A quick glance at general bits of Chicago Greek news – from here to the greater Midwest and beyond…
Here’s the latest Greek Chicago news…
FRONT PAGE OF “LEADERS” MAG
Niles West, IL high school and Brown University alum John Koudounis was recently featured on the front cover of Leaders Magazine. John is president and CEO of Mizuho Securities USA Inc., and also serves on the board of the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. His profile has risen considerably in recent years with regular appearances as a guest analyst on CNBC with financial correspondent Maria Bartiromo, as well as on other news outlets. Mizuho is one of world’s top 10 largest banks and John has indicated in public interviews an aggressive growth strategy for the bank going forward.
CINESPACE FOUNDER GETS OWN STREET; ZANE TO COLLABORATE ON PROJECTS
Cinespace Chicago Film Studios is growing by leaps and bounds. In addition to being the go-to venue for indoor filming for a number of TV projects such as “Chicago Fire” and “Empire,” in addition to the box office hit film “Divergent,” Cinespace recently made a deal with famous Hollywood film actor, Greek American and Chicago native Billy Zane (“Titanic”) to become an Executive Producer and develop new business and create new projects. The studio, now led by Alexander Pissios, has stated that its goal is to become the world’s largest studio. In October, the city of Chicago honored Cinespace founder Nikolaos Markopoulos by naming a section of south Rockwell Street in his honor.
NASCAR INVESTOR MAKES HISTORY VIA TWITTER
West Suburban Chicago native turned Iowa City entrepreneur Anthony Marlowe, a Greek American whose family is related to the family of NHL Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, recently made history by becoming the first pro sports team owner to attempt to sell his stake via the social media platform Twitter, according to a report in the Sports Business Daily. Anthony is selling his 10-percent in BK Racing for $1 million and indicated that the sale may be on track to conclude before the end of the year to an investor who learned of the opportunity via a tweet. WCG previously featured Anthony in a repost of an article that was written by this columnist in 2014.
BATMOBILE INNOVATOR GEORGE BARRIS, 89
Known as the “customizer to the stars,” George Barris recently fell asleep in the Lord. George’s son recently posted this homage to his father which appeared in the Hollywood Reporter. George was most famous for designing the original concept car that was the model for the famous Batmobile from the longtime popular TV series “Batman.” George would routinely visit Chicago to appear at McCormick Place for the annual “World of Wheels” exhibit, accompanying the original Batmobile and making presentations. He was once an honored guest at a Chicago Greek Media Club event held at Trump Tower. He also wrote a book about the various cars he customized for such stars such as Elvis, and Farah Fawcett Majors, among many others.
Are you an aspiring law enforcement professional, currently working in private security? HAPA offers associate memberships to certain security and private authorities, as well as to non-law enforcement personnel who have been invited by an active HAPA member. Annual membership fees are nominal…Solon P. Tsaoussis (civilian member) recently retired…The Chicago PD’s Marina Makropoulos, who’s expecting a child, is now handling correspondence for HAPA. She formerly worked for newspapers and assorted media…Condolences to the family of Hickory Hills Auxiliary Police Officer Nick Janeteas, who recently lost a battle against liver cancer. May his memory be eternal.
WINDY CITY LOUNGE LEGENDS
Greek Chicago has a long and distinguished tradition of not only Greek bands and singers, but also Greek Americans who have become fixtures on the local niteclub lounge seen. The one who most comes to mind is the now late, great Jimmy Damon (Dimopoulos), who was the inspiration for network NBC’s now legendary “Saturday Night Live” lounge singer skit played by actor/comedian Bill Murray. Greco-Roman American John Truncali has been a favorite of many Hellenic organizations for years. His main gig is singing traditional ‘Brat Pack’ Sinatra-Martin-Davis Jr. staples but he perhaps excels best at Tom Jones impersonations. Athens-born Liqeurghos Kanaris goes by the moniker “Green-Eyed Soulman.” His recent holiday event featured belly dancing and bouzoukia for his Greek fans but his bread and butter is Sinatra and the Rat Pack.
Moving to rock, famous guitarist/songwriter Al DiMeola recently performed live at City Winery in Chicago. He’s the ex-husband of Toni DiMeola, a Greek American who’s the co-owner of the popular Mythos Greek restaurant on the North Side with her sister. Toni and Al have children together and the former couple remain friends…One of the more notable Christmas music renditions is the annual Oak Park Concert Chorale chorus of singers, being held December 20 at 4 pm. Among the singers is the mother/daughter duo Angie and Valerie Poulos. Their yearly holiday program is highly anticipated.
CORNERING THE GREEKTOWN MARKET
The market on west Jackson Street corridor office lofts seems to be cornered, so to speak. Crain’s Chicago Business reported Crayton Advisors paid $18 million in November “for an eight-story, 174,543-square-foot building at 820 W. Jackson.” Crayton is also purchasing a 105,423 square-foot building at 850 W. Jackson and three adjacent parking lots for $35 million, reports Crain’s, who added that in June Crayton “bought two loft office buildings across the street, at 833 W. Jackson Blvd. and 322 S. Green St. and a parking lot they share from Chicago-based Urban Innovations for $29.9 million.”
Two local Greek Americans were recently part of teams of attorneys that helped broker and finalize the sale of two major businesses…Dino Armiros of Arnstein & Lehr was part of the team which handled the sale of Pitchfork Media, the parent of the famous independent music website and quarterly journal. The purchaser was Conde Nast publishing…Dussias & Skallas, headed by Tom Skallas and Dean Dussias, recently handled the closing on a major deal for Lake Forest, IL-based employee benefits consulting firm Forest Financial Group, founded by Nick Gialamas. The buyer was insurance conglomerate Hubb International. Gialamas will stay on with Hubb as its midwest/west area president. Skallas is a board member of the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago.
Professor Stefanos Katsikas, director of the Program for Modern Greek Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, informs us that a recent funding boost has allowed for expansion of the program at the university! Stefanos wrote, “Many thanks should also go to the European Union Center for supporting our MGS program with $5,000 annually towards language instruction and for co-sponsoring various events organized by the program through the EUC’s Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education and the Russian, East European and Eurasian Center, which offers up to $500 annually from the REEEC’s Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education to support MGS’s activities. Finally, I wish to thank the Department of Linguistics, the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.”
For more than 20 years, Terry has been covering issues in the Greek community both in Chicago and nationally for various publications. He’s a writer whose focus includes sports, media, science and politics. By day, he’s a business owner (TheSportsIndex.com), and separate from that, he’s been working as a pro football Replay Assistant for the past 17 years.