Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ End of the road for ‘Cul de Sac’ as cartoonist retires his pens ]]> Lead story image

A cul-de-sac goes round and round, but the end has come for Richard Thompson’s comic strip of the same name. The cartoonist decided to end “Cul de Sac” because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease, first diagnosed in 2009. Thompson is 55 years old. He is so weakened that he is unable to meet the demands of a daily comic strip. The last “Cul de Sac” — an original — runsSunday in the Sun-Times and 250 other newspapers in which it is syndicated through Universal Uclick. Thompson was honored by his peers in June with the release of the book … ]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 06:05:41 -0600 <![CDATA[ New York City’s oldest piano player grows younger as he performs ]]> Lead story image

There are a thousand things to do when visiting New York, but you must stop at Nino’s Tuscany on West 58th Street. A lovely piano player named Irving Fields, 97, is the oldest piano player in New York. ]]> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 06:19:55 -0600 <![CDATA[ Producer called to majors to direct Clint Eastwood in ‘Curve’ ]]> Lead story image

Look between the white lines of “Trouble With the Curve,” and you see that it is more than a baseball movie. Clint Eastwood plays an aging baseball scout who is developing macular degeneration, among other ailments. Amy Adams is his daughter who takes on life’s curves as her father needs more attention. There’s also a couple of young, computer-savvy front-office types (the Theo Epstein parallels are too obvious to ignore) as a conflict becomes clear: the ability to embarce technology without neglecting the human touch. “Trouble With the Curve” (opening Friday) is directed by Robert Lorenz, who grew up as … ]]> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 06:23:11 -0600 <![CDATA[ One more piano bar option in NYC ]]> Lead story image

People are certainly face to face at Brandy’s Piano Bar, 235 E. 84th St. on New York’s Upper East Side (212-744-4949; I wandered into Brandy’s around 11 p.m. on a Friday and the place was packed with neighborhood 20- and 30-year-olds and a table of Asian tourists drinking bottles of Stella ($7). Brandy’s is in a nondescript brick-gray building that dates back to the late 1800s. The room holds only about 65 people. Brandy’s advertises a two-drink minimum per person per set, but it was so crowded no one enforced it with me. I guess I blend into crowds … ]]> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 06:26:22 -0600 <![CDATA[ Artists create slightly insulting posters for Chicago neighborhoods ]]> Lead story image

Look out, Logan Square. Heads up, Rogers Park. It takes a sense of humor to appreciate the slogans sticking it to 35 different neighborhoods, and more are on the way. ]]> Sat, 06 Oct 2012 06:03:34 -0600 <![CDATA[ For Polynesian flair, San Diego’s Bali Hai reigns ]]> Lead story image

SAN DIEGO, Ca. — Life is a countdown. And it is a great day when all the numbers add up. Maybe Tom Ham knew there was little time to waste. In 1955 the Los Angeles accountant bought the Bali Hai Restaurant in San Diego, now America’s most iconic tiki destination with the closing of the Kahaki in Columbus, Ohio, in 2000. The tropical temple of mirth sits on San Diego Bay with a breathtaking view of the city skyline. “Tom didn’t like sitting in an office doing taxes,” said current co-owner Larry Baumann, who is Ham’s son-in-law. “The restaurant was … ]]> Thu, 06 Sep 2012 06:08:15 -0600 <![CDATA[ City Winery caters to mature fans who’d rather sip than slam-dance ]]> Lead story image

At the new music venue on Randolph, audiences of a certain vintage will be able to dine and enjoy wine made in-house during concerts by easygoing acts. Owner Michael Dorf, 50, spun it off his similar club New York and says, “I’m very selfish. I want to sit and drink wine in a real glass” while hearing live music. ]]> Thu, 06 Sep 2012 06:07:21 -0600 <![CDATA[ A grape moment for Waco Brothers ]]> Lead story image

The Waco Brothers are the Midwest’s premiere insurgent, hard country-punk band. So what are they doing at an Aug. 28 wine pairing at the upscale City Winery? This, after all, isn’t Carol’s Pub. The Chicago-based anarchists will perform the music of T. Rex, paired with five wines ($15 ticket only, $35 includes the tasting). Waco Brothers singer-guitarist Dean Schlabowske owns the popular Cellar Rat wine shop, 1811 W. North in Wicker Park. “The wine business is sort of the island of misfit toys,” Schalbowske said. “Where people had grander ambitions for their life. It’s been 22 years in the wine … ]]> Thu, 06 Sep 2012 06:09:07 -0600 <![CDATA[ ‘Tommy Bartlett Show’ celebrates 60 years at the Wisconsin Dells ]]> Lead story image

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. — The “Tommy Bartlett Show” has survived video games, water-themed parks and a 2008 celebration that was ruined when rainfalls broke the Lake Delton shoreline. The 12-foot deep lake emptied into the Wisconsin River. Water skiing was curtailed, but acrobats and jugglers continued to perform on land. The Bartlett show without water is like Santa without snow. But the gig always goes on and “The Tommy Bartlett Show” is celebrating its 60th anniversary this summer. Anyone who grew up in the Chicago area is familiar with the unique Bartlett presentation of water skiing and circus hi jinx … ]]> Thu, 23 Aug 2012 06:05:45 -0600 <![CDATA[ Tommy Bartlett’s Chicago TV roots ]]> Lead story image

