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by Ian Lopez

The Coalition on Contingent Academic Labor demonstrate their dissatisfaction in Chicago in 2004. As higher learning institutions increase employment of adjunct faculty opposition to current contracting practices is building. Image courtesy of AAUP.

The Coalition on Contingent Academic Labor demonstrate their dissatisfaction in Chicago in 2004. As higher learning institutions increase employment of adjunct faculty, opposition to current contracting practices is building. Image courtesy of AAUP.

Educators of the Me Generation are getting shortchanged. Some say the students are too.

A lack of benefits, security, health insurance and a paycheck one-third the size of your full-time peers aren’t the most enticing benefits when scanning the job market.

It is, however, the reality faced by many of the hundreds of thousands of adjunct college professors across the nation.

“Without a contract, the college can literally do to adjuncts and full-time faculty as it wishes,” said Harper College Adjunct Faculty Association President Ilona Sala (HCAFA). “There is totally the feeling that adjuncts are treated as menial laborers who can be bumped at a moment’s notice.”

The HCAFA formed in 2005 in an effort to protect the job security of adjuncts who have taught at least a three-credit course for four consecutive semesters, and holds 460 professors under its umbrella. With this union in place the college can no longer just get rid of adjuncts for no reason, according to adjunct mathematics professor and HCAFA Treasurer Janice Cutler.

“Most of us are just as qualified as any of the full-time faculty,” Cutler said.  “I know a whole lot more [adjunct professors] with more letters behind their name than most [full-timers].”

Across the nation there are currently 800,000 adjuncts, two-thirds of all professors in the United States.  Over the years the numbers have been moving up too, with as much as 46 percent of all faculty being adjunct in 2003 and 22 percent in 1970.

“It’s definitely a trend,” said John Curtis, research director for the American Association of University Professors.  “It’s been going on for three decades, and current economic situations will make things worse.”

Curtis shined light on points made by HCAFA members as well, saying that choosing faculty members standings between full and part time doesn’t come down to qualifications, but is just a matter of fortune.

Adjuncts don’t go through the usual process associated with loosing a teaching position – a board meeting, review process, etc. – and don’t technically get fired. Instead, Curtis said, most just don’t get hired back as one semester progresses to the next, and this can be done without a reason being offered.

While most full-time faculty receive salary with health benefits, most adjuncts are paid on a course-by-course basis, according to Curtis.

The difficulties resulting from institutions relying on part-timers poses threats beyond the realm of the worker, crossing over into the learning experiences of students enrolled in courses taught by part-timers.

Adjunct teachers may not be able to raise issues or challenge students because a college or university can get rid of a part-time professor, according to Curtis. This job insecurity increases particularly in cases where too many students pass or fail.

“It’s a lesson learned quickly – [adjuncts] can’t challenge or be too demanding,” Curtis said.

Contacting instructors outside of class is another hurdle created by heavily relying on adjunct faculty, according to Curtis. The part-time professors often do not have on-campus offices or school email addresses.

“We often receive reports of part-time faculty having to meet with students in the parking lot,” Curtis said.

New York University graduate student employees protest disproportionate compensation in April 2006. The American Association of University Professors also participated in the event. Image courtesy of AAUP.

New York University graduate student employees protest disproportionate compensation in April 2006. The American Association of University Professors also participated in the event. Image courtesy of AAUP.

Curtis added that academic freedom in the classroom is an issue that is constantly faced, and students may have difficulty getting letters of recommendation when applying to graduate schools because of how easily institutions can let part-timers go.

Furthermore, because of the typically low pay, adjunct professors usually have other sources of income – teaching at other institutions, for example– and may not be able to devote as much focus as a full-time professor would.

“Contact with faculty outside of the classroom is widely correlated to student success by a variety of measures,” said Treseanne Ainsworth, an undergraduate advisor for Boston College’s English Department.  “It also makes faculty seem peripheral to the university from a departmental standpoint.

Ainsworth, who recently went from an adjunct to full-time position with no tenure, said   though most adjunct faculty do exceptional work under difficult circumstances, less travel time between campuses means more time spent on research, course preparation and with students.

In June Ainsworth proposed a model for adjuncts that would give them pay for services they provided to students outside the classroom including being a mentor, advising and developing courses. Though tenure may not be an option, the contracts are shooting for five to ten year agreements as opposed to the one to three year contracts already in place at some institutions.

