Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting Serious

I was at a family gathering this weekend, when someone asked me how the blog was going. I sheepishly admitted I hadn't been able to keep up with as much as I would've liked because of the rigors of journalism school. Another family member mentioned she had recently read there were 24 million blogs wasting away on the internet. 24 MILLION.

I'm determined to get back in the saddle and make I Am Chicago the blog I always imagined it could be.

In the coming months it will...

  • move to

  • look like an actual website with hopefully cool design

  • have regular features

  • incorporate the concept behind my class blog By the Bootstraps

... just to start. Let me know if you have any ideas to add to the site's transformation. I hope to unleash it by October, we shall see.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Look Back: Kuma's Block Party

When the weather gods are kind enough to give another glorious summer day in Chicago, it is wise to enjoy the sunshine as best as you can before they change their minds. Keeping this in mind, my boyfriend and I decided to head over to Kuma's Corner for their block party.

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Celebrating its four-year anniversary, Kuma's went all out, closing off a section of Francisco Avenue for over 200 revelers to enjoy music, free food and cheap beer. The restaurant is widely known as serving the best burgers in the city. Kuma's famed burgers are named after rock bands with a dizzying array of toppings, like the Led Zeppelin (10 oz. burger with pulled pork, bacon, cheddar, pickles) or the Lair of Minotaur (same juicy burger with caramelized onions, pancetta, brie, bourbon soaked pears).

We stayed long enough to enjoy the tale end of one band's performance, free pulled pork sandwiches and polish hot dogs, and $3 PBR. The crowd made for some cool people watching - tattoos, stretched earlobes, and big beards were plentiful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Public Enemies

Photo taken from Public Enemies official website

Public Enemies, aka the movie this summer of lackluster blockbusters has been waiting for, opens today.

"Enemies" recounts the story of Great Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger and the FBI's attempts to capture him, dead or alive.

Many parts of the movie were filmed right here in Chicago during a 36 day long shoot "from late March to late June 2008," according to Metromix. Tell-tale landmarks include Union Station and the legendary Biograph Theater on Lincoln Avenue, where Dillinger was killed in 1934.

The excellent cast (Johnny Depp as Dillinger, Christian Bale as FBI Agent Melvin Pervis and Marion Cotillard as Dillinger's girlfriend Billie Frechette) and parallels to our current economy and public sentiment toward banks makes this movie a must-see in my book.

For history buffs, watch Bryan Burrough (who wrote the book "Public Enemies" the film is based on) discuss if the blockbuster is true to history.

And here's the trailer for those unfamiliar with - or for those who just want to get excited for - the movie:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Have A Little Pride

Advanced Warning: Pictures for this blog post include half dressed men, gyrations, costumes and simulated sexual actions. All photos were taken by Anthonia Akitunde

In the close to five years I have lived in Chicago, I have never been to a Gay Pride Parade, a shameful streak I broke today. One of the many highlights of the season, Pride takes place in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood, a center of gay life in the city.

Gay pride celebrations have occurred since the infamous New York Stonewall riots in 1969. This year's 40th Gay Pride Parade in Chicago saw more than 450,000 participants according to the Sun-Times.

The parade started at noon on the corner of Belmont and Halsted. After making my way through the throngs of people lining Halsted Street in the heart of Boystown, I managed to get a place on the bleachers with my friends to watch the parade unfold. I felt that while people were aware of the weightier issues that inspired Pride festivities - equal rights, not being ashamed of ones' sexuality - Pride was really all about having fun.

And have fun we did. Look through the slideshow below for pictures from this year's Pride Parade.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ruling the Roost

After getting out of class at noon on Tuesday, I decided to stop by a store I saw while gazing out the 22 Clark bus windows.

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All photos were taken by Anthonia Akitunde

Roost (located at 5634 N. Clark), a vintage home decor store, has a hodgepodge of flatware, art, vintage books and oddities scattered throughout the store. With stacks of odd-ball and straight-off-the-farm items at every turn, I had fun poking my nose around the small and tightly packed store, inching around other customers to examine piles of old mason jars and salt shakers.

