multiple outlets are saying that Alinea chef Grant Achatz will be a guest on tomorrow's Oprah. He won't be talking about food, but rather about his battle with oral cancer. The show, called "Medical Mistakes," will focus on patient advocacy and will also include Dennis Quaid and Dr. Mehmet Oz.


In a theater-crazy town like Chicago, stage exploits aren't limited to the weekend. There are a lot of great shows (and great deals) to take advantage of before humpday even arrives. Every Monday, we'll alert you to a few interesting early-in-the-week shows you may want to catch. If you want to see the whole list, just head here.

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Mauritius
7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday at Northlight Theatre; $25-$55
Stamp collecting has never been so dangerous...or so compelling.

Jaime's Dance Studio
8 p.m. Tuesday at http://centerstagechicago.com/theatre/theatres/gorillatango.html; $10
This gimmick-driven improv/dance show could be the next "Impress These Apes." Or it could be a total disaster. Either way, the hook - the troupe improvises comedy and dance in response to mp3s brought in by the audience - is worthy of attention.

Rod Blagojevich Superstar!
8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday at Second City ETC; $14
Power leads to corruption leads to comedy. The inevitable musical send-up of our felonious guv, handled with Broadway glitter and schmaltz by Second City, has critics rolling in the aisles.

Heart a la cart

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Rain couldn't stop the determined shopping-cart teams participating in the Chiditarod on Saturday. If you stayed inside, TOC's got a great video on the blog that gives a pretty good taste of the event.

Was that a rabbi we spied? On the Sabbath?

Sweet (and savory) threads

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When you were watching the "Top Chef" finale, were you drooling uncontrollably over the luscious food being made? If so, you owe it to yourself to at least consider going to the Common Threads World Festival, happening March 23 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The event lives up to its $250 price tag with appearances and food from dozens of world-renowned chefs, including plenty of Chicago-based talent. This year's list of distinguished guests includes Top Chef Chicago winner Stephanie Izard, Gale Gand (TRU), Graham Elliot Bowles (Graham Elliot), Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate), John Besh, Tyler Florence, Ming Tsai and others. The Honorary Chair and Mistress of Ceremonies is none other than Gail Simmons, judge on "Top Chef."

Better bring a napkin to wipe up all that drool.

Sunday, Experimental Sunday

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The Reader's Post No Bills blog has the lowdown on the Experimental Sound Studio's new biweekly music series, "Sunday Solos." The intimate events kick off today at 2 p.m. with a performance from inventive pianist Jim Baker. Suggested donation is $10.

Other upcoming solos (all at 2 p.m.):

March 22: Azita
April 5: Olivia Block
April 19: Michael Zerang
May 3: Fred Lonberg-Holm
May 17: Dave Rempis

3 Things We Love About ... Chicago's rock 'n' roll high

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By Jim DeRogatis
Pop Music Critic

The Chicago Public Schools’ alumni Web site recently posted a long list of some of the city schools’ most famous musical graduates and their signature songs. Here are my own favorites from that list.

1. “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, Wendell Phillips High School: An unforgettable, optimistic anthem during the Civil Rights movement, the enduring message of this song and the power of Cooke’s unrivaled vocal delivery proved they’d lost nothing with the passage of time as the tune was heard again and again the wake of President Obama’s election and inauguration (though the same could be said of “I’ll Take You There” by the Staples Singers, graduates of Parker High School, and a close second for this slot!).


2. “Bo Diddley” by Bo Diddley, Willard and Foster elementary schools: Simply put, without the rhythm that the former Ellas Otha Bates borrowed from Africa and infused with the energy of the streets of Chicago and the tempo of the passing “el” trains, there would be no rock ’n’ roll.

3. “Hey Mama” by Kanye West, Vanderpoel Elementary School: Unequalled on the current hip-hop scene as a producer crafting tracks with undeniable grooves and unbelievably catchy melodies, in time, West’s biggest contribution to the rap world may prove to be the fearlessness with which he’s expresses his emotions, as he does in this song, a moving tribute to his mother, Donda, whom Kanye was never “too cool” to say he loved.


Have a look at the list, then tell us your favorite three songs by Chicago school alumni!


Nacional 27 mixologist Adam Seger is known for his wacky creations (the dude made a ham and cheese martini, after all). Understandably, he can be a bit protective of what exactly goes into each one. But he's more than willing to share the recipe of his SUBA (a South Beach Cuba Libre martini).

