Author Archives: jgafney

Graduation Dinner!

Hello, almost graduated MAPHers! I imagine that many of you have family and friends coming down to Hyde Park this weekend for a little celebration of sorts, a little cap-and-gown affair. And I also imagine that they will want to take you someplace delicious to eat. May I suggest that you vacate the Hyde Park area as quickly as possibly on Saturday? Do not try to eat here.  20,000 people will be here. Also, it will be 90 degrees.

So, I will give you a few suggestions for places to eat. Make reservations in advance (if they take reservations)!


615 W. Randolph; 3:30 pm- 12:00 am; no reservations.

Delicious small (and not so small) plates to share, 30 wines by the glass, totally delicious and very special. Outdoor seating for drinks only.  As they don’t take reservations, I suggest going early (before 5:30) for a late lunch, or late (after 9:00) for dinner. It is a little noisy, maybe not the best place for grandma.


2119 South Halsted; 5:30 pm-11:00 pm; reservations at 312-526-3385.

Delicious local and sustainable fare in Pilsen; food you can feel good about enjoying. Fantastic patio and very good cocktails.


1119 West Webster Ave; 5:00 pm- 12:00 am; reservations at 773-472-7070.

Beautiful large rooms, open air “windows,” delicious updated American fare.  Get the fried chicken.  Also, they will make you a killer cheese plate if you ask for it. Delicious old-fashioned cocktails.


638 Michigan Ave; 7:00 am- 2:00 am; reservations at 312-765-0524.

Catalonia-style tapas and entrees. Pretty good vegetarian selection despite the specialties being meats and fish served “a la planxa”- cooked on a metal plate. Unique sangria.


2172 South Archer Ave; 11:00 am- 12:00 am; reservations at 312-326-5040.

Best Chinese restaurant, ever.

Music in Millennium Park!

Summer is a great time to be in Chicago.  Take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy free outdoor concerts in Millennium Park.  Millennium Park is really only about 15 minutes away from Hyde Park by the 6 bus or the Metra. Pack a picnic, grab a bottle of wine and a few blankets, and relax! You’ve earned it!

There are events nearly every day in Millennium Park.  Check out the website for a complete listing of lectures, tours, and shows:  Here are a few upcoming events that sound fun to me!

Music without Borders: Antibalas with The Very Best

June 3rd 2010, 6:30-9:30

Antibalas (Spanish for “bulletproof”) is a Brooklyn-based Afrobeat Orchestra that incorporates elements of funk, jazz, and traditional drumming from the Caribbean and from West Africa. The starting band, The Very Best, features singing in Chichewa, Swahili, Portuguese, and English.

Downtown New Sound: She & Him with Hollows

June 7th 2010, 6:30-9:00

You’ll want to get to this show early! She & Him is the two person band composed of Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward! According to their website, “She & Him make music for an eternal springtime, when the temperature is warm enough to go riding with the top (or at least the windows) rolled down and the radio turned up.”

Grant Park Music Festival: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

June 16th 2010, 6:30-8:30

Nuff said.

Can American Media be Saved?

An event, brought to you by Creative Writing!

Media and Politics

Can American Media be Saved? Can American Politics be fixed?

James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, former speechwriter for President Carter, U of C Vare Writer in Residence

Rick Perlstein, senior fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, former correspondent for the Village Voice and The New Republic, author of books on Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon

Thomas Geoghegan, former contributing editor for The New Republic, energy official in the Carter Administration, labor attorney, activist, and recent aspirant to fill the Congressional seat vacated by Rahm Emmanuel.

Wednesday, May 26th, 7 PM, Social Sciences 122.

Two Fun and Exciting Hyde Park Events!

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, and this weekend Hyde Park is celebrating the season!

Hyde Park Gardening Fair

Friday, May 14th (9:00- 6:00) and Saturday, May 15th (9:00-4:00)

Hyde Park Shopping Center (55th and South Lake Park)

This is the 51st annual Spring Garden Sale! It includes 10 plant departments (annuals, container plants, groundcover, hanging baskets, herbs, houseplants, perennials, shrubs-vines-roses, vegetables, wildflowers), as well as information about springtime planting, and more.  If you are planning a summer garden, or if you just love green things, it will be worth stopping buy.

61st Street Farmers Market

Saturday Morning (9:00-2:00)

Farmers have made an excellent start this year, the last few days notwithstanding, and we are incredibly lucky that the 61st street Farmers Market is among the first in the city to open! Instead of going to the grocery store, do your shopping at the Farmers Market this week.

What’s happening at Court Theater and the Smart Museum?

A photo from Sizwe Banzi is Dead

I took a different route to school this morning that took me past the Smart Museum and the Court Theater, and realized that I had no idea what was going on at either.  Both of these institutions are literally on the Uchicago campus and provide fantastic opportunities to view groundbreaking theater and art exhibits.

Here’s what’s going on right now:

Sizwe Banzi Is Dead at Court Theater

May 13- June 13

Master playwright Fugard and the actors of the original South African cast collaboratively wrote the story of a man who pretends to be dead in order to live. This searing exploration of identity and the political power of storytelling is presented in a new, intimate staging by Court Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson.

(Taken from the Court Theater website,

The Darker Side of Light at Smart Museum

February 11- June 13

Although Paris in the 1800s is often associated with the art of Impressionism, with its light-filled landscapes and bustling boulevards, artists also probed the social and psychological depths of the period in more private media like prints, drawings, illustrated books, and small sculptures. This exhibition, organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, evokes the discreet world of individual collecting to tell a less familiar story of nineteenth-century art.

(Taken from the Smart Museum website,

Writing the Statement of Purpose!

Hello Friends,

For those of you who are interested in getting a PhD in the humanities, our very own Drew Kyser has put together a panel on writing the statement of purpose.  The panel will be held tomorrow, April 28th at 4:30 PM in Classics 110, and will feature several faculty members from different disciplines.  These professors, who have read many, many statements of purpose, can give applicants a rare and extremely valuable perspective on this short but difficult document.

So please join us tomorrow at 4:30!


Earth Day!

Earth Day (April 22) is fast approaching! To celebrate, the Museum of Science and Industry offers free general admission all day.  If you haven’t gotten a chance to explore this museum while living in Hyde Park, this would be a fantastic opportunity to do so.  I recommend that you get there early (museum opens at 9:30 AM) so as to beat the stroller crowd.  The various exhibits include “Earth Revealed,” an animated globe that demonstrates many of the natural phenomena that affect our little planet, and “Smart Home: Green + Wired,” a look at green architecture and lifestyle.  Also, the gift shop is fun.  I really like astronaut ice cream.