Granta Does Chicago

blog_grantaThis week, UK-based literary journal Granta will descend upon the Windy City to celebrate the launch of its new issue, which is dedicated entirely to Chicago; the publication will host a series of events around the city, including one at the STOP SMILING Storefront on Tuesday, September 15; contributions to the issue include fiction and essays by George Saunders, Stuart Dybek, Aleksandar Hemon, Don Delillo, and Sandra Cisneros, a photo essay by Camilo Jose Vergara and a book jacket designed by Chris Ware; Stop Smiling put out its own Chicago Issue in 2006, which is available via our online store.

| |

Goose Island Update

blog_gillmanLast winter a group of unionized workers in Chicago occupied their workplace — a windows and doors factory on Goose Island — when its owners tried to surreptitiously shut it down after having their line of credit cut by Bank of America, prompting nationwide news coverage and support from labor advocates; yesterday, In These Times reported that the factory’s former president has been arrested and charged with felony theft and money laundering related to his efforts to secretly move equipment from the Chicago factory to a non-union plant in Iowa; a book about the factory takeover by Kari Lydersen, Revolt on Goose Island, was released by Melville House this summer with a reading and discussion at the STOP SMILING Storefront.

| |

Wage-Earners Beware

blog_cashierA roundup of articles today looks at the potential foes one might face while working for a wage in the United States: First, a jaw-dropping new study shows that if you’re a low-wage worker, you’d do well to watch out for your employer — a whopping 68 percent of those interviewed reported at least one pay-related violation in the previous week; if you’re working in the American South, a new book advises that the media is against you, as it has historically acted as a mouthpiece for racist politicians who bash unions, civil rights and communism all in one fell drawl; surely by now you have guessed that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey might not be the best friend to his “team member” employees seeking health benefits from a program riddled with hidden system charges; finally, an Irish Bostonian comes forth to argue that Ted Kennedy was not the friend to the working man that his glowing obits make him seem.

| |

Hey Suburbia!

blog_suburbiaSome critics of Obama’s plan to fight housing segregation by dumping money into impoverished inner-city sectors and hoping for the best received welcome encouragement from a groundbreaking ruling earlier this month that makes it tough for affluent suburbs to shut their gates on low-income families; meanwhile, a Houston writer explains why suburbs deserve to exist inside city limits, and why “inner-city” and “urban” are no longer synonymous adjectives when attached to “neighborhood;” finally, a Slate photo essay takes us on a tour of Forest Hills Gardens, a transit-oriented planned community in New York built 100 years ago. -SS

| |

Teeing Up for the Green

blog_golfIt’s rare that a New York Times writer takes the side of Hugo Chavez, but it’s hard to argue that golf isn’t a bourgeois sport; its history as a predominantly White activity has been challenged, of course, by the dominance of Tiger Woods, but class issues remain, as evidenced by this report of “Tiger gawkers” with “high levels of disposable income” who “may not have been aware” that the 330 dollars they paid to see Tiger will help fight diabetes and obesity among Native Americans; Barack Obama‘s vacation hit Day 2 yesterday, and with it came a relaxing jaunt around the links with UBS Investment Bank President Robert Wolf, a generous campaign donor attracted to Obama because Obama was “a candidate who would take his calls, listen to his ideas” (the LA Times provides some golf tips for the president); meanwhile, a golf course in Michigan faces a massive re-branding task after the discovery of a 11,000-year-old mammoth tooth on its premises — the course’s logo will now feature a wooly mammoth design, and its restaurant will serve mammoth burgers.

| |

Tireless Tinkerer RIP

images1Les Paul, the guitar virtuoso and inventor, passed away this week at the age of 94; Besides developing the solid-body guitar that bears his name, Paul also revolutionized rock-and-roll through multi-track recording; Just four years ago, he recorded his first-ever rock album, and up until recently performed in New York City weekly at the New York jazz club Iridium. – SS

| |

NASA’s Empty Pockets

blog_nasaA panel appointed by President Obama to evaluate the program proposed by NASA to put humans back on the moon in 2020 has intensely criticized the plan, which originated under George W Bush, saying that its budget would be unworkable even with the help of Santa Claus; at the same time, NASA has announced that it lacks the funding to reach its goal of monitoring 90 percent of deadly asteroids by 2020, which Congress mandated it do in 2005; all this makes one wonder if the severe head scratching over what food to serve astronauts on their upcoming three-year Mars mission is really what scientists should be concentrating on. -SS

| |

Life After Death

blog_fluResurrections take on a variety of forms today, some more literal than others: A family in Paraguay was baffled, overjoyed and angered when a baby declared dead at the hospital woke up after being taken home for his own wake; Michael Jackson’s death has resurrected his dwindling profitability to the tune of $100 million in just 48 days, with another $100 million projected before the end of the year; an exhibit at the International Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago shows the innovative ways in which medical arts students are bringing life to anatomy via photorealistic 3-D models and interactive animations; and lazy photojournalists are doing their halfhearted best to revive interest in Detroit by flocking to the city and taking pictures of the same decrepit structures as everyone else. -SS

| |

Let Them Eat Meat!

blog_mcdonaldsDark days for vegetarians may lie ahead: The White House has called for the removal of posters from the DC Metro that urge lawmakers to support mandated veggie options in public school lunchrooms, because the ads use the president’s daughters as linchpins in their argument; while we noted months back that organic farming has been hit hard by the recession, McDonald’s version of “downscale, industrialized, aggressively unhealthy” meat-centric cuisine has buoyed the company through a stretch of growth and prosperity; farmers in the northeast United States face seriously dwindling supplies of tomatoes as their crops are hit with late blight, the same disease that caused the Irish potato famine; and even fauna like their fair share of flesh, we’re reminded, as researchers discover a pitcher plant large enough to eat rats. -SS

| |

Jailhouse Roundup

blog_jailThe worlds that exist inside behind bars — ever-fascinating for their mystery, brutality and occasional bouts of poetry — continue to bubble up into the view of the unincarcerated: It’s no secret that California’s infamous “Chino” prison erupted in a riot last weekend, but no report of that violence comes close to what a young Iranian describes seeing after being arrested during protests following July’s disputed presidential election; in Mexico, drug cartel bosses and underlings continue to live in prison (and leave) much as they please; Christopher Hitchens notices that the two American journalists recently “saved” by the Clintons from North Korea look in better shape after six months in prison than most citizens of that country do normally; and City Journal provides an incredible look at the US jail system, where the volume and turnover rate of pre-trial detainees makes jailkeepers’ jobs much like “shepherding each of the thousands of commuters streaming through New York’s Penn Station to their trains safely and on time, except that the commuters are all criminals who keep changing their travel plans, and their trains, to which they don’t want to go, and have no fixed timetables”. -SS

| |

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »