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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Six Corners

People You Should Know: Joe Angelastri

By 

Dominick M Maino 

The City Newsstand started as a shack on a Six Corners corner in 1978. It was an old-school newsstand until 2000 when a decline in the sale of newspapers and more stringent city rules regarding newsstands made closing this curbside business a necessity. This prompted Joe Algelastri (owner and well known Six Corners supporter) to open a brick and mortar store in what used to be an old book store on Cicero Avenue just north of Irving Park Road. The decline of newspapers was accompanied by an increased interest in magazines, so City News specialized in making available more than 5,000 magazines of all varieties. People from all over the country (mostly the Midwest) visit City News buy one or more of these magazines. 

Hattie's Truffles!
A café was then added (City News Café) so that customers could enjoy a great cup of coffee and Hattie Portage’s handcrafted, homemade      chocolate truffles  while  listening to live music and perusing a magazine they just purchased. More recently, Joe has added books. That’s right, no battery needed to read them, books.  

He has also brought in Seinfield’s Soup NaziLarry Thomas, to talk about and autograph his latest book (Confessions of a Soup Naziand Thomas Tresser to discuss Chicago’s financial state and to autograph his latest text, Chicago is Not Broke. Good sized crowds attended both presentations. To compliment the addition of books to the City News Café magazine selection, their Facebook page features book reviews by area readers as well. 

Mrs. Gams (Sheila McNulty) Reading Reading Corner
City News Cafe Raised $1,100 to support our police



We have many leaders in our community and Joe Algelastri is no exception. He was instrumental in establishing SSA 28 (Special Service Area) and the Six Corners Association where he has served or is serving as chair. SSA 28 and the Six Corners Association are instrumental in making our area the best it can be in physical appearance and in providing people friendly, walk-able places for those who live and work in the area. Joe is also active within the St. Bartholomew Parish community and is now the Chair of their Finance Committee.  

Alderman John Arena, "Soup Nazi" and Dominick Maino
As a strong supporter of the arts, Joe (and City News) has worked with the Northwest Arts Connection (NWAC) and its President, Marlena Ascher, to bring in art, music and more to help establish Six Corners as an art and literary Mecca. The NWAC was instrumental in helping CN host a very successful Small Business Saturday program this past December. The Filament Theatre has also used City News for its production of Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park productions (and he often donates coffee to the theater for its patrons during performances).  

City News blues expert (and awesome barista) Portage Hattie (AKA Donna), brings in famous blues artists like Lurie Bell (who lives in Portage Park), as well as those with a myriad of musical talents including but not limited to Stann Champion (who worked with Bob Marley and has a unique Caribbean sound), Pipes and Fiddles (Irish music), La Pompe Gypsy Jazz Band, Marianne and Her Imaginary Band and more. One fellow, Bubbles Brown, who often performs at the City News Café, was recently featured on Patti Vasquez’s WGN radio show.  

Joe is a friend of the community in many other ways as well. He is known to take in the homeless, to support his faith community and to be there when you need him.  

Lurie Bell

Joe Angelastri is a Six Corners person you should know.  

Drop by City News Café and say hello.  
Filament Theatre Folks

Have a cup of coffee.  

Listen to music.  
Coffee and more
Enjoy a chocolate truffle.  

Read a magazine or a book.  

Create a personal space and a personal moment in this very people friendly place that was built by Joe.





Saturday, January 28, 2017

Warfare in the Classical World

Books at City News Café

Warfare in the Classical World: Reviewed by Dominick M Maino

Dominick M Maino, Book Review Editor

City News Cafe is well known for its more than 5,000 magazines, awesome coffee, music performances and Hattie Portage’s home crafted chocolate truffles. Now the Six Corners community will also have access to a small business... right in our neighborhood... book store as well. 

Please feel free to let us know what topics and titles you’d like to see on our shelves. (https://www.facebook.com/CityNewsCafe/)

Contact Dominick Maino (dmaino@ico.edu), the CNC Book Review Editor, if you’d like to write a review of any of the books you’ve read and want to see it published here.



