Biography

Born and raised and still living in Chicago, Rick Kogan has worked for the Chicago Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times and the Tribune, where he ...

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Rick Kogan

Rick Kogan

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Simmerling's vibrant work lives on

Simmerling's vibrant work lives on

December 5, 2014

Monday night in the coach house of the extraordinary Glessner House, William Tyre stood behind a podium and spoke to the hundred or so people who had come in from the cold and were sitting in chairs along the walls and standing in the middle of the ancient room. They listened to Tyre talk about his old friend Jack Simmerling.

  • Jerry Blumenthal left lasting memories on screen and in person

    November 21, 2014

    One of the final films in the long and passionate career of moviemaker Jerry Blumenthal was 2010's "Prisoner of Her Past." It has aired more than 500 times on television stations in more than 140 markets, has toured the world and continues to play in theaters and at universities.

  • Train your eyes on three great photographers

    October 23, 2014

    That I have spent more than four decades writing for newspapers has done nothing to enlighten me to the mystery of photography. Working with dozens of men and women with cameras who accompanied me on hundreds of stories, I have watched as they did their work and then been consistently amazed at what they captured. It was as if magic was involved.

  • 2 movies try to unravel the mystery that is Algren

    October 17, 2014

    Nelson Algren used to write books in and about Chicago. Though his name and reputation have diminished over the last decades, he lingers in the shadows. The Tribune has presented yearly literary awards for short stories in his name since 1981, though some of the winners have not read a word of Algren's work. There is a yearly birthday celebration in his honor thrown by the Nelson Algren Committee since 1989, but it attracts only a few dozen devotees.

  • Weekend festival marks a rebirth for HotHouse

    October 15, 2014

    When a nightclub dies, it's usually gone for good, lamented in fading memories.

  • Doo-wop singer hopes his 'Signal' reaches Broadway

    October 10, 2014

    It's a long way from the street corners of Gary to the White House, but Henry Farag and some of his pals have made that trip four times. As part of the doo-wop singing group Stormy Weather that he started in 1974 doing its a cappella thing, Farag and his singing friends have also performed for U.S. troops in Bosnia and Kosovo, during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and on the sidewalks of Vienna and Amsterdam.

  • Louder Than a Bomb about to blow up

    October 3, 2014

    A noted Chicago poet named Carl Sandburg once wrote, "I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on the way," and so there sat one evening last week a somewhat less well-known Chicago poet named Kevin Coval, who is certainly on his way.

  • Review: 'Andy Kaufman' by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies

    October 3, 2014

    If we are to believe Bob Zmuda, and why not, since to believe him makes for more fun than not, then the comic Andy Kaufman did not die of cancer at the age of 35 at 6:20 p.m. on May 16, 1984, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Great Chicago Fire comes to the river

    September 26, 2014

    In the beginning was the notebook, and the notebook was filled with dreams, and those dreams, against all sorts of odds and in the face of red tape, carping, money-hunting and alterations, will come to fruition Saturday with an event that will become either an annual enrichment of our lives or an expensive one-time-only experiment in bread and circuses.

  • Review: 'A Terrible Beauty' ★★★ 1/2

    September 25, 2014

    "A Terrible Beauty," its title taken from a famous poem by W.B. Yeats and premiering at 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Siskel Film Center, is a docudrama of extraordinary power. It is about bullets flying and bodies falling, but it will capture you on a deeply personal level.

  • Colin Middleditch, Gold Coast hairstylist, dies

    September 23, 2014

    It is more or less business as usual at Colin of London, the Oak Street barbershop/salon that has for decades catered to the tonsorial needs of generations of movers and shakers.

  • 'Billions' brings pigeons' extinction tale to screen

    September 10, 2014

    The star of a new, compelling and cautionary documentary titled "From Billions to None: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction" (10 p.m. Thursday on WTTW-Ch 11) is a dead pigeon named Martha.

  • Charles Troy wades deep into Broadway's history

    September 9, 2014

    Most of us, for reasons having to do with lack of talent, physical gifts or luck, must at some time give up our youthful dreams. And so we realized long ago that we would not be playing quarterback for the Bears, not be an astronaut and walk on the moon, never be cast in the remake of "Hello Dolly!" or win a Nobel Prize. And we move on.

