Chicago day cares, parents tighten measles precautions

By Meg Anderson

Young moms chatted between cloth diaper displays, with wide-eyed babies dangling and cooing in carriers. But amid the heady odor of lotion samples and soiled diapers, the threat of measles loomed in many minds at MommyCon, a natural parenting convention.

“Honestly, it pisses me off that we have to worry about it,” said Michelle Pizarro, 30, as she sat feeding eight-month-old Mila at the Feb. 21 convention in Rosemont.

Continue reading

Cutting the wheat from the chaff: truths behind gluten free

By Jamie Friedlander

After spending six weeks in Guanajuato, Mexico in 2006, I returned home incredibly sick. I had sallow skin, dark circles under my eyes, severe fatigue, abdominal pain and more than anything, I had to run to the bathroom every 10 minutes. My parents took one look at me when I got off the plane and knew something was wrong.

My pediatrician assumed I had contracted some sort of parasite in Mexico, but after months of testing, he was stumped. He sent me to a gastroenterologist, who specializes in diseases of the digestive tract.  But she  couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I was still sick. I knew the doctors were worried because for several months (brace yourself) my stools were pale peach. Continue reading

Chicago Bike Art Show Wheels to a Close

By Shanley Chien

Chicago Bike Winter Art Show wrapped up this year’s expo with a house party to complement the medley of offbeat art at Genesis Art Supply’s gallery in Bucktown.

The final event on Friday continued to showcase approximately 150 pieces of bike-inspired art and transformed the mezzanine level into a lounge with a donations-based bar and a DJ for live entertainment. All proceeds went to the South Chicago Velodrome Association.

Members of the Rat Patrol Bike Club, a pro-bike and anti-consumerism organization, showcased some of their unique bikes made from recycled parts and scrap metal, including their show-stealing “Can Crusher.” The inventive mechanical apparatus delighted attendees with its interconnected bike pieces that crushes cans as the person riding the art pedals.

Rat Patrol Bike Club. “The Can Crusher.” Recycled bike scraps. (Shanley Chien/Medill)

Chris Castellan, a 10-year member of the Rat Patrol and the artist behind “Go Die in a Bed Wreck,” has been attending the art show for four years. This is his first year contributing artwork, though. After he found the vintage 1950s bed frame dumped in an alley, he spent 10 hours of work over two days putting the piece of art together.

“I’ve seen photos of other people who’ve done them, so I wanted to see if I could,” Castellan said.

Chris Castellan. “Go Die in a Bed Wreck.” Used bed frame (Shanley Chien/Medill)

Although many of the larger pieces were quite avant-garde, attendees couldn’t walk past the entrance without stopping to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of Andrew Bedno’s helmet art that inspired bike safety.

Bedno, artist and head of the Chicago Critical Mass, spent 40 hours of labor on each helmet and said his inspiration for the art was to promote bike safety for his then-girlfriend.

“My girlfriend said she wouldn’t wear a helmet while biking unless it was incredibly beautiful, so I created these,” the artist said.

With the event over, Bedno plans to donate his art to a new bike shop opening soon in Evanston.

Event newcomer Ruth Sierra said she appreciates that the art show brings together the biking community because it is an essential part of her daily commute to the nonprofit organization she works for in the South Side. Sierra has always enjoyed biking and rides 50 miles a day in the summer, but doesn’t consider herself as “extreme” as the other cyclists in the community who bike regardless of weather conditions.

“It’s cool to see people are on the other side of the [biking] spectrum. They’re on the other side of extreme,” Sierra said. “If you’re a biker all year round, that’s your lifestyle, so you can see that these kids eat and sleep and dream bikes.”

That’s the case for Sierra’s friend Marco Rayos, who won’t let Chicago’s snowfall stop him from riding his bike, except for when it’s “snowpacolypse.”

“I need to get to where I’m going,” Rayos said. “It’s winter. It doesn’t stop me, but it does slow me down.”