Warfare in the Classical World
by John Warry

Reviewed by Dominick M. Maino

Several years ago I became almost fanatical about learning all I could in regards to ancient Rome. It started with Julius Caesar and those that came before him and after him as the “First Men of Rome”. After Caesar I sought out the stories of individuals who claimed or were recognized as Imperators of the Empire. This journey led me to read about life in a typical Roman city and centuries later the story of Catherine de Medici who taught the French manners, and how to cook, how to make perfume and even fashion (Yes, Italians taught the French all they know! This should not surprise you.).
This led me to a broader study of warfare from the time of Homer and the Mycenaeans… all the way to the end of the Western Roman Empire and the coming of the barbarians.

Warfare in the Classical World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons, Warriors, and Warfare in the Ancient Civilizations by John Warry has 224 pages (printed by the University of Oklahoma Press) with numerous drawings and illustrations (many in full color), battle maps, a glossary and more.

 At the very beginning the author’s foreword lets you know that this book is based on as much scientific fact as is available and takes great pains to justify using Homer (the ultimate teller of stories) as a primary source when discussing the Mycenaeans, the early Greeks and Troy. He then goes on to review the pronunciation of ancient languages and why certain ancient words are spelled and said the way we now spell and say them.

All the chapters have a similar layout. They first discuss the “ancient authorities” used as sources and then review the political and historical background. Almost every page has diagrams, drawings, battle maps and/or other illustrations. This does not mean this is a picture book however. In-between each of these incredible illustrations is a story told using fairly precise language. This text leans heavily towards the academic side of history with an emphasis placed on dates, battles, equipment, ships and armor. 

If you want a biography of the men and women of history; if you want “a detailed story” of the individuals involved, this is not the book for you. If you desire knowledge of the “nuts and bolts” of ancient warfare, you should definitely add this text to your collection however.

City News has a copy of the book on its shelf, waiting to be taken home and treasured. Stop by anytime.



While you are waiting to read this gem....you can always get copies of the following:





If you have any questions about this review or if you would like to write a book review and need some guidance, please do not hesitate to contact me at dmaino@ico.edu.

If you want to know more about the City News Cafe and what we offer go to or contact us at
City News Cafe
4018 N. Cicero Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7377


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Magicians: Book Review from City News Café

Books from City News Café

Dominick M Maino, Book Review Editor

City News Cafe is well known for its more than 5,000 magazines, awesome coffee, music performances and Hattie Portage’s home crafted chocolate truffles. Now the Six Corners community will also have access to a small business... right in our neighborhood... book store as well. Please feel free to let us know what topics and titles you’d like to see on our shelves.

Contact Dominick Maino (dmaino@ico.edu), the CNC Book Review Editor, if you’d like to write a review of any of the books you’ve read and want to see it published here.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman reviewed by Dominick M. Maino

The Magicians: Book #1

I initially became interested in reading this trilogy after watching the Sci-Fi channel’s first season of the Magicians based on this book. (Yes, I’m hooked on all things Sci-Fi and fantasy). Most of you have probably noticed that if the movie or television show is well done, the book the show was based upon may not be well done (or vice versa). (I currently use Game of Thrones as an example. I enjoy the TV series, but did not enjoy the books.)


The Magicians: Sci-Fi Channel Season 2 2017
I would suggest that you read this trilogy before watching the television series. If you do this you will have a better appreciation and understanding of the nuances of the story when watching the TV series. I binged the first season on Nexflix after reading the books and found the television show to be even more enjoyable. The television series tends to mix in different aspects of the story that does not necessarily follow the timeline of the books.


The trilogy starts with The Magicians and then continues with The Magician King and finally The Magician’s Land. The story begins in Brooklyn with Quentin, Julia and James getting ready to embark on their college careers by interviewing at various universities. Both Quentin and Julia are invited and magically transported to Brakebills where they are given an entrance examination to see if they qualify to enter this university of magic. Quentin is accepted. Julia is turned away. James gets into a non-magical, real earth college.

