Cynthia is a MFA nonfiction writing graduate of Columbia College and a former editorial assistant at Time Out Chicago.
7 reasons to get to Lollapalooza 2015 early
On a weekend crowded with Lollapalooza aftershows, late-night parties and trips to 4am bars, getting to Grant Park in the early afternoon can seem daunting. There's no shame in rolling up to the festival a few hours late, but if you get a few extra winks you'll miss out on some great bands. We combed through the pre-3pm hours of this year's Lollapalooza lineup and uncovered some hidden gems—ones that are worth getting out of bed before noon to catch. Throw on some clothes, grab an iced coffee and get to the park before the hordes arrive. RECOMMENDED: See our complete guide to Lollapalooza
Interview: Mayer Hawthorne on his latest album 'Man About Town'
Since his tender, modern soul debut with “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out,” Mayer Hawthorne has remained busy with all-star collaborations and inventive new records. With three studio albums (one with a Grammy nod), a variety of side projects and regular DJ gigs, the title of Hawthorne's latest album, Man About Town, seems very apt. The Michigan-born crooner resets his formula with sentimental, yet upbeat meditations on love, loss, and longing in the big city while riffing on his soul sound with a bit of Motown and reggae. Ahead of his performance at Mamby on the Beach on Sunday, we spoke with Hawthorne about what influenced his new album, the cathartic power of soul music, and the talent of Barry White. Your latest album Man About Town has a streamlined, conceptual feel to it. How did your approach differ from your past records? The last album I had the chance to work with a lot of my favorite producers like Pharrell Williams, Jack Splash and Greg Wells—all these guys that I’m big fans of and that I’ve wanted to work with forever. I worked with Kendrick Lamar on the last record also. [With] the new record, I basically took everything I learned from those guys and I went back to doing everything myself like I did on the first two records. I produced and wrote and played nearly every instrument and it’s the most "Mayer Hawthorne" album yet. In some ways, it’s kind of a return to the first way that I did the first two records, but it’s also very much a progression. It’s all about
Interview: Jack Dolan of Twin Peaks on the influence of Chicago
Of all the garage rock acts that have risen through Chicago's music scene, Twin Peaks has aged the most gracefully. Casting off the hazy power chords of its 2012 debut, the group's latest album, Down in Heaven, doubles down on bluesy, classic rock-indebted songs. The record demonstrates maturity with its weighty, lovelorn lyricism but clings tightly to the relatively youthful perspective of its creators. Ahead of a free Tumblr IRL show at Chicago's Moonlight Studios, Twin Peaks bassist and vocalist Jack Dolan spoke with us about the band's deep to connection to Chicago and the city's influence on the group's music. You've been playing shows in Chicago for a while now—what are your favorite venues? When we first started playing shows in Chicago we were 16, so we played way more house shows and parties than actual venues. Those were our favorite because they're always kind of unpredictable and chaotic. Plus, our friends could actually come and get drunk and party which we couldn't do anywhere else. It taught us how to play in the absolute worst conditions and bring the house down while we did it. Do you still get to play some of the DIY spots you came up in? Unfortunately both Animal Kingdom and Wally World are gone now, which is really sad. Clay actually lived in Animal Kingdom for a while, so that kind of became my second crib for a summer. It just feels good to be in a place where you feel like you can get down with everyone around you. Everyone is there to drink, listen to
12 things you'll experience while traveling through O'Hare this holiday season
The holidays are upon us, and hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans will travel through O'Hare this month en route to their loved ones. While most of you might be dreaming of an idealistic experience at the city's busiest airport like the opening of Love Actually, you're most likely going to encounter the annoying, the petty and the downright disgusting. Here's what you may experience while traveling through O'Hare this holiday season. Enduring the urine-permeated CTA O'Hare is at the northernmost end of the Blue Line, so the trains can get a little messy along the way. Maybe the next car over won't smell as... never mind. The worst security lines you've ever seen Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, especially at airport security. No matter your timing or planning, you'll endure treacherous lines and ample frustration waiting in security while just-as-miffed employees condescendingly bark orders in your face. Don't be that person who fumbles their ID and boarding pass, and forgets to remove the laptop from their bag. Painful delays from terrible weather It's a bit ironic that the bulk of travel occurs when it's the worst time to travel—in the winter. We all want to get where we want to go, but we also don't want to be swept up in a snowstorm tailspin. You're just gonna have to ride it out (and maybe sleep on the floor in the terminal). Spending way too much money at the duty free shop The duty free shops at airports all possess the same illusion:
West Loop, Wicker Park top 10 most walkable neighborhoods in Chicago
Chicago is a great city for pedestrians. Last spring, Walk Score ranked it as the sixth most walkable city in the country. But while Chicago's a great town for people who prefer shoe leather to tire rubber, not all of the neighborhoods here are created equally. Recently, Walk Score released a new batch of data that shows the 10 most walkable neighborhoods in the city. Not surprisingly, West Loop, Near North Side and East Village all tied for the top spot on the list. Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Noble Square and the Loop also made the top 10. Walk Score analyzes walkability based on proximity to amenities and pedestrian friendliness. Most activities in Chicago don't require a car, and most of the things you need are right around the corner. You can walk to grab groceries or have dinner with friends pretty easily here. And if your definition of "amenities" is deep-dish pizza and local craft beer, then you'll still be alright. The top neighborhoods claim their spots with high walk scores based on closeness to a bevy of trendy restaurants, bars and grocery stores, as well as proximity to work. Wicker Park clocks in at number 4 on the list, in part because of its plentiful brunch spots, plethora of shopping and bountiful weekly farmers' market. The South Loop (number 10) is the only neighborhood on the list that's south of the downtown area, and Wicker Park is the westernmost neighborhood on the list.
