Today In The Culture, April 17, 2023: Landmark Nod for the Warehouse, State Street Buildings | New Leadership for Deeply Rooted Dance | West Town Music Fests Set Lineups


Side-by-side photo portraits of Nicole Clarke-Springer and Makeda Crayton

Nicole Clarke-Springer and Makeda Crayton of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater


Chicago Architecture Biennial Gets Half-Million-Dollar State Grant For “This Is A Rehearsal”

An Illinois state grant, one of eighty-nine, will support the fifth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, “This is a Rehearsal,” in the amount of $500,000. “DCEO’s tourism grant to the Chicago Architecture Biennial provides both most welcome financial assistance to CAB 5, the 2023 edition, and signals that the exposition has achieved an important element of its mission,” Jack Guthman, board chairman of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, said in the state’s release. “CAB was founded in response to the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan which challenged the arts community to establish an event that ‘attracts global attention and highlights Chicago’s renowned cultural assets and heritage.’ We are proud that the state, by making this grant, has acknowledged CAB’s efforts to meet this goal.”

Landmark Protection Recommended For State Street’s Pair Of Turn-Of-The-Century Skyscrapers

The Chicago Landmark Commission Thursday recommended landmark protection 5-0 for the Consumers and Century buildings that the federal government and Senator Dick Durbin are determined to tear down, reports the Sun-Times. (Durbin stands behind the government’s $52 million allotment to demolish the buildings and leave vacant lots along State Street.) This is the first of a two-step process, which will eventually move to city council. Reports WTTW: “The GSA is weighing three options for the buildings… one is demolition, another is to take no action, and a third is to allow adaptive reuse if fifteen security criteria are met.”

The Warehouse Also Gets Preliminary Landmark Protection

The people have petitioned: “The Warehouse, a former dance hall in the West Loop, received a preliminary landmark recommendation from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday after thousands signed a petition asking the city to preserve the building, which is known as the birthplace of house music and an icon of Chicago’s LGBTQ+ and Black history,” reports the Trib. Writes Block Club: “That early recommendation kicks off a lengthy series of approvals, including getting consent from the building owner, hosting a public hearing and another vote before the landmarks commission, before moving to the zoning committee and then City Council for a vote by all fifty alderpeople.” More than 13,000 people have signed the petition.

Making The Old Newly Salable

An 1890s Logan Square mansion is set to become ten luxury apartments, reports Block Club, “with original and modern details…The developers enlisted contractor BASEBLD and architecture firm Pappageorge Haymes to bring their vision to life.” In Edgewater, “The 132-year-old Epworth Church, once slated to be demolished, is one step away from becoming a city landmark and being converted into affordable housing.”



312 Chicago Returns At Twenty-Five With New Chef After Three Years’ Closure

“A spacious, 280-seat affair that’s well-located for theatergoers and politicians from nearby City Hall, 312 Chicago has polished up its dining room, bar, tasting room, and mezzanine without straying too far from its original design,” reports Eater Chicago.

Detroit’s Baobab Fare Hits Spot

“Hamissi Mamba, a refugee from Burundi, knew little of American culture when he arrived eight years ago and learned English watching the ‘Peppa Pig’ cartoon. But he opened Baobab, his dream restaurant, and the accolades have rolled in,” writes the New York Times. “In February, the couple were named for the second time as semifinalists for best chef in the James Beard awards, and in March, Mr. Mamba won an episode of ‘Chopped.’”

Portillo’s Warehouse Workers Unionize

“Employees at a Portillo’s warehouse in suburban Addison have won their union vote,” reports Eater Chicago. “Forklift workers and employees that make and pack Italian beef gravy have joined the Ironworkers Union… The victory marks the first time workers at any one of Portillo’s nearly eighty facilities—restaurants or production venues—have successfully organized… These workers also pack and ship orders.” Portillo’s, founded in 1963, “has grown thanks to a cult following and hedge fund investors which purchased [the] chain in 2014 for $74.4 million.”

