After the resignation of the almighty Mike Madigan as speaker of the House and major duomo of the Illinois Democratic Party, disarray reigns.
Reminds me of the upheaval after the death ofChicago Mayor Harold Washington. Years of infighting crippled the city.
Now comes Illinois Rising Action with some insight about what is to come:
The fight to control the party apparatus is pitting Governor Pritzker, Senator Durbin, Congressman Chuy Garcia, and others against each other. Despite Governor Pritzker’s early endorsement for Madigan’s replacement, Senator Durbin and Congressman Chuy Garcia later backed other candidates. Pritzker’s influence on the party may be lacking due to recent political failures of his coveted tax hike amendment and legislation to steal federal relief funds from small businesses, as well as his failings as a governor surrounding the crisis at the Illinois Department of Employment Services, Illinois’ failed vaccination rollout, and the state’s delayed action at a state-run veterans’ home.
Not mentioned, but also having a dog in the fight, are local pols such as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Just what Illinois needs, a deeper descent into the political muck.
Since 1985, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! has been serving up authentic Spanish cuisine in the heart of Lincoln Park. And now, more than 35 years later, their one-of-a-kind tapas and sangria has a new location as Lil’ Ba-Ba-Reeba opened this week in River North.
The brand new sister restaurant to one of Chicago’s most recognizable establishments opened last week for dine-in, carryout, and delivery at 411 N. Clark St. You can expect the iconic menu of Executive Chef Eric Jorgensen when you come to Lil’ Ba-Ba-Reeba, right down to fan favorites such as Baked Goat Cheese, Spicy Potatoes Bravas, and the signature sangria; a pitcher of which is never enough for this writer’s fine Catalonian sensibilities.
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba is best known for bringing the true tastes of Spain to Chicago in a versatile atmosphere that’s suitable for any occasion. Truthfully, I’ve gone on a first date at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. I’ve gotten absolutely hammered off sangria while day drinking at Ba-Ba-Reeba. I’ve celebrated various special occasions, gotten dinner with friends, and have ordered takeout all with equal frequency. Needless to say, and for good reason, that Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba has received a lot of my business and I see no reason why Lil’ Ba-Ba-Reeba will not add to the perpetual cycle of emptying my bank account.
If you love tapas in a quaint environment, or if you love sangria with friends, or if you just want to impress your first post-COVID date with an authentic meal and tasty drinks then the brand new Lil’ Ba-Ba-Reeba is the place for you.
Per Lettuce Entertain You’s website, walk-ins are welcome, however, dining room reservations are encouraged and can be made via Tock. The restaurant is equipped with an AirPHX air filtration system to keep you safe. Additionally, private and heated greenhouse seating can be booked via Tock. To place a carryout order, call the restaurant directly at 312-985-6909 or order carryout and delivery via Doordash.
Corrupt politicians, roads being terrible, and having a good-ass time at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba are the holy trinity of absolutes when it comes to the Chicago zeitgeist. Don’t miss your chance to cash in on the third option as soon as possible!
Lil’ Ba-Ba-Reeba! is located at 441 N. Clark St. in Chicago’s River North. The restaurant is open Monday – Thursday from 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Friday and Saturday from 4:00 PM – 12:00 AM and Sunday from 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM. And stay tuned for more information on Lil’ Ba-Ba-Reeba’s prix fixe offerings this year for Chicago Restaurant week between March 19 thru April 3rd.
Featured Image Credit: Jordan Johnson & Lil’ Ba-Ba-Reeba
To no one’s surprise, Robinson is still frustrated. In a widely-read piece by Tyler Dunne just a few days ago, Robinson said that he had a lot of love for the city of Chicago. He has a lot of love for the team, fans and organization.
But, at this point, that love has to be reciprocated by the most important party involved: Ryan Pace.
Thus far, it has not been, nor does it look like it ever will. This is a situation which is nearly damaged beyond repair. Pace doesn’t appear ready to hand Robinson the money which everybody knows he deserves. So, what now?
The franchise tag?
That isn’t exactly the situation Robinson wants to be in. It’s not the ending he deserved to his three years in Chicago.
“”I think this gets messy, and GM Ryan Pace has given no sense that he wants to give him the money that seemingly Robinson will deserve on the open market. So that one is the one that has the most potential for, I guess, drama and intrigue. Because I just can’t see Robinson playing under the tag this year.”
This is what it’s come to.
The Chicago Bears are one step away from having to replace a nearly-irreplaceable player in Allen Robinson.
