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Why Contemporary Art Is Unimaginable Without Frida Kahlo

Tue, 2014-04-29 08:09
When you think about badass, game-changing female artists, Frida Kahlo is probably one of the first to come to mind. The fearless surrealist has, over time, risen to an almost mythical status, her haunting life story at times overshadowing her visceral artwork, though the two, in actuality, can hardly be separated.

Born in 1907, Kahlo contracted polio as a child, severely weakening one of her legs. At 18, she endured a tragic tram accident in which she broke both her pelvis and spine, resulting in a life riddled with physical anguish, operations and addictive painkillers. Infertility, an abortion, and miscarriages were all subsequent consequences of her poor health. Kahlo died in 1954, only one year after her first solo exhibition. Yet despite all this pain -- or, more accurately -- because of it, Kahlo created a compendium of gut-wrenching portraits, blurring the most intimate of truths with the most outlandish of fantasies, rendered in equally unflinching intensity.

Frida Kahlo, La venadita (little deer), 1946. Private collection, Chicago. © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

In Kahlo's painted world, domesticity is only a blink away from the jungles of the wild, and it's easy to inhabit both at once. Gender identity -- and identity, in general -- are always in flux, easily mutable by the whims of a brushstroke, an outfit change or even a stance. There was Frida as frightened bride, Frida as wounded deer, Frida as mass of tangled roots, Frida as baby, Frida as queen. She wrote her fears and fantasies on her very flesh, ripping open her skin for viewers to see and feel for themselves. Bridging the gap between a whispered confession and a collective subconscious dream, Kahlo's paintings don't just tell stories, they open wounds.

Fast forward 60 years and contemporary art has transformed dramatically from Kahlo's day, in regards to accepted media, subject matter and style. What would this world look like without Frida Kahlo? It's impossible to say. But it's just as impossible not to think of Kahlo's impact when contemplating today's most rebellious artistic spirits, experimenting with the boundaries of sexuality, race, politics, taste, art and life. In the self-portraits of artists like Cindy Sherman and Ana Mendieta, shifting between sensuality and violence, as the self bleeds into the environment and vice versa. In works by Catherine Opie, Thomas Houseago and Lorna Simpson, where the body is so coldly truncated. In the ominous narrative of Shirin Neshat's "Turbulent," where gender politics mix with an impenetrable sense of foreboding.

A new exhibition at MCA Chicago honors Frida Kahlo's impact on the art world, exploring the many artists and artworks that owe Kahlo a major hat tip. Titled "Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo," the show features work by contemporary giants including Sanford Biggers, Louise Bourgeois, Beatriz Milhazes, Donald Moffett, Wangechi Mutu, Shirin Gabriel Orozco, Angel Otero and many, many more, including of course, Ms. Kahlo herself. The exhibition's name leaves ambiguous whether or not these artists are directly inspired, subconsciously influenced or fortuitously liberated by Kahlo -- or simply chronologically following her -- but we're guessing the answer is somewhere in the tangled branches between.

Take a look at a preview of the exhibition below and let us know if you see Frida's blood running through the today's art stars.

"Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo" runs from May 3 until October 5, 2014 at MCA Chicago.

The Walt Disney Archives Are Staying In Chicago For A Few More Months

Tue, 2014-04-29 07:58

CHICAGO (AP) — The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is extending a popular exhibit of Walt Disney archives.

Anne Rashford is director of temporary exhibits at the museum. In a statement Monday, she says the exhibit is being extended for three months. It is now scheduled to end Aug. 3.

The exhibition, titled "Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives," includes more than 300 artifacts from nine decades of Disney history. It features costumes, props and artwork from classic Disney animation, live-action films, theme parks and television shows.

Rashford says the exhibit offers a rare peek into Disney's life and "the unforgettable entertainment he created."

Attendees must purchase a separate ticket for the exhibit in addition to their museum admission.

Teen Girl Killed, Another Injured In Chicago Shooting

Tue, 2014-04-29 07:24
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police say a 14-year-old girl was shot to death and another girl wounded when an altercation broke out on a sidewalk.

Police spokesman Thomas Sweeney says the 14-year-old was with some other teenagers Monday in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the city's South Side when someone in the group pulled a gun and started shooting. The girl died at University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. The second victim, who was shot in the arm, was taken to a different hospital and listed in stable condition.

No arrests have been made in the shootings, but police said late Monday that they were interviewing a person of interest.

Brazilians React To Soccer Fan's Racist Banana Taunt: If Anyone Is A Monkey, 'We Are All Monkeys'

Mon, 2014-04-28 21:57
On Sunday, during a soccer match between Barcelona and Villarreal, a fan chucked a banana at player Dani Alves presumably thinking the all-too-common racist taunt was going to throw the Brazilian phenom off his game. What Alves did next was pure brilliance.

Without skipping a beat, he picked up the banana, took a bite and continued to take his corner kick during the game, which ended in a 3-2 victory for Barcelona.

Other players were soon taking to social media to applaud the swift way in which he handled the racist aggression. Neymar, Alves' Barcelona teammate and one of the best players on Brazil's national team, tweeted the following: "Dani owned them... take that you band of racists."

Deeeeeitou danid2ois .... TOMAAAAAA BANDO DE RACISTAS .... #SOMOSTODOSMACACOS e dai?

— Neymar Júnior (@neymarjr) April 27, 2014

Neymar later posted a photo to Instagram with his son and launched the hashtag #SomosTodosMacacos which translates to "we are all monkeys." They were both holding bananas in support of Alves.

Soccer players and celebrities soon caught onto the trend and many of Brazil's most notable figures took to social media to display their solidarity. Many of the posts included Neymar's hashtag.

Brazilian player Fred makes a highly offensive gesture that coincidently is referred to as a "banana" in Brazil. His caption: "A banana for racism."

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Post by Fred #9 - Oficial.

Roberto Carlos, Brazilian former player

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Post by Roberto Carlos-Oficial.

National Brazilian players Oscar, David Luiz and Willian

Oscar, David Luiz and Willian join camp. #somostodosmacacos #weareallmonkeys

— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) April 28, 2014

Falcão, Brazilian player

Luciano Hulk and Angélica, TV personalities

Claudia Leite, musician

Argentine player Sergio Leonel Agüero and Brazilian player Marta Vieira da Silva

Ivete Sangalo, musician

Alexandre Pires, musician

Michele Teló, musician

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Post by Michel Teló.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff also took to Twitter to back the movement: "In support, Neymar launched the campaign #weareallmonkeys to show that we all have the same origin."

Em seu apoio, @neymarjr lançou a campanha #somostodosmacacos p/ mostrar que temos todos a mesma origem ...

