Sam Weller's
Seven Days in Chicago

Talk about bunk timing: A week before Harry Caray's death, Wrigley Field operations personnel had the electronic marquee that hangs at the entrance of the ballpark yanked out for maintenance.

"In a perfect world," says Cubs spokesman Jay Blunk, "we would have liked to have a message up there for Harry." The sign was scheduled for a hardware overhaul and the Cubby higher-ups deemed mid-February a quiet time for the organization. It might've been. It could've been. It wasn't.

Microsoft's online city guide to Chicago is being scaled back--way back, as Harry would say--according to the Seattle-area weekly Eastsideweek. The bomb was dropped when managers were summoned to Bill Gates' Redmond, Washington, HQ recently. Instead of operating as separate projects, the managers were reportedly told, each city site would now operate with information purchased from a national "data broker"--data guaranteed to be only "10 percent less accurate than the information Microsoft currently gathers itself."

So when will the much-delayed Chicago Sidewalk finally be launched, and in what form? Calls to the local Microsoft outpost yielded a suggestion to phone the overseers in Redmond. A company spokesperson reached in Washington said only that Microsoft has no idea when the Chicago site will be up and running.

Former Material Issue drummer Mike Zelenko, Liz Phair guitarist Jaison Chasko and the rest of their new five-piece band, The Darlings, brought the Beat Kitchen to a boil Saturday with a glam-heavy set of solid originals reminiscent of Ziggy-era Bowie. The band played a scorching forty-five-minute show, only their third gig since forming.

"I haven't been this excited about a project in a long time," Zelenko offered up over a pre-show pint. The group has just completed a three-song demo at Chicago Trax and intends to shop it for a record deal.

Copyright 1998 New City Communications, Inc.