Message from Montie

Chicago Events Archives

Aug. 22 movie screening discusses HR 4437 and immigration issues from Mexico to U.S.

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

 

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May 1, 2006 Immigration March in downtown Chicago (Photo courtesy of Susan Yunan, LSNA Program Director)

CHICAGO -- Over 26,000 immigrants have been deported after the SB 1070 law went into effect, and although it's only in Arizona for now, Illinoisans are concerned. Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) is reminding Illinoisans about the deportation threat in a free movie screening of "Immigrant Nation!: The Battle for the Dream" at 6 p.m., Sun., Aug. 22, at 2840 W. Logan Boulevard at Central Hispanic Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Click here for more info on the movie screening.

Click here to find out info on citizenship courses in the Chicago area.

Alpha Kappa Alphas and Alpha Phi Alphas win Chicago Sprite Step Off

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

The AKAs are on a "mission" to win!

3/20/2010 Update: Click here to read about the Atlanta finale.1/24/2010: When I heard about the Sprite Step Off from FoxBrownFox and Commonground, I was sold from the beginning. But when SpriteStepOff.com advertised that it would be the largest step show in history, I was wondering how true that'd be. However, on Saturday night (Jan. 23) when I drove up to the Regal Theater and saw cars backed down the block of 1645 E. 79th St., and the line to get into the Regal around the corner, I knew this was going to be something serious. And the Regal completely sold out of tickets. Largest step show in history? Looked like it. But would it be the livest step show I'd ever seen? That was the test. I've seen many throughout my college years (Lincoln University alumni!), plus the numerous step shows I've seen all over the world even after I graduated.

Well, this Sprite Step Off was not playing around. Hands down the Sprite Step Off is definitely my all-time favorite step show, and it was definitely the livest!

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Updated 1/25/2010

The original winners announced at the Sprite StepOff on Sat., Jan. 23, were the following:

Sororities: $21,500 Alpha Kappa Alpha (first place); $16,000 Zeta Phi Beta (second place); $11,000 Alpha Theta Omega (third place)

Fraternities: $21,500 Alpha Phi Alpha (Central State University, first place);  $16,000 Phi Beta Sigma (second place); $11,000 Alpha Phi Alpha (St. Louis citywide chapter, third place)

 

However, 360i and FoxBrownFox PR were notified on Mon., Jan. 25, that there was a voting discrepancy for the sororities during Saturday night's event. According to the Sprite Facebook page, "In the spirit of sportsmanship, we also advised the other two teams who were originally announced as the second and third place winners (now third and fourth place winners), that we wanted them to keep the prize money they had been awarded." So here are the updated sorority winners with corrected prize amounts. 

Sororities: $21,500 Alpha Kappa Alpha (first place); $16,000 Sigma Gamma Rho (second place) and $16,000 Zeta Phi Beta (third place); $11,000 Alpha Theta Omega (fourth place)  

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But just telling you who the winners are doesn't do them any justice. You need proof, right? Check out some of the photos and a video of Greek strolling in the crowd that I took at the Sprite Step Off on Saturday, Jan. 23.

 

 

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L'Union Fait La Force benefit concert at The Shrine, Chicago vegan cookout for Feeding Haiti on Jan. 25

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

 
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Permission to use from The RBG Environmental Restoration Agency

If you're living or visiting the Chicago area and want to donate funds to victims from Haiti's earthquake, the Chicago Haitian Initiative (C.H.I.) will be having a fundraiser at The Shrine nightclub this coming Monday. Performers in attendance will include J. Ivy, GLC, Phenom, Yaw, Khari Lemuel, Mikkey Halsted and DJ Lee Farmer. Frontline Magazine editor Marcus Kline and Zarakyah Ben Ahmadiel of The RBG Environmental Restoration Agency will also be there to speak and educate about the current state of Haiti. The event will be from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., on Jan. 25, at 2109 S. Wabash Avenue. Click here for details.

 

If you're not really the nightclub person but still want to help out, there will be a second event earlier Monday with The RBG Environmental Restoration Agency in Winnie Mandela Intergenerational Alternative School at 2:30 p.m., called Feeding Haiti.

 

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The Sprite Step Off, Ludacris and Wale come to Chicago Jan. 23

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Promo flyer distributed courtesy of 360i

Update 3/20/2010: Click here to read about the Atlanta finals!

