Distance runners are a masochistic lot. Who in his or her right mind willfully rises at 5am on a Sunday morning in order to go out and run a baker’s dozen miles with a few thousand others? But even the most intrepid ultra-marathonner’s tolerance for pain has limits, and being greeted at such an early hour by a cheesy announcer cheerfully hyping the presence of the Blues Brothers at the starting line is very very close to any runner’s threshold.
Not surprisingly, this race, the inaugural 13.1 Chicago Marathon, is being produced by out-of-towners who’ve apparently yet to succumb to Jake and Elwood overexposure. The Chicago half-marathon universe is going through a big shakeup this year, with a doubling of the number of major races from two to four, signaled by the arrival of two national companies who make a business out of producing long-distance races in various markets around the country. The Chicago Distance Classic, run each August, was sold and this year becomes the Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon. And late last summer, the owners of the 13.1 series, Dallas-based US Road Sports and Entertainment Group, acquired the venerable Chicago Half Marathon just weeks before its running in September. Read the rest of this entry »
A woman places a tin foil “bike helmet” on her Schnauzer and gently secures him into the doggie carrier on the back of her bike. As she does this, a crowd of bicyclists quickly gathers in Columbus Park at 500 South Central. By 1pm, roughly sixty people are waiting patiently to take a seventeen-mile bike ride zigzagging past the architectural gems in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.
“We’ll give stragglers a little more time,” says the tour’s organizer, Lee Diamond, while he gathers everyone’s attention. As he goes over some bike-safety basics, he is interrupted by a loud, balloon-like pop. A tire on the bike next to him quickly deflates. Suddenly, fellow bikers spring into action producing inner tubes and an air pump. Another tour organizer Cynthia Bell and a couple of others rush over to change the tire. “I’ve got a wrench!” someone yells. Read the rest of this entry »
Frank Lloyd Wright’s world-renowned Unity Temple has been added to the 2009 America’s Most Endangered Historic Building’s List. Through not in jeopardy of being demolished, the Unity Temple is in need of massive renovations. The building has suffered water damage, which affects the roof and outer structure. “Water is our main enemy; over time water damage has built up,” says Emily Roth, executive director of the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation. “It has become critical to fix it now or else the roof will become unstable.” Since 1973, UTRF, a non-profit organization, has been making strides in preserving the National Historic Landmark. Yet the restoration costs have outpaced funding and has only been compounded by the recession. Thankfully, the organization has received federal funding from the Save America’s Treasures grant through the National Parks Services. The grant will match the group’s fundraising efforts up to $200,000 dollars. The UTRF is “bound and determined to raise $200,000 dollars” this summer, according to Roth. As a result of the landmark’s status, Roth has seen an increase in support and donations. “We had a flurry of donations from all over the country,” she says. “Making a donation is a way of preserving our cultural heritage.”
This Week’s Biggest Gainers
1 Alejandro Valadez
The slain Chicago police officer was put to rest amongst a crowd of more than a thousand and glowing tributes. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): So you’re trying to tell me that the way out is the way in. Is that right? And that the “wrong” answer just might be the right answer? And that success, if it makes an appearance, will most likely happen by accident? I don’t know, Aries. It’s tricky to get away with this upside-down approach to life unless you have a lot of discipline and yet also don’t take yourself too seriously. You’ve got to be both rigorous and flexible—a stickler for detail and a master of improvisation. I do suspect you’re up for the challenge, but what do you think? Read the rest of this entry »
The 2009 list is out, and we’re using the occasion to launch our new web site devoted to all things literary, Newcity Lit. Check it out at lit.newcity.com.
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): I’m betting that in a couple of months the fates will give you license to play with boisterous gambles and exhilarating risks. But at this particular moment I recommend that you confine yourself to tame gambles and sensible risks. I realize that may be a bit deflating to your rambunctious all-or-nothing spirit, but I think it’ll pay off in the long run. From what I can tell, this is an excellent time to lay the groundwork for the bigger fun ahead. Read the rest of this entry »
Visual artist Rebecca Schoenecker may insist that her “Rollervision” performance “started out as a joke,” but the end result is incredibly thought-provoking. Shoenecker, a former competitive roller skater, initially came up with the concept after a visit to Bridgeport’s spacious Archer Gallery.
Archer’s wood floors are oddly reminiscent of a roller rink floor, which sparked Schoenecker to lightheartedly tell her friend, Patrick Holbrook, that she wanted to skate in the space. He convinced her to go with it. “It’s kind of a subversion of the roller skating that she did when she was a kid,” Holbrook says. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s not every day that you walk into the Empty Bottle and see condoms by the bowlful strewn across the bar. “No need to get all crazy and put your hand in the bowl, just take one,” Pretty, one of the founders of LustandBust.com, shouts to everyone from the venue’s stage. For the Web site’s launch event, Pretty and co-founder Cheeky have successfully transformed the Empty Bottle into a den of debauchery during “The Birds and The Bees X-Rated Spelling Bee.” Read the rest of this entry »
One Illinois town is celebrating its history in a unique way. Elizabeth, Illinois, a town of about 680 people, is sponsoring its second “Gathering of Elizabeths” on June 27. Last year 436 Elizabeths from eight states attended, but Rudy Pascoe, the event’s co-chair, says this year he expects 500-plus friends and family. Anyone whose first or middle name is Elizabeth can register online at mostelizabeths.com. The event itself lasts one day but people are encouraged to stay for the weekend and explore the area. The day will consist of an “Elizabeth” group picture, games and crafts and an opportunity to socialize. Local businesses will also host special sales. During the event the youngest and most senior Elizabeths and the Elizabeth that traveled the furthest will be honored. “People can greet each other, sit around and find out about the community and the area around us,” Pascoe says. “Hopefully they can just make a lazy, enjoyable day out of shopping at local retailers and businesses.” (Beth Wang)