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My Significant Other is quitting smoking today, but that isn’t what this post is about. I bring it up because when you write a blog the criteria for which no one has ever fully articulated, you can pretty much say what you want.

Everyone thinks I should be excited that SO is quitting. Granted, there is an element of excitement to living with someone who might at any moment make a passive-aggressive comment about where you put the mail. Still, if I craved that brand of excitement, I’d date me. Instead I chose someone who self-soothes with toxic chemicals and now she’s gone and changed.

I won’t dwell, though. It’s like my sainted grandmother always said, why complain about your SO quitting smoking when you could interview the owner of an ice cream truck made for dogs?

Grandma knows best. And so does Donna Santucci, at least when it comes to gluten-free dog treats. The founding owner of Fido to Go, Santucci provides Chicago’s canines with cookies and doggie ice cream. Santucci, a seasoned dog and cat groomer donates ten percent of sales from one of the dog-friendly treats to a designated charity. This July, funds go to the U.S. Soldiers to bring their pups home from overseas and in August sales will benefit the Chicago k-9 unit. Our Town spoke with Santucci about her business’ birth and future.

Our Town How did you develop your recipes?
Donna Santucci I wanted to feed my own dog, Maddie treats that were wholesome, gluten-free, and without any additives and sugars [so] I began developing a slew of recipes that fit the bill. Soon, I was supplying treats and baking doggie cakes for the pets of family and friends.

OT What inspired you to open Fido To Go?
 DS With demand growing for my great-tasting At first I thought of opening a store which could combine my grooming business and collection of gluten and allergen-free dog treats and cakes, but one day, as I watched an ice cream truck stop at the beach and the kids lining up to get a treat, the idea for a mobile doggie treat food truck was born. I wanted to bring something fun and unique to the dog community. Why not give back to the one’s we love and bring us so much joy?

OT What would you say to someone unwilling to pay a higher price for a more nutritional dog treat?
 DS The old saying is true, “you get what you pay for.” These furballs are part of our family and nobody wants to see someone we love suffer from allergies, fatigue, tummy upset and ear infections. In the long run, it may be better for everyone’s pocket book to feed our pups high quality, healthy and nutritious pet food and treats. The more expensive route? Back and forth to the veterinarian’s office.

OT What’s your best selling treat?
 DS Dogs are similar to humans, they all like different flavors so, it depends what your dog likes.

OT Any advice for someone looking to open a small business?
 DS Follow your passion and be educated in the business you plan to open. If you are solely in it for the money, you’re at high-risk to fail.

OT What are some future goals?
 DS Growing Fido To Go, whether it’s franchising or purchasing more trucks and opening a store. It’s too early to tell what our future holds. Maybe next season we will all find out.

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My dog is a fan. Photo by Patty Michels.

Follow Fido to Go on Facebook.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following facebook.com/OurTownBlog.ChicagoSunTimes and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez
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Life's Ruff

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All photos by Sheri Berliner

Animal trainer Chris Dignan has one mission: to raise awareness about the plight of homeless dogs. A former dolphin trainer at the Shedd Aquarium, Dignan is now the President and Director of Training for The Dog Saving Network (DSN), an organization which highlights the benefits of positive reinforcement training. Our Town spoke with Dignan about training tips, his dog talent show, Life’s Ruff, and all things canine.

Our Town What drew you to animal training?
Chris Dignan You will have to ask my mom! As far back as I can remember I have been interested in animals; dinosaurs, whales and dolphins peaked my interest. There isn't a huge demand for dino trainers these days so whales and dolphins it was!

OT Describe your methods.
CD I'm a positive reinforcement trainer. I reward behavior that I like so the dog does it again or train a dog to do what I need him to. Like most trainers, I break a complex behavior into a series of smaller steps and systematically work towards the finished behavior. By using these small steps or approximations, you can teach a dog to do whatever it is physically capable of and it stays fun for the dog throughout!

