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July 2009 Archives

3 Things We Love About ... Saturday

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This week, we’ve got song standards running through our head (kids, ask your grandparents):

1. You gotta have art
The 52nd annual Gold Coast Art Fair (Superior, Huron and Erie between Clark and Wells) features approximately 400 juried artists, food and wine vendors, live music and various artistic demonstrations. Admission is free; 10 a.m. to 5 Saturday. Call (847) 926-4300.

2. Come Rain or Come Shine
No matter the weather, the Warped Tour will without a doubt be going on today. First Midwest Bank Amphitheater, 19100 Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park. Bad Religion, The Devil Wears Prada and Less Than Jake are just three of the more than 50 bands scheduled to appear beginning at noon Saturday. $33.75. (877) 598-8703;

3. The simple joys of maidenhood
Camelot hasn’t got anything on the Bristol Renaissance Faire (12550 120th Ave, Kenosha, Wis). Guenevere would have dumped both Arthur and Lancelot for one of Bristol’s roasted turkey legs! Get thee to Kenosha, post haste! 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Adults $16.95-18.95, children ages 5-12, $8-$9.50. (847) 395-7773. Head to the Web site and print a coupon good for $2.50 off your ticket.

Hey! You got three better ones?
Tell us your three favorite things to do Saturdays!

Last month, we told you about Blue 13's Rock 'n' Roll Dinner series. The most exciting installment of these music-inspired meals, in our opinion, is next Wednesday's, featuring bands playing at Lollapalooza 2009. Now, we've got the menu for the evening, and we're even more excited (even without the Beastie Boys).

Check it out after the jump -- if it gets you drooling, there's still time to reserve a spot by calling (312) 787-1400. The dinners are $50 per person, and start promptly at 7:15 p.m.


Gold Coast Art Fair
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday; free
It's art as far as the eye can see at this nine-block festival celebrating its 52nd year. More than 350,000 people are expected to walk the streets of the swanky Gold Coast neighborhood while perusing work from 400 artists.

Term limit set on 'Rod Blagojevich Superstar'

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Joey Bland, who plays Rod Blagojevich in the Second City musical "Rod Blagojevich Superstar," dons the Big Hair for his big role. (Sun-Times file)

We love watching him on TV — especially nowadays — so why shouldn't we love watching his antics on stage? Second City's hit show "Rod Blagojevich Superstar" has been extended again at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. But this is the last one. Really. No more after Sept. 6.

The reason given for this final extension: "Due to tremendous demand and irresistible new source material still being provided by the former governor including his upcoming book, The Governor."

Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 3 p.m. Ticketholders get a 40 percent parking discount. Tickets are $25 ($20 for groups of 10 or more) and may be purchased by visiting Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s site at or calling the CST Box Office at (312) 595-5600.

If you've ever thought you could rock "The Amazing Race," but are a little camera-shy, we've got an event for you. Actually, make that several events. In the next few weeks, Chicago will be inundated with scavenger hunts and races that'll test your physical and mental prowess, as well as your knowledge of the city. Get your team together and head out to these competitions:

  • August 1: The Great Urban Race will send over 1,000 participants (in two-person teams) all over the city for puzzle-solving, physical challenges and more. The top 25 teams will have the opportunity to go on to the national championship and a chance at $10,000. $60/person if you register by Friday; $70/person day of race.
  • August 22: City Chase, known as the world's largest urban adventure series (it's been around since 2003) asks two-person teams to complete a variety of challenges (some involving working with competing teams) to earn ChasePoints. The team with the required amount of points that crosses the finish line first will earn a trip to the national championships in Quebec City. $193.50 per team.
  • True hunt-junkies will want to keep an eye on Watson Adventures, which organizes events throughout the year in museums and neighborhoods city-wide. Upcoming adventures include "Starring the Loop" Movie Locations (August 1, September 12, October 10), Murder at the Art Museum (August 15 & October 31) and the Field of Screams Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt (September 26). Events run from $19.50-$32.


Few things in life go together better than pizza and beer, and few Chicago neighborhoods appear to recognize this fact as well as Wrigleyville, where you can find all manner of slices and suds.

The latest place to offer the holy pairing? Rockit Bar & Grill's new Wrigleyville location, where, starting today and continuing every Wednesday, you'll get a complimentary nine-inch, brick-oven cheese pizza with every pitcher of beer you buy ($15). Brews on tap include Bud Light, Heineken, Rockit White Ale, Goose Island, Summit, Bass Ale and Shiner Bock. The deal's offered all day (11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.), so you could theoretically spend more than 12 hours with a slice in one hand and a beer in the other. We'll leave that part up to you.

Going to Lollapalooza? There's an app for that

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iPhoneApp.jpgApple customers can get the jump on next week's Lollapalooza by both sampling some of the music and plotting their course through the music festival on their iPhones.

First, start by tuning in some free music via iTunes. The festival, as they do each year, has uploaded a 15-song sampler, available for free download (the magic code: PRWFPJAH4LR6). Here's the wide-reaching track list, culled from bands being spotlighted at this year's fest:

* ALBERTA CROSS – "The Thief & The Heartbreaker"
* BON IVER – "Skinny Love"
* CONSTANTINES – "Trans Canada"
* DEERHUNTER – "Nothing Ever Happened"
* ERIC CHURCH – "Smoke a Little Smoke"
* FLEET FOXES – "Mykonos"
* JOE PUG – "Hymn #101"
* LANGHORNE SLIM – "Rebel Side of Heaven"
* LIVING THINGS – "Oxygen"
* RYE RYE – "Bang"
* THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE – "You Can Be Timeless"
* THE KNUX – "Fire (Put It In the Air)"
* THE RAVEONETTES – "Dead Sound"
* WHITE LIES – "Farewell to the Fairground"

If that helps you make some decisions about which bands you want to see, your next step is to download the Lollapalooza iPhone app. The app not only lists the full festival schedule, it allows you to flag the bands you plan to see, charting a course through the lineup so you won't miss a beat. There are artist bios and music here, too.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: 90 Miles Cuban
If you liked the original, you’ll love this Logan Square outpost.

