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'Supermoon' 2014 Photos And Tweets (VIDEO, LIVE UPDATES)

Sun, 2014-08-10 15:07
Happy Supermoon Sunday!

The summer of 2014 has been called the summer of supermoons, and for good reason. Skywatchers already got a chance to see one supermoon on July 12, and the second is tonight. (The third will be Sept. 9, so mark your calendar!)

Tonight's moon is set to be the most "super" of them all -- because at a distance of 221,765 miles (356,896 kilometers) from Earth, our satellite will come closer this time than it did in July or will in September.

We hope you'll celebrate this exciting night for skywatching with us and join in the HuffPost Science live blog (see below) by sharing pictures and leaving your comments.

Send us your supermoon photos! We want them all -- from gorgeous panoramas to tight shots of the moon to silly supermoon selfies.

Please tweet your photos with hashtag #HuffPostSupermoon. Or submit them directly to our "Supermoon 2014" slideshow at the bottom of this post.

We'll be collecting user photos from all over, and yours may be featured!

SCROLL DOWN FOR LIVE UPDATES.

What exactly is a supermoon? Also called a "perigee full moon," a supermoon occurs when a new or full moon coincides with lunar perigee -- the point in the moon's orbit when it is closest to Earth. This results in a full moon that can appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than it appears on a typical night.

The moon turned full this afternoon (August 10) around 2:10 p.m. EDT, having reached perigee roughly 21 minutes earlier.

SUPERMOON GALLERY: SUBMIT YOUR OWN PHOTOS


The 'Pig Rassle': A Good Church Fundraiser, Or Downright Inhumane?

Fri, 2014-08-08 15:57
Does it look to you like the pig is having a good time here?



As of Friday afternoon, some 45,000 people who think this is no positive porcine experience have signed a Change.org petition calling for a Catholic church in Wisconsin to nix this year's "pig rassling" contest. The event is scheduled for Saturday and is part of a weekend-long, annual fair-cum-fundraiser for the St. Patrick Parish in the town of Stephensville.

According to the petition, pig wrestling -- an activity which has long drawn criticism from animal lovers -- involves animals being "punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, yelled at and thrown into a bucket" by five or six people at a time. The petition says this is a violation of the state's animal cruelty law.

“Absolutely not. Absolutely, totally wrong. They aren’t put in a bucket. They aren’t put in anything. They are not punched, kicked,” Ken Bilgrien, a deacon with St. Patrick, told a local Fox affiliate. “These young girls that end up face down in the mud -- I swear the pigs stopped and turned around and laughed at them, so it’s a fun event and really, we think the pigs enjoy it.”

Pig wrestling at the 2009 Weston County Fair, in Newcastle, Wyoming. (Image credit: Kasl Radio/Flickr)

Those who disagree include Shirley Manson, of the band Garbage, who released a statement through the Humane Society of the United States.

“Wisconsin has a special place in my heart since my band Garbage got its start there," Manson said. "We are better than this unnecessary and abusive activity. Please cancel the Roundup Pig Rassle immediately and permanently.”

But Capt. Mike Jobe of the of the Outagamie County Sheriff's Department says the event operates within the law and that police officers will be present to protect participants from any rowdy protesters.

"What they're doing is not illegal," Jobe said to the Post-Crescent. "We'll be monitoring the situation and assessing. I'm not going to have a standing army up there to protect the pig wrestlers. We'll react to whatever presents itself."

The Huffington Post reached out to St. Patrick to ask if pigs have been punched or hurt in ways that aren't obvious from video footage (above) that the World Animal Awareness Society says it filmed during last year's event.

Spokesperson Amber Backus replied, in part:

Consideration is taken to ensure that the pigs are safe and free from any abuse. After consultation with local law authorities, it has been determined that there is no illegality associated with this event. St. Patrick Parish does not condone animal abuse.

A writer for the website Catholic.org expressed displeasure with the parish hosting such an event:

It must be noted that the essence of such an event -- what makes an event entertaining for the public, is the distress that the animal feels at being pursued and manhandled into a bucket. Although the event has been enjoyed for 44 years, this is not justification that it is without cruelty.

The parish's pig rassle first caught public attention after a piece about it was published on Examiner.com. Other activities planned during the weekend include a parade, a silent auction, live music -- and a pork dinner.

This Video Is The Best Representation Of Trying To Repay Student Debt

Fri, 2014-08-08 14:51
There are a lot of things to be said about student debt in the United States.

Our collective student debt in the United States stands at a crushing $1.2 trillion dollars -- a figure that poses risks both to our students' financial prospects and to the economy as a whole.

Students are engaged in a struggle that seems decidedly Sisyphean, going to extremes trying to pay back their mounting student loans.

So, yeah, there is a LOT to be said about the state of student debt in this country. That's why it's incredible that the video above, uploaded by Paloma Izquierdo, perfectly nails what it's like being a student with student loans with just a stack of papers and a single fan.

It whittles down the impossibility of the crisis to something that anyone, even Congress, could understand.

8 Steps to Bacon Nirvana

Fri, 2014-08-08 13:53
When James Bowers and Andres Barrientos decided in 2013 to open Miami Smokers Urban Smokehouse, they studied with smokehouse legend Allan Benton of Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Madisonville, Tennessee (population 4,734). The result may be Florida's least likely food startup -- a smokehouse in a city with no smoking tradition, where the local flavor palate looks more to the Caribbean and South America than to the American South.

I asked Bowers and Barrientos to walk me through how they make bacon -- a process that takes 35 days from start to finish. I also came up with a streamlined version you can cure, dry, and smoke at home in a week.

So here's my streamlined version -- inspired by Urban Smokehouse's bacon -- but with a few twists of my own. Master this 8-step process, and you'll make bacon like a pro.

Step 1. Choose the right pork belly. If you go to the time and trouble of curing and smoking your own bacon, start by procuring a pork belly worthy of your efforts. This means from organic hogs (or hogs raised humanely without hormones or antibiotics). Or from a heritage breed like Berkshire, Duroc, or Kurobuta. Each has a richer, meatier, more distinctive flavor than industrial pork bellies.

By the way, a full pork belly weighs 10 to 12 pounds. Whole Foods will sell you pork bellies by the pound, which may be easier to handle for home smokers.

Step 2. Remove the skin. The bottom of a pork belly usually comes with skin (rind), which will be tougher than the rest of the bacon. (It also blocks the absorption of the cure and smoke flavors.) Commercial smokehouses remove it using a slicing machine. At home, you'll have to work a bit harder. Start at one corner and use a sharp, slender knife to separate the skin from the meat, angling the knife blade toward the skin. Better yet, ask your butcher to skin it for you.