— Dilma Rousseff (@dilmabr) April 28, 2014

In addition to his Twitter and Instagram photo with his son, Neymar also released the following video further promoting the "we are all monkeys" hashtag. Neymar had been inspired to create the video and hashtag after experiencing a similar racially charged incident during a game against Granada on April 13. Neymar's PR agency, Loducca, intended to launch the video after another incident to occurred and saw the chance to ignite a social movement when Alves ate that banana. Guga Ketzer, Partner and Creative Vice President of Loducca, said "the timing was perfect":

The video reads as follows: "In soccer, it's common to see players referring to other players as monkeys. But the best way to get rid of prejudice is to rid it of its weight. An offense only resonates when it irritates you. #WeAreAllMonkeys"

The remarks echo those given by Alves after Sunday's game. "We have suffered this in Spain for some time," he said. "You have to take it with a dose of humor. We aren't going to change things easily.

"If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."

Dinner for Four on $10 a Day

Mon, 2014-04-28 16:43
For some people reading this headline you may think, "$10 dinner for four, oh, that is easy, just buy in bulk, prepare ahead, can and preserve food, grow your own food." Well, it may be doable for those people who are lucky enough to participate in a food co-op, a community garden or have space to actually grow their own vegetables and produce and have the skills to can or ferment food. However, for many low-income urban families their only option is to shop, if they are lucky, at a large local grocery store. For anyone who has grocery shopped in a city, the task of choosing a healthy meal for a family of four on $10 a day is a pretty daunting task. For a family that participates in the SNAP program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), that is what is budgeted for a family of four, $10 a day for dinner. Try it yourself sometime, the next time you are grocery shopping.

Last Saturday, when I participated in a Cooking Matters workshop in Austin conducted by the enthusiastic, knowledgeable, patient crew from EverThriveIllinois, my task was to shop keeping nutrition and budget in mind at a Food 4 Less and not go over $10. Austin has been called one of the deadliest neighborhoods in Chicago and associated with the "g-word," but in this case, we are talking about another "g-term," spreading knowledge of what "good food" is to members of the Austin community.

Cooking Matters is one program arm of the No Kid Hungry Campaign of Share Our Strength. No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. They're ending childhood hunger by connecting kids to effective nutrition programs, like school breakfast and summer meals. This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, government officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. These partners work together, implementing solutions that break down the barriers that keep kids from healthy food.

16 million kids in American do not have consistent access to adequate food, which works out to be one out of five kids. 22 percent of kids under the age of 18 live in poverty in America. 85 percent of low-income families want to make healthy meals for their kids but only 50 percent are able to do so most nights a week. Three out of five, K-8 public school teachers say they regularly see students coming to school hungry. 47 percent of SNAP participants are children under the age of 18. Children who regularly do not get enough nutritious food to eat tend to have significantly higher levels of behavioral, emotional and academic problems and tend to be more aggressive and anxious (statistics thanks to Share Our Strength).

No Kid Hungry is making impacts with local partners. In Chicago, Cooking Matters has partnered with EverThriveIllinois in carrying out the healthy lifestyles initiative, which aims at providing outreach, education and programming to inspire individuals to be proactive in improving their health. EverThriveIllinois is the lead state agency providing this programming for Cooking Matters. So here on this Saturday morning, at Food 4 Less I was participating in a Cooking Matters for Adults that teaches low-income adults about healthy meal preparation and sensible shopping on a limited budget using the SNAP guidelines, $10 for a meal for a family of four.

Fortunately, I was in good company, present were Jennifer Epstein, the director of the Health Disparities & Healthy Lifestyles Initiative for EverThriveIllinois, Lilah Handler, the coordinator for the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative, Anna Batcke, Midwest Director for Culinary Events Share Our Strength, the incredibly informative Chef Dave, a Chef Instructor from the Washburne Culinary Institute and participants from the local community. We visited each of the main food group sections of the store, produce, meat, bread, grains, dairy and talked about reading labels, health factors like salt in products, how to find a better bargain by reading the label and how to cook these items. For example, when we walked by the meat department one of the best bargains was ham hocks, but the volunteer nutritionist, Catherine, who gave us the tour, read the label to us and it said salt and sodium nitrate, which basically meant salt and salt. So even though the ham hocks looked like a great deal, price-wise, from the label we realized it wasn't a good thing for our health. Another point made: That although braising collard greens and ham hocks was a popular dish, cooking greens that long took all the nutrition out of the vegetable

Well, was I able to buy my meal for $10? Yes I did, but I found it very hard. In this case, I had to really think about a well-balanced meal, the price, and put that extra pepper, sauce or cheese back because it just did not fit into this budget. I bought a bag of brown rice, 2 heads of broccoli(I love broccoli and it is very filling) garlic, ground turkey meat and a red pepper, that per item, was the most expensive thing I bought, and I assumed that pantry items were available, like salt, pepper, butter, oil. For a busy family, cooking a healthy dinner is not easy, it requires knowledge, skills and commitment to good food. In some ways, it is not a surprise that McDonalds becomes an option for some families. Cooking Matters is working to educate families and give them the knowledge and skills so that they realize why food choices matter and how it affects their health.

If you are interested in volunteering in these weekly classes you can contact EverThriveIllinois. If you would like to donate to Share Our Strength, one way is to attend their incredible Taste of the Nation event here in Chicago August 13th.

For me, shopping at this Food 4 Less was eye opening because I realized I took spending money on good food for granted. One thing I learned and Chef Dave brought this up, was to utilize food waste better, to save all those vegetable scraps in a container to make stock, to utilize bones for stock, it makes for a nutritious base for soups and sauces as well as saves money. Fortunately, I love vegetables, but for a family that are not vegetable lovers, and make meat the focus of their meal, meat is expensive. It takes patience, knowledge and thoughtfulness to buy a meal for $10 for a family. Cooking Matters and EverThriveIllinois are striving to educate the local community when it comes to nutritious food choices, so that a community like Austin gets to be known for that other g-term, "good food," and by building a healthier community, attitudes change and children get filling, healthy meals, because good food makes for happy people!

Savoring the Score of Joffrey's <em>Romeo and Juliet</em>

Mon, 2014-04-28 16:35

Christine Rocas and Rory Hohenstein - Photo by Herbert Migdoll

The Joffrey is taking on Romeo & Juliet this season, which has an amazing score by Sergei Prokofiev. We asked conductor Scott Speck some questions about the music, and he shares some wonderful insights with us here.

Can you share some background information about the composer and the development of this score?

​One of the great thrills of working in the field of ballet is the opportunity to perform the score to Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev. I am grateful to the Joffrey's Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater, for programming it. All the musicians of the Chicago Philharmonic feel the same way.

Prokofiev was a Russian composer -- or more accurately, for much of his life, a Soviet composer. But his work bears very little resemblance to that of his revered countrymen, Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky. Prokofiev had a musical style that was entirely his own. Generally speaking, he could be considered part of the Neoclassical movement -- paying tribute to the great Baroque and classical masters with a familiar tonal language and forms such as the "Gavotte", but with a modern take ​that could never be mistaken for anything but twentieth-century. But Igor Stravinsky was also a neoclassicist for part of his career, and there is no confusing the two composers. Prokofiev's style is very melodic -- there is hardly a moment that can't be sung. He got his start in ballet early, moving to Paris and composing for a very young Balanchine and the Ballets Russes. (In fact, Prodigal Son, which the Joffrey Ballet performs in September, was one of his first in the genre.) If he did imitate the great Russian ballet composers in any way, it was in his pacing. The music drives the action in the play admirably, with gorgeous melodies for each major character and theme in the story.