“This plan will stick as long as contracts are honored, and faculty continue to do quality work,” Ainsworth said. “I am optimistic about both.”

Copyright 2009

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by Ian Lopez

Polish and Mexican restaurants in the Logan Square Neighborhood reflect the cultural diversity of the community. While strolling down the flower-lined streets the fragrance of carne asada and perogies instantly consume the senses, leaving the walker with a temptation to duck into one of the traditional eateries.

However, are all the restaurants really safe to eat at?  Documents filed with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CPDH) by city health inspectors may make some residents who enjoy dining out question where they’re eating.

In 2008 Polish restaurant Czerwone Jabluszko on Milwaukee Ave. violated regulations for adequate food protection and proper temperatures. The citation stemmed from a customer’s complaint about feeling ill after eating there.

Czerwone Jablusko’s general manager Anna Czarnecka-Hebal didn’t believe the allegation was true.

“How could someone get sick if employees eat it here three times a day and never get sick any day?” Czarnecka-Hebal said.

Also mentioned in the reports about Czerwone Jablusko, which is also known by its English translation, the Red Apple, was a recurrence of dirty dishes and improper handling of them while being cleaned. For example, dish racks were too close to the floor and there were crusted and cruddy pots.

However, according to restaurant consultant Danny Bendas, keeping a restaurant perfectly clean is by no means an easy task.

Bendas, who works for Texas-based Synergy Restaurant Consultants, a company that specializes in helping dining establishments maintain health standards, offered some tips for what to look for when considering where to eat.  Key clues, he said, are individually wrapped silverware that is shiny, clean and devoid of water spots. Clean bathrooms are also good indicators.

“Restrooms are a very important part of the restaurant,” Bendas said. “A dirty bathroom could mean a dirty kitchen. If you are concerned about the cleanliness of the restaurant, take a look at the restroom.”

The Red Apple restaurant in the Logan Square neighborhood boasts numerous awards for its scrumptious Polish buffet spread, but health officials have cited this establishment and many others city-wide for code violations. Image courtesy of the Red Apple.

The Red Apple restaurant in the Logan Square Neighborhood boasts numerous awards for its scrumptious Polish buffet spread, but health officials have cited this establishment and many others city-wide for code violations. Image courtesy of the Red Apple.

Health code violations don’t necessarily affect popularity. The Red Apple is one of the most preferred restaurants in the area, and recently was crowned “the best buffet of 2009” by the Chicago Reader.

“We’re on the top,” Czarnecka-Hebal said. “There aren’t so many famous Polish restaurants on the market…lot’s don’t last as long as us.”

Fellow local eatery Zacatecas on Diversey Ave. is no stranger to CPDH citations either.  The restaurant serves what owner Michelle Medine describes as typical Mexican food.

“It is not easy to run a business like a restaurant,” Medine said.  “There are different codes and standards that need to be met. It is hard when (employees) don’t know what they do. But if you have the right people, it is not that hard.”

CPDH reports from 2006, 2007 and 2008 indicated that Zacatecas’ rules may not be up to the standards set by the city, citing the restaurant for having a dirty kitchen, not maintaining proper food storing temperatures and improperly storing dishes.  Also enclosed with the inspectors’ reports was a complaint filed in 2005 by a customer who claimed to have found a roach inside food, though no pests were found on the premises during an inspection.

“We have taken the necessary steps to ensure our systems are clean and sanitized,” Medine said about the improvements required of their kitchen.  “The health and safety of our guests is a priority.”

The health department’s reports stated that since the initial citations, improvements for Zacatecas’ hazardous conditions have been made.

The Zacatecas Restaurant in the Logan Square Neighborhood has lots of great food and reasonable prices, according to online reviews. Image courtesy of The Restaurant Place.

The Zacatecas Restaurant in the Logan Square Neighborhood has lots of great food and reasonable prices, according to online reviews. Image courtesy of The Restaurant Place.

The problems faced by the Red Apple and Zacatecas are common, both to the neighborhood and in general.  Nearby establishment Andrzej Grill, for example, was cited for problems very similar to the previous two restaurants, and was also cited for not having a pest control log.