Step 3. Prepare the cure. The basic ingredients are salt and sugar and optional curing salt (sodium nitrate and/or nitrite) and pepper. You can achieve a wide, subtle range of flavors by varying the source and proportions of these ingredients: white sugar or brown sugar, maple sugar, or even freeze-dried cane sugar juice. Ground or cracked black pepper or hot pepper flakes. Bacon makers in Scandinavia add juniper berries and other aromatic spices. I like to mix the cure ingredients by hand -- especially when using brown sugar, so you can break up any lumps with your fingers.

Step 4. Cure the pork belly. Arrange the belly on a rimmed baking sheet. Season and rub it on both sides with the cure as described in the official recipe. Place the belly in a large, sturdy, resealable plastic bag in a foil pan or roasting pan on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. (The pan will catch any potential leaks.) Cure the bacon for 5 days, turning it over each day. This is very important. As the cure dehydrates the bacon, liquid will gather in the bag. It's supposed to. Think of it as brine.

Step 5. Rinse and dry the belly. Transfer it to a colander and rinse both sides well with cold water. This removes excess salt. Next, blot the belly dry and place it, uncovered, on a wire rack on a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Let dry for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight, turning once or twice. This helps form a pellicle -- an exterior skin that feels papery and dry and just a touch tacky -- for the smoke to adhere to. Without the pellicle, you won't get the bronzed surface that makes bacon look so darn irresistible.

Step 6. Smoke the bacon. Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer's instructions and preheat it to 175 degrees. If you're using a charcoal smoker, the temperature will fluctuate between 160 and 180 degrees. If using an electric or gas smoker, you can set it right at 175 degrees. For smoking fuel, use hickory, apple, or cherry, or other preferred hardwood (or blend of woods). Personally, I find mesquite too strong. Depending on your smoker, you'll use chunks, chips, sawdust or pellets. The smoking time will range between 2 to 3 hours -- you're looking for an internal temperature of 150 degrees.

Step 7. Chill and rest the bacon. Let the bacon cool to room temperature on a wire rack over a baking sheet, tightly wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. (This sets the flavor and texture.) Refrigerated, the bacon will keep for at least 5 days; frozen, it will keep for several months.

Step 8. Slicing and cooking. One of the benefits of making your own bacon is that you can slice it as thick as you like. If you're used to soft, thin-sliced supermarket bacon, wait until you sink your teeth into a 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slice. Sure, you can crisp it in a cast iron skillet (start with a cold skillet to minimize shrinkage). But I like to cook my bacon on the grill (direct grilling over medium-high flame). Just leave plenty of open grate space so you can move the bacon if you need to dodge flare-ups. You can also bake or indirect grill the bacon on a wire rack over a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet -- a great way to prepare it for a crowd. A temperature of 350 to 375 degrees works best. The bacon will take 20 to 25 minutes to cook.

Learn more about the bacon-making process at BarbecueBible.com.

The BGA fights for FOIA requests

Fri, 2014-08-08 13:00
In July, The Better Government Association sued the Illinois High School Association for denying a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request for information about sports sponsorships. The IHSA says they are a nonprofit and therefore exempt from such requests, while the BGA maintains that citizens have a right to see the information since the organization is paid for by tax dollars.

BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw wrote that his organization is committed to holding government agencies accountable for making information available to news organizations and average citizens whom he believes have a right to see it.

The BGA also has sued Cook County, Chicago Animal Control, the Chicago Transit Authority Pension Fund and several municipalities, which Shaw said was in an effort to keep financial and political information public and to call out organizations where hints of possible corruption could be seen.

The public's right to know how government works is critical to a healthy democracy, Shaw says.

While the BGA believes open information about government is important to Illinoisans' well-being, it seems that many Illinoisans already feel like they're doing just fine. Illinois ranked 22nd among all states in a massive survey asking residents how they viewed their health and well-being. That ranking is an improvement from 2012.The rankings were based on residents' self-reporting on their feelings about their own life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and access to services. Check out the cool map and breakdowns by Illinois congressional district and major metro areas. You'll feel better about yourself if you do.

GOP Senate Incumbents 6, Tea Party Challengers 0

Fri, 2014-08-08 12:42
Republicans hoping to take back the Senate are breathing a sigh of relief Friday as the final primary contest that could have toppled an incumbent didn't bear a scalp for a tea party-affiliated challenger.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who prevailed against state Rep. Joe Carr in a Thursday primary, was considered the last Republican Senate incumbent of the midterm election season in danger of losing his nomination.

Earlier contests were all decided in the incumbents' favor, from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) victory against businessman Matt Bevin to Sen. Pat Roberts' (R-Kansas) Tuesday win over radiologist Dr. Milton Wolf. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who both faced a handful of conservative challengers, moved on to their general elections with relative ease. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is expected to win his primary on Aug. 19.

In the country's messiest race, Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel has continued an attempted challenge of his runoff loss to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), though the state's Republican Party has refused to preside over an investigation.

Republicans were looking to avoid nominating candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, who contributed in part to the GOP’s failure to take the Senate in 2010 and 2012.

McConnell's prediction that Republican Senate incumbents would sweep their tea party insurgents over the course of the primary season stands, though his use of the word "crush" may be a bit strong, given that incumbents like Roberts, Cochran and Alexander squeaked by with just 51 percent of the vote or less.

Groups that worked to topple incumbents are defending their primary records, arguing that their efforts pushed senators to adopt more conservative stances.

"Some people worry about our batting average," Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli said Friday at the RedState gathering in Texas, according to The Hill. "George Washington lost more battles than he won, but he won the war."

Watch This Magician's Mind-Bending Illusion Very Closely.. It Makes Order Out Of Chaos

Fri, 2014-08-08 11:36
Magician and New York Times crossword puzzle wizard David Kwong says we're wired to solve puzzles and make order out of chaos -- and he's got a trick to prove it.

We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com.
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The 21 Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in America

Fri, 2014-08-08 10:47

Credit: Mana Food Bar




Here at Thrillist, life is a whirlwind of delicious burgers and bacon-wrapped everything. So being the lone pescatarian on the national food and drink team, I thought it was time to switch it up and cover places that serve bean & spicy mayo sliders and coconut bacon-crusted everything. These dishes can convert even the staunchest of carnivores -- from vegified classic diner foods to all-vegan Thai and Tex-Mex to gourmet raw food tasting menus.