Once you hear what's in it, you're gonna want to try one. Luckily, tonight is "Sample the SUBA" night at the restaurant, beginning at 9:30 p.m. Guests will get free samples of the cocktail, plus a chance to win a Bacardi gift basket including a Nacional 27 gift certificate.

After you're through sampling, stick around for "Miami Nights," the South Beach-themed weekly event that includes DJs, live percussionists, Latin cuisine and more.

Drink recipe after the jump...

Perry Farrell, headlining his own festival? What a shock.

Though nothing is official, the Tribune is reporting that Jane's Addiction, Depeche Mode and the Beastie Boys will get top billing at this year's Lollapalooza, August 7-9 in Grant Park.

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Upscale Wicker Park sports bar The Fifty/50 is holding a corned beef and cabbage slider contest.

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The first person to finish all 15 corned beef and cabbage sliders will win a cocktail party at bar. After the contest, all are invited to join in on Irish Trivia Night and throw back 40s of Mickey’s and shots of Jameson for $10. The contest starts at 7:30 p.m.

Check out more St. Pat's Day fun here.

On behalf of Chicago's adorable dogs ...

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Get yo paws in the air, and wave 'em like you just don't care! Time for the annual Raise the Woof event, a rockin' fundraiser for New Leash on Life, an all-volunteer nonprofit animal rescue group. Support Chicago's shelter dogs simply by enjoying the sounds of the Del Moroccos and The Stacks (and we also heard Devil in a Woodpile would be there...?) on the House of Blues Back Porch Stage. Bid on rock memorabilia, sports tickets, etc. in a silent auction, too. Music starts at 9 p.m. Saturday at HOB, 329 N. Dearborn. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.


Lungs, sure, but what about the thighs?

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Looks like a rainy weekend ahead. Bummed that you can't get your jog on outdoors? We hear stair-climbing is pretty healthy. Then again, this stair-climbing event seems pretty mentally unhealthy — 2,340 steps, 360 flights, 180 floors and four buildings. That would be Climb Chicago, a fundraiser for the American Lung Association of Illinois. The huffing and puffing begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Registration is $25, with a $100 minimum pledge.

Reptile saviors leading Pitchfork fest pack

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Head over to DeRo's blog this morning for the incoming announcements of bands scheduled for this summer's Pitchfork Music Festival. Chicago's own legendary Jesus Lizard leads the pack ...


Here it is, short and sweet: U2 has a secret show coming up on March 10, to be held at an intimate, undisclosed location.Tickets are free, but you can only get them via 101.9 FM (aka The Mix). The station's been giving them away all week, and you've got two more chances today. Tune in at 11:20 a.m. and 1:20 p.m..

Eric & Kathy will be offering up the last pair bright and early Monday morning. So get on your boots and make it happen, people.

And please, don't forget to turn your radio down if your call makes it through. It's really annoying if you don't.


U2 performs "Beautiful Day" on last night's Letterman show.


...And that day is today, says MenuPages. Not only does encased-meat emporium Hot Doug's re-open this afternoon following a short hiatus (better get in line now), but chef Philip Foss debuts his newly created, Chicago-inspired Lobster Dog (prompted by an MP blog post) during Lockwood's dinner service tonight. The creation includes diced lobster, scallop mousse, a saffron-ginger beurre blanc and...oh, just look at the picture.

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Achatz April Fool's?

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We don't think he brings the medal everywhere, but you never know.

Gapers Block is reporting that super-chef Grant Achatz will be giving a cooking demonstration at Now We're Cookin' in Evanston on April 1. The event's only $65, including wine and appetizers, which is about a third of what you might pay for a meal at Alinea, Achatz's award-winning restaurant.

If you want to find out what skills he'll be displaying in his former stomping grounds (he used to work at Trio, in case you forgot), you might be able to dredge up some info on Achatz's Twitter feed. You know, if he ever posts anything.

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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NOT SO LATE NIGHT OF COMEDY
Comedian Craig Ferguson, for four years the host of the “Late Late Show” on CBS, will perform his stand-up act at 8 tonight at the Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee in Waukegan. Tickets are $25-$45. Call (847) 263-6300; www.geneseetheatre.com.


More events after the jump ...

Beef Aid!

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Despite its considerable financial struggles, Mr. Beef on Orleans announced this week that it would be staying open. But that doesn't mean the legendary River North joint is out of the woods just yet...something which fans of the quick-service spot appear to recognize, according to MenuPages.

Friday night's Beef Aid concert at Beat Kitchen (10:30 p.m.; $8), featuring local rockers SupraGenius, is just the latest in a series of ventures to save the stand. There's also a Save Mr. Beef! Facebook group, and a YouTube campaign (we missed today's 50 free beefs, unfortunately).