OT What inspired Life’s Ruff?
CD We had a dog show [at the Shedd Aquarium] for a while about training pets using the same techniques that are used to train marine mammals. Tons of people would come up and ask if they could adopt one of the dogs in the show. The plan was to adopt out the dogs after the show was over so I had to tell people "not now" or "check back in a few months.” I never liked that answer so I started thinking of ways that shows could be used to raise awareness for homeless animals while highlighting the importance of training [but also] as adoption events. I want people to understand that anyone can train their dogs as long as they are committed to the process. Life's Ruff is the first of many new and different shows we hope to produce that can be used to super-charge adoptions while inspiring people to train.

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OT You hope to use your Dog Saving Network to change the way the country views shelter and rescue dogs and looks to provide an easy to follow alternative to some of the more popular, aversive training methods in use today. Can you expand on this a bit?
CD I hope to show people what homeless dogs CAN do, when given the chance, instead of focusing on their challenges. There are so many dogs that need homes right now and we, as a country, need to shift our mindset towards making adoption the first choice when looking for a dog. One of the hardest things for me to see is a dog misbehaving and an owner using the excuse of "he's a rescue" or "he's a shelter dog.” Yes, dogs that come from the shelter or rescue system can have behavioral problems but that can be true of any dog, regardless of their previous living arrangements. I want people to be proud of their adopted animals and understand that being a good dog owner requires work, not excuses. Every dog that comes from a shelter or rescue has a chance to become a messenger for all shelter and rescued animals. It's up to the owners to make that happen.

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The members of Chicago improv group, K.C. Redheart are masochists. There’s no other explanation for the press release I just received. Beginning August 26th at five p.m. they will improvise for thirty straight hours, and we’re all invited to watch. Throughout the marathon performance, the group will interact with tons of other Chicago improv groups and performers, creating kid-friendly shows during the day, and adult comedy at night. Our Town spoke with KC Redheart member Karissa Bruin about the impending event.

Our Town How did you come up with the idea for the Improv marathon?
Karissa Bruin Bill Stern, generally regarded as KC Redheart’s team captain, had done similar stunts with his improv groups back in Austin, TX and wanted to bring [the practice] to Chicago. We're a group of people that are game for anything, no matter how crazy. The marathon is a great and idiotic feat to pull off especially in the name of charity.

OT Right, proceeds benefit Namaste Charter School.
KB Namaste is a public charter school that has a focus on integrating wellness and health with academics. As a group, we're a pretty fit and athletic team. Margaret rows and cycles, Bill plays tennis, Nick plays soccer and George lifts and hits the gym regularly. We all have an athletic streak, so that's definitely the appealing thing about Namaste: it's not just brains, it's brains and brawn.

OT Which brings us neatly back to the marathon. How does one prepare for such a taxing event? Is there carb loading?
KB Mostly we just hoard energy drinks and protein bars. A lot of us will come to the marathon straight from work on Friday, so it ends up being quite the adventure. We also lean a lot on our loved ones and friends. Husbands, wives, girlfriends - those are the people that truly suffer. I sent many text messages last year to my fiancé "Um, could you pick up a ...." because when you're improvising and making up comedy for that many hours in a row, you get weird cravings. I guess it's like being pregnant. But with ideas and a desire to sleep.

OT How does one wind down?
KB Last year, we ended at midnight on a Saturday. I remember we were out in the parking lot and Dave was like, "Hey, we should go get a drink to celebrate," then immediately he said, "We can celebrate later." I think we all felt pretty zombified. I think I slept all day on Sunday.

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2010 Metamorphosis Party

Homeless to gainfully employed--could there be a more positive metamorphosis? Probably not. That's why The Lincoln Park Community Shelter, a comprehensive social service agency is working to help homeless adult men and women obtain housing and gain self-sufficiency. To that end, the organization is throwing a Metamorphosis Party to both showcase the presentation of the Compassion in Action Award and benefit the LPCS in its quest to create hope and change for Chicago’s homeless.

Our Town spoke with Heather Pressman, the organization’s Community Relations Manager about their success rate, twenty-six year history and of course, the upcoming gala.

