Archive for August, 2008

C-View at the Affinia Chicago

C-View, on the Affinia's 29th floor terrace$13 bevvies at C-View, on the Affinia's 29th floor terraceView from C-View, on the Affinia's 29th floor terrace

The Affinia Chicago is an upscale hotel on 166 East Superior Street. Next time your evening activities take you to the Miracle Mile, wrap up your night by taking the hotel’s elevator to the 29th floor to find C-View. You’ll be glad you did.

My boyfriend recently treated me to a night of theater (a nice substitute for our usual comedy shenanigans) followed by some very urban grown-up drinks at this al fresco lounge, which provides a stunning perspective on the lakefront skyline and Michigan Avenue.

C-View offers non-native fauna-enhanced outdoor lounge seating, which is to say, there are several tall palmy plants fringing the walls behind some of the seating arrangements. Plop down on one of the comfy couches or almost cabana-like chairs or sidle up to the terrace’s centerpiece, a long, tall wooden table with matching tall barstools. It sort of feels like you’re drinking and munching appetizers in a sexy tv show set in LA, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Of course, the specialty cocktails are pricey (my ginger beer/lime/vodka concoction was $13) and many of the hors d’oeuvres are teeny-tiny supermodel portions (a beef dish was about a spoon-sized dollop of chopped beef with a crispy rice cracker), but the view and the air are wonderful.

And when you remember that for the majority of the year, Chicago is freezing and dark, it’s important to grab all the al fresco you can before summer is over.

Photos by Elizabeth McQuern.

Chicago Cop (Finally) Suspended For Demanding Free Coffee

The Best Photo Illustration Ever

(How do you like my awesome photo illustration? Can I work for the Sun-Times, you think?)

A Chicago Police officer has been suspended and ordered into counseling after she was found guilty of demanding free Starbucks coffee from six different stores on the North Side from 2001 to 2004, sometimes flashing her badge, displaying her gun and screaming at employees.

Officer Barbara Nevers of the Belmont police district was suspended for more than 15 months, according to records the Chicago Police Board released Thursday. [Sun-Times]

I’m all for due process, but it’s interesting that it took four years for this officer to be suspended (and that’s suspended, not fired). Maybe the police board were similarly caffiene-deprived and so they were all asleep.

(via Boing Boing)

Chicago Comedy Festival

Back in February of this year, I heard some rumblings about a Chicago Comedy Festival taking place on Navy Pier during the autumn of this year. It’s supposed to have 100 performers, three stages, and a partridge in a pear tree. I know it’s still summer, but we’re not too far from autumn, and I have yet to hear anything more about this Chicago Comedy Festival (the website is just a placeholder with no information). I’m intrigued, but it’s easier to find information on the Just for Laughs festival coming to Chicago in summer of 2009. I was starting to loose hope that this Chicago Comedy Festival thing was going to happen.

Then today I found this youtube channel labeled Chicago comedy festival. This channel has been uploading segments of a documentary hosted by comedy legend Bob Zmuda about the Chicago Comedy Festival from 2001 over the past two days. If you have 30 minutes (or eight chunks of about five minutes) and you have an interest in comedy, then check out these videos. The documentary is filled with comedy treats, but one of the biggest treats for me was seeing one of my favorite rooms in Chicago, The Lincoln Lodge, pop up around the 2:30 mark in this segment. During that segment you also get to see alternative comics like Neil Hamburger, and SNL’s Fred Armisen playing his character Fericito. Of course, Chicago comedy stalwart, Zanies, is there with a whole mess of amazing comedians to numerous to list. To start you off, I’ll put the first part of the documentary here:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XnZwGFNZfY[/youtube]

Cook County Digital Photography Project

Cook County Digital Photography Project van

While I was having a (delightful) brunch at La Tache in Andersonville with Erica last weekend, a white van with a big camera sticking out of the side sloooowly pulled out the alley beside the restaurant. It said “Cook County Digital Photography Project” on the side (along with a phone number) and took some time to manuever out of the alley. Unlike Google Street View’s panoramic cameras, there was a single large camera sticking out of the one side of the van. Which may be why the project has been in progress since 2007, while Google Street View covered all of Chicagoland in one meth-fueled weekend.

A Year at the Wheel posted a video where they ask the driver of the van what he’s up to. His answer, “Cook County property taxes,” is more straight-forward than the hand-waving “increased efficiencies of County personnel, and the enhanced abilities of the public safety agencies” and “more accurate emergency dispatching, planning for disaster management and increased support of homeland security” touted in the PDF handout about the project.

The Chicago Theater Database

When asked to describe the new Chicago Theater Database, co-creator Dan Granata often throws out the simple explanation, “It’s like the Internet Movie Database, but for Chicago theatre.” However, Mr. Granata is quick to point out that it is meant to be much, much more. The CTDB’s mission statement describes it as, “a reference for the present, a record of our collected history, and a sustainable resource for building the next stage.”

Begun in the spring of 2007 as a personal project, the Chicago Theater Database, currently in beta, is now poised to become the central source for all information relating to the city’s theater community. Unlike the IMDb, however, the CTDB is intended less for archival purposes and more as a tool for today’s artists.

“There’s so much going on,” Mr. Granata said, “but nobody knows about it because it’s all so disparate.”

Mr. Granata began compiling the original data out of curiosity, starting with the big theaters like the Goodman and Steppenwolf and expanded from there. He hit a snag, however, when his computer crashed and all the data was lost. “I was basically depressed for about two months.” Then local performing arts trade publication PerformInk released their annual season preview. Using the raw data from the preview, Mr. Granata began the project again. This time he expanded the fields to include things like theater companies’ budget and non-profit information.

Mr. Granata made mention of the project on his blog, I, Homunculus. The blog later received a mention in a Time Out article, which caught the attention of sound designer Nick Keenan, whose own blog, Theater for the Future, was also mentioned. Mr. Keenan expressed an interest in the database project through a comment on I, Homunculus. Having been “called out,” Mr. Granata began work in earnest, this time partnered with Mr. Keenan, who even took the time to learn a new coding language. Since then the project has grown exponentially, and the CTDB has even partnered with PerformInk to produce the next season preview.

Among some of the features Mr. Granata hopes to include in the database is a calendar of opening, strike and rehearsal dates, and also venue availability. Mr. Granata hopes that having all of this information in a central location will help bring about a new era of Chicago theater. “I feel bad,” he said, “because we burn out so many young actors who could do better if they were armed with some basic information.” The community still operates on a “Steppenwolf mentality,” in which so many artists come here straight out of college with the intention of forming a company, but none of them have a real grasp of the current state of theater in the city. “It just doesn’t work with two hundred fifty companies.”

The Chicago Theater Database is now open to public viewing, although it is still in the early beta stages. The rest of the summer will be spent collecting data and ironing out issues such as how to list festivals, and how to handle name changes. According to Mr. Granata the team hopes to have the database “largely functional” within the next couple of months. Until then, the site is available to look around on, and see what data has been collected so far.

Waterfall

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpK1UaRMtqI[/youtube]

New York has to have fancy international artists come to town to make odd industrial waterfalls. We get them for free with our demolitions.

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