New tower and runway open at O'Hare despite pushback
This morning, a new air traffic control tower and runway opened at O'Hare International Airport on the south airfield. It will be used as an arrival runway and should "substantially improve O'Hare's capacity and efficiency," according to a press release from the Mayor's press office. The project was put through in part to cut down on delays at O'Hare and enable Chicago to compete in a global economy. With a $516 million price tag, the new development has received a good deal of pushback, with opponents saying the project wasn't worth the hefty sum of money from taxpayers. A report from the Better Government Association noted that the runway will only handle about 5 percent of O'Hare's traffic, and that Northwest Side residents worry the noise pollution will affect their quality of life and property values. Vice President of Government and Airport Affairs for American Airlines Michael Minerva said the airline agreed to the project on the grounds it would be completed before the 2015 World Series, you know, just in case we need the extra capacity. Here's hoping.
Don't miss these events at Fashion Week in Chicago
If you can't fly yourself around the world for Fashion Week in New York, Paris, London or Milan, you can still experience a multitude of fun, eclectic sartorial events right here in Chicago. Chicago's own fashion week, brought to life by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, celebrates its 10th year this year and takes place October 4-12. Among the bevy of events, highlights of Fashion Focus Chicago include: Our Fashion, Our Heritage: Haiti Fashion Week Preview This runway and selling event features top designers covering 500 years of Haiti's aesthetic prevalence with a contemporary twist. The sale is free while seats for the runway event are limited. (Block Thirty Seven, 108 N State St, Third Floor, October 5. $15-$25) Virgin Hotels Chicago presents Chicago Fashion Incubator Designer Showcase Support young designers at this swanky event showcasing the work of 10 new Chicago designers from the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy's on State Street. Reservations required by emailing VHCFashionShow@skoogproductions.com. (Virgin Hotels Chicago, The Commons Club, 203 N Wabash Ave., October 8, doors 4:30pm. Free) Happy Hour Shopping Party featuring Chicago brands Shop handmade and local designers and boutiques and get a 20 percent discount. Specialty cocktails by Jo Snow Syrups and light snacks will be served. (Squasht Boutique, 2556 W Chicago Ave, October 8, 5-8pm. Free) StyleChicago.com presents FashionChicago This shopping extravaganza features some of Chicago'
8 films you may have forgotten were set in Chicago
Chicago has a pretty rich history of being featured on the silver screen. From The Blues Brothers to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, our city has been home to some truly memorable moments in cinematic history. But there are plenty of films that have been shot here that have since been forgotten. Here are eight. Save the Last Dance (2001) The star-crossed South Side romance of a white ballerina in love with a black hip-hopper has an intimate scene next to the river, an iconic shot of the Chicago Theatre sign lighting up the night after a Joffrey Ballet performance and a pre-Scandal Kerry Washington. If ever you need to feel less uncool, just watch a clip of Julia Stiles semi-successfully "getting down" in wide-legged cargo pants under the El. While You Were Sleeping (1995) This early-years Sandra Bullock flick features numerous Chicago details that are hard to miss. Among them, the sharp distinction between Lucy's (most likely North Side) brown brick apartment complex and Peter's (Peter Gallagher) sleek River North glass and steel abode, hot dog lunch breaks for Lucy and her boss on a frigidly cold downtown bridge, and the El coming around the bend at Adams and Wabash, complete with CTA train tokens of yore. Also, Bill Pullman was present and relevant (and leaning...). Adventures in Babysitting (1987) This crazy caper tells the story of how a babysitter and her kids encounter uproarious shenanigans after leaving their safe suburban oasis for a night of the urban underwor
Ride the Navy Pier Ferris wheel for free on its last weekend in town
After a 20-year run, Navy Pier's Ferris wheel is coming down to make way for a new, taller ride that will be built next summer. Workers will begin to take the ride apart on Monday, so this weekend is your last chance to take a spin. Starting at 10pm Saturday through 9:45am Sunday, you can ride the iconic wheel for free. Perhaps this is the perfect opportunity for a crisp, mellow date night under the stars before we enter frigid Chiberia. The wheel has an interesting history. The current amusement was built in 1995. It was inspired by the world's first Ferris wheel, which was constructed for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The original 264-foot structure was invented by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. and was again presented at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis until it was slated for demolition in 1906. It also made an appearance in the 2014 post-apocalyptic film Divergent as a dilapidated structure, so that was kind of cool. Should you miss the free ride this weekend you still have a chance to try out the wheel on Sunday for the regular price from 10am to 8pm.
