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May 2009 Archives

Who knew this could be such a polarizing figure?

Maybe it's Stephen King's fault. Or, more likely, John Wayne Gacy. But whatever the reason, there's a lot of people out there who are deathly afraid of clowns (it's called coulrophobia). And as so often happens with fear of a certain segment of the population, things have gotten ugly.

This Saturday's March Against Clowns invites all clown-haters to Bucktown/Wicker Park for a day of drinking and, presumably, reinforcing stereotypes about those with painted faces (we hear they force their children to sleep in tiny cages in preparation for that ludicrous car act). It's too late to sign up at this point, but if you want to make your feelings known on the subject, stop by Cans, Lemming's, Lottie's, Pint, Silver Cloud and/or Wicker Park Tavern from 1 p.m. on.

...Or, you could fight fire with fire and join next weekend's Clown for Chi-Town Pub Crawl. From 2-8 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, those dressed as clowns will be able to enjoy food and drink specials all over Wrigleyville (Goose Island, Red Ivy, Cubby Bear, Sluggers, John Barleycorn and Vines on Clark). Tickets are $15, and can be picked up at Goose Island between noon and 2 p.m. on the day of the event. The event benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository, so bring along a non-perishable food item when you register, or donate online.

And bring some floppy shoes you can run in -- there are a lot of haters out there.

'Evita,' 'Hedda Gabler' both extend their runs

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Life is good for theater lovers on the Far North Side. In addition to all those Rogers Park productions that got nominated for Jeff Awards, two acclaimed shows are getting extended by popular demand:

The Raven Theatre's revival of Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" was going to close next month but is pushing through July 25. Shows are Thursdays (through June 27), Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the theater, 6157 N. Clark, or (773) 338-2177. Hedy Weiss loved it.

And once again the Theo Ubique Theatre Co. has extended its highly acclaimed revival of “Evita,” with a final performance set for June 27. This vest-pocket-size production of the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has played to sold-out shows for two months at the No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park. A pre-show dinner of Argentine cuisine is available beginning an hour before the show for additional cost. For tickets ($30), phone (773) 347-1109.

Here's to strong, historical women!

Foie and Truffle.jpg
Watch out for the drool on your keyboard.

Ever had a really bad burger craving? We know the feeling, as we've been in the grips of one for a solid week. What started as a simple hankering for meat, cheese and pickles has now grown into something much, much bigger, thanks to a gander at the menu for the upcoming Burgerfest at Rockit.

From Monday, June 1 through Friday, June 5, executive chef James Gottwald will offer a variety of burgers at both the River North and Wrigleyville locations. Choices range from the restaurant's standard offerings (the award-winning Rockit Burger and turkey, lobster and black angus variants) to more creative sandwiches incorporating pork belly, wild mushrooms, lump crab and more ($12 each).

Check out the menu after the jump, but beware -- a craving is bound to hit.

Lupe Fiasco.JPG

We told you recently about the Dew Tour, which brings BMX bike fun to Grant Park June 26-27. Well, here's some more big news about the event.

Headlining the Friday-evening (5:30 p.m.) concert in Grant Park will be...Lupe Fiasco. It will be the only Chicago appearance this summer for the rapper.

The concert is free, though there will be a reserved viewing area for those with Tour tickets.

3 Things We Love About ... Friday night

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Just call us Mr. Peabody, because this week we’re all about time traveling in our own Way Back Machine:

1. To the Jurassic era
The Brookfield Zoo (First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield) is featuring “Dinosaurs Alive!” through October. Remote-controlled dinosaurs in the exhibit include the stegosaurs, the triceratops and others. From 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Exhibit admission is adults $17, seniors and children ages 3-11, $11 (includes general admission to the zoo). (708) 485-0263.

2. To the 1970s
The heyday of Led Zeppelin is here and now, thanks to the uncanny performances by tribute band Led Zeppelin 2. The band plays the House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn) tonight at 9 p.m. $13. (312) 923-2000


3. To the future
The long-running performance art/comedy show Blue Man Group hints at a technologically advanced future that is as much cold and alienating as it is funny. Catch it at 4 or 7 tonight at the Briar Street Theatre (3133 N. Halsted). Tickets: $49-$64. (773) 348-4000.

Hey! You got three better ones?
Tell us your three favorite things about Friday nights!

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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Here's your chance to spend an evening with Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, who created the daffy performers in the movies "This Is Spinal Tap" (heavy metal) and "A Mighty Wind" (folk music). Appearing as themselves, and playing acoustically, the three will perform songs from their films and crack wise in Unwigged and Unplugged, at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Tickets are $35-$55. Call (800) 745-3000;

More events after the jump ...

Club Hopping, May 29-June 4

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The son of the great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure kicks off his U.S. tour with a four-day residency at the Hideout. His father found the soul of the blues in Africa; his son has found that his Saharan roots are at home in everything from jam bands to Jamaican dub. At 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 6:30 p.m. June 5 and 9 p.m. June 6 at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. Tickets, $5-$15. Call (773) 227-4433; -- Mary Houlihan

More club shows after the jump ...

Head up to Lakeview’s 44th Ward Viewing Party tonight for Rock Star Bingo. All you do is open up a credit card tab anytime after 10 p.m. and they’ll give you a bingo card with rock stars in each square. If you hear a song by one of them, cover that square on your board. Whoever gets “bingo” first gets their tab paid.

Simple enough, but here’s hoping you don’t have to look at too many ugly rockers on your bingo card. Not that we’re jonesing for a Cheryl Crow song or anything, but we’ll take her over, say, Gene Simmons any day.

Steely Dan plans to be reelin' in the fans

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Steely Dan's Donald Fagen: But he said he'd never do it without his fez on...?

OK, so DeRo refers to "dad rock" in his review today of the new Wilco record, and no doubt this qualifies. However, the person writing this particular post may be unashamedly a slobbering Steely Dan fan but is a thirtysomething very much without kids. So there.

The Dan band will be holding court later his summer for four — count 'em, four — nights at the Chicago Theatre as part of the lumbering-on classic rock band's Rent Party Tour. Each night will feature a different album played in its entirety, plus some frills:

Aug. 31 — "Aja"
Sept. 1 — "Gaucho"
Sept. 3 — "The Royal Scam"
Sept. 4 — "Takin' It to the Seats" Internet Request Night
, in which the setlist is determined by Internet votes from ticket-holders

Perhaps some of you fans, like me, need to take a moment to mop up after your spit take.