Monks Slash Chartreuse

“Just as the herbal liqueur is becoming more popular, the French order that has produced Chartreuse for more than two centuries is pulling back to focus on faith,” reports the New York Times.

Anheuser-Busch “Never Intended To Be Part Of A Discussion That Divides People”

“Two weeks ago, transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney announced a limited partnership with Bud Light… Mulvaney encouraged consumers to celebrate the [basketball] tournament with [Bud Light] while brandishing cans with her face on them. The subsequent transphobic outroar on social media—which can be summarized by a clip of Kid Rock shooting a gun at a pack and declaring ‘fuck Bud Light and fuck Anheuser-Busch’—was an expression of the dangers a brand that has epitomized frat culture in the past faces when it tries to widen its demographic,” opines Adweek. “The campaign touched on her previous lack of knowledge of March Madness, which angered talk show pundits, social media users and podcast hosts who don’t believe someone with interests outside of sports should be representing a beer brand.”

A statement released under the name of CEO Brendan Whitworth, reads, in part, “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.” The report does not address the longtime campaigns of brewing corporations, such as Coors, to market their products within the LGBTQ+ marketplace. The National Republican Congressional Committee quickly retracted a tweet and a fundraising attack on Bud Light, reports The Daily Beast: “Thanks to Dylan Mulvaney, we can all finally admit that Bud Light tastes like water.” The problem? Anheuser Busch is one of the largest donors to NRCC election efforts, nearly $500,000 in the most recent reporting cycle. Still, observes The New York Times, “After Dylan Mulvaney promoted the beer on Instagram, well-known conservatives tried to start a boycott. Experts say the controversy will not hurt the brand in the long run, and may help.”

Doubt Cast On Mail-Order “Ultra Right” Beer From “Northern Illinois”

A mail-order “Ultra Right” beer, the subject of an ad created by Seth Weathers, Trump’s 2016 Georgia campaign director, could be fraudulent, Crain’s reports. (It’s against the law in Illinois to sell beer directly to consumers.) “It is unclear which brewery is making the beer, the full name of which is Conservative Dad’s Ultra Right 100% Woke Free American Beer.” Ray Stout, executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild Of Illinois, says that of 300 craft breweries, 220 are members of the guild and that none of the guild members appear to be brewing it. “There’s nothing pointing to it being real,” Stout says. “People think this is kind of a hoax.”



Sidestepping Bans Or Burnings, Missouri Eliminates Funding To Public Libraries; Texas County Backs Off Bans; New York Mayor Pushes Cuts To Libraries

“Republicans who control the Missouri House passed a budget that doesn’t give its public libraries a single cent of state money,” reports MSNBC. But “after threatening to close its libraries entirely, Llano County in Texas has backed down. Shining a national spotlight on these local reactionaries makes it harder for them to get away with book bans and other vile censorship schemes,” posts Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent. “Llano County has become a national symbol of local right-wing censorship efforts after officials threatened to close its libraries entirely rather than allow offending materials to remain on shelves. Under intense scrutiny, the commission blinked. Its leader acknowledged feeling pressure from ‘social media’ and ‘news media.’” (Here’s CNN on the county’s original scheme.)

New York City’s Democratic mayor is preparing to slash library funding even as he brandishes the purchase of robot dogs for law enforcement. “We’re shocked to be facing millions of additional cuts to library funding, a devastating development for our already strained operations,” posts the Brooklyn library. (Details of what the cutbacks mean are here.) The target of library cuts is is $42 million, reported the Gothamist in March. (New York City’s thirteen-page proposal for library cuts is here.)



PBS Joins NPR In Stepping Away From X Corp’s Twitter

“PBS said it has suspended posting to Twitter after Elon Musk’s social network pinned a ‘government-funded media’ descriptor to its primary account. The public TV broadcaster joins NPR in ceasing Twitter activity following the Twitter changes,” which inaccurately represent the organizations, reports Variety.