Curb your steak lust for a minute, and enjoy the 21 best vegetarian/vegan restaurants in America:


Credit: Beyond Sushi

BEYOND SUSHI
New York, NY
What you're getting: Spicy Mang roll
While the sheer idea of eating sushi sans fish is something straight out of your darkest nightmares, Beyond Sushi has somehow figured out a way to turn it into something even Jiro might dream about. Run by a dynamic husband & wife duo, Beyond reinvents traditional sushi using fresh, local, all-vegan ingredients. Colorful and beautifully crafted, your chopsticks should dig into a Spicy Mang roll with black rice, avocado, mango, cucumber, spicy veggies, and toasted cayenne sauce or the Mighty Mushroom roll made up of six-grain rice, enoki, tofu, shiitake, arugala, and shiitake teriyaki sauce.

More: Salmon Sucks: Sushi Chefs Reveal the Most Over and Underrated Fish


Credit: Bulan Thai

BULAN THAI
Los Angeles, CA
What you're getting: Hot wings, pad see-ew with 'chicken'
Whether you're a vegetarian or not, Bulan is a top-notch Thai treasure that won't leave you compromising taste (or general happiness) with its meatless menu. Well-known for having an awesomely attentive staff, they take traditional, authentic Thai dishes and creatively turn them into bold and delicious vegetarianized versions that still pack the same punch. Soy Thai iced teas, deep-fried veggie hot wings, and flavorful veggie chicken pad see-ew (pan-fried flat rice noodles with broccoli, sprouts, egg, and special soy sauce) will surely hit the spot.


Credit: Candle Cafe

CANDLE CAFE
New York, NY
What you're getting: Cajun seitan sandwich
Born from a health food store/juice bar turned juice bar/vegetarian cafe and a $53,000 lottery win, and named for the previous owners' custom of lighting candles to bless their space, Candle Cafe is now a 100% vegan NYC dining destination. Their healthy and sustainable meals include a Cajun seitan sandwich with steamed greens, caramelized onions, avocado & chili aoili on focaccia, and spinach manicotti with seitan & tapioca cheese, roasted garlic tomato sauce, tarragon cream, and cashew Parmesan. Oh, and their chocolate mousse pie and coconut-based ice cream might be the only desserts you'll turn down for.


Credit: The Chicago Diner

THE CHICAGO DINER
Chicago, IL
What you're getting: The Radical Reuben and a vegan shake
With the motto "Meat-free since '83", The Chicago Diner is a Windy City staple. The original Lakeview location boasts traditional American diner decor while the second spot in Logan Square has a more modern vibe, but both serve up the same comfort food that could convert any carnivore. From their renowned Reuben with corned beef seitan, sauerkraut & vegan thousand island to BBQ, buffalo, and Thai chili seitan 'wings', there's something to satisfy everyone. Don't forget to end your meal with a vegan shake (they have flavors like cookie dough peanut butter, vanilla chai, and carrot cake).


Credit: Crossroads Kitchen

CROSSROADS KITCHEN
Los Angeles, CA
What you're getting: Artichoke oysters,"crab cakes" & the risotto-stuffed hot banana pepper
While eating here won't be cheap, it will be seriously delicious. This sophisticated Melrose Ave restaurant offers Mediterranean small plates and well-crafted cocktails for an upscale, plant-based dining experience. The small plates are great for sharing, like the "crab cakes" made from hearts of palm & charred corn relish, but for something a little heartier, go for the wood-fired meaty lasagna or pappardelle bolognese. Whatever you select should be accompanied by a cocktail, like the Sophia with blanco tequila, mezcal, Kalamata olive syrup, lime, and grapefruit.


Credit: Elizabeth's Gone Raw

ELIZABETH'S GONE RAW
Washington DC
What you're getting: You don't have a choice!
Without a doubt the most upscale and unique pick on this list, Elizabeth's Gone Raw is a culinary gift to the world (veghead or not) opened by Elizabeth Petty, who was introduced to the benefits of vegan and raw foods when she was fighting breast cancer. Only open on Friday nights, you don't even have a say in what you're eating, as they only have a prix-fixe six-course tasting menu that changes on a weekly basis. Past menus have included savory options like smoked 'crab' flan, roasted 'chicken' with quinoa, peaches, fennel, marjoram & pink peppercorn, black truffle-fried cauliflower with sun-dried tomato sauce, and white peach & jasmine crisp. Sure, this'll cost something close to what a night at a steakhouse'll run you, but a dining experience this masterful is worth the price.

See all the rest of the best vegetarian/vegan restaurants in America -- only on Thrillist.com!

More from Thrillist:

You're ordering sushi all wrong: 8 tips to make you a sushi expert

The 10 Best Healthy (ish) Fast-Food Items

Follow Thrillist on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Thrillist

Proof That No One Rocks Harder Than Little Girls

Fri, 2014-08-08 09:49
Summer camp is the place where millions of kids learn the skills -- survival, problem-solving, making out -- that will serve them through life. But for a few lucky teen and pre-teen girls, their summer camp experiences teaches them how to rock.

On Sunday, Girls Rock! Chicago wrapped its ninth year of teaching campers ages 8 to 16 how to play instruments, mix and record music, produce and collaborate. “Music is just a medium for other stuff — it’s about putting kids in a positive environment, building community, building self-esteem,” GR!C outreach director Melissa Oglesby recently told The Huffington Post. "The kids look at the experience as making them who they are.”

(Story continues below.)

Faith, aka "DJ Remixa," one of the campers from this year's Girls Rock! Chicago, works her skills on the decks.

If you've ever wondered how one week of camp can change someone's life, just ask Alexandra Fryer. The 22-year-old co-owner and co-founder of the specialty garage rock cassette label Dumpster Tapes calls the weeklong stints she spent at Girls Rock! Chicago from age 14-18 "the most important thing I’ve done in my life.”

“I feel like Girls Rock! Chicago hit me at that point in life where it really shaped how I saw my female peers," Fryer told HuffPost. "I never felt the need to be catty or talk down to another young woman. I never felt the need to put down another girl and I still don’t.”

Fryer adds, “I pretty much knew once I started at Girls Rock I only wanted to be around women that were empowering other women.”


A whiteboard covered in performance notes during one of the Girls Rock! Chicago DJ workshops.

“We look at music as a kind of expression -- they find their voice," Oglesby said. "It’s a way to build power.”