What are some of the particular challenges when it comes to conducting the music of Prokofiev for this ballet?

​The biggest challenge is the sheer virtuosity of the writing -- the difficulty of the score itself. Being a great pianist, Prokofiev infused his scores with devilish technical challenges that would be much easier to play on the piano than on the various instruments of the orchestra.​ It takes a truly great orchestra to do justice to the intricacies of his music. Luckily we have the Chicago Philharmonic!

Are there any specific instruments that feature prominently here, and what does that add to the overall feel and mood of the score?

​I remember listening to this music as a kid, and immediately being struck by Prokofiev's inventive use of instruments. For example, at the reprise of the "Dance of the Knights" -- the brash and ​aggressive music that accompanies the opening of the Capulets' ball, Prokofiev introduces a saxophone. A saxophone! Not the first instrument you'd think of for a ballroom scene. But it works brilliantly. It immediately infuses this ponderous and serious music with a modernism, a sardonic mood, even a sultry wink. Elsewhere in the score (though not in the version we are performing), Prokofiev makes use of two mandolins, madly strumming. And in one of the love scenes, he introduces a now-forgotten instrument, the viola d'amore, which gives the dance a timeless quality and also harkens back to the ancient roots of this story.

What portion of the music do you personally most enjoy--and why?

​In specific terms, I enjoy the Balcony Scene -- and I think most musicians and dancers would tell you that this is their favorite section as well. The combination of mood, atmosphere, romantic feeling and sheer melodic invention is breathtaking. As for what I enjoy most about the entire score, it's a toss-up between melody and orchestration, both of which are highly imaginative in an almost subversive way. I've already alluded to the sly use of such instruments as saxophone and viola d'amore. As for the melody, you could hum your way through the entire score...the melodic flow almost never stops. Coming up with enough memorable tunes to fill two hours is no mean feat -- very few other composers could do it. I could tick them off on one hand: Mozart, Tchaikovsky, John Williams. And it's not just that the melodies are hummable -- they are GLORIOUS!

Is there anything you can highlight from the score that viewers/listeners may appreciate knowing about ahead of time?

​Considering that the ballet came out in 1935, it's surprisingly Romantic. There are very few composers who were writing such unabashedly sweeping tonal music at that time. Richard Strauss and Rachmaninoff are two of the greats who did.​ Almost everyone else was swept up in the wave of modernism, having been convinced that all the great ideas in tonality had already been used, and that there was nowhere else to go. Prokofiev disproved that notion spectacularly. But there's a big difference between this music and that of Rachmaninoff -- or Rachmaninoff's own teacher and spiritual forbear, Tchaikovsky. Unlike the great works of those composers, while Prokofiev's music has great sweep and passion, it has not a hint of sentimentality. There are many times when Prokofiev keeps us at a bit of a distance, describing an emotion representationally, rather than wallowing in it. In a story like Romeo and Juliet, this makes the listener supply his or her own human link to the sentimental aspects of the story. For a cynical, "seen-it-all" time period like the mid-twentieth century -- or now -- it works perfectly.

How did this ballet compare to others in terms of working with the Joffrey dancers? Was any special preparation needed?

​In this work, unlike a ballet like Don Quixote or La Bayadere, there are very few moments where every note of the music has to correspond to a particular step. ​For the most part, the Chicago Philharmonic and I are able to perform this music as if it were a symphonic suite, allowing all of the ebb and flow to happen musically. The dance then takes on a very large-scale, sweeping, symphonic shape. More than most ballets, the ballets of Prokofiev can be enjoyed thoroughly on their aural merits.

And speaking of aural merits -- Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet is the only ballet I've ever conducted where everyone from the musicians to the dancers to the ballet masters to the costume and set designers -- and even the wig makers -- regularly will come up to me to say, "My GOD, this music is amazing!" And it ranks on the Top Ten list of nearly every orchestral player I know. I am savoring this amazing score.

It doesn't get any better than this.

The Joffrey performs Romeo & Juliet at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre April 30th through May 11.

This post first appeared on

Mysterious Holes In Indiana Sand Dune Could Be 'New Geological Phenomenon'

Mon, 2014-04-28 16:34
Mysterious holes that were discovered at an Indiana sand dune last year -- and which nearly swallowed a child -- will keep a Lake Michigan park closed indefinitely.

The National Park Service announced last week that Mt. Baldy in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, about an hour from Chicago, will be closed for the summer and beyond. The decision was made after two new holes in the dunes were found.

“The continued development of these holes in the dune surface poses a serious risk to the public," Acting Superintendent Garry Traynham said in a statement.

Scientists have been unable to determine how the holes, which seem to appear and disappear within a day, are formed in the 43-acre dune.

“We’re seeing what appears to be a new geological phenomenon,” geologist Erin Argyilan, who is studying the holes and dunes, told the Chicago Tribune. According to the paper, the holes are about a foot in diameter.

Last July, part of the dune collapsed, burying a 6-year-old boy. The child was rescued, but needed rehabilitation after the incident. According to the Associated Press, he was buried for about three hours under 11 feet of sand, but is believed to have survived because of an air pocket.

The Environmental Protection Agency has used radar to identify anomalies below the surface, but months later, researchers -- including those from the National Park Service, Indiana University and the Indiana Geological Survey -- are still stumped.

According to the National Park Service, scientists will expand their investigation to "mapping of openings, depressions, and anomalous features, the use of multispectral Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) and coring to develop a better understanding of the overall internal architecture of the dune, and detailed GPR and coring of some of the anomalies identified in the EPA report."

Baldy is unique among dunes because of how dramatically it shifts position, according to the AP. It's moved 10 to 15 feet south annually in recent years, much faster than a previous rate of 4 to 5 feet per year. Officials told the news outlet last year they believe the increased movement has been caused by visitors walking on and killing off dune grass that keeps sand in place.

While the dune is closed, officials will continue planting marram grass, which helps stave off erosion, where it used to grow on the dune. The rest of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will be open as usual.

The Growth of the Wizards

Mon, 2014-04-28 15:34
For the better part of the last decade, the Washington Wizards have been a walking NBA representation of Murphy's Law. From Gilbert Arenas and his guns, to the Andray Blatche/Javale McGee/Swaggy P chaos, the Wiz have offered fans and writers a unique concoction. As hopeless and unfocused as they were on the court, they were impossibly entertaining off of it.