Other notable problems with neighborhood restaurants were found at Armitage Shrimp House, which was cited for excessive grease build-up in their kitchen, an employee not wearing a hat while preparing food, and like Andrzej Grill, not having a pest control log.

When questioned about issues cited in reports from city health inspectors, Czarnecka-Hebal said, “Every restaurant has some kind of citation.”

“People are people,” Czarnecka-Hebal said. “Somebody put a biscuits (tray) near the floor for a minute and the inspector saw it.”

Copyright 2009

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by Jason Verhagen

Artist Ricky Allman’s “Apocalyzer,” (2007) an acrylic and ink on canvas, will be featured in the Hyde Park Art Center’s upcoming exhibit, “Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture.” Image courtesy of Front Forty Press.

Artist Ricky Allman’s “Apocalyzer,” (2007) an acrylic and ink on canvas, will be featured in the Hyde Park Art Center’s upcoming exhibit, “Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture.” Image courtesy of Front Forty Press.

Chicago – When scientists and scholars talk about black holes, asteroids and global warming it might be easy to ignore. But when artists depict the apocalypse people could be more likely to see the light. That’s what curators of the “Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture” exhibit opening at the Hyde Park Art Center July 19 are counting on.

Utah born artist Ricky Allman contributes “Apocalyzer” to the exhibit. He grew up as a Mormon fully believing in and expecting the end of the world to happen any day.

“Many of my works are inspired by religious extremists who are striving and working for the end,” explains Allman. “One group’s utopia is another’s dystopia,” claims Allman, who confesses it is undeniably fascinating to contemplate huge cataclysmic changes altering everything we know.

Photographer and founder Douglas Fogelson of Front Forty Press, the exhibit curators and publishers of the companion book, explains that he and his collaborators spent over two years putting this labor of love together. Fogelson began to notice certain signs of the times and trends in art and music that corresponded with current events including war and climate change.

Fogelson saw that in certain art shows apocalyptic imagery was becoming more prevalent, and at the same time, in the world of music doom-laden bands were making a ripple in the scene.

San Francisco artist Andrew Schoultz is influenced by the effects of globalism and capitalism, and filters themes of man vs. nature in his work that tells stories of everyday life in America. Using graffiti art, underground comics and early 1900s clipart, to name a few forms, Schoultz aims to inform the general public through his murals, illustrations and photographs.

“Running with Chaos, Nature, War & Power,” (2007) an acrylic and collage on wood panel by Andrew Schoultz will also be featured at the “Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture” exhibit. The show runs from the middle of July through early fall. Image courtesy of Front Forty Press.

“Running with Chaos, Nature, War & Power,” (2007) an acrylic and collage on wood panel by Andrew Schoultz will also be featured at the “Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture” exhibit. The show runs from the middle of July through early fall. Image courtesy of Front Forty Press.

In addition to the explanations of scientists and scholars, theologians also offer answers. For years, preachers, apocalyptic thinkers, false prophets and madmen have been predicting the end of the world.

On the spiritual flipside Fogelson explains, “Rapture is often part and parcel of art, but specifically rapturous works are of themselves evoking a certain kind of peak feeling.”

Staying true to their mission statement HPAC features this peculiar exhibit with opposing viewpoints of destruction and ecstasy represented in visual and musical art.

The exhibit will feature works by over 25 artists from all around the globe, and a handful of Chicago artists: Illustrator Mark McGinnis, Cuban born Chicago painter Eduardo de Soignie and Art Institute of Chicago Alum Carrie Schneider, among others.

The exhibit runs from July 19 to Sept. 20. For more information visit the HPAC website.

Copyright 2009

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by Albert Corvera

Personal trainer Michael Salazar says his business is booming, despite the current economy. Photo from his website.

Personal trainer Michael Salazar says his business is booming, despite the current economy. Photo from his website.

Chicago – Personal trainer Mike Salazar is doing something he dreamed about ever since he was a junior in high school. Not many 23-year-olds can say they have a successful business, but he can.

Just a little over a month ago Salazar’s business, Evolution Personal Training, 2633 W. Bryn Mawr, opened its doors. As of now the profits of Salazar’s training facility have been increasing to go along with his base clientele he has had at previous employers including Bally Total Fitness and locally owned Fitness Defined. In the opening month Salazar netted nearly $8,000 in profit.

