Moving to Curbed Chicago

Hey all,

 It is with great excitement that I’m announcing today that I have joined the Vox Media team as the Editor for Curbed Chicago. Thanks to all who have read and shared Chiboulevards stories and for those who provided guidance and support along the way. I am incredibly grateful and overjoyed to have the opportunity to write with such an incredible organization and to continuing growing with the online audience here in Chicago. Please follow me over at Curbed and if you’re on social media, feel free to follow me on Twitter. See you over at Curbed!



Signing Off

image                                           photo by Maria Surawska

I started this blog in November 2011 for a few reasons. The main reason was that I felt like there was a void in online resources/blogs about the Logan Square area. Cities like NYC and DC have had hyperlocal blogs for several years, and many of the blogs had developed loyal readerships and generated enough advertising dollars to make them a full time venture for their editors. Chicago had Gapers Block, the Chicago Reader and a few other alt-zine-style blogs/websites, but neighborhood oriented sites were still fairly new and the good ones that did exist (the Brown Line Media blogs, and Uptown Update) were mostly dedicated to neighborhoods on the northside. Other small neighborhood blogs were beginning to pop up left and right, and in a virtual land grab I decided that I would like to try to be the Logan Square guy.

         image                                                        photo by Flickr user blastcap

The other reason why I wanted to create this blog was because it is a great way to get involved in the community. Starting a blog or working with an existing site is really a great way to meet the movers and the shakers in your community. It’s always a great way to feature local artists, interesting artifacts, unique architecture, historical anecdotes, festivals, and all the fun cultural things going on. Running a neighborhood blog in a way, is almost like writing a historical account on a small segment of the Chicago population and keeping that record in a linear, easy to navigate system. Honing your written voice is a big challenge, but exciting when you discuss ideas and issues that others are passionate about, and when a constructive dialogue ensues. It takes a lot of patience and dedication to build an online community, and I am certain that anyone who has done it has learned a lot about their neighborhood and themselves in doing so. 

Since Chiboulevards began, there have been a number of newer sites to pop up that are covering the same turf. Sites like Patch and DNAinfo Chicago do excellent work covering the neighborhoods in Chicago and have more robust operations. These sites have dedicated staff who are compensated to perform daily updates, editing, and discussion board moderation. Other sites like Everyblock, the Chicago News Cooperative and Windy Citizen, have shut down in the last year or two. And beyond the bigger names, there’s a few other Logan Square-centric blogs that have developed followings of their own, posting regular updates about business openings and events.

There’s a constant ebb and flow with the hyperlocal scene, and it finally seems like the dust is settling a bit. It’s really easy for someone to purchase a domain name, create a blog and post clickable content, but to keep it up on a daily basis is quite a task and requires a considerable amount of time and resources. It’s difficult to make a living off this kind of work doing it day to day independently. And with so many Logan Square focused sites/blogs, it often feels a little bit saturated when many of these outlets are posting the same exact events, links, photos, etc. Watching the readership organically grow is certainly an exciting thing, but being distracted by competition for hits and clicks with sites that essentially had the same purpose and mission as this one was not the main reason why I initially started the blog. I think at some point, it’s more productive to think about how collaboration can benefit the readers and the community rather than preserving/promoting your “brand”.  

image                                                photo by AJ LaTrace

I’ve been a resident of the area for a number of years now and have enjoyed being a part of the neighborhood and watching it change. I think what makes the neighborhood unique is the strong sense of civic engagement, the creativity of the residents, a desire to support small business, and the diversity. Logan Square really is a great example of how a neighborhood can be self sufficient. And in some ways, it’s also a bit of a caricature of itself. 

I’m going to leave the blog online as a resource to folks who want to go back and review prior posts. There’s a lot there, so have fun with checking out events you may have attended or seeing images of the area posted by neighbors who added their photos to the Chiboulevards Flickr pool

I will continue updating the Chiboulevards Facebook page with content that is related to the Logan Square and Avondale neighborhoods, so if you haven’t liked it yet, feel free to do so. I also plan on staying involved in the Chicago online community, just in different ways. I think there are still a lot of ways to continue contributing to the digital space in Chicago neighborhoods, it just may not be through writing my own blog. 

Thanks for all of those who read, commented, emailed tips and provided their photos to this blog. And thank you to those who offered insight to me along the way as I navigated the hyperlocal blogging world. 


