Health professionals: more alcohol deaths than CDC report suggests

By Dani Anguiano

Several health care professionals have said that a recently released CDC report, which revealed that on average, six people die from alcohol poisoning each day in the United States, while jarring – doesn’t show the full societal cost of excessive drinking.

According to the CDC report released earlier this year, researchers found that the majority of people dying are middle-aged, white males who aren’t alcoholics.  Continue reading

Second City’s Evil Stepchildren

By Jessica T. Gable

Michael Pieper approaches the craft of acting from very serious, ancient traditions. For him, the craft is rooted in Native American shamanism and his method of accessing a character is anchored by a very strong sense of spirituality. But he applies those traditions as a teacher at the premiere comedy institution in the Windy City- Chicago’s own Second City.

“I was drawn to shamanism when I was searching for my spirituality in my late 20’s,” Pieper, now 51, said. “I was raised Catholic and it just wasn’t clicking with me so I started to study other religions and I loved how shamanism connects you to the elements and the world around you.” Continue reading

VIDEO: Dancing helps students balance school and social life

By Megan Kramer

From AP classes to college applications and part-time jobs to volunteering, four student captains of Auroris Dance Company at Niles North High School are juggling busy schedules as they near graduation.

While dance is yet another activity to fit into their schedules, the captains are finding that this shared passion is actually helping them prioritize their time, foster social lives and escape from stress. Continue reading

VIDEO: Consumers break traditional gender roles

By Andrew Fowler

As more conversations about gender equality and gender roles take place in the U.S., consumers are changing the way they shop. No longer are shoppers only buying what has traditionally been meant for one specific gender. Retailers are now adjusting to potentially different and wider customer bases.

According to Mintel, American consumers are “questioning traditional notions of gender, rejecting the restraints of stereotypes.” Even globally the United Nations plans to issue new goals for gender equality, meaning these trends could be expanding worldwide.

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From Chinatown to Bloomingdale’s: Chicago celebrates Chinese New Year

By Kate Morrissey

Despite the snow that rattled rush-hour drivers Wednesday evening, the Phoenix Restaurant hosted a who’s who of Chinatown’s business and political leaders for one of the many celebrations of Chinese New Year happening across Chicago.

Chinese New Year, more accurately referred to as Lunar New Year, began Thursday, and, according to Raymond Chin, the chairman of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and Wednesday’s host, the parties can last up to a month. In Chicago the celebrations have spread beyond Chinatown’s borders and include a diverse community, which Chin said has contributed to Chinatown’s growth.

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Education funding formula gets second look

By Phoebe Tollefson

The 2015 reincarnation of a contentious bill that came out last spring, which would shift money away from wealthier school districts and move it into poorer ones, has entered the Springfield pipeline, but opposition and confusion about financial impact means the next steps will be slow.

Senate Bill 1 amends the state education funding formula with the aim of providing more money to districts with low-income, special education and English language learning students. Supporters of the legislation say it’s needed to address major district-by-district educational inequalities in Illinois. Continue reading

Pop punk travels the world

by Constantina Kokenes

Superheroes, pop art and plagiarism comprise the traveling 2014-2015 exhibition “Erró: American Comics” on display at Mana Contemporary Chicago on 2233 South Throop Street in Pilsen. The exhibition hails from Mana Contemporary’s New Jersey gallery in Jersey City, and the pieces were given to Mana Contemporary from Galerie Ernst Hilger, an art museum in Austria that features many of Erró’s works. Erró, an Icelandic artist, uses American comics, pop culture and pop art in his 11 works created between 1979 to 2009 to explore cultural and social contradictions. Continue reading

VIDEO: Pets enjoy massages at pet resort

By Siyao Long

Paradise 4 Paws, a Chicago-based pet resort, offers Spot or Kitty massage therapy with handmade scents at $27 for 15 minutes and $47 for 30 minutes. 

Pet owners say the therapy provides flexibility and eases the aches for aging pets.

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $55.7 billion on their pets in 2013,  and most likely spent more last year. 

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Feminists Ride the Next Wave

By Jessica Gable

A buzz of high-energy conversation enveloped participants in the Goodman Theatre’s Context event at Wicker Park’s Geek Bar Beta on Tuesday, Feb. 17. Specialty drinks of all colors and sizes were poured and French fries and the bar’s Awesome Sauce consumed with gusto. Faces of women, who mostly made up the crowd of several dozen, and men grew flushed with feeling as they geared up for an evening discussing the topic of the Goodman Theatre’s current show Rapture, Blister, Burn: feminism and its myriad incarnations.

“It was so deep and there were so many layers,” said Shannon Downey, self-proclaimed geek and one of the evening’s discussion leaders. “I walked out of there and I didn’t know what to do. I was like ‘I sort of want to cry. I sort of want to punch someone. I sort of want to skip down the street. I don’t know!’”

Downey and other panelists led discussions about specific topics assigned to individual tables. The topic at Downey’s table of five was Women in Technology, Gaming and Geekdom. Other topics were #feminism, The Male Gaze Through the LGBTQ Lens, and Women in Comedy. Each person sat at two different tables of their choice throughout the evening.

Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo introduces the audience to four women with very different views on feminism, views that shift as the play progresses. First, the audience meets Gwen and Catherine- best friends who lost touch after graduate school and reunite 20 years later. Gwen dropped out of school to make a family with the boyfriend Catherine left behind when she moved to London and became a feminist scholar. Then there’s Avery, Catherine’s twenty-something student who identifies with the more inclusive focus of Post-Third Wave feminism, and Alice, Catherine’s mother who grew up in an era when women were expected to be homemakers and dependent on men. As the women navigate the range of modern feminist ideology from Schlafly to Friedan, the audience can’t help but do the same.

“It is such a conversation provoker, such a thought provoker,” said 23-year-old Goodman Theatre intern Nikki Veit. “We interns at the Goodman sat down for an entire lunch period discussing, debating, articulating, analyzing this play. I haven’t seen a play recently that has had this much impact on my life.”

Veit, who identifies as gay, tried the Women in Comedy table and then transferred to the Male Gaze Through the LGBTQ Lens group. She argued vehemently that the play lacked relevance to modern feminists.

“Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly…they’re so dated,” she said. “Right now, we’re talking about inclusivity. Like, different races, different sexualities, different gender spectrum. I think that’s the next step for feminism.”

Rebecca Kling, a transgender performance artist and educator, led the discussion at the Male Gaze table. She steered the conversation to topics not necessarily covered explicitly in the play. They included the power associated with men who ogle women and whether or not the gaze of gay men and women is or should be subject to the same scrutiny.

“With each subsequent wave of feminism there’s sort of been a fracturing,” Kling said, “but at the same time an expansion of who’s included.”

Feminism’s primary advocates are no longer predominantly middle class, educated young white women, said Kling. She encouraged the women at the table to welcome Post-Third Wave.

“We can’t be looking at just–in big air quotes–the idea of ‘womanhood’,” Kling said. “We have to be thinking about race and age and ethnicity and religion and economic status and all of those other things.”

The cast of Rapture, Blister, Burn discuss the modern views of feminism in a scene from the play. (Liz Lauren/Goodman Theatre)

Video: Chicago mayoral election through the eyes of a veteran activist

By Thomas Yau

On a cold Tuesday morning, 70-year-old Prexy Nesbitt goes from door to door to canvass votes for mayoral candidate Jesús “Chuy” Garcia.

The veteran activist, born and raised on the West Side of Chicago, is a strong critic of incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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