 

Have you seen the commercials about the Sprite Step Off, one of the self-proclaimed largest step show tournaments in history? I can't lie. I cheered when I received notice from Sprite that I got admission into this event. Watching step competitions was one of my favorite things to do after I transferred from Northern Michigan University to my alma mater Lincoln University.

 

Step shows were events that excited me since my elementary school days running home to see "A Different World," and it never wore off even through college--although I wasn't interested in pledging. But I sure do remember applauding for Freddie Brooks when she finally learned to step like Whitley Gilbert and watching Jaleesa Vinson represent for Gilbert Hall.

 

I first heard about the Sprite Step Off while interviewing marketing company Commonground's owners Ahmad Islam and Sherman Wright.

 

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Staying in shape, free fitness classes with Chicago Park District end Jan. 10

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Yoga pants are my favorite around-the-house attire.

If you're one of those people who is sitting around thinking, "I need to lose weight" or "I want to tone up," the Chicago Park District wants to help you out. I just found out yesterday that they are having free workout days at 66 Chicago Park District Fitness Centers. The last day to sign up for in-person registration is Sunday, Jan. 10.

 

I can't even count the number of hip hop and aerobics class I've been in--including hip hop, Video Vixen, lap dancing, belly dancing, pole dancing, hardcore hip hop, boxing, pilates, yoga, breaking (aka breakdancing) and weight training. I'm one of those folks who finds joy in working out, but considering I'm a freelance reporter, blogger, reviewer and transcription editor, it's hard to even get in the time to work out these days.

 

My idea of working out now is running from my car to my interviewee's location and trying to dodge Chicago cold sucker-punching me in the face. This fall and winter, I managed to not lose (or gain) any weight eating one or two meals a day even though I cut out fast food tremendously and never keep junk food in my home. (I'm not purposely avoiding meals, but I wake up around 3 p.m., and go to sleep around 6 a.m., so my eating clock is way off.) If you think being a vegetarian means you automatically lose weight, not likely. Exercise is still mandatory to stay in shape.

 

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Assist Her, Daughters of Donia and Lupe Fiasco Foundation create empowerment conference for teenage girls at Paul Robeson High School

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Ayesha Jaco

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Photo courtesy of Samantha Coleman

 

 

 

 

Chicago's south side Paul Robeson High School has developed quite the reputation lately for being labeled the school with one out of seven girls who are pregnant. But it turns out that the 115 Paul Robeson High School students reported as moms or moms-to-be aren't all moms, some are teenage fathers.

 

"Out of the 800 girls, 10 percent of those girls are in our program," Ms. Phillips, Parent Educator at Paul Robeson High School, said. "Eighty girls and we have about twenty-five guys that are in the program so that would bring our number to 115. That is [also] a combination of students that have given birth to their children already and students that are currently pregnant."

 

But the fact remains that there are still 115 teenage parents at the school and mentoring programs like the Lupe Fiasco Foundation, Daughters of Donia and Assist Her, Inc. have planned an event on Saturday, Dec. 5, to help change those statistics. The After I Met a Boy event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., on Sat., Dec. 5, at Paul Robeson High School on 6835 S. Normal Blvd.

 

Mentor group representatives Samantha Coleman, MA, LPC (the Executive Director of Assist Her, Inc.) and Ayesha Jaco (the co-founder of the Lupe Fiasco Foundation and the founder of Daughters of Donia) have created the After I Met a Boy empowerment conference focused on sexual education, prevention and mentoring for the ladies of Paul Robeson High School.

 

"I had heard about the high pregnancy rate at the school and a light bulb went off," said Jaco. "In lieu of the killings that have been going on and stats that came out last year--one in four girls between the ages of 14 and 21 have an STD--I was wondering what I could do to help."

 

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Chicago businesses celebrate upcoming release of 'The Princess and the Frog' with mother-daughter Princess Coronation Weekend

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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In this film publicity image released by Disney, Princess Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose, left, and Prince Naveen, voiced by Bruno Campos, are shown in a scene from the animated film, "The Princess and the Frog." (AP Photo/Disney)

On December 11, Walt Disney Animation Studios presents "The Princess and the Frog," and Diamonds & Lace EventScaping plans to honor more African-American princesses next Friday too with their Princess Coronation Weekend in Chicago.