The "tour" includes multi-night stands like this in only two other cities, which you can guess: New York and L.A.

Tickets for all four Chicago shows go on sale at 11 a.m. June 6 at the Chicago Theatre Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations. To charge-by-phone call 800-745-3000.

How much would you pay to have Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard cook dinner for you in your kitchen? If your answer's not at least $1000, it probably ain't gonna happen.

The bids are getting pretty high in Swan Creek Farm's benefit auction, which features in-home dinners for six from 15 different local chefs, including Izard, Bill Kim (Urban Belly), Carol Wallack (sola), Giuseppe Tentori (Boka), Randy Zweiban (Province) and more. The auction ends tonight between 8 p.m. and 9:20 p.m., so start scrounging.

If you can't afford the hefty donation (proceeds go to Swan Creek Farms, which just endured a debilitating truck fire), head to Goose Island Brewery tonight from 6-9 p.m. to find out who could. The $25 event also includes beer, snacks, giveaways and a contest for a free wine-tasting event at Juicy Wine Co.

The recently renovated Smart Home at the Museum of Science and Industry is all about ecology (its subtitle is "Green + Wired"). So it's no surprise that the Home has opened up a free farmers market on its premises. Opening Friday, June 5, the free market (running on the first and third Fridays of each month in the East parking lot) will feature fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, baked goods, plants, flowers and even cooking demonstrations.

The first such demonstration will be extra special: The Hearty Boys (from the Food Network) will make an appearance on opening day at 11:30 a.m., offering some of their trademark food and personality.

The market runs from 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; admission to the Smart Home or the Museum of Science and Industry is not required.

Not convenient for you? Head to Centerstage for a list of all farmers' markets.

3 Things We Love About ... Chicago fountains

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See more photos of Chicago fountains here.

1. They’re world-class
With a 1.5 million gallon capacity, 134 powerful jets and 820 lights that may well be visible from outer space (or at least a faraway really tall building), Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park does nothing in half measures and lures gawking tourists from all over creation — many of whom have never seen an episode of “Married With Children.”

2. They’re an excellent alternative to wimpy backyard sprinklers.
The Crown Fountains at Millennium Park are a tot favorite for just that reason. Glass towers that stand 50 feet tall, they sport blinking, smiling, kinda creepy human faces that intermittently gush forth cool aqua into a shallow and barefoot-friendly wading pool. Ah, summer bliss.

3. They’re much-needed settings of serenity.
Wherever the fountain is — whether it’s in the Chicago Women’s Park, 1827 S. Indiana (behind the Clarke House Museum), or the one on the southern end of Loyola University’s lake shore campus — they offer a tranquil respite from the breakneck pace that is city life.

Tell us your three favorite things about Chicago fountains!

Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

Nightwood – The highly anticipated Pilsen sister restaurant to Lula Café opens tonight. The place is dinner only and BYOB for now.

Eivissa – Another long-anticipated opening is finally upon us. This Old Town Spanish restaurant serves the popular pintxos, which are like tapas for tapas, if that makes any sense.

Salute – Open for good now, this is one of those places where you can show off your cultured side by ordering the perfect wine selection to pair with your meal. Unfortunately, we have no culture, so we’ll just stick to our tried-and-true approach of getting the second-cheapest bottle on the list.

Cafeteria Marianao – You’ll have to wait a bit for one of the best values in town, as they do some renovations to this popular Logan Square diner. You know a place is good when there are hardly any chairs in the place, yet people can’t wait long enough and just eat their sandwiches standing up.

Dixie Kitchen – One of President Obama’s favorite places is shutting down for good on June 7. They’ll serve a lot of the same dishes in the nearby Calypso Café, and there are two other Dixie locations, in Evanston and Lansing. But still, it’s not the same. Come on, Barack. You gonna let this happen on your watch? You think McCain would let his favorite Tucson-area Outback Steakhouse close down without a fight? We’re just sayin’ …

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

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Market
See the game and be seen at this upscale West Loop sports bar.

Off the Beaten Path: Mangi’s Fast Foods
Brews, dogs and other cheap treats in this North Center dive.

Weekly Treat: Make Tuesday Bud Night at Junior’s
The UIC favorite has $6 pitchers and $11 buckets of Bud Light.

Man We're Crazy About: Taste of Brasil
Authentic South American fare in Oak Park.

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

The mighty "Ghost Pepper" can humble even those with the highest tolerance.

Got a friend who's always boasting about his tolerance for spicy food? Now's your chance to put him to the test (and maybe watch him cry).

The Lion Head Pub and Finn McCool's are both hosting "Hottest Pepper in the World" eating contests Thursday night; brave contestants will make their way through a variety of peppers, from the mild bell variety up to ancho, cayenne and habanero peppers. At the end comes the big boy, the Naga Jolokia (aka "Ghost Pepper"), which has a heat index close to 1,000,000 (a bell pepper is 100-500, for comparison). The whole thing keeps going 'til there's one person left, and that person wins a 32-inch plasma TV.

The fun starts at 9 p.m. at both locations, and contestants must be 21 or older. No word on whether they will play Mims in the background.

3 things we love about... Memorial Day

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Sure, later in the day we're going to barbecue and maybe work on that tan now that the beaches are open, but first, let's consider doing some things that remind us what this day is all about:

1. Paying tribute.
Chicagoans have been marking Memorial Day at Graceland Cemetery (4401 N. Clark) since the holiday was first declared in 1868 and was called Decoration Day. Things kick off at 8:30 a.m. at Lake View High School (4015 N. Ashland), followed by a parade at 9:30 a.m. to the cemetery. Members of the ROTC, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars will mark the day with a 30-minute public ceremony at 10 a.m. at the historic chapel that will include a reading of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. After the ceremony, take a self-guided tour of some of Chicago's most famous grave sites. A free road map is available at the office, near the historic entrance. The cemetery is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or (773) 525-1105.