Off the Beaten Path: Groucho's Bar & Grill
South Side neighborhood sports bar.

Weekly Treat: Get can-happy at Silver Cloud
Cans of beer are just $2 on Tuesdays at this Wicker Park hangout.

Man We're Crazy About: Square Bar & Grill
Avondale bar and grill proves it's hip to be square.

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

Runners rock past the Alamo during 2008's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Antonio.

It's rare to see a runner without a pair of headphones these days. But you'll see plenty of empty ears during next weekend's Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon, because the course will be full of musical entertainment, from the starting line village at Columbus & Congress to the waterfront bikepath near 31st avenue. Local acts include Jeff Manga, Boho Paisley, Thinner Teed and more.

Even if you're not running (the August 2 event is sold out), this event offers a chance to see musicians awake well before their usual rousing time (the first set begins at 6:30 a.m. in Grant Park). And of course, you can cheer on all the people who are participating, including two-time 5,000-meter champion Kara Goucher, who will have cameras on her throughout the entire race. Make sure to stick around for the post-race concert at 10:30 a.m. in Grant Park, headlined by blues vet Susan Tedeschi.

For more information on the schedule and live entertainment, visit the race website.

Planning a trip through the Art Institute

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The Art Institute of Chicago — like any great, acclaimed, monstrous museum — is not the kind of place you can just pop by, drop in and dabble. To really see what interests you and to make the most out of your time (and, now that it costs 18 bucks, money), you need a plan. You need a map. An interactive map would be even better.

So here it is. The museum just launched a new interactive floor plan and gallery tour on its Web site. Nicely dubbed Pathfinder, the map allows you to click your way through the hallways, galleries and libraries, showing you the hallmark pieces and information about each spot. You can thus plan your attack and move through the place like a ninja.

"The Modern Wing has really been the impetus for numerous widespread changes in the ways the museum makes itself accessible to all visitors, both virtual and real," James Cuno, president and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute, says in a statement. "We have a new building, with its fresh approach to our collections, to the city, and to the landscape around us. And now, with our new interactive pathfinder on the web, we are bringing these fresh approaches to the hundreds of thousands of people who come to our website seeking information about our museum and collections."

Are you a diehard Tool fan who can't afford a Lollapalooza ticket? Now there's another way to get into the big fest in Grant Park: Work for it.

The Work Exchange Team (WET) is offering music fans the chance to get into Lolla for free, as long as they are willing to put in at least 15 hours of backstage catering and vending work throughout the weekend.

Curious? Fill out the online application to get started. Note: There's a small, non-refundable application fee, and -- for all those lazy fans who were thinking about snagging a three-day pass and skipping out of the work part -- a deposit equal to the price of full weekend admission, refundable only after you've completed your duties. Now that's the American spirit!

Second Wilco show added due to ticket demand

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Wilco's next hometown gigs — Oct. 18 and now a second show on Oct. 19, at the UIC Pavilion — are selling fast. The first show, big surprise, sold out over the weekend, but tickets remain for part two on the 19th. Tickets are $38.50 available here.

19847409.JPGStephanie Izard poses for a picture with Hector, the goat pinata. (Via Twitpic)

In case you didn't know, The Wandering Goat is the traveling dinner-party series hosted by former Top Chef champion Stephanie Izard, in anticipation of the eventual opening of her West Loop restaurant, The Drunken Goat, in early 2010. Last night, Izard and friends threw the first of six dinners in a beautiful backyard near the United Center (the home of socca chef/owner Roger Herring), and we were there to catch the action. All in all, it was a heck of a night that went well past the scheduled closing time. In classic Our Town fashion, we loved...

1. Stephanie Izard. And not just because of all the great food she prepared. Izard has built a reputation for being extremely genuine and just plain nice, and that all came through during the evening, as she (as well as fellow Top Chef alum Lee Anne Wong) spent time talking to pretty much everyone at the party, discussing everything from goat skulls (there was one perched atop a mannequin to welcome guests as they arrived) to fraise du bois (the wild strawberries that highlighted the sumptuous dessert table). She even put her considerable clout to good use, getting us a fresh Gumballhead from the Three Floyds man (we love you, too) just when we needed it most.

2. Lamb-stuffed calamari...and that was just the start of it. The food was limited to small plates at three stations spaced around the backyard, but we wouldn't guess that anyone left hungry or unsatisfied. We didn't catch all the ingredients of each dish, but some of our favorites were a grilled octopus salad with a citrusy dressing and tons of bacon; fry bread topped with short rib, tomatoes and queso fresco; and the aforementioned calamari dish topped with fried onions (we also recall a braised pork shoulder with slaw atop a small biscuit; polenta with gooseberries and corn salad; and oyster shooters). And let's not forget about the dessert. Black Dog Gelato came through with three flavors of creamy goodness -- banana curry, red pepper and ginger lemon -- which were served in mini pink Chinese takeout containers along with berries and other additions.

3. "Mo' Money Mo' Problems"...and the rest of the upbeat tracks playing throughout the night. The freewheeling soundtrack was emblematic of the very laid-back atmosphere -- it was the kind of party what you always hope your backyard BBQs will become (too bad you can't charge $50 a pop). Several times during the evening we thought a dance party might break out among the crowd, which was filled with everyone from major food-media personnel to Top Chef aficionados to that one couple who was doing some toe-sucking right next to us on the deck. As we said, it was a fun night.

Want to get in on the next dinner? Make sure to follow Stephanie on Twitter for all the details.