The store would suit someone who doesn't take design too seriously; someone who favors the kitschy over streamlined modernity. Placed on book shelves, ladders, couches and hutches, each item exuded an earthy whimsy that made me feel like I was inside the pages of "Little House on the Prarie."






For more pictures from Roost, watch the slideshow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Favorite Verse

I've gone into detail in previous posts about what a fashion fiend I am. When the weather gets as glorious as it has been the last few days, nothing beats window shopping. I came across Verse Chicago (1821 W. North) on one such jaunt in less friendly weather and have been hooked on its interesting mix of budget, yet style conscious local designers and the amazing customer service provided by its owner, Kortnee Doss.

I made a video about the boutique for Honey Magazine, but you can check it out here:

Verse Chicago (1821 W. North) is a must-see for any stylish Chicagoan looking for of the moment, one-of-a-kind designs with stellar customer service.

Credit Cards and Chicago Taxi Cabs, Together At Last

Photo credit: Anthonia Akitunde

While I still think Chicago is the best American city, one thing New York has going for it are the touch screen consoles located in the back of every cab. Passengers can watch local programming, see the route the driver is taking to their destination via Google Maps and, most importantly, pay for their trip with a credit or debit card.

For years many Chicagoans who wanted to pay for a cab ride with a credit card were met with hostility, claims the driver's machine "wasn't working" or plain refusal of service. A report in the Chicago Tribune yesterday said this gap in service was the number three complaint regarding Chicago taxi service and the number one complaint in the taxi industry.

Thankfully plans to install those consoles in up to 2,600 Chicago cabs are underway. Only 30 cabs currently have the technology installed. The article did not say when the installations would begin.

After hearing the news through Chicagoist, I asked my cab driver this morning why drivers were so weary of accepting credit cards (after he initially said he didn't take cards only to change his tune).

"If you give me a credit card, I have to take it," said the driver of Yellow Cab 4378 (his license was covered up).

But, he went on, it can take a while for the cab's credit card reader to authorize a transaction. If the purchase does not go through long after the ride, the driver has to pay for it out of pocket.

Also credit card companies take 5 percent of the fare total whenever a card is used, cutting into the driver's profits, according to the Tribune's report.

While the new technology won't address that concern, drivers will benefit from placing control in the passengers' hands. Officials predict drivers will less likely be targeted for crime since they'll have less money. Because of the gratuity calculator included in the console, drivers saw a 7 percentage point increase in tips, from 15 percent when passengers paid in cash versus 22 percent with their cards.

As for us passengers? The ride back home after a long night just got a hell of a lot easier.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hark! I Hear A Tweet

I have found a solution to my "too busy to blog but willing to procrastinate with Twitter" problem: start a Twitter account for I Am Chicago!

Follow me on Twitter!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Baby

My in depth package for my Urban newswriting class was months in the making. It made me incredibly happy to finally post this article on the funding shortages that may hurt adult education for people with disabilities.

I stumbled upon the story when I was working on a story first quarter about changes in private school enrollment. Gateway to Learning had been listed as a private school in the neighborhood I covered and I called them up. I was embarrassed to find out that while the school was indeed private, it was for a school for students with developmental disabilities.

But, said Cheryl Hennelly, the program's executive director. There is definitely a story here.

We talked on the phone - the first of many phone and in-person conversations - and Cheryl told me that Gateway had not received payments from the state's comptroller's office for the past seven months. This all happened toward the end of last quarter and when I decided I wanted to take Urban reporting, I knew this was a story I wanted to follow up on.

If you don't have enough time to read the article (singlehandedly the best editing and producing experience I've ever had), watch and listen to the audio slide show I created for it as well (singlehandledly the best multimedia production I've created thus far).

I'm ridiculously proud of it. My professor David Nelson made this the best article possible through a long editing process that I crave and hadn't seen in the program until now. This quality is something I now hope to execute in all my writing the first time around.

The quarter is almost over, but I get right back to it again June 22nd. Hopefully I'll find a way to juggle all of it and be a better poster. I've been more absent than I have been Chicago.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What I've Been Up To...

I've been so consumed with journalism school, I haven't had the time I would like to devote to my blogging. Enclosed are some links to stories I've worked on this quarter. I'm covering education in Chicago, a very huge and wily beast to be sure: