Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Peculiar polling places

While most people cast their ballots in a school, church or otherwise "public" place, some are assigned to vote in a more ... unusual setting. Pioneer Press set out April 17 to find the weirdest of the weird. Check out a multimedia slide show to see what we discovered. Multimedia Slideshow

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Frame of Mind 4/18/07 Makeover

Jessie Greenwood hadn’t been to church for six weeks, she was so upset with what her cancer treatment had done to her.

“Since I’ve been going through this chemo, it really drags you out, makes you look tired and worn,” the Maywood resident said.

She’d lost 25 pounds through this round of chemotherapy, her third cancer treatment since 2002. Church had been there for her, helping her keep the faith.

“I’ve never felt bad about myself, except with how I look,” Greenwood said.

She was working on her look in the lobby of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital’s Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center in Melrose Park. She’d been feeling better of late, she said, and decided to come to Gottlieb for a makeup lesson from the “Look Good … Feel Better” program.

“I’m going to do this,” she said. “Sunday morning, I’m going to get up and do this stuff. I know I look better, and I feel better.”

-Chris LaFortune

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Frame of Mind 4/14/07 Clowning Around

The miniature bicycles, pies to the face and pratfalls under the lights of the main ring would come later.

Instead, the clowns for the Triton Troupers Circus focused on their faces, the perfect curvature of a colored pencil, developing their character from a photo or sketch before them.

The bright lights came from the globes around the mirror of the make-up table. Instead of the scent of popcorn and cotton candy, the make-up room contained the faint smell of clean powder, applied with care.

Some were frantic, applying final touches. Others were calm, stretching rainbow colored suspenders onto their shoulders, over-sized shoes on their feet.
“Blue?” Andrew Bedno asked, holding out a make-up pencil he was about to draw with around his lips.

“No, no, black,” replied Susan Hooper, a rainbow wig already on her head, and a purple, glittery star sticker attached to the tip of her nose. “Too much blue.”
Difficult work, this clowning.

Hooper, a Chicago resident, is a professional clown and performer. She was busy at the Triton show, acting as the clown Sweety, an extra in the wire act, and a performer walking on a globe and in the gym wheel.

Performing with Triton gives Hooper a chance to keep her skills sharp, she said. She likes the lights and enjoys being on stage.

But the clowning is not a full-time job. She’s a social worker, working in a nursing home, at hospitals and adult day-care centers in the area.
The clown work comes in handy, though.

“They kind of work hand in hand in terms of providing entertainment and therapy together with the work,” Hooper said. “I like to feel I’m able to develop a different rapport with my clients and the people I perform with.”

When the clowns needed advice, she was there to offer her help. “I want everyone to look good and have a good time,” Hooper said.

With the crowd arriving at Triton College, the clowns stood outside and in the lobby, working as they welcoming crew. Some mimed, some joked, all offered up a few yucks to warm the crowd.

“Hey, do I look a little pail?” yelled Mike Pepe, the circus clown Lumpy, as he stood atop stilts hidden by his ultra-long pants looming over the heads of the crowd. In one hand, he offered up a pail the size of a shot glass.

For Westmont’s Jamie Glassman, aka Spots, it was his first time as a clown.
Glassman decided to join the show on a spur of the moment, he said. He had talked to some other clowns, and they urged him to sign up.

“It’s just something I thought I’d do,” Glassman said. “I feel I owed it to these kids, to make some of the kids happy.”

At first, it was difficult acting the fool for circus peer reviews, but Glassman said it takes a lot for him to be embarrassed. Which no doubt helped explained the fire-engine red dyed hair on his head.

“I’ve never been pied yet,” he said. “Tonight, I will be for sure.”

-Chris LaFortune

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Frame of Mind 4/04/07 Dressed to Impress

Abby Zupancic, dressed in a sweatshirt, short pants and sandals, stood in stark contrast to the pantsuits and casual business wear of the Dominican University women around her.

The Dominican fashion students were performing a skit for the women at Grace House, a home for female ex-convicts on Chicago’s West Side. The students discussed how to dress and act for a job interview.

Zupancic was an intentional failure, disorganized, talking too much about her family, knowing nothing about the company she was interviewing with. She was dismissed with a “great meeting you.”

“That’s when you know you’re not going to be hired,” one of the Grace residents said.
The session was the last of six run by the Dominican students at Grace. Students had talked about issues such as make-up, matching the right clothing with body type and exercise and nutrition in the previous five.

The session March 27 on interviews was fortuitous for Grace House resident Gail Williams, who had an interview scheduled the next day.

“The program ... it just taught me to be more motivated, no matter what,” Williams said.

Williams learned her strength can be her weakness. She likes to talk about her family and her children, she said. It’s something she’d have to stay away from in her interview.

The students also had tips on dress and how to answer typical interview questions.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I’m not nervous anymore.”

Grace House Program Director the Rev. Bernadine Dowdell said it was important for people in the community to work with the Grace women. The women at the home needed to see there were people who cared.

“The women here need this morale boost. They need this education,” Dowdell said. “They have so many obstacles to overcome.”

Denise Acevedo will face many obstacles herself. A Grace resident since February, Acevedo said she wants to get her high school diploma and to find a part-time job.
The Dominican students taught Acevedo to be creative, she said, to have a better outlook.

“They did a class on positive thinking, and coming from the addiction side, you have a negative outlook on life,” she said.

“They care about people. That means a lot to me,” she added. “It helps me grow period. I’m not by myself.”

-Chris LaFortune

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Illinois Best of Photojournalism Awards

Some images from the IPPA iBOP awards announced last month.

Portrait 1st - "He's Leaving Home" Rob Hart, Pioneer Press

Sports Action Honorable Mention - "A Goal in Mind" Rob Hart, Pioneer Press

Feature Honorable Mention - "Kiss at the End of the Robot" Rob Hart, Pioneer Press

Nature/Environment Honorable Mention - "Fall Colors" Rob Hart, Pioneer Press

Nature/Environment Honorable Mention - "Dark Side of the Moon" Rob Hart, Pioneer Press

Illustration Honorable Mention - "Wright Angle" Rob Hart, Pioneer Press