Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Carjacking Suspect Returned To Illinois To Face Charges, Including Murder

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You may remember a carjacking spree that started in Uptown in December 2013. Rockie Douglas of Beach Park, Illinois. allegedly encountered a middle-aged woman at Irving Park and Broadway and took her minivan. The next day he was confronted by police on the South Side and  -- again, allegedly -- took off, causing an accident that killed an 11-year-old boy, Donovan Turnage, a passenger in his father's SUV. Police say Douglas carjacked at least two other vehicles while evading police, on a wild day that included a wrong-way pursuit on the Dan Ryan Expressway. Four days later, Douglas was arrested at a McDonald's drive-thru in Milwaukee.

He's apparently done serving his sentence in Wisconsin, and has been extradited from the correctional facility there to Illinois, where he'll appear at 26th and California in bond court Wednesday. He's got quite a laundry list of serious charges pending:  one count of Murder – Strong Probability of Death / Injury; one count of Murder – Other Forcible Felony; one count of Vehicular Hijacking – Agg – Weapon; and one count of Possession of Stolen Motor Vehicle.

He's lived in Glencoe, Beach Park, and Wisconsin, and his only connection to Uptown seems to be the carjacking of which he is accused.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Where Am I Located?


Where in Uptown can you find this carved granite baseball? Bonus points: What is its signficance?

Thriller, Walking Tours, and Brazilian Jazz Fusion Music: Yep, It's Another Free Uptown Saturday Night

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For a printable schedule that includes transportation options, click here.

Property Tax Appeals Assistance

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If you can't make this date, you can contact Bridget Gainer's office at 312-603-4210 or Michael Cabonargi's Office at 312-603-5560 and ask their staff members for other dates that might work better for you.  The deadline to file an appeal is October 13th.

Halloween Jamboree At Chase Park (Leland and Ashland)

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Don't miss the annual Halloween Jamboree at Chase Park! This fun, family-friendly event includes lots of treats. Stop by for pumpkin decorating, face painting, storytelling, a costume contest, and more. This event is FREE.

Raffle tickets will be available for purchase for a variety of items, with proceeds benefiting programming for Chase Park Preschool.

Meeting Regarding Future of 931-933 Belle Plaine

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If you are interested in weighing in or learning more about the proposed plan to build a rental building on the site of what is now a parking lot at 931-33 West Belle Plaine, you'll want to mark your calendar.  From Ald. Cappleman:
"I have heard from many of you at our previous two meetings or via email and phone regarding the proposed development at 931-33 W. Belle Plaine. I am having an additional meeting to make sure everyone that would like to discuss this proposal has the opportunity to do so.

What: Meeting to Discuss Proposal for 931-33 W. Belle Plaine
When: October 22, 6pm-7pm
Where: Uptown Branch Library, 929 W Buena Ave

For more information about this proposal, please click here. If you have any questions about the proposal or meeting, please contact Tressa Feher in my office at 773-878-4646 or

I hope to see you there!"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Party, and Decorate, and Trick-or-Treat, All In Sheridan Park on Halloween

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Sheridan Park celebrates Halloween with a party on Sunnyside Mall, a home and business decorating contest, and trick-or-treating.  Click the flyer for a larger version, or check out the Facebook event page here.

Hebru Brantley Mural Completed On Broadway

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The signature went on it, so the Flyboy mural on the side of the Uptown Broadway Building is done. It's interesting to see a 1920s Spanish baroque building with a 2015 street-art inspired mural on the side -- Uptown's Roaring 20s past on the front of the building, and one of today's rising stars literally just around the corner. Thank you, @properties, for bringing Hebru Brantley to Uptown.

Meet Uptown's "Gangsters and Ghosts" On October 29th

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Another event to mark on the calendar as the build-up to Halloween continues.

On Thursday, October 29th, Buena Park resident Gene Tenner will speak on the ghostly history of two area cemeteries, St. Boniface and Graceland, and detail three renowned Uptown and Buena Park legends: Al Capone, "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, and Public Enemy #1 John Dillinger.

The presentations are part of an Open House at The Guesthouse Hotel Chicago, located at 4872 N Clark (right across from St. Boniface), which will take place between 5pm and 8pm. Gene will be making his presentations at 5:30pm and 7pm. Free and fun!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Today At The Uptown Arts Center

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Worn Articles: Heard, Read, Remembered, is a site-specific exhibition, conceived for an architectural space that carries a long history of spoken text, written text, and embodied text. A group of select artists was invited to find inspiration in the history and current context of the space, and to respond in the form of work that incorporates aspects of text and of clothing.