3 Things We Love About ... Saturday

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“All over the world. Everybody’s got the word,” quipped the singing muses of “Xanadu,” and this week we’re all about globe-trotting without ever leaving the city limits:

1. It’s like Epcot Center, but for barbecue
Fork and the Road’s International Barbecue Tour Bike Ride kicks off at 11 a.m. at Pause Cafe, 1107 W. Berwyn. The tour features stops at various Pakistani, Korean and Chinese barbecue joints. The 14.5-mile bike ride and tasting is $50 a person. Can’t make this tour? The next BBQ Bike Ride is slated for Sept. 5. Visit

2. Paris in the summer
The comedic cabaret duo of Colleen McHugh and Miriam Plotkin toast (and roast) the French in their annual “tour de farce,” “Bastille Magnolias.” Storm the barricades of Davenport’s Piano Bar, 1383 N. Milwaukee, at 8 tonight; $29. Details: (773) 278-1830 or

3. Venice on Lake Michigan
It’s the 52nd annual Venetian Night at 8 tonight. More than half a million people are expected to attend the annual parade of decorated boats. Monroe Harbor from Shedd Aquarium at Roosevelt north to the Chicago Yacht Club at Monroe is rumored to be the best place to view the proceedings. Fireworks will follow. Free;

Tell us your three favorite things about Saturday!

Ok, not really. But Mr. West's first-ever TV concert performance, recorded at the Chicago Theatre on June 11, will be broadcast on Fuse TV on Saturday at 7 p.m. It's a chance to see all the rap star's hits performed live -- without the triple-digit ticket price. Catch a sneak-preview here:

Heading to the city's longest-running festival on Saturday? Stop off at Farmerie 58 first for a special Venetian Night deal. For $19, you'll get a Chef's Roll (tempura shrimp, cucumber, spicy mayo topped with tuna, ginger dressing), sesame-coated tuna with sesame-chili dressing and seaweed salad with sesame dressing. Even if you're not going to see the lighted ships, you can still eat well; the special will actualy run Friday and Sunday, too.


Ok, biking enthusiasts. It's time to turn off the TV coverage of the Tour de France and get out to see a real live race in Chicago. This Sunday marks the second installment of the Chicago Criterium, a free all-day event in Grant Park. Described as "NASCAR on bikes," the criterium races will take place on a 1.1-mile closed-circuit loop (start/finish line is at Buckingham Fountain) featuring tight 90-degree turns and fast-paced straight-aways. Who needs the Alps, anyway?

Check out the website for more details; racing begins at 7 a.m. on Sunday.

If you’ve been a fan of the obscure soul gems coming out of the local Numero Group label then you’ll be pleased to hear that they’ve officially secured a residency at darkroom in Ukrainian Village.

The monthly event will kick-off on Tuesday and will double as a record-release party for the label's latest projects, "Gone: The Promises of Yesterday" by 24-Carat Black and the LP version of "A Lovely Sight" by Pisces, which includes a bonus 45.

You can expect some soulful magic as members of Numero Group (as well as a rotating lineup of guest DJs) plan on mixing classic Numero titles with other rarities-including songs recently transferred for upcoming releases. The event, aptly titled “Platters ‘N Sides’, is free, but you might want to bring some extra loot so you can snag some of the goodies they plan on bringing with them.

It’s also important to note that although the monthly will begin on a Tuesday every subsequent night will be on the last Wednesday of every month. Mark your calendars, and let the soul seminars begin.

cab250.jpgHere in Our Town, we like to keep things as easy (read: lazy) as possible. Why take the train when a cab will pick you up? And why take the time and energy to go hail one in the street when you can summon one with a simple text message?

That’s the idea behind GoFastCab, a new service to Chicago that makes getting a cab as easy as sending a text. Just send a text message with your address and city/zip code to 777222 (777CAB) and they’ll dispatch a ride ASAP. They’ll even send you a confirmation text so you know one is on the way and give your cab’s status if you text “STATUS” to the number.

Chicago is only the third market to offer this service (L.A. and San Diego were first) so we can be cutting edge in our laziness.

Check out for more info.

Did you miss out on our first ticket giveaway for the Wicker Park Fest after-party, featuring unpredictable R&B/pop star Jamie Lidell? Now you've got another chance! The first 5 people to email us (subject line: Lidell) will each win a pair of tickets to the show. As a bonus, we'll sign you up to Centerstage's EventFile newsletter, which features info on tons of cool events like this each week. Get on it!


Pierogi Fest
Friday-Sunday at 1900 Indianapolis Blvd., Whiting, Indiana; free
Make your way to Whiting for this unique ethnic event featuring pierogi, polka bands, a parade and Mr. Pierogi. This costumed character, along with his friends The Pieroguettes and Miss Paczki, makes the rounds of the fest and performs a number of musical spoofs. There will also be plenty of family fun, a pierogi toss contest, a beer garden and an art show. Don't want to travel? Check out Centerstage's guide to the best pierogi right here in Chicago.

It's summer, and your kids have been driving you up the wall with their constant need to be entertained. You think you've exhausted all the possibilities -- but have you tried exhausting them? This Saturday, July 25, marks the second of four days of Mayor Daley's Summer Track Program, which takes place at locations across the city (subsequent events will be held on August 1 and August 16).

Approximately 30 city wards will field teams of kids ages 9-14 for a variety of track events, including dashes, relays and long jumps. The program will feature a city-wide championship at the end, as well as several appearances by Olympic gold medalists Bob Beamon and Gail Devers. Check out World Sport Chicago (be prepared for lots of 2016 logos) for all the details.

Bummed about the Beastie Boys not being able to play Lollapalooza? Don't sell your ticket just yet. There have been two major additions to the fest to counteract that one sizable subtraction.

The first, you know: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who will take over the Beasties' time slot. The second? Celebrity chef Graham Elliot Bowles, who gave perhaps the most entertaining (if ultimately unsuccessful) "Top Chef Masters" performance of the Bravo show's first season a few weeks ago, and whose restaurant, Graham Elliot, has gotten high marks for its inventive, whimsical contemporary cuisine. That personality will be on display during Lollapalooza, as Bowles will offer a number of his signature dishes to a hungry crowd: lobster corndogs with lemon aioli, buffalo chicken with PBR bubbles, teriyaki portobello satay with spicy peanut sauce and black-pepper-parmesan-truffle popcorn. Sounds better than a greasy pizza slice, eh?

