Throwback Thursday: WGN and WTTW Hijacked by Max Headroom

Introduced in 1984, Max Headroom is a fictional AI character as the Worlds 1st Computer Generated TV Host, who was portrayed by Matt Frewer; chosen for his improvisation skills. The character originally appeared in the British cyber punk film Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future, with a background story coming from a dystopian near-future dominated by television and large corporations. He was known for his wittiness and his stuttered, distorted electronic voice and was intended as a satire of disingenuous and vainglorious TV personalities. One of his creators, Rocky Morton, describes him as a “very sterile, arrogant, Western personification of the middle-class, male TV host” as well as “media-wise and gleefully disrespectful.” He would also be referenced in pop culture by directors and artists, like in Eminem portrayal in the RAP GOD music video.

On Saturday Nov. 22 1987 Max Headroom would make a reference that was all too real! During the evening hours in Chicago, at two separate times, a couple of television stations would be hijacked. At 9pm during the sports cast segment on WGN 9 News, for about 25 seconds an unknown man sporting a Max Headroom helmet and sunglasses took over the broadcast signal, fit with a rotating background. Then again around 11pm during the Doctor Who serial Horror of Fang Rock on WTTW Channel 11 he appears again this time ending with a slap to a naked puppet butt with a fly swatter. The unknown hijacker was only able to achieve this by gaining a close proximity to WGN’s transmitter located on the Hancock Tower with his own transmitter. The culprits never caught or identified.

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Throwback Thursday: Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony In C” Premieres in Chicago.

Today in 1940 on the 7th of November Igor Stravinsky had his famous SYMPHONY IN C premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall.

Igor Stravinsky, born June 18th 1882 in Oranienbaum, Russia and died on April 6th, 1971 New York City. Stravinsky’s recognition first arrived because of his ballet scores such as PETRUSHKA, THE FIREBIRD and RITE OF SPRING. But in 1920 he took up composing orchestras, namely “SYMPHONIES OF WIND INSTRUMENTS” and was later commissioned (reportedly $2,500) by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss and Mr. John Alden Carpenter to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the 1940-41 season.

SYMPHONY IN C consists of three flutes and a piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, and strings. Performance time is approximately twenty-eight minutes. During the time of its composition Stravinsky went through the most horrific times of his life. His daughter Ludmilla passed away from Tuberculosis, his wife Catherine and his mother also passed on from tuberculosis within three months that same year. To say that SYMPHONY IN C was the only thing keeping Igor Stravinsky alive and composing during that period, is no exaggeration.

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Throwback Thursday: When Chicago Ruled Baseball

It would be 1906 when Chicago gets their first play in the World Series of baseball. It is Chicago’s game in every sense of the word since the teams versing each other are exclusive to the city. The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox face off in what is a first championship series for both teams. What would end with the White Sox defeating the Cubs in game 6, would start a cross town rivalry unmatched by any other!

There are a few more significances to this game aside from being our cities first championship. For the Cubs it will be the first of 3 games in a row and while the White Sox returned later in 1917, the Cubs fail to win the championship, famously, for well over 100 years. During the series, the first 5 games of, for the first time had the road team take the win. This would not be duplicated again until 1996, exactly 90 years later. Finally, being early in the baseball history, the games were held at both West Side Grounds and South Side Park, before Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park became home to each team.

West Side Grounds

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Throwback Thursday: Da Bears Play First NFL Game As Decatur Staley’s

The organization that well all know today as the Chicago Bears first starts out as one of the first official teams of the NFL. However neither the NFL or the Bears were known as such at the time. The team was originally conceived by the A. E. Staley food starch company in Decatur, Illinois as a company team. The company hired George Halas and Edward “Dutch” Sternaman in 1920 to run the team, turning over full control to them in 1921.

On September 17, 1920, representatives from 13 teams, including Halas team reps, met in Canton, Ohio to create a new football league. The intention was to “raise the standard of professional football in every way possible.” In regards to ticket sales, crowning a yearly champion, scheduling and eliminating bidding of players between rival teams, they decided to form the American Professional Football Association. Consisting of 14 teams, the Decatur Staleys (now Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) are the only remaining original teams from the APFA.