The Onion brings more daily guffaws with new celebrity gossip site StarWipe
If you can't get enough of The Onion—as well as its offshoot ClickHole, a hilarious content farm of clickbait—you might appreciate their latest launch, satirical celebrity gossip site StarWipe. In the vein of popular sites like TMZ and Us Weekly, StarWipe brings the best of callous celebrity gossip and absolutely necessary news like "Emmy Photos We Can't Stop Staring At Even Though We're Supposed To Be Controlling Air Traffic" and "Iggy Azalea Seeks Replacement Rapper Friend." The "About" page for the site says StarWipe is "the most trusted source in the completely untrustworthy realm of celebrity gossip" and that it remains "dedicated to ensuring that celebrities rue the day they ever decided to pursue life as a public figure." In an interview with Esquire, A.V. Club senior editor and StarWipe editor-in-chief Sean O'Neal said they come to the same celebrity news with the difference being that they "don't have to make anything up, because gossip culture is already fake and ridiculous." Esquire also interviewed Onion Inc. CEO Mike McAvoy, who said, "StarWipe is also a strategic bet to create content properties that attract new audiences and grow the overall reach of Onion, Inc.'s media empire." Whatever the site aims to be, it's certainly a welcome and hilarious addition to Chicago's media scene.
The 606 celebrates the arts this month
The 606 has proven to be a fruitful escape since opening in June, hosting a bounty of cyclists, joggers, strollers and those of us who have used the trail to get from a bar in Logan Square to one in Bucktown (it's still exercise). The park system will remain busy this month with Arts Blitz, a programming series celebrating the arts and featuring a variety of renowned public artists with plenty of activities for kids and adults. The Arts Blitz kicks off September 19, with the dedication of the re-imagined “Children Are Our Future” mural at California and Bloomingdale Aves. The festivities continue September 21 when Graffiti Garden organizer Stephanie Garland speaks about the history and culture of graffiti writing. On September 26, the trail hosts the People’s Promenade, an end-to-end walk of the 606 featuring visual art installations throughout the trail, including a poetry slam, a jazz sextet and seasonal snacks. Even if you're not able to participate in the activities this month, you can check out existing and upcoming art along the trail including a yet-to-be-titled mural created by students from the arts education non-profit Marwen and an installation in the Damen Arts Plaza, featuring a sculpture made of rubber tires, rubber and stainless steel that will be installed via crane. Take a look at the full list of programming on the 606's website.
Could Chicago be one of the next Google Fiber cities?
As bandwidth becomes a more pressing issue for small businesses and highly connected families who rely on things like mobile data and streaming video, Google has a new solution: Google Fiber. Google wants everyone to use the Internet as if it's an unlimited resource, and what better way than to slap a new look on old technology in order to bring gigabit Internet to homes and businesses? Google Fiber will bring more than "10 times the capacity of most of today's Internet connections in U.S. homes and small businesses," reports TechRepublic, catching the attention of consumers and leaving "techies salivating." Fiber optics have been around for a while, but it wasn't until the 1990s when their usage really took off, with the emergence of the dot-com bubble. "The biggest advantage of fiber optics are their long-haul capabilities," writes TechRepublic, noting an ability to travel long distances with sufficient data transfer speeds that make fiber "more economical." While techies can't wait, we bet consumers are champing at the bit as well. I mean, we go to great lengths to show our co-workers a hilarious video online only to be crushed when, mid-punchline, we're met with a disheartening buffering signal. Chicago could be one of the next cities to receive the gifts of Google Fiber. Considering the criteria Google uses to choose fiber cities—including an existing fiber network, proximity to a Google data center and a willing local government—Chicago seems a likely choice. It's also
City Farm in Chicago shows why we should be urban farming
Maybe you decided to be more conscious when it comes to what you eat since watching Food Inc, but then you found yourself eating pizza rolls you bought at 3am from 7-Eleven. If you need a good kick in the butt, watch this gem from PBS show The Good Stuff, which details the effect of urban farming and how one organization, City Farm in Chicago, is helping to lead urban farms in the country, transforming vacant city lots into productive farmland. With the global population expected to hit 9 billion by 2050, precious land used for growing food and feeding people is becoming more and more threatened. Cue the greenest man in Chicago, Ken Dunn, founder of City Farm, to turn the problem into a meaningful solution. City Farm works to collect food waste from grocery stores and restaurants and turns it into compost, fertilizing urban farmland and providing environmental and nutritional benefits. In addition to healthier agriculture and eating, City Farm brings more value to the community by administering jobs, granting nutritional education and making everything that much more beautiful.