TV-PGApril 5, 2001: The mothership's still keeping mum, but the owner of a Chicago storefront confirms that Apple has signed a long-term lease. Meanwhile, provides further clues that Apple retail stores are headed for Minneapolis (and a few bonus surprise cities), and a rare interview with Steve Jobs settles the mystery of the Tokyo Suit once and for all...
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Chicago: Officially Official (4/5/01)

More on the Apple retail store front: those of you in the Windy City can officially start the party. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the owner of that choice Magnificent Mile storefront that Apple was eyeing has confirmed that the ink is now officially on the paper: Steve signed a "long-term lease." (Oh, you didn't realize that the Chicago gig wasn't actually a done deal? Well, it's reportedly etched in stone now, so keep your shirt on.) So yeah, eventually Chicago-area Mac mavens will be able to squeeze their big shoulders through the doors of 679 N. Michigan and check out the latest gear in 33,000 square feet of 100% pure grade-A Cupertino style.

The only question now is "when." The original snippet in Crain's Chicago Business that broke the news of Apple's retail negotiations last November stated that Apple's Chicago superstore would be opening "next spring," which we took to mean this spring. However, the Trib now claims otherwise; due in part to Apple's plans to gut the mammoth ex-Gap store and remake it in a vision of Jobsian grandeur (an "upscale new presentation" is actually stipulated in Apple's contract, since Michigan Avenue has to keep its swanky image intact), the Apple Store Chicago is now reportedly slated to open its doors to the public in the spring of next year. So we're looking at maybe at least a year before Chicagoans can party down in Apple's hallowed retail halls.

Hopefully that estimate is on the cautious side, and Steve can talk to the construction crew and conjure up some of that sixteen-hour workday magic that he's famous for extracting from his own crew back in Cupertino. (We just got a mental image of Steve cracking the whip on a hypothetical and stereotypically lazy road construction crew; we've got a whole "irresistible force/immoveable object" thing going on.) If we had to make a completely uneducated guess based on nothing but a gut feeling, we'd have to bet that Apple is going to do everything it can to get the Chicago store open in time for the holiday season-- because Michigan Avenue is mobbed at that time of year, and missing out on such a high volume of window-shoppers would be a real bummer, mind-share-wise.

Even if the "spring 2002" opening date is accurate, though, we doubt that implies that we'll be waiting for all of Apple's retail stores that long. We expect the first location will open to the public at July's Macworld Expo at the absolute latest-- and call us terminally optimistic, but we're still banking on the debut to happen either this month or next. Of course, with no Boston location yet determined, it's not like we have much to lose if we're wrong, but it's still fun to dream.

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More Pieces Of The Puzzle (4/5/01)

In other Apple retail store news, the Mac Observer claims to have secured further evidence to back up AppleInsider's recent claim that Minneapolis will be getting a brick-and-mortar Apple store of its own. Apparently Apple has an open listing at for "technical support specialists" to work in Minneapolis, and we have to admit that the description of the position is certainly pretty cloak-and-dagger: "Technical support specialists needed for special project for Apple Computer." "Special project"? Gee, what sort of "special project" do you suppose would require "extensive Macintosh knowledge" and "customer service skills"? (Why didn't they just throw "cash register and checkout experience" in there, too?)

For further clues as to the nature of this mysterious "special project," consider that one anonymous Mac Observer source had applied for the position and was actually contacted by an Apple rep. The applicant asked what the "special project" was, and was told only that it was "a secret." The applicant pressed further: was it an Apple store? Once again: it's "a secret." That's not proof, of course, but a "no comment" always makes us more than a little suspicious.

Intrigued, we decided to wander over to ourselves and see what we could find-- and whaddaya know? There's an identical job posting for this "special project" in Chicago. Now unless you have a really short memory (say, ten or twelve seconds), you probably recall that Chicago was just confirmed as a future Apple store location by the owner of the Michigan Avenue storefront that Apple leased. The fact that both job listings match word-for-word (other than the location) hints pretty strongly that, yes, this "special project" is indeed Apple's push to open its own boutiques. So, congratulations, Minneapolis; while it's still not official, we're convinced that you'll be welcoming your very own Apple store soon enough.

And isn't this interesting? We found more of those "special project" job listings-- in Dallas, TX, Columbus, OH, and Birmingham, AL. The more perspicacious among you may draw your own conclusions. And if the rest of you are wondering what this fact implies, well, we'd tell you... but it's a secret.

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Get Your USRDA of S. J. RDF (4/5/01)

Running low on Steveosity? Need a heaping helping of Steve to get you through the rest of the week? Is your life not as Stevelicious as it probably should be? You're in luck; The Age has just published a lengthy article on everyone's favorite CEO-- and it's an interview! And it's not just any old "Q&A" interview, either, because Steve's comments are interspersed with extensive backstory and fun stuff like descriptions of Steve at a Mac as "priest-before-altar." The author clearly took a full-strength hit of Reality Distortion Field energy, and is looking to share its effects.

Thrill to such disarmingly personal moments as Steve showing off beautiful fonts by typing the names of his three youngest kids! Drink the Kool-Aid and unquestioningly accept such RDF-dripping proclamations as "more than almost any other man, Jobs may claim to have changed forever the way the world works, lives and plays"! Watch as Steve goes off on the term "digital divide" as just one more way that society shields itself from the unpleasant issue of global poverty! And, perhaps most exciting of all, learn once and for all the secret of the suit!

Yes, folks, this interview was conducted in Tokyo, site of the alarming Keynote-in-a-Suit that baffled and disoriented fans who are unused to seeing Steve in anything dressier than his trademark black turtleneck and jeans. But if you've spent many a sleepless night since that fateful day in January trying to extract the greater meaning of Steve's sudden change in fashion sense, The Age has granted you a reprieve from the tossing and turning. Says Steve: "I just figured, here I am in Japan and I shouldn't look like a bum."

Is it really as simple as that? Shouldn't there be some greater meaning, some deeper mystery to The Suit? We can't help feeling that we should be attaching some sort of higher significance to Steve's "rumpled, slightly out-of-fashion charcoal suit with faint red pinstripes"-- maybe some kind of David Byrnesque performance art statement. In any event, it sounds to us like it was a one-time sort of deal: "I haven't worn a suit in years. It's just an old suit I had lying around. I wouldn't count on my wearing it much in the future. Wearing a suit cuts off your blood supply." Words of wisdom from the master, kids; take heed!

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