2. Last chance to see a slice of history
It's the final day for the DuSable Museum's exhibit "Red, White, Blue and Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Forces." The exhibit features more than 100 artifacts, objects, images and documents from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War. The museum (740 E. 56th) is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today. General admission is $3 adults, $2 students and seniors and $1 children ages 6 to 12. (773) 947-0600 or

3. Seeing Old Glory in all her glory
Join members of the Wellington-Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society (WOOGMS) for their 46th annual Memorial Day Parade. Their motto is "everyone marches, nobody watches." The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. at Pine Grove and Wellington in the Lake View East neighborhood, heads east to Sheridan, south to Diversey, east to St. Joseph Hospital (2900 N. Lake Shore). Free.


The Four Seasons hosts a legend on June 13. Filmmaker George Lucas (of "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" fame) will be the guest of honor at an exclusive event, where he will receive the Gene Siskel Film Center Visionary Award for Innovation in Filmmaking. In addition to the presentation of the statue (designed by the team behind Oscar), the white-bearded one will also engage in a discussion led by, um, Jon Favreau (come on, he did direct "Iron Man"). The conversation will include film clips from throughout Lucas's career.

The evening will kick off with hors d'oeuvres and cocktails at 6 p.m., followed by a dinner menu inspired by Lucas's films. Tickets ($400-$1,000) are available by phone at (312) 846-2072.

One question: Does a Storm Trooper suit qualify as "cocktail glam"?

'Addams Family' tickets on sale May 29

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They're creepy and they're kooky — they're individual tickets, $28-$105, for the pre-Broadway premiere of “The Addams Family,” which will go on sale May 29 at 10 a.m.

People Nathan Lane.jpg

The musical stars Nathan Lane (above) and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia Addams, and will begin performances on Nov. 13 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre.

Tickets may be purchased at the theater box office, 24 W. Randolph, or by phone at (312) 902-1400;

One sixtyblue, the former pickle factory turned upscale restaurant in the West Loop, seems to realize it can't survive on high-rollers alone. Back in January, the spot introduced its Burgers, Beers + Beats promotion in the bar on Thursday nights ($4 burgers, $4 craft beers and DJ entertainment). We hear those burgers are pretty awesome, especially with the fried pickles.

Now comes Play Dough on Friday nights. Chef Michael McDonald offers made-to-order, Neapolitan-style pizzas (toppings include blue cheese & spring onion, tomato, mozzarella & ramps and white pizza with zucchini blossoms) for $5 each in the bar. The $4 craft beers will still be in effect, and the bar will also offer $4 Prosecco and fresh-squeezed juice cocktails. The deal starts at 5:30 p.m., and a DJ will begin spinning at 6 p.m.

What's next, $2 tacos? One can only hope.

Club Hopping, May 22-28

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Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw were both members of the popular Baltimore folk-pop band Page France. As Cotton Jones, they’ve turned to a lo-fi sound laced with rich melodies and a hint of country. They have been called “the indie-pop version of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra.” Lightning Dust and the Dan Smart Field Auxiliary open at 10 p.m. Saturday at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. Tickets, $10. Call (773) 525-2508; — Mary Houlihan

More club shows after the jump ...

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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The Randolph Street Market Festival, home of the Chicago Antique and Indie Designer markets, returns this weekend for monthly stints. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday this weekend and then the last weekend of each month through September. Admission to the market, bounded by Washington, Ada, Randolph and Ogden, is $10 for both days, $5 for students; children age 12 and younger are free. Featured will be live music, food vendors and shopping. Regular trolleys run from Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan. Call (312) 666-1200.

More weekend events after the jump ...

3 Things We Love About ... Friday night

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In honor of Memorial Day weekend:


1. Liberate your wardrobe by jettisoning your cargo (shorts)!
Part with what the guys in Boystown are calling a fashion faux pas, the cargo short. The clothing boutique His Stuff (3162 N. Broadway and 5314 N. Clark) will give you 10 percent off a new pair of shorts when you exchange a pair of cargo shorts. All trade-ins will be donated to the Brown Elephant resale shop. (773) 989-9111.

2. Exercise your right to vote.
You decide which of the eight improvisers is the “pHunniest” with “pHrenzy,” a spoof of reality shows that features audience-approved eliminations throughout the course of the fast-paced late-night show. $10; 12:30 a.m. at Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield. BYOB. (773) 732-5450 for tickets.

3. See how Chicago’s political machine used to work (and, just possibly, how it still does).
Neil Giuntoli doesn’t just portray Richard J. Daley in “Hizzoner: Daley The First,” he seems to inhabit the role of the man who kept the wheels of Chicago’s political machine greased for years. $35. It’s at 7:30 p.m. at the Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont. Tickets: (773) 327-5252.

Neil Guintoli portrays Daley Sr. in the play "HIzzoner." (Sun-Times file)

Hey! You got three better ones?
Tell us your three favorite things about Friday nights!

One less summer festival in Chicago

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Some Chicago music festivals have slimmed down this year, but at least one is disappearing altogether. The New York Times reports today that the Big Apple's famed JVC Jazz Festival is shutting down after 37 years — and taking its satellite fests with it. That means no JVC Jazz Festival in Chicago this summer, or Miami.

Last year's JVC festival in Chicago lit up the city's jazz clubs with some impressive performances by a lot of local luminaries, like sax man Eric Schneider and young trumpet star Corey Wilkes, as well as an oddly scheduled show by ... Pat Benatar.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced that Polly Carl, producing artistic director of the Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis, will join the Steppenwolf staff in the newly-created position of Director of Artistic Development.

“We are delighted to have Polly Carl join the artistic team at Steppenwolf Theatre,” said Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey in a statement.

“In her newly-created position, Polly will be overseeing our new play development efforts and spearheading our work on the artistic initiatives facilitated through our grants from the Duke and Mellon Foundations. These initiatives, dedicated to cultivating a new generation of artists and audiences and creating transparency in the process of new play development, will continue our engagement with audiences in the public square of Steppenwolf. We are honored to be able to welcome a leader of Polly's acumen and experience to Steppenwolf and look forward to the contribution she will make to Steppenwolf and to Chicago.”

Carl, a foremost expert in new play development, has worked for 11 years at the Playwrights' Center, including the last seven as its artistic director. Under her leadership, the Center has grown from a local playwrights’ service organization to a national hub for playwrights, theater artists and theater companies that write, develop and produce new work.

