Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Basketball Courts at 18th and State are Getting a Facelift ; Aiming to be Ready in Spring 2022

The iconically Chicago public basketball courts at 18th and State that sit under the Orange and Green lines are getting a face lift (via DePaul): 

The Chicago Park District joins Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward), DePaul University and local community members to break ground on the renovation of Margaret Hie Ding Lin Park, in the Near South community area, on Monday, August 30, 2021. The public park located at 1735 S. State St. features a basketball court, which will be fully renovated to provide additional opportunities for basketball programming for the community in partnership with DePaul University. The makeover is a valuable improvement over the existing facility and a welcome upgrade for park visitors and aspiring athletes seeking access to better quality public urban spaces to engage in active recreation and play.

In addition to the revamped basketball court, the renovation will include a new half court facility, new bleachers, benches, lighting and a drinking fountain. Updated landscape and ADA accessibility improvements will also be part of the overall renovation. Located adjacent to the Orange Line CTA 'L' Train, the park is expected to be completed in Spring 2022 and will be a destination sports play area for future generations of players and current athletes to gather and play.

Beyond being home to neighborhood pick-up games, these courts have played host to various commercials for brands such as Nike, Adidas and Gatorade (some Sloopin coverage here). 

While no one is going to complain about these courts getting upgraded, the "urban" feel of the courts that likely resulted in the commercials being shot here is likely going to be gone...but we're ok with that.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Flying Over the The 78 Development Lot

 The 78 promises to be a big addition to the Sloop, here is a different vantage point that shows how big the space actually is:

Friday, August 27, 2021

Kanye's Donda Experience at Solider Field Certainly Sounds Like an Experience

We've been curiously awaiting reviews and videos from last nights Donda Experience at Soldier Field.  While we imagine the phrase "you had to be there" is an understatement, we thoroughly enjoyed the Chicago Tribune's write-up on the spectacle.  Here is a key blurb that encapsulates the event:

To be honest, it’s how I imagine a listening party with Kanye West going. He invites me over. I wait two hours after the agreed upon time for him to arrive. Kanye being Kanye, just to irritate me, courting attention, he shows up with Marilyn Manson and DaBaby in tow — Manson who faces several assault lawsuits, DaBaby under fire for homophobic remarks at a music festival last month in Miami. They wander the house looking uncertain. Meanwhile, outside on the street, perhaps in Kanye’s mind, the house is under siege by black cars and a faceless army. The music he plays is challenging and interesting but after a while, it’s hard to pay attention to what I’m hearing, and just before it’s all over, in case I didn’t grasp Kanye’s frame of mind, he sets himself on fire.

Some of the videos we've seen are... unsurprisingly Kanye.  Afterall he literally built a replica of his South Side Chicago home in the middle of Soldier Field (via WGN):

Material coming out of the event seems a little limited for some reason.  Here is one we found that wasn't subtle - if fans had any doubt what they were getting themselves into:

And here is some actual music with DaBabby (the cancelled Lollapalooza headliner referenced above):

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Chabad South Loop Hosts Jewish High Holiday Services at Glessner House Courtyard

 If you're looking for a place in the Sloop to celebrate the Jewish High Holidays:

From Chabad:

High Holiday Services at the beautiful Glessner House Courtyard

You are invited to join Chabad Jewish Center of South Loop to celebrate the High Holidays outdoors at the historic Glessner House Courtyard!

Services at Chabad of South Loop are warm and welcoming and feature inspirational commentary and melodies. The High Holidays are a powerful time of connection and meaning.

There is no charge to join, but space is limited so it is recommended to RSVP as soon as possible. Registration is required.

Rosh Hashanah Dinner Under the Stars

The community Rosh Hashanah Dinner will take place under the stars in the beautiful Glessner House Courtyard. The lavish dinner will be catered and will blend traditional Rosh Hashanah foods with contemporary dishes, all enjoyed in the festive spirit of the holiday. Registration is required. There is no charge to join, but space is limited so it is recommended to RSVP as soon as possible.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

X Pot Looks to be Making Progress on Their Buildout at Roosevelt Collection

Looks like the Robots are still coming to Roosevelt Collection:

As a reminder, X Pot is a highly immersive dining experience that incorporates projections, sound, light and ROBOTS! Yes, server robots! We posted about this concept way back in 2019 and have been curious/skeptical about the concept.  We weren't sure if they were still coming to Roosevelt Collection given the pandemic, but looks like they will be coming to the Sloop!

Looking forward to this one.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Cisco Still Moving Into The Old Post Office

One of the biggest questions from the pandemic is the impact on work.  A big tennant at The Old Post Office looks like they're still moving forward with their plans to relocate (via Chicago Tribune):
Technology firm Cisco Systems announced this week it’s moving its regional offices in Rosemont to downtown Chicago where the city will serve as the company’s Midwest “hub,” officials tell the Tribune.

The San Francisco-based IT giant has had a plan in the works for years now to consolidate city and suburban offices in Chicago’s redeveloped Old Post Office at 433 W. Van Buren St., along the Chicago River, which will now be home to the hub.