Who says people don't care about the important issues these days?

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Now this is a sandwich worth fighting for.

Club Hopping, March 6-12

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Matt Kretzman (left) and Erik Appelwick of Tapes 'n' Tapes perform at Lollapalooza 2007 in Chicago. (File)


TAPES 'N TAPES
The boys from Minnesota bring their urgent, strummy rock (which has been compared to the likes of Pavement and the Pixies and also bears traces of Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse) to Metro for a show with East Coast indie rockers Wild Light at 9 p.m. Saturday at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Tickets, $16. Call (773) 549-0203; www.metrochicago.com.
-- Centerstagechicago.com


More club shows after the jump ...

Bennigan's is back

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Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, the South Michigan Avenue Bennigan's has re-opened. Even if you're not a fan of BBQ burgers piled high with fried onions, or even kitschy Irish decor, you've gotta admit that the bar and grill is a great place to stop after the downtown parade on March 14.

On the 17th, stop in for an all-day party including a live broadcast from Fresh 105.9 FM, a set from Wedding Banned and plenty of food and drink specials.

You don't have to wait 'til next weekend to get your Monte Cristo sandwich, as the place is open now. Word has it that the menu will be changing over the next few months, but don't worry, the "Death By Chocolate" dessert will still be available.

Get frisky with whisky

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Single-malt connoisseurs, your day has come. Or, at least, it will in a month. The 9th annual Whiskyfest returns to Chicago on April 1, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The focus is on learning about how whiskies are made, but there will be tastings, too, as well as a gourmet buffet, commemorative glasses and more.

Tickets are on sale now for $95 each; pay $150 to become a VIP and you'll get an extra hour of tasting fun. Either way, make sure to buy soon, as this event usually sells out.

New Beer's Eve toasts the new style of Old Style

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TIN_oldstyle_P21.jpg Ah, the new flavor of Old Style. Yes, Chicago's unofficial brew of choice has a new flavor. Well, an old one. They've gone back to, er, the old style of making it — called Kraeusening. Beer geeks love this news. (Look, Old Style has a Web page. That is adorable!)

Anyway, the good news: To celebrate this momentous development, there are two New Beer's Eve events this week. The bad news: they're out in the 'burbs, which usually involves driving, which doesn't pair well with drinking, like, at all. So hit up your favorite chauffeur designate for New Beer's Eve at 9 p.m. Thursday at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park (Local H is playing!) and 9 p.m. Friday at Maxum Bar and Grill in Hinsdale (with the Flips!). Print your invite to these events here.


The sound of Chicago's streets

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We just fired off an impromptu theme on our Blip.fm feedsongs named after Chicago streets (even if they're not actually the Chicago roads ...). It started with the whole "Lake Shore Drive" thing below, then grew to include the Rolling Stones and some sweet indie rock.

Hear the results after the jump, and tell us what others are out there ...


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Join the Circus
Friday March 6 at Griffin Lounge, 9 p.m.
Tired of slumming it at your neighborhood dive bar because of the crappy economy? Head to the Griffin Lounge for the debut of the Party, a new weekly event that aims to kill the elitist bottle-service vibe while still giving clubbers an over-the-top nightlife experience. Tonight's installment is appropriately called Join the Circus and features a pony booth, balloons, face painting, specialty drinks, cotton candy and a karaoke machine. To kick off the event, Maxwell + Carter, the promotion company behind the soiree, brings in DJ duo Sampson and Young for a four-turntable set. Assuming the cover charge doesn't get out of control and the bouncers keep their attitudes in check, this event could redefine River North nightlife for the better.

'Xanadu, your neon lights will shine for you'

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Perhaps you — as Gene Kelly says in the original movie — have "been known to twinkle a toe or two." Then you've probably already seen the stage version of "Xanadu." Like a dozen times. And your head has blossomed anew with headbands and feathered locks.

Well, if you want to go again — or see it for the first time, it's really a hoot — "Xanadu" tickets for Sunday-Friday performances can be had for a special "happy" price of $44. Just hit the Broadway in Chicago site and enter the promo code "HAPPY" (or mention it at the box office). This offer is good for performances through March 29, but the purchase must be made by March 15. (Alas, this does not apply to the seats available on the stage.) (Yes, there are seats available on the stage!)

Can't get enough? Then buy now for the "Xanadu Sing-Along" coming at midnight March 20 at the Music Box. They show the movie, you dress up like a Greek goddess and sing along. Tickets available here.


