Teen oboist pushes past stroke toward big career, cop acquitted after shooting unarmed man and more in your Chicago news roundup

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

SHARE Teen oboist pushes past stroke toward big career, cop acquitted after shooting unarmed man and more in your Chicago news roundup
Zach Allen with his mother Denise Allen at home in Skokie.

Zach Allen with his mother Denise Allen at home in Skokie.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 52 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low near 31. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 58.

Top story

At 18, Skokie oboist Zach Allen is pushing past a stroke and on, he hopes, to a big career

Almost six hours into a rehearsal of Strauss’ lush and bombastic “Ein Heldenleben” at Symphony Center, the conductor halted the playing and gestured toward the young oboist Zachary Allen.

“This whole thing needs to be more angry,” Allen Tinkham, who was at the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra podium, told the 18-year-old. “It’s too pretty.”

The rehearsal resumed, this time with Allen providing the snarl and hiss Tinkham wanted, as his mother, Denise Allen, who was among the handful of spectators at Symphony Center, kept a watchful eye.

Allen has played at Carnegie Hall and in some of Europe’s great concert venues. He’s applying to some of the top music schools in the United States. But the most remarkable thing about the talented young musician — who was preparing for a CYSO concert Sunday at Symphony Center — is that he is playing at all after having a stroke in July.

The stroke was a consequence of lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease.

It has been a lifetime of off-and-on-again illness that began with a severe infection at birth that doctors twice warned his mother he might not survive. Denise Allen had miscarried four times. She wasn’t about to lose Zach.

A single mother, she has been a behind-the-scenes dynamo in her son’s life. When a physical therapist began explaining worst-case scenarios to Zach, Mom was there to step in and say, “Tell him what he needs to do to get better.”

“I’m kind of a rally-the-troops, tell-me-what-we-have-to-do-and-let’s-do-it kind of person,” the mother, 59, says at the Skokie apartment where she and her son live. “I’m not a fatalistic person.”

Allen says of her: “I would not be where I am right now without her doing all the stuff that she does.”

Stefano Esposito has more with Allen and his journey here.

More news you need

  1. A Cook County judge has acquitted Chicago Police Officer Melvina Bogard of felony charges in the 2020 shooting of an unarmed man during an arrest at a CTA Red Line station. The shooting victim’s attorney had argued Bogard’s claim of self-defense “completely contradicts the clear video evidence,” but the judge said the victim had “zero credibility” on the stand.
  2. With the worst of the winter illnesses not yet upon us, Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s top public health official, is urging Chicagoans to make sure they’re fully vaccinated. Doctors have been warning of the possibility this winter of a “tri-epidemic” of flu, COVID-19 and RSV.
  3. ASM Global, the company that runs McCormick Place, has named Kelvin Moore to be the convention center’s new general manager, succeeding industry vet David Causton. Moore will be the first African American to hold the position.

A bright one

Evanston chef D’Andre Carter’s recipes for collard greens and smoked turkey, cornbread muffins

In another installation of our “Holiday dining at home” series, the Sun-Times caught up with Evanston chef D’Andre Carter, of Soul & Smoke (1601 Payne St. Evanston), who shared with us one of his favorite dishes to make during the holiday season — and how you can make it.

The dish: smoked turkey and collard greens with cornbread muffins.

“Collard greens and cornbread are the holiday foods that I grew up eating with my family, and that I now eat with my wife and daughters,” Carter said.


Chef D’Andre Carter serves up his collard greens with smoked turkey and cornbread muffins at Soul & Smoke in Evanston.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“The only way to eat these is together — the cornbread with the pot liquor from the collards is the perfect sweet and savory combination.”

Carter explained that collard greens and cornbread are comfort food from the heart. And although both collard greens and cornbread have been a staple in households across the country for years, enjoying the two together is becoming more popular.

“The combination is well on its way to becoming not just a Southern or soul food staple, but an American one,” Carter said.

Chef Carter shares his delicious recipe here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

What are you thankful for this year?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What’s something you’ll only find at Thanksgiving in a Chicago home?

Here’s what some of you said...

“The Chicago Sun-Times in the magazine rack.” — Richard Andrewski

“A butter-shaped turkey.” — Janet Jewell

“Canfield’s soda.” — Ken Churilla

“A prayer about the Bears.” — Lauren Edwards

“Mostaccioli and fried chicken on the table, together! I’ve lived here 45 years, moved from the east coast, but still not used to the ‘youse guy’ palate.” — Susan Strand

“Fannie May eggnog creams and Mint Meltaways, for dessert anyway. I can’t get them in Florida and we used to get them every year.” — Melissa Wasielewski

“Fannie May candies on a fancy platter and butter cookies from Dinkles bakery.” — Maureen Ott

“A fantastic relish tray with kosher dills, black olives, and giardiniera.” — Robert Lisowski

“Using the outdoors as an extended refrigerator!” — Cheryl Teresa Vargas

“Old people who think they can Step and play Bid Whist and young people who know they don’t know how to play Spades or Bid Whist but think they can Step.” — Edward Scott

“Chestnuts and tangerines — at least in my Italian family dinner memories.” — Betty Jo Fuller

“Bowls of water on the radiator to put moisture in the air. At least at my Nana’s house there was.” — Brad Paul Smith

“Old Style beer.” — Lorraine Avitia

“In the past, it would have been the thick, old phone book we used as a booster seat.” — Julie Marie

“Sweet Potato Pie and German Chocolate Cake.” — Demita Johnson

“Polish sausage and sauerkraut.” — Jimmy Davey

“Parker House dinner rolls, I really do miss, only topped with Land O’ Lakes butter, in a crystal serving dish. A turkey wrapped up with cheesecloth and basted a lot. Sweet potatoes with brown sugar, no marshmallows, we got. Mom and aunties in holiday aprons, setting the table with the Jewel china plates. Kids in the kitchen, brought many complaints. Dads and Uncles enjoying cigarettes and Old Style. Watching football and playing cards all the while. Homemade gravy as the turkey rests. Hunger and patience, our two hard tests. Memories of laughter, snow, and love. Today, some new traditions, but thankful memories, of our family in heaven above.” — Janice Scherner

“John Candy sharing Thanksgiving with Steve Martin’s family.” — Mike Wiethorn

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

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