The nadir of the franchise came in 2010, when Blatche and McGee, smack dab in the middle of another 60-loss season, started a brawl with each other at a Washington, D.C. nightclub just hours before they were supposed to play. For those familiar with D.C. nightlife at the time, the only surprising thing about this incident was that it made the national news. The Wizards were a mess in all areas with no hope in sight.

Flash forward to April 2014: The Wizards have the league's best young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal, an international, physically punishing big man duo, and a crew of veteran role players that have made big play after big play. This crew, sparked by swingman Trevor Ariza on Sunday, has pushed the Chicago Bulls to the brink of elimination in the first round of the playoffs.

Sunday's 98-89 win, that wasn't as close as the score suggests, was a microcosm for Washington's success. Ariza, unheralded coming into the game, pumped in six threes and 30 points. Wall and Beal combined for 33, with only three turnovers between them. Most importantly, every time the Bulls made a run, the Wizards had an answer. The younger team played like the cocky big brother, toying with their opponent while remaining in control.

Head coach Randy Wittman attributed the team's emotional growth off the court as a major factor in their success. "In two-and-a-half years we've developed the intangibles that we've needed to get to this point," Wittman said. "There are certain ways to carry yourself. Being a professional. Doing things the right way off the court as well as on."

While the Wiz has made a substantial jump in the standings this year, winning 44 games after winning only 49 the previous two seasons combined, their 3-1 jump over the Bulls is surprising. Without Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, the Bulls have a significant talent disadvantage, but they are a gritty, playoff-tested group that thrives on adversity. Chicago and their maestro Tom Thibodeau make every possession on both ends a physical grind. In the past, it's this type of tough opponent that has destroyed Washington. When the going got tough, the Wizards would take their ball and run home. Not this year.

Taj Gibson, the one Bull who has exceeded expectations so far, was surprised and a bit stunned at the Wizards composure after the game Sunday. "They keep hitting us in the mouth first," Gibson said. "We're on our feet from the jump, in big holes early." Gibson, one of the league's most physical players, was visibly impressed with the resolve of the young Wizards team noting that "this doesn't feel like the same team we played earlier in the season."

It would be simplistic to attribute the Wizards stunning jump to an Eastern Conference contender as simply a result of increased maturity. Lots of great teams and players enjoy themselves off the court (see Jordan, Michael) and lots of bad teams have hard working professionals sprinkled throughout their rosters.

The Wizards have made a jump this year partly because Wall and Beal have turned into one of the league's great pairings, but more because they've become adept at overcoming adversity. In Games 1 and 2 they fought through double-digit deficits and severe foul trouble to win twice on the road. In Game 4, they were missing their Brazilian road-grader center Nene, and blitzed the Bulls from the jump, with a 14-0 start.

The Wizards have the physical edge in the series, but to get past a team like Chicago and a coach like Thibodeau, you need the mental edge as well. So far they have it. For those who've followed Washington basketball over the last decade, that's what's most surprising.

Chicago, I'm Breaking Up With You; Before You Break Me

Mon, 2014-04-28 15:02
I bought a ticket to the world
But now I've come back again
Why do I find it hard to write the next line?
Oh, I want the truth to be said
I know this much is true
-- Spandau Ballet

Dear Chicago,

I'm breaking up with you; before you break me...

It's mostly me, but it's you too. I've been deep inside you for the last seven and half years. It's been pleasant. It's been emotional. I fucking love you, man... always will. But the time has come for us to go our separate ways. My entire adulthood has been spent in this town and regardless of what any of your shitbirds think and despite my quasi-shitty-Madonna-ish-London accent, I consider myself a Chicagoan. This city has been hard and this city has been fair.

On July 20, my wife, two kids and I are leaving Chicago, America and the western world and moving to Majuro, in the Marshall Islands (I had to Google it too). I will be a History and English teacher of High School guys. I'm very excited/super pumped, bro, about this new challenge and very grateful for everything you've done for me. I'll miss you deeply (but not your winters or racism).

I met you in Humboldt Park on January 1, 2007 and, man, I've lived and loved in some of your supreme shitholes. My first half year in this town was fairly miserable. All I did was YMCA work outs in the morning and drink forties and smoke weed all afternoon. I had just moved from everything and everyone I knew, and despite fatalistic pride, it turned out to be some rough psychological shit. The boredom and purposelessness was often overwhelming and I was often a bit of dickhead to the one person who gave a shit about me (perhaps, a recurring theme?).

I got a job at an Alderman's office, which at the beginning was a refreshing challenge. I always dressed well; nice suits and shit. As a dedicated follower of fashion that was the trend at the time. Working for the city was the best way to jump headfirst into the belly of this brute of a town.

Politics is show business for ugly people and the ugly people are omnipresent, most of the time with awesome faux-Italian accents, insatiable appetites for booze and ill-fitting leather jackets. We do politics, often quantity over quality, more than any other city I can imagine. There's so many (read: way too many) elected positions. There's too much mediocrity, too much laziness and a plethora of other shit characteristics that people rightfully associate with government and the people who work in it.

A year after moving here I had a kid who, in reflection, has basically saved my life... it's almost a cliché for parents from working class stock to say having kids saved their life, but I'm a man who loves being cliché, despite staunchly protesting the contrary. This little motherfucker gave me everything I never knew I didn't have. Skip ahead seven years and she's my BFF. I love nothing (publishable) more than being hungover, eating ice cream and watching the WWE Network with her cuddling me on the couch.

Now, I live in a nice South Loop loft with the all-important exposed brick and the kid goes to a good school and blah blah... but despite these nice things, including two flat screen TVs, a hybrid car, yoga membership, a good job with a nice boss etc., I am not really happy anymore. I am complacent and that's fucking boring. I've always been one of those dicks who advocates constantly moving and doing new shit. Ingesting Prozac may have steered me away for a bit, but this move to Majuro is the next play.

I have come to develop an immense jealousy of people who grew up in lots of different places and have weird accents and no discernible sense of home and/or some dumb national loyalty. These are typically the kids of diplomats or really wealthy little trust-fund pricks, but that's what I want for my children. I grew up the opposite way and I want them to be much different and much better than me. Having them grow up all over the world is the best way I can think to achieve that. Also, a pack of cigs costs $2 in Majuro.

Chicago, you aren't perfect. You're beautifully flawed. There isn't anything wrong with you, that can't be repaired by the good in you. The most American-American city. The city that has given me essentially all I know and believe. I will miss you intolerably, but the time has come. I love you forever and, should we meet again, I'll be pretty tan and slim and able to climb a tree, bare-foot, really quick.

Yours in perpetuity,

Matthew Bailey. xoxoxoxoxo <3

Chicago Woman Gunned Down After Leaving Anti-Violence Fundraiser She Helped Plan

Mon, 2014-04-28 13:48
A 32-year-old woman heading home from an anti-violence fundraiser she helped organize was among five people killed and at least 35 others wounded in gun violence in Chicago over the weekend.