Quentin is the nerdiest of nerds. He is great at math and sleight of hand magic who is that tall lanky, unsure of himself kid we all remember from our school days. He meets several interesting characters at Brakebills including sophisticated but usually drunk Eliot with his sidekick Janet, Alice (an already accomplished magician with a mysterious family history at Brakebills), Penny (a Punk/Goth tough guy), Dean Fogg, and a host of interesting supporting characters. The new students learn magic spells, are placed into various specialty areas of magic and adapt to college life (a magical college life to be sure, but with all the coming of age angst you’d expect).

Quentin, the main character, not only believed in the existence of magic, he BELIEVED in magic and lived magic because he thought his very existence depended upon it. He also believed in  Fillory. Fillory is a magical kingdom written about in a series of books that all at Brakbills were very familiar. Quentin knew this land of Fillory was real and that one day he would find happiness and satisfaction in this mythical place. There was also great evil, a malignant spirit and evil entity of magic as well.

This series of books is not intended for children. There is a fair amount of sex, drugs and Rock and Roll! (Well. Sex, drugs, booze, magic and dragons…not so much the Rock and Roll.) This may be acceptable for teens however, because it often shows the consequences the characters face for their bad decisions.

The Magicians trilogy explores the world of very intelligent, nerdy young adults as they participate in a coming of age story, that includes mythical characters, evil villains and magic. I would recommend that you read the trilogy before watching the Sci-Fi series on television.  This will fill in some of the story’s back ground since the television show tends to borrow from all the books.

The writing style of the first book moves along at a brisk jaunt, with the author using (at times) great descriptions of the real and magical worlds visited in this story. The second book (which I am about 95% finished reading) tends to bounce back and forth between the past and the present which I find disruptive since I tend to be more of a linear kind of fellow.

The bottom line is that if you liked Harry Potter, you will enjoy this version for adults. If you like the Sci-Fi series, you will enjoy this trilogy. If you want to read these books NOW do not go to Amazon…get your copy of the first book at the City News Café and start reading as you sip some awesome coffee, enjoy homemade chocolate truffles and listen to beautiful music.


Other books in the trilogy noted left and right.


If you have any questions about this review or if you would like to write a book review and need some guidance, please do not hesitate to contact me at dmaino@ico.edu.

If you want to know more about the City News Cafe and what we offer go to or contact us at

City News Cafe
4018 N. Cicero Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7377






Friday, September 11, 2015

Why a City Income Tax is NOT a Good Idea

Why a City Income Tax is NOT a Good Idea

One of the best Alderman in the City of Chicago (Alderman John Arena) has suggested that the city should institute a 1/2% city income tax (which he noted should bring in about 190 million dollars during a WBEZ radio broadcast http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2015-09-03/progressive-alderman-blasts-emanuel-property-tax-increase). I agree with what John wants to do about 85% of the time and even when I disagree with him, he always has a fairly good reason for doing whatever he suggests. Any time you agree with a politician at the 85% level you should probably support him in most of what he would like to do.

This time, however,  I disagree with him. Any new tax upon the already overburdened City of Chicago citizen is just not acceptable. Here’s why….

A Chicago Tribune story Chicago Tribune [09-06-2015:http://www.pressreader.com/usa/chicago-tribune/20150906/283283161450400/TextView] from Sunday September 6th notes the following compared to 2011:

      Vehicle sticker fees have gone up 12%
       Parking taxes have gone up 39%
      Hotel taxes have gone up 78%
     Water/Sewer fees have gone up 73%
      Fines, penalties, etc (includes red light/speeding cameras income) have gone up 28%
      Amusement taxes have gone up 46%  (They are now taxing Netflix and other internet entertainment service providers)
      911 tax has gone up 20%   
 Cigarette taxes have gone up 18%
       Lease tax has gone up 30%

City revenue is up 28% to 1.75 BILLION dollars!