Jobs span across sales, sales engineering, services, collaboration and operations roles, according to a Cisco spokesman. The Tribune reported in 2019 that Cisco was negotiating rent on 130,000 square feet of office space in the long-vacant old post office. The new Cisco space can accommodate 1,200 employees. The company sees the Chicago office, a micro-headquarters of sorts, as a “space where teams can come together under a hybrid work model, while showcasing how our technology can power a more hybrid way of working for our teams, customers, and partners,” the Cisco spokesman said.

The announcement comes at a time when downtown Chicago is trying to get back on its feet amid a pandemic that at one point turned the Loop and environs into a ghost town. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has previously said the pandemic didn’t stop businesses from moving into Chicago; in all 32 businesses have set up shop since the COVID-19 outbreak took hold here, she has said.

Ironically, beyond this we also had a meeting recently (not about Sloopin) with a small startup media company that was looking at space at The Old Post Office.  Curious to see how the commercial real estate market evolves post pandemic.


Friday, August 20, 2021

Kanye West Bringing the Donda Album Experience to Soldier Field Next Week (8/26)

Looks like Kanye is coming home for a concert at Soldier Field next week (via Pitchfork):

After two different events at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta this summer, Kanye West has announced a third Donda listening session. This one’s taking place in his hometown of Chicago, at Soldier Field, on August 26. Tickets go on sale August 20.

The second event, which livestreamed via Apple Music, featured a more elaborate stage show, multiple new songs, and significant updates to tracks he debuted at the first listening session. When Donda didn’t arrive for its originally scheduled July release date, West’s representatives confirmed a new August 6 release date. The album has still not been officially released.

It sounds like tickets go onsite today at noon, so if you're interested probably good to head on over to ticketmaster during that time.  We're guessing it will sellout (especially given the novelty of the event as it's the third of who knows how many).

Kanye remains one of the most enigmatic figures in popular culture.  We're not going to get into all of that right now, but the fact that he was born and raised in Chicago means that he maintains a connection and loyal following here.  We are captivated by him and still listen to some of his older albums (more recent stuff just hasn't appealed as much to us).

You can read more about The Donda Album Experience here.  We found this news segment on YouTube if you're looking for some info:

The segment is....typical Kanye these days. Highly visual and avant garde. Take that for what it's worth. 

Kanye has a history of using Chicago for promotion.  He brought his Sunday Service to Northerly Island a couple years back (although at that point, it was already widely viewed in different locales).  Back in 2013 he projected a video for his new song called "New Slaves" on the Field Museum as a promotional launch.

To be honest, we're unsure what motivates Kanye these days.  While he stands to make money (we would assume), he seems to be more focused on pushing the envelope of culture - for good or bad depending on your perspective. 

Nonetheless - expect some stories coming out of Soldier Field next week.  

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Monday, August 16, 2021

Bureau Pizza Co. Officially Open at 719 S. State

 Congrats to Bureau Pizza Co (719 S. State) on their opening:

As a reminder, this space used to be Pauly's Pizza Co but they closed last year after a long run.

Welcome Bureau Pizza!

Friday, August 13, 2021

City Health Official: No Signs Lollapalooza was a "Super Spreader" Events

Ok, this is my last Lolla post.  Seems like the city is saying there aren't any signs that the massive festival was a "super spreader" event (via Tribune):

Chicago’s top health official announced Thursday that roughly 200 Lollapalooza attendees have tested positive for COVID-19 so far in the aftermath of the four-day music festival, but she said there’s no indication the controversial event was a “superspreader.”

“There’s no evidence at this point of a superspreader event, and there’s no evidence of substantial impact to Chicago’s COVID epidemiology,” said Chicago’s public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

So far, there have been no coronavirus deaths or hospitalizations linked to Lollapalooza, which drew a crowd of about 385,000 to Grant Park, she said.

The outbreak of 203 cases included 127 attendees who had been vaccinated and 76 attendees who had not been immunized; 58 of the positive cases were Chicago residents, 138 lived elsewhere in Illinois and seven had traveled from out of state, Arwady said.

So that's good news - although a cynic could point to the (likely) numerous young people who simply brushed off testing or "mild" symptoms.  

But...we're not going to be cynical anymore.  It seems like the Mayor Lightfoot and the city has avoided the massive black eye many anticipated.  So we will give them their due and say we're glad Lolla happened and that some sense of normalcy occurred this summer.

We will keep our eyes open for additional stories on this topic, but hopefully we're done with it!   

Monday, August 9, 2021

One Negative Covid Test for Lollapalooza!

Sample size of one here - I went to Lollapalooza, haven't had symptoms and had a negative covid test on Thursday!  So that's a relief, but realistically I was probably one of the more responsible attendees hanging in the back and wearing a mask if things got super crowded.

We will be curious as this story unfolds (or doesn't) over the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, most of the discourse has subsided regarding Lolla.  We saw Bill Maher reference it on his show (he was supportive of life going on) and the latest local news is health officials urging people to get tested if you attended (via Tribune):

Alison Goodwin was eager to attend Lollapalooza, excited for both the live music lineup and the strict pandemic protocols that she had assumed would keep the event safe for her and her wife, who traveled here from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Yet she became increasingly worried during the four-day festival, describing a sea of attendees “literally pressed against each other, maskless.”