Leonore Draper was found shot inside her car outside her home in the city's West Pullman neighborhood about 10:30 p.m. Friday.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that about an hour before her death, Draper, who worked as a budget analyst for Chicago Public Schools, had attended a fundraiser she helped organize for Project Orange Tree. The youth-led anti-violence group was founded last year by King College Prep students after their classmate, Hadiya Pendleton, was killed in a shooting that attracted international media attention.

King College Prep senior Nza-Ari Khepra, a Project Orange Tree leader, told DNAinfo Chicago "the impression I got was that she was a good person trying to do good things. Few people try to help their communities like she was."

Draper's family released a statement to the Chicago Tribune, writing, "Our prayer is that the community will join us and pray that God will move in his own way to put an end to these senseless killings in Chicago."

Four other people were also killed in shootings over the weekend in Chicago, including 21-year-old Cindy Bahena, who was gunned down while she was riding in a car about 12:35 a.m. Sunday in Logan Square, the Sun-Times reports. She was pronounced dead at an area hospital shortly after the shooting.

Also killed over the weekend were two young men fatally shot in separate shootings early Saturday.

Jaquez Williams, 17, was standing outside when an individual dressed in all black reportedly approached him from behind and shot him in the head about 2:05 a.m. in the city's West Side Austin neighborhood, the Tribune reports. Williams was pronounced dead at the scene.

Martarvian Emery, 21, was inside the kitchen of an apartment in the Back of the Yards neighborhood when he and a 19-year-old woman were shot from outside the home about 1:15 a.m., according to DNAinfo. The 19-year-old woman survived being shot in the leg, but Emery died on the scene.

On Friday afternoon, an off-duty police officer fatally shot 86-year-old Joe Huff Jr. in what police have called a neighborhood dispute on the city's South Side, according to Patch. Huff's 90-year-old wife was seriously wounded in the incident, which is currently being reviewed, as all police-involved shootings in Chicago are, by the Independent Police Review Authority.

As of early Monday afternoon, no one is in custody for any of the killings -- or for any of the at least 35 non-fatal shootings in Chicago over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Sunday stabbing of a 40-year-old man in the city's Lawndale neighborhood marked the city's 100th homicide so far this year, the RedEye reports based on preliminary police data.

'CodeBabes' Wants Tech Bros To Learn Coding By Watching Women Strip

Mon, 2014-04-28 12:44
While we really hope CodeBabes -- the coding tutorial site that uses sexy, stripping women to motivate users -- isn't real, we're facing up to the fact that, sadly, it might be.

The site offers coding tutorial videos featuring "babes," who take off items of clothing as the lesson progresses. According to the company's website:
Watch the lesson, absorb the info, pass the quiz, and your instructor removes one piece of clothing. How much clothing, you ask? Enough to motivate you. But let's not get carried away here, we're an education site.

Could this possibly be real? Or is it an elaborate meta-critique of sexism in Silicon Valley? CodeBabes did not respond to a request for comment, but their Twitter feed contains a number of excuses for the program's sexism -- all of the "it's not us it's you" and "have a sense of humor" variety:

Interwebz!! Please stop objectifying our instructors! :)

— CodeBabes (@CodeBabes) April 25, 2014

Ok interwebs, here is the deal, every time you want to troll us you must also email your representative about #NetNeutrality

— CodeBabes (@CodeBabes) April 25, 2014

@thomasfuchs If you consider us professional education you are taking it too seriously, that's really not our niche.

— CodeBabes (@CodeBabes) April 28, 2014

The Internet has already responded with CodeDicks, a brilliant parody response website that gender-swaps the CodeBabes concept -- and acknowledges how absurd it is. On the site's "Philosophy" section, the disclaimer is spot-on: "None of the dudes on this site approve of sexism and would like to see people of all genders treated equally and respectfully, particularly in our industry."

Meanwhile, the people behind CodeBabes claim to have a male version -- CodeDudes -- in the works, bringing equal-opportunity sexism to coders near you.

Whether or not scantily-clad women stripping would indeed motivate some coders, the blatant objectification of the "babes" is pretty repugnant. As Rebecca Greenfield at FastCompany wrote: "The fact that we even think this could be real reveals a lot about the plight of women in the technology industry."

The company has already uploaded 12 video lessons to their YouTube page, with the promise of more to come. CodeBabes, unfortunately, may be here to stay.

Inner City Blues: Chicago Style

Mon, 2014-04-28 12:02

No matter where you go, someone has an opinion on the senseless violence that has plagued our city.

"Anytime you can come to a city and see a gangster's old haunts," Anton Seals Jr. says about the history of Chicago violence.

Seals, a self-proclaimed "Community Brother-at-large," believes media images has cultivated a negative perception of the city.

"I think it has been less crime but more reporting of the crime. I think it's a part of the media cultivation theory," he said." The more you show it, the more people are in fear. I think it used to be more contained. I think that a part of it is about a quality of life issue."

The people who are adversely affected by the shootings often struggle to find the words to describe shootings.

The lyrics to Marvin Gaye's classic, "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)," says it best:

Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
This ain't livin', This ain't livin'
No, no baby, this ain't livin'
No, no, no

Meanwhile, others affected by the violence know exactly what to say:

Saturday morning, I woke up to some horrible news.

A friend lost his wife to the violence that has a chokehold on our community.

My friend's wife was murdered while she was sitting in her car. My friend's wife was one of the three people killed along with 23 injured in a 10-hour period Friday night.

The sad part about her shooting is twofold. No. 1, she had just gotten home after attending an anti-violence fundraiser. No.2, the fundraiser was for an organization that was founded after the death of Hadiya Pendleton.

The unfortunate side of the reporting of the violence is that someone or something is going to profit from it.

TeQuila Sahaya Shabazz, the CEO and Founder of BRIJ Fund, L3C, a cooperative of stakeholders who work collectively to tackle the issues concerning the Black community, says that someone is profiting off of the violence.

"Profits are being made every time a black male is portrayed as dangerous. The media profits and the journalists now becomes an expert who in turn a profit from appearances across the country on his/her findings," Shabazz says.

"States and prisons profit when murder is sensationalized. Politicians profit from TIF monies that are set up for community development programs but are funneled into other projects. Everyone profits except for those being exploited. It's a vicious cycle."

The media profits Shabazz was talking about stem from the term "Chi-raq."

Some say that the term came from someone saying that there were more murders in Chicago than in Iraq.

According to Vice, between 2003-2011 there have been 4,265 deaths in Chicago compared to 4,422 in Iraq.

I'm no math major, but it appears that more people were killed in Iraq than in Chicago.

Also, does the number of killings include Iraqi citizens and insurgents along with soldiers from other countries?

No matter what we want to call our city, something has to be done to stop the violence.

Shabazz believes that someone needs to take a hard look at the origin of the violence.

"The only way that this will stop is when the people stop fueling the machine. The only way to fight the issue of violence is to tackle the causes," she said. "We don't need any more awareness pieces, we need sustainable solutions."

