I've got a whole city to hold down

June 03, 2005


Taste of Randolph Street: 6/17 - Cowboy Mouth, Katie Todd Band, Burn Rome Burn; 6/18 - My Morning Jacket, French Kicks, Chris Mills, Catfish Haven; 6/19 - Poi Dog Pondering, John Butler Trio, Casolando, Walt Cunningham Jr.

Door Door: More

Jim DeRogatis is all over the Double Door story in today's Sun-Times.

After months of downplaying the conflict, operators of Chicago's renowned Double Door rock club said yesterday that landlords are trying to evict them in favor of a national retail chain that might pay more than quadruple the rent. ...

When it opened [in June 1994] in what had been a biker bar at the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee and North avenues, Wicker Park was a neighborhood in transition, with lingering traces of the seediness portrayed in Nelson Algren's famous novel,
The Man with the Golden Arm.

Thanks to the forces of gentrification, Wicker Park is now the neighborhood of the golden rents.

[Double Door partner Sean] Mulroney, who is also an attorney, said the fight isn't really about whether club operators gave legal notice to renew their lease, but about the landlords' desire to raise the rent for the space from $9 to $38 per square foot, or from approximately $45,000 a month to $190,000 -- a price that would make operating the club impossible. ...

The landlords were rumored to have been talking to the Banana Republic clothing chain about opening a store at the site. [The landlords' attorney Howard] Golden denied that the Strauss family has a specific tenant in mind. ...

Mulroney said club operators only decided to go public yesterday because they hope Chicago's music community will come to court next week to support the club. "We didn't want to do what Sue Miller did with Lounge Ax; we thought she handled that poorly," he said. ...

Both sides are optimistic that they will prevail in court, but both granted that regardless of the judge's ruling, Double Door isn't likely to close soon.

If the club owners win their case, the lease will be extended for four more years with modest increases in rent, Golden said. If the landlords win, Mulroney promises to appeal, and he said that process could drag on for as long as three years.

In other news, Double Door peeps are mounting a public letter-writing campaign on their own behalf. Late yesterday the club sent an e-mail urging bands, fans and others in the local music community to attend next week's hearing, contact Wicker Park alderman Manny Flores, and send letters to the editors of the Trib, Sun-Times and Reader.

See yesterday's post for text of the Double Door statement that started this ruckus.

June 02, 2005

War for the Double Door

Double Door press release:


On June 9, 2005 Double Door, Chicago's preeminent small music venue, will be fighting for its very existence before Cook County Chancery Judge Billik. The trial, whereby Double Door is seeking to enforce an extension to its lease, is set to begin at 2PM at the Cook County Courthouse, Room 2601 in the Daley Center. The trial hinges upon Double Door's position that it appropriately notified the owners of the building, Harry and Brian Strauss, of its intention to exercise its option in its lease. The Strauss' dispute this claim.

Double Door has become a fixture in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood and an integral part of the cultural and music scene in Chicago since it's opening in 1994. The club has played host to some of the biggest bands in the world including The Rolling Stones, bringing national and international exposure to Chicago. Double Door served as the site for debut material from two albums of Chicago's own Smashing Pumpkins. Artists like Kid Rock, Macy Gray, The Strokes and The Killers have all graced the Double Door stage early in their careers. The club has nurtured the careers of many of Chicago's most successful local artists including Chevelle, Local H and Liquid Soul.

The Strauss family has no interest in preserving the cultural integrity of the neighborhood or the Double Door. It is their intention to force the closure of Double Door and to replace it with a national retail chain.

Double Door filed its suit against the Strauss family knowing that it has met its obligations under the lease. This trial will determine whether the institution that is Double Door will remain a fixture in Wicker Park and a key part of the cultural and musical scene in Chicago.

Chicago's musical landscape will not be the same without Double Door.


June 01, 2005

Tribute to greatness: Oscar Brown Jr.

In music and life, hipsters are a dime a dozen. What set Oscar Brown Jr. apart, and made him a great Chicago original, was his refusal to settle for style. As a jazz artist, he could scat with the best of them and pen lyrics that shivered with jivey cool. But his work always had a serious, questing dimension to it, calling for people to reject racial prejudice and celebrate their commonality, to accept responsibility for their actions and do unto others as they wanted others to do unto them. He was no stranger to anger and could be cantankerous, but the playful spark of classics like "Signifyin' Monkey" and deep humanism of ballads like "Brother Where Are You?" dominated, touching generations of jazz, soul and topical-minded folk singers, rappers and hip-hoppers. Brown, who died Sunday at 78, refused to be locked into categories. During the coffeehouse '60s, he helped break down the wall between jazz and cabaret and later ventured into theater. His musicals, which drew as much from Africa and South America as Broadway, weren't as successful as he would have liked, but that didn't stop him from pursuing the form to further his social activism and broaden the scope of black entertainment. The South Side legend remained productive to the end, committed as ever to the best kind of hipness. - Chicago Sun-Times editorial, 6/1/05

For more, see the "OBJ" Web site, read obituaries from the Tribune and Sun-Times, visit the Hideout's remembrance page, or listen to this segment from the Chicago Public Radio program Hello Beautiful.

May 31, 2005

Get Behind Me Concertwatch

The White Stripes (Aug. 29, 30, 31 at Auditorium Theatre)