Our Jazz Musicians Never Stop Cooking

Mike Reed poses in Constellation, a club he opened in 2013 on Western Avenue south of Belmont Avenue.Photo: Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune It’s only fitting that Chicago—a city that saved free jazz from near extinction in the 1960s—is leading a resurgence in improvised music. The nucleus? Roscoe Village’s Constellation, a no-frills space where you can catch … Read more

Italian Beef

Illustration: Hawk Krall I always get my Italian beef dipped. It’s a wet sandwich, which by any standards sounds disgusting, unless you’re in an emo or progressive punk band. There’s an awkwardness that only Chicagoans know, which is if you order your sandwich dipped and they don’t dip it enough and you ask them to … Read more

The Black Mount Rushmore

Photos: (JORDAN) Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune; (WINFREY) Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times; (OBAMA) Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune What’s great about Chicago for me, being black and from the South Side? It’s knowing that Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jordan—the triumvirate of modern black icons—spent their formative years here. Knowing that our streets and people and restaurants … Read more

The Wood Back Porch

Photo: trippchicago/Flickr Chicago wrote an autobiography and called it the wood back porch. The city’s long history in the lumber industry explains the use of wood, and its even longer history of trying to keep people safe from fires—specifically a building ordinance requiring a second exit in every household—explains the porches’ ubiquity. Wood porches doubling … Read more

The Japanese Garden in Jackson Park

Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Waterfalls, azaleas, and burbling streams—this park-within-a-park near the lakefront in Woodlawn is my own urban Shangri-la. Situated on Wooded Island—which, along with the adjacent Museum of Science and Industry, is one of the few remaining vestiges of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition—the garden exudes pristine tranquility, with prim gravel paths that … Read more

We Are the New Hip-Hop Capital

Case in point: Noname, a.k.a. Fatimah Warner. She may have split for L.A., but with a debut that Rolling Stone picked as one of 2016’s best rap albums, this 25-year-old South Sider is the latest Chicago-bred artist to break out nationally.

A Library’s Treasures at Your Fingertips

Illustration: Hawk Krall For the trouble of filling out a simple form, you can don gloves and get your hands on some of the Newberry’s prized possessions, including: a 1623 Shakespeare First Folio medieval Christian devotional books The Red Man’s Greeting, a protest booklet sold by Potawatomi chief Simon Pokagon at the 1893 world’s fair … Read more

Video Never Killed Our Radio Star

Among the many delights Chicago delivered during my graduate school years at Northwestern was a quirky, folksy, wickedly satirical radio show on Saturday nights called The Midnight Special. It aired on WFMT, a station better known for playing Bach and Beethoven, and no radio program made me laugh harder. During the spring of 1973, as … Read more

Great Meals for $5 (or Less)

Photos: Jason Little 1. Weekly pasta special at Reno ($5, Wednesday nights only), 2607 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square 2. Two tripa tacos at La Chaparrita ($3.70), 2500 S. Whipple St., Little Village 3. Cheeseburger and fries at Redhot Ranch ($3.88), 3057 N. Ashland Ave., Lake View 4. Beef kebabs at Ghareeb Nawaz ($4.99), 2032 … Read more

We’ve Got Pride of Place

Walden at age 4 in front of her grandmother’s house  Photo: Courtesy of the writer Chicagoans like to cut straight to the chase: “What part of town are you from?” If you’re from the West Side, like I am, it’s not enough to reply, “Out west,” because Chicago is a quilt of coves, each with … Read more