Our Town To what do you attribute LPCS’s success rate with members?
Heather Pressman The programs at LPCS are highly individualized, the staff flexible and responsive to guests’ needs. There are several different ways guests can suggest improvements, which helps them invest in the programs they are participating in. Our goal isn’t just to get people housed, [but] to make lasting life changes so that they don’t find themselves homeless again. We also try to stay connected to graduates to ensure things continue to go well and help if needed.

OT What makes LPCS’s individualized support system unique?
HP Guests living in the LPCS work with case managers to assess their needs for referrals to additional support services and permanent housing. Guided by each guest’s personal goals, case managers work to provide resources in three broad areas: Track 1: Addictions Recovery; Track 2: Mental and Physical Health; and Track 3: Employment and Education. The program both empowers and challenges guests to address barriers to self-sufficiency by making progress toward meaningful sobriety, mental stability, healthy lifestyles, livable wage employment and permanent housing. The program also offers daily educational and support groups, classes, and activities, including career building, job search, healthy lifestyles, financial management, computer tutoring, and daily living skills enhancement. Each track has measurable outcomes, and includes assessment, goal setting, referrals, educational groups and classes, advocacy, and follow-up for each guest.


OT This year’s Compassion in Action Award honorees are Pastor Jeffrey Doane from Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church; Reverend Linda Packard from Church of Our Saviour; Father Tom Hickey from St. Clement Church; and Reverend Thomas Henry from St. Pauls United Church of Christ. How were they chosen?
HP The Compassion in Action Award acknowledges that individuals who make long-term commitments to an organization's mission are the people who make both stability and change possible. The recipient of the Compassion in Action Award will always be an individual (or individuals) who inspires the community to action, and one who mirrors the community's compassion, over the long term.

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Christine Bunuan

If Gilbert Godfrey taught me anything (other than that there’s a comedian more annoying than Carrot Top) it’s not to joke about Japan. But as a group of Chicago performers are proving, singing for Japan is not only acceptable, it’s laudable. When Catalyst Ranch HR Manager and Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate, Danny Bernardo heard about the tragic earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan, he knew he had to find a way to help.

Says Bernardo, “I was saddened and terrified, distressed [by] the fact that support for disaster relief efforts in Japan are significantly lower than that of recent tragedies like the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina. So after days of gloomy discussion, I was inspired last Monday morning to put this fundraiser together.”

With the instant support of Catalyst Ranch owner, Eva Niewiadomski, “the whole team hit the ground running.” Bernardo wanted to recruit “top-notch talent,” but expected a challenge given his timeframe. However, says Bernardo, “every actor I called pretty much said yes on the spot, busy schedules and all. Within twenty-four hours, we had a cast, a catering sponsor, Big Delicious Planet, and the first acquisitions for a silent auction.” Since then, the event has gained support from sponsors such as Crown Imports, ChicagoPride.com, and Jackie Rada, of the band Modern Conversation.

Dubbed “Harmony. Hope. Humanity,” the cabaret-style event will benefit The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s efforts to support Japan. Co-emcee and musical performer Keith Uchima says that as part of a “very talented community of Asian American artists who search and hope for meaningful work,” he was happy to take part in the benefit. Erik Kaiko, recently seen in Bailiwick’s "Departure Lounge," adds, “the entire theatre community in Chicago, Asian and otherwise, has an incredible amount of initiative and passion. It really feels like a small town, where everybody looks out for one another and supports each other’s work and ambitions.” Kaiko will sing "Anytime (I Am There)" by William Finn while Uchima plans to perform his original song "Tomorrow Must Be Kind.” The song he says, though personal, will be dedicated to “the heroic efforts of those men working to cool nuclear power plants.”

Also participating in the fundraiser are Joseph Anthony Foronda (part of the second national tour of "Miss Saigon") and Christine Bunuan who toured with the first national production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." Bunuan says she was drawn to the event because her “skills are mostly in performing. I really wanted to do work that will not only inspire our community but also reach out to the world.” Bunuan will perform several selections including "Human Heart," from “Once On This Island.” Says Bunuan, “this song is perfect for this event. We come in all different colors, shapes and sizes and have lived all types of experiences but at the end of the day, "we are part of the human heart."