Steppenwolf's 'Superior Donuts' headed to Broadway

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Steppenwolf Theatre's production of "Superior Donuts," will open on Broadway on Oct. 1.

Written by Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning ensemble member Tracy Letts and directed by ensemble member Tina Landau, the comedy had its world premiere at Steppenwolf last summer. That production starred Michael McKean as Arthur Przybyszewski, the owner of a decrepit donut shop in Uptown, and Jon Michael Hill as Franco Wicks, a black teenager, his only employee, and someone who wants to change the shop for the better. Casting for the Broadway engagement will be announced shortly.

The play will be produced on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler and Jerry Frankel, the producing team behind Steppenwolf's Tony Award-winning "August: Osage County."

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: The CrossRoads Bar & Grill
West Loop bar will give you the blues - in a good way.

Weekly Treat: $1 Italian beef sandwiches
Al's celebrates its victory with a cheap-lunch promotion for the masses.

Off the Beaten Path: Luzzat
Hole-in-the-wall Indian spot in Rogers Park.

Man We're Crazy About: Doc's Juice and Smoothies
Get a cool blast of fruity goodness at this organic smoothie bar.

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

So, your roommates are sick of Simon Cowell's sour face, and have vowed to go on a pill binge if they have to hear one more word out of Paula Abdul's mouth. Their patience for your "American Idol" love has run out at exactly the wrong time: the big season finale is on Wednesday. So what do you do? Go out for sushi.

Hear us out. Chen's Chinese and Sushi in Wrigleyville is offering an Idol special on Wednesday that sounds like a great deal: $10 for two drinks (including martinis) and an appetizer and sushi buffet. You'll be able to mingle with other fans while watching the big showdown between Adam and Kris on 42-inch plasma TVs (probably better than what you have in your apartment anyway). Reservations are required.

If you're really strapped, you can head there tonight as well for the penultimate episode, when half-price bottles of wine will be in effect.

Want to get in shape for the next season? Centerstage offers up a long list of local karaoke spots where you can get your sing on -- without all those dirty looks from Simon.

Congrats to Sheffield’s for making Esquire’s list of the best bars in America in the June issue (the one with Megan Fox on the cover, if that helps any). There are plenty of Chicago bars on the men’s mag’s Web site feature of the best bars in the country, but Sheffield’s was the only one in town to make the print edition.

Not that we need the affirmation – and anybody who’s been to Sheffield’s knows it’s among the best of the best around – but after Chicago’s recent disappointments at the Beard Awards, it’s nice to get a little recognition.

Check out the full list of the country’s best bars here; and a tip of the cap for mentions to Bungalow, Hopleaf, California Clipper, Duke of Perth, B.L.U.E.S., Hideout, Matchbox, Chip Inn, The Violet Hour and Walter Payton’s Roundhouse in Aurora.

Jammin' at the Zoo concerts announced

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Hmmm. We've always enjoyed the occasional outdoor summer concerts at the Lincoln Park Zoo because they booked quirky acts from a certain era — from ABC to They Might Be Giants. This year's lineup was just announced and, well, it's certainly a different era ...

June 26: Sister Hazel with Josh Kelley
July 24: Matt Nathanson and Brett Dennen with Pat McGee
August 28: Five for Fighting with Angel Taylor

Only that July date sounds to us remotely worth the ticket prices (which, OK, support the animals), but we know y'all love your Sister Hazel. Tickets are $23 and on sale this Friday here, by phone at (312) 742-2283 or at the Zoo’s Gateway Pavilion.

Kanye believes the children are our future ...

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Kanye West and his mom, the late Donda West, on stage together in 2006. (AP file)

Tickets go on sale Thursday for the next hometown concert by hip-hop hero Kanye West — and this one's for a special cause.

The performance will be 8:30 p.m. June 11 as part of the second "Stay in School" Benefit Concert at the Chicago Theatre, supporting the Kanye West Foundation, which was founded in 2007 by Kanye's momma, the late Dr. Donda West, to help combat the school dropout problem plaguing the country (along with Chicago Public Schools and S.H.O.W.). The show will also be broadcast later in the summer on Fuse TV.

Tickets range from $49.50 to $500 (for the VIP Reception) and can be purchased here.

From an event press release:

Highland Park High School sophomore, David Abrams, conceived the event concept as he listened to a story on NPR about a Chicago Public School (CPS) student who was failing out of school. As an incentive to stay in school, the student’s mother offered two tickets to a Lil Wayne concert. David then turned to his mom and said “We should do that – let’s get kids to SHOW up to school, get their grades up and put on a free concert for them.” David formed S.H.O.W (Students Helping Our World), which is run by a group of Highland Park teens and supported by parents like Wendy Abrams, an environmental activist and founder of Cool Globes. S.H.O.W formed partnerships with CPS, the City of Chicago, former quarterback of the Chicago Bears Kyle Orton, and ultimately the Kanye West Foundation.

... S.H.O.W will offer free tickets to students who demonstrate marked improvements in attendance and/or grades in the last quarter of the current school year. Approximately 3,000 inner city and Chicago area students will have the opportunity to meet Kanye West and experience an intimate behind-the-scenes snapshot of how he prepares for a concert.

“I have always had the desire to help people and make the world a better place. I believe that youth are the music for creating a world filled with harmony. To create such a world, however, we must all do our part,” Kanye says in the same statement.

Video from fightin' Friday's Drake show

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Were you at the House of Blues for the Drake show on Friday? Do tell. What caused the fight — and was it related to the man outside who got shot in his backside?

Here's (a) a rip-roarin' tale of the evening from NBC5, about the show's ridiculous delay, the restless crowd and fears of the incident's chilling effect on hip-hop shows in Chi town, and (b) YouTube video from the concert, showing Drake doing his thing (warning: adult language!) and then falling apart once the fight starts. And that's Lupe Fiasco holding him back ...

1st name Mr., middle name period, last name T

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Back in the 1970s, long before anyone pitied the fool, there was a bouncer at the Chicago nightclub Dingbats named Laurence Tureaud. Today, that address (622 N. Fairbanks Court) is a pub called Timothy O'Toole's, and Laurence is better known as Mr. T.