AJ LaTrace

Photos from As You Are: A Decade of You Are Beautiful Gallery opening

If you missed the gallery opening last night, don’t fret. The show will continue through March 7th. Here’s a few photos from last night.


Stax O Wax Tonight at the Owl

"As You Are: A Decade of You Are Beautiful" art show - opening reception Thurs. 2/7

image               This piece by Andrew St. Lawrence will be featured at the show. 

If you’ve lived in Logan Square, Wicker Park, Bucktown - hell, just anywhere on the north/northwest side for the last several years, you likely have seen a small sticker on just about any street surface that says “You Are Beautiful”. To celebrate the project, Matthew Hoffman, founder of You Are Beautiful will be hosting a gallery event at the Green Exchange, showing work from many area artists paying homage to the You Are Beautiful project. 

As You Are : A Decade of You Are Beautiful

Opening Thursday, February 7, 2013 6-11pm

Facebook Event

February 7th - March 7th
Green Exchange
2545 W Diversey
Chicago IL 60647

You Are Beautiful is a bold and simple statement, established in Chicago in    2002. It began simply with 100 stickers. In the past decade over a half million stickers have traveled around our globe. From coast to coast, and around the world. The message has evolved into block long murals, public installations and exhibitions at cultural institutions involving thousands of artists.

This exhibition is curated by the founder, Matthew Hoffman. This project has grown much larger than any one person. Hoffman considers himself the custodian of the project, keeping the lights on and floor clean. He points to the incredible global community that has championed and embraced this message. “There has never been a more vital time for positive intervention than now.”

Showcasing New Work from:

Nick Adam, Matt Avery, Alexander Barrett, Nathan Bell, Kate Bingaman Burt, Will Bryant, Camp Firebelly, Michael Coleman, Kyle Louis Fletcher, Elaine Fong, Freight, Alex Fuller, Adi Goodrich, Renata Graw, Margot Harrington, Jessica Hische, Matthew Hoffman, Jesse Hora, INDO, Andrew St Lawrence, Nicole Lavele, Letterform, Andy Luce, Frances MacCleod, Erik Marinovich, Mike McQuade, Alison Yard Medland, Liz Meyer, Will Miller, Alyssa Nassner, Simone Noronha, Victoria Pater, Mike Perry, Scott Reinhard, Bud Rodecker, Emmy Star Brown, Alex Synge, Anne Ulku, Rick Valicenti and Katherine Walker.

Literary Mingling tonight at City Lit Books

image                                   photo via City Lit Books Facebook page

City Lit books will be hosting its first ever “Literary Mingling” event at its store (2523 North Kedzie Blvd). Meet other book lovers and readers in Logan Square tonight, tickets are $10.

Drinks and refreshments are included. 


Odd & Animal Art at New Wave Feb. 4 - Mar. 9

Best of Foursquare Chicago edition

Restaurants and bars in Logan Square have completely dominated recent editor’s picks from the Tribune to the Reader. It’s certainly a compliment when a major publication tips their hat at you - but what do the people think? Foursquare recently released their "Best of Foursquare" and to no surprise, the list is yet again littered with Logan Square establishments. See the whole list here

CTA Ridership at highest levels in decades

According to recent reports, CTA ridership is at its highest levels in 22 years. This is generally a good sign. It means that more people are turning to public transit for their daily commutes and weekend adventures, and leaving the car at home (despite the Mayor telling the general public that they can “choose” to drive if they don’t want to deal with the recent fare hikes).

The Green, Pink and Red Lines boast brand new, clean and smooth 5000 series cars, and much of the Brown line, and part of the Red line have brand new expanded stations. Meanwhile, those of us off the Blue line seem to be dealing with the same delays, construction, and congestion that we’ve been seeing for years, despite fare increases and the development boom on the northwest side.

This was the Logan Square L station this morning. Even after a bunch of folks loaded on to the train, there was still a sizable group that had to wait for the next train. Generally, you see this kind of congestion at the Damen or Grand stop, however when there are large groups of folks at Logan Square or Belmont, it’s a sign that it’s going to be a packed car contained with frustrated commuters who are late for work. Have you had troubles with the blue line on your morning or evening commute?