  • Sherwood Miller, 1933-2014

    September 5, 2014

    A prominent player for decades in the local advertising scene, Sherwood "Woody" Miller was vastly different from the raucous, back-stabbing, hard-drinking types who populated that world during what is now referred to as its "Mad Men" era.

  • Joan Rivers: Always surprising, resilient

    September 4, 2014

    Way, way back…and Joan Rivers is on stage at Centre East theater in Skokie. Many in the crowd were expecting to hear comedic takes of her wicked past year, which included a feud with former mentor Johnny Carson, the fiery seven-month collapse of her much ballyhooed late night show on Fox and the suicide of her husband Edgar Rosenberg.

  • Fred Burkhart, an inspiration to many Chicago artists, dead at 72

    September 3, 2014

    In January, photographer Fred Burkhart was preparing to die. He had been fighting prostate cancer for more than three years and a recent doctor's visit was bleak.

  • Review: 'Football' edited by John Schulian

    August 29, 2014

    There was never a question, for those who read the sports pages of the bygone Chicago Daily News or the Chicago Sun-Times, that John Schulian was a writer of immense, eloquent talent. Here he is in 1981, opening a column about Skip Dillard and Bernard Randolph, the star-crossed local schoolyard hoops legends: "Even in the loving glow of noonday sunshine, with March pretending it's May and the thermometer skipping toward 60, K Town has trouble wiping the sorrow from its face. On the West Side streets that gave birth to the neighborhood's name, on Kedvale and Keeler and the half-dozen others, there are too many boarded-up windows, too many burned-out houses, too many cars with flat tires or no tires at all. Stray dogs wander listlessly, ragged men kill time with bottles in brown bags, and the only sign of hope is a bouncing basketball."

  • Red Lion Pub, rebuilt, roars again

    August 29, 2014

    The Red Lion Pub is brand-new from the ground up, but the past is present in so many ways, and a flesh-and-blood example of that was standing there one night a couple of weeks ago. It was the nephew of John Dillinger. "This is a really nice bar," said Mike Thompson, who lives near Indianapolis and was here for an event to commemorate his uncle's being gunned down outside the Biograph Theater across Lincoln Avenue in 1934. "I feel at home here."

  • Review: 'Bound by Flesh' ★★★★

    August 28, 2014

    The sad and now mostly forgotten story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, twin sisters conjoined at birth and forced to live as "cash cows" for a series of people eager to exploit them, is brought to fascinating and, indeed, tragic life by director Leslie Zemeckis in her latest film, "Bound by Flesh," premiering Friday and running through Thursday at the Gene Siskel Film Center and likely to stay with you forever.

  • 'November Man' started with Chicago newsman

    August 28, 2014

    When the Chicago Daily News went out of business in March 1978 and some of its staff merged with its sister paper the Sun-Times, I walked out of that building with three others who no longer had newspaper jobs, and one of them was named Bill Granger.

  • Devereux Bowly Jr.: more than an innkeeper

    August 22, 2014

    When the news of death arrives, it does so in the icy ways. A phone call. An e-mail.

  • Meet Jason Travis, the movie buff in our midst

    August 8, 2014

    In the early days of the tourist boom that now has the city awash in bus-boat-foot tours, clogging the summer sidewalks, streets and river, I remember a "guide" on one of the boat tours who had, shall we say, a unique take on our town.

  • Del Close's lasting impact on iO, and the rest of us

    August 1, 2014

    His shadow is a substantial thing, shading the increasingly active and ever-expanding Chicago comedy world in the same way that Louis Sullivan still influences young architects, Muddy Waters impacts bluesmen or Nelson Algren whispers to writers.

  • Painting put artist Pamela Staker's life back on track

    July 25, 2014

    This is the art fair season, a time when painters, sculptors, illustrators, photographers, printmakers, glass workers, makers of fine jewelry and, frankly, some makers of junk come out from their studios and plaster the city and suburbs with their work.

  • Chicago's 45th Ward a whole world of arts

    July 18, 2014

    It rained early Monday morning, and when it did there were no people to be seen on the 4000 block of Milwaukee Avenue on the Northwest Side. Many of the businesses there, the sort of establishments to be found in most any part of the city — currency exchange, clothing store, bakery, cellphone shop, salon/spa — were hours from opening. There were a couple of empty storefronts, also a common site in most neighborhoods, some more than others. But in one storefront a couple of men were busy painting the walls, a small but significant sign of new life.