Compared to other cities, the tax burden of a hypothetical Chicago family that makes $75,000/year is 10.4%. This is more than 88 of the other largest cities in each of the states! (http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/taxburden/).

There are almost 30 city taxes that can be applied to Chicago’s citizens (http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fin/supp_info/revenue/tax_list.html  ).

Chicago also has the second highest taxes on the meals (10.75%) you consume with your family and friends when you go out to a restaurant (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicago-has-second-highest-taxes-on-meals-in-restaurants/)

In 2011 Chicago was ranked 5th in having the highest tax burden in the US (http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/02/25/american-cities-with-the-highest-and-lowest-taxes/5/)

Chicago has the highest sales tax rate in the US (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/chicago-sales-tax_55a6bec9e4b04740a3dedbe0)  .

It was noted in 2014 that Illinois already had the 2nd highest property taxes in the US (http://www.chicagomag.com/real-estate/January-2014/Illinois-Now-Has-the-Second-Highest-Property-Taxes-in-the-Nation/ ).





Then there are all those Fees the city collects from businesses and citizens (http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/bacp/sbc/business_licensing.html) .


Now remember, on top of all these city taxes you now have Cook County taxes/fees as well. When you compare property taxes among the most populated counties in the US, Cook County is the most expensive!  (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/counties-in-the-us-with-the-highest-and-lowest-property-taxes/)  




Another disturbing factor is the cost of fraud and corruption. “Millions of taxpayer dollars are paid out on contracts and other government benefits steered by public officials to insiders who, in turn, shower financial benefits on those public officials and their associates. Recently, Chicago taxpayers saw hundreds of thousands of city dollars funneled to sham minority-owned trucking companies under a program that served to enrich city workers with kickbacks.” (http://www.justice.gov/usao/priority-areas/financial-fraud/public-corruption).




We do not have an income problem. 

We have an out go problem.

(Actually we have both, but few seem to be paying attention to the out go side of the equation)

You should notice a disturbing trend here. If there is an existing tax or fee, it always goes UP and never goes DOWN! Once the city institutes a Chicago income tax, it will very quickly go from ½% to 1% and higher! Giving our leadership more of our tax money is like pouring gasoline on a wildfire! You will never put out the fire.

There are at least two aspects to a budget. These include revenue and spending. So far we’ve heard a great deal about the revenue side and very little about the spending side. You must attack our fiscal woes from both sides. Until this is done, no City of Chicago income tax should be discussed. Until the city and the unions can reach a meaningful “fix” of the pension problem, no City of Chicago income tax should be discussed. Stop the games. Fix the fiscal abyss that currently has Chicago within its grasp. Do it. Do it now.

OTOH maybe Chicago is not broke?




Saturday, July 18, 2015

Illinois Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall Meeting

Mr. Will Guzzardi
Mr. Guzzardi welcoming all
My State Rep. Will Guzzrdi called for a town hall meeting at St. Bartholomew Church (my parish) in Chicago. About 50 or so folks from all over the 45th Ward and beyond were in attendance (even one person from Grayslake!).

The meeting was promoted in such a way that I had high hopes for a rational discussion about Illinois’s fiscal abyss and how we would solve problems that have been building for decades. The promotional material on Mr.Guzzardi’s Facebook page noted:

“Confused, scared, or angry about the budget mess in Springfield? Or a little bit of all three, like I am? Well, come to our Budget Town Hall tomorrow. We'll give you the inside scoop on what's happening in Springfield, how we got here, and what we can do as a community to fight for a better way forward.

I have to agree that most of us are at least a bit “frightened” about the mess our politicians have managed to create. Unfortunately at this meeting we did not receive any “inside scoops”. We did not hear about “how we got there” (how we got into this financial mess). And only one basic solution (raise revenue) was offered.