 

"'The Princess and the Frog' was more or less the inspiration for the Princess Coronation Weekend," said Relana Johnson, co-owner of Diamonds & Lace EventScaping. "An affiliate of ours is handling the private screening of the film, and we felt that this was just too historical of an event to just limit it to the private screening. Everyone in the community is excited about it."

 

The film, "The Princess and the Frog," is about an African-American young lady named Tiana who meets a frog prince trying to become human again. Their chance encounter and a kiss lead them into the lively Louisiana bayous.

 

"The Disney princess franchise is a billion-dollar franchise, and for them to take note that the African-American buying power of women, children, parents, grandparents is worth giving us a princess that people in our community can identify with makes it a big deal," Johnson said.

 

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Pyramid Productions presents 'Crossed,' a play about Greek life effects (photo gallery and video incl.)

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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A A-likes reveal themselves to college crowd.

 

 

 

Pyramid Productions playwright Calvin Leroy King III presents "Crossed," a play about Black Greek life and the effects it has on a Greek pledge and his non-Greek friends and family. This play is being shown at the DuSable Museum of African-American History, 740 E. 56th Place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28.

 

Special thank you to Sheila Black (Production Specialist of "Crossed" and a superb intern I met while working at the Chicago Defender) for sharing some of her photos. 

 

Click here to read my review of this play.

Check out photos and video footage from the event below.

Gallery sneak peek (10 images):

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December 1 is World AIDS Day, How does this National STD Awareness Day effect you?

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Photo by Shamontiel, condom collection from BEHIV

A few days ago, I received a card in the mail from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. I've spoken to several college classes about safe sex and volunteered to help raise money for HIV/AIDS Awareness over the years, on top of writing "Round Trip," so this card caught my attention. On the front of the card, there's a red ribbon on the front of one of the buildings in the Chicago skyline. Underneath the skyline, it says "Imagine..." and "...our world without AIDS" is printed in the inside flap. Powerful card. And with your help on World AIDS Day and every other day of the year, we can all help fight this disease. 

 

World AIDS Day is around the corner on December 1, and worldwide there will be different locations honoring this important day. The CNA building in the loop honors this day with a red ribbon and the words "Fight AIDS" that is easily viewable from Lake Shore Drive. So what does this have to do with you?

 

On Friday, October 30, President Barack Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS CARE Act and stated, "there are still 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States and more than 56,000 new infections that occur every single year." While you may not be one of the 56,000 that currently have HIV/AIDS, fatal STDs such as this one can hit you or anyone around you at any point and time. This is why safe sex is so important in your sexual relationships.

 

And no safe sex is 100 percent. Even in a committed relationship, married people are also a growing number to find out that they have HIV/AIDS from a cheating partner. Even the Obamas got tested for HIV/AIDS to prove that it's okay to do so.

 

If you're interested in being tested and you live in the Chicago area, here are some commonly asked questions and answers about HIV/AIDS testing.

 

If I use condoms and birth control pills, why do I need to be tested?

Birth control pills do not prevent STDs. You must use a combination of both female or male condoms with birth control patches or pills if you want to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STDs at the same time. However, none of these contraceptives are 100 percent. There's also an issue with using the wrong type of condoms or putting condoms on incorrectly. Click here for condom wear tips.

 

I don't have health insurance, so how much do I have to pay for HIV/AIDS testing?

There are countless locations in the Illinois area that have free HIV/AIDS testing, including BEHIV. GetTestedChicago.com has a listing of free or low-cost HIV/AIDS testing areas in Chicago. Some HIV/AIDS testing centers will have a waiting period of 10 to 15 days while others, like BEHIV, will give you results within 10 to 15 minutes.

 

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McDonald's 76th Thanksgiving Day Parade on State Street is coming, are you?

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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On my way to Commonground's 40 Under 40 event, I met a friend at Macy's and decided to check out some new fragrances. On my way to Macy's at 111 N. State St., all I saw were signs everywhere about this Thanksgiving Day parade coming Thursday, Nov. 26.

 

The parade is from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and it'll include various bands, the McDonald's crew and undisclosed celebrities. The length of the parade will be from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street.

 

I don't know why I've never stopped through to see this parade even though this is the 76th anniversary parade of McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago. WGN-TV will be broadcasting the parade live. I think I'll check it out this year if it's not too cold. If you've been to the parade, did you enjoy yourself? Are you going this year?