Amtrak Launches Pilot Program Allowing Dogs And Cats On Trains

Mon, 2014-04-28 11:12
WASHINGTON -- In a historic victory for the taxpaying pet owners of America, Amtrak announced on Monday that it would begin a pilot program allowing riders to bring their furry friends on board.

The program, launched in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Transportation, will begin next week and last for six months. For the price of $25, passengers traveling between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois, will be able to bring Fido or Princess along for the ride.

But there are restrictions that will leave many still reliant on boarders, or that colleague they embarrassingly bug every now and then to watch their pets for them. For starters, only dogs and cats that weigh up to 20 pounds will be let on board. Owners will be required to put them in carriers and place them at their feet and under their seats. Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak, said there are no specific baggage cars that could hold crates to accommodate larger pets. So if your dog or cat is too heavy, you're out of luck.

Secondly, passengers are only allowed to board with their pets at three stations. This is done to ensure that they're actually paying properly and not bringing on restricted animals, but it also limits the number of passengers who will find pet travel feasible or worthwhile.

Finally, the only pets allowed so far are cats and dogs. If you're a rabbit person -- they must exist, but who knows -- you're out of luck.

Still, the pilot program is a victory for animal lovers, including several members of Congress. Last year, lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced the Pets on Trains Act, calling for Amtrak to produce a plan to allow "domesticated cats or dogs on certain trains." The bill currently has 33 cosponsors, 18 Republicans and 15 Democrats. One of the original cosponsors, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), worked with Amtrak to help develop the Illinois pilot program.

"It came together that this would be a good place to try this and the Illinois DOT was a good partner," Magliari said, adding that officials haven't predicted how many people would end up taking advantage.

In order to accommodate those people with pet allergies or a deathly fear of dogs, he said, Amtrak will designate one or several cars of each train pet-free.

George Clooney Engaged? Good Night, and Good Luck

Mon, 2014-04-28 10:19
Be still my beating heart. Can it be true? George Clooney popped the question to a lawyer. But that lawyer wasn't me. Not that I ever met him. Or tried to meet him. I haven't. Although we're both from Ohio and both Catholic and all that. Never interviewed him for a radio or television show. Never asked his people to call my people. Just admired his films from afar. At least some of them. In the interests of full disclosure, George's Aunt Rosemary Clooney was my late father's favorite singer of all time.

Now, though, Clooney's alleged lawyerly engagement has created a bit of a stir. Has certain folks shall we say, Up in the Air.

Namely, without naming names, those who have used the excuse that they weren't getting married until Clooney did it one more time, are now stuck with finding another excuse to avoid matrimonial bliss. Or get in on the fun. Get hitched.

Get out your scorecards, please ladies. That's one more most eligible bachelor to check off your list. Or maybe not. Who knows anymore what's going on with these celebs? For example, Clooney's BFF, Brad Pitt. Are Pitt and Angelina Jolie married? I read the coosome twosome (a term coined by the late Chicago Sun-Times columnist Irv Kupcinet), had finally tied the knot. Not known for sure.

In the olden days, when I started as a journalist, used to be you needed two sources before you could go with a story. But those were the days when facts were facts. And news was news. And people actually believed what they read in the papers, or heard on the radio, or saw on the nightly news. No internet then to believe in.

So, maybe congratulations are in order, and maybe not. Actually, it probably never hurts to congratulate someone. Just a blanket congratulations without getting too specific on why he or she is being congratulated. Perhaps a simple succinct "congrats" would do in most situations. That way not too pomp and circumstance-y, just in case. Just in case, nothing to be congratulated about really. But then you can, in a pinch, probably come up with something to congratulate anyone about. A new haircut, the color of a shirt, eyebrows, a tattoo you had never noticed before, an infectious laugh or giggle, a certain smile, an askance glance.

Actually, in the days when there were separate male and female "Help Wanted" ads in the classifieds section of newspapers, etiquette experts advised well-wishers to congratulate the man and offer "Best Wishes" to the woman. Something about the woman being the man's conquest, which is why he is congratulated on his conquest of her. Not sure why the term "Best Wishes" was reserved for the woman.

Why not just split the difference and say to the engaged couple simply Good Night, and Good Luck.

Lonna Saunders may be reached at

10 Formerly Homeless People Who Used Rock Bottom As A Springboard To Greatness

Mon, 2014-04-28 09:29
These people defy the stereotype that homeless individuals are simply looking for a handout -- they've found a hand up and pulled themselves out of hardship on their own. From Regina, a veteran who now builds houses for people in need, to Lane, studying at a top university on a full ride scholarship, these 10 formerly homeless people prove there's only one way to go once you've hit rock bottom.

1. James went from sleeping in a 24-hour piano studio in Florida to playing NYC's iconic Carnegie Hall this year.

"I always had my piano, and it's always been my escape. I decided if I never gave up it would get me through life, and it has. I don't know where I'd be if it wasn't for music."

2. Elegance lived on his friends' couches for years as a teenager before becoming a U.S. Marine and starting his latest endeavor empowering LGBT youth through opportunities at Columbia University.

"It’s the story of thousands."

3. Marc went from a local shelter to local business owner in San Francisco. His latest project, The Learning Shelter, is a three-month program that will provide housing, food and job training to homeless people.

"Being homeless is about not knowing where to go. You just have to find a goal to work towards."

4. This team of formerly homeless vets help others in need — even in the snowy, bitter cold streets of Boston — because they've walked in their shoes before.

"When they say, 'Oh, you don't know what I'm talking about,' I can say, 'Yeah, I do, because I was there myself.'"

5. Billy Ray Harris of Missouri did the right thing and returned a woman’s lost diamond ring last year. Now, he has a roof over his head.

“When I think of the past, I think — thank God it’s over. I feel human now.”

6. Leo, who'd been homeless in New York City last September, took an opportunity to learn computer coding. In just weeks, he finished creating his first app.

"I know I'm learning something, and that's what I care about."

7. Regina, a formerly homeless vet, decided to build houses for people who need them last year in Washington, D.C.

“There’s a scripture that says, ‘It’s better to give than receive,’ and I take that to heart... It makes me happy to be able to give.”

8. Dennis won the lottery in Illinois while being homeless in 2013… and then chose to give the earnings to his friends.

"With all the other homeless people around here, I've made up my mind. I'm gonna give them each $100."

9. Rafael from Brazil decided to turn his life around when his "ridiculously photogenic" photo went viral in 2012.

“I'm rebuilding myself, bringing back the guy who was well-educated, who knew how to deal with people, how to handle himself and his emotions. I’m re-learning how to live.”

10. Lane, once shuffling his way through homeless shelters in Chicago, worked his way up to a full-ride scholarship to Stanford University last year.

"I always knew I was going to go to a college. But I didn't know if it would be a very good one."

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Report: 4 In 5 US High School Students Graduate

Mon, 2014-04-28 09:24
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. public high schools have reached a milestone, an 80 percent graduation rate. Yet that still means 1 of every 5 students walks away without a diploma.

