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Frank Leone releases surprise album “MANSION OF FANG”

Photo by Christian Haahs.

Experimental hip-hop artist and genre-straddler Frank Leone has released a “surprise” instrumental album, entitled MANSION OF FANG. The somewhat impromptu album was recorded swiftly, which is an impressive feat, given that there were over a dozen people involved in the recording process. This includes collaborations with notable local artists, such as rapper CJ Run. MANSION OF FANG is released partly in preparation for Leone’s debut commercial album, which comes out next year. Read the full release statement via HYPEBEAST here.

Here’s “Fancy Dining,” featuring CJ Run. Visit Leone’s bandcamp to stream the album in its entirety.



Caribbean Grill offering Soul Food Sundays starting December 4th

Although Caribbean Grill's food truck will be hibernating for the winter, Christmas, as they say, has come early. CG's popular Soul Food Sundays (previously only in February), will happen the following Sundays in December and January:

December 4th, 11th, 18th

January 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th

Meals are about $13, and menus for each Sunday can be found on the CG website. Caribbean Grill will be located located inside of Refinery (2302 W John St, Champaign), and open noon to 3 p.m. on the aforementioned Sundays. 

Image from Facebook. 


Big Grove Tavern hosting Christmas Eve brunch

As many of you know, Christmas falls on Sunday this year, which means that Christmas Eve is a prime day to have brunch.

Luckily, Downtown Champaign's Big Grove Tavern has you covered, with their well-known mimosas (with a holiday flare) and some seasonal brunch favorites. Additionally, brunch hours are extended from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., giving you extra time to sleep in.

Reservations are available now, either online or by phone, found below.

From Big Grove: 

Christmas Eve Brunch! Saturday, December 24th 10:00am-4:00pm

Enjoy extended brunch hours this Christmas Eve, we'll be offering brunch from 10am-4:00pm on Saturday, December 24th. Enjoy holiday specials as well as a special holiday mimosa bar!

Reservations available at (217) 239-3505, or at


Midwest Center on Investigative Reporting holding public talk on climate change tonight

If you're at all concerned about the future of our planet, and more immediately, the future of our surrounding areas, it would probably be good to learn a bit about climate change, one of the most imperative challenges facing humanity.

Thankfully, the good people over at the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and C-U Citizen Access are partnering to hold a free panel tonight at Champaign Public Library, consisting of four climate change experts. Here, people will be able to learn about climate change, and its effect on Central Illinois, especially in the realm of agribusiness.

RSVP is required, but the event is free, and kicks off at 7 PM.

For more info: 

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and CU-CitizenAccess are hosting a public discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 29 on the local, regional and agribusiness impacts from climate change — ranging from flooding and the water supply to changing weather patterns and agricultural techniques.

A panel of four experts will bring a diverse set of values and priorities to cover this topic from both a local and regional view.

Join speakers from the Champaign-Public Health Department, The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and state climatologist Dr. Jim Angel, among others, to discuss what we are seeing immediately, what the future impact will be and what you should know.

Light refreshments will be served.

The event is free but RSVP required. Sign up at (case sensitive)

Tue, November 29, 2016

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM CST

Champaign Public Library

Robeson Pavilion Room A & B

200 West Green Street

Champaign, IL 61820

For more information, contact Pam Dempsey at (217) 239-6617 or by email at

CU-CitizenAccess is a community online news and information project based at the University of Illinois College of Media devoted to investigative and enterprise coverage of social, justice and economic issues in east central Illinois.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is a non-profit newsroom based in Champaign that covers agribusiness and related topics such as government, environment and energy.


Illini basketball preview: NC State

lllinois vs. NC State
8 p.m.

If the Illini are thankful for anything, it's getting away from the NIT Season Tip-Off. After dropping three games in the tournament last week, Illinois looks a lot less like the veteran-heavy likely Tourney team and more like a team without an identity. Though some fans are already giving up, games like this evening's contest with the Wolfpack could help ease their worries.

NC State is a good team, featuring three players averaging 17 points. However, the Wolfpack are not without their issues, for example their 5-1 record includes close (or very close) wins over Georgia Southern (KenPom #161), St. Joseph's (#101), and Loyola Chicago (#160). The difference is, NC State has made the most of those close games, whereas Illinois blew a 10-point lead against Winthrop and utterly failed against West Virginia's full-court press.

Good news for Illinois is that NC State will be without 6'7" guard Maverick Rowan this evening, but it will be small consolation if Illinois cannot take care of the ball (57 turnovers last 3 games). Guard play has led NC State to the 21st best offense in the country (per KenPom), so the Illini have to counter with strong play from Malcolm Hill, Tracy Abrams, and Jalen Coleman-Lands if they want to get back on track.

My prediction: Much improved play from Illinois but a heartbreaking ending.


The Land Connection participating in #GivingTuesday movement

From the press release:

The Land Connection Joins the Global #GivingTuesday Movement

Pledges to combat food insecurity in Champaign-Urbana and Central Illinois by supporting local farmers and making local food more accessible to all.

Champaign, IL, November 18, 2016 – The Land Connection is joining #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Champaign County has one of the highest food insecurity rates in the state of Illinois, with a food insecurity rate of over 17%, higher than Chicago. The Land Connection works to help ensure connect the community to local food through the Champaign Farmers’ Market and by offering a wide variety of training opportunities to Central Illinois farmers, both new and experienced. By tackling the issue from both the supply and the need side, we aim to make fresh, healthy, local food more accessible and affordable for all.