Royal Trux Guitarist Neil Hagerty Accused Of Cutting Denver Police Officer With Own Badge

“A Denver police officer was injured early Friday [during a wellness check] when a man attacked him using his own police badge,” reports the Denver Gazette. “The suspect is guitarist Neil Michael Hagerty, fifty-seven,” who fronted Royal Trux, the band that prompted the 1990 formation of Drag City Records. Denver Police say Hagerty “ripped off the officer’s police badge and used it to cut the officer, creating a six-inch laceration on the officer’s throat… Hagerty then attempted to take the officer’s service weapon from his holster.” From the arrest affidavit: “Suspect also attempted to disarm second officer by attempting to pull officer’s Taser from the holster.”

Royal Trux background here: “[Jennifer] Herrema would be coolness personified: turning up at gigs at CBGB’s with an amp strapped to her skateboard… Hagerty could be hard-headed and antisocial, but he knew how to execute ideas with dazzling attention to detail. That combination proved irresistible to Dan Koretzky and Dan Osborn, the founders of indie label Drag City–future home to Pavement, Stereolab and Joanna Newsom. They launched the business just so they could give Royal Trux a platform.” Koretzky: “If everyone who listened to the Velvet Underground started their own band, then everyone who listened to Royal Trux started reaching beyond their grasp, musical or otherwise.”

West Town Music Fests Include W.I.T.C.H., Dan Deacon

Do Division Street Fest, West Fest Chicago and Dancing in the Streets are organized by the West Town Chamber of Commerce. This year, Do Division runs June 2-4, headlining W.I.T.C.H, Dan Deacon, Jesse Royal, Vundabar and Bobby Oroza. West Fest stops traffic on Chicago Avenue July 7-9, and features DJs Nikki Nair, Anna Morgan, Mark Farina and Derrick Carter. The On Tour Brewing’s Dancing in the Streets will be August 4-6 on Hubbard.



“MJ: The Musical” Tickets On Sale

Individual tickets for “MJ,” the Broadway hit musical go on sale today. Ticket prices range from $52.50-$132.50 with a select number of premium tickets available. “MJ” will launch its North American tour at the James M. Nederlander Theatre from August 1–September 2. More here.

Deeply Rooted Dance Will Be Led By Two Black Women

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and its parent organization, Deeply Rooted Productions have begun 2023 with Nicole Clarke-Springer as artistic director and Makeda Crayton as executive director, making Deeply Rooted one of Chicago’s only major dance companies led by two Black women. Priorities for Clarke-Springer and Crayton include expanding the company’s performance schedule, broadening the Dance Education program, and opening the Deeply Rooted Center for Black Dance and Creative Communities (Deeply Rooted Dance Center), a state- and city-supported facility for dance education and collaborative programs with community partners on Chicago’s South Side.

“I am thrilled to have Makeda join our team and partner with me to lead Deeply Rooted to its next level as an institution,” Clarke-Springer says in a release. “Conceiving, developing, and implementing the company’s artistic vision is only one component of how I view my leadership role as artistic director. I want to ensure the highest level of excellence in all areas of the organization, including its financial plans. Often, the roles of artistic director and executive director are siloed into art and finance, with finance ‘managing’ the art at the expense of the company’s mission, vision, and values.”

Crayton says, “We are ushering in the next generation of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and I am honored to continue this company’s legacy and take it to new heights. Our work during the next few years will strengthen the organization’s infrastructure to position Deeply Rooted for long-term institutional sustainability. The company has expanded to a twenty-six-week contract for our dancers, and we are making plans for more frequent performances on Chicago stages as well as resuming some national and international touring.” More on Deeply Rooted here.

Downtown Oak Park Gets Comedy Plex

“Comedy Plex, a fully funded venture by three Oak Park men with comedy backgrounds, has requested a special use permit to operate a live performance venue at 1128 Lake Street, a lower level space that has stood vacant for seven years,” reports Wednesday Journal.