“Harmony. Hope. Humanity.” Will be held at Catalyst Ranch on March 27. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a reception, followed by performances at 6 p.m. There is a $25 suggested donation. Go here for more information or to donate.

A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually. IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by followingOur Town on Facebook and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

Words That Kill

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I’m a fan of combining the contrasting: Cottage cheese and French dressing, unexpected, yet delicious; plaid and floral-print, if they share a palette, why not? Sarah Palin and erudite discourse … well, some things just don’t mix. Others, however, beg to unite. For example, comedy and poetry, a union masterminded by Fyodor Sakhnovski and Mojdeh Stoakley (pictured), the brains behind Words That Kill, a monthly poetry/comedy/performance mash-up. The event is just one of the many exhibitions produced by Sakhnovski and Stoakley’s collective/company, Lethal Poetry. With WTK’s third season launch party set for Thursday, Jan 20th, Sakhnovski spoke to Our Town about his event’s aim and inception.

Our Town What inspired you to combine comedy and poetry?
Fyodor Sakhnovski Bringing more than one creative community together always seems to enhance and excite the experience. Comedians and poets live in separate worlds, and people who may be really into comedy might not even experience [Chicago’s] rich poetry community. Many may have prejudice against the other form of expression, so it's a chance to expose artists to one another.

OT Any memorable past performances?
FS Comedian Scott Derenger performed with us several times, but during the first was blown away by performance poetry, so much so that he forgot his own set. It was really funny and kinda precious. I guess he hadn't been to a performance poetry show before, and thought he was booked to perform at some boring monotone reading. We were also one of the last stages where the late Kent Foreman performed after a long hiatus from the Chicago scene.

OT Why make Words That Kill an all ages event?
FS Historically Chicago is a 21+ city. There are a lot of talented youth who need a place to express themselves and learn, but the best is when some 17 year old can teach a 50-year-old how it's done! Age doesn't define talent - but if you nurture it when it's beginning it will only get better.

OT Tell us about your new space.
FS creative lounge CHICAGO is a particularly beautiful gallery. We’re most excited [that] it's in the heart of Wicker Park, a neighborhood which has an history of nurturing the spoken word community.

OT What can we expect from your next shows?
FS This month is a rapid fire retrospective of several of the best performers from our previous seasons, [including] Marty McConnell, HBO Def Poet, Emily Lake and others. Then we'll dive into our main showcase section with our "super feature" Amy David, who has represented Green Mill in 3 National Poetry Slams! Also, Keith Ecker, co-host of Essay Fiesta - another charitable literary event. There will be refreshments for the guests, free wine (for those 21+), and DJ Limbs will be spinning all night! In February [look forward to] poets and comedians lamenting strange, or entangled relationships! This is not a Valentine's love celebration.

Catch Words that Kill Thursday, Jan 20th and every third Thursday of the month at creative lounge CHICAGO. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 or free with canned goods donation.


A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

It wasn't too long ago that the professional kitchen was largely the domain of the male chef, with just a few exceptions. But female chefs have been making their talents felt of late, with tons of award-winning toques among their ranks. The 14th annual Girl Food Dinner at West Town Tavern, May 16, celebrates those accomplishments while benefiting a worthy cause: The Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Some of the Chicago area's top female chefs, will participate, including:


  • Karen Armijo, Gary Comer Youth Center (crispy oyster BLT)

  • Nadia Tilkian, Maijean (poached halibut in pho broth with rice noodles)

  • Jackie Shen, Red Light (pomegranate-plum glazed duck salad)

  • Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat (crisp smoked goat ravioli with green garlic jus)

  • Susan Goss, West Town Tavern (braised wagyu beef short rib with morels, black pepper grits, truffle and pickled lemon)

  • Jessie Oloroso, Black Dog Gelato (olive oil gelato sundae with caramelized almonds and sea salt)

Purchase tickets ($150) here.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman is still working on finding the recipe for success in his day job -- but this weekend's TrueFlavors Celebrity Cook-Off will require more immediate achievement.