Citing the progress, researchers are projecting a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020. Their report, based on Education Department statistics from 2012, was presented Monday at the Building a GradNation Summit.

The growth has been spurred by such factors as a greater awareness of the dropout problem and efforts by districts, states and the federal government to include graduation rates in accountability measures. Among the initiatives are closing "dropout factory" schools.

In addition, schools are taking aggressive action, such as hiring intervention specialists who work with students one on one, to keep teenagers in class, researchers said.

Growth in rates among African-American and Hispanic students helped fuel the gains. Most of the growth has occurred since 2006 after decades of stagnation.

"At a moment when everything seems so broken and seems so unfixable ... this story tells you something completely different," said John Gomperts, president of America's Promise Alliance, which was founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and helped produce the report.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday the country owes a debt of gratitude to teachers, students and families whose hard work helped the country reach the 80 percent mark.

"But even as we celebrate this remarkable achievement, our students have limitless potential and we owe it to all of our children to work together so they all can achieve at higher levels," Duncan said in a statement.

The rate of 80 percent is based on federal statistics primarily using a calculation by which the number of graduates in a given is year divided by the number of students who enrolled four years earlier. Adjustments are made for transfer students.

In 2008, the Bush administration ordered all states to begin using this method. States previously used a wide variety of ways to calculate high school graduation rates.

Iowa, Vermont, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Texas ranked at the top with rates at 88 percent or 89 percent. The bottom performers were Alaska, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon and Nevada, which had rates at 70 percent or below.

Idaho, Kentucky and Oklahoma were not included because these states received federal permission to take longer to roll out their system.

The new calculation method allows researchers to individually follow students and chart progress based on their income level. By doing so, researchers found that some states are doing much better than others in getting low-income students — or those who receive free or reduced lunch meals — to graduation day.

Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas and Kansas, for example, have more than half of all students counted as low income but overall graduation rates that are above average. In contrast, Minnesota, Wyoming and Alaska have a lower percentage of low-income students but a lower than average overall graduation rate.

Graduation rates increased 15 percentage points for Hispanic students and 9 percentage points for African American students from 2006 to 2012, with the Hispanic students graduating at 76 percent and African-American students at 68 percent, the report said. To track historic trends, the graduation rates were calculated using a different method.

Also, there were 32 percent fewer "dropout factories" — schools that graduate less than 60 percent of students — than a decade earlier, according to the report. In 2012, nearly one-quarter of African-American students attended a dropout factory, compared with 46 percent in 2002. About 15 percent of Hispanic students attended one of these schools, compared with 39 percent a decade earlier. There were an estimated 1,359 of these schools in 2012.

Robert Balfanz, a researcher with the Everyone Graduates Center at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University who was a report author, said some of these schools got better. Other districts closed these schools or converted them to smaller schools or parents and kids voted with their feet and transferred elsewhere.

If the graduation rate stayed where it was in 2001, 1.7 million additional students would not have received a diploma during the period, Balfanz said.

"It's actually a story of remarkable social improvement, that you could actually identify a problem, understand its importance, figure out what works and apply it and make a difference," Balfanz said.

In New Hampshire, where the graduation rate is 86 percent, Anne Grassie, a state representative and former longtime member of the Rochester School Board, cites a change in state law in 2007 that raised the dropout age to 18. In Rochester, she said there have been numerous initiatives such as programs that allow students who fail classes to begin making them up online or after school instead of waiting for summer school and an alternative school for at-risk students.

"We pay more attention to just making sure there's an adult to connect with every child, so they know someone's there for them," Grassie said. "I think those kinds of initiatives have a lot to do with kids staying in school, but it's a combination of things. It's not really one thing."

Among the advice offered by report authors to get the nation's graduation rate to 90 percent:

—Don't forget California. With 13 percent of the nation's schoolchildren and 20 percent of low-income children living in California, the state must continue to show growth. The state's overall rate was 79 percent compared with 73 percent for the state's low-income students.

—Improve outcomes for special education students. Students with disabilities make up about 15 percent of students nationally but have a graduation rate 20 percentage points lower than the overall average. The rate for students with disabilities varies by state, with a rate or 24 percent in Nevada and 81 percent in Montana.

—Focus on closing racial and income gaps.

—Think big cities. Most big cities with high concentrations of low-income students still have graduation rates in the 60s or lower, the report said.

In addition to America's Promise Alliance and Balfanz's center, the report was produced by the public policy firm Civic Enterprises and the education group Alliance for Excellent Education.




Associated Press writer Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.


Follow Kimberly Hefling on Twitter at

This Restaurant Hasn't Taken Out The Trash In Nearly Two Years

Mon, 2014-04-28 09:08
A restaurant owner in Chicago who hasn't emptied the trash in nearly two years has a simple explanation: There isn't anything to take out.

Justin Vrany, 36, had the goal of being a "zero waste" restaurant in mind from the day he first opened his quick-service eatery, Sandwich Me In.

Two years in, Vraney's remarkable efforts are the subject of a new short film, above, produced by NationSwell.

Since Sandwich Me In opened its doors, its entire waste output is equivalent to what a restaurant of similar volume produces in just an hour, Vraney told HuffPost. The bulk of the trash Vraney has dealt with didn't even come from the restaurant, but largely from customers carrying in items like plastic-lined paper Starbucks cups.

Just one reusable drawstring bag holds nearly two year's worth of waste from Sandwich Me In.

"If I can do this with a quick service restaurant, I hope I can help other restaurants do that, too," Vraney said.

To achieve the goal of zero waste, the restaurant runs on sustainable energy, with food coming minimally packaged from local farms. Virtually everything -- from food scraps to spent frying oil -- is reused or repurposed.

"I practice the five R's,' Vraney said, referring to the environmentalist's credo of reducing, reusing and recycling. Vrany adds "Reject" and "Refuse" to his list, drawing a firm line against outdoor waste like junk mail and excessive packaging.

Vraney, who runs his household in a similarly zero-waste fashion, said that though food is his passion, he's working hard to be waste-free for the sake of his children.

"I have kids, and their future -- they're not going to be able to live the way I lived," Vraney said referring to the increasingly grim outlook on climate change. "I want to see [my kids] live the same life that I had. I don't want to risk it, I'm not a gambler. I want to to take care of the things I love the most."

Vraney admits that achieving zero waste wasn't without challenges: He spent a frantic six months of the restaurant's early days working the entire operation by himself to keep labor costs low and has eschewed time-saving conveniences like pre-packaged broth; instead, he makes his own from the bones of the chickens he uses. In a scant two years, Vrany says he's turned a small profit.

"For me it's not a money issue. I'm looking at this more widespread. If I don't do this now, it's not going to be done. It can be done, and it can be done for reasonable prices."

Vrany says the restaurant's food costs are "really low" since none of it is wasted. Menu items are intentionally planned to intersect.