The chef, a well-known rock aficionado, will also be cooking up some specials backstage for Lolla organizer Perry Farrell and the rest of Jane's Addiction. We're hoping he churns out at least one MCA-inspired dish. Say, "B-Boy Bouillabaise"?

With all the recent news about Lollapalooza, we're sure you're itching for the fest to get here already. To tide you over, Lakeview spring-break bar Uncle Fatty's Rum Resort is hosting Fattypalooza on Friday night beginning at 8 p.m.. The free battle of the bands will include four local bands (Mathien, Headwall, Turning Down Today and one surprise act) playing 45-minute sets of covers. The winner (voted on by you, and announced at the end of the party) will get $1,000 and a future gig at the bar.

The event is also a good excuse to finally buy those Lolla tickets, because all those with proof of purchase will get free domestic beer bottles and well drinks from 8-10 p.m. There will also be $2 "Toxic Fruit Shots" and $4 bottles of Modelo, Red Stripe, Pacifico, Corona and Bud Light Lime for all.


Time Out Chicago is reporting that Lollapalooza has found its replacement for the Beastie Boys, who recently dropped out of the show due to Adam "MCA" Yauch's cancer diagnosis. It'll be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Happy? Sad? Indifferent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

It’s not too late to sign up for an intimate dinner with ‘Top Chef’ winner Stephanie Izard, but it’s gonna cost you.

The Chopping Block hosts the famed Chicago chef tonight at 6 p.m. as she makes dishes from her upcoming restaurant, The Drunken Goat, complete with wine pairings. Price tag: $150. But it will probably be one of the few times you can taste from the new menu (apart from her "Wandering Goat" traveling dinners, the first of which sold out in under 10 minutes this morning) before the restaurant opens next year, and it includes an amuse bouche, appetizer, entree and dessert, so it should be well worth the cost.

Sign up here. But hurry; last we checked, there were only nine seats left.

And be sure to check out more new restaurant openings (and soon-to-be openings) here.


If you've ever dreamed of being in the Guinness Book of World Records, now's your chance. Tonight, the Goodman Theatre, in partnership with the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival's showing of the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup," will attempt to set the record for "most people wearing Groucho Marx glasses" at the same time. Arrive at Butler Field in Grant Park between 6-7 p.m. and sign in near the screen to get your free glasses. In order to be considered for the book, everyone will have to wear the glasses for at least 10 minutes and pose for photos and video (around 8:15 p.m.).

...or you could just come for the movie, which begins at 8:52 p.m. (sunset).

Want to avoid the scene altogether? Try one of these area drive-in theaters.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: Murasaki
Sample from Japan's finest sakes at this Streeterville lounge.

Off the Beaten Path: Schlegl’s Bakery and Cafe
Lincolnwood bakery serves up authentic Bavarian recipes.

Weekly Treat: Cheap Beer Night at Wise Fools Pub
Lincoln Park dive offers Schlitz for a buck on Tuesdays.

Man We're Crazy About: Istanbul Restaurant
Turkish café brings some extra spice to Boystown.

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

Free pastries Tuesday morning at Starbucks

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A free bagel's a free bagel, eh? And you can get one — or a muffin or a danish or whatever they've got — Tuesday morning at any Starbucks location.

According to a Starbucks announcement, buy a beverage at Starbucks before 10:30 a.m. and you get a free pastry. But you have to have the "invitation": Hit this Facebook page to print out the coupon, or click on this page on your mobile and simply flash it to the barista.

Oh, and to answer the "whatever they've got" uncertainty above, the store's official announcement says: "Pastries included in offer are: Muffins, Scones, Bagels, Croissants, Rolls, Breads, Pound Cakes, Morning Bun, Coffeecakes, Cheese Danish, Apple Fritter, Doughnuts, Tarts, Pies, Gluten Free Orange Valencia Cake, Tropical Paradise Bar." So go free-pastry crazy!

We couldn't cover every band at the Pitchfork Music Festival, but we did our best. Here are some thoughts on a couple of acts that weren't included in our recaps of days 1, 2 and 3 in Union Park:

In other concert news: get your red-hot Beastie Boys refunds!

The sold-out Beastie Boys show scheduled for Aug. 6 at the Congress Theater is one of several summer dates getting the ax by the band. But they have a helluva good excuse: Adam Yauch has cancer — but a very treatable kind that was caught early, according to the band's statement released today:

"Adam 'MCA' Yauch of Beastie Boys was diagnosed last week as having a cancerous tumor in his left parotid (salivary) gland. Luckily it was caught early and is localized in one area, and as such is considered very treatable. It will however require surgery and several weeks of additional treatment. Fortunately the cancer is not in a location that will affect Yauch's vocal chords. Beastie Boys have canceled all upcoming concert appearances to allow time for Yauch's surgery and recovery."

Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert has been treated for the same kind of cancer in recent years.

That means they're also off the Lollapalooza bill, Aug.7-9.

The trio's new album, "Hot Sauce Committee, Part 1," is also getting pushed back.

Here are the Boys themselves explaining the situation:

3738056778_1806b5c1d1.jpgThe Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne has a ball at the Pitchfork Music Festival; Sun-Times photo by Oscar Lopez

We're still recuperating from the long weekend of music, but here are a few highlights from Day 3:

Day 1 highlights
Day 2 highlights

Pharoahe Monch's set was a refreshing way to kick off Sunday (yes, a late start, but who can pass up brunch at Victory's Banner?). The super-talented MC brought some good energy with a soulful set featuring two backup singers, who made the hooks from Monch's last album, "Desire," come alive. Particularly resonant were "Push" and "Desire," and, of course, encore track "Simon Says" (Monch's 1999 hit). If you weren't pumped up for a day of music after his expletive-laden exhortations, well, you needed to drink more Sparks.

