By Jonah Nink and Devin Kapusta

Despite county-wide shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of 911 calls received in Cook County in 2020 increased by 8 percent from 2019, according to data from the Cook County Emergency Telephone Systems Board.

January of 2020 for example saw 11,228 total 911 calls reported in Cook County, an increase of 1,227 calls from January 2019 which had 10,001 calls.

The trend upward shows no sign of stopping in 2021. March of 2021 saw 14,809 calls placed to dispatchers in Cook County, surpassing 2020’s peak in September, which had14,802 calls.

“Trust…

A total of 1,730 Chicagoans died of opioid-related overdoses in 2020, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner.

For context, that is almost double the amount of the city’s homicides and fatal traffic accidents combined.

Chicago’s rise in opioid deaths coincides with a nationwide spike in drug overdoses. The CDC reported last year that 80,000 people died of from drug within a 12 month reporting period ending in May 2020.

Overdose related deaths were already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, but experts have stated that the pandemic may has made the situation even more complex.

For example, the…

Dozens of restaurants and bars across Chicago have closed permanently as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The map represents only a handful of the Chicago restaurants closed during the pandemic. All map data courtesy of Do312.

According to Bloomberg, over 110,000 restaurants across the country have closed due to the pandemic. Nearly 90% of all full-service restaurants in the survey reported a decline in sales.

Closures were not specific to high-end lakeview taverns, or hole-in-the-wall burger joints. Restaurants of all types were among the pandemic’s many culinary causalities. …

Following years of steady growth since 2003, MLB player salaries appear to have stalled. According to Statista, the average MLB player salary has not seen a significant increase since 2016.

The five yearlong plateau in salaries could be attributed in part to the increase in expensive deals for specific high value players. New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole for example signed a $324 million contract with the Yankees during last year’s off-season. Higher pay for individual players can adversely affect the funds available for other players. …

As COVID-19 cases continue to fall and vaccinations become more available, It’s likely that many will celebrate the end of their long quarantine with a trip to their local craft brewery. Craft breweries are more abundant in some states over others however. Check out this graph below to see if your state makes the top ten.

Unsurprisingly the state with the most craft breweries is California, which boasts a whopping 518 breweries. This isn’t a surprise considering the state has the highest population in the country at 39.5 million people.

A high population however doesn’t guarantee an abundance of…

Poll workers in Chicago and Cook County adjust to the new changes in the 2020 Presidential Election due to Covid-19

By Jonah Nink and Fernando Mendez

The COVID-19 pandemic, which by late October of this year had surpassed 300,000 confirmed cases in Cook County alone, made Election Day unlike any other for those working at the polls.

Despite a surge in absentee and mail-in ballots, many Illinois voters still went to the polls to cast their ballots in person for early and election day voting. …

This year marks the 55th anniversary of The Beatle’s famous 1965 United States tour. Hot off the critical and commercial of their fifth studio album Help, the Beatles began what would become a record-breaking tour across the United States and Canada.

The tour began with a concert on August 15, 1965 with a show at New York City’s Shea Stadium. The show was attended by over 55,000 people, which was the largest audience ever at the time. The tour’s final performance was on August 31 at the Daly City Cow Palace.

The band was welcomed to each new stop by massive crowds of adoring fans, and the tour would go on to become one of the most successful in music history.

Following the tour’s completion, the Beatles would return to Abbey Road Studios to record their sixth studio album, Rubber Soul.

Writing and producing a feature-length video essay on the now infamous 2019 film adaption of the long-running Broadway musical Cats may seem like a cry for help to some, but to Lindsay Ellis, it’s just another day at the office. The Hugo Award-nominated media critic has made a living out of analyzing pop culture, whether it be through the many video essays on her popular YouTube channel, which has covered everything from Mel Brooks’s The Producers to Michael Bay’s Transformers, or as the host of PBS’s literature focused-web series “It’s Lit!”

It’s this keen grasp of media analysis that inspired…

Photo by Justin Hoch.

Director Derrick Borte’s visceral new drama American Dreamer focuses on a day in the life of Cam, a former office worker turned downtrodden rideshare driver. When he’s not being ignored by his passengers or getting stiffed on tips, Cam moonlights as a chauffeur for Mazz, a hotheaded drug dealer with a knack for pointing handguns at people’s faces. Out of options and desperate for cash, Cam decides to kidnap Mazz’s young son in a last ditch effort to pull himself out of his debts.

Did I mention that Cam is played by comedian Jim Gaffigan? While he may be more…

Photo courtesy of Alec Basse, Bloodshot Records.

Listening to ROOKIE’s new self-titled debut album, which is now available on all platforms, is like sneaking a look through your dad’s old vinyl collection on a Sunday evening after he’s fallen asleep on the couch watching Back to the Future, and I mean that in the best possible way. The Chicago-based rock group’s songs sound refreshingly new and original while simultaneously feeling like they would be right at home lovingly tucked in between a couple of Bob Seger and Allman Brothers records.

Max Loebman, guitarist and vocalist for ROOKIE, explains that mutual love for the classics helped to bring…

Jonah Nink

Pop Culture journalist and comedy writer based in Chicago, Illinois. Bylines include The Hard Times/Hard Drive, The Chicago Machine and UIC Radio.

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