Posts Tagged ‘NeighborSpace’

Too hot for soup

June 5, 2010

Gone to play BINGO.

Bingo x 2 weeks

August 16, 2009


I was camping in the mud of the beautiful Black Hills last week, but I hear that Brian Costello packed the place on August 5. If it was anything like this week’s bingo, I can only imagine. Though this week there were no Tito’s girls. (Yikes.)

I was halfway to South Dakota on the 5th when I got a call from an editor at Metromix asking if she could send a photographer over to shoot some bingo action. The resulting photo illustrated a story on “eco-friendly events” that ran this past Monday online and in the RedEye. And this week we were visited by a video crew from the citizen journalism site BBN3, where, apparently, someone had posted bingo night as a suggested story idea.

If you had told me two months ago that Veggie Bingo would have this kind of media traction I would have laughed in your face. Never understimate the power of beer and a little “green” branding, I suppose.


Caller David Wilcox (who is not this David Wilcox) acquitted himself admirably, going so far as to buy a special hat for the occasion. Booyah!


We had an unprecedented three-way tie for the grand prize, so I guess we should be thankful for all that leftover Tito’s. David asked each winner which they liked better, vodka or vegetables, and the results were happily clear-cut. As David wrapped it up, “There you go, folks! Two lushes and a healthy person.”


Multiple wins seemed to be in the, um, cards this week — as we also  had a FIVE-WAY tie on an earlier game. This was a new one. We just gave everybody a prize (bingo=T-ball for grownups) but if this happens again we’re gonna have to come up with some sort of tiebreaker, or we’re going to run out of hot sauce.


Of course nothing says “happy birthday” like a nice round of bingo, so we were thrilled that Helen (above)  chose to celebrate her birthday with us. While she didn’t win, David did have her son Tommy up to the stage to say happy birthday and call a few numbers. He was super cute, and very into the spotlight. We may have to give him his own night.


Meanwhile, her husband got waaay too into cutting the cake. Scary cake!

And, that’s about it. Next week (really, this week, since I’m so late in getting this up) Mucca Pazza‘s Jeff Thomas steps in as caller, replacing Anastasia, who had to go out of town. Jeff is threatening to bring a piano player.

As ever, thanks to Fresh Picks and NeighborSpace — and especially Andrew Dribin, who took a bunch of pictures for me this week and helped faciliate things for the surprise video shoot when I was stuck behind the bar. 

And see you this Wednesday. I promise to have bought some new cards by then. Those disposables are getting kind of mangy.


Get on the garden bus

July 30, 2009


Our partners at NeighborSpace have organized a free bus tour of local community gardens this weekend — and there are about ten spots left. More details are below; if you want to ride along email NeighborSpace director Ben Helphand. First come, first served.

Little Emeralds: A guided tour of Chicago’s community gardens 

Come enjoy a free guided tour of some of Chicago’s beautiful community gardens, presented to you by Chicago Park District, Parkways Foundation, and Neighborspace, Chicago’s nonprofit land trust for community gardens. Stops include El Yunque, Campbell Coop and El Coqui Gardens in Humboldt Park; Commercial, Dean and Wicker Parks; and Greenhouse and Frankie Machine Gardens in Ukrainian Village. All ages welcome. Light snacks provided.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

10:00am – 12:30pm

Meet outside the Wicker Park fieldhouse, 1425 N. Damen

RSVP: 312-742-4906 or

Everyone’s a winner

July 30, 2009

gnat and tyler

Despite the occasionally testy crowd — which grew increasingly adamant in its cries for “NO “Ns!” — Tyler, with a little help from Nat, went for EIGHT rounds of bingo yesterday. Go Tyler! 


Our many winners — there were double bingos in several games — chose from a ever-widening range of prizes. Jen picked honey mustard from North Lawndale’s Chicago Honey Co-op.


While Joanna (sp?) picked up a jar of honey from the rooftop apiary at City Hall, which is managed by the Honey Co-op’s ace apiarist, Michael Thompson.