The franchise tag is looked at as a last-ditch effort, and to some fans, it means the Bears will still have Robinson for one more year.
However, with a power shift over the past few years in professional sports, that may not be the case. The power is shifting to the players. They have gotten smarter. They have become more bold — as they should to some extent.
Robinson very well could tell the Bears he isn’t playing this season, thus they are stuck without their number one receiver, and they don’t even get anything in return for losing him. He’s not there, but he’s not gone, so to speak.
Pace has played this the absolute worst way possible. Instead of getting the contract done last fall as he should have, he got greedy and didn’t give Robinson what he felt he was worth. It’s that simple. Pace is cheap skating his way out of Chicago at this point, and Robinson’s situation will go down as just one more gigantic blunder performed by a head-scratching general manager.
Should the Bears miraculously work out a long-term deal with Robinson, then this all goes away, no doubt. But, with the way Darlington spoke, that doesn’t seem as though it’s an option. Robinson and the Bears are in for a messy conundrum, as if it hasn’t already gotten to that point.
The gala will be held virtually on March 2 and will remain available to stream through March 6. Original cast members will be joined by theater stars such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Neil Patrick Harris, Ben Platt, Billy Porter, Ali Stroker, Eva Noblezada and Christopher Jackson.
NEW YORK — Twenty-five years ago, stage actors Adam Pascal and Daphne Rubin-Vega had been cast in a new, edgy musical downtown and wondered if anyone would remember it.
“Can you imagine us in 25 years talking about this show and singing these songs?” Pascal wondered to his co-star. “We laughed about it, as if like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s crazy. That’ll never happen.’”
Well, it’s happening.
The musical was “Rent” and it’s celebrating its silver anniversary this year with an online gala and a lot of gratitude from generations of fans.
Jonathan Larson’s tale of free-spirited artists and street people in New York’s gritty drug- and AIDS-plagued East Village of the early 1990s was inspired by Puccini’s “La Boheme” and found a ready-made audience in young people.
“It gives people hope who feel that ‘I’m different’ and ‘I don’t fit.’ This says ‘It doesn’t matter,’” says James Nicola, artistic director of New York Theater Workshop, which nurtured “Rent.” ”It says, ‘You can go out and make your own community.’”
“Rent” won Tony Awards for best musical, score and book and a Pulitzer Prize. It lasted on Broadway for 12 years and more than 5,000 performances, launching the careers of Pascal, Rubin-Vega, Taye Diggs, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Anthony Rapp.
There was a 2005 film version, several tours, an off-Broadway revival, international productions, a Hollywood Bowl concert and a live staging on Fox in 2019, all fueled by songs such as “Take Me or Leave Me,” “Out Tonight” and the crowd-pleasing “Seasons of Love.”
“Rent” has since been referenced in everything from “The Big Bang Theory” to “The Simpsons” to “I Am Legend.” In the film “Team America: World Police,” puppets act out a show called “Lease.”
Larson never lived to see his triumph: He died at age 35 of an aortic aneurysm after its final dress rehearsal in January 1996.
The 15 original actors stay in touch and share a text thread. “We really kind of immediately fell into a rapport and trust with each other, especially after the tragedy,” said Heredia. “There’s nothing that bonds people more than tragedy.”
The musical had an unpretentious start. New York Theater Workshop had just moved into its space in the East Village in the summer of 1992 and was undergoing construction. Larson rode by on his bike and poked his head in.
“He was curious because he’d written this musical for the East Village and was looking for a home for it that was in the East Village,” said Nicola.
A few days later, Larson dropped off a script and a cassette tape of him singing all the songs. The timing was perfect. “We were looking for something to do about our neighborhood in the literal sense and in walks this musical,” said Nicola.
It was quickly clear that Larson was steeped in classical music, pop and everything in between, what Pascal calls an “incredibly unique, eclectic influence soup.” Larson’s musical went to the top of the company’s list.
“People can write music. People can write words. Not so many people can write words and music together,” says Nicola. “And then even fewer can understand putting words and music into a dramatic context.”
The show attracted Rubin-Vega, who usually wasn’t interested in musical theater. “This was talking to me,” she recalled. “I knew these people. These are the kind of people that I hung out with.” It was, she adds, a musical that she herself wanted to see.
She would earn a Tony nomination for her Mimi, an HIV-positive heroin addict and stripper. She recalls looking out and seeing audiences singing along — weeks before a cast album was even available. They were repeat customers.
“It was a supernova,” she said.
Just being in “Rent” was lifechanging for Heredia, a then-24-year-old who never thought he’d be in a musical, much less one that made the leap to Broadway.