Despite financial success at the other gyms, the sports business and business management student at Loyola University in Chicago wanted to break away from the big box gyms and start something different. Something he can call his own.

“I wanted to create an environment where people of all abilities can work out,” he said. “From the busy stay-at-home mom, the competitive athlete, the junior high volleyball player, and senior citizens; there is a place for all these people here at Evolution Personal Training.”

The majority of fitness workers work part-time at one individual facility, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Strength professionals such as EPT trainer Dan Deitch end up holding multiple jobs to create a full-time workload.

“I have a few clients here, some at Fitness Defined and at-home clients,” Deitch said. “A lot of people compliment personal training with other jobs, whether it’s construction or something like that. People just like to do this for fun on the side because it’s such a fun and great job to have.”

Personal trainers start at various wages. To test out his ability Salazar first started training teachers and fellow classmates for a small fee. Once he got his first certification, he became a regular at Bally, which charged clients roughly $20-$30 per hour.

Now at his own facility Salazar charges about $69 per hour on average. With training being a luxury, Deitch said people can pay the rate. They just have to make sacrifices on the little things financially.

“I think a lot of people can afford it,” Deitch said. “It’s just a matter of whether they want to. People tend to budge on really what they want. If you really discipline yourself for a few months financially, you can put that into training. But eventually it’s going to eventually be a need because people aren’t going out for exercise as much.”

Despite the struggles in today’s economy, people will still take their health seriously no matter at what cost. With the prices skyrocketing for healthcare, Frank Miele, vice-president of operations for International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), says that more people are concerned.

“Personal fitness trainers fill the gap between sick care and health care,” Miele said. “Today, a personal fitness trainer can be defined as an individual who educates and trains clients in the performance of safe and appropriate exercises in order to effectively lead their clients to optimal health.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics a 27-percent increase has been predicted in the number of employment opportunities for fitness and nutrition professionals between 2006 and 2016. Reasons include many fitness corporations are looking for part-timers rather than full-times.

Deitch said there is only one reason to why being a personal trainer is one of the more prospective occupations – technology.

“I think within the last 20 or 30 years obesity in our country, at least among teenagers, will have almost tripled,” Deitch said. “More and more people are staying at home now, either with their ‘Crackberrys’ or their video games or on the computer.”

Twenty-three-year-old client Christopher Rivera recently signed for a few sessions with Deitch. In addition to getting in better shape and feeling healthier, Rivera said that he wanted personal training to learn how to workout smarter.

“You can look at training as a way to ease stress,” Deitch said. “There is nothing better about seeing your body in better shape and feeling better. Everybody has his or her own reasons, but stress alone is a key factor.”

Salazar has said that people want to exercise, workout and get in shape. But with the hectic schedules of everyday life, most people don’t have time to workout as much, which has caused many Americans to become out of shape and obese.

“These people want results,” he said, “but they still want to spend time at home with family and friends. Working with a personal trainer ensures they are getting the most from their workouts.”

“After a good workout it’s going to get some of that stress out,” Deitch said. “If you’re married, you’re going to be working out. If you’re a Cubs fan, you’re going to be working out.”

Personal trainers are self-employed. Many work by appointment. New trainers with a small clientele base go through prospecting, which Salazar describes as the salesman aspect of the job where the trainer attempts to sell him or herself to the consumer.

“As a trainer, you can’t sound like a salesman,” Salazar said. “You need to enjoy what you do, do it right and have integrity towards your work. You shouldn’t focus on the money, but on the client.”

Copyright 2009

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by Christopher Brinckerhoff

Chicago – Our city is famous for improvisational comedy. Instead of being known for New York’s Broadway shows, or Los Angeles’ Hollywood movies, Chicago is known for being able to tell a good joke.

The Lakeview neighborhood is home to a congregation of alternative and fringe theaters. The iO Theater, The Playground Theater, Comedysportz Theater and Lakeshore Theater produce a wide variety of contemporary comedy shows.

The third season of Blewt Productions’ Impress These Apes will wrap up November 10 at Lakeshore Theater.

According to the show’s storyline, the contestants are charged with producing enough talent power to right earth’s future, which was disrupted in the previous seasons of Impress These Apes performed at The Playground Theater and the iO Theater.

Eight contestants compete for eight weeks in weekly talent challenges to see who can score the most points from three futuristic ape judges. Blewt founder Steve Gadlin said Impress These Apes fits in the Lakeview theater scene because it’s a wacky variety show.