On October 3, 1920 the Decatur Staley’s begin to play for their first official league game, taking on the Moline Univeral Tractors followed by the Kewanee Walworths. However since these first two teams were non APFA, the Staley’s first league game is attributed to their win against the Rock Island Independants, an official APFA team, on Oct. 17. In 1921, A. E. Staley recognized the potential of the Staley’s and moved them to Chicago to play in Wrigley Field for larger audiences. At the end of the 1921-22 season, the team decided to change their names. Since playing in the same field as the Cubs they argued, tongue in cheek, that football players were much larger and appropriately named the team Chicago Bears. On June 24, 1922 the APFA changed its name to the National Football Association.

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Throwback Thursday: Radcliff Music’s Drops Get Around

June 25th 2018, Anthony Radcliff aka Radcliff Music, dropped the visual to his single GET AROUND. This is a significant project from Radcliff because it’s good to see the veteran free styler spit bars in Central Park! The string of rhymes that stand out the most is, “You n***as phony, finesse the system looking like a fraud, and I’m just in there, we ain’t sipping tea like the frog, no kermit, you could play the bench like McDermott!” If you’re not familiar with Radcliff Music, start with this visual and then go through his catalog! He has quite a lot of work with over seven tapes of music fully distributed and much performance footage and music videos to be found on his YouTube channel.

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Throwback Thursday: Great Chicago Fire Destroys Emancipation Proclamation & 4 Square Miles

It was a pivotal event in Chicago’s history. One of our more destructive events bearing a silver lining. A fire that burned down nearly a whole city, paving the way to produce one of Americas greatest modern day metropolises. This month on October in 1871, the Great Chicago Fire burns through 4 square miles for 3 days straight, marking the beginning of a city reborn.

More than two thirds of the structures in Chicago were made entirely of wood. Even the side walks and roads were made of wood. To top it off Chicago only received 1 inch of rain that summer, causing a severe drought beforehand. Southwest winds help carry burning embers throughout. The Chicago Fire Department only had 185 firefighters and 17 horse drawn steam engines to protect the city. In the aftermath after the fires were extinguished on Oct. 10, 120 bodies were recovered, 300 total estimated fatalities and $222 million in property was destroyed: a third of the cities worth in that year. One in 3 residents were left homeless. Even the original manuscript of President Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation was destroyed.

There are many theories speculating the start of the great fire however no official suspect or arrest to a conclusion was made. Four of the most popular theories would be that one: pieces of Biela’s comet broke up over the Midwest, sparking fires not only in Chicago but in Michigan and Wisconsin, marking the nations most deadly fire in the same week of Chicago’s. People reported seeing blue flames and other fire from the sky, however unlikely as comets do not start fires normally.

A second and most plausible theory would come through a confession. Businessman and gambler Louis M. Cohn, 18 at the time of the blaze, admitted to accidentally starting the fire after playing craps in Mrs. O’Leary’s barn with her son and friends. When Mrs. O’Leary finds and chases them all out, they knockover the lantern which started the blaze. Cohn states to have paused long enough during their flight to grab money he dropped on the floor.

Of course the most popular theory suggests the fire started in Mrs. O’Leary’s barn as she milked her cow and it knocked over a lantern igniting the blaze. This story spread faster than the flames it seemed as it circulated around the city before the fire ever even burnt out. Mrs. O’Leary denies the allegation, stating she was sleeping before the fire started. But the story was too popular that even when Michael Ahern, the reporter that published the theory in Chicago Tribune, confessed to fabricating the story. Mrs. O’Leary still faced scrutiny.

Another theory claims Daniel “Pegleg” Sullivan, who first reported the fire, may have ignited the flames while he was trying to steal some milk. In his report he claimed to have seen fire coming from the side of the barn and he ran across Dekoven street, where the fire first started, to free the animals inside. Despite inconsistencies in the claim, Mrs. O’Leary was exonerated of the allegations in 1997 and the actions of Sullivan now take the scrutiny instead.