~

 

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Photo Gallery: Commonground's 40 Under 40 Chicago Crain's List honoree reception, Chicago adventures

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

This past week, I was honored with interviewing two of Crain's 40 Under 40 professionals, Sherman Wright and Ahmad Islam from Commonground, a marketing agency that embraces multiculturalism. I think it's so respectable how they're building a bridge to encourage diversity where there was none. Other marketing companies are jumping on the bandwagon slowly but surely, but I knew about many of Commonground's products before I'd ever heard of Commonground so to find out that they'd achieved the honor of Crain's Chicago list for 2009 wasn't a surprise. I talked with these two entrepreneurs about social networking, diversity in marketing, their advertising and marketing background, and the economy.

 

And on Monday, Nov. 23, I was flattered to be invited to their 40 Under 40 Honoree Reception at a Chicago bar and restaurant called Clutch, located at 459 N. Ogden Avenue, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

 

 

 

Gallery sneak peek (28 images):

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KMT Health Food Store hosts first KMT health fair for 2009

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Free food was served at KMT Health Fair event.

KMT Health Food Store had their first KMT Health Fair from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, and quite a crowd turned out. After entering the health food store, located at 233 E. 75th St., the back was filled with people signing in, filling out free raffle tickets and guests had the opportunity to meet with different specialists for less than $5 and one for free.

 

Free food sat on a table on the left-hand side, including Tabouli, rice with lentils, salad with marinated vegetables, Barbara's cheese puffs, Mi-Del vanilla snaps and yogurt raisins.

 

Specialists at tonight's event included Yvette Magallón for chair massages, Fanta Celah for Reiki energy healing, Clairvoyant Center of Chicago for aura energy readings, Tru Heart Fit (Costellano) for movement training with C-bands and jungle gym lessons, David Jenkins for numerology readings, and Dr. Ceasar for Emotional Freedom and Stress Relief sessions.

 

After a brief numerology reading with David Jenkins, I headed upstairs for the Emotional Freedom and Stress Relief Sessions. I definitely understand why Dr. Ceasar was the one to hold these stress-free sessions because even when I mentioned how disorganized the sign-up process was (only Dr. Ceasar's class had a sign-up sheet at the front but the rest of the guests just had to hang around each specialist's room blocking the hallway and wait their turns), his response was, "Are you stressed?" I playfully rolled my eyes, but he still kept that same mellow tone. 

 

When another lady wanted to use her cell phone and blocked the gate in hopes that she could have her conversation and still attend the stress relief seminar, he simply walked her out of the gate while she tried to coax him into letting her finish her call, closed the gate and went about his session. No complaining. Just walked her out. I was amused. You weren't going to get this brotha excited.

 

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Illinois nonviolent prisoners released early this fall, will recidivism occur?

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Governor Pat Quinn will be releasing 62 of 1,000 nonviolent prison inmates this fall to save Illinois $5 million, according to Chicago Breaking News. The nonviolent inmates are drug offenders and those convicted of nonviolent property crimes, but homicide or sex offenders will not be released, according to CBS2. The freed inmates will have to report to their parole officers each month, and these 400 parole officers are also in charge of monitoring 30,000 adult and juvenile parolees total.

 

 

The Illinois Department of Corrections 2003 study revealed that property offenders represent 30 percent of the prison population and drug offenders represent a little under one-fourth of the population even though they have the highest percentages of sentences imposed (38.5 percent imposed, 41.5 admissions and 43.1 released). If majority of the prison population are violent criminals and none of these criminals are being released, I can see why this decision was being made. I don't have a problem with it.

 

What I am concerned about is the current unemployment rate in Illinois. According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois unemployment skyrocketed to 10.2 percent leaving 15.7 million people unemployed.  If these unemployed people are fighting to find new jobs, I wonder whether newly released prisoners will hurt their chances. Probably not considering the hoops that ex-cons have to go through in order to find a job.

 

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Chicago's The New 400 Theater releases Michael Jackson's 'This Is It' but crowd numbers are mediocre

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Shamontiel thinking she's "bad" (R.I.P. MJ)

I kept hearing the buzz about Michael Jackson's "This Is It," and initially I was not going to see the film. It seemed like a way for other people to get rich instead of honoring the King of Pop's final footage after 10 years of being silent. But The New 400 Theater (located at 6746 N. Sheridan in Chicago's Rogers Park) had the film, and oftentimes I have to go to more expensive and bigger theaters to see the mainstream films. Free popcorn Tuesdays. Evening films are only $7.50, and the first release was tonight at 11:00 p.m. How could I miss out on a deal like that?

