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Chicago News Roundup for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday August 11-13, 2007

Wizard World lights up for ‘Dark Knight’

The Joker was serious business over the weekend at Wizard World Chicago, the pop culture and comic book convention that invades Rosemont each summer.

Warner Bros. chose the convention to show the first live footage of Heath Ledger as the Joker and shed a little light on “The Dark Knight,” the sequel to “Batman Begins,” currently filming in Chicago.

For those who’d like to think of Chicago as another New York City this will only add fuel to the fire.
[via Chicago Tribune]

20th anniversary of Chicago’s Aug. 13-14, 1987, benchmark rain event

RECORD FLOODS MAKE O’HARE AN ISLAND: Peals of thunder marked the rain’s onset at 9:16 p.m. Visibility quickly dropped to near zero as the rain fell in blinding torrents. Through the night into Friday morning, waves of storms “trained” across the area from Rockford to the north part of the Chicago area. When the rain finally ended at 2:45 p.m. on Friday afternoon, a staggering 9.35″ of rain had inundated the O’Hare area. The airport was an island surrounded by flood waters with no access to and from the facility except by air for nearly 24 hours. In the Chicago area, three died and flood damage topped $220 million.

THE RAIN KEPT ON COMING: To make matters worse, the rains did not stop. After 0.59″ fell on Aug. 15, another 2.90″ cloudburst followed on the 16th. On Aug. 26 another 2.46″ fell–the month’s fourth day with more than 2″ of rain. By the end of the month, 17.10″ of rain had fallen at the official O’Hare gauge, and August 1987 became Chicago’s all-time wettest month.

Still, it beats annual hurricanes and frequent yet unpredictable earthquakes.
[via Chicago Tribune]

So who are the folks sleeping in the parks?

The homeless population in Washington Square Park the other morning was equal to fully one-third of the homeless population of downtown Chicago.

There were eight homeless people in Washington Square Park, a k a Bughouse Square, on the Near North Side.

And yet there are only 24 people living on the streets in the entire downtown area just south of that park, according to that ridiculous count released by the city.

In a city well-known for corruption we have to take any figures they give out with a grain of salt. But seriously can’t they at least give us some believable numbers?
[via Chicago Sun-Times]

Chicago gas is nation’s costliest at $3.15 average

CAMARILLO, Calif. — Gasoline prices on average dropped about 10.7 cents in the last two weeks, according to a national survey released Sunday.

But the highest average price was in Chicago at $3.15, the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 stations nationwide says.

You better believe it. All you have to do is drive across the border to Indiana to see prices drop.
[via Chicago Sun-Times]

Chicago’s newest gelato spots

Though a classic ice cream cone may hit the spot in the heat of August, the high fat content and quick melting factor often leaves you with little more than a full stomach and a sticky mess. Why not try ice cream’s skinnier cousin, direct from Italy, instead? In addition to containing less butterfat, gelato is denser and served slightly warmer than American ice cream, giving it a richer, creamier flavor and texture. But don’t take our word for it–get the full scoop at one of the many gelaterias popping up around town.

Ventrella’s Caffe
After more than a decade in the TV news business, James Ventrella opened the coffee shop of his dreams in July 2006. Though the gelato comes courtesy of Palazzolo’s in Saugatuck, Mich., the rest of this Ravenswood spot is authentically Italian, right down to the vintage cooler and dishware. The cozy cafe stocks seven to nine kinds of gelato, including a couple of fruit flavors, at any given time. Staples include pistachio, hazelnut and stracciatella (similar to chocolate chip). $3 for a single scoop.

Ventrella’s Caffe, 4947 N. Damen Ave. 773-506-0708. Possibly the best gelato in the city.
[via Chicago Tribune]

19-Year-Old Shot To Death In South Shore

A 19-year-old man was shot to death in an apparent gang-related shooting on the South Side’s South Shore neighborhood Saturday night.

The man was shot about 10:50 p.m. Saturday at the 2000 block of E. 70th St., according to police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer.

The victim was walking down the street when he was approached by someone who asked him if he was a “four,” according to a report from the police First Deputy Superintendent’s office.

When the victim answered, “no,” he was shot in the head, according to the deputy’s report.

I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong answer to the question. Just hope you are never asked.
[via CBS2 Chicago]

Downtown Naperville a suburban success story

“It’s the nicest downtown,” said shop owner Ron Iverson of why he opened the Naperville location (he and business partner Jim LaChapelle have another shop in South Elgin).

On a sunny afternoon it would be hard to argue with Iverson’s opinion. The four-block by four-block area has the feel of a well-heeled college town.

While downtown Naperville today is what many suburban center cities aspire to become, it wasn’t always so. Just three decades ago the area held a storage lot for abandoned autos, another lot for public works vehicles and a recycling center. Roberts has the pictures to prove it.

While a quick trip to Evanston will show just how absurd the comparison of Naperville to a college town is, many in Chicagoland still consider this small downtown tops in the region. It is in many ways idyllic, compact, walkable, within striking distance of a major city without major city troubles. Of course this also means that Naperville completely lacks the excitement of a cosmopolitan city.
[via The Courier News]

Chicago office building partly closed

CHICAGO, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Illinois health officials have closed nine floors of a landmark Chicago office building because of a possible asbestos hazard.

The 38-story Art Deco Pittsfield Building, which dates from 1927, is home to many doctors and dentists and to the Friends of the Parks. While most of the building remains open, tenants wonder about asbestos dust, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

[via United Press International]

Route 66 motels

PONTIAC, Ill. - With its name writ large in red cursive letters and lit by a neon glow, The Palamar Motel once beckoned countless travelers driving Downstate on The Mother Road. Now the “T” and half the “P” have fallen off, the faded pink motel room doors are bolted shut, and weeds fill the swimming pool to the rim.

But Gerald Hillyer remembers The Palamar’s heyday, when Saturday night crowds jammed in to hear big bands swing the adjacent supper club where he tended bar.

“We’re actually halfway between Chicago and Springfield, and a lot of the politicians would come in here,” Hillyer, 77, recalled as he stood in the broken parking lot of the property his parents once owned. “It was a nice watering-hole break.”

It, like many other hotels along Route 66, has fallen into disrepair and the way things are looking tourists aren’t creating enough of a market for many of these historical sites to be saved from demolition.
[via Chicago Tribune]

Suburban Man Charged With Planting Car Bomb

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago man is free on bond after being charged with planting a bomb on the car of his ex-girlfriend’s new partner.

Artur Pawlina of Villa Park has been charged with attempted arson after police say he planted the bomb on the gas tank of the man’s car.

[via WBBM780]

Brad Pitt rejoins Angelina Jolie in Chicago after jury duty in LA

Brad Pitt arrived back in Chicago Friday, after doing jury duty in LA Thursday, to a warm welcome from partner Angelina Jolie who was at the airport waiting and welcomed him with a warm smile.

[via South Asian Women’s Forum]

Cop writes a ticket for giant sausage

A massive hot dog clogged Chicago’s main artery Thursday morning.

In a rare occurrence of an encased-meat vehicle committing a traffic violation, Chicago police ticketed the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile for illegal parking on the Magnificent Mile.

The incident began at 10:57 a.m. in the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue. At least two members of the Wienermobile entourage left the vehicle in the six-lane street with its emergency blinkers on. The vehicle is registered to Kraft Foods under the Wisconsin license plate “WEENR.”

It’s a lot of publicity that only costs them $50 in tickets.
[via Chicago Tribune]

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« Chicago News Roundup for Monday and Tueday August 6-7, 2007
» Chicago News Roundup for Wednesday and Thursday August 8-9, 2007