Following the fire monetary donations were flowing into Chicago from the rest of the country and abroad. New York, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Buffalo, Scotland and even the Common Council of London donated funds along with surrounding cities with basic needs and essentials. With the city under need for new development, industrialization flourishes and the city expands rapidly. New expansion efforts gives opportunity for Chicago to be home to the worlds first skyscrapers, the nations first non-exhibition rapid transit system powered by electric traction motors and the Worlds Columbian Exposition and Worlds Fair. Today the only surviving buildings from the fire includes St. Michaels Church in Old Town, Chicago’s Water Tower, Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, Police Constable Bellinger’s cottage at 2121 N. Hudson and a house on Fullerton and Cleveland.

Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station
Panorama View of Chicago Fire Aftermath

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Throwback Thursday: The Opening Of Wrigley Field

It is well known that Wrigley Field is one of the oldest stadiums in all of a American sports. However what is probably a little less known is that Wrigley Field was not originally intended for the Cubs. Wrigley Field first opened its doors in 1914 when it was called Weeghman Park.

The area occupied by the stadium was originally settled by the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary. Surrounding it was Eliza Hall, the presidents house, St. Marks Church and other buildings. Early as 1905 rumors of the minor league American Association planned to franchise in Chicago. With the Sox on the south side and the Cubs in the west at West Side Park, the Northside was ideal. After construction of the first elevated train lines leading to thr northside, the Lutheran seminary abandonned their expansion projects seeking quieter environments and sold their property to AA owners.

The presidents house (right) is near location to to the present day Wrigley Scoreboard and centerfield bleachers. Eliza Hall (center) locates todays left field bleachers.

As the AA owners failed to capitlize on their efforts to franchise, Charles Weeghman aquired a 90 year lease on the land. He built Weegham Park soon after for the Chicago Whales, the baseball team he owned. However the Federal Baseball League folded at the end of the 1915 season as well. The Chicago Cubs started playing at the stadium the very next season.

In 1920 the stadium was renamed to Cubs Park. A year later in 1921 William Wrigley Jr. took complete control of ownership of the Cubs. Soon after he would rename the field to its current namesake, Wrigley Field, in 1927.

During the stadium’s first season under the rebranding over 1 million fans flocked to Wrigley to watch the Cubs play. The franchise became the first National League team to ever achieve that feat. Making this fest all the more impressive was the fact that the upper deck was not even finished at that point. In 1929, the Cubs put together one of the best batting lineups in baseball history and attendance rose to over 1.5 million as a result. For the next 17 seasons, that stood as a record.

Many years and many renovations later Wrigley Field still stands loud and proud as the home of Chicago Cubs baseball. Though it does not have quite the same look as it did in the 20’s and 30’s, it indeed has never lost its charm as one of America’s most iconic sports venues. That it shall remain for many years to come.

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Throwback Thursday: Chicago Becomes Incorporated

Considering the fact that Chicago boasts a present day population of over 2.7 million people, it is hard to believe that there was a time where it was nothing more than a tiny village. However such a time does exist on the historical record. On August 12, 1833, Chicago became incorporated for the first time as a Town. Sporting a population of just 350 people back then, the Windy City covered less than half of a square mile confined by Kinzie Street, Des Plaines Street, Madison Street and State Street.

Rare view looking west on South Water Street possibly in the 1830s. Hogan’s store was at South Water and Market Streets, while Wolf Point Tavern can be seen in the distance.
From a painting owned by the Chicago History Museum

It was during the years after its incorporation where Chicago’s population truly started to blossom. By 1837, Chicago’s population had exploded to over 4,000 people. It was the 92nd-largest city in the United States and it was only getting bigger as schools, churches and businesses were popping up everywhere. One of the other reasons Chicago’s population expanded at such a fast rate is its newfound prominence as a transportation hub. The Illinois and Michigan Canal came to fruition in 1848, making it possible for ships carrying consumer goods to pass through Chicago from the Great Lakes en route to the Mississippi River.