The annual event, which takes place from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at the Chopping Block in the Merchandise Mart, gives teams 35 minutes to prepare a three-course meal using secret ingredients revealed just before the contest. Other "celebrity" participants include Casey Thompson and Dale Levitski from Top Chef and Food Network personality, Sunny Anderson. Want to be there to witness the action (and maybe even get in on it via live auction)? You can buy a $150 ticket here. Proceeds benefit TrueChild.

Soup and bread. A simple concept, but who knew it would be so popular? The weekly fundraising event has had a great run at the Hideout, but it looks like tonight's installment will be its last.

As if that weren't enough reason to check it out, here's another: Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's will be one of several soup chefsa special guest tonight. There will also be pie to close things out on a sweet note. The food is free as always, though a donation hat will be passed, this time to benefit Ravenswood Community Services. 5:30-8 p.m.

Cubs home opener. Conan's return to TV. Oprah kerfuffle. Yep, it's just another manic Monday 'round these parts.

Manic could also describe the frenzied work of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago over the past 25 years, as it's fought the good fight against a debilitating disease. You can help toast the Foundation's work at Not Just Song and Dance, its exclusive spring gala, which returns after a four-year hiatus on May 1 at the Hilton Chicago. For $500, you'll enjoy drinks, a four-course dinner, dancing and a special performance by '80s pop stars The Bangles. Find all the details and register at aidschicago.org.


When you went out to eat today -- whether it was a quick trip to Subway or a power lunch at Bull & Bear -- you were likely given a precious gift for free, and didn't even realize your good fortune.

We're talking about clean, refreshing water, of course. According to UNICEF, nearly 900 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and 4,100 children die of water-related diseases every day. The organization's annual Tap Project is an effort to raise awareness and funding to fight such problems, coinciding with World Water Week (March 21-27). As in previous years, Chicago businesses are getting in on the act with special events and promotions. We'll add to this list as we hear about more.

  • Sunda.The River North restaurant will co-host a four-course family-style dinner on Friday, March 19 at 7 p.m. The $100 event in the upstairs private dining room will include Grey Goose cocktails, sake, wine and champagne, as well as an afterparty at the Underground.
  • Oakton Community College. The "Tap to the Rhythm" event features musical numbers from students and local residents at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 25. Tickets are $5 in advance (847-635-1900) or $7 at the door.
  • InterContinental Chicago. Throughout March, the hotel will ask guests to donate $1 or more for water they usually enjoy for free -- as will many restaurants around town.

March 17 will be a big day for beer-drinkers in the Chicago area, and not just because of St. Patrick's Day.

Next Wednesday is also when Munster, Indiana's Three Floyds Brewery will reportedly begin offering the "golden tickets" needed to purchase bottles of Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout at the annual Dark Lord Day celebration on April 24. The tickets, which sold out quickly last year, will cost $10 each, with the proceeds going to charity. Stay tuned to Three Floyds' Twitter feed to find out exactly when tickets will be released. Hopefully it will happen before you've had too many green beers.

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The War Eagles were racing for the troops on Saturday. (photo: Meredith Gregory, NBCChicago)

If you were out in the Wicker Park area on Saturday, you may have seen some, um, interesting things. Those people dressed in weird costumes pushing a shopping cart and chugging beers? They were participating in the fifth annual Chiditarod, a charity race full of ridiculousness (at least, we hope they were). This year's event was again a huge success. For more photos like the above, visit nbcchicago.com.

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Toast to Harry Caray
7:40 p.m. at Harry Caray's Tavern (Navy Pier); free
What better place to toast to the late Cubs announcer (he would've been 96 today) than at the latest addition to his bar/restaurant empire? Join his widow, Dutchie, plus Chicago celebrities like Ernie Banks, Bobby Hull, Ron Kittle, Rick Nielson, Bill Kurtis, Richard Roeper, Joe Piscopo and more for a special toast to a special man. It's just one of many events happening at the new location today, which celebrates its grand opening with a full schedule including a Mascot Toast, the unveiling of the Chicago Sports Museum and raffles and giveaways every half hour. WGN Radio will broadcast live from 4-9 p.m.