Xeene Bain, who started at the one-week-a-year camp when she was just 9, told HuffPost: "Before Girls Rock I was really, really quiet. I think it helped socially and educationally." Now 17, Bain said her camp experience also helped her become comfortable with gender issues and respectful of "what other people have to say."

Like Fryer, Bain's Girls Rock experience opened doors to what she called "great opportunities." She created a YouTube channel for her recordings, and that led to offers to perform as an opening act in some of Chicago's iconic rock venues.

The counselors and fellow campers have also become what Bain describes as her second family. "When my dad passed away about two years ago, I got a package of all these CDs from the counselors and campers. ... It was amazing.”


Campers and counselors write messages of encouragement throughout the week.

During the seven-day sessions, which are held in two separate bouts each summer, Oglesby said a typical day for campers includes a morning assembly, instrument lessons, a workshop and band practice. At the end of the week, the campers perform an end-of-camp show at local venue The Bottom Lounge and later record an album at Wall To Wall, a Chicago-based recording studio used by artists like Neko Case and the rock label Thrill Jockey.

"Music is different for different kids," Oglesby said. "The little kids just go crazy -- they’re so excited and are having so much fun. They just dive right in and they’re going nuts at the dance party. But even if they leave camp and don’t touch their instruments till next year, we feel like that’s ok."


Young Girls Rock! Chicago campers work through a keyboard demo.

As the camp gears up for its 10th season, which will be held next summer, it's expanded to include a ladies camp for adults. It's also had some of its earliest campers, like Bain and Fryer, return as junior counselors.

"Being a camper is really fun, but in some ways, being a counselor is even more fun," Bain said. "Giving back and helping is really great. I'm asking every five seconds if there's another opportunity to get involved."

Learn more about how to support Girls Rock! Chicago.

Visit Honest Abe's Illinois Haunts

Fri, 2014-08-08 09:24
We love Lincoln and you should, too. Illinois, of course, is "The Land of Lincoln" and our state includes a variety of historical sites and tourist attractions. To satisfy your Lincoln craving, we've put together our Trail of Lincoln, covering everything from the Lincoln-Douglas debate sites to the World's Largest Statue of Abraham Lincoln. Notable bummer: Due to Illinois budget constraints, several of these sites will have reduced hours this fall 2014, including four sites in Springfield information.

Lincoln Trail Homestead: This is the site where the Lincoln family lived when they first moved to Illinois from Indiana when the future president was 21. The Lincolns only stayed at the homestead for one year, discouraged by bad weather and illness. When his family moved to their new log cabin in Lerna, Abraham Lincoln moved out on his own.

Address: 16985 E 1350th Rd, Marshall, IL 62441

New Salem Historical Site: The New Salem Historic Site is a reconstruction of the village of New Salem, where Lincoln spent six important years of his life. Although he never owned a home in New Salem, Lincoln was very involved in village life, including clerking at a store and becoming postmaster. In addition to its many historic buildings and artifacts, the site also has a modern campground.

Address: 15588 History Lane, Petersburg, IL 62675

Lincoln's Log Cabin: Lincoln's father and stepmother moved here in 1837, and Abraham Lincoln traveled to Lerna to visit his parents. Today, the cabin sits on an 86-acre historic site. Additionally, there is a working farm and a second homestead on the site. Please note that this is one of the Lincoln sites that will be facing reduced hours beginning Fall 2014.

Address: 402 S Lincoln Hwy, Lerna, IL 62440

Lincoln Home: This Springfield house was the home of Abraham Lincoln and his growing family from 1844-1861. When the Lincolns moved into the house, it was smaller than it is today, as the Lincolns added two stories in 1856. Three of the Lincolns' four children were born here and one son, Edward, died here.

Address: 413 South Eighth Street, Springfield, IL 62701

Lincoln Ledger: On March 1, 1853, Abraham Lincoln opened an account with Marine and Fire Insurance Company with $310. Lincoln was a depositor at this bank until his death, but his account remained open until May 27, 1867 in the name of David Davis. The Lincoln Ledger is on display in the bank's lobby in a custom-made case.

Address: South 6th St. & E. Washington Street, Springfield, IL 62707

Lincoln Family Church: Although Lincoln's original church no longer stands, the Lincolns' pew is housed at the First Presbyterian Church at the original site of the Lincoln Family church. The Lincoln family began attending church services in 1850, three years after the death of Edward Lincoln. Although Abraham Lincoln never officially became a member, Mary Todd Lincoln became a member on April 13, 1852. Tad Lincoln was baptized at the church in 1855 and his funeral was held there in 1871.

Address: 321 S 7th St, Springfield, IL 62701

Iles House: The Iles house is the oldest house in Springfield and was home to Abraham Lincoln's friend, Robert Irwin. The Irwins frequently entertained the Lincolns, who would often come over and play cards.

Address: 628 S 7th St, Springfield, IL 62703

Lincoln Tomb and Memorial Site: On April 21, 1965, six days after Abraham Lincoln died, his body was brought to Springfield to be buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery next to his son, Willie, who died of Typhoid Fever while he was still in office. Today, Lincoln's body remains at Oak Ridge, as do the bodies of his wife, Mary, and three of their four sons. Please note this is one of the sites set to have reduced hours in Fall 2014.

Address: 1500 Monument Ave, Springfield, IL 62702

Bellevue Place: On May 20, 1875, 10 years after her husband's death, Mary Todd Lincoln, was committed to Bellevue Place after a Chicago court declared her insane. Mary's trial was arranged by her oldest and only surviving son, Robert. While at Bellevue, Mary lived a relatively normal life. Mary was released from her indefinite confinement on September 11, 1875 and was released into the custody of Ninian and Elizabeth Edwards She was later declared sane by a Chicago court on June 15, 1976.

Address: 333 S Jefferson St, Batavia, IL 60510

Finish the trail's journey on Reboot Illinois to see Illinois sites that Lincoln visited as a young lawyer and later as a politician.



Want to see more cool lists like this and stay up to date on all Illinois news? Sign up for Reboot Illinois' daily digest news letter.

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White People Create Terrible App To Avoid, Um, 'Sketchy' Areas

Fri, 2014-08-08 08:49
Two white people are launching an app that seeks to help people avoid "sketchy" areas.

Watch out for all that sketchiness!



That would all be well and good, except that the app depends in large part on a Yelp-like rating system based on the personal views of Americans, a people historically known to mask the occasional racist view behind words like "dangerous" and "drugs."