“The crispy smoked skins of the chicken go onto the Cobb salad and the chicken bones make the broth for the chicken soup,” Vraney told Truth Atlas, which first reported on his zero-waste efforts. Leftover veggies from one day go into a burger the following day and even food scraps are given to farmers to feed the chickens that produce eggs for the business.

Vraney was pleased with an unintended result of using fresh, local, unprocessed produce: No food comas.

"Customers come in and they eat a reasonably-sized portion, and when they're done they still feel like they have energy. They feel good."

As for the eight gallons of waste, Vraney is finally ready to let it go. An artist who makes sculptures out of refuse recently came in to take the trash, which will soon become a new piece of art.

Beyonce & Jay Z Announce On The Run Tour, Dates

Mon, 2014-04-28 07:44
Beyonce and Jay Z will spend the summer touring North America. The pair's On The Run Tour begins on June 25 in Miami and ends on Aug. 5 in San Francisco. All told the couple will play 15 shows during the six-week trek, with stops in Atlanta, Philadelphia, East Rutherford, New Jersey, Houston, New Orleans, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.

Monday's official announcement comes two weeks after it was first rumored that Beyonce and Jay Z would tour together. According to those first reports, the tour was supposed to be called the Mr. and Mrs. Carter Tour. Instead, the concerts will file under the "On The Run" moniker, a reference to the pair's collaboration on Jay Z's most recent album, "Magna Carta ... Holy Grail." Check out the tour's artwork and schedule below; ticketing details can be found at Beyonce's website.

June 25: Miami, Fla.
June 28: Cincinnati, OH
July 1: Foxborough, Mass.
July 5: Philadelphia, Penn.
July 7: Baltimore, MD
July 9: Toronto, ONT
July 11: East Rutherford, New Jersey
July 15: Atlanta, Ga.
July 18: Houston, Texas
July 20: New Orleans, LA
July 22: Dallas, Texas
July 24: Chicago, Ill.
July 27: Winnipeg, MB
July 30: Seattle, WA
Aug. 2: Los Angeles Calif.
Aug. 5: San Francisco, Calif.

If Congress Won't Fight Income Inequality, Here Are 9 Ways You Can

Mon, 2014-04-28 07:06
How can we help reduce the soaring income inequality that threatens the stability of our democratic society, or, at the very least, strikes millions of Americans as a key injustice.

In his new book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," French economist and (current intellectual rock star) Thomas Piketty suggests a global tax on capital.

Simple enough, right? Not really.

While a global tax on capital might be a great idea, even ideas that seem easier to implement -- like a U.S. minimum wage increase or international Robin Hood tax on financial transactions -- have had a ridiculously hard time getting off the ground.

So until the day such sweeping changes are put into place, what's a U.S. citizen to do? Here are some ways that you -- yes, you! -- can start to make a difference today, both for yourself and others.

1. Go vote: Getting more lower-income Americans to the polls could go a long way toward reducing income inequality. As it stands now, poorer Americans tend to vote less frequently than wealthy Americans, making it all the less likely that elected officials will enact laws that could narrow the gap. Meanwhile, studies have found that countries with mandatory voting across all classes tend to distribute wealth more equally.

But even with better voter turnout, poorer Americans still face an uphill battle. Policies favored by the poor are seldom enacted by the government without the support of richer Americans, a recent study found.

And with recent Supreme Court cases further favoring those with existing wealth, it's become even harder for lower-income Americans to have a voice in politics.(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

2. Get the most out of your tax return: The IRS reported this year that nearly a million Americans have yet to collect their tax refunds from 2010, often because low-income earners don't make enough to require filing a return even though wages were withheld from their paychecks. That means $760 million worth of refunds may end up in the U.S. Treasury instead of the wallets of working Americans. C'mon, people! Maximizing tax refunds through deductions and other credits, such as the Earned Income Credit for low-income Americans, can help level the playing the field.

3. Claim the welfare benefits you're entitled to: Programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance have kept millions above the poverty line, but many people aren't taking advantage. During the Great Recession, only around half of the Americans who were eligible for unemployment benefits claimed them, while in 2012, $5 billion worth of food stamps went unclaimed in California alone.

A sign encouraging customers to use food stamps hangs in a store in Raleigh, N.C.

4. Save a couple bucks per day: "It doesn't feel like if you save $5 today it could possibly have any impact on income inequality, yet it does," Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School and the recent author of "Happy Money: The Science Of Smarter Spending," told HuffPost over the phone. "It's a longer term behavior that you can start doing today in a very small way and it will have huge pay off later."

A recent chart from JPMorgan Asset Management shows that someone who begins saving in his or her twenties is likely to end up with a great deal more than someone who waits until later in life:

(Click for larger image.)

5. Help your friend get a job: If you're employed, you may be in a better position to help your friend find a job than you think. Studies reveal that most people get jobs through networking. What's more, companies are increasingly relying on employee referrals to fill positions.

6. Get married: Getting hitched can reduce income inequality in a variety of ways. For one, couples who get married tend to come from wealthier backgrounds. But they are also better off because marriage enables couples to cut down on costs, as well as receive tax and Social Security benefits. By the time they are in retirement age, married couples have an average net worth that is more than triple that of their single counterparts, according to the Census Bureau.

But there is a catch: A recent study found that marriages between people with similar economic backgrounds can actually make inequality worse.

7. Try to stay out of debt: "The best way for people to get more financially successful is to reduce debts," Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, told HuffPost. Research has shown that as income inequality rises, so too does debt. Lower earners tend to borrow more money in an attempt to keep up with their wealthier neighbors, often with disastrous effects. "We can't really hope for any improvement until people basically close their debt."

8. Tip your server, every time: There are 10 million restaurant workers in the U.S. that earn a federal minimum wage of just $2.13 an hour, before tips. Tipping, therefore, is essential to keeping a lot of Americans out of poverty.

9. Support early childhood education: Helping kids learn early in their lives can be a primary means of reducing income inequality over the long term, studies show. Students with a solid foundation of skills are more likely to attend college and, in turn, earn more.

Providing universal pre-K programs may be up to the government, but helping one of the many organizations dedicated to promoting early childhood literacy can have an immediate impact.

Michael Jordan 'Disgusted' By Don Sterling Comments

Sun, 2014-04-27 13:17
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Jordan said he's both disgusted and outraged by the racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Jordan, now the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, released a statement Sunday addressing the matter. He said that as an owner, "I'm completely disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views." As a former player, Jordan says "I'm completely outraged."

An audio recording obtained by TMZ alleges that Sterling made racist comments to a girlfriend, including urging her not to bring black friends to Clippers games. The NBA and the Clippers are investigating, including whether the male voice on the recording is in fact Sterling's.

Jordan said he is confident that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will investigate the matter fully and "take appropriate action quickly."

"There is no room in the NBA — or anywhere else — for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed," Jordan said. "I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level."

Jordan's Bobcats trail the Miami Heat 3-0 in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series that resumes in Charlotte on Monday night.