  • Andersonville's Women & Children First Bookstore has new, but familiar, owners

    July 17, 2014

    There is joy in Andersonville: Women & Children First Bookstore, the venerable and beloved independent shop at 5233 N. Clark St. has new owners who are very much like the old owners. The change was announced earlier this week: The store’s founders/owners, Linda Bubon and Ann Christophersen, have sold to two of their current employees, Lynn Mooney and Sarah Hollenbeck, and this news has been happily received.

  • City still mobbed with gangster cliches

    July 10, 2014

    The bus idled in front of the so-called rock 'n' roll McDonald's across Clark Street from the Rainforest Cafe, and the tourists climbed aboard. You assumed they were tourists, because who else would be spending two hours of a splendid, sunny weekday afternoon riding around the city and seeking what's left of the glory and gore of gangsterdom?

  • New book explores history of Chicago's swankiest residence

    July 3, 2014

    When he was just a boy, which was some time ago, Rick Fizdale would look through the front window of the car his father would drive south on the Outer Drive. Just past the North Avenue exit, that window would fill with a view of the buildings that form a wall of wealth between the Drake Hotel and the lake. It is an area known as East Lake Shore Drive.

  • Chicago's film censorship era on display

    June 27, 2014

    With butts, breasts and other body parts available at the touch of your computer keys or remote control, it seems rather quaint that until not so very long ago a small group of people were charged with protecting us from wicked or disagreeable screen images.

  • Steve McQueen documentary brings the king of cool to life

    June 24, 2014

    Steve McQueen.

  • School drama rings true for Chicago Teachers Union president

    June 20, 2014

    Three former schoolteachers, with a combined 70-some years in the Chicago Public Schools, sat on folding chairs for a recent production of a play set in a fictional Chicago high school that is slated for closure. They were not the first, nor would they be the last, teachers to attend the world premiere of "Exit Strategy," written by Ike Holter and presented inside the Chicago Park District's Broadway Armory in Edgewater by Jackalope Theatre.

  • Donna Blue Lachman prepares her next production

    June 13, 2014

    To commit oneself to a life in the theater, as has Donna Blue Lachman, means investing one's time and energy and soul, whatever that might mean, in something that will ever remain a mystery to those of us not in theater. As it was once put to me by the gifted actress and director Amy Morton, "Only crazy people want to be actors."

  • Film revisits Jens Jensen's flower power

    June 6, 2014

    There is often no justice in history. If there were, then the name Jens Jensen would be as familiar to us as those of Al Capone, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and some of the others who put their stamp on the city for a short time before moving on.

  • Duo take jazz, one another, to heart

    May 16, 2014

    They fell in love, first with one another and then with jazz.

  • Doc that helped save inmate Paul Crump a must-see

    May 9, 2014

    It is a savage and sorrowful story, the life of Paul Crump.

  • Music of Michael Miles, spirit of Pete Seeger

    April 25, 2014

    Michael Miles opened a thick envelope filled with sheets of paper and said, "Here, have a look at these."

  • 'Chicagoland' finale review: more violence, more Rahm

    April 23, 2014

    And so it ends, this extraordinary and exasperating, revelatory and redundant, infuriating and ultimately tragic eight-part series "Chicagoland."

  • World of SEALs revealed in photo exhibit

    April 18, 2014

    Many years ago, when she was relatively new to the world of photography — to the world, actually, since she was only 7 years old — Stephanie Freid-Perenchio went on a family vacation to Yosemite National Park and, oh, let's let her tell the story: "We would go there every June, and that year I brought my Brownie camera and just started shooting. I wound up with 10, or maybe it was 12, rolls of film, and after getting them developed, my father was so mad at me."

  • Too many questions left as 'Chicagoland' winds down

    April 16, 2014

    A headline in Monday's paper: "32 hurt, 4 killed in 36 hours."

  • Dennis Farina in 'Authors Anonymous,' one of his final films

    April 11, 2014

    The 86th Academy Awards were presented on March 2, and if you were among the estimated 43.7 million people watching the event on television you heard Jared Leto give an emotional speech accepting his best supporting actor Oscar and listened to John Travolta mangle the name of singer Idina Menzel.

  • In CNN's 'Chicagoland,' violence continues to dominate

    April 9, 2014

    It may be comforting to someone somewhere — though I'm hard-pressed to figure out who or where — to know that Riccardo Muti, the esteemed music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2010, believes that Chicago is "the most elegant city in America."