The meeting started at noon. We were greeted by a very friendly, very tall Will (who was on crutches) and his staff and volunteers who signed us in and offered sweets, fruits and drinks. The meeting actually started about 12:30PM. Mr Guzzardi was the first to speak, welcoming all. He spoke a bit about what cuts in funding would do to various services many of us depend upon and tended to blame Rauner for everything. He did acknowledge that the Democrats had a chance to fix the revenue problem before Rauner came into to office, but failed to do so (they voted not to make the temporary income tax increase permanent).


Mr Michael Collins
Will then introduced Michael Collins, who was supposed to tell us why we were in this crisis in the first place. Michael is a part of a Chicago non-profit organization (The People’s Lobby) and has worked not only with Will Guzzardi but also with Reclaim Chicago.

Michael was a great speaker. If this was a political rally, I would have appreciated what he said and how he said it. Unfortunately, he failed in his assigned mission miserably. He used fear as a rhetorical tool to sway his audience towards his political agenda [Did you know people died and were going to die because of these budget cuts (which have not been instituted just yet)!!!]. He blamed Governor Rauner (who did not create this crisis) and called for increased revenue (taxes).

After the speech, we broke up into smaller groups to discuss a number of areas. These areas included:

11.)   How will cuts and divestment affect us?
22.)    What is our vision for our community?
33.)    Raising progressive revenue
44.)    Our story
55.)    How will we tell our story?

The moderator of our group lamented that he had thousands of dollars of debt due to college costs, could not find employment within his field of study and could not obtain a loan to buy a condo from a bank. (He was a very nice, well-spoken gentleman with a PhD in theology. I was thinking at the time that he must have known that the job market for a theologian in the Chicago area was probably quite limited, but did not say anything.)

The Questions
So what was the group’s responses to the questions?

How will cuts and divestment affect us? Any cuts would have a detrimental affect health care, education, student loans, disability support and the arts

What is our vision for our community? We want to see improved education, better schools, and support for small businesses, as well as, better jobs, universal single payer health care, improved public transportation and prison reform.

[How can we go about]  Raising progressive revenue? (Not sure why they call this “progressive revenue”?)  Have a “LaSalle Street Tax (1% on all transactions), Corporations need to pay their fair sure, institute a progressive income tax.

At this point I noted that all the budgets I have seen had both income/revenue as well as expenses listed. When I asked when we were going to talk about expenses, our moderator said “at the next meeting”! Really? Why blow me off like that? Didn’t he take me seriously? Or was the question just inconvenient because it did not fit his agenda?

Our story: How have cuts hurt our community? As far as I know, no cuts have been institute in the next budget because THERE IS NO BUDGET! Of course if there are cuts education, health care, etc would all be detrimentally impacted.

….and finally…

How will we tell our story? It was suggested that we use social media, direct involvement, canvassing, protesting, etc. I suggested we tell our story honestly and by using facts! (The facts part was left off the poster paper)

At this point, Guzzardi's intern, a student from the University of Chicago, did a nice job reviewing all the input….in an uncritical manner (she was part of the team of course).

At the very end, Will Guzzardi did a brief wrap up, thanked us for our participation and handed out “Town Hall” evaluation forms and asked how we would like to become more involved. (One of the options was to participate in a leadership course….so I said I would like to be considered for that program!)

Evaluation of the Town Hall Meeting

The first thought that comes to mind is “disappointing”. I was hoping for appropriate back ground information concerning our current fiscal state. We did not get this. I was hoping for a discussion on ways we can solve these problems considering all the options. We did not get this.  I wanted minimal political agenda. Nope, not even close...we got plenty of politics. I wanted statements of fact and we got emotionally charged rhetoric.

You really cannot blame Rauner for our fiscal state, because it has been decades in the making. The Democrats had an opportunity to “fix this” before Rauner came into office and they failed miserably.

It is past the time for a fact based discussion of the problems and for all possible solutions to be discussed. This meeting did not do this.

Mr. Guzzardi, it is time to have a real Town Hall meeting. With real facts for the discussion of real solutions. If you plan to do this in the future, please do not hesitate to call upon me to help!