 

I bought my ticket as soon as the theater opened today at 4:30 p.m. to beat the crowd and left an hour early to get a good parking spot in the Rogers Park area, where parking spots after 7:00 p.m. are almost pointless. I got my free popcorn and munched on it in my car before "This Is It" started, but when I went back inside, there was only a small crowd. I thought that was so strange because friends and family were telling me "This Was It" was sold out at theaters around them. I figured I was going to have to fight for a seat, but there were full rows with no one in them. What gives? Did others have the same suspicious beliefs I originally did about not supporting a film trying to get rich off of MJ's legacy, were you as surprised as I was that the film made it to The New 400 Theater, or did you just not want to go on a weeknight?

 

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Diamonds & Lace EventScaping presents The Makeup Bar of Chicago's official launch party

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Relana, co-owner of Diamonds & Lace EventScaping

 

If you're a fan of BRAVO's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," then you probably know about Atlanta's Makeup Bar parties with women being photographed and socializing while getting makeovers. Chicagoans will get to experience these "Girls Night In" events with The Makeup Bar of Chicago's official launch party on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Makeup Bar of Chicago will be located at the Dream Boutique Lounge at 1750 N. Clark.

 

"I saw ["The Real Housewives of Atlanta"], and I loved the concept," said Relana Johnson, the Creative Director and co-owner of a Chicago wedding planning company called Diamonds & Lace EventScaping. "I saw that there were lots of inquiries about it. As an entrepreneur, I saw that this could be something fantastic to bring to Chicago instead of us being the ones that get the trend last."

 

Similar to the "The Real Housewives of Atlanta's" third episode of season one, women will get makeovers, take photographs and liquor will be served. However, The Makeup Bar of Chicago adds some unique activities to the event. Diamonds & Lace's event will include eight or nine licensed professional makeup artists, two or three photographers, a chocolate martini sampler provider and wine tasting provider, a tarot card reader, a "resident eyelash diva" and one henna hand artist. Other entertainment will include complimentary mini-makeup applications; a body art fashion show; samba, burlesque and Caribbean dance performances from Sensuality Training for Good Gyrrls; and complimentary appetizers. The Dream Boutique Lounge has a full bar and restaurant. Valet parking will also be provided.

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Soul Vegetarian Restaurant creates Feed the People Program campaign for 350's Oct. 24 International Day of Climate Action

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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BBQ delight, vegetarian macaroni and cheese, collard greens from Soul Vegetarian Restaurant

On Saturday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m., the Feed the People Program campaign will be visiting Higgins Grammar School on 11710 S. Morgan St., on Chicago's South Side. The purpose of the event is threefold--to promote veganism by distributing free, hot vegan meals; to encourage anti-violence from dietary consumption; and to bring awareness to the environmental crisis. October 24 is also 350.org's International Day of Climate Action, with 181 countries creating 4,500 events bringing environmental awareness.

 

The South Side Chicago campaign with Soul Vegetarian Restaurant was created by Zarakyah Ben Ahmadiel, Chairman of RBG (Red, Black, Green) Environmental Restoration Agency, with the help of Soul Vegetarian Restaurant and the Office of Environmental Affairs for the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. Soul Vegetarian Restaurant is located at 205 E. 75th St.

 

Special appearances and performances include GOOD Music's Grammy Award winning artists Malik Yusef and J. Ivy, Chicago emcee Mikkey Halsted, music by Soul Selector DJ Lee Farmer and other poets, singers and music professionals. Ahmadiel and Fred Hampton Jr., the Chairman of Prisoners of Consciousness Committee, will be at the location supporting veganism, but there will be no speeches.

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Halloween Spirit: Six Flags Fright Fest Slideshow, Halloween fragrance party, creating fake wounds and more

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

Are you ready for Halloween? Six Flags Great America and Halloween enthusiast Message from Montie are helping Halloween lovers get into the creepy spirit of October 31. Check out this Six Flags Fright Fest slideshow and quick links for details on getting your Halloween into gear.