DJ/rupture (aka Jace Clayton) made for a good followup act, with a range of good beats from around the world. While his studied eclecticism was fun, it was the more familiar stuff that hit the hardest, especially a ridiculous remix of Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." The five-year-old in the NWA shirt next to us seemed to really dig that one.

France's M83 brought the '80s pop as advertised, but we were as interested in the sights as much as the sounds (especially since we had a tough time hearing the vocals). Morgan Kibby caught our eye with a shimmery blue outfit and what looked to be a painted-on Ninja Turtles-style eyeband.

As for the much-anticipated Flaming Lips performance -- the setup for which began early in the morning on the Aluminum stage -- all we can say is that the Oklahoma City band comes as advertised. Within the first few minutes (after a couple of false starts), we'd seen the band members arrive on stage through a pulsating, electronic birth canal; watched lead singer Wayne Coyne venture into the audience in his giant plastic ball; and received a bounty of beach balls and confetti. That was before the music really kicked in; the set (which purported to count down the included a number of obscurities (the first dedicated to Jim DeRogatis, who literally wrote the book on these guys back in the '90s) as well as more well-known songs like "She Don't Use Jelly," "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and the closer, "Do You Realize??" The band milked each for all they were worth, stopping the songs for applause only to start them right back up again. Coyne was his talkative self throughout, expounding upon everything from the band's long relationship with Chicago, to the fabulous food at Pitchfork, which he called the coolest fest "of this summer." We don't think he was just talking about the weather.

More Pitchfork wrap-ups from local media:

DeRo's blog
DeRo's fest recap
Crowd control

Greg Kot gives his Day 3 highlights, as well as a full fest recap.

Time Out Chicago offers thoughts on Blitzen Trapper, Michael Columbia, Killer Whales, Vivian Girls, DJ/rupture, Women and more.

Chicago Public Radio closed its blog coverage with a video featuring Wayne Coyne, among other things.

Windy Citizen digs into Pitchfork's food options.



Stay tuned for more lingering thoughts...

Wilco (the hometown show)

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Wilco has announced a return trip to the band's hometown — performing at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

The show comes on the heels of success (the new album, which had the most successful first week of sales in the band's history) and tragedy (the death of former member Jay Bennett).

Tickets are $39.50 for both general admission and reserved seats, and they're on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m. at ye olde Ticketmaster or by speed dialing (800) 745-3000, or at the UIC Pavilion box office.

3733309417_75104df0e9.jpgDoom does his thing at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Sun-Times photo by Oscar Lopez.

"I've made so many friends today, it's awesome!"

It wasn't too surprising to hear this exclamation from a festival-goer as he headed out of Union Park on Saturday night, following the final notes of The National's headlining set at Day 2 of the Pitchfork Music Festival. Friendliness is (mostly) the standard in Union Park, and you're never lacking for conversation starters, whether they're fashion- or music-related. We caught several people bonding under the porous cover of the trees during Yeasayer's rainy afternoon set - and only one moment of conflict, during the Black Lips' closing performance on the Balance stage. Say what you will about hipsters (and everyone does), but they sure make it easy on security.

Music-wise, Jim DeRogatis has things mostly covered in his Day 2 recap; we'll echo his thoughts on the highlights of the day: Yeasayer was sublime, offering a perfect mix of percussion and acoustic jams to get the crowd through the occasional bouts of precipitation. And Doom's set was solid, as the feathered camo suit-wearing rapper tore through a set of songs from all his alter-egos, including King Geedorah ("The Fine Print") and Viktor Vaughn ("Rhymes Like Dimes"), plus plenty of songs off the now-classic "Madvillainy" collaboration with Madlib (including "All Caps") and his later release with Danger Mouse ("Benzie Box"). After all we'd heard about his lackluster performances in the past, we were pleasantly surprised - even though we were across the field for much of it (and so weren't able to tell if he was lip-synching, as the Tribune's Greg Kot claims), waiting for Beirut to hit the stage.

We'll respectfully disagree with DeRo's comments on this one, which we felt was a success -- though it could be a bit hard for a casual fan to differentiate one horn-laden ballad from the next, Zach Condon and his bandmates (and especially the drummer, with his near-constant goofy grin) were fun to watch, offering solid versions of "Elephant Gun," "Postcards From Italy" and "Mimizan" (the set opener, off the recent charity compilation "Dark Was the Night," put together by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National). We kind of liked the ukulele, too -- though we could've done without all the French Condon spoke in between songs.

In any case, we were ready for a shot of energy after the show, so we skipped past the sizable crowds heading to see The National. Lead singer Matt Berninger's low rumble is great, but the band's often sleepy sound wasn't what we needed at that moment. The Black Lips' garage rock (with many more '60s pop and doo-wop influences than we remember from their record) turned out to be just what we needed. The show was not quite as crazy as we'd been led to believe (save for the guitar-smashing after the first song), and the sound could've been a little louder, but these guys have some seriously catchy songs ("Short Fuse," "Cold Hands") that make you want to bop around, if not crowd-surf, which a few people in front were doing. It was enough to convince you, as the band suggested mid-set, that Pitchfork may have underrated their last album with a 7.4.

We managed to make it back to the Aluminum stage for the final songs of The National's performance, which, by all accounts, was one of the strongest shows of the weekend. As we lay in the grass, serenaded by the brass horns of "Fake Empire," we reflected on an enjoyable day of sights and sounds. And as the extended encore faded out, we got up, brushed off, and went to meet some friends.

For more takes on Day 2 at Pitchfork, check out these links:

Time Out Chicago reviews Disappears, The Dutchess and The Duke and Plants & Animals.

Greg Kot's informative running diary gives some love to Yeasayer and makes Doom look bad.

Lots of good stuff on the Chicago Public Radio blog, including a caption contest, full-frontal belly possibly NSFW videos.

NewCity runs down the day, from early afternoon sets from Cymbals Eat Guitars and Antlers to evening fun from Wavves and Lindstrom.