“I never saw my face in the faces of people that were on Broadway,” says Heredia, who played the doomed drag queen Angel.
It was Heredia, a self-described hyperactive club kid, who one day during a break in rehearsal leaped onto a table in heels — to the astonishment of director Michael Greif. That move was put in the show.
“The trick of that whole number wasn’t the jumping on the table. It was the jumping off of the table,” Heredia says, laughing. “My back and my knees are paying for it now.”
Heredia won a Tony for his work, but he says he cherishes more the dozens of people who have approached him to say Angel helped them come out to their parents, accept their son or just inspired them.
“The impact that it’s had on the generations to me has affected me even more than the Tony,” he says. “It’s one of the best thing that’s ever happened to my life.”
“Rent” also helped put New York Theatre Workshop on the map, where it has continued to nurture shows like “Hadestown,” “Once” and “Slave Play.”
“You really can look at the history of New York Theater Workshop divided neatly between before ‘Rent’ and after ‘Rent,’” said Nicola. “It’s that significant. It transformed the organization.”
One “Rent” fan is Miranda, the visionary behind “Hamilton,” noted Rubin-Vega. “In no uncertain terms, he is a legacy of Jonathan’s, just like Jonathan was a legacy of Sondheim,” she said.
Adds Pascal: “It’s a gift that continues to give.”
Michael Madigan’s retirement is off to a rough start. His handpicked replacement—26-year-old Edward Guerra Kodatt, the infrastructure manager of Madigan protege Ald. Marty Quinn—stepped down after less than 72 hours due to “alleged questionable conduct.” It’s another blow against Illinois’s practice of appointing legislative replacements rather than holding special elections, which give voters and the press time to vet candidates.
There are plenty of other reasons to dislike Illinois’s system of replacing legislators. It encourages senators and representatives to resign in midterm, because it guarantees their seats will be filled by a member of the same party. It ignores the voices of voters by granting the power of appointment to ward and township committeepeople, or county chairmen. But it has made the Illinois General Assembly more racially diverse.
When state Sen. Heather Steans resigned in January, leaving the choice of her replacement to Far North Side committeepeople, Indivisible Illinois 9th District objected. The grassroots organization asked members of the appointment committee to “recognize that party appointments keep BIPOC and independent voices out of politics, an unstated but universal goal of machine politics.”
And they recognized it. Steans’s seat was filled by Mike Simmons, a gay, African-American son of an immigrant who grew up in public housing. Simmons beat out state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Steans’s personal choice to replace her. Likewise, Springfield Ald. Doris Turner, an African-American woman, replaced downstate Sen. Andy Manar, who resigned to become a senior adviser to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. In fact, appointments make it easier for BIPOC candidates to achieve office than democratic elections. This year, there have been four appointments to the Illinois legislature. In three of those cases, a candidate of color was chosen to replace a white legislator.
Simmons is a case in point. He would have had a tough time defeating Cassidy in a special election. Cassidy is a popular officeholder with a campaign war chest. She runs the Democratic Party in the 49th Ward, which produces a quarter of the district’s vote. As Simmons told Chicago magazine, special elections “would replicate the status quo, because you still have a short period of time to mobilize and put a campaign together and raise the money to put out a message. That would benefit people who are already insiders.”
In the Steans and Madigan vacancies, the committees listened to calls to appoint minority legislators. Indivisible Illinois thought a BIPOC candidate deserved a shot at representing the state’s most diverse Senate district. After Madigan resigned, the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus issued this statement: “[W]hoever goes before the appointment committee to be considered for the vacancy should recognize that they are seeking to represent the House district with the 3rd largest Latinx population in the State of Illinois out of the 118 districts.” It’s not yet known who will replace Madigan’s replacement, but the committeepeople of the 14th and 23rd Wards got behind different Latinx candidates, the Tribune reports.
The expense of a special election is also why (in theory) we don’t use them to replace legislators. According to Charlie Wheeler, former director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois-Springfield, Illinois adopted its system of allowing insiders to appoint legislators as a cost-saving measure.
“[I]f you had to have a special election in Southern Illinois, you could have maybe eight counties within a district,” Wheeler told the Pantagraph of Bloomington. “And if you had a special election, those counties’ election machinery, the county clerk and everything, would have to get all cranked up. And so it would be quite an effort, quite a hassle. And chances are, the turnout would not be that great. And so they decided to do appointment.”