In celebration of Mr. T's 57th birthday on Thursday, the staff of Timothy O'Toole's will be dressed in the garb the sweet-but-menacing T-man made famous: mohawks (OK, many will be faux-hawks), overalls and lots and lots of gold chains. The pub's chef, Sean O'Brien, has even created themed food and drinks — Mr. T appetizers, a B.A. Baracus Burger, a Mrs. T-ni Thunder Punch Cocktail — and there will be trivia games. (Q. On what TV sitcom did Mr. T play bodyguard to a spoiled rich kid? A. after the jump ...)

The Mr. T's Birthday Bash begins at 9 p.m. Thursday. Maybe he'll show up. We know he's around: Just a couple of weeks ago, our photographers caught him coming out of the Cook County Courthouse after serving jury duty ...


Stoppard's 'Rock 'n' Roll,' beat by beat

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You haven't seen Tom Stoppard's play "Rock 'n' Roll" yet? The one Hedy Weiss raved about (and Jim DeRogatis neatly framed the history of)? Get some tickets, then get thee away from this computer ... after checking out this preview from NBC5, of course:

View more news videos at:

Guess they weren't kidding about that whole "#1" thing.(photo: Unbreaded)

The locals have spoken: Al's Beef is Chicago's favorite Italian-beef purveyor. At least, that's according to NBC Chicago's latest "Golden Local Debate," which pitted Al's against its longtime rival, Mr. Beef. In yet another blow to Jay Leno's favorite spot, Al's carried the vote by a nearly three-to-one margin.

The local chain will celebrate by offering its award-winning sandwiches for just $1 each on Wednesday. You only get one per customer, and peppers and cheese will cost extra, but it still seems like a pretty good deal.

You've heard the saying, "Work hard, play hard." Well, how about working hard at play?

That's exactly what five local filmmakers have done, as they've collaborated on a feature-length documentary for the fourth installment of the Chicago360 documentary series, presented by Split Pillow, a nonprofit motion picture production and media literacy education company. . This year's theme: "PLAY."

The film, which premieres on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. the Music Box Theatre, is comprised of five mini-documentaries by John Firak, Sam Barber, R.J. Buckler, John Pappas and Jennifer Thornton. It explores the various ways that Chicagoans choose to spend their leisure time. You'll meet adult cheerleaders, house-music DJs, lovesick nerds, street-theatre performers, and a snow biker, among other unique characters. Tickets are $9.25, available at the door only.

Too busy working this week? There will be two additional screenings, on Saturday, May 30 at the Viaduct Theater (7 p.m.), and on Sunday, May 31 at the Hideout (4 p.m.). A Q&A with the filmmakers will follow each screening. Get tickets at

The year 1999 was a big one for Illinois: Dennis Hastert was named Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, 19 inches of snow blanketed Chicago in one of the biggest storms in recent history, and the Galapagos4 label was born.

If you're not too familiar with that last event, well, as the kids say, you've been sleepin'. G4 has been responsible for a long list of seminal Chicago hip-hop releases over the years, from the likes of Typical Cats, Maker and Qwel. Founder Jeff Kuglich moved out to northern California a few years back (he's back now), but the label's Windy City presence and style remained strong, which is why its 10th anniversary party will be held here next month.

On June 6, G4 will host two blowout shows at Reggie's Rock Club (a 6 p.m. set for the all-ages crowd, plus a 10:30 p.m. 21+ show). The lineup, as you'd guess, is full of artists from G4's past and present.

Check out the full list after the jump, and whet your appetite with this recording of the Typical Cats performing their classic, "Thin Red Line," at Reggie's earlier this year (earmuffs, kids).

This pizza will be $3 cheaper on Sunday...if you can wait that long. (photo: eforrest)

Three-year-olds are known for a lot of things, but saving you money is not typically one of them. Frasca, the popular Lakeview pizzeria and wine bar, aims to change that. This weekend, the spot celebrates its third anniversary on Sunday with $3 wine tastings (two-ounce pours), $3 draft beers and $3 off all dine-in pizza orders all day long.

Got a three-year-old of your own? You can save even more with Frasca's nightly "kids eat free" promotion from 4:30-6 p.m.

3 Things ... We love about Friday night

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It’s a trifecta of up-and-coming, nominated and award-winning artists!

Bring in the funk . . .
. . . for Grammy-nominated R&B artist (and BET reality-TV star) Keyshia Cole, who takes over the Chicago Theatre (175 N. State) at 8 tonight; $49.50-$88. (312) 559-1212.

Bring in the noise . . .
. . . for hip hop wizard Drake (who also played Jimmy Brooks on “Degrassi: The Next Generation”). He takes the stage at the House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn) for an 18-and-over show at 11:30 p.m. Tickets: $25-$50. (312) 559-1212.

Cue the irony . . .
. . . as Academy-Award winning comedian Steven Wright brings his lethargic, deadpan comedic stylings to the Vic Theatre (3145 N. Sheffield) at 8 p.m for an 18-and-over show. Tickets: $36. (312) 559-1212.

For more Friday night action, visit www.centerstagechicago .com.

First, the bad news. Lakeview's popular toy, clothing and sneaker boutique and art gallery A.Okay Official is closing, with Saturday being its last day in business, according to Gapers Block.

The good news? They're closing things out with a huge sale on Saturday, complete with a DJ and refreshments. It's not quite enough to soften the blow, but hey, it's something.


The Dew Tour's Nike 6.0 BMX Open (that's a lotta sponsorship right there) comes to Grant Park this summer The event (June 26-27) will feature BMX park, dirt and vert competitions, as well as a free Friday-night concert and a Festival Village featuring athlete autograph signings, giveaways and interactive courses.

Want to go, but don't have the cash? Through Sunday, May 17, tickets in the Reserved ($15) and Action Zone ($50) sections are buy one, get one half-off. Visit the Web site for details.

'Mary Poppins' tea set for Petterino's

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What's better than a tea party on the ceiling? How about a high tea with "Mary Poppins"?

Every Wednesday at noon starting May 27 (through July 8) Petterino's, 150 N. Dearborn, will host “Petterino’s Practically Perfect Poppins Tea." Cast members from "Mary Poppins," currently at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, including star Ashley Brown, will be on-hand for the kick-off festivities on May 27.