The app, SketchFactor, will be available on iTunes starting Friday. Its Manhattan-based creators, Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, hope that users will rate the "relative sketchiness" of a given area on a five-point scale. The app will also use publicly available data to help complete its sketchiness rankings.

How are we supposed to define "sketchiness"? According to the Team SketchFactor blog, "it means an event that's uncomfortable and out of the ordinary."

If the phrase "uncomfortable and out of the ordinary" sounds like a dog whistle for "minorities," that's understandable. After all, it's easy to imagine a white dude who feels "uncomfortable and out of the ordinary" in a predominantly black neighborhood jumping onto SketchFactor and reporting that he felt "a lil sketched out LOL."


What could possibly go wrong?


That's already been a primary criticism of the app. ValleyWag's Sam Biddle expressed some of these exact reservations in a blog post Thursday afternoon.

"Is there any way to keep white people from using computers, before this whole planet is ruined?" Biddle wondered upon discovering the app. (There is not.)

It's never a great sign when an app's creators have to clarify that they are not "racists, bigots, [or] sexists" before the thing even launches. But in a phone interview with The Huffington Post, McGuire contended that an upvote-downvote rating system will keep super-racist posts from overrunning the app.

She also noted that while users can search specifically for crime-related ratings, people can also limit their searches to "bizarre discovery," "catcalling" or "racial profiling."

SketchFactor co-founder Allison McGuire.



"Wouldn't it be useful to understand where stop and frisks are actually happening?" said McGuire. "My mission in life [...] is to give a voice to the voiceless. [SketchFactor] gives a voice to anyone with a smartphone." For better or worse, that's true.

McGuire also clarified in an interview with Crain's New York that people of all races, not just white people, can download the app.

"Even though Dan and I are admittedly both young, white people, the app is not built for us as young, white people," she told Crain's.

When asked by HuffPost if she'd expected the app to get some backlash, McGuire was resolute. "Absolutely," she said. "We acknowledge our privilege."

"But let's turn it on its head," she continued. "This can really shed light on some interesting things happening in cities all over the U.S."

So how often does McGuire herself feel sketched out these days? Not very!

"I live in New York now," McGuire, who lives in the extremely affluent West Village neighborhood of Manhattan, told Crain's New York. "So almost nothing's sketchy to me anymore."

Funding for the app was provided by family and friends, according to McGuire.

World War II Love Letters Reach Their Rightful Recipient -- Almost 70 Years Later

Fri, 2014-08-08 08:09
Mystery solved. Mostly.

A couple of weeks ago, two already opened, taped-together letters addressed to a Dorothy Bartos arrived at the Chicago home of Martha Rodriguez. The letters, from a sailor at the San Diego Navy base, were dated 1945, near the end of World War II.

The Chicago Tribune reported on the letters with the hopes of tracking down their intended recipient, and it wasn't long before it succeeded: Dorothy Bartos Carlberg's son spotted the story and reached out to the newspaper after confirming his mother once had the same address as Rodriguez.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez handed over the letters to 85-year-old Carlberg, who was a teenager at the time she sent the letters to Al Fragakis, whom she'd met in Chicago before he left for duty.

"We were friends but we weren't hanky-panky or anything," Carlberg, who now lives in an assisted living facility in Whitewater, Wisconsin, told WGN.

Carlberg went on to marry Victor Carlberg, an Army man, five years after she exchanged letters with Fragakis, WGN reports. Her husband died two years ago. Fragakis has yet to be located since the letters were found.

Last year, another pair of long-lost World War II letters made their way home. Chris Kunellis had written the messages to his wife while he was serving as a soldier in Italy in 1944. Their son, Chuck, received the letters 69 years later.


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Supermoon On August 10 Will Be Biggest Of 2014

Fri, 2014-08-08 07:59
There's going to be an extra-special moon this weekend.

On Aug. 10, when the moon turns full at 2:10 p.m. EDT, skywatchers will be treated to the sight of a so-called "supermoon" -- and it will be the largest supermoon of the year.

The phenomenon -- any full moon that coincides with the time in the moon's orbit when it's closest to Earth -- should be visible on Sunday night after sunset.

Head over to the U.S. Naval Observatory's website to check local times for the supermoon in your area.

How spectacular will this supermoon be?

In comparison to other full moons, supermoons can be up to 14 percent closer and 30 percent brighter, according to NASA. In addition, the August 2014 supermoon will become full during the same hour that the moon comes closest to the Earth (lunar perigee), meaning it will outshine other full moons that have fallen on the same day as the lunar perigee.

Send us your supermoon photos this weekend!

You can tweet your photos with hashtag #HuffPostSupermoon. Or, you can submit them directly to our "Supermoon 2014" slideshow, which will be featured in our supermoon live blog on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 10.

We'll be collecting user photos from all over, and yours may be featured!

The August supermoon may also pair nicely with the Perseid meteor shower, which should be visible this weekend when Earth passes through the debris zone left by Comet Swift–Tuttle. The Perseids, which may offer skywatchers a view of 100 shooting stars per hour, will peak between Aug. 10 and Aug. 13.

This year was an exceptional one for supermoons, with three appearing in a row --one each in July, August and September. The next supermoon will fall on September 9, 2014.

Study Finds One Of The Reasons Anorexia Is So Hard To Treat

Thu, 2014-08-07 15:24
Women with anorexia may experience a positive release from destructive weight-loss behaviors.

Anorexia, a disorder that affects an estimated 30 million Americans and has a mortality rate of up to 20 percent, is often associated with low self-esteem and perfectionism. But the popularity of "pro-ana" web forums, featuring "success stories" and "thinspiration," indicates that at least some sufferers feel pride and other positive emotions -- which may prevent them from wanting to get better.

"Some women at least, with anorexia, are getting some positive feelings from this," clinical psychologist and researcher Dr. Edward Selby told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. But why?

A research team led by Selby analyzed data from 118 women aged 18-58 who were in outpatient treatment for anorexia. Participants were trained to use a PalmPilot, which prompted them to answer questions about their feelings, food intake and weight-loss behaviors five times a day for two weeks.

The data, published in a recent issue of Clinical Psychological Science, showed that many of the women had trouble differentiating between positive emotions -- which may be motivating them to engage in weight loss. Patients' pride about losing weight may be confused with other positive emotions such as confidence or accomplishment.

"We found that this essentially put women at risk from feeling positive emotions from these [weight-loss] behaviors," Selby told HuffPost. "Things like a vomiting episode, misuse of laxatives, exercise."

