November 22, 2023
🍗 Happy Wednesday. What's that smell? Thanksgiving preparation, of course.
- Today's weather: Partly sunny with a high of 44°.
🥶 Situational awareness: Due to dropping temps, Chicago is opening six warming centers this week.
Programming note: An early happy Thanksgiving to all! We're off tomorrow and Friday for the holiday and won't be back in your inboxes until Monday.
💙 We're so thankful to all our members for supporting our newsroom. Join them today.
🎂 An early happy birthday to our Axios Chicago member Tony Fitzpatrick!
Today's newsletter is 914 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Berlin shuts down after 40 years
The iconic Chicago club Berlin has closed its doors permanently.
What's happening: The owners announced on social media Tuesday that last weekend's performances were the final shows of the club's storied 40-year run.
- ”The music is silenced and our dreams are now memories," the club posted on Instagram.
The big picture: The club was part of Chicago's long history of LGBTQ+ establishments in Lakeview, serving as a popular venue for the city's drag performing community.
- Berlin's owners have coined the club as the best "non-gay gay bar" in Chicago. Celebrities like Elton John, John Waters, and Donna Karan have been seen on the dance floor.
What they’re saying: "Berlin was on the cutting edge of queer Chicago for 40 years," LGBTQ+ historian Owen Keehnen tells Axios.
- "Berlin fostered friendships, romances and brought people together to dance and have a good time."
Flashback: After original owner Tim Sullivan died of AIDS in 1994, current owners Jim Schuman and Jo Webster took over.
- "It was about creating a safe space for those who just didn't fit in a mold," Webster told the Tribune in 2013.
Context: Management had recently clashed with the club's newly formed union. Drag performers, staff and patrons had staged a month long boycott, citing work conditions and low wages.
- Club management had previously said the union's demands would force them to close.
Yes, but: The Berlin union said they "continue to believe that businesses that refuse to value our work above minimum wage do not belong in our community."
The bottom line: "The final chapter will surely be written by the essayists, the journalists, and memorialized in tribute events and documentaries," the club wrote, "but the magic that happened at 954 W. Belmont will never be recreated."
📫 What's your Berlin story? Reply to this email and we'll collect for a future newsletter.
2. Chicago union fights galore
Chicago workers from the Teamsters walked the picket line yesterday at an Amazon warehouse in Bridgeport to protest working conditions and pay levels.
The big picture: Labor strife is heating up across Chicago — and the country — as more employees organize to demand better workplaces.
Flashback: Chicago has seen its fair share of walkouts in the last year, culminating in the latest SAG-AFTRA and UAW strikes, as well as the untimely closing of Berlin.
- Let's look at where some others stand:
🧑🏫 Columbia College: Adjunct faculty have been striking for over three weeks, and there seems to be no end in sight. The union says the current walk out could be the longest adjunct strike in history.
- Faculty members are protesting budget cuts and class sizes.
- They're also calling for the resignation of college president Kwang-Wu Kim, questioning his handling of the school's budget deficit.
- College provost Marcella David wrote in a recent letter to students that the school will have to keep open the possibility of "replacing faculty who are not teaching."
The intrigue: This is a particularly sticky situation for the college, considering that adjunct faculty include skilled working professionals that the South Loop school touts to recruit students.
🩺 Joliet nurses: Nurses at a Joliet hospital made waves this summer when they walked off the job to protest working conditions and burnout. Today, nurses at Ascension Saint Joseph Hospital in Joliet are striking again — this time to push back on what they say are "unfair labor practices."
- It's the second time since their contract expired in July that the nurses have walked out.
- The hospital says the strike is "unfortunate" given that negotiations are ongoing.
3. Maps of the day: Your favorite sides
Last week, we asked you to vote for your favorite Thanksgiving sides.
- The results are tasty.
4. Tips and hot links
🍤 Calumet Fisheries was damaged by fire days after it recovered from a health department closing. (Tribune)
💨 Environmental activists decry a city pollution study that fails to count pollution from some industrial areas. (Tribune)
🌱 With rising temperatures, the USDA's new plant hardiness map puts Chicago in a warmer zone — the same planting category as Kentucky. (WTTW)
🎸 The Rolling Stones are coming to Soldier Field next summer. (WGN)
Stay booked and busy
📅 Upcoming events around the city.
Family Day w/ Mary Macaroni & the Impastas at Midwest Coast Brewing Company on Nov. 26:
- Families are welcome and encouraged to stay after and enjoy beer, cider, hard seltzer, non-alcoholic beer, cold brew coffee, soda and sparkling water.
Hosting an event? Email [email protected].
5. Thanksgiving drink specials
What's happening: Several local spots are offering drink specials for anyone who needs a break from family, a place to take family, or just some good vibes.
Central Park Bar: The Logan Square bar offers specials including Boozy Hot Cider ($11) — made with OCG Liqueur from Three Oaks, Michigan's Journeyman Distillery — and the Bad Apple ($12) with Claque-Pepin Calvados and apple vodka.
Cody's Public House: Specials at this dog-friendly West Lakeview standby include a Hamm's tall boy with a Wild Turkey shot ($8) and a pumpkin spice Old Fashioned ($10).
The Rambler Kitchen and Tap: Enjoy a waterproof and covered beer garden at this Lincoln Square spot serving Hamm's tall boys ($4) and Pumpkin Spice Espresso Martinis ($10).
6. Where's Justin: Long Grove, Illinois
Whoa, you all guessed correctly!
- Justin was in Long Grove at the historic Robert Parker Coffin Bridge.
Backstory: The 117-year-old span got a low roof in 1972 to discourage big vehicles — but with little success. Since it reopened in 2020, it's been hit 49 times!
- The covered crossing spans Buffalo Creek in this quaint Lake County town best known for Long Grove Confectionery.
🤣 Congrats to Geri M. and Barb W., whose names we pulled from the back of a lodged semi-truck.
You can claim your swag at our next Office Hours event.
Edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Rob Reinalda and Keely Bastow.
❤️ Carrie is thankful she joined Axios Chicago this year — to work (and laugh) alongside Monica, Justin, Alexa, Kristen and all her colleagues each day. And here's to another year of covering this incredible, beautiful, challenging and one-of-a-kind city. What a gift.
👖 Justin is thankful there is no dress code at Axios. He has 15 hoodies, and he plans to wear every single one of them this winter. He's also thankful for his family and friends, his co-workers and the readers of this newsletter. Oh yeah, also walking tacos and Nathan Fielder. Happy Thanksgiving!
🌎 Monica is thankful for everything.
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