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Afternoon Edition: May 18, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Tyree Anderson, 19, of Rogers Park, picked this mask for its colors. “Black and yellow are the team colors of my gaming community, Darth Army.”
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

We could get some more rain this afternoon, otherwise, it’ll be mostly cloudy with a high near 62 degrees. The low tonight will be around 54 degrees. And yep, you guessed it, showers are in the forecast again for tomorrow; the high will be around 63 degrees.

Top story

Illinois’ mask mandate is saving some small businesses — and inspiring new trends

With no end in sight to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mandate requiring Illinoisans to wear masks in any public place where social distancing guidelines can’t be followed, and a national shortage of personal protective equipment making cloth masks the norm for non-medical workers, a cottage industry of mask-makers has exploded in recent weeks to meet the sudden surge of demand.

You can find masks almost everywhere. The craft marketplace Etsy lists 700,000 face masks for sale, and big-name clothing brands like Old Navy, J. Crew and Madewell, as well as higher-end designers like Rag & Bone and Alice and Olivia, are all selling their own versions that reflect the season’s trends.

For some local designers we talked to, pivoting to masks has offered their struggling businesses a crucial lifeline.

Mario Maldonado, who owns Chicago Midwestmade in Pilsen, was worried about his apparel company when COVID-19 hit the city. But with the help of his seamstress mother-in-law, he started making cotton masks, which he sells for around $25 each.

“I was a bit scared in the beginning because I do have a business, which is in fashion, and I know that when the world is going through what it’s going through, nobody cares about fashion,” he said. But the 35-year-old has been pleasantly surprised: The masks are selling almost as much as his t-shirts.

Business is also booming for Roger Rodriguez, co-owner of the streetwear boutique Jugrnaut in the Loop, who started designing masks with vintage Ralph Lauren Polo teddy bear fabric and other hard-to-find prints when he couldn’t find a mask for himself that fit his aesthetic.

Launching his own fashion company has long been a dream of Rodriguez, and his vision for unique mask designs gave him the platform he’s been waiting for to venture out with his own company, Mr. Rogers Does. At a time when many small businesses are facing catastrophic losses, the 41-year-old Near West Sider has found opportunity with his mask fashion brand.

Maldonado predicts that the trend of masks-as-accessories will far outlast virus-related mandates and become a fashion staple.

“As of now, it’s definitely the new norm,” he said. “When you leave the house you’re like, ‘I’ve got my phone, my keys, my wallet.’ ‘Mask’ is now part of that list. … It’s almost like instilled in us at this point.”

Read my full story for more on how face masks are having a fashion moment, and photos of Chicagoans rocking their newest accessories.

More news you need

  1. Yesterday’s never-ending showers and thunderstorms culminated in significant flooding today as rain overflowed the Chicago River and rendered some local roadways impassable. Take a look at photos of flooding in the city and suburbs.
  2. Officials reported another 59 COVID-19 deaths today, marking the third consecutive day in which less than 100 people have died in Illinois. Hospital metrics continue to improve in the Chicago area.
  3. The stage appears to be set for a downstate judge — who has already said “the Bill of Rights is being shredded” under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order — to try to knock it down at a hearing set for Friday. The potential showdown comes as the governor faces rising pushback against his edicts.
  4. Actor and humanitarian Sean Penn had a chilling warning for those pushing Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to loosen the reins and more quickly re-open Chicago’s economy: “When it comes to opening economies, slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. And blood is slippery,” he said.
  5. The mayor is standing her ground on the need for yet another demolition on the site of a shuttered coal-fired power plant in Little Village. Lightfoot said the plant’s turbine building is structurally unsound and in imminent danger of collapsing.
  6. The Illinois Supreme Court finally disbarred former Gov. Rod Blagojevich today. The only surprise? That it took so long.

A bright one

10 best movies offering big entertainment in small spaces

Many if not most of us are still spending our days and nights staying home, riding out the quarantine. We’re turning to new shows and great movies we never got around to seeing — and rewatching some of our all-time favorites.

But if the scenes on your screen just aren’t palatable right now (maybe watching someone take a tropical vacation or go to an extravagant party is making you feel worse) we’ve got a list of movies that’s perfect for your current vibe: 10 films that take place almost entirely in one location.

Judd Nelson (from left), Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in “The Breakfast Club.” | Universal Pictures

Film critic Richard Roeper and WGN Radio’s Roe Conn are paying tribute to movies set entirely or primarily in one spot in the latest episode of the “Best Movies” podcast. A few flicks on the list include a handful of scenes outside the primary setting, but that’s kind of what everyone is doing now, right? We’re in one setting most of the time, but every once in a while, we have to venture outside.

Their picks include “Rear Window,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “The Breakfast Club” and other classics that will give you less FOMO than “Dirty Dancing” or “The Parent Trap.”

Check out the list of the 10 best “homebound” movies, and listen to Roeper and Conn break down their choices on the pod.

From the press box

After the exciting conclusion of “The Last Dance” last night, Richard Roeper looks back at the best interviews, most unexpected moments and more from ESPN’s mega-documentary on Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ final title run.

Roeper and columnist Rick Telander also relive the unusually loud crowds of the Delta Center and recall other stories from their days covering the late-90s Bulls in the latest episode of the Chicago Six-Times podcast. Listen here.

Your daily question ☕

Have you adopted any new pets since the stay-at-home order started? We want to see photos!

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Friday, we asked you how you’ve been spending your weekends during the stay-at-home order. Here’s what some of you said…

“I live with my whole family … there’s seven of us and it’s never a dull moment. Every couple weeks we have a themed day. Since quarantine, we’ve had: stay at home brewery tour, casino night and camping.” — Lauren E. Mena

“I have been exploring some of the Lake County Forest Preserves, binge watching various Star Trek series and experimenting with new recipes.” — Rachel Fischer

“Driveway visits to friends and family.” — Rich Ramey

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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