Jeff (again — sp?) snagged a bottle of Co-op Hot Sauce, which, I was surprised to learn the other night, from a couple of guys hanging out at the bar, is apparently a hot commodity around town these days. 


Amy was a two-time winner. She took home both this hefty bag of seeds and an even heftier, five-pound (!) bag of worm castings  courtesy of the hard-working worms at the Greenhouses of Hope at the Pacific Garden Mission


Lastly — and  a first for Veggie Bingo — we had TWO grand prize winners. Barb went home with Irv and Shelly’s bag of bounty.


While Sheila consoled herself with a bottle of Tito’s Vodka we pulled from the storeroom. Somebody better check Camille’s ID — is she of age in dog years?

I’m on vacation next week, and handing over the bingo reins to guest bartender Jessica. Be nice to her — and tip  her well! Our caller is the multitalented Brian Costello, writer, drummer, host of “The Brian Costello Show with Brian Costello,” and adjunct professor of fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago.

Have fun everybody! See you on the 12th, with caller David Wilcox, who is not this David Wilcox.

Bingo, round two

July 17, 2009

patio bingo

Our second week of bingo was a rousing success, thanks in no small part to a) better weather and b) more surprise press, in the form of this Flavorpill blurb. As you can see from the photo (courtesy Tony Barnett), bingo even spilled out onto the patio. Thanks very much to Ryan for setting up the outdoor speaker.

back room

Inside, we moved the main action out from behind the bar and onto the stage — and Katie borrowed some banquet tables from St. John Berchman’s in Logan Square, turning the back room into a goofy facsimile of a church basement.


Our caller, Amy Lombardi, ROCKED IT. She was anxious, so she even did some research beforehand, and came armed with a glossary of bingo lingo. She shouldn’t have worried. She was a natural. At the end of the final game the crowd was cheering and chanting “A-MY! A-MY!”


Ramsey won a bottle of hot sauce — though I’m not sure for which game.


And Lauren took home a prize as well.  Maybe some honey?


Katherine bingo-ed on the final “four corners” round and took home the Fresh Picks bag of bounty. (And, sorry if I am misspelling your name! I know I asked if it was a “C” or a “K,” but then I promptly forgot the answer.)

back room 2

I don’t know how  many people turned out, but it was enough to run through our stack of cards before 6:30. My sincere apologies to those who didn’t get to play. I bought a bunch of additional cards on Wednesday, but apparently I did not buy enough. Back to Doolin’s we go. To those of you who hung around to help strategize and drink beer, thanks for your patience! Seriously. I will buy more cards.

david, guy, and kristin

Thanks also to Andrew at NeighborSpace for bringing more prizes, including some hefty packets of heirloom seeds and a few orphaned tomato seedlings. I’m actually not sure what happened to those. Last I saw they were on the bar, making a lovely, if bushy, decorative arrangement. I hope someone gave them a good home.

Come back next week, for another round. Our caller for July 22? Tight Phantomz‘s Mike Lust!


July 10, 2009

bartop bingo

Our inaugural bingo night was a blast. OK, so we ran out of cards at 6:40 and markers long before that — an unfortunate oversight that had me scrambling for pennies, lapel pins, goldfish crackers, bottlecaps, and just about anything else that would sit on a card. Some enterprising gamers improvised their own markers out of ripped-up scraps of napkin, a strategy that proved unstable when the A/C kicked in and left the back room looking like the aftermath of a mildly raucous confetti party.

back room bingo

Also, I understand (after the fact) that the promised veggie dogs failed to materialize. Apparently they don’t sell them at Restaurant Depot. We will do some more research and try our best to provide some sort of tubular vegetarian grillable next week.

Henry wins again!

Still, despite such challenges, everyone was in high spirits. Especially our winners young Henry– who hit it big with a plain old line and, later, both an “H”  and an “I” in the “crazy H” round — and Jen, who bingo-ed on the blackout round, after winning TWO earlier games to boot, and took home the grand prize of one big ol’ bag of produce from lovely Irv and Shelly. I swear, it wasn’t rigged. 