The dark hours before the Violet Hour

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We can't help but chuckle at this thread at Chowhound — so you go to one bar while waiting to get into the other bar? doesn't the first bar feel cheap and used? — but, hey, you hipsters need to plan accordingly. So here's a discussion of which nearby bars are best for cooling heels while waiting to make your entrance at the Violet Hour.

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Michael Rubel makes the Chi-Town Flip at the Violet Hour, 1520 N. Damen. (Sun-Times file)


Wear in the green at the Forever Green Party

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We're really starting to get our Irish up now. After last weekend's St. Practice Day pub crawl (hiccup), this weekend provides a more formal affair as we get greener for St. Patrick's Day. The 34th annual Forever Green Party is a yearly gala that benefits the Maeve McNicholas Memorial Foundation and AAction Autism. The party — 5-10 p.m. Friday at Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom — is sponsored by the Young Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago, but you don't have to be young or even Irish to attend. Just seek the fellowship. Tickets are $40 in advance / $45 at door (includes beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks), or spring for VIP access for $60 in advance / $65 at door (includes liquor bar: Michael Collins Irish Whiskey, vodka, rum, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks, private balcony).


Flatfile flatlines

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In what is becoming a depressing trend, another Chicago cultural institution is calling it quits this month. According to the Reader, the West Loop's Flatfile Galleries will close March 27, ending a nine-year run. if you want to check it out before it goes under, there is a full slate of upcoming events, including Friday's performance of "Urban Rituals -- The Magic of Music in an Inspired Terrain" by Kahil El'Zabar. Check the gallery's Web site for a full list of events and exhibitions.

A Mano opens post-flood

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Not since the days of Noah and his ark has a flood been so...significant. At least, that's what the owners of A Mano, the River North Italian restaurant tucked beneath Bin 36. A couple weeks back, a burst pipe gave diners a wet thrill and forced the spot to close. The A Mano team took it as an opportunity to refine some things, and so when it re-opens today for business, guests can expect to find an updated menu along with the dried-off decor.

Don't worry, the changes aren't radical. You can still get the whole roasted fish of the day, Chef Caputo's acclaimed lasagna bolognese and, of course, 12 flavors of gelato. You can expect some new wood-fired pizza options, though, as well as a wider selection of beers and mixed drinks.

A Mano is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., and for dinner from 5-10 p.m.

3 Things We Love About ... Lake Shore Drive

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1. Admiring the rowers in the lagoon just south of Fullerton who make it look so easy. And serene.

2. Watching the rows of fishermen rimming the bridge off Jackson Harbor as they bait their hooks and feeling a little bit jealous it’s not you with a line in the water.

3. Knowing there’s no better ride than rolling down the Drive as the Aliotta-Haynes-Jeremiah song “Lake Shore Drive” comes on the radio.


What are your favorite three things about Lake Shore Drive?


Sean P. Puff Daddy Diddy Combs needs a band

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If you play guitar, bass drums or keyboards, you should clear the calendar this week and practice, practice, practice. Because practice not only makes perfect, it might land you a gig playing behind Diddy. He's recording his next album, "Last Train to Paris," and he's looking for a band to back him up on tour — a band selected from auditions around the country (and MTV is helping — reality show, anyone?). The Chicago call is at 10 a.m. (line starts at 7 a.m.) March 14 at Avila, 203 W. Superior.


N.A.S.A. blasting off this weekend (free tickets!)

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We're loving the debut disc from hip-hop troupe N.A.S.A., "The Spirit of Apollo." It's not a product of the space agency, it means North America South America, and it's a collaboration between Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon. So we're excited to see them this weekend at the Abbey (10 p.m., 3420 W. Grace). Tickets are $15, but UR Chicago is giving away a pair!

Sample a track here on our Blip.fm feed, with David Byrne (who, alas, won't be at Saturday's show)!

Save the date: 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival

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No artists announced yet, but at least we have a date for the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival — still the coolest rock fest in town. The fourth annual gathering will take place July 17-19 in Chicago's Union Park. Tickets go on sale next Friday, March 13. Band announcements to come ...


Creating a stir about the Webstirs

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As the posts tick by on this blog, you may notice the occasional power-pop bias. We cop to it. Like when we sing the praises of a local band like The Webstirs, one of those underappreciated gems of rock and melody (and the occasional ELO allusion) lurking in Our Town. Here, just try these tunes on for size ...


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Dig it? Then catch them at 8 p.m. Friday at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison. It's $7 at the door. Scattered Trees, Siderunners and Dan Darrah open the show.