Previous studies have shown that eating disorder patients may have trouble "making sense" of their emotions, but they commonly focused on negative emotions and not positive ones. Selby explained that an inability to differentiate between positive emotions has implications for eating disorder treatment, by turning towards "a major focus on building a new identity by finding positive emotions through other things."

"[We don't intend to] downplay the role of stress and negative emotion involved in anorexia," Selby said. "A lot of women have very problematic, stressful lives, and then they find positives through the anorexia behavior."

So, finding those who struggle with disorders like anorexia a new source of positive feelings may be a place to start.

University Of Illinois Professor Apparently Loses Job Over Anti-Israel Tweets

Thu, 2014-08-07 14:56
An outspoken critic of Israel's role in the latest conflict in Gaza appears to have had his job offer at a major university retracted due to his tweets and public comments on the matter.

Steven Salaita, previously an associate professor in the English Department at Virginia Tech University, was initially offered a position with the American Indian Studies program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but Chancellor Phyllis Wise has since blocked his appointment, Inside Higher Ed reported Wednesday.

The university declined to comment to Inside Higher Ed on why Salaita's appointment was blocked when typically a post like his, having already been made public, would only require the formality of the school's board of trustees' approval before being confirmed. The university has also not responded to a HuffPost request for comment as of publication date.

Reports by Inside Higher Ed and the Daily-Gazette indicate that Salaita's anti-Israel tweets on the conflict in Gaza, which had recently received some media attention, was the reason why the author's offer of employment was rescinded.

The American Association of University Professors' Illinois committee on Wednesday issued a statement describing the professor's words as "stridden and vulgar" but also "an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East."

"Speech that is deemed controversial should be challenged with further speech that may abhor and challenge a statement," the AAUP statement continues. "Yet the University of Illinois cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America."

However, Cary Nelson, an English professor at the University of Illinois and the former president of the AAUP, appeared on HuffPost Live Thursday (embedded above) to address the controversy, saying his would-be colleague had "stepped over a line" with not only the tone but also the content of his comments on the Gaza conflict. Nelson said that he supported the university's decision.

A university spokeswoman had previously defended Salaita's hiring to the News-Gazette, telling the newspaper late last month, "Faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees."

Meanwhile, a Change.org petition calling for Salaita to be rehired by the university has been signed over 7,400 times as of Thursday afternoon.

Below are some of Salaita's tweets on Gaza:

Note how many times Zionists use words like "savages" and "animals." The bombing of #Gaza isn't strategic. It is racist and punitive.

— Steven Salaita (@stevesalaita) August 1, 2014


It's simple: either condemn #Israel's actions or embrace your identity as someone who's okay with the wholesale slaughter of children. #Gaza

— Steven Salaita (@stevesalaita) July 29, 2014


Only #Israel can murder around 300 children in the span of a few weeks and insist that it is the victim.

#Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

— Steven Salaita (@stevesalaita) August 1, 2014


I just got an email condemning my "slander of holy Israel."

I reckon I can accept "slander," but "holy" seems a bit out of place.

— Steven Salaita (@stevesalaita) August 2, 2014

How should you read political polls?

Thu, 2014-08-07 14:34
It's not just campaign season. It's political polling season. We were hit with a handful last week and the results were quite different. Why? What gives? What do we need to consider when we hear about polls?

Polling is part science and part modeling guesswork.

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek took a look at nine things to remember to be a savvy political poll reader.

Last week, Reboot Illinois commissioned an automated poll of the governor's race that showed Rauner ahead by a significant margin. An interview poll commissioned by the Illinois Education Association showed a tighter race, as did a new kind of online poll taken by YouGov with The New York Times and CBS News that since has been criticized by the American Association for Public Opinion Research. The online poll included more than 100,000 respondents and covered contests nationwide. Obviously, it wouldn't reach voters without Internet access.

Gregg Durham, chief operating officer for We Ask America, which has done polling for both Reboot Illinois and the Chicago Sun-Times, says what type of polling is being conducted is just one thing people should keep in mind when they read about polling. What are the others?

1. Who's paying for it? Is it a poll paid for by a nonpartisan media firm or one pushing opposition research paid for by a candidate?

2. What's tough to predict? This year, Illinois Democrats have loaded the ballot with questions to compel their supporters to vote. Will it work? How well? Will Rauner's big, get-out-the-vote effort counteract this enough? Pollsters try to model their respondents to mirror Election Day turnout, but who votes this fall is an educated guess. Primary polling is always more challenging because turnout is tough to gauge and it keeps declining. It was especially so this year because pollsters weren't sure how effective unions would be at getting Democrats to take Republican ballots. Turns out they were pretty effective.

3. Automated polls like those We Ask America does are good for simple questions like "For whom would you vote today?"

4. Live interview polls are good for more complex questions like "Why are you voting for Candidate X?" Those polls tend to take days to get a scientific sample and lots of news can break, changing some minds.

5. Online polling might be the future. It's interesting, in part, because it allows pollsters to track the same people over time.

See the other four things you should keep in the back of your mind when reading political poll results at Reboot Illinois.

July 2014 Reboot Illinois/We Ask America polls:
Bruce Rauner's lead grows in Illinois governor's race; voters warm to his tax plan
Lisa Madigan up 17 points in bid for fourth term as Illinois attorney general
Illinois secretary of state poll: Jesse White continues domination
Illinois U.S. Senate poll: Dick Durbin maintains lead in bid for fourth term
Illinois treasurer's poll: Name recognition pays off for Tom Cross
Illinois comptroller's race poll: Judy Baar Topinka widens lead, picks up Dem support

Hatred in the Nuclear Era

Thu, 2014-08-07 14:27
Before nuclear weapons, after nuclear weapons...

"The latter era, of course," writes Noam Chomsky, "opened on August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but -- so the evidence suggests -- not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts."

We're not even close. Or so it seems on a bad day."Why are we violent but not illiterate?" asked columnist Colman McCarthy. Well, for one thing, we don't wrap illiteracy in a shroud of glory and call it war or self-defense or national security; nor have we developed a multi-trillion-dollar industry called the Illiteracy Industrial Complex (or maybe we have, and call it television). In any case, the human race has a demonstrated ability to pull itself out of an instinct-driven existence -- but now finds itself at a suicidal impasse, unable, or uncertain how, to commit to taking the next step upwards, beyond violent conflict resolution and the mentality of "us vs. them," and into a fuller connection with the universe.