  • Step inside Edward Gorey's weird, beautiful world

    April 4, 2014

    Poor Basil. He was assaulted by bears. And Kate? She was struck by an ax.

  • Long 'Chicagoland' series focuses on mayor to a fault

    April 2, 2014

    You will be stunned to learn, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel says in this week's fifth episode (of eight) of CNN's series "Chicagoland," that "The Second City is now known as the Startup City." That pronouncement — news to me — comes as he is talking to a bunch of techies here trying to sell their ideas for big money to investors.

  • Intoxicating mix of booze, written word long-lived

    March 28, 2014

    The relationship between taverns and writers (and other artists) has long been established and celebrated. It has also been derided, mostly by people who don't go to taverns.

  • CNN's 'Chicagoland' loses balance as it tip-toes through summer

    March 26, 2014

    Huh?

  • Folk singers Chris Vallillo and Bucky Halker team up

    March 21, 2014

    Windblown and happy-go-lucky as any two guys you're likely to meet, Chris Vallillo and Bucky Halker are folk singers.

  • CNN's 'Chicagoland' has real trauma, passion, in a real ER

    March 19, 2014

    Hot time, summer in the city, and the third episode of "Chicagoland" is filled with fireworks of all sorts.

  • Irish, Japanese musicians 'forge a new path'

    March 14, 2014

    It is very difficult to say "Happy St. Patrick's Day" in Japanese.

  • CNN's 'Chicagoland' balances Blackhawks joy with violence fears

    March 12, 2014

    "It's playoff time again in this sports-loving city," says narrator/co-writer Mark Konkol at the beginning of episode two of the eight-part CNN series "Chicagoland."

  • A new picture emerging for Newcity

    March 7, 2014

    "What's your favorite movie, Brian Hieggelke?"

  • CNN's 'Chicagoland' captures flashes of anger in first episode

    March 5, 2014

    And so it begins, with the voice of our mayor — "You want to see America you come to the heartland, and what is the capital of the heartland?" — and images of our city, the first of eight — that's right, eight — episodes of a very ambitious, alternately exciting and depressing CNN television series titled "Chicagoland."

  • Author retracing Nelson Algren's old haunts

    February 28, 2014

    If you believe in ghosts — and you would not be alone: a Harris poll late in 2013 reported some 42 percent of Americans do believe in ghosts — it would have been a good idea a couple of weeks ago for the ghost of Nelson Algren to have dropped into Stefani's 437, a restaurant/bar on the corner of Rush and Hubbard streets, in the shadow of buildings old (Wrigley) and new (Trump Tower).

  • Union League drafts exceptional artist in Theaster Gates

    February 14, 2014

    The formal arrival of Theaster Gates took place on the final day of January in the large and art-filled main dining room on the second floor of the Union League Club, where he was honored as a Distinguished Artist.

  • Eliot Ness: Man wasn't as untouchable as the Hollywood legend

    January 31, 2014

    When I think of General George Armstrong Custer, which admittedly I rarely do, I think Errol Flynn.

  • Film fest weds new tech, kids classics

    January 24, 2014

    It is not hard to know what American publisher, bookseller and editor Frederic Melcher had in mind when he proposed the creation of an annual award for the year's best children's book: "To encourage original creative work in the field of books for children. To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels. To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children's reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field."

  • From billions to zero: Story of pigeon extinction

    January 17, 2014

    Three pigeons were sharing what was left of a piece of pizza that was lying on the sidewalk on East 53rd Street near Woodlawn Avenue on Tuesday morning, between the hours we human beings usually eat breakfast and lunch.

  • Once there were giants

    January 10, 2014

    Last Sunday, as you might remember since your brain is no longer frozen, was the nastiest of winter days. Still, a handful of people braved the snow and wind and cold and slick roads to make their way to the Museum of Science and Industry.

  • When Billy Corgan's wrestlers came to Fenger

    November 15, 2013

    Famous as he is in other city neighborhoods, suburbs and countries across the globe, Billy Corgan was just another tall, bald, white guy wearing a Bears jersey (No. 1), standing against the gymnasium wall at Christian Fenger Academy High School on the Far South Side and smiling as boys and girls hooted and hollered at a parade of professional wrestlers.

  • Ragdale opens doors to artists, its art to public

    June 14, 2013

    Novelist Lise Haines is scheduled to arrive at O'Hare this afternoon. She will then spend the night with relatives, and Monday will make her way to north suburban Lake Forest and a place called Ragdale and begin a creative adventure.