Turn on camera, win free opera tickets

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If you're like us, you've thought of going to the opera once or twice — just because it's something a cultured human being should experience every now and then, eh? — but then you saw the ticket prices. Mamma mia! That would cover, say, "Iron Man" 10 times in the theater and 25 times on pay-per-view!

Well, here's your chance to get a freebie. Not Lyric Opera but Chicago's other acclaimed opera company, Chicago Opera Theater, is offering free tickets for its 2009 Spring Festival Season (April 18-May 26) to the person who makes the best plea in a YouTube video. Just turn on the camera and answer the question "Why Do You Deserve Free Tickets to Chicago Opera Theater?" The contest started today, so be the first to state your case here.

Meanwhile, COT interns kicked-off the page with this innuendo-packed reel about their first time ...

Chef Week extended, too

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You probably know by now that the second annual Restaurant Week was extended an extra seven days, through this Friday.

But you might not have realized that Chicago Chef Week, a similar prix-fixe promotion, is sticking around through the week as well. We're not gonna tell you where to go to take advantage, but 312 Dining Diva's got the rundown on Mado's menu, and we gotta say, it looks like pretty darn good eating for $32. See below for proof.

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The choice is yours

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If you're a fan of craft beer, you've got a choice to make on Thursday night at 6 p.m.; that's when two very different brew-fueled events take place.

Feeling the pinch of the recession? Head to Lincoln Park tapas spot Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, where you'll get to sample 20 beers (from the likes of Great Lakes, Two Brothers and Flying Dog), plus passed appetizers like pork belly braised in almond milk, for $20 plus tax. The full menu is here.

Want to celebrate the fact that you've still got a job? C-House's Unibroue beer dinner ($40) should be indulgent enough, thanks to five courses paired with Belgian ales (dishes include an oyster trio, pork, clam & mussel soup, skate & oxtail, suckling pig and artisanal cheese).

In either case, you'll want to make reservations as soon as possible. And while you're at it, arrange for a ride home (three of the Unibroue beers ring in at 9% ABV).



From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: The Firkin & Pheasant
English pub opens on the Lincoln Park-Lakeview border.

Off the Beaten Path: Tu Casa
We dare you to spend more than $5 at this Rogers Park taqueria.

Weekly Treat: Take Flight at Winebar Chicago
Wine flights are just $3 on Tuesdays at this Lakeview vino haven.

Man We're Crazy About: Briejo
Oak Park's art district gets a creative food neighbor.

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

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?

Brudder's
$10 buckets of Rolling Rock, $5 Fat Tire Amber Ale (22-ounce) ; $10.99 slab of ribs

Galway Arms
$9.95 Shepherd's pie and draft beer of your choice

Hamilton's Bar & Grill
3.50 32-ounce pitchers of Bud & Bud Light, $4 vodka & Red Bull; $1.25 1/4-pound burgers

Spin
$4 Jameson, $4 Newcastle and Imperia, $5 Skyy martinis; free pool

T's
$5 burgers w/beverage purchase; $7 double pints

Blog party at Dec’s place!

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Renowned local club owner/political activist/hat wearer Billy Dec is jumping on board this newfangled Internet craze with the launch of his new blog, billydec.com, and he’s throwing a party to celebrate. From 11 p.m.-4 a.m. this Thursday, head over to Underground (part of Dec’s stable of bars) for "The Official Blog Launch Party for BillyDec.com" (his name, not ours). Nick Cannon will DJ, along with special guest Busta Rhymes.

In order to attend, you must RSVP at vip@rockitranch.com. And the next time you log on to the World Wide Web, make sure you check out billydec.com. If it’s anything like his clubs, we’re sure it’ll be a party.

Restaurant Wars: February

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It's tough to run a restaurant these days, but not for everyone. Through economic woes and fickle food trends, some eateries remain in high demand--at least on the Internet. Each month, we'll give you a rundown of the ten most-viewed restaurants on CenterstageChicago.com, along with Twitter-friendly commentary on possible reasons for each spot's strength. Will your favorite make the list? Read on to find out.

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1. Silver Palm
Anthony Bourdain called this train-car restaurant's Three Little Piggies the "best sandwich in the country." Worth an investigation, no?

Hope you didn't use up all your tissues crying over the demise of the recently re-opened Morse Theatre last week...'cause you're gonna need 'em again. Word from TOC (via Gapers Block) is that AV-aerie, the all-ages art and performance space, was shut down by city officials on Friday. The club is reportedly on "indefinite hiatus," which does not sound good.

Shows scheduled at the club will be moved to other venues, so stay tuned.

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

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