The opening reception will be held on October 3, 5-9pm, at The Peoples Church/Uptown Arts Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., 3rd floor, gallery. The exhibition runs through October 25th and the gallery hours are Saturday/Sunday 2-5pm. Other days by appointment (

Participating artists include Sherry Antonini, Hannah Batsel, Pate Conaway, Kelli Cousins, Tracey Dobson, Victor Ewing, Jason Geistweidt, Niki Nolin, Teresa Pankratz, Hanh Do Pham, Melissa Potter, Bryan Saner, Miriam Schaer, Eden Unluata.

This exhibition is listed as a participant of Chicago Artists Month (

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!  Uptown Arts Center also will be holding its annual Open Studios on Floors 3.5 and 4 of the Preston Bradley Center between 5pm and 9pm tonight.  Come and explore. Meet the artists who create there, enjoy refreshments, engaging company and thoughtful expressions!

Northbound Broadway Closed to Vehicles Between Wilson & Leland Starting Monday

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Work on the new tracks for the rehabbed Wilson L project is kicking into high gear, with a big traffic diversion starting next week and continuing for a month.  CTA tells us:
  • There will be a Northbound Broadway Detour starting 10-05-2015 and running through 11-06-2015 (Continuous Closure of 4600-4659 N. Broadway).  This is a closure for vehicular traffic. Pedestrians will be able to walk along Broadway on at least one side of the street for the duration of the closure.
  • Northbound Broadway will be closed but Southbound Broadway will be open at all times. 
  • The northbound #36 bus will detour by turning east on Wilson from Broadway, then going north on Sheridan, west on Lawrence, and back to northbound Broadway.
We are also told that Leland will remain blocked at Broadway, possibly until October 30th.  If the work finishes ahead of schedule, it could open sooner.

Remember to patronize the shops on the 4600 block of Broadway, especially during the next month, when they will need your business more than ever.

Uptown Underground Goes All Out For October & Halloween

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Uptown Underground is celebrating October in a big way. Not only will there be Halloween themes throughout the month (everything from magic shows to drag shows to Rocky Horror Shows), there's a new price structure and new entertainment ranging "from the spooky to the spectacular, sexy to surprising."

Rather than patrons paying for each show individually, now there's an all-inclusive charge that covers the whole evening of entertainment, ranging from $5 to $40. Doors typically open at 7:30pm, with performances beginning at 8pm. Uptown Underground is a 21-and-over venue; minors are permitted with parental accompaniment.