  • In Fenger, art builds community

    June 7, 2013

    The urge to create is as old as the human race, as ancient as the day someone felt the urge to draw colorful lines across bodies and faces or, more permanently, paint on or carve into the walls of a cave. This sort of self-expression reaches a natural, if daunting, evolutionary step each art fair season, already in full swing.

  • In all seriousness, please go fly a kite

    May 25, 2013

    There was the day, four years ago, when the great jazz singer Kurt Elling and I, two people not light on self-confidence, decided that we would teach our 4-year-old daughters to fly kites.

  • John Wayne celebration a tribute to co-star Maureen O'Hara

    May 22, 2013

    You could be forgiven if you thought John Wayne was born in the back of a covered wagon headed west across the Plains or came into this world in a one-room thatched-roof house in a small Irish village.

  • Leslie Zemeckis sashays into the history of burlesque

    May 19, 2013

    During the shabby final days of the last of the burlesque houses that once dotted State Street near Congress Parkway, three of us — in possession of a few bucks and self-confidence fueled by fake IDs — entered the Follies Theater and saw a show that featured, among long-forgotten performers, a dancer named April Showers.

  • Children's Theatre and Redmoon present first autism-friendly show

    May 14, 2013

    Row, row, row your boat,

  • Chicago band Switchback keeping musical options open

    May 3, 2013

    Former Chicagoan Ron Pen holds a very lengthy and lofty title at the University of Kentucky in Lexington: Professor; Director, John Jacob Niles Center for American Music; Coordinator, Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology.

  • 'Burger Land' and the Billy Goat

    April 26, 2013

    No one who met George Motz on the afternoon of April 19, 2003, as he bit into his first double cheeseburger in the subterranean Billy Goat Tavern on Hubbard Street — “It is incredible, everything I had heard it was. The taste is distinctive … a great burger,” he said — might have imagined that he would now be considered the nation's leading expert on cheeseburgers and the star/host of a new series on the Travel Channel titled, appropriately enough, “Burger Land.”

  • Chicago volunteer organizations spread literacy

    April 19, 2013

    More than five years ago, in a colorful classroom at Michael Faraday Elementary School in a harsh area on Chicago's West Side, three women and their three dogs were helping a group of second--graders learn to read. They were volunteers for an organization called Sit Stay Read! which for a decade has been bringing the joys of reading to little kids, using dogs as a tool.

  • Stephen Wade: A telling tale of making beautiful music

    April 5, 2013

    Stephen Wade's affection for the Chicago in which he grew up and that he left long ago is passionate and palpable in the introduction to his astonishing book, “The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience.”

  • St. James Church gathers its faithful

    March 29, 2013

    An unforgiving icy wind blew across the three dozen — young and old, black and white, rich and poor — gathered on Palm Sunday in front of the ancient and shuttered St. James Catholic Church in Bronzeville.

  • John Landecker: One heck of a life

    March 22, 2013

    Being John Landecker might have been a great deal more fun decades ago than it is today, but if you had led the raucous and substance-abusing life that Landecker lived decades ago, you might not be around today. But here is Landecker, looking fit and trim and altogether alive, and saying, “You liked the book? It's all there, isn't it? Some life.”

  • Nicholas Tremulis book 'For the Baby Doll' celebrates life and love

    March 15, 2013

    It may not rank with literature's greatest opening lines — “Call me Ishmael”; “It was a pleasure to burn”; or “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice”* — but the first sentences of Nicholas Tremulis' new 10-page memoir are undeniably arresting: “When I was 4 years old, I wanted to be music. Not play it. Be it.”

  • Love of Chicago history fuels Paul Durica

    March 8, 2013

    The first time I met Paul Durica, he was Ben Reitman.

  • Brown Sugar Bakery anchors Grand Crossing renaissance

    March 1, 2013

    Some neighborhoods have it all, and some neighborhoods have very little, but only one Chicago neighborhood, Greater Grand Crossing, has Stephanie Hart and her Brown Sugar Bakery.

  • 'Louder Than a Bomb' still crackles with young poets' ideas

    February 22, 2013

    Last week, in a valiant effort and one that deserves to be applauded, the mayor and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas took the point in an effort to raise money to expand the at-risk youth basketball program known as Windy City Hoops.