Occurring this year on November 29, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.  

The Land Connection has joined #GivingTuesday to help our community learn more about the great work that’s being done at the local and regional level to support a healthier food system.

“At a time when more and more folks want locally produced food, The Land Connection serves as the bridge between farmers, consumers, and chefs. Thanks to TLC, Sola Gratia Farm has been able to share our knowledge with beginning farmers through workshops and classes, and our crops with the community at the Champaign Farmers’ Market,” notes Traci Barkley, of Sola Gratia Farm in Urbana.

92Y −  a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around its core values of community service and giving back − conceptualized #GivingTuesday as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving. In 2015, the fourth year of the movement, #GivingTuesday brought together over 45,000 partners in 71 countries and helped raise nearly $117 Million online in the US alone.

“We have been incredibly inspired by the generosity in time, efforts and ideas that have brought our concept for a worldwide movement into reality,” said Henry Timms, founder of #GivingTuesday and executive director of 92Y. “As we embark on our fifth year of #GivingTuesday, we are encouraged by the early response from partners eager to continue making an impact in this global conversation.”  

Those who are interested in joining The Land Connection’s #GivingTuesday initiative can visit this page. For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website, Facebook page or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media.

About The Land Connection

The Land Connection is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting farmland, training sustainable and organic farmers, and promoting a vibrant local food system.

About #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give—the 2016 iteration will be held on November 29, 2016. This effort harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners—nonprofits, businesses and corporations as well as families and individuals—to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. #GivingTuesday inspires people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they celebrate and help create a better world. #GivingTuesday harnesses the power of social media to create a global moment dedicated to giving around the world.

To learn more about #GivingTuesday participants and activities or to join the celebration of giving, please visit:



Virginia Theatre screening Coen brothers films this week

For those of you who like a bit of dark comedy, Downtown Champaign's Virginia Theatre will be screening a collection of films from directors Joel and Ethan Cohen

For info, showtimes and ticket information, check out this tidbit, courtesy of the Champaign Park District


The 15-time Oscar-nominated (and 4-time winning) Coen brothers have been so prolific, you could fill the calendar with their films (we wish!). Join us for these four audience favorites as we give you a week of Coen Brothers films.

Tickets: $5 (or see all four for $15) Get the pass here. 



November 28-29 No Country For Old Men (2007) Rated R (122 min)
November 30 & December 1 Raising Arizona (1987) Rated PG-13 (94 min)
December 2 Fargo (1996) Rated R (98 min) 
December 3 The Big Lebowski (1998) Rated R (117 min) 

All screenings 7pm (with an additional 1pm matinee Saturday)


Free screening of Starving the Beast December 1st

Why has public higher education been a topic of political debate in recent years? And how have these debates affected American public universities? A powerful new documentary addresses these questions. It will be shown in a free screening on Thursday, December 1st at 7:30 p.m. at the Art Theater Co-op in downtown Champaign (126 W. Church St.).

Starving the Beast tells the story of a potent one-two punch roiling public higher education right now: 35 years of systematic defunding and a well financed market oriented reform effort. It’s the story of a little known and misunderstood ideological fight, the outcome of which will change the future of public higher education.

The film reveals an historic philosophical shift that reframes public higher education as a “value proposition” to be borne by the student as a consumer, rather than an investment in citizens as a “public good.” Financial winners and losers emerge in a struggle poised to profoundly change public higher education.

The screening is sponsored by three organizations: the Campus Faculty Association, the American Association of University Professors (UIUC Chapter), and the Graduate Employees Organization. A panel discussion will follow the screening.


Illini basketball preview: West Virginia

Illinois vs. #19 West Virginia
2 p.m. in Brooklyn, NY

That game against Winthrop ended...suboptimally for Illinois. And it led to a lot of online grousing about John Groce and the state of the team and so on. But it's over with and past and the only thing that matters is what's next.

Oh, right, #19 West Virginia (3-0) is next. An absurdly good Mountaineers team that has won by an average of 42.7. Sure, they've played cupcake teams, but 42.7 points is one hell of a margin of victory. Converting 50.5% of your field goal attempts will do that, I suppose.

Where West Virginia gets going is on offense, with five guys averaging double figures in scoring. No one averages more than 13 points, however, and two players, Nathan Adrian and Jevon Carter, are each averaging 4.3 assists per game, proving the Mountaineers' commitment to sharing the ball. But the offense flows from defense, and the "Press Virginia" system Bob Huggins is running has forced 81 turnovers in 3 games--an eye-popping 27 per game.

If Illinois is going to knock off Huggins' squad, it will require a complete game from everyone. Malcolm Hill can't go 0/8 on field goals in the second half; Jalen Coleman-Lands has to hit more than just three pointers (0/7 from inside the arc this season); Maverick Morgan needs to be confident rebounding (3 vs. Winthrop, 12 in five games); and so on. It's a tall task, but it could result in a win that lifts a bubble team into the NCAA Tourney.

My prediction: Esa Ahmad gets Illinois's big men in foul trouble early and the defense sputters as West Virginia cruise.