Metromix dug Matt & Kim and the Black Lips.

Windy Citizen gives The National a good review, and examines the cost of a day at the fest.


Time Out Chicago

Venus Zine

Robert Loerzel

3731423840_f0eb438aa3.jpgThe Jesus Lizard's David Yow gets crazy at Pitchfork. Photo: Oscar Lopez, for the Sun-Times

Four bands down, 36 to go. The first night of Pitchfork Music Festival 2009 saw cool weather and even a bit of rain, but that didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the hundreds who stood in the long will-call line to gain entrance. In fact, lines were a theme of this night -- just ask anyone who tried to get a beer.

As for the music? It's pretty clear that hometown rockers The Jesus Lizard took the title of most exciting act last night -- not that there was much competition, says Jim DeRogatis in his Day 1 recap. We'll defer to the master on Tortoise (boring) and agree that Yo La Tengo was good if predictable. Despite much anticipation, Built to Spill's set never really gelled for us - the band tended to stick to its longer, jammier tunes ("Conventional Wisdom," "Kicked It In The Sun") which, while technically impressive, failed to keep the energy levels very high. The biggest cheers in our general area came for the poppier selections -- "Big Dipper," "Carry the Zero," "You Were Right" -- but those were few and far between. Maybe we're just bitter that our "Write the Night" choices were clearly ignored, but there was definitely something missing from this set. In any case, it was fun to see lead singer Doug Martsch's constant, Muppet-esque head-bobbing. The guy really has a unique delivery.

But don't just listen to us - here's what other folks had to say about Day 1 of Pitchfork:

Time Out Chicago can't believe that Built to Spill didn't play "Car."

Culture Bully says BTS saved its set with the last song - but couldn't live up to the energy of David Yow and co..

Greg Kot gives props to The Jesus Lizard.

Chicago Public Radio one-upped Ira Glass.

Windy Citizen boards the Jesus Lizard bandwagon and gives an update on its Hipster Bingo (too easy, say the crowds).

NewCity talks about David Yow's off-color jokes.

Venus Zine says it was a great night for an "Autumn Sweater."

Metromix says the guys in Tortoise seemed like they would've preferred a night in the studio.

Paste discusses how "Write the Night" was just a passing phrase.



Time Out Chicago

Venus Zine

Robert Loerzel


If you can't make it to the Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend, but you still want to know the news from the summer's biggest independent music event, you're in luck. We'll be linking to some of the best local coverage of the fest (as well as contributing some of our own) throughout the weekend, so come on back.

To get us started, here are a few links to check out:

Official Pitchfork Music Festival webcast

Official Pitchfork guide

Centerstage's music festival survival guide

Where to eat near Union Park

Schedule picks, hour by hour

And of course, check out the festival preview from our own Jim DeRogatis, who'll be reporting from the fest through Sunday.

Know of a blog or Twitter feed that'll be covering the fest? Let everyone know about it in the comments.

3 Things We Love About ... Saturday

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Summer “camp”
Book passage on Hell in a Handbag’s latest campy parody, the very funny “Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical.” The show has been extended through Aug. 16, and you can catch it at 8 tonight at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division; $25. Details: Swim, Shelley, Swim!

Our condo is too small for a balcony to grill on. Thankfully, we can still get our barbecue fix at Smoke Daddy, 1804 W. Division. A slab of ribs (more than enough for two to share) will set you back $19.25 and comes with two sides (we’re partial to beans and slaw). Grab a bite and stay for the tunes by the Brandon Harvey Band, playing from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. (773) 772-6656.

Sunday is National Daiquiri Day (who knew, right?). Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron, gets a jump on things with “Daiquiri Eve.” Master mixologist Adam Seger serves up $10 frozen daiquiri creations from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. (312) 664-2727.

Tell us your three favorite things about Saturday!

You already know you can't believe everything you read (except on here, of course). Now, you can't believe everything you see -- at least not if you happen to be looking through one of the five kaleidoscopes set up outside the Chicago River Museum (376 N. Michigan) today.

The Friends of the River have partnered with the Consulate General of Switzerland to give Chicagoans a view of what the Chicago River could look like in a cleaner, more swimmable future (each of the five steel, Swiss Cross- shaped kaleidoscopes -- free to use -- will feature superimposed swimming structures and other images). What do the Swiss have to do with it? They cleaned up their rivers through a variety of environmental policies (sometimes it pays not to be neutral).

So feel free to dream today of a summer day spent splashing around in the river -- just don't get carried away, because we're not there yet.

Pitchfork fest sells out, adds more tickets

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This weekend's Pitchfork Music Festival is sold out!

But you can still get tickets. Maybe. If you hurry, Like, now.

The fest just released 300 tickets for each day of the event — Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (It's a big park, so what's 300 more people?) Get ’em here.

Built-To-Spill_SCU8dbyhdXIx_full.jpgBuilt to Spill headlines Pitchfork on Friday night.

Pitchfork Music Festival
Friday-Sunday at Union Park; $35/day
If you don't know about the country's most consistently interesting fest (yeah, we said it), get learnin'. This year's lineup features a who's who of indie music, from Built to Spill and Yo La Tengo on Friday (doing request-driven sets, no less) to The National, The Black Lips and Lindstrom on Saturday, to Grizzly Bear and The Flaming Lips on Sunday. Add to that a ton of cool vendors and, for once, mild weather, and you've got a recipe for an amazing musical weekend. Check out Centerstage's schedule picks and plan where to eat around the park.


What's worse than being stuck in a hospital bed all day, every day? Being stuck in a hospital bed with nothing to watch on TV. You can do a little something to change that by dining at David Burke's Primehouse on Monday, aka National Lollipop Day.

A portion of the proceeds from every "Lollipop Tree" dessert (cheesecake lollipops with raspberry cream) sold that day will go to the Lollipop Theater Network, which helps raise funds to bring movies currently in cinemas to children confined in hospitals due to chronic and life-threatening illnesses. If even one child is saved from having to watch "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" for the 40th time, this will have been a rousing success.