Cost for the tea is $20 for adults; $10 for children ages 12 and under. The special buffet menu includes soup, assorted finger sandwiches, desserts, lemonade and a full selection of herbal teas.

Reservations for “Petterino’s Practically Perfect Poppins Tea” may be made by calling (312) 422-0150.

Tickets for "Mary Poppins" are available at the theater box office, 151 W. Randolph, or by calling (312) 902-1400 or online at

'St. Mark's Gospel' headed back to Mercury

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"Mark’s Gospel," which will close its premiere run on Sunday at the Mercury Theatre, will return the venue, 3745 N. Southport, for an encore engagement June 5-28.

Starring Max McClean ("The Screwtape Letters") in a one-man tour-de-force, the play is based on the story of the life of Jesus as revealed in the gospel of St. Mark.

In her review of the show, Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss said “I've always found a good deal of the Bible baffling. Only after seeing 'Mark's Gospel' did I realize what had been missing. It comes down to performance. With wit and humor Max McLean brings a dramatically rooted clarity to what is a profoundly mysterious odyssey.”

"Mark’s Gospel" is directed by Jeffrey Fiske.

For tickets, $20-$48.50, call the theater box office at (773) 325-1700, or visit Discounted tickets for groups are also available by calling (773) 477-7666.

Here's a heads up for a decadent evening of food and drink downtown. On Thursday, head to Bistro 110 from 6-8:30 p.m. for French snacks (quiche Lorraine, steamed mussels, frites, smoked pork loin, house pizzas and more) paired with brews from Warrenville's Two Brothers -- selections include Domaine Dupage (appropriately, a French Country Ale), Dog Days Dortmunder Lager, Ebel's Weiss and Cane & Ebel. The event costs $25 (including tax and tip), and no reservations are required.

Yes, that's Vanilla Ice.

Did you sit through every minute of "Gigli"? Do you know every line of "Plan 9 From Outer Space"? "It Came From the Neo-Futurarium VIII: Legend of The Neo-Futurarium" is for you.

For the eighth year, the Neo-Futurists crew presents its renditions of the worst films ever on stage. Whether you agree with the choices -- ranging from "Cool As Ice" to "The Naked Killer (Chik loh go yeung)" -- or not, these warped versions are sure to provide more entertainment than the originals. And at $10 a pop, each presentation is no more expensive than a ticket to see "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" (a good bet for a future installment of the series).

The full schedule is after the jump. Shows take place at the Neo-Futurarium June 25-July 30 , on Thursdays at 8 p.m.

Johnny Drummer's one of many famous musicians you can catch on Saturday.

Can't wait for the Blues Fest to get a super-size fix of Chicago's most famous music? You don't have to. The Chicago Blues Tour returns on Saturday, offering admission to and transportation between seven clubs around the city from 8:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

The $40 tour includes stops at Lee's Unleaded Blues, Rosa's Lounge, Checkerboard Lounge, Rooster's Palace and Catcher's Inn, as well as the tour "hub," Wabash Tap.

In addition to artists like Linsey Alexander, Fantastic L-Roy and Vance Kelly, the tour includes three special events:

  • "Southside Showcase / Chicago Blues Festival Preview Jam Session", which includes a sneak peek at upcoming artists from this year's fest (including Johnny Drummer and the Starliters)

  • "Harmonica Showdown!" with five harmonica players going at it throughout the night

  • "Guitar Duel" between slide guitar master Li'l Ed (with his band the Blues Imperials) and young turk Pete Galanis (from Howard & the White Boys).

You're free to stay at each club for as long or as little as you like, as shuttle buses will be running regularly all night long. You'll start at the venue from which you purchase your tickets - or at Wabash Tap, if you buy 'em online.

3 Things We Love About ... Chicago television

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burton.JPG Ron Magers and Cheryl Burton anchor the ABC 7 News at 5 p.m. (Dom Najolia/Sun-Times)

1. The cable TV sports connection. If you're talking sports and cable television in Chicago, you've got to be talking about Comcast SportsNet. Chicago is many things, but it is most assuredly a sports-fixated city, and CSN is everything a sports junkie could hope for -- starting with a generous supply of live game telecasts. But as fun as the games themselves are, CSN also has a stable of smart anchors and color commentators who do a fine job of analyzing games and putting the performance of our professional sports teams in the proper context.

2. A great public television station. It may not be the nation's flashiest public TV outlet, but WTTW-Channel 11 very well may be the classiest. WTTW's cadre of producers and directors don't always get the credit they deserve, but they have excelled, in particular, at developing programming that spotlights local culture. WTTW has to work hard each year to raise a lot of money from viewers and corporate sponsors, but all who contribute should feel proud when they see what the station does with that money. "Chicago Tonight," the intelligent nightly news magazine that is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is but one example of what we're talking about.

3. Aggressive local TV newscasts. Morning, noon or night, Chicago television viewers invariably can find a local TV newscast to tell them about whatever is breaking news that day in the city. There's also no shortage of veterans covering the news and anchoring newscasts, and they typically help make our local TV news packages a cut above those in comparable markets such as New York City and Los Angeles. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when Chicago first became so admired for its local news coverage, but if we had to, we'd say the legendary anchor pairing of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and the newscasts they fronted nightly back in the 1970s and early 1980s created a stunning gold standard that all our local TV stations still strive to match every day.

Wilco offers new Woody Guthrie track online

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So this week we finally found out the title of the new Wilco album — "Wilco (the album)," how's that for inspiring? — and its release date (June 30). And to help promote the thing, the Chicago-based roots band has gone back to another set of roots, recording another Woody Guthrie lyric a la the band's successful Mermaid Avenue albums of Woody covers with British folk-rocker Billy Bragg. "Jolly Banker" is a Depression-era gem that applies rather neatly to the country's new economic woes and throes. Woody sang:

When your car you are losing and sadly you're cruising I'm a jolly banker, jolly banker am I I'll come and foreclose, take your car and your clothes I'm a jolly banker, jolly banker am I

The song's available for download at Wilco World, for free or ideally a suggested donation of $2 — 100 percent of which will support the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives. (Which even contains this blogger's research notes!) Listen to the band discuss the new recording here.