Save a Neighborhood School

This Thursday evening, The Friends of Brentano School are organizing a canvass to get the word out to folks in Logan Square about some potential changes that may happen in CPS concerning Brentano School (2723 N Fairfield Ave). Here’s a word from the crew:

Brentano Elementary Math and Science Academy is a neighborhood public school in Logan Square. It’s a STEM-focused school with good test scores, a great new principal, an involved LSC and parent group — all the indicators that it’s poised for even more growth.

With CPS considering changes for next year, we’re going door-to-door to talk to neighbors about Brentano and show that our community supports public education and wants to keep Brentano open and thriving! 

Come join us this Thursday night! We’ll have a brief training, and then go knock on neighbors’ doors, circulate a petition, and build support for this great neighborhood school. (Plus, we’ll have snacks!)

The canvass to support Brentano is this Thursday, 1/31 at 6 p.m. at Brentano School (2723 N. Fairfield). Again, RSVP on Facebook or by email.

Funny flyer - Stolen Bassoon


Last week, someone posted this hilariously awesome flyer on Reddit, detailing the theft of a beloved bassoon. There’s never a shortage of creative, funny and just plain weird things on the streets of Chicago.

The photo has gone viral on Facebook, having been shared over 70 times. 

Wow, this flyer. 1992 all over again. Digging it.

Wow, this flyer. 1992 all over again. Digging it.

(Source: whistlerchicago)

Streets of Chrome Photo Exhibition


Our friends at Chrome would like folks to know about an upcoming photo exhibition and opening party that they will be hosting in store (1529 N Milwaukee Ave) on January 31st from 8-11pm.

As a part of our brand new Niko Camera Bag collection & Streets Of Chrome photo contest to find the world’s next great street photographer, we’re hosting a Photo Exhibition with work from legendary street photographers Ken Goto, Ricky Powell, & Tod Seelie. It will go from 8-11pm and we will have a hosted bar as well.

RSVP on Facebook here. And big thanks to Chrome for being a part of the Chicago community and for hosting these great events!

MX. QSA Pageant


Subject to Change, a local LGBT production/events group hosts a monthly queer/LGBT dance party right here in Logan Square. The monthly parties help raise funds for a community organization that works to help LGBT individuals. The parties take place at The Burlington (3425 W. Fullerton), and the next event will be this Wednesday, Jan. 30th at 9pm. $5 Suggested donation.

More info from Subject to Change:

After celebrating their first anniversary last month, the Subject to Change crew is now ready to kick off their second year with their biggest event yet as they will crown the inaugural Mx. QSA at their Jan. 30 party in a pageant emceed by Joe Varisco. Among the contestants will be a number of previous Subject to Change hosts. The party benefits the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and will feature guest sets from DJ Wife Material (Britticisms).
Subject to Change presents the Mx. QSA Pageant will be held Jan. 30 at the Burlington, 3425 W. Fullerton, beginning at 9 p.m. Subject to Change is held on the last Wednesday of every month at the Burlington.

G-Mart Comics is hiring!

Lifted directly from their Facebook post (also, good luck!):

Like the idea of working with comic books? G-Mart Comics’ Chicago store is looking to add to our sales staff, so previous retail experience and an intuitive grasp of customer service are a must. Although primary duties would center on the retail store, G-Mart’s mail order operations and extensive on-site collection of nearly 150,000 back issues mean that secondary duties could include inventory management, shipping, and weekly processing of customer orders. Most account functions are routed through our highly automated server, so the ideal candidate should be someone adept at quickly learning complex tasks. Hundreds of brand-new comic books come out every single month - and need to be processed with attentive care and painstaking accuracy - so naturally detail-oriented persons will have an enormous advantage.

Do note that this position won’t let you sit around and read comics all day! We believe in working hard and using the available time to its maximum potential, as there is always a wealth of ongoing projects to work at during slower times. As a result, the ideal applicant will be someone who is self-motivated and has an instinct for taking initiative as the opportunities arise, and with a robust work ethic which matches our own. However, the long-term rewards are commensurate with the efforts applied; at the moment we’re searching for someone to help out with a few shifts, but we’re also on the lookout for any friendly, skilled and driven personalities interested in joining us as part of the decision-making team, and joining their talents and insights to our own as we look to the future.

G-Mart Comics has been in business for 17 years, and is committed to being around for many, many more. If you’re interested in joining us, please e-mail your resume to today!