Lawrence and Jen check the winning card.

Henry, Jen, and our third winner, whose name I missed, also took home bars of chocolate, jars of honey from City Hall’s rooftop apiary, bottles of hot sauce made from Humboldt Park peppers, a superpretty jar of pickles from the Hull-House Kitchen, and a plant of indeterminate species. All of the above came courtesy of our partners at NeighborSpace. We raised $250 on Wednesday so that they can help you, the citizens of Chicago!, preserve and cultivate your neighborhood gardens. (Insert exhortatory soliloquy on civic pride and community investment and planting the seeds of democracy here. Where the hell is Tim when you need him?)


Our caller Lawrence Peters worked the mic like the pro he is, especially as he was also, it turns out, a bingo virgin. Thanks Lawrence! You are the best. And a virgin no more.

Also, a loud shout-out to the fab Sheila Sachs, who graciously loaned us her classy bingo rig for the duration. Who else would have bingo cards apparently stolen from Hatch Show Print? Thanks, She!

happy bingo girls

Next week: More cards! More markers! More vegetarian food!

And, stepping up to the bingo mic–allegedly straight from O’Hare, which is already making me anxious–the lovely and talented Amy Lombardi.

We will see you there, then.

Jennifer and Irma


July 1, 2009

To Gapers Block, Chicagoist, Time Out, the Reader, and MenuPages for the good words.

One small point of clarification to Chuck’s Chicagoist item (probably the result of an indeterminate comma on my part):

Irv and Shelly are ponying up the big box of veggies each week, but the smaller swag — honey, hot sauce, soap, etc. — comes from various small city producers and is being wrangled by Ben Helphand at NeighborSpace. Thanks again to both groups for backing our bingo dreams.

Also, credit is totally due to my friend John Roeser for coming up with the bingo idea in the first place. Thanks JR.

We’re back, with more free food

June 29, 2009


That’s right. It’s the summer event you’ve been waiting for!


Join us at the Hideout on Wednesday evenings from July 8 to September 9 for a friendly round (or six) of bingo to benefit Chicago’s community gardens. Each week we highlight a different local garden. Prizes range from jars of locally produced honey, bottles of hot sauce, and handmade soap to the grand prize of a box of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, courtesy of the very generous folks at Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks.

Veggie Bingo runs from 6 to 8 PM every Wednesday for ten weeks. The actual bingo games start at 6:30, and run about an hour. Cards are $1 a pop, or six for $5, and can be purchased from your bartender. All proceeds benefit NeighborSpace, a nonprofit organization that acquires and preserves community open space in the city.

In addition to the veggies, we’ll also be loading up the grill with free hot dogs and tofu pups. Bingo games will be led by an all-star team of callers, starting with dapper country crooner Lawrence Peters on the 8th. See the Hideout website and this blog for upcoming celebrity callers as we book ‘em.


The particulars

What: Bingo!

Where: The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia

When: Wednesdays, 6-8 PM, from July 8-September 9

Who: The Hideout, NeighborSpace, and Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks

Why: To raise money to help Chicago’s gardens grow.


About our partners

NeighborSpace is a nonprofit urban land trust dedicated to preserving and sustaining community managed open spaces in Chicago. Their network of almost 70 gardens provide thousands of people the opportunity to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers; to restore habitats; and create unique gathering places in their own neighborhoods. NeighborSpace’s partners in the community can rest assured that the land will remain dedicated to conservation and their efforts will never be displaced. To volunteer in a community garden near you email or call 312-431-9406.

Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks offers year-round home delivery in the Chicago area of local and organic produce, meat, dairy, eggs, baked goods and more. We are partnering with sustainable farmers to grow the supply of local food in a way that protects our health and the environment. Come join us and make a difference One Bite at a Time!