Chicago's largest auditorium north of the Loop needs saving soon, or it might be lost forever:
At the intersection of Lawrence, Racine and Broadway in Uptown, the massive, once-grand Uptown Theatre, a shuttered movie palace that has awaited restoration for nearly 40 years, is slowly deteriorating. Its reopening—an expensive proposition that would require public and private funds—is key to the neighborhood's vitality and could make it a premier destination for live entertainment.
Preservationists say that because of its decrepitude, something needs to happen fast to save the theater from permanent ruin. "If this isn't resolved soon, this building will continue to deteriorate," says Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago.
A reopened Uptown would, at 4,500 seats, have the largest theater capacity north of downtown (the Auditorium in the Loop has nearly 4,000). Mark Kelly, commissioner of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, shares Emanuel's vision that the Uptown would solidify the intersection of Lawrence, Racine and Broadway as a destination for live entertainment. "What would be most desirable is we get a mix of these awesome performance venues at a very high level to accommodate a lot of people," Kelly says. "Then it's a real entertainment district."
The neglect dates to the 1970s, when the Uptown was used primarily for closed-circuit boxing matches and rock concerts by acts including the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen. Accelerating its demise was co-owner Lou Wolf, a notorious Chicago slumlord and felon who purchased the theater in 1980 and shuttered it the following year. Unoccupied and uncared for for more than three decades, the building suffered water damage after the heat was turned off. In 2014, 6 inches of ice covered the grand stairway and 4 feet of water rose in the basement. Broken windows, animal infestation, vandalism and plaster-killing summer humidity followed, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid property taxes.
Fortunately, the city designated a landmark district in 2016 that includes the Uptown, but that only means it can't be demolished. But it still needs maintenance, desperately. I hope someone steps up. I'm looking at you, Rahmbo.
The following appeared in my inbox while I was in the air. I'll read them later:
I'll probably read them after my body wakes me up at 6am local time tomorrow. The westbound time change is so much easier than eastbound, but it's still hard to sleep in.
Emirates, despite what I may think about its ownership and massive state subsidies, has some of the coolest equipment in commercial aviation. Their latest innovation is to provide virtual windows for their interior first-class suites:
See, Emirates laid out its new First Class suites in a 1-1-1 configuration on the 777. The suites on the sides are treated to several windows, but what could Emirates do about the suites in the middle? Some people love aisle seats and others love windows. (And there are probably a strange few who even prefer neither for some unknown reason.) But people generally prefer to have an aisle AND window when possible. And if you’re in First Class, that seems like quite a reasonable request. There obviously can’t be windows in the middle of the aircraft, so Emirates did something awesome. It installed virtual windows. You can see them in action in this video:
I mean, that's just cool. And it has some really interesting implications:
This kind of technology can also allow designers to really get creative on new aircraft. Think about the B-2 stealth bomber. That kind of triangular “flying wing” design” could lend itself to commercial aviation some day, but windows would be a real challenge. Now imagine that could be built with virtual windows throughout the cabin, giving people a constant ability to look out without requiring any structural work.
Heck, you could make the whole airplane a virtual window if you want. That would result in something similar to Airbus’s 2050 concept airplane (though that plan apparently would, in theory, use transparent cell membranes or something crazy like that).
Yes, this may seem like it’s just a fake window, but it’s so much more. I’m excited about what it might mean for future aircraft development. Oh… and yeah, those new Emirates suites look pretty darn nice too.
I don't think I'll ever actually fly in an Emirates first-class suite, but I agree with Cranky Flier: there's a lot to be excited about in there.
I've been in frenetic housecleaning mode today, since it's the first work-from-home Wednesday I've had in...let me see...10 weeks. And apparently I last had my housekeeping service here 16 weeks ago. (It wasn't that bad; I do clean up occasionally.)
The activity and actually having to do my job has led me to miss a couple of news stories, which I will now queue up to read:
- Former President Obama spoke at the Economic Club of Chicago last night, and said, at one point, "American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s."
- Citylab outlines how the tax bill now working its way through reconciliation between the House and Senate will be really, really bad for cities. As if we didn't know. As if that wasn't a feature, rather than a bug.
- And it doesn't take a Nobel-winning economist to understand the chutzpah behind the Republican Party's bait-and-switch on taxes and deficits. "Now, to be fair, there are some people in America who get lots of money they didn’t lift a finger to earn — namely, inheritors of large estates." How true.
- In more neutral news, the Atlantic has the the year in photos (part 1), with more on the way later this week. I especially like the Turkish seagull (#22).
- Finally The Daily WTF has an example of life imitating satire, and it's sad and funny all at the same time.
I'm now going to throw out all the empty boxes in my office closet, though it pains me to do so. After all, someday I might need to return this pair of wired headphones from 1998...
According to a new study, it seems to depend on how big they are:
Michael Varnum, a psychologist at Arizona State University and a member of its new Interplanetary Initiative, is trying to anticipate this response.
The scientists asked 500 people to describe their reactions to a hypothetical discovery of alien microorganisms. Respondents also had to predict how humanity at large would react. Like the journalists, people in the study used positive words. There were no characteristics that set responses apart, not a person's income, ethnicity, political orientation or traits such as neuroticism or agreeableness. But people felt that the rest of the country would be generally less agreeable.
That may be because “most Americans tend to think, on any desirable trait or ability, that they're better than the average person,” Varnum said.
So tiny aliens are OK, but larger ones are scary? Has no one read The Andromeda Strain?
On Wednesday, I did something for the first time:
That was the Rangers at the Blackhawks. And this happened:
Hearing "Chelsea Dagger" seven times (including three thanks to Artem Anisimov's first career hat trick) was a good introduction to the sport.
Right now, it looks like I'll see the Blackhawks/Maple Leafs game on January 24th, complete with "O Canada" (and I hope more of the Fratellis).
I love what this driver did to her Mazda logo:
I'm heading back to the East Coast tonight to continue research for my current project, so my time today is very constrained. I hope I remember to keep these browser windows open for the plane:
- 538 examines why, a full year later, the 2016 election just won't go away.
- James Bridle says something is wrong on the Internet.
- Josh Marshall continues to bang the drum on President Trump's creeping authoritarianism. (Or, you know, not so much creeping as shambling, with all the zombie implications in the term. Says Marshall, "[I]ncompetence and authoritarian aren’t in tension. They tend to operate together, each catalyzing each other as both cause and effect.")
- On the same theme, yesterday the President called Chicago a "total disaster" because he doesn't understand how the lack of Federal gun laws makes our local regulations irrelevant.
- Last Friday, Andrew Sullivan wrote that the Democrats are failing the resistance. But Jeet Heer thinks our party's internecine conflicts are good for the party.
- Crain's Chicago Business lists the most indulgent dishes in Chicago.
- Chicago Magazine investigates the rash of suicides-by-train plaguing the area.
- WaPo describes the weirdness behind the attack on Senator Rand Paul over the weekend.
- Writing for CityLab, Carolyn Adolph says Seattle has fallen out of love with Amazon, with some implications for Chicago.
- Finally, Samuel Adams now has a $200 beer at 28 ABV. Not sure if I'll ever try it.
So much to do today...and then a short, relaxing, upgraded flight to BWI.
I made sure to take a photo of this while walking home from dinner last night:
But, really, the sign should now say AC000101. Because the Cubs lost the playoffs. Again.
Too much to read today, especially during an hours-long download from our trips over the past two weeks. So I'll come back to these:
But more seriously:
Lunch break is over.