 

Gallery sneak peek (32 images):

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Robin Thicke will visit Chicago on Oct. 28 to introduce 'Sex Therapy' and Hugo Boss Element cologne

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Robin Thicke at Chicago's Rednofive

Robin Thicke fans, are you ready to meet him? Mr. "Complicated" and "Lost Without You" R&B artist extraordinaire will be visiting Macy's in Chicago, IL on Oct. 28.

 

If you're one of the first 150 customers to purchase Hugo Boss Element men's fragrance for $65 at Macy's (starting from store opening), you'll get the chance to meet Robin Thicke and get an autographed copy of his new single, "Sex Therapy" from his upcoming album, also called "Sex Therapy." He'll also be performing a couple of songs if time permits.

 

Location Information:
Wednesday, October 28, 12pm
Macy's State Street - Fragrance Arcade
111
North State Street
Chicago, IL 60602

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Gurnee's Six Flags Great America celebrates Halloween and Michael Jackson at 2009 Fright Fest with B96 deejay Jerzy

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Photo courtesy of Six Flags Great America

Halloween is coming. Why not scare yourself silly and drop 147 feet on the American Eagle, speed through six 160-degree turns or have random "dead" people jumping out at you at Six Flags Great America? Chicago is already giving Illinoisans the gloomy weather for nearby Gurnee, IL's Six Flags location, but don't let the cold weather stop you. The water park is closed, but the rides are still zooming like crazy. Over 75 rides (including 13 roller coasters, 35 kids' rides and 22 family ride in addition to other water rides), two haunted houses, two "scare-thru areas" and the "Thrill the World" Michael Jackson tribute with thousands of people re-enacting the "Thriller" scene sounds like a lot of fun.

 

Brooke Gabbert, Six Flags' Director of Communications, took time out to talk to ChicagoNow.com blogger Message from Montie about how Chicago's B96 deejay Jerzy is handling living in the Sky Trek Tower (since Oct. 10) until the Raging Bull gets 1.5 million riders, what's new this year for the Fright Fest and why people should spend their weekends at Six Flags.

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Pres. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, but where's the peace?

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Me on the Magnificent Mile headed across the street to Grant Park

On Friday morning, Oct. 9, I was working on a financial project downtown when I heard the news from my mother about President Obama winning a Nobel Peace Prize. My first reaction was to ask aloud, "What for?" Up until this week, I'd never really paid attention to the rules and regulations of nominating or winning the prize, but after looking at the Nobel Peace Prize Web site, I'm still perplexed as to why Obama won. Prizes are given out for scientific (physics, chemistry, medicine); literary; and peaceful accomplishments.

 

According to the Web site, "Each year the respective Nobel Committees send individual invitations to thousands of members of academies, university professors, scientists from numerous countries, previous Nobel Laureates, members of parliamentary assemblies and others, asking them to submit candidates for the Nobel Prizes for the coming year." And if I was on that committee, there's no way I would have voted for him at this time. While Obama does make most Liberals and Democrats and some Republicans feel like we've gotten out of the George W. Bush catastrophe, Obama hasn't really done anything yet that deserves recognition in his presidential term.

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Music group The Myriad partners with HSUS to promote animal rights

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Souvenirs for The Myriad

 Before this week, I had no idea who The Myriad was. Outside of Aerosmith, Roisin Murphy, Ace of Base and Marilyn Manson, I'm pretty much an R&B and hip hop lover, but when the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) told me about The Myriad's concert to bring awareness to animal cruelty, I looked this group up. The Myriad has accomplished some outstanding things, including earning MTV's 2008 Artist of the Week and MTV2's 2007 Dew Circuit Breakout competition, and their 2008 album, "With Arrows, With Poise" was a number 13 debut on the Billboard Heatseekers , in addition to being a top 40 album on iTunes.

 

Music artists Tyrone Wells and Matt Hires also teamed up for a Fall 2009 tour with HSUS's faith outreach program around the country to talk about animal rights activism. They hit up Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Lakeshore Theater, located at 3175 N. Broadway St.

 

The songs were pretty good, and I shook my head at the creepy story they told about a band member who slept in the basement of what was believed to be a haunted house. Now they can't find him. (Timing is everything, I guess, since Halloween is around the corner.) During a break between songs, the audience found out that the drummer had a major medical issue before The Myriad went on tour, but his doctor agreed to let him travel anyway. I'd like to thank the drummer's doctor because I was completely impressed by the drummer's funk and skill playing his instrument. On top of that, for the intensity of his health issues, I give him the utmost respect for even agreeing to go on tour.