“That’s actually a pretty popular genre right now in Lakeview,” Gadlin said. “There are especially a lot of burlesque shows going on now and other types of variety shows. It fits in, in that it’s irreverent in that area.”

blewt members rehearse impress these apes at the lakeshore theater the day before its opening. photo by antonette brotman and christopher brinckerhoff.

blewt members rehearse impress these apes at the lakeshore theater the day before its opening. photo by antonette brotman.

Impress These Apes was an open audition, and some of the contestants live in or near Lakeview. Contestant Becky Eldridge has lived on the north side for 14 years. She works in advertising, and co-wrote two musicals. Eldridge said Impress These Apes was an inherently perfect fit for Lakeview because of the diversity within the community and show.

“The neighborhood is a convergence of all the gays up in Boys Town, and those Lincoln Parkers who are just looking for some chuckles and some good times,” Eldridge said.

“You’ve got your suburban Belmont Goth kids down the street, the jocks from the lake who come there to play softball, and you’ve got your crazy homeless men,” Eldridge said. “Impress These Apes connects with the neighborhood because the show itself represents every one of those points of view.”

“In a broader, global perspective the contestants in the show range from your average Joe off the street to the goofy party animal who might wear a lampshade on his head, to your crazy Aunt Rose who always has on crazy hats,” Eldridge said.

Impress These Apes stands out among other Lakeview shows because of Blewt’s roots in the area and their attention to detail, according to Gadlin.

“I think our sense of humor, our general aesthetic will set us apart from other shows,” Gadlin said. “We’re kind of unafraid to be incredibly corny and cheesy. So we keep it intelligent by kind of underpinning it with this theme of despair and hopelessness. You know, for the kids.”

watch out for these three guys on the street. they are dangerous. photo by antonette brotman and christopher brinckerhoff

watch out for these three guys on the street. photo by antonette brotman.

The apes’ current home, Lakeshore Theater, was converted from a movie theater into a live performance theater in 2002. Lakeshore Theater’s technical director William Hasty said compared to other Lakeview theaters they frequently host standup comedy acts.

The Lakeshore Theater also hosts “acts that might have a little trouble finding a home in another theater,” Hasty said. “They might be a little controversial. They might rub people the wrong way a little bit. And we welcome them with open arms.”

When asked if Impress These Apes has been a little too cutting edge for some people, Hasty said no one has left the show, but some of the contestants’ performances of the historical reenactment challenge tested some people’s comfort zones.

“Last week they really pushed the envelope with some of the acts,” Hasty said. “It was some of the oddest things I’ve seen on stage as long as I’ve been here.”

The contestants were asked to perform a turning point in history.

“One of the contestants recreated his birth by crawling into a garbage bag, removing all of his clothes, and covering himself in grape jelly,” Hasty said. “Then he stood up on stage completely nude, covered in jelly, reenacting his birth for five minutes.”

The act that followed him came out in a tutu and airplane costume, and set up two World Trade Center towers, according to Hasty. One tower was a cardboard model, and the other was a dancer dressed as the tower.

“He did a ballet piece to Flight of the Valkyries, a dramatic reinterpretation of September 11th right after we had the live birth on stage,” Hasty said. “A couple people were shifting around in their seats.”

A behind the scenes glance at Chicago’s cutting edge sense of humor. You can go to Blewt Productions website to laugh more. Video by Antonette Brotman and Christopher Brinckerhoff.

Gadlin said Impress These Apes could be seen as a comment on reality television shows.

“As snarky as the ape judges get overall it’s a very positive show,” Gadlin said. “It’s more about celebrating the talent of these eight unique performers.”

The show is not about the insults and voting off present in some reality shows, according to Gadlin. In addition to their silly sense of humor and sparkly curtains, other elements that characterize Blewt’s aesthetic appear in recurring themes.

“We like fart jokes,” Gadlin said. “Pickles show up in a lot of things. As do apes and monkeys. That kind of stuff.”

“In a sense, we kind of slap reality television and give it a positive spin, and really get a live audience behind the contestants,” Gadlin said. “We’re commenting on reality TV as well as kind of embracing the format of it for our own crazy purposes.”

“Positivity is cool,” Gadlin said.

Copyright 2008

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