This moment, as we straddle the anniversaries of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is a time to reflect on what happens next. Violence -- disorganized and, of course, highly organized and extraordinarily sophisticated -- remains humanity's obsession, preoccupation and primary distraction. Despite the ability we now possess to destroy ourselves and most life on this planet, we have barely begun to question our reflexive violence. Doing so requires looking courageously inward.

If there's a guiding principle in this journey, perhaps it begins here:

"[C]onflict escalates -- that is, moves increasingly toward violence -- according to the degree of dehumanization in the situation," writes Stephanie Van Hook, executive director of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, summarizing the work of Michael Nagler, who wrote The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action. "Violence, in other words, doesn't occur without dehumanization."

This is simplicity itself, is it not? As long as we respect the person or group with whom we're in conflict, both sides, eventually, win. It gets tricky, however, when one side adamantly refuses to show respect, and even more so when there's an imbalance of power involved -- and when one's life is in danger. What does "showing respect" even mean in such circumstances? It could mean "turning the other cheek," but two millennia on, this concept remains misunderstood as passive compliance and buried six feet deep in cynicism.

Gandhi re-energized the idea and called it "satyagraha": seize the truth. That is to say, refuse either to dehumanize the other person or let the other person do it to you. Stand with courage and change the world. But the popular understanding of this idea is precarious. The media extol violent elimination of conflict -- poof! evil loses -- and capitalism caters to every side in almost every global feud. Ongoing dehumanization of one's enemy is a source of unending profit, if not an economic necessity.

And this, I repeat, is the situation in a nuclear-armed world.

"Most urgently, why does such breathtaking audacity persist at a moment when we should stand trembling in the face of our folly and united in our commitment to abolish its most deadly manifestation?"

These are the words of Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, keeper of the nation's nuclear arsenal, who, post-retirement, became haunted by the work he did and turned into a zealot for nuclear disarmament.

In his essay, "Death by Deterrence," Butler noted that, "from the earliest days of the nuclear era, the risks and consequences of nuclear war have never been properly weighed by those who brandished it."

The conclusion I draw from this observation, by a man who has stared into the nuclear abyss, is that the temptation to dehumanize "the other" -- whoever that may be -- and keep the world, as it were, safe from violence, surmounts the rationality of survival. Continuing to develop nuclear weapons, generation after generation, means that one day they will be used. And in a world festooned with dehumanized people, such a day will be sooner rather than later.

It's easier to hate than to love. We can maintain hatred for "the other" and remain certain of who we are. To love -- especially beyond our obvious self-interest -- is no small feat. Every religion reaches toward this peak of being in its teaching, but falls short of it in its practical application. Indeed, sustaining hatred for an enemy creates group coherence. And violence sustains the hatred, because without it, one would have to accept the blame for every murder committed in the name of that hatred.

As Rabbi Michael Lerner recently wrote: "... one of the primary victims of the war between Israel and Hamas is the compassionate and love-oriented Judaism that has held together for several thousand years."

I think we do have the moral and intellectual capacity to control our worst instincts, but I don't know if we have the will, or the time, to rebuild our lives, and our global civilization, around the best of who we are. Another anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki reminds us that the clock is ticking.

_____________
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

Charlie Trotter Day Is August 17

Thu, 2014-08-07 14:20
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I did not know Charlie Trotter personally. However, because he had mentored so many chefs who have been guests on The Dinner Party, I feel like I knew him.

My only run-in with Charlie went like this: We were seated at the kitchen table at the eponymous restaurant and Charlie walked up to one of the chefs cooking wildly and tasted what he was plating. "Do you have salt at your station?" he demanded. The man nodded quickly in the affirmative. "Then use it!" he exclaimed. I remember being awe-struck at the determination for excellence, at the passion that demanded that the food, every night, reach new heights.

That story has stayed with me since 2000, and I repeat it often. It says so much about how one man, through sheer creative force and will, can change how a nation views food. Charlie Trotter influenced and mentored so many and raised the culinary bar for restaurateurs all over the United States. Before there was Homaro Cantu and before there was Curtis Duffy, there was Charlie Trotter, paving the way for culinary creativity and chefs as artists for years to come.

I am grateful to have been affected by the passion and drive that was Charlie Trotter. As his sister Anne noted during the memorial service last year, Charlie felt that "If you are willing to work hard enough, no obstacle is too big to overcome." She ended by saying of her childhood with Charlie, "He raised us to levels of greatness that he saw we had within us, levels we never imagined were within our reach and that we never imagined were possible." Charlie Trotter did that for so many chefs and restaurateurs and our culinary experiences in American cuisine have never been the same. For this, we are forever in his debt.

The State of Illinois and The City of Chicago agree. August 17, the anniversary of the opening of Charlie Trotter's restaurant, has been proclaimed Charlie Trotter Day by The State of Illinois and The City of Chicago. On Saturday, August 16 and Sunday, August 17, The Trotter Project invites chefs and diners across America to commemorate the opening of the infamous Charlie Trotter's restaurant and celebrate his lasting legacy through support of The Trotter Project.

In the spirit of giving back and in honor of Charlie's incredible vision and values that inspired thousands of alumni, guests, family and friends, The Trotter Project creates a series of charitable initiatives and programs centered around the culinary arts, service, education and excellence.

Restaurant operators across America can be a part of the Charlie Trotter Day festivities in two simple steps:

• Create a Charlie Trotter-inspired dish to offer on the menu on August 16 and August 17

• Donate the proceeds from that dish to The Trotter Project

If you are a chef or restaurateur who would like additional information, you can contact The Trotter Project at info@thetrotterproject.org. If you are a foodie -- and who in Chicago isn't? -- you may also be interested in the Charlie Trotter Project's first event, Savour, held in participation with The Grant Park Conservancy as the opening night fundraiser of the Windy City Wine Festival, now in its tenth year.

So, you will see me at Savour and you will see me eating a lot of Charlie Trotter inspired dishes the weekend of August 16 and 17! I look forward celebrating Charlie Trotter and supporting The Charlie Trotter Project, and what better way than by eating some of the best food from participating restaurants around the city. Cheers, Charlie. Cheers!

No Money Needed to Defeat Rahm Emanuel

Thu, 2014-08-07 13:44

The upcoming Mayoral Race in Chicago should be very interesting considering that Rahm Emanuel is so far behind in the early polls when compared with other candidates like Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Karen Lewis. Emanuel has made a bad name for himself and his administration in Chicago. He started off stepping on the school teachers, closing down mental health facilities, stepping on the cab drivers, and keeping Supt. McCarthy as his Superintendent of Police when the city is struggling hard to get a grip on the violence. If the right candidate with great community organizing skills were to run against Emanuel then he would not stand a chance. Money does not matter in this race because the masses of people are tired of Emanuel's failed policies. Most of the wealthy people that made hefty donations to him are only interested in staying wealthy while the majority of people in Chicago suffer.



