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Home run journalism

By Trevor Ballanger

March 11, 2012

by Trevor BallangerAssistant Arts & Culture EditorThe smell of popcorn and beer wafts over the bleachers. The roar of the crowd heightens as the lights over the stadium flicker to life. As the scoreboard details the progress of the team, one thing is clear. Chicago is nuts about baseball.Chicagoans are often torn between local rivals the White Sox and the Cubs, which is why Solomon Lieberman, a designer and journalist, ...

Vampire Pangs: Bleeding Love

By Trevor Ballanger

March 5, 2012

by Trevor BallangerAssistant Arts & Culture EditorTheir razor-sharp teeth protrude from the corners of their mouths as they breathe on the necks of their victims. They are the mythical creatures that parents tell their children aren’t real before bed. But their essence is alive and well for those who choose to see the world through the absence of sunlight.Among the many sights Chicago has to offer, one in particular g...

Chaotic culinary and arts education

By Trevor Ballanger

February 27, 2012

Kids have been told not to play with their food since before the dinner table was invented. Now kids of all ages have the opportunity to create their art and eat it too.At Constructive Chaos, a soon-to-open youth center in River Forest, Ill., students will be offered classes on the art of cooking and creativity. Co-owners Kris Nelson and her daughter, Ashley Nelson, began developing plans for the workshop three years ago....

The Chicagoan reimagined

By Trevor Ballanger

February 27, 2012

Buried under years of history, a beacon of Chicago’s promising early industrialism lay hidden. Decades later, it would be uncovered and resurrected as a luxury for the 21st century.That is until Neil Harris, author of “Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age,” stumbled upon it. Harris, a professor at the University of Chicago, said he was browsing through stacks of published works at the library when he came acro...

‘Cadaver’: An undead love story

By Trevor Ballanger

February 20, 2012

If there’s one thing a person should never do in a morgue, it’s sneak up on the living: You never know who could be holding a hacksaw. Waking up undead in a morgue, however, is a whole new territory.Director Jonah Ansell, an Oak Park native currently based in LA, explores just that in “Cadaver,” the new animated short film, based on his poem of the same name. Ansell collaborated with 15-year-old Chicago native and fash...

Ignorance not excuse for insensitivity

By Trevor Ballanger

February 20, 2012

I’ve always felt a sense of pride for who I am and where I come from, though at times it wasn’t easy. Some may think that being gay and coming from a highly religious family in southern Iowa would be rough, and they would be right.But in a lot of ways I was luckier than I realized at that time. There has always been a strong support system of friends and family around me, and I’ve never had trouble being protected whe...

Westboro church’s ignorance not excusable

By Trevor Ballanger

February 20, 2012

I’ve always felt a sense of pride for who I am and where I come from, though at times it wasn’t easy. Some may think that being gay and coming from a highly religious family in southern Iowa would be rough, and they would be right.But in a lot of ways I was luckier than I realized at that time. There has always been a strong support system of friends and family around me, and I’ve never had trouble being protected whe...

Peace, love and “Soul Train”

By Trevor Ballanger

February 14, 2012

The stage is dark as anxious dancers stand before a series of crackling light bulbs. The music starts, the cameras begin to roll, and it’s time for “Soul Train.”That scene was repeated many times since Oct. 2, 1970, when “Soul Train” first burned through TV screens in a flurry of neon pastels, afros and bellbottom jeans. Disco music pulsed on the stage, infecting viewers with a groove that would set a standard for p...

The Real Pinball Wizards

By Trevor Ballanger

February 13, 2012

In most dark arcades and bars is the uncharacteristically bright corner past the pool tables where a pinball machine sits waiting to be played.It doesn’t take a fan of The Who or Jodie Foster to realize these mechanical games have made a mark on pop culture history. So it makes sense that as the home of pinball, Chicago has one of the last remaining manufacturers of the classic game, Stern Pinball Inc., 2020 Janice Ave. in...

The place that had everything

By Trevor Ballanger

January 30, 2012

The Illinois mall that provided the setting for the famous Blues Brothers’ car chase scene is slated to be demolished.After being abandoned for more than 30 years, the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Ill., has weathered its last winter—barely.  Demolition contracts have been processed for the site and will be underway later this January. Though the demolition itself hasn’t yet started, preliminary steps have begun. Fencin...

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