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Best single-purpose fake Twitter account

City Life No Comments »

@ChicagoVentra
Unlike Facebook and Google, Twitter does not penalize its users for adopting fake names or otherwise harmlessly misrepresenting themselves. This makes it a wonderful place for comedians to be what they’re not, whether a borderline-illiterate spokesperson for Burlington Coat Factory or an angst-ridden Roomba. Some of the most popular fake Twitter accounts aren’t active for very long—they plug into a current controversy and present a blunt or refreshing take on it. When the CTA began its excruciating transition to the much-loathed Ventra card system, local Twitizens took some comfort in the idea that a PR flack might Tweet things such as “Has your #Ventra Card been lost or stolen? Don’t worry! They won’t be able to activate it, either.” Or “Get on board with #Ventra! The new way to pay for some horrible crime you must have committed in a past life!” It seemed that someone out there really did understand the Ventra experience.

Best of Chicago 2013

Best place to get ready for a night out

Goods & Services, Lincoln Park No Comments »

Goldplaited
Sure, we have a couple blow-dry bars in town, but nowhere that you can get your hair and makeup done by seasoned pros. The blowouts and updos are on par with any salon in town and ask for the signature Skinny Dip lipgloss for a luscious pout. The new Lincoln Park finishing salon is run by two friendly sisters who moved from LA to bring summerland glamour to Chicago. Come in your cocktail dress and step out ready to rock the red carpet.
2803 North Sheffield, (773)880-9180, goldplaited.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best underground dinner

Food & Drink No Comments »

The Octagon Mode
On her website, Erika Stone-Miller claims to be “an alternative to Chicago’s fine dining scene” and she nails it. At $100 (you get a $15 discount if you share an interesting fact about yourself), this BYOB eight-course feast mimics a fine dining experience with its flavors, precision, service and atmosphere, but with the bonhomie of a dinner party. Stone-Miller slips seamlessly from chic hostess (she’s worked at L2O and Blackbird) to a chef in a black apron and orange crocs. The menu changes weekly and we cannot wait to return.
theoctagonmode.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best insider’s view of Chicago’s underground art scene

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Oscar Arriola on Instagram
He goes to every art opening that you haven’t heard about yet, and posts pics of the work and its makers on Instagram. Follow Oscar Arriola (screen name: Oscararriola), and you’ll have an insider’s view of our alternative, independent and underground art scenes.

Best of Chicago 2013

Best live rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” onstage

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

“12 Nights”
The Hypocrites’ “12 Nights,” played out in an open-seating arrangement in the lower level of the Chopin Theatre, had many memorable scenes. But in the opening moments, when Jeff Trainor’s Duke Orsino declares, “If music be the food of love, play on!” and launches the ensemble into a live cover of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (to record for his unrequited crush Lady Olivia), the gauntlet is thrown down on just what type of adaptation this is, and the seventy-minute show lives up to those expectations.
The Hypocrites, (773)525-5991, the-hypocrites.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best puppy art

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Puppies Puppies
Having recently graduated from SAIC with an MFA, the artist known as Puppies Puppies is straight out of the gate (or kennel, maybe) with exhibitions around the city and the country. With a broadly defined practice that includes artworks made from public services like free wi-fi and Purell hand-sanitizer dispensers, installations and web projects that turn the aesthetics of Facebook into untamed abstractions, curated exhibitions of friends’ paintings, and the occasional bone or chew toy, Puppies Puppies renders post-humanist philosophy into good humored playfulness.
puppiespuppies.me

Best of Chicago 2013

Best group booty call

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

The Booty Butt-Naked Truth radio program
As the engineer fades out Marvin Gaye’s “God is Love,” the “Booty Call” begins. Harold Davis, your host, clears his throat—just once!—and raps the following ‘disclaimer’: “It’s the undisputed, untold, uncut, uncensored, unapologetic, un-bought, straight-forward, down-the-middle butt-naked truth. We say the things most of you are afraid to dream about or think about. We say liberation without the continuation of the mis-education and the misinformation to the black man and black woman. Down with the accommodators; up with the liberators!” Then, for the next two hours straight—no commercials, no news, no traffic, no weather, that’s too establishment, yo!—Davis and co-hosts Kamla Ronan, Boyse Edwards and Robert “Red” Ross riff on all matters relevant to the Black community. Airing on WBGX, whose slogan is the Big Gospel Express, listeners can hear Davis question the effectiveness of clergy considered leaders in the community—folks such as Reverends Corey Brooks, Jesse Jackson Sr. and James Meeks—while actively advocating local, black-owned businesses and restaurants, such as the Salaam and Soul Vegetarian, that serve calorie-conscience cuisine. “Get some food that won’t kill you,” he urges. Davis’ raw-bone, raw-ass critiques can have the subtlety of a brick, such as his very real (and damn funny) imitation of Representative Bobby Rush’s cancer-crushed speaking voice, and his support of the herculean community outreach delivered by the Reverend Paul Hall.  Unashamed and unyielding in his support of Hall—convicted in 1989 of child molestation—Davis has said, among other things, “I don’t have a heaven or hell to put nobody in.”
Tuesday-Thursday, 2pm-4pm, WBGX-AM 1570, gospel1570.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best local party game

Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Cards Against Humanity
Chicago designer Max Temkin and his friends came up with the idea for Cards Against Humanity, the “party game for horrible people,” while they were “trolling Oblique Strategies,” Brian Eno’s legendary collection of shuffle-ready aphorisms. The game is an NSFW version of Apples to Apples—a card with half a thought is drawn, and players challenge each other to complete it in the most gruesome and funny way their own hands allow. And it’s wildly popular. It was one of the most successful Kickstarter projects in history, its quick-witted creator is an increasingly big draw on the lecture circuit, and it has inspired legions of fans, meetups and dedicated internet communities. Like Chicago’s collective sense of humor, it’s dark, it’s cynical and it’s funny as hell.

Best of Chicago 2013

Best garden store

Andersonville, Audience Choice, Goods & Services No Comments »

Gethsemane Garden Center
Even if you’re not embarking on a new gardening project, you’ll want to stroll Gethsemane’s grounds in Andersonville, just to take it all in. The rows and rows of green, leafy plants, bright flowers, fountains and trellises might just convince you that you’ve temporarily left the city. If you want to dig a koi pond in your backyard, start an indoor herb garden, or purchase an heirloom tomato plant at the end of September, Gethsemane’s your go-to.
5739 North Clark, (773)878-5915, gethsemanegardens.com

AUDIENCE CHOICE: Gethsemane Garden Center

Best of Chicago 2013

Best chicken

Audience Choice, Food & Drink No Comments »

Whole roasted chicken for two at The Lobby
Chicken breast is often a boring choice on menus, an oft-dry and tasteless option for less adventurous eaters. Not at The Peninsula. Louche quantities of butter and herbed brioche stuffed beneath a crisp golden brown skin ensures the meat beneath stays succulent. This winter, the bird comes accompanied by prunes, brussels sprouts and sweet potato. But before you can dig in, there’s more. The dark meat arrives, a confit in cream and chicken jus nestled in a small crock. Now, you may begin.
In the Peninsula, 108 East Superior, (312)337-2888, peninsula.com/Chicago/en/Dining/The_Lobby

AUDIENCE CHOICE: Honey Butter Fried Chicken, 3361 North Elston, (773)478-4000, honeybutter.com

Best of Chicago 2013