As part of its ongoing 25th-anniversary celebration, Dugan's hosts a free Irish cheese tasting tonight from 6-8 p.m. You'll forget all about the traditional wine/cheese pairing when you sip some complimentary Jameson whiskey.

Dugan's celebration concludes on Sunday, July 25 with a “Pup Crawl” from 2-5 p.m. Bring your dog to compete for awards in categories including Cutest Pup, Most Irish Pup, Best Talent and Most Unusual Name. Hot dogs will be provided courtesy of America's Dog.


...and that's just the start of it. Wednesday night's Gateway Green poker event at Galleria Marchetti will feature a number of minor Chicago celebrities, including Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and Kathy Hart of 101.9 FM's "Eric and Kathy" fame. While the opportunity to show a former Bull who's boss should be incentive enough, here's something else: the grand-prize winner of the charity event gets a spot in the 2010 World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas.

Sign up as a player ($150) or a spectator ($25), and be sure to arrive by 5:30 p.m. for registration. The tournament beings at 6:30, and there will be other games (roulette, craps, blackjack) plus food, cocktails and more. If you can't pony up the cash, you can at least head to the official after-party at the Bull & Bear.

1978793561_5057fc7eef.jpgThis will seem more acceptable after a few Rin Tin Tinis.

Normally we don't support those who would dress up their dogs in fancy clothes. But we'll make an exception for tomorrow night's doggy fashion show at Top Dog Productions (1551 N. Kingsbury), if only because our own Bill Zwecker is emceeing the event. That, and the fact that the free party includes complimentary drinks (including "Rin Tin Tini" cocktails) and hors d'oeuvres (including human-friendly dog biscuits and "Dog Pound Cake," whatever that is). Yup, we're pretty easy to please.

The event promotes the launch of new dog fashion line, BARQUE, which will be available online and at Pawsh Puppies (2120 N. Halsted). To RSVP, call (312) 266-6683.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just opened: The Shrine
South Loop club-lounge offers something for everybody.

Off the Beaten Path: Apart Pizza Co.
Crisp pizzas fresh from the oven in Lincoln Square.

Weekly Treat: Wine Night at La Vita
Wine bottles at this Little Italy spot are half price on Monday and Tuesday.

Man We're Crazy About: El Mariachi
Tasty Mexican and a huge back patio in Lakeview.

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

We love when a restaurant lives up to its name -- especially when that means cheap food and drink for us. Starting today, N9ne Steakhouse is offering some ridiculous deals for its Bevs & Bites promotion. The $9 bites available at the main bar are intriguing -- especially the steak sliders with horseradish cream sauce and the jumbo sea scallops with lobster risotto -- but the 99-cent bevs really get us excited.

Every night, the bar will offer one alcoholic beverage for just 99 cents. And they aren't skimping. Tonight's drink, for example, is single-malt scotch. Later in the month, you'll be able to get everything from absinthe to margaritas. In honor of such an awesome deal, we might just start spelling the "nine" as "N9ne." We'll get back to you after our first few sips of scotch. The full list of Bevs and Bites promotions is after the jump.


A list just three items long can't give a complete picture of a place -- but it can be a good start. Each Monday, we list some of our favorite things, from neighborhoods to museums and much more.

Visiting the Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago, which has more than 1,140 artifacts including traditional folk arts, agricultural tools, artwork, musical instruments and trophies. Then there are the decorated Easter egg collection; military exhibit and library with more than 20,000 titles in English and Ukrainian languages. The museum is at 2249 W. Superior. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday (closed Monday-Wednesday). Admission: $5 for adults; free for kids 12 and under. Call (312) 421-8020;

Biting into homemade Ukrainian and Polish delicatessen cuisine at the many delis found throughout the leafy neighborhood. Pierogi, potato pancakes and breaded pork cutlets are staples as well as deli meats. Kasia's Polish Deli, 2101 W. Chicago, has it all, plus foods from other countries such as China and Italy. Call (773) 486-6163.

Checking out the neighborhood's popular nightclubs. Rock, pop, punk, jazz and indie live music are always on tap at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western. The small, intimate club presents local emerging bands. Call (773) 276-3600;


Tell us your three favorite things about Ukrainian Village.

Want to see "Food, Inc.," the new documentary about America's food supply? Believe it or not, one of the country's most popular fast-fooderies wants you to see it, too -- for free. Chipotle Mexican Grill -- whose motto is "Food With Integrity" -- is sponsoring two free screenings of the expose this week.

Head to the Landmark Renaissance Place (1850 2nd Street, Highland Park) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. or the Landmark Century Centre (2828 N. Clark, Chicago) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. to grab a seat. it's first come, first served, so make sure to arrive early. And judging from the film's subject matter, you might want to skip the trip to the concession stand.

Where the boys are Part I
Chicago Sport and Social Club celebrates 20 years with its Volleywood Beach Bash from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at North Beach, 1600 N. Lake Shore. Teams will be competing (make new friends and cheer on your favorites). Live music kicks off at noon, and MC Hammer will perform at some point. The 21-and-over party is free. More info:


Where the boys are Part II
Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party (Madison and Desplaines). The annual event is a bona fide “meet” market. Which is a good thing, because our dance card still isn’t full. Ben Folds rocks the mainstage at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $40 (includes five drink tickets good for beer, wine soda or water). Ages 21 and over. Call (312) 648-1590 or visit

Where the boys are Part III
Offer to share both your blanket and your picnic for two at the Grant Park Music Festival in Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph). Christopher Bell conducts the Grant Park Orchestra in selections from Gilbert and Sullivan at 7:30 p.m. Free. Call (312) 742-7638.

Tell us your three favorite things about being single in the city!


Bump, set...break it down?

