Saturday, June 30, 2012

30 June 2012, Day 25

I could now scratch reading Vanity Fair off my bucket list, if it had ever been on my bucket list. I was seduced into reading it because it was one of those free classic titles offered for the Kindle that make you feel like you no longer have an excuse not to read them (although, let's face it, the price of a paperback copy of Vanity Fair wasn't preventing me from reading it years ago). I can't say that i would ever consider putting it on a list of favorite or "must-read" books, though i do admire Thackeray's wit and ability to turn a phrase. But what an annoying cast of characters! With the exception of the perverse and opportunistic Becky Sharp, i found myself overcome by the desire to slap each and every one of them silly. Becky may have been a bad girl, but i imagine i would be equally duplicitous and evil if i were surrounded by that simpering band of nincompoops. 

I suspect that i would have enjoyed reading this 800+ page opus in book form more than i did on the Kindle--i would have had my little pencil out underlining all kinds of clever phrases, something that gives me no pleasure at all on the Kindle because i can't imagine actually scrolling through it six months from now to see what i highlighted. No matter. I've read it. I'm a little less culturally illiterate. And now i think i'll go back and watch Mira Nair's film adaptation again.

Friday, June 29, 2012

29 June 2012, Day 24, Pt.2

Tonight at midnight the Morse Ave. Red Line station will close for six weeks while it gets a much-needed face-lift. Even though i complain a lot about the condition of this station, i'm already feeling a little nostalgic for its urban grit and seedy splendor. So i decided to make a little album of "before" pictures for future reference. 

This is a view from the platform showing the staging area and mountain of gravel on Morse Ave. east of Glenwood. 

If you look closely, you'll see the station agent in the booth smiling. He saw me taking pictures and asked, "Oh, what are you doing? before-and-after pictures? Good idea." I'm so glad that he was working instead of that miserable woman that i said good morning to everyday for about five years without ever getting more than a grunt in acknowledgement. 

I feel so badly that this picture is out of focus, but felt like i had to include it anyway because this woman was such a peach. I was getting ready to take a picture of the stairs leading up to the platform when i saw her and put the camera down while she finished walking down the steps (I try to be respectful of the fact that not everyone wants to be digitized for posterity). "Go ahead," she said, "take my picture. Is it going to be in the newspaper?" I explained that i was just taking a few pictures of the station before it closed, but she proceeded to strike a few poses for me, and the two of us just cracked up laughing. 

I think that the thing i'll miss most is the wooden platform, even though it was in pretty bad shape and borderline dangerous. As far as i know, it will be replaced with concrete. 

Goodbye for a while, Morse station. You've certainly earned a make-over, but i'll miss your familiar if timeworn face. 

29 June 2012, Day 24, Pt.1

Here's something we've seen precious little of this month: rain, glorious rain! The actual storm lasted only a few minutes, but here's what preceded it: 

The plane seen in picture 3 was the last to fly over from O'Hare before the storm hit; the passengers just missed a long boring afternoon stuck at the airport. The cloud formations leading up to the storm were unlike any i'd seen before. The main cloud bank literally rolled through looking very much like a giant celestial cigar. I have smoking on the brain today. Even though i haven't had a cigarette in 20 years or a cigar in almost 10, that cloud made me think of the hand-rolled cigars i used to buy from Mr. Culmer in Key West back in the '70s. I wouldn't mind having one now, sitting out on the back porch watching the weather roll by, slowly murdering my lungs, aahhh.... Alas, the price of virtue is, at least in my case, an occasional bout of melancholy nostalgia for vice. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

28 June 2012, Day 23

I have to confess that i didn't pour a huge amount of effort into today's picture. The temperature was in the upper 90s and there was an air pollution alert, so rather than die for my art running around in the sweltering heat looking for a suitable subject, i hopped on an air conditioned bus, took it to an air conditioned movie theater, and sat there all afternoon giving very little thought to my responsibilities to the blogosphere. Apparently there was a rainstorm while i was in the theater, but by the time it occurred to me to take a picture of a puddle, i'd passed all the good ones. Feel free to thank me for not posting the one puddle-picture i took -- a manhole cover with a small pool of rainwater in it; it was possibly the most boring picture i've ever taken. So anyway, as i was nearly home, i began to panic that i was going to have to post another picture of my cat in a silly hat. Fortunately, i came to my senses as i was walking past this apartment building (which i pass almost every day and never tire of looking at) and snapped this picture. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

27 June 2012, Day 22

It's been a very Zen birthday; even the sidewalks seemed wiser than usual.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

26 June 2012, Day 21

Scenes from a Tuesday Lunch Hour at Daley Plaza 

One of my favorite things about Daley Plaza is the way that the Picasso is treated, not with reverence but with affection. It is not so much a masterpiece by one of the world's greatest artists as it is a beloved part of the cityscape and a convenient sliding board for city kids. I avoided the urge to edit out the pictures that were out of focus or poorly composed because i think they have their own dynamism and joy that just feels right to me.