Although the closing event was an overall success in attracting a large crowd and bringing the biking community together, the event was not without its hiccups. Stuart Hall, co-curator of the art show, said the “family-oriented” strip tease that was originally scheduled for the closing ceremony had to be cancelled due to last-minute scheduling conflicts. Instead, the event featured a special cabaret-esque appearance by Underwear Mass, a nonprofit group that promotes gender equality. The group’s coordinators Krystal Gordon, Barbra Mann and Joel Wiersema skated through the art gallery in their scantily clad orange outfits to encourage attendees to join their bike and skate event at Chicago Critical Mass’ July ride.

“It’s underwear fashion and all about being positive about your body,” Mann said. “All body types and sexual expressions are accepted.”

The 18th annual Chicago Bike Art Show may be over now, but biking aficionados can look forward to more upcoming events, including Critical Mass bike rides every last Friday of each month and the World Naked Bike Ride on June 13.

Photo at top: Steven Smock. “XTR.” Giclee print. $260 (Shanley Chien/Medill)

For a Healthy Heart, March to the Beat of Prevention, Experts Say

By Melissa Schenkman

Whether you are a millennial or a baby boomer, heart disease does not discriminate. Although experts are still researching the specific ways preventive measures affect the heart, what they do know is that a nutritious diet and regular exercise in their respective ways keep your heart muscle in good shape.

Continue reading

Chicago’s mayoral race: maybe money can’t buy an election

By Alysha Khan

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s failure to win reelection outright has dominated the headlines, equally interesting is a look at the money all five candidates raised in the final weeks leading up the election.
Continue reading

VIDEO: Parents continue to protest PARCC, push for HB 306

By Beth Werge

Called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the tests are supposed to gauge student achievement and readiness for college and careers. But parents and administrators alike are concerned for their students’ well being.

Continue reading

VIDEO: Chicago campaign cash – a tale of David and Goliath

By Ezra Kaplan

The polls are closed and the results are in. For the first time in Chicago’s history, there will be a mayoral runoff. In the run up to the election, Rahm Emanuel raised almost $15 million while Jesus “Chuy” Garcia spent only $1.4 million.

Continue reading

Health survey yields shocking results about HIV workforce

By Dawnn Anderson

A recent health survey revealed a significant number of the HIV workforce is ill-informed about the virus. Of the 135 AIDS workers in Chicago who participated in the HIV Workforce Study, they scored 63 percent, equivalent to a “D” average.

More than 3,600 people participated in the study nationwide and scored 61 percent. Officials at the Black AIDS Institute say it is too early to determine whether one’s lack of knowledge will directly affect clinical practice regarding prevention and treatment.

“Before, it wasn’t incumbent of the HIV workforce to know about science and treatment, because medical doctors were initially charged with the task of informing the public,” said Anthony Guitierrez, BAI’s mobilization manager. Continue reading

Review: Spike Lee’s ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus’

By Antoinette Isama

Spike Lee takes a stab at horror film with his first Kickstarter funded film, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” which opened this week. A remake of Bill Gunn’s 1973 independent film “Ganja and Hess,” Lee offers an uncanny analysis of religion, art and sexuality through a story of vampirism and uncontrollable addiction — literally and figuratively.

Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams), an anthropologist studying the ancient Ashanti Empire, encounters an ancient dagger that alters his life, which is centered on his quaint, inherited 40-acre estate in Martha’s Vineyard. The film’s pace picks up when his mentally unstable research assistant, Dr. Lafayette Hightower (Elvis Nolasco), attempts suicide, then struggles to murder Hess with the dagger. After stabbing Green, Hightower, shocked by his own actions, kills himself. Green then comes back to life with an addiction to blood.

Continue reading

Controversy over Lucas Museum continues

by Constantina Kokenes

Plans to build the large Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on Chicago’s lakefront near McCormick Place have been controversial since filmmaker George Lucas decided to place his museum in Chicago last June. Though lawsuits have been filed, the museum was not a major issue in this month’s aldermanic campaigns. Candidates for alderman in the 4th Ward, where the museum would be built, vary in their response to the museums.

The candidates touched on the issue during their campaigns before Tuesday’s elections.

Continue reading