Party like it's 1934 at Lottie's Pub.

Lottie’s Pub has been serving ‘em up for a long time. Seventy-five years, to be exact. To celebrate, the Bucktown bar is throwing itself a birthday party on May 16, and we’re all invited. There will be live music and giveaways starting at 1 p.m., along with live band karaoke at night. The best part: Miller Lite drafts are just 75 cents.

Just think, you’ll be able to party like it was 1934, when a hot shot president was in office (FDR), the economy was in crapper and the Cubs were in a decades-long World Series drought. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you were planning on going to C-House, The Drawing Room, Green Mill, Nacional 27 or The Violet Hour this weekend (or really anytime soon), be prepared for bigger crowds.

These five spots were recently selected by Food & Wine for its list of America's Top 100 Bars. Sorry, She-nannigans--maybe next year.

Club Hopping, May 8-14

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The beguiling African performer is not only a mesmerizing singer but also a dancer and drummer whose shows have a burning intensity and joy. Her original songs address social and political issues in Africa, including the struggles of women, the exploitation of children and the impact of violence on the family. At 7 p.m. Sunday at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets, $16-$20. Call (773) 728-6000; — Mary Houlihan

More shows after the jump ...

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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Terry Jones, a founding member of the British comedy troupe Monty Python and co-director of the 1975 movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” will host a showing of the film at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, as part of the theater’s “Meet the Maker” series. An hour-long question-and-answer session after the screening will be a rare treat for Monty Python fans. Tickets are $39.50 to $44.50. Call (773) 472-3492 or visit

More events after the jump ...

Kelly Clarkson, Asher Roth, more at B96 Bash

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The lineup has been announced for the annual B96 Summer Bash concert, June 13 at Toyota Park. It's another doozy: Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, Akon, Flo Rida, Cascada, LMFAO, Asher Roth (pictured) and Kid Cudi. Tickets are on sale, ranging from $22 to $122.


Glass Candy
Thursday, May 7 at darkroom, 9 p.m.; $10 before 11 p.m. with RSVP to
If Blondie made sexy, smart, modern dance music, you'd have Glass Candy, this month's guest for Out of Order Chicago. Featuring soft, sexy female vocals (see "Beatific" and the remake of Kraftwerk's "Computer Love") over energized, layered beats, their songs are as suitable for the morning commute and gym as they are for the club. We couldn't be more excited for this live performance. DJs Total M, Trancid and Intel spin.

Join the Guerilla Gay Bar's South Loop group this Friday at English as they hold their monthly gathering. For those unfamiliar, the GGB is “a group dedicated to bring a fun bar atmosphere to the South Loop area … to meet up at and ‘turn it gay.’” The group usually brings in about 300 people for an event, and has hit up Wabash Tap, Grace O'Malley's, Villains Bar & Grill and Weather Mark Tavern already this year.

We love the idea (look ‘em up on Facebook for more info), but English? On LaSalle? Not so much South Loop, but good times either way.

Can you sing? Dance? Climb walls and detect danger with your spidey sense?

There's an open casting call here Thursday for "SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark," the baffling new Broadway musical about the comics hero, with music by Bono and the Edge. Directors are hunting principals (Peter Parker, Mary Jane, a female lead villain) and understudies. Bring a photo and a pop/rock song to sing (no accompaniment). Auditions run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Visceral Dance Chicago, 2820 N. Elston Ave. For info: or visit


Audarshia of 312DD's got the scoop (we hope she heard via text) on a special celebrity appearance at Rockit Bar & Grill tonight. Ed Westwick (aka Chuck Bass) and his "Gossip Girl" co-star and possible real-life girlfriend, Jessica Szohr (aka Vanessa Abrams) will be on hand from 7-10 p.m. to help launch Target's new "Bullseye Bazaar" pop-up shop.

Want to meet the sneaky bastard and his occasional booty call (the two were actually caught kissing off set recently)? RSVP for the party, which includes cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, at

Our Town

Broadway in Chicago season on sale Friday

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"Roll, roll, roll in ze hay!"

Series subscriptions for the 2009-2010 Broadway in Chicago theater season go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday for a season that includes "In the Heights," (Dec. 15, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010), ("Young Frankenstein," (Nov. 3-Dec. 13), "101 Dalmations The Musical" (Feb. 16-28, 2010) and "Dreamgirls" (Jan. 19-31, 2010). Rounding out the offerings will be a return engagement of "Cats" (Oct. 13-18) and a Thanksgiving holiday concert engagement by the Ten Tenors (Nov. 24-29).

Series tickets will be available by calling (312) 977-1717 or visiting Group tickets (20 or more) will also available by phone at (312) 977-1710.

1. Taking a “ride” on Chicago’s most reliable L car. CTA-1 originally shuttled riders from the Loop to Hyde Park for five cents. It’s now on display year-round at the Chicago History Museum and unlike the real L, you seldom have to wait before boarding the car.

Noren Ungaretti with the Karan evening gown she donated to Chic Chicago. (Sun-Times file)

2. Peeking into the closets of Chicago’s upper crust. Chic Chicago features dresses from 1861 to 2004 worn by Chicago’s elite.

3. Ogling the museum’s collection of dioramas and wondering why the ones we made in third grade never looked this good.

The museum is at 1601 N. Clark. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, and , noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission (includes two audio tours): $14 adults, $12 students and seniors, free for children 12 and under. Details: (312) 642-4600 or

Tell us your three favorite things about the Chicago History Museum!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we’ve got a plethora of Mexican-themed openings:


Fonda Del Gusto – A Logan Square taqueria gets a décor and menu upgrade and becomes a quaint little BYOB.

FDM – The sister restaurant of Logan Square’s Fonda del Mar is much of the same, only brighter and, um, Mexican-ier. Also BYOB, for now.

Los Moles – When the restaurant is named Los Moles and the owner is known as the “Mole King” (Geno Bahena), let’s just say you know what kind of sauce you should get.

… And some gringo openings:

Five Guys Burgers & Fries – Cross Naperville off the list of places for the burger quintet to conquer.

Wally & Agador’s Gourmet Café – Restaurant Michael owner Michael Lachowicz named his new place after his dogs. Yeah, not sure how we feel about that.