You cannot run a Mayoral Campaign like you are running for President. The people are too close in Chicago and the people watch your every move. The media also plays a role in changing people's thinking as it relates to pushing the money question in the faces of the voters. There are many stories where candidates with little to no money have won high level offices.



We have to organize the people on a higher level to help turn the city back over to the working class people. There are several candidates that have declared their candidacy to run for Mayor including; Frederick Collins, Commissioner Robert Shaw, and Amara Enyia.



However, the media continues to play up candidates with more name recognition. We should all come together to back one strong candidate to run for Mayor of Chicago. If the people decide to back multiple candidates then the vote will be split and this would leave an opportunity for Emanuel to secure another victory. There is no margin for error in the upcoming Mayoral Race and we should brace ourselves for a big fight because machine politicians will do everything in their power to work against the underdog or new blood attempting to enter the political arena.



There will never be another time in history when a Mayor can be so easily defeated without money. Feeding into the media hype in regards to big money represents the wrong way of thinking. If the candidate has the right charisma then he or she can win the people over and take the Mayor's seat as soon as possible. Hitting the streets and talking to the people from every corner of Chicago is a mandatory. Once you loose the respect of the people it's hard to win them back over. That's what Emanuel has done time after time in Chicago. We need a Mayor in Chicago that really understands the many different cultures of the city. There is no room for tyrants in Chicago and this type of thinking needs to come to an abrupt end in February of 2015.

For Run The Jewels, Community And Fans Take A Front Seat

Thu, 2014-08-07 13:29
Hip-hop superduo Run The Jewels is a lot like a delightfully dangerous high school chemistry project: Two completely unique ingredients -- in this case, musicians -- combine and make one explosive show.

And right now, the year-old experiment sparked by Killer Mike and El-P making guest appearances on each other's records is blowing up.

Killer Mike would appreciate the chemistry reference: After all, the 39-year-old rapper, born Michael Render, is a huge "Breaking Bad" fan. (He even recapped the final season for hip-hop magazine XXL.)

"I had a high school chemistry teacher who was about your size," Killer Mike says, pointing to my roughly 5-foot frame shortly after wrapping Run The Jewels' set at Lollapalooza in Chicago Sunday. "I always wonder if he was into some of those Walter White experiments."


Atlanta-based Killer Mike, aka Michael Render, takes the stage at Lollapalooza 2014.

Reflections like these are common for Mike and El-P. Both individually successful in their music careers before they united to form Run The Jewels, the two still constantly nod back to their roots -- musical influences, family, mentors -- and repeatedly stress the importance of community.

During a performance at last year's Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago -- smack in the middle of a grueling summer of gun violence -- Mike said building community was the solution to stopping the killings and implored the crowd to "give a damn about your neighbors."

The message wasn't a tossed-off remark, either: Mike, who uses his Atlanta barber shop as a base for community activism efforts, takes it everywhere he goes.

"I told our audience this last night [at an after-party show]," Mike said post-Lolla performance, "I say it every time I play in Chicago: 'Please find one child and mentor them. If you don't believe it can really change that child's life, my name is Michael Render, and my mentor is from North Chicago. Her name is Alice Johnson.'

In fact, he bought his shop, Graffiti SWAG (Shave Wash And Groom), to ensure the community he so often speaks of thrives. Mike said the reasons were threefold: Running a barber shop gave him a chance to create a better experience than what his community had been receiving; he wanted to provide people -- "specifically, black tradesmen" -- jobs; and the shop acts as a direct line to his neighbors so he can "hear what the community thinks and feels."


Brooklyn-based El-P, aka Jaime Meline, on the Palladium Stage at Lollapalooza 2014 during his performance as Run The Jewels.

In their fans, Mike and El-P say they see a vibrant and devoted community where everyone can be counted.

"That's really what hip-hop is: It's the most inclusive music of everything around it," El-P, otherwise known as Jaime Meline, said. "The roots of it come from people who were really listening to everything that was out there, applying their ideas and making something beautiful of their own."

As recently as five years ago, major music festivals like Pitchfork, Bonaroo and Coachella were still warming up to the idea of hip-hop as anything but a niche in the lineup. This year, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and OutKast were the bold-faced headliners for each of the respective festivals.

"I don't think there's a festival now where people would feel right about if there wasn't that representation [of hip hop]," El-P said. "And it wasn't always that way -- it used to be that hip-hop was an invading force on the larger music scene. [The change] speaks to a lot of things: The cultural and community significance of where hip-hop comes from."

The two cite artists like Boogie Down Productions, L.L. Cool J, The Beastie Boys and 2 Live Crew among their influences, particularly for their use of irony.

"We talk a lot of shit on our records, but i think it's apparent that it's all in good fun. Our vibe is very inclusive," El-P said, adding, "We can say something totally screwed up and people can still smile about it because they know they're in on the joke. We're not making the joke out of you."

But like their predecessors, Run The Jewels' lyrics about drugs, sex and theft (however ironic) have opened them to criticism.

In 2012, Fox News host Bob Beckel seized on Killer Mike's politically charged solo song, "Reagan," and slammed the rapper as "fat" and "rude" while calling his craft "the worst genre of music there ever was."

"The blame game is still a problem," Mike said as the two quickly riff on how subjects like danger, misogyny and violence have always been part of rock 'n' roll, the blues and literature. El-P argues the profane has been the catalyst for art, "even good art," since the dawn of time.

"People have restraint put on them for [moralistic reasons], because of government or religion -- but human beings also need a place to put something that's at times profane or decadent, something that may shock," Mike said.


Run The Jewels in front of their Lollapalooza fans in Chicago.

Still, El-P says the two "feel [a] responsibility to project something that's positive." Mike uses the audience from moments earlier as an example of this.

"Most kids raged out there today. They ran around, they swarmed but they didn't hurt each other and they took care of each other. That's what I love about this and this community of Run The Jewels."

That community will no doubt expand when the recently completed "Run The Jewels II" is released later this year. (El-P plays coy on a specific date, saying only the album will drop "in the near future.") The two see it as an opportunity to, in a way, fill a void with something they want to see more of in hip-hop and music at large.

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