Category Archives: Entertainment

Slam Poetry: A Blue-Collar Chicago Movement

Audio Slideshow: Listen to poetry slam founder Marc Smith and the participants talk about the competition.

By Tessa Fegen, Kellen Winters and Vince Floress

As first-time slam poet Robby Q steps center stage onto the dimly lit arena, it isn’t difficult to notice that he has his reservations.

“I’m nervous big time,” he mutters into the microphone.

But with some quick crowd reassurance, Robby Q proceeds as he looks onto a rather multi-faceted audience who anxiously awaits the delivery of his debut performance. Among them sits Marc Smith, who may just be the biggest critic of them all.

Smith is the founder of the slam poetry movement, which ultimately helped him earn his the nickname, “The Slam Papi.” He runs the popular slam at the Green Mill a jazz club in the North Side Uptown neighborhood, in a three-hour show every Sunday night.

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Chicago’s Late-Night Restaurants Bring the Flavor

Photo of Pick Me Up Cafe's Drunken Chicken Appetizer 

Pick Me Up Cafe’s Drunken Chicken Appetizer

Audio Slideshow: Visit three Chicago late-night diners.

By Allison Barinholtz and Katie Fraser

Peter Poulos has a simple formula for the success of his business, Margie’s Candies.

“When you go to Gene and Gorgetti’s for a big steak dinner and you spend all that money on dinner, you don’t have a desire for dessert,” said Poulos, owner of Margie’s Candies. “So you get out and drive around with your lady and you come here an hour later, that’s the time to have dessert.

“What better thing can you do than share a banana split with your boyfriend and feed each other with one spoon?”

Margie’s Candies sits on the corner of Western and Armitage avenues in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Opened in 1921, it has stayed in the Poulos family for almost 90 years and has stayed the same since, except for the slight change in hours of operation.

“I changed the hours to 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. just to make my life easier,” said Poulos, 74, owner of Margie’s. The original hours: 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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Chicago’s Small Museums Preserve the Passion

Journals and newspaper collections from the Lansing Historical Society. (Photo by Nathan Ottens-Sanders)

Audio Slideshow: Visit some of Chicago’s small museums and hear from some of the owners and proprietors.

By Jim Crago and Nathan Ottens-Sanders

Giuseppe Gaglione of Stampland on Chicago Avenue has a passion for collecting rare rubber stamps – some used from the early 20th century. He also schedules as much time as possible for making rubber stamps to put on display for all to see.

“We don’t receive any monetary donations,” Gaglione said. “But donations of rubber stamps and stamp pads are always welcome.”

When visiting Stampland, it was obvious that Gaglione took his craft very seriously. When asked about his idea for Stampland, he lit up like a child finding presents under a Christmas tree.

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Chicago’s Vinyl Record Stores Survive CDs, .mP3s

Chicago Record Photo

Audio Slideshow: Visit three Chicago record stores

By Leah Hendrickson, Jeremy Mikula and Katie Schweiker

In a world of iPods, Zunes, .mp3s, .wavs, .flacs, .aifs, .rms, .snds and other digital audio formats, 33 1/3 revolutions per minute still counts to some. Despite Apple’s announcement that the 10 billionth song was downloaded from iTunes in February, many Chicagoans still listen to vinyl Long Play (LP) records from both new and old artists.

“.mp3s were really cool, and they still are,” said Dave Hofer, a new products buyer at Reckless Records’ Wicker Park location. “You could fit so many of them into a little thing, you know. You don’t have to carry a book of CDs in your car anymore, for example. But there’s just something about vinyl that draws people in.”

Reckless is a music store with three Chicago locations that sells new and used vinyl – LPs, 45s, and 78s – and used DVDs and CDs. In spite of the era of readily available digital media and an economic downturn, they still do a pretty good business, Hofer said.

Map: View Chicago Record Stores in a larger map

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Felony Franks Gives Ex-Cons Second Chance

Felony Franks Photo

Felony Franks has outdoor seating that is closely monitored by Manager Jerry Tassos to avoid littering. (Photo by Charlotte Eriksen)

By Ashley Kohler and Charlotte Eriksen

The stench of Marlboro Red cigarettes waves through the air, plastic bottles and paper food cartons scatter the grassy floor beneath the picnic tables. The hot sun beams over the oddly quaint hot dog business.

Felony Franks, located at 229 S. Western Avenue, serves its trademark “misdemeanor wiener” and other jail-themed menu items through a bulletproof revolving glass window. The jail food gimmick is catchy, but the hot dog hut story is real. Felony Franks owner, Jim Andrews, 64, strictly employs his hot dog joint with ex-cons.

Andrews has received negative criticism from neighbors since his opening in July 2009, including Alderman Bob Fioretti, who publicly denounced the business and would not approve a curb cut for a drive-thru or sign permit.

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Chicago Music Venues Metro and Subterranean Showcase Local and National Bands

The Hush Sound Photo

Chicago-based band The Hush Sound plays at the Metro. (Photo by Julian Zeng)

Audio Slideshow: Jenny Lizak, director of publicity at Metro, and Jamie Miller and Pierce Burke of Chicago-based band Universe, talk about Metro and Subterranean and how the venues have helped promote local musicians.

By Ali Trumbull and Julian Zeng

Jamie Miller and Pierce Burke live in a city full of opportunities. Miller, 22, is the lead singer and songwriter of Chicago-based band Universe.

Burke, 20 is the drummer for the local band and he has been a united force with Miller for six years, helping him find the perfect members to help bring the lyrics to life. Singer and keyboardist Kat Smidt, 20; guitarist Paul Fleck, 25; and bassist Ryan White, 23, complete this alternative punk band that is fresh to the Chicago music scene.

Chicago boasts some of the most unique and well-known music venues in the country. These venues not only allow concertgoers to see some of their favorite national artists, but they allow local acts to perform and promote themselves in Chicago.

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Belmont Sheffield Kicks Off Chicago Music Fests

House of Winehouse Photo

House of Winehouse performed for the festival crowds.

Audio Slideshow: Hank Zemola talks about organizing the 26th annual Belmont Sheffield Music Festival

By Laura Fitzgerald and Kelly Stotmeister

Memorial Day weekend in Chicago begins the kickoff to summer events that bring different neighborhoods in the city together to enjoy food, beer, crafts and oftentimes free live musical performances.

The 2010 Belmont Sheffield Music Festival in Lakeview in late May was one of the first music festivals this summer season, showcasing 10 musical performances and various vendors.

Sponsored mainly by the Central Lakeview Merchants Association, the 26th annual Belmont Sheffield Music Festival offered free entertainment at a suggested $5 donation that went toward the Lakeview community and grants.

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