LaTache – After a short closure for renovations, the French bistro in Andersonville is back and chic as ever.


Patty’s Diner – The diner, which planned to close this month, gets a reprieve at least until early June. Better get up to Skokie sooner rather than later.

Ian’s – The Northbrook hot dog stand makes way for a Wolfy’s, which should be coming later this month.

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.

When the weather's nice out, it's tough to head back into the office after a half-hour lunch. It'll be even harder this summer, as Millennium Park begins its new Edible Audible Picnic series on Mondays. These free noontime concerts offer an array of sounds sure to distract you from that project deadline, including psychedelic rockers Black Moth Super Rainbow (June 29), eclectic DJ Daedelus (August 10), a Chicago hip-hop showcase (July 27) and a soul/funk record party featuring DJ Rob Sevier of the Numero Group.

The full schedule (via Chicagoist) is after the jump.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Phoebe’s Cupcakes
Specialty bakery moves into Lakeview.

Off the Beaten Path: Antojitos!
Mexican snack shop keeps it cheap on the Northwest Side.

Weekly Treat: Fiesta Time at Mayan Palace
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with half-priced margaritas.

Man We're Crazy About: Iyanze
Uptown African restaurant from the owners of Bolat.

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


The folks at LTH Forum are going ga-ga over the Swine Flu.

Calm down, germaphobes. The Swine Flu is actually the name of this month's featured burger at the uber-popular Kuma's Corner in Avondale. The special patty (pictured above, courtesy LTH) comes topped with fried tortilla strips, chorizo hash, roasted green chile, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro and a cream-based sauce.

If you thought the whole "epidemic" thing was scary, try navigating the crowds at Kuma's for a taste of this baby on a Friday night.

New mixtape from Cool Kids ... free!

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We love how even new mp3 compilations are still referred to as "mixtapes." And here's one for you — just in time to embrace the warmer weather and nurture your anticipation for summer — from none other than Chicago's MC duo the Cool Kids, the boys who've been all the buzz since last year's SXSW fest.

Released today, the Cool Kids' new 21 (count ’em, 21 — 18 of them brand new!) tracks, called "Gone Fishing," are mixed by and feature legendary Atlanta DJ, producer and Gangsta Grillz host, Don Cannon. It's a prelude to the Cool Kids' next CD, "When Fish Ride Bicycles," featuring appearances by Ryan Leslie, GLC, Ludacris, Bun B and newcomers Tennille and Jahda, which they've been working on early this year.

These tracks are very similar but they're not bad, and they'll definitely juice you for summer. Best of all: the download of the whole set is free! Hit it here.

Millennium Park to host 4th of July concert

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Millennium Park will celebrate the 4th of July in a big, bold way this summer with its first-ever Independence Day free concert on July 4 at 1:30 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion.
The concert, part of the Grant Park Music Festival, will feature the Grant Park Orchestra, conducted by maestro Christopher Bell, and special guest Chicago tap dance master Lane Alexander.

Highlights of the afternoon concert program include: "The Star Spangled Banner," Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," Ron Nelson's "Savannah River Holiday," excerpts from Morton Gould's Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra, Tchaikovsky's "Overture 1812" and John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever."

A new Wilco song? Well, sort of.

It's been a good Friday for Chicago music lovers. Let us count the ways:

  1. A few choice names were added to the Pitchfork Music Festival lineup. Beirut, MF Doom and DJ/Rupture are among the additions.
  2. The full schedule for the always fun Do Division Street Fest was released. Flosstradamus, Menomena and Centerstage favorites J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound made it on the bill.
  3. Jeff Tweedy announced that Wilco is offering a free download of their version of Woody Guthrie's "Jolly Banker" on its Web site. More Wilco is always a good thing! (via Chicagoist)

The only proper way to finish off the day is with some live music. Get on it!


Love comics? Hate spending money? Make sure you're around on Saturday for Free Comic Book Day.

Independent comic-book stores around the world will be giving away titles (click here for this year's list) to all those who step through their doors. Local participating shops include Chicago Comics, The Comic Vault, Graham Crackers Comics, Brainstorm Movies, Comics and Gaming, Challengers Comics + Conversation, G-Mart Comics and Vigilante Press Comics.

The Mix: Really cool things to do

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Mmmmm, authentic tacos ... (File)

Get a jump on the celebration of an important Mexican victory over the French on May 5, 1862, with the three-day Cinco de Mayo Festival in Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento. Live music, performances, food, carnival rides and games are expected to attract as many as 250,000 people today through Sunday. Admission is free, though some attractions are not. A colorful neighborhood parade will step off from Cermak and Damen at noon Sunday. Call (773) 843-9738;

But wait, there's more! Check out this list of Cinco de Mayo events all over town.

More events after the jump ...

Truth in band names?

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That's a girl singing, OK? With two guys. But the band is called Screaming Females. Get it? Got it? Read DeRo's story here before the show ...

Club Hopping, May 1-7

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kwelipressshot[1].jpg We like those rappers who crawl outside the beat box, who try to put a creative, unique stamp on what can be a very rote medium. Guys like Mos Def, or his buddy Talib Kweli — who's throwing down in town this weekend. Still touring on the strength of 2007's "Ear Drum" disc, the Brooklyn rapper is here for two Dare 2 Dream benefit concerts Saturday at House of Blues. Tickets are still available, or you can RSVP here to win a pair of VIP passes.

More clubland events after the jump ...

3 Things We Love About ... Friday night

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Beethoven has said, “Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.” There’s something for everyone tonight. Cheers!

1. Dance the night away: “People love their Halen,” Derek “Eddie” Fuller has said of the Van Halen tribute band Fan Halen. They’re joined by AC/DC tribute band Back in Black at 8 p.m. at the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, following the “2009 Loop Rock Girl” contest. Free (21+over). Call (312) 923-2000.

2. The owner of the Underground Wonder Bar, 10 E. Walton, will be playing rock/soul/funk/jazz/blues as Lonie Walker and her Big Bad Ass Company. Band at 11 p.m. The cover charge is $15; Call (312) 266-7761.

3. Diamond Jim Greene plays a free acoustic set of country blues from 5:30-8 p.m. at Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 S. Wabash. Call (312) 427-0333.

For more Friday night action, visit

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