  • Holocaust Museum's message: Don't bully

    February 8, 2013

    The little girl is only 8, and so she does not yet read newspapers or watch or listen to the local news. But she knew of the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton — some of the older kids she knows had been talking about it. So last Sunday, some hours before the Super Bowl, she said, "Bullies should not ever have guns," and that was the reason that she and I drove to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie.

  • Forgotten Chicago keeps city's bygone parts alive

    February 1, 2013

    A building is not, of course, a living thing, and so, unless it's the one you work in, live in or visit with some regularity, you probably take most of the city's thousands of other buildings for granted.

  • Consummate outsider artist Fred Burkhart emerges from underground

    January 25, 2013

    As you begin to read this story about Fred Burkhart, Fred Burkhart may be dead.

  • Thorne Rooms full of small wonders

    December 3, 2012

    Increasingly awash in holiday art and entertainment offerings, we struggle to find something special, something new.

  • Guitarist Kaki King's rightful place is among kings of the strings

    November 16, 2012

    Who is the greatest guitar player?

  • The Belushis: Funny is in their bones

    October 26, 2012

    Jim Belushi is sitting with his son Robert and mulling the matter of genetics.

  • A razor-sharp barber, keen on magic

    October 19, 2012

    Where exactly to start?

  • Tension fills author's book, family

    October 5, 2012

    Scientists have yet to prove that there is a genetic predisposition to good writing, but as they continue the search they would do well to read "The Chocolate Money," the first novel by a former Chicagoan named Ashley Prentice Norton.

  • Danny Goldring's long Chicago acting career paying off with 'Boss'

    September 28, 2012

    Look at that face in the photo and try to tell me that is not a great neighborhood face. Aging handsomely and full of life, it is the face of actor Danny Goldring — even the name is neighborhood perfect, Danny — sitting in the barbershop that he has visited with regularity for the last 20 years.

  • Hit show 'Wild Chicago' may be heading to DVD

    September 21, 2012

    In January 1989, entertainer Ben Hollis and WTTW-Ch. 11 producer Jon Davies created a television show that they called "Wild Chicago." The reason they did this, said Hollis at the time, "was because there was nothing like it on TV."

  • Singer left her heart in classroom

    August 24, 2012

    It is possible, had things worked out a bit differently, that Katie Quick might be back in a Chicago Public Schools classroom doing what she loves to do, which is teach.

  • Redmoon harvest: A Harvard fellowship is letting a local theater artist take five

    August 10, 2012

    As you read this, Jim Lasko and his family, which includes his wife, two children and a dog named Beckett, are in a car heading east.

  • Family secrets live on in film

    August 5, 2012

    It is an arduous task to make a movie — how many of you are tired of waiting for "The Devil in the White City" to hit the big screen almost 10 years after the book's publication? — so it is not hard to understand why it took Wisconsin-based visual artist Genevieve Davis eight years to get "Secret Life, Secret Death" to the screen.

  • Englewood lends voice to history project

    May 25, 2012

    It has been four months since Matt Damon came to school, and though the buzz is gone the bell still rings. Thirty sophomores file into Room 324 at TEAM Englewood Community Academy in the heart of one of the city's most beleaguered neighborhoods. Many of these children know people who have been robbed or wounded by gunfire. A few have had a family member who was murdered.

  • Sexy in the city

    April 17, 2011

    Chicago has long had a thing for strippers and I do not mean the anything-but-subtle lap dancers who populate so-called gentlemen's' clubs.

  • Mom 'n' pop(corn)

    April 10, 2011

    I do not have to tell you about Garrett Popcorn Shops, do I?

  • Queens in green

    March 27, 2011

    A few days after the big parade, the reigning St. Patrick's Day parade queen, a pretty (it goes without saying) young woman named Sarah Gorecki (I will get to that name shortly), said, "Yes, there are no more parades, but this is a lot more than about parades. You are representing your Irish heritage. I visited a hospital yesterday and spent time with all these wonderful children."

  • Filling 'Big Bill's' britches

    March 21, 2011

    He was called "Big Bill" because he was.

  • 'Art Institute' — in stitches

    March 8, 2011

    The "Mona Lisa" is lying on the living room floor of a house in LaPorte, Ind.

  • Making sake sexy

    February 27, 2011

    If the three young men in Osgood's photo have anything to say about it, sake will be a hit.

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