You can believe that or not. Twenty-five other states believe special elections are worth the expense. And the Illinois Way reflects the Chicago Way of insiders appointing insiders. If it’s less expensive for counties, though, it’s also less expensive for candidates. Our last two governors have been a multi-millionaire and a billionaire, so outsiders and underdogs have even less of a chance in a pure democracy.
Hate on them all you want, but appointments have made the Illinois legislature a younger, more diverse body. Committeepeople are also elected officials. With the right amount of pressure, even Chicago politicians sometimes do the right thing.
There’s something both comforting and distressing about watching old basketball games. Knowing the results takes away the suspense, and so the broadcasts take on the character of a lava lamp. It’s easy to get lost in the glow of the action as it flows back and forth across the screen. That part’s nice. The distress comes in the form of nostalgia, and the realization that the games you watched as a kid look fuzzy (literally, as there were no high-definition cameras) and out of sync with the rhythms of today’s basketball. The pace is slow — sometimes frustratingly so — and the 3-point line just sits there, unused, like Mr. Chekhov’s firearm. The contests are still enjoyable, just different. If anything, you get to appreciate the things about the game that are impervious to change, like Hubie Brown and free throws.
The other day I rewatched game 1 of the 1997 finals between the Bulls and the Jazz. The teams were tied 82 to 82 with 9.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter (told you it was slow) when Dennis Rodman and the Jazz’s Karl Malone collided while trying to grab a loose ball. The officials whistled Rodman for a foul, gifting Malone two freebies and the chance to hand Utah a late lead.
Malone was the league’s MVP that year and one of the most reliable scorers on the planet. This dependability was reflected in his nickname, the Mailman. He finished his career second on the list of the NBA’s all-time leading scorers, and a huge chunk of those points came at the line. He took the most free throws in league history (13,188) and made more than anybody else (9,787). His 74.2 percent success rate is commensurate with the leaguewide average.
When Malone stepped to the line in Chicago, he did the same protracted routine he performed before every attempt: He bounced the ball repeatedly (seven times, in this instance), spun it in his hands twice, and whispered a few words to himself. What he said before releasing his shot was a point of mystery and fascination in Utah, but Malone never divulged it. That year, the Salt Lake Tribune hired two lip readers to analyze close-up footage, and they determined that Malone used these moments of relative solitude to deliver a message to his son: “This is for Karl. Karl, my baby boy.”
A foul shot can be intensely personal. It is the only time during a game when your teammates and opponents are powerless to help or hinder your success. There may have been 21,000 screaming, largely drunk Chicagoans letting Karl Malone have it that Sunday afternoon at the United Center, but he was as alone as a basketball player can be. The island was familiar, even if the water surrounding it churned harder than ever before.
OK, I’ll stop with the Jack London crap. You probably just want to hear what happens next (or you already know): Malone misses both attempts, the Bulls get the rebound, and Michael Jordan hits a buzzer-beater over Bryon Russell for the win.
Adding insult to Malone’s agony was Scottie Pippen. After the game, the Chicago forward told reporters that he had whispered something in Malone’s ear, interrupting the Jazz star’s routine as he prepared to take the first of those two fateful free throws. Pippen’s trash talk is now legendary: “The mailman don’t deliver on Sunday.”
It’s a great line, and for decades, I thought I had seen Pippen deliver it with my own two eyes. However, upon rewatching the game, I know this to be a false memory. The cameras didn’t capture him issuing his bon mot — all viewers got to see was Malone’s long routine, the ball rimming out of the hoop, and his agonized wince.
There was another aspect of the game’s ending that I had pushed to the far recesses of my mind. Right before Rodman’s foul on Malone, Jordan had a chance to give the Bulls the lead from the foul line. He made the first attempt but clanked the second, which is why the score was knotted at 82. As if out of some cosmic arrangement, Jordan’s stumble set into motion a sequence of events that resulted in yet another highlight-reel moment of greatness. All foul shots are the same, except when they aren’t.
Professional basketball players have a lot to think about. The flow and pace of the game may be a good distraction, but what happens when everything grinds to a halt? You’re isolated on the foul line with nothing to focus on but the hoop and a frozen clock. What’s the mind supposed to do then?
Paula Kout saw firsthand just how difficult it can be for NBA players to slow down. Phil Jackson hired her to teach the Bulls some basic yoga principles before the 1997–98 season. “The players had no frame of reference for it,” she tells me. “If you take a player today and tell them they are going to do yoga, well, everyone does yoga.” Back then, however, the practice was practically unheard of, and the Bulls organization was so skeptical of its benefits that Jackson had to pay Kout with his own money.