In addition to Halloween offerings, Uptown Underground is also unveiling a variety of new performances during the fall including The Plucky Rosenthal Show (Tuesdays) and will play host to The Air Sex Championships (October 25 only).
  • No One Here But Us Witches, Monday nights, October 19, 26 and November 2. The witch-themed cabaret imagines the unlikely meeting of Elphaba, Maleficent, Ursula, Glinda, Cruella De Vil, and a mysterious stranger as their stories collide in a surprising, hilarious, yet touching tribute to everyone's favorite witches.7pm, doors open at 6:30.
  • Nick Sula's Spotlight, Tuesday nights. Nick Sula, renowned Chicago pianist and music director, performs classics and standards on a 1922 Lyon and Healy grand piano. Patrons can also bring their own sheet music for Sula to provide live accompaniment to any song. 8pm, cover is only $5 - no drink minimum.
  • Brass Chuckles Comedy: Comedy that Kicks Ass! with new Trivia Night. Wednesday evenings. Brass Chuckles is hosted by Tamale Rocks and each Wednesday features a new line-up of some of the area's best and brightest comedians performing stand-up and improv based on a nightly "Performer Challenge." After the main stage show, there is an open-mic opportunity where anything is fair game. Awesome Trivia prizes. $10 cover; it all kicks off at 6pm. Open mic performers are free with a suggested two-drink minimum.
  • Chicago Magic Lounge on Thursday evenings, presenting old-school illusions from table-hopping magicians to main stage acts. Following the mainstage show, new and upcoming magicians can try their tricks during the "Magic Lab," an open-mic styled stage show. October features a variety of Halloween-themed illusions to scare up good fun. Chicago Magic Lounge is at 8pm and the "Magic Lab" is at 10pm.
  • Rotating roster of retrotainment on Fridays. Doors open at 7:30pm and performances start at 8pm. Some of what you can expect to see on any given Friday include:
  • Boy Toy's Pocket Cabaret is a male burlesque and variety show. With a sensual but upbeat theme and performers from all genres of entertainment industry, Boy Toy features a male dominated cast of circus performers, live singers, boylesque performers, and comedians.
  • Kiss Kiss Cabaret, Uptown Underground's flagship show and every show is a wild mix of hilarious hosts, quirky musicians, incredible variety performers and, of course, some of the most beautiful burlesque beauties in Chicago.
  • Acrobatica Infiniti Circus performs every other Friday with its intimate variety and circus show "After Dark". A unique blend of cosplay and jaw-dropping circus acrobatics, Acrobatica Infiniti showcases new works and fan favorites each week from silly to sensual: fire eating, trapeze, straps, juggling, hula hooping, aerial ring, comedy, acrobatics and more.
  • Muffy Fishbasket and Her Drag Queen Debutantes close Friday Nights with themed weekly drag shows. On the first Friday of each month, Muffy and her Gal Pal, Vallery Dolls and special guests bring their own vocal stylings in themes that change every week. Shows feature games, stories and drag performances with the Halloween themed "Whores of Horror."
  • Rotating roster of retrotainment on Saturdays. Doors open at 7:30pm and performances start at 8pm. Saturday night performances change weekly and can include:
  • Chicago Cabaret Project present their popular musical take on everyone and everything from Bette Midler to Houdini to the incomparable Amy & Freddy. For Halloween, Chicago Cabaret Project brings their musical cabaret and burlesque version of Rocky Horror Picture Show (below).
  • Kiss Kiss Cabaret, Uptown Underground's flagship show and every show is a wild mix of hilarious hosts, quirky musicians, incredible variety performers and, of course, some of the most beautiful burlesque beauties in Chicago.
  • Pervesk Burlesque (right) closes Saturday nights with theme obsessed offbeat Burlesk', performance art and variety showcase honoring the bizarre and saluting the strange including "The Queen of Halloween" Red Rum. Come visit the haunted house of the damned in their October theme "Pervesk Goes to Hell."
Special Performances:
  • Tuesdays, October 6 and 13, is The Plucky Rosenthal Show, a one-woman vintage variety show with a modern twist. Cheeky but never blue, Plucky is an engaging and entertaining gal who definitely wants to grab a Shirley Temple with you and probably date your Jewish son. Show features different openers every night, showcasing the best in Chicago's alternative cabaret. The Plucky Rosenthal Show is at 7pm, doors open at 6:30pm.
  • Sunday, October 25 at 8pm is the Air Sex Championships, a hilarious and raunchy competition so singularly remarkable it defies description. Think Air Guitar, but with an imaginary sexual partner (or partners) in place of a musical instrument. The show is hosted by comedian Chris Trew, produced by The New Movement and is the subject of the recently released documentary. Air Sex: The Movie.
Uptown Underground is located at 4707 North Broadway. Advance reservations recommended. Call or email for group rates or party inquiries. Visit to purchase tickets or get more information.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Positive Loitering Tonight, 7pm-8pm

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From Uptown Chicago Commission:

"Please join your neighbors tonight for an hour of Positive Loitering from 7-8 PM.  Our location this evening will be in front of 4613 N Broadway (across the street from the Broadway entrance of the Wilson Red Line stop). Stop by for a few minutes or stay for the full hour. Bring a friend, bring a new neighbor, stop by on a dog walk, just come out!

As always, the 19th District Police are aware of our presence and encourage participation.  See you tonight!"

Flashback Friday: Before Papa Ray's, Before S-L Pantry

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click to enlarge

Yes, that Pasteur Restaurant. It was located at Lawrence and Sheridan between 1985 and 1995. In July 1995, a fire in the apartments above it caused the ceiling to collapse, dumping furniture and debris into the storefront, ruining the restaurant. Its owners eventually reopened Pasteur in Edgewater in a much more elegant incarnation. But Uptown residents from that era will always have a soft spot for what was then a hidden gem, with the "Time To Eat" rotating clock outside and the hand-painted mural that ran the length of the interior wall. (Vintage photo taken in January 1988, from the Chicago Public Library digital collection.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

#TBT - Montrose and Clarendon

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From the Chicago Public Library's digital collection
The apartment building at the southwest corner of Clarendon and Montrose is still standing, but the neighborhood around it sure has changed. What a story it could tell.  We're not sure of the date of the older picture, but we do know that it was built around 1905-06.  Given the dirt roads, we guessing this photo was taken not that long afterwards. At that time, it would have been practically lakefront property, since Lake Michigan's shoreline came up to what is now Marine Drive. We know from maps of the era that there were only one to four residences per city block.