It must be at least a week since i posted pictures of people dancing, but thank goodness, the long drought in dance pictures is finally over!
Chicago's unique approach to  physical fitness is to hold live lunchtime concerts and encourage people to dance (like Chicagoans need any encouragement at all in that department). 

Monday, June 25, 2012

25 June 2012, Day 20

I was on my way back from Romanian Kosher Sausage today and decided to take a picture of this sign, which i've always admired. I like the way that "REST" is illuminated. I would have taken a picture of Romanian, but hmmm, how can i put this diplomatically? All their efforts go into their products; meanwhile, the window display consists of stacks of brown cardboard boxes, and has for years. But, oh, those hot dogs!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

24 June 2012, Day 19, Pt. 2

I knew that i was taking a chance when i posted the photo(s) du jour before it was even noon. But since i'd decided to hang around the house rather than go to the Pride Parade, i assumed that the rest of the day would be less than remarkable. Then i discovered that the Hare Krishnas were having a big parade and festival in my neighborhood, so of course i had to grab my little camera and go. It was very cool. I even ran into one of my students there and met his mother. The huge canopy seen in the first picture was ingeniously designed to collapse easily to get under the street signs (picture 2). I was given a banana (picture 4) and could have partaken of the free feast, but was feeling a little too carnivorous so i came home for a late lunch.

24 June 2012, Day 19, Pt. 1

Greetings from the Peoples Republic of Rogers Park!

This is our currency.

This is what it buys.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

23 June 2012, Day 18

The destination for today's excursion was Indian Boundary Park in West Rogers Park. The name of the park refers to the fact that its location is along the territorial boundary between US and Pottawattomie lands as determined by the Treaty of 1816. Sadly, as with most such treaties, this one was honored for only a few years before it was superseded by the Treaty of 1833 which forced the removal of the Pottawattomie west of the Mississippi. 

Since it was a long walk to the park, i've included a lot of pictures (and a refueling stop at the end). This is one of my favorite parks in Chicago; it isn't huge but it seems like it is because there is so much to see and do there.

Poor George Washington! Apparently the mulberries and the birds that eat them have no more respect for him than for the cars, sidewalks, and everything else that falls prey to their devious and indelible schemes. This was originally the keystone of the old Chicago city hall, but was donated to the park in 1927.

Sadly, the lovely Tudor-style field house was badly damaged in a fire on 20 May of this year. All the windows on the ground level are boarded up and you can see in this picture that a tarp is covering the large hole where the fire burned through the roof. I haven't heard any news about how long it will take to repair or how much it will cost, but i really hope this beautiful local treasure can be restored. 

The Indian Boundary Village has to be one of the best pieces of playground equipment anywhere. As you can see from the pictures, it's huge! 

Did i neglect to mention that there is also a zoo? Admittedly, it isn't a very large zoo, but still, it's a nice treat for the local kids. I haven't been to the park for a few years, but i remember that there used to be a llama there.I didn't see it today so i'm not sure if it's gone or was just not out when i was there. The only critters i saw were some chickens and ducks and this fat and contented goat. A little boy who was there with his grandmother played a trick on me. He said, "Look, there's a gorilla!" It's pretty obvious that there isn't going to be a gorilla in an area enclosed with nothing stronger than chicken wire, but i was high on the magic of the park and somehow really wanted there to be a gorilla, so i walked over to see what he was pointing at. It was worth feeling a little foolish just to hear that little boy's laugh at putting one over on a grownup.

The duck pond is a lovely and peaceful spot. 

The fish are smart enough to follow the ducks around hoping to catch a few stray crumbs. 

End of the road. Rub BBQ at Lunt and Western. It caught my eye because it's so quaint looking, and i ended up being unable to resist the tempting prospect of getting some ribs for dinner. Okay, i confess, i wasn't even able to resist the ribs until dinner time and dug into them the minute i got home.