Despite the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago only kept growing. By 1890 it was the second largest city in the country, following New York, even after most of the city had to be rebuilt because of the fire. Coming from such humble beginnings, Chicago has always been known for its grit and resilience. It does not hold the flashiness of say New York or LA — but it has a certain edge to it in the sense that it can face anything that stands in its way, and will always come out on top. I would not count on that changing anytime soon.

Chicago Traffic 1833, Wolf Point
Wolf Point Tavern (Left) Millers Tavern (Right)

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Chicago to Woodstock: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

This last weekend in the year 1969 saw one of the greatest gatherings of human beings in the expression of music, freedom and love in the history of our country. Woodstock ’69 was four days of non stop music performance and $1 lysergic acid tabs hitting the bloodstream, causing the mass consciousness in the audience to experience the stars of that era in unforgettable fashion. A time spent with the likes of Carlos Santana, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and many more icons.

There are some wildly unorganized aspects of the festival setup Woodstock the Netflix Documentary brought to light. The curators had major problems with the neighboring towns-folk being against the festival. It was also put together last minute; the stage was not completed until the first actual day of the festival when 50,000 people were already there. Not enough people to set up a fencing perimeter in time caused the biggest free music event, as the masses poured into the field. With food shortages half way in and medical supplies running out, National Guard troops were threatening a takeover. Regardless of all of that, Woodstock has gone down as one of the most unifying moments in music history as the towns people donated food and the guard delivered supplies.

Looking back on events in music history in relation to Chicago, on the 16th of August, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played in our great gritty city at the Auditorium Theater. The very next day they played Woodstock, Sunday August 17th in up state New York. Knowing that every single artist and band member had to be flown in via helicopter it is safe to assume the folk rock quartet flew to Woodstock from Chicago. Now adding more significance to night they played the Auditorium Theater in Chicago before Woodstock the very next day, it was their first performance with the singer songwriter Neil Young added to the super group! Joni Mitchell was their opener and Crosby, Stills, and Nash had just released their debut record of that May, 1969.

So to think about how life can just fall into place at a speed faster than light. The aforementioned example displays that I believe. A trio drops a record in May, becomes a quartet in August, plays Woodstock the day after adding a new member. From Chicago to Woodstock with love, 1969.

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Throwback Thursday: Chicago Is Planned & Recognized

August 4th, 1830 is a day regarded by Historians in Illinois as the day Chicago was recognized. Given Chicago’s location by the Great Lakes, financiers looked at the land as an opportunity for a transportation hub. The Illinois legislature appointed James Thompson to survey and plat the town which had a population of about 100 people. He laid out the town for Canal Commissioners in preparation for the sale of lots to finance a proposed Illinois and Michigan Canal; its first sales on Sept. 4, 1830. The filing of the plans marked the first recognition of the municipality of Chicago.

James Thompson plat of Chicago

Originally the area was inhabited by native Algonquian people including the Mascouten and Miami. The name Chicago came from a French version of the native word Shikaakwa, or Stinky Onion, due to wild garlic growing abundandlty in the area. The first known reference of the area of Chicago came in a memoir from 1679 by Robert De LaSalle, noting the abundance of Chicagoua. Chicago’s first permanent, non-native settler is a black man that goes by the name of Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable and regarded as the founder of Chicago. The farm he built at the mouth of the Chicago River near Lake Michigan is now a national historical landmark at what is now 401 N Michigan Ave, Pioneer Court.

On August 12th, 1833 the Town of Chicago was established with a population of 350. One year later the first Schooner named the Illinois from New York enters the harbor, marking Great Lakes trade relationship between the two booming cities. Rich farmlands attracted many Yankee settlers that overnight created a city through real estate and trade. The city quickly grew demanding warehouse, rails and dock yards to be built for transportation and trade. By 1850’s over 30 rail lines entered the city making Chicago the transportation hub of the United States. Chicago was granted a city charter by the state of Illinois on March 4, 1837 and the city of Chicago was born with over 4,000 to its population.

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