Today, the building still serves as apartments. Even the terra cotta detailing along the roof line has been preserved.  The other corners in the intersection are the Stanley Tigerman-designed condo building at 4343 Clarendon (built in 1974) and the former Cuneo Hospital/Maryville Children's Center, which began construction in 1957.

Watching A Work In Progress

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Progress on the Hebru Brantley mural on the side of the Uptown Broadway Building continues.

By this morning, Flyboy had acquired a body...

....and by noon he'd started to wear a shirt...

...and by evening, Mr. Brantley was putting in the details on Flyboy's flight hat.

We are told by the artist's assistant that the piece was commissioned by @properties, the owner of the UBB. The underpainting is being done by another artist (a very nice man named Max), and should be completed by this evening. Then Mr. Brantley will do the finishing touches himself.

By Friday night, it should be a completed piece of art.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hebru Brantley Creating A Mural In Uptown

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If you'd like to see one of the rising stars of the art world in action, you'll have a chance in upcoming days. Hebru Brantley, whose work has been shown nationally and internationally, is in the process of creating a mural on the side of the Uptown Broadway Building (4701 North Broadway) featuring his recurring character, Flyboy. He was putting some of the finishing touches on the face earlier today, as shown above.

Mr. Brantley went from being a self-described Chicago "graffiti kid" to doing work commissioned for the CTA at its McCormick Place station and designing for Nike. LeBron James and Cuba Gooding Jr are both fans. He has said that Flyboy was inspired by Japanese anime and the Tuskegee Airmen aviators.

We don't know what the finished product will look like, but you can take a look at another of his recent works, a four-story mural on Wabash in the South Loop.

It's really exciting to have an artist of his caliber working and displaying right here in Uptown. With the Wilson L art being done by Cecil Balmond, and now a mural by Brantley, Uptown's public art scene is really taking off.

Boo-ena Park Safe Trick-or-Treating Happens Again This Year

Photo by Gene Tenner
Even though Halloween is a month away, events are being planned and you'll want to save the dates for your favorites. As usual, Buena Park Neighbors will present its evening of safe trick-or-treating on Kenmore, a longstanding and much-loved tradition. We're sure they'll be putting out the call for volunteers and candy donations, so stay tuned.

This is what the last newsletter said:  "Boo-ena Park Pumpkins Halloween Event Is Saturday, October 31, 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. - This year's Buena Park Pumpkins Halloween event will again be at Buena Circle Park at 1049 W Buena Ave. and is a night of safe trick-or-treating.  Buena Park Neighbors hosts this event every year, and it has become an area tradition. Buena Circle Park is operation central, and from there trick-or-treaters head north and south on Kenmore to gather goodies from welcoming residents."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Trumbull School Sale Approved; Stewart Next?

Today CPS announced that it has approved the sale of the former Trumbull School building in Edgewater, and it may provide some clues about what to expect now that the former Stewart School building has gone out to bid.

Trumbull sold to Svigas Development for $5.25 million, which was higher than the property's appraised value of $4.1-$4.7 million. In its press release, CPS says that Trumbull sold for a higher price than any of the other schools that were closed in 2013.

Now, anyone who's ever watched HGTV knows that real estate prices are based on location, location, location. It's inarguable that Trumbull's location at Ashland and Foster is prime: steps from shops and restaurants and surrounded by a neighborhood with high residential home values. By contrast, Stewart is in a more boisterous spot, with the advantage of being located steps from public transportation, including two bus lines and a Red/Purple Line station that's getting a complete makeover. Its being in a TOD district will probably factor into the selling price, as well.

We don't know how long the bid period for Stewart is open (rumor has it that it's already closed) nor how many bids came in, if any. We know that CPS specified that bidders for Stewart must comply with the conclusions drawn from the community engagement process led by Metropolitan Planning Council in May 2014.  And, CPS is required by law to accept the highest bid it receives.

When will the winning bidder for Stewart be announced? We don't know. We'll keep on top of it and let you know as things unfold.

Help Tidy Up The Bird Sanctuary on Saturday

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Dry Cleaners Grand Opening Specials

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Uptown Dry Cleaners opened in the strip mall at Wilson and Magnolia earlier this summer, next to Subway.  To entice new customers, they are having Grand Opening specials on dry cleaning, alterations, and men's shirts.  The phone number is (773) 271-1123.