 

Wells and The Myriad performed between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., a video for the HSUS and the Myriad played and audience members were asked to text message to a certain number in order to win a free shirt.

 

 





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Hundreds of veggie friendly Chicagoans celebrated Chicago VeganMania

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Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

 
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Line circles around waiting for Soul Vegetarian East food to deliver second batch

I've been a vegetarian for four years and I was a pescatarian for one year, but it still boggles my mind when I go to vegetarian or vegan events and see massive amounts of people who eat like me, maybe because we're only about 2.5 percent of the population. It's not like I think I'm the only one who's a vegetarian, but when you hang out with omnivores all the time who have no interest in vegan food, a food connection is a relief. However, when I arrived at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse at 9:45 a.m., and saw a line around the corner and past 1419 W. Blackhawk, I was shocked.

 

People of all ages, races and sizes came out for the Chicago VeganMania event, and I heard one lady bragging about how she was there and her friend was not, and how she needed to come asap before the doors even opened. A couple was kissing to create body heat, and loads of people had on their knit hats, coats and even scarves just to keep warm, another reason I didn't expect such a turnout. When the doors did open at 10:00 a.m., it took me until 10:18 a.m. to get inside in 40-something degree weather. Word of advice next year: Treat Chicago VeganMania like a music concert and arrive extra early.

 

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Chicago Public high school fight brings back memories of past rival high school incident, CTA hero

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Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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As much as I wish Chicago Tribune reporters Azam Ahmed, Kristen Mack and Annie Sweeney didn't have to report on stories like "Fenger kids tell why they fight" and that the Derrion Albert murder hadn't occurred altogether, I think it's a step in the right direction to let these kids speak up. This article gave these kids the opportunity to tell their side instead of the police brushing it off as "gang related." Fenger student Vashion Bullock's question, "How many times you want me to walk away? We've been running for so long and we're tired of running" struck a chord. But it was one sentence on the second page that really brought back my own high school memories: "Since Albert never claimed loyalty to either side, no one was sure with whom he was fighting, witnesses said."

 

And that's what I hope those who keep criticizing these kids understand. Although this particular fight was apparently neighborhood-related instead of gang-related, there are many similarities in attitudes. People join cliques (or gangs) for various reasons, and not all of them are these dangerous, crime-hungry children. I have known countless young men in my childhood and teenage years who joined for survival. They were tired of running home from gangs everyday. They were tired of being pulled out of cars and vans when sitting quietly trying to hide from the brothas on the corner. They were tired of being scared to go to school. And although they would complain to the principals, their teachers, their parents and family friends, these people could not be around them every single moment of the day. That's where the police come in, and oftentimes, once you left school grounds, you were on your own.

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Chicago's VeganMania celebrates all things vegan on Oct. 10

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Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Image courtesy of EarthSave Chicago

Vegans, vegan food lovers and environmentalists will unite on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., for EarthSave Chicago's VeganMania event.

 

The event will be in the four largest rooms of the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, located at 1419 W. Blackhawk. Chicago VeganMania will have a vegan fashion show, an art show, children's crafts, live bands and dancers, deejays and numerous speakers, including Caryn Hartglass (EarthSave International); Nathan Runkle (Mercy for Animals); Dr. Will Tuttle (author of "The World Peace Diet"); Mr. Michael Greger (Humane Society of the United States) and a workshop with Rae Sikora and JC Corcoran (Plant Peace Daily).

 

There will be pre-teen alternative rock, cabaret-style belly dancing, acoustic folk music, electronica, high energy dance and funk rock from performers Circular Convention, Deserae, Bryan Harrell, dreamlogicc, SPUNN, Darmata, DJ veganinblack, Peter Propaganda and Scarylady Sarah.

 

And best of all will be the vegan food, in addition to the 40 vendors.

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Figgy presents 'Let's Create New Media in Chicago' event

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Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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James Gustin, owner of Figgy, mimicks a model in the photograph behind him

 

I lived in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood for three years, passed the building that housed Figgy just about weekly, and never once did I peek in to see what the company was about. So when I heard about the networking event tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., curiosity brought me to the mysterious company underneath the Granville Red Line station. Tuesday's event had small business owners, entrepreneurs, media content creators, ad agency representatives, writers, photographers, video editors, image editing specialists and local entertainers. It was the type of event that temporary agencies would've drooled over because of all the fresh and hungry talent networking with other like-minded individuals.