She felt the screening process for vaccination cards and COVID-19 tests at the entrance was far too quick to be thorough. While signs requested masks be worn in restrooms, she said “this was hardly ever abided by and came with zero enforcement.”

Even though she’s fully vaccinated, Goodwin said she and her wife are scheduled to get tested for COVID-19 on Friday, a few days after their first potential exposure at the event.

“We would not have attended if we knew it were going to be like that,” Goodwin said.

In the aftermath of the event — which drew hundreds of thousands of participants to Grant Park — various health departments across the state are urging participants to get tested for the virus.

“If you were at LOLLAPALOOZA please go get tested for COVID on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday,” the Tazewell County Public Health Department in central Illinois said on its Facebook page on Wednesday. “This will help us shut down any local outbreaks before they get started.”

We can echo Goodwin's thoughts - the protocols at Lolla were a joke.  Hopefully the outdoor nature of the event really does squelch the spread.  


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Fun with Lolla Time Lapse

 Not going to lie - all I see is Covid invading Grant Park, replicating and then invading the city....

(Hat tip:  @cabansteven)

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Jefas Cantina Looks to be the Mexican Restaurant Moving into Former SRO Space on Dearborn

Looks like some more information is trickling out about the Mexican restaurant replacing the former Standing Room Only restaurant at 610 S. Dearborn (via Eater):

South Loop: Restaurant owner Giulio Spizzirri (SeƱoritas Cantina) has applied for a liquor license under the name Jefas Cantina Inc at 610 S. Dearborn Street. The space previously housed Standing Room Only, a casual burger and sandwich spot, which Spizzirri also owned until it closed during the pandemic.

We weren't aware that it's the same owner and that he's just reconcepting, but maybe the silver lining is that he knows the neighborhood?  We're unfamiliar with his spot SeƱoritas Cantina in Pilsen, but it looks pretty similar to some of the other Mexican spots in the neighborhood  such as Flaco's, Taco Maya, Spanglish.  Guess we will see.

As a reminder, SRO was a long standing burger joint in the neighborhood that closed during the pandemic last fall.  The spot is in a great location and seems well positioned to continue Dearborn's momentum.  Hopefully they make the most of it!

(Hat tip:  RH!)

Monday, August 2, 2021

Lollapalooza 2021: The Science Experiment

After a year off due to the pandemic, Lollapalooza 2021 has officially ended!  

From a pure event standpoint, it seemed like this years incarnation went off without a major hitch.  The weather was pretty much perfect.  Grant Park likely won't have any major structural damage like years past and in a week we likely can enjoy all of its glory.  

But like most things in the world today, the big story at Lolla was the Delta variant and its continued surge throughout the world, country and our area.

When the city announced that Lollapalooza was moving forward with the fest in the spring I was surprised.  It seemed like the perfect petri dish perfect for cultivating Covid.

Let me just preface this next part with the fact that I've gone to every single Lolla in Grant Park since I moved to Chicago in 2006.  So you can tell me I'm getting old, but you can't tell me that I'm not a huge Lolla booster.  Hell, I bought a ticket (and went) on Saturday and had friends who did the same.

I'm not going to lie - it was fun to gear up for the day and approach the event.  I was legitimately excited - its been awhile.  

Unfortunately the whole thing was idiotic.  I can paint this a lot of ways and draw out some positives, but at the end of the day - Lollapalooza shouldn't have happened this year.  

You know that policy that you had to prove you were vaccinated or had a negative Covid test?  Yeah, that was pretty much a joke as far as we could tell.  Maybe simply stating that deterred some or caused people to get vaccinated (really?)....worse yet, it gave some of us who were vaccinated but may have had underlying conditions or children who couldn't get vaccinated a false sense of security.  So for that - screw you Mayor Lightfoot and Lollapalooza.

Beyond the "Covid entry policy" - it didn't seem like any other precautions were made other than a sign removing Lollapalooza's liability (thanks Lolla!):

I was hopeful that they at least could have upped the game for the porta potty situation.  More hand soap?  More space?  Something?  It all looked exactly the same as the past and if you've ever seen it in the past, you can attest it's not the shining example of germ prevention.

Regardless of the potty situation and as a resident old guy at Lolla, there was no chance I was cramming my way up into the throngs of people, but this doesn't scream social distancing: 

The crowds jammed packed like the was to be expected.  Music is a powerful drug....

So it's over.  Now we get to see what the ramifications are.  There 100% is going to be stories of Covid spread via Lolla attendees - it's simply impossible not to happen - the question is just how much and how bad.

On one hand maybe the risk of outdoor transmission is truly low.  If that's the case...than maybe Lolla won't be the super spreader event many (including me) fear.  

On the other hand, we don't know much about Delta and it seems like we're going to have some data coming out of Lolla for the epidemiologists to hypothesize about.  

Hopefully this science experiment doesn't go wrong...