Blessing of the Animals This Weekend (Updated)

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In honor of St Francis of Assisi and his compassion for animals, some churches have a tradition of holding Pet Blessings near his feast day (October 4th). If you have a pet you'd like to bring to have blessed, we are aware of these opportunities in the areas including and around Uptown:
  • St Mary of the Lake, Buena and Sheridan: Saturday, October 3rd at 5:15pm on the church steps. Please make sure your pets are leashed or in carriers, and please don't bring them inside the church.
  • Our Lady of Lourdes, Ashland and Leland: Saturday, October 3rd at noon.  Blessings will take place in the side garden on the west side of the church.  Entry from alley off Leland. All pets are welcome: Dogs on a leash; cats in a carrier; birds in a cage. Or bring a photo of your pet. [updated time and day]
  • All Saints Episcopal Church, Wilson and Hermitage: "Bring your pets of all shapes and sizes to our celebration of the Feast of St. Francis at the 9 and 11am services [on Sunday, October 4th]. The 8am service is pet-free."
Pet blessings are non-denominational and neither you nor your pet need be affiliated with the church at which the blessings are given.

FelFel Grill Opens On Broadway Across From Wilson Yard

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FelFel Grill at 4429 N. Broadway

If you have been longing for a new spot to get your fix of delicious Mediterranean food since the closure of Alma Pita and Tik Tok Falafel, you might be in luck.
"FelFel Grill" is now open at 4429 N. Broadway, just across the street from Wilson Yard. The business has been in operation for a while now solely as catering, but the owner decided to switch the concept to catering and dine-in. We stopped by recently and tried the falafel and a chicken shawarma. Both were delicious and as you can see by the price list below, very reasonable. FelFel is open 11:30am-9pm Monday through Saturday. Welcome to the neighborhood!
The full menu at FelFel Grill

Monday, September 28, 2015

See Uptown-Made Lost Classic Sherlock Holmes At CIFF

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Sherlock Holmes, the silent movie filmed at Uptown's Essanay Studios a century ago and considered lost for most of the time since then, will be returning to the Chicago screen in October as part of the Chicago International Film Festival. If you missed the screenings in Northbrook earlier this month, you can catch it on Saturday, October 24th, at 3pm downtown. Ticket information is here.

Previous articles on its history, rediscovery, and restoration:

Can You Help Identify This Man?

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A reader writes in and says,

"My bike got stolen yesterday. The thief took half an hour to saw through a wrought-iron fence and took him more than 40 minutes to finally leave with the bike. I think this is a neighborhood guy and I have photos which I would love for you to post so that I can get any information on this brazen thief." 

The reader will contact the detectives on the case with any information received. If you can help, please email the reader directly.

Update: It happened off Irving Park Road, but thieves travel everywhere. Take all due precautions in securing your stuff, have insurance if you can, and if you recognize this guy, contact the 19th District police or contact the reader above.

Chicago PD Filming Tuesday Around Sheridan L; Parking Restrictions In Area

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Chicago PD will be filming just outside Uptown's south border tomorrow during the day. It may affect your driving route or your parking.  For Tuesday only, there will be:
  • intermittent traffic stoppages on Sheridan between Irving Park and Dakin 11am-4pm
  • no parking on Sheridan between Irving Park and Byron 8am-6pm (both sides of the street)
  • no parking on Dakin between Sheridan and Seminary 8am-6pm (south side of the street only)

Lawrence Viaduct Adds Another Notch To Its Belt


The Lawrence Red Line viaduct snagged another victim this morning. That bridge has bad juju! It seems to attract more accidents than any other overpass we're aware of. If anyone in the City is reading this, can it be remeasured to ensure that the posted height clearance is correct?

Cathay Bank Opens At New Location Across The Street

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According to a sign on the ATM across the street, Cathay Bank will open its new branch at 5000 N Broadway today, in the former New Saigon restaurant space. Construction was still going on Friday night, but yes, they kept the great vintage tiled floor. No sight of the Michael Jackson poster, though.

Sunday Morning Shooting At McDonald's

The Micky D's at Wilson and Sheridan was the scene of a double shooting in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning. Readers reported hearing five to six shots shortly before 6am, then seeing police and EMTs on the scene. News reports say a 33-year-old male and 24-year-old female were sitting in a parked car in the lot when another car pulled up and someone got out and shot the couple, then took off again. The man was shot in the shoulder and is in fair condition; the woman was shot in the buttocks and her condition has stabilized.

Whatever the reason behind the attack, we are positive that these victims were targeted and it was not random violence.

This is the fourth shooting incident in recent memory to take place at this particular McDonald's, the latest taking place in late June. That restaurant is always busy; we suggest the owners invest in some really good round-the-clock security. This is nuts.