 

The "Let's Create New Media in Chicago" event was thrown courtesy of 15-year-old company, Figgy, and I volunteered to be one of the registration people primarily to meet the talent as soon as they entered the gate. They were ready to mingle, party, eat and drink, but most of all, they wanted to know what everybody else there did in their specialty area. It was a networking event without the drawn-out speeches, PowerPoint presentations and lecture halls.  

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August Wilson's 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' play is deja vu for 2009

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Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Photo credit: Michael Brosilow

August Wilson's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" play, the only play that Wilson created to be set on the South Side of Chicago, is running from Sept. 17-Oct. 18. The press opening was Sunday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m., and there wasn't an empty seat in Hyde Park's Court Theatre, located at 5535 S. Ellis Ave.

 

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" play is set in the 1920s and revolves around Ma Rainey and her blues band. According to the press release, the original "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" opened on Broadway on Oct. 11, 1984, received the 1985 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play and Tony Award nominations for Best Play, Best Actor and Best Actress. The play was named for a real-life blues singer named Ma Rainey who recorded music with jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, was nicknamed "The Mother of the Blues," and she was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

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Chicago's Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2009 was a success, Richie Cole turned it out

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Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Sometimes I do volunteer work and feel like a good Samaritan, but I don't leave feeling like I want to do it again. That is until today after I finished volunteering for the annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival. I was at the Hyde Park Union Church from 2:30 pm to 8:00 pm, and initially I wondered how jazz music was going to go down in a church, but it's not like it was some hardcore hip hop so I knew it'd be all right. And it definitely was. Folks lined up by the door, and one lady tried to rush in an hour before the doors opened to get a good seat but was turned back around. Considering I'd never been to the Hyde Park Jazz Festival before, I took that as my cue that it was going to be a serious turnout.

 

And when the first show started with Ari Brown at 3:30 pm, people came from everywhere (peacefully and well-mannered) through the doors. It was a full house for Everett Greene at 5:00 p.m., and the same went for my favorite group of the night at the Hyde Park Union Church--Richie Cole at 7:00 p.m.

  

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Chicago celebrates the UniverSoul Circus coming to Chitown

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Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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I used to say I didn't like the circus. Clowns freak me out. The threatening sound of whips make me think of animal cruelty. And circus music reminds me of horror flicks. My family has dragged me to quite a few circuses in my younger years (specifically my mother who has a bit of an obsession with elephants, and no, she's not a Delta Sigma Theta member). But I'd never been to the UniverSoul Circus before, and after leaving there tonight during opening night, Sept. 23, I can never say I don't like circuses again. The term "soul" is an understatement. UniverSoul Circus brings the funk, the rhythm, the heart and the love of music to the most outstanding circus I've ever seen in my life.

 

UniverSoul Circus was founded by Baltimore, Maryland native Cedric Walker. According to UniverSoulCircus.com, Walker and his brother Frank enjoyed circuses since they were little. Walker had an obvious love for the music industry considering he became a producer and stage manager for R&B group the Commodores, a promoter for the Jackson 5, organized a rap music tour called the Fresh Festival with rappers Run DMC, Salt n' Pepa and the Fat Boys, and he helped produce gospel plays "Wicked Ways" and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find."

 

And in 1994, Walker blended his love for music and the circus to create the family friendly UniverSoul Circus. Sixteen years later and it's still a hit.

 

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Chicago's Hyde Park Jazz Festival brings the melody this Saturday

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Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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There are three things I automatically do (in this order) when I'm frustrated or sad: clean, go to aerobics class or listen to jazz. However, I've also been accused of being obsessive compulsive, health conscious (I'm a
vegetarian too) and a music lover, so nobody really knows my mood when I do any of the above. And while cleaning or aerobics classes give me a temporary boost, jazz music usually keeps me in an easygoing mood all day. I played the alto saxophone and piano in my elementary and high school years so music has always been dear to me, although I suck at playing those instruments nowadays. But when the chance arose to volunteer for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival this Saturday, Sept. 26, I immediately signed up.
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