Common Threads World Festival
6-9 p.m. at Soldier Field; $250
Celebrate Art Smith's 50th birthday with the celebrity chef and dozens of his culinary superfriends at this annual charity event. Expect a wide array of food samples from the likes of Graham Elliot Bowles (Graham Elliot), Jimmy Bannos Sr. (Heaven on Seven, The Purple Pig), David Burke and Rick Gresh (David Burke's Primehouse), Christophe David (NoMI), Gale Gand (TRU), Stephanie Izard (The Girl & The Goat), Koren Grieveson (Avec) and more. The event benefits Smith's Common Threads foundation, which introduces low-income children to the world of cooking. A $500 VIP ticket gets you access to exclusive pre- and post-parties.


Jimmy Burns

9:30 p.m. at Buddy Guy's Legends; $10
The longtime host of The Jam is dealing with some sadness, as his wife, Dorothy, just passed away. That's just one more reason to go and support the Delmark stalwart who took a two-decade hiatus from his career to raise his family. He mounted a comeback in the late '90s with Leaving Here Walking, which won accolades for its explosive John Lee Hooker tightness and the Sunday-mass soul retained from his choirboy youth.

3 Things To Do Today

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conchajareno.jpgConcha Jareno will sweep you off your feet.(photo: Paco Sanchez, DeFlamenco.com)


Chicago Flamenco Festival 2010

7:30 p.m. at Instituto Cervantes Chicago; $20
Award-winning dancer Concha Jareno returns for a second night of "Simplemente Flamenco," accompanied by Flavio Rodrigues on guitar, Diego Villegas on wind instruments and the voice of Pedro Jesus Obregon Uceda.

Adore
8 p.m. at Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre; $20
All hail Mama 'wolf! Chicago's most famous theater company is also its most nurturing, giving promising start-ups great facilities, expert guidance and major press. Starting this month, the 'wolf Garage space will be hosting three plays by itinerant troupes, including XIII Pocket's "Adore," a tale of love and cannibalism.

Soup and Bread
5:30-8 p.m. at Hideout; donations suggested
This week's installment of the always tasty series features batches of soup from the likes of Ryan Cooper (First Slice), painter/DJ Won Kim and novelist Terri Griffith. Donations will go to First Slice, a bakery and non-profit providing food to the hungry.


quennect42.jpgIrvine Welsh fans lounge at Quennect4 before the author's reading in 2008. (photo: Jhonathan F. Gomez)

There's underground, and then there's underground -- and Quennect4 was certainly the latter. Operating without a license for the past four and a half years, the gallery and performance space hosted all manner of events, including parties, concerts, fundraisers, festivals and more (as well as participating in legit activities like the Humboldt Park Arts Fair, Peace Festival and the Wicker Well World Music Series). Notice that we're speaking of the place in the past tense; that's because as of January 5, Quennect4 received a Cease and Desist order from the City for its unlicensed operation.

The folks in the "Q4 Tribe" aren't giving up without a fight, though. They've recently launched a fundraising effort in order to take the steps to make the place a legally recognized establishment where the creative juices can continue to flow. Want to help out? Visit Quennect4's Kickstarter page to pledge funds toward the $3,600 goal (you only pay if the full amount is reached).

3 Things To Do Today

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Great Small Works shows big things can come in small packages. (photo: Jenny Romaine/Great Small Works via Forward)

Thaw: A Night of Hot Winter Ballyhoo
6:30 p.m.-midnight at The Red Canary; $30
This benefit for Links Hall takes you back to the 1930s for an evening of circus whimsy and Recession Era glamor. Guests will enjoy an open bar with Prohibition-era cocktails and complimentary hors d'oeuvres. There will be performances from Great Small Works, the acclaimed New York-based puppet company, Chantal Calato, Meredith Miller, fire-spinners, blacklight hula-hoopers, DJs and more. $75 gets you two tickets plus two passes to "The World Is Flat", a toy theater performance at Links Hall February 25-28.