Canada Reports Theater Audience Chaos, Too

It’s not just Manchester, England, reports the Toronto Star. Theater figures tell the reporter that incorporating singalong elements could provide an outlet for antisocial patrons, as he looks back to pre-pandemic manners. “Times have changed. TikTok didn’t exist, and selfies weren’t as ubiquitous back then. We weren’t coming out of two years of lockdown and isolation, either, unfamiliar with how to properly interact with people.” A front-of-house worker: “There’s a lack of respect for other people in line-ups, they push through, don’t respect ticket-takers. Some of them don’t even realize you have to show a ticket to get in. I had one person ask why someone in a wheelchair got to go ahead of them, and I told them, ‘Because that young lady has no arms and legs.’”

Streaming Live Theater Wanes

“When shuttered venues embraced streaming during the pandemic, the arts became more accessible,” reports the New York Times, “to the disabled who could otherwise not attend. With live performance back, and streams dwindling, many feel forgotten.”

New Broadway Tour Contract For Actors’ Equity

“Actors’ Equity has reached a tentative agreement with the Broadway League over a new touring contract,” writes the Hollywood Reporter. “The deal comes after the union, which represents more than 51,000 stage managers and actors, had announced a strike threat against the Broadway League, which represents industry producers, presenters and general managers… The new three-year contract is still subject to ratification by Equity members. This agreement supersedes and combines the previous touring production contracts, which cover bigger-budget shows, as well as short-engagement touring agreements, which cover shows with lower weekly sales guarantees.”



Trib Postmortems Election Of Mayor-Elect: It Was Black Labor Leaders

“How Black labor leaders propelled Brandon Johnson to the Chicago mayor’s office,” is the headline on Hank Sanders’ Tribune assay of the election results. Brandon Johnson’s “unlikely rise from a little-known progressive among nine candidates to mayor-elect of the U.S.’s third-largest city seems unlikely to have happened without local Black labor leaders like [SEIU Local 73 president Dian] Palmer who supported his endeavor and whose unions propelled his candidacy with money, support and volunteers.”

Facebook Users Eligible For Cambridge Analytica Settlement

If you were a Facebook user in the United States between May 24, 2007, and December 22, 2022, inclusive, you may be eligible for a cash payment from a Class Action Settlement. “The Meta settlement is the single largest data privacy class action in U.S. history, with the aim of resolving investigations and lawsuits stemming from the 2016 election scandal over Facebook’s sharing of over eighty-seven million users’ data with a third-party called Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica was revealed to be connected with Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign… Cambridge Analytica used user data without their permission in order to harvest and profile voters to target and influence the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor… Cambridge Analytica has been shuttered since the scandal broke.” Deadline for filing is August 25. To file a claim, go here.

Florida Man’s Political Judgment Questioned

The editorial board of the Washington Post questions the judgment and “the hollowness of his rhetoric” of presidential aspirant and Florida governor Ron DeSantis as he tours the country marketing a memoir. “He titled his memoir ‘The Courage to Be Free’ and called his budget a ‘Framework for Freedom.’ In his State of the State address last month, he said: ‘We find ourselves in Florida on the front lines in the battle for freedom.’ … Backed by GOP supermajorities in both chambers, Mr. DeSantis is waging frontal assaults on press freedom, reproductive freedom, free enterprise and academic freedom. Meanwhile, in the name of protecting gun rights, he has scaled back prudent safety rules.” (The editorial dissects the features of DeSantis’ radical agenda.)

Eastern Illinois Strike Suspended After Five Days; Northeastern Stoppage Voted

“A tentative agreement was reached Thursday after almost a year of bargaining” at Eastern Illinois University, reports the Tribune. “Strikes continue at Chicago State and Governors State.” Northeastern could be the fourth: “Union-represented faculty and staff at Northeastern Illinois University… could be the latest to walk the picket lines after ninety-five-percent of members voted Thursday to strike if an agreement with the administration is not reached at upcoming bargaining sessions.”


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