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. — Tommy Bartlett did not want to make waves. But he did not like water. The founder of “The Tommy Bartlett Show” was born in 1914 in Milwaukee and spent most of the 1940s as an announcer for WBBM-AM in Chicago. He became a flight instructor for the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, but returned to Chicago in 1947 to host that station’s “Welcome Travelers” radio show. Bartlett would hang out at bus stations and train stations and quiz people on why they were visiting Chicago. “Welcome Travelers” morphed into a daytime NBC … ]]> Thu, 23 Aug 2012 06:05:25 -0600 <![CDATA[ Curtis Mayfield on his greatest hits ]]>

It was a spiritual pilgrimage for sure. Since I began buying music, the songs of Curtis Mayfield had touched my soul. In February 2003, I drove from Chicago to visit Mayfield in his home in Dunwoody, a suburb of Atlanta, Ga. Notoriously shy, Mayfield did not grant many interviews. We had spoken several times over the years on the phone, and on this sunny afternoon he granted me a couple of hours. Paralyzed from a 1990 accident, he laid on a hospital bed in the den of his home. I sat on a chair and moved close to his face. … ]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2012 06:15:04 -0600 <![CDATA[ Big plans for Motor Row live inside Cheap Trick’s heads ]]> Lead story image

The band wants to put its name on $13 million complex with a restaurant, music venue and museum in the South Michigan Avenue entertainment district. The developers’ plans, also including a $30 million hotel, could be ready to rock next summer. ]]> Thu, 09 Aug 2012 06:18:21 -0600 <![CDATA[ Sugarland, Radiohead tragedies elevate fears about temporary stages ]]> Lead story image

The manager of Cheap Trick, which survived a scare in Ontario last summer, says the band is approaching outdoor shows “with more caution than we did before.” For this weekend’s Ribfest in Naperville, organizers upgraded the stage because “we realized we were at the risk of having something terrible happen.” ]]> Thu, 02 Aug 2012 06:10:59 -0600 <![CDATA[ Earl Pionke: The man, the pub ]]> Lead story image

Earl “Jesse James” Pionke is an essential figure in the history of Chicago popular music. From 1962 until 1984, Pionke owned and operated the Earl of Old Town. A community will come to sing for Pionke, when his 80th birthday is celebrated June 24. ]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 06:19:34 -0600 <![CDATA[ Inn, historic district are redefining Detroit ]]> Lead story image

DETROIT, Mich. — The Inn On Ferry Street is a beautiful vessel that shines in rough waters. That is why I loved it so much. The Inn, along East Ferry Street in the historic district of midtown is actually four restored Victorian homes and two carriage houses just two miles north of downtown Detroit. There is a sense of solace and 21st century sophistication at the Inn with a rust-belt city in the process of redefinition as its backdrop. I stayed at the Inn during a spring visit to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Auburn Hills, … ]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 06:09:20 -0600 <![CDATA[ Saloon felt authentic but not quite perfect ]]> Lead story image

John Jeremiah of the Alliota-Haynes-Jeremiah folk group, famous for the 1971 hit “Lake Shore Drive,” once pointed out that his name was misspelled in the Earl of Old Town’s window. Earl Pionke responded by showing Jeremiah the huge misspelled sign (seen at right) promoting “Enterainment Nightly” and sternly telling him, “Look, this place is built on mistakes.” The Earl of Old Town inspired that sort of reverence. On the liner notes for the club’s 1962-1982 anniversary album, WFMT’s “Midnight Special” host Ray Nordstrand quoted singer-songwriter Charie Koster’s tune “Saloon”: “Saloon, saloon ... can it be that all its glories are … ]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 06:19:42 -0600 <![CDATA[ Earl hot-dogged for Second City crowd ]]> Lead story image

About the time John Belushi, on break from filming “The Blues Brothers” (1980), was hustling folks into Sylvester’s Sneak Joint, the after-hours bar behind the Earl of Old Town, Earl Pionke was hustling hot dogs from his stand in front of the Earl. “It was silver with a big umbrella, nice big wheels,” Pionke said during a conversation on the front porch of his Pullman home. He nodded toward a black SUV parked in the street and says, “About the size of that. I bought it in Queens, N.Y. I brought back the hot dogs and the tomatoed onions they … ]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 06:19:45 -0600 <![CDATA[ Belushi’s home for late-night bits ]]> Lead story image

Iconic Chicago folk singer Eddie Holstein used to command the late-night ship over rough waters at the Earl of Old Town. In 1970, after John Belushi would finish his last show across the street at Second City, the actor would regularly visit the Earl. “Me and John had gone to Wise Fools [on North Lincoln] to watch ‘On the Waterfront’ on a 16mm projector,” Holstein recalled. “No one had video those days. ‘On the Waterfront’ was his favorite movie and mine, too. Belushi and I knew the complete script. We’d clown around at the bar. “There is a famous cab … ]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 06:19:48 -0600