Basia Bulat
9 p.m. at Schubas; $10
Before her lofty autoharp pop landscapes got usurped by car commercials, Canada's Basia Bulat was quieting barrooms with a grainy Shakira vibrato so mobile and ruthless, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to bottle it. The effect's not lost on her sophomore release, "Heart of My Own," which finds Bulat traversing the Yukon Territory that inspired her, with hints of folk and charging Americana beats, compliments of her brother. Fellow classically trained Canadian Katie Stelmanis opens with a bit of digi aggression.

The Moth StorySlam: Love Hurts
8 p.m. at Martyrs'; $7
The New York-based storytelling behemoth returns for an evening of true tales about heartbreak, presumably inspired by the Hallmark holiday just past. There are few topics more entertaining (and humiliating) than relationship woes, so expect a chock-full show (tip: get there by 6:45 for a chance to get in). For a description of what it's like, check out Centerstage's recap of the first Chicago event.

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Help The Boozehound help you.

Since its opening in late 2008, Drinks Over Dearborn has offered a wide variety of booze-related services, from specialty sales to tastings to classes to event hosting. That could soon be over, as the boutique shop finds itself about $50,000 in debt. In an effort to keep the dream alive, proprietor Kyle McHugh (aka The Boozehound) has started a unique fundraising campaign, 500 Benjamins or Bust. He's looking for 500 people to open $100 accounts with the store, to be charged only if the total fundraising goal is reached by March 1. It's kind of like a Groupon, except the window of opportunity lasts two weeks instead of a single day. If the goal is not reached, the store will close on March 5.

Want to make sure your money will be well spent? Check out the store's inventory here.

Thanks to Chicagoist and 312DD for alerting us to this campaign.

3 Things To Do Today

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grandslam.jpgWhat's this worth to you? (photo via ToughSledding)

Denny's Free Grand Slam Breakfast
6 a.m.-2 p.m. at Denny's nationwide
It's simple: Go to Denny's. Wait in a long, snowy line. Get a free Grand Slam breakfast, which includes two eggs, two pancakes and either two sausage links or two pieces of bacon. Repeat. The area restaurants closest to the city are in Oak Park (711 N. Harlem), Norridge (4609 N. Harlem) and Oak Lawn (9217 S. Cicero). See 'em all mapped here.

Opera Underground’s “Opera with a Twist”
6:30-9:30 p.m. at Faith & Whiskey; $30 in advance, $40 at the door
Who says opera and debauchery don't mix? This event, which helps support Chicago Opera Theater's Opera For All program in Chicago Public Schools, combines the two with a night of open bar, appetizers and a short performance from some of its Young Artists.

Love Fest
7-10 p.m. at Holiday Club; $20 in advance, $25 at the door
As with the other Nerds at Heart events, this fest at the Holiday Club allows you to show off your prowess at trivia quizzes and board games. You'll get the chance to win some especially nerdy prizes and, if you're lucky, you might find a date for Valentine's Day! Tonight's gay-centric gathering (tomorrow is hetero night) features dating-themed mini-performances from local singer Amy Armstrong and Ms. Bertha Mason (actor/chef Michael Bowen) of "Baking with Bertha." Admission price includes one cocktail.

3 Things To Do Today

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Chicago's Hope for Haiti
7 p.m. at House of Hope
A host of stars will be on hand at this South Side arena for Chicago's hope for Haiti benefit concert. Expect performances from Common, Donald Lawrence & Co., Lalah Hathaway, Shirley Caesar, Marvin Sapp, Regina Belle and others, plus appearances by Mayor Daley and Governor Quinn. The concert will double as a telethon, which will be broadcast live on WJYS TV, with proceeds going to Yele Haiti, Samaritan's Purse and International Childcare.

The Silver Project
7:30 p.m. at American Theater Company
Presented in parts and as a whole, "The Silver Project" includes work from over thirty playwrights across the country writing on what it means to be an American, with each playwright choosing a year between 1985-2010 to focus on. Tonight is part one.

Trivia Night

7:30 p.m. at Finley Dunne's Tavern
The Trivia Jerk website returns to West Lakeview once again this week, with winners of the popular event getting a $50 gift card to the bar. Start formulating your team names now.
Check out Centerstage's listings of trivia nights in Chicago.

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