“I was taking a bunch of guys who had spent their whole lives in one mindset, one method of training their bodies,” she says. Getting Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen into downward-facing dog was a bit odd at first, but everyone on the team was open to the experience. “They were such good sports,” she recalls. The biggest surprise, though, came during the quiet moments.
These were the only times in their professional lives, Kout believes, that someone told them to do nothing. “Don’t succeed. Don’t excel. Don’t be aggressive.” She loves to imitate Dennis Rodman doing shavasana, or corpse pose, where you lie still on your back. “He would be lying on his mat with his eyes closed, drumming his fingertips on the floor.” He had no idea how to not do anything. (Rodman’s career free-throw percentage: 58.4 percent.)
“That moment of doing nothing wasn’t the prelude to something that was demanding pressure and stress,” Kout says. “It was a total free space on the bingo card. Do nothing now, and do nothing afterward.”
Karl Malone could have benefited from doing nothing after missing that first free throw. Watching the replay, it’s obvious that the man’s mind is racing. He saunters toward half-court with furrowed brow and grunts a word of frustration that likely upset Utah’s finest lip readers.
Malone clearly didn’t feel great, and his second attempt against the Bulls reflects this. The ball dips tantalizingly below the rim and then spins out and to the left — an identical reproduction of the first shot. He learned nothing. Those initial mistakes concerning arc or hertz or speed were copied and pasted into the fibers and sinew of Malone’s kinesthetic machinery and produced an agonizing sequel.
“I think both of them were right on line,” Malone’s teammate Jeff Hornacek said while doing some quick motion modeling in his head. “I think it was a case if it was a half-inch shorter, it would have hit the rim, bounced off the backboard, and went in. If it was a half-inch farther, it would have been a swish. Both free throws were right there, but a half-inch here or there makes a difference.”
Malone failed basketball’s most repeatable experiment, but Chicago’s Steve Kerr credited the laboratory conditions for the Bulls’ fortunate break. “That rim down there the last two months has been loose because of our mascot dunking all the time,” he dished to a reporter after the game. Chicago was experimenting with a newer and more extreme mascot at the time named Da Bull. Unlike the charming and portly Benny the Bull, Da Bull was a buff daredevil who entertained the crowd with fierce, trampoline-assisted slams during breaks. According to Kerr, Da Bull’s antics loosened the rim at one end of the court so severely that a maintenance crew had to come in and tighten its mechanism before game 1 against the Jazz. “And thank God, because both those free throws were right there,” Kerr said. “They tightened them up just right.”
Karl Malone made more foul shots than anybody else in NBA history, but he is remembered for two misses against the Bulls that may have rolled out because of an overzealous mascot.
All free throws are the same, except when they aren’t.
The Chicago Blackhawks ground out another big win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. They were tied at five in overtime and then won in a shootout after a gutsy effort once again. It was fun to watch but they earned the two points that they needed to stay right there in the […]
The Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets came together at both the NHL and AHL level on Tuesday night.
Both teams are much better at the NHL level but it was a little bit concerning that the Rockford Ice Hofs didn’t have a single win. They went into this game with the Cleveland Monsters with a record of 0-5-1-0 so they were pretty desperate for a win. Well, finally they clawed their way to their first win of the season as they defeated the Monsters by a final score of 3-2.
It was a Cale Morris start for Rockford and he was really good to earn his first start of the season. He has been the backup for most of the year but they might start to consider him for more starts as his numbers are looking nice now. Picking up the first win of the season for any goalie on the squad has to feel good as well.
Evan Barratt scored his first pro goal in this game to get it tied at one. He became the seventh player on the Ice Hogs to net their first career pro goal this season. Of them all, he has one of the better chances of cracking the NHL lineup someday.
The Hogs did go down again 2-1 but they got it tied with less than three minutes to go thanks to a goal by Andrei Altybarmakyan. It was a fun way to get it tied late. The real fun, however, came when Isaak Phillips scored the eventual game-winner with 1:32 left in the third period. It was just what the doctor ordered as the Ice Hogs needed to get their first win in the worst way possible.
Things haven’t been easy for the Ice Hogs so far this year but maybe they can use this to propel them forward. They have a lot of development going down there and the Hawks need to make sure that it continues. They are still searching for more high-end skills but that is going to take time. This AHL squad winning and feeling good about themselves is very important to the organization. Hopefully, a big win like this helps them turn their season around.
The Ice Hogs are back in action on Saturday when they battle the Cleveland Monsters again. This matchup is getting to be pretty fun so it will be cool to see these two meet again for a back-to-back over the weekend in Cleveland.