Chicago Sport and Social Club celebrates 20 years of nurturing your nasty competitive streak with Saturday's Volleywood Beach Bash on North Avenue Beach. The main event? A live performance from the legendary MC Hammer, who'll be bringing his backup dancers for a throwback show featuring all his classic hits. DJs Matt Roan and Whiteshadow also spin, and there will be a volleyball tournament and other interactive games for those who are too legit to quit playing. If you just want to relax, food and beverages will be available -- it's the only day of the year you can drink on the beach!

The party (noon-7 p.m.) is free, but you must reserve a ticket , which is good for you and one guest. Don't forget your Hammer pants...


Chicago Folk & Roots Festival
Saturday-Sunday at Welles Park; $8
The Old Town School of Folk Music's eclectic annual fest may fly a bit under the radar of many Chicagoans, but to know it is to love it (especially if you've got kids in tow). Don't be fooled by the name, as you'll find a whole lot more than just folk music here; this year's eclectic lineup includes throwback soul (Austin's Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears), Mediterranean electro (France's Watcha Clan) and what we'll describe as Indian-inspired club sounds (Karsh Kale, from New York).

So you think you can...mix drinks? SushiSamba Rio wants you to prove it.

The River North restaurant will hold a cocktail competition on Wednesday, July 22 from 1-3 p.m. Twenty contestants will have 15 minutes to come up with the perfect drink using up to 10 provided ingredients (plus one Leblon product). The five top finishers will then have to make another drink using another set of ingredients, including one secret ingredient.

The mixologist whom the judges deem as the winner will receive a $500 gift certificate to SushiSamba, a Leblon gift basket, a spot on the restaurant's drink menu for the month of August and more. If you think you've got what it takes, call the restaurant at (312) 595-2300 to reserve a spot.


Lovers of beer and biking should head to Palmer Square Park (Palmer and Kedzie) on Saturday for a taste of both, as New Belgium Brewing Company's annual Tour de Fat kicks off with a stop in Chicago. There'll be a bike parade, lots of music (from Mucca Pazza and Sean Hayes) special performances (from the Squirm Bumpee Circus, The Daredevil Chicken Club and The Sprockettes, Portland's original mini-bike dance troupe) and a whole lotta brews including the flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale. You'll also get to watch one lucky person (the winner of an online contest) give away his or her car to charity in exchange for a brand-new commuter bike.

The free event runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; bikers, obviously, are welcome.

Ever since the Hideout's free Soup and Bread event ended, our Wednesday nights have felt empty (as have our stomachs). So it was with great enthusiasm that we learned of the organizers' latest venture: Veggie Bingo.

Every Wednesday night through September 9, you'll be able to enjoy fresh veggies from local gardens as well as free hot dogs and tofu pups. The bingo (featuring a different celebrity caller each week) will run from 6:30-7:30 p.m., and cards cost $1 each or $5 for six. Prizes for the winners include jars of locally produced honey, bottles of hot sauce, handmade soap and a box of fresh produce from Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks. All proceeds benefit NeighborSpace, a nonprofit organization that acquires and preserves community open space in the city.

The fun starts at 6 p.m. tonight, with local country singer Lawrence Peters doing the honors.

In terms of bang for the buck, the Wicker Park Fest is typically one of the best events of the summer, as it offers the chance to see quality indie acts for just a $5 donation. This year's fest is no different, with the lineup including Grand Duchy, Mickey Factz, The Smoking Popes, Junior Boys and more.

But wait, there's even better news. Unpredictable R&B/pop star Jamie Lidell (who's performed at both Pitchfork Music Festival and Lollapalooza in recent years) wants the party to keep going long after the 10 p.m. closing time. On Saturday, July 25, he's throwing an after-party with like-minded group Tortured Soul at the Congress Theater. Tickets to the 17+ show are on sale now for $20, but we've got two to give away for free. Click here for details on how you can win (the contest runs 'til 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15).

3 Things We Love About ... the 4th of July!

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1. Life!
As in “get an active one.” There are miles of lakefront perfect for walking, blading or biking.

Of course, if you’re at the beach-slash-lakefront this weekend, you’ll be people watching. You can’t help it. Your attention will wander and then ... hey ... look at that guy!
So make a game of it ...

bingo1 image.jpg

Click to download all four of our Beach Bingo cards ...

bingo1.pdf bingo2.pdf bingo3.pdf bingo4.pdf

As you spot something in each square, mark it off. First one to make bingo wins — er, another hot dog?

2. Liberty!
As in Lady Liberty. She always said she wanted your tired, your hungry and your poor. While we aren’t sure about the tired part, the $9 Lady of Liberty salad (Bordeaux baby spinach, diced grapefruit,avocados, chopped garlic, strawberries, extra virgin olive oil and a splash of apple cider vinegar) at Martini Park (151 W Erie; 312-644-0577) will take care of the hunger and certainly won’t make you poor.


3. And the pursuit of happiness!
Which, for us, means fireworks. Like watching the ball drop in New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve, watching Fourth of July Fireworks at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand; 312-595-7437) is one of those things you have to do at least once in your life. Make it this year. Things kick off at 9 p.m. Saturday, but you’ll want to get there early.

6-27 cruze navypier firewor.jpg
All together now: Oooooooooh! Aaaaaaaahhh!

Tell us your favorite three things about the 4th!

Why haven't you gone to see the dentist? Is it fear? Is it the cost? Do you not have the time?

No, this isn't an advertisement for a new dentist referral service. But it is a friendly reminder that you need to take care of your teeth. And that goes double for those who perform on stage. There's nothing worse than biting the head off a bat, only to have your dentures get stuck in the fur.

But many musicians don't get adequate dental care for the same reason they don't see doctors regularly -- lack of insurance. That's why MusiCares, the social service outreach arm of The Recording Academy (the people behind the Grammys) will be offering free dental services to low-income Chicago-area musicians and music professionals on Thursday, July 9 at the Chicago Federation of Musicians (565 W. Randolph). Services will include a dental exam, teeth cleaning and two bite-wing x-rays. There's no word on whether "grill" polishing is part of the deal.

Apply/register for an appointment by calling (877) 303-6962.

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

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