Tuesday, July 31, 2012

31 July 2012, Day 56

Use your imagination. Imagine that it is 1971 and you have just escaped East Germany hidden in the trunk of a tiny Trabant. You and the driver are both so frightened that you just keep going clear across Germany and across the border into France, not stopping until you reach Paris just as the sun is setting. Your back aches, your legs are numb, but there you are. Have a baguette and a café au lait, my treat!

Monday, July 30, 2012

30 July 2012, Day 55

Sometimes when i'm doing the laundry in my dreary basement laundry room, i find myself wondering if i've died and gone to hell. When it's finally finished, i walk toward the light thinking that perhaps it is only Purgatory.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

29 July 2012, Day 54

Here are a few shots from Celebrate Clark Street, an annual street festival in Rogers Park. I wish i could photograph music, because Son de la Habana was such a good band that they got everyone dancing. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

28 July 2012, Day 53

Scenes from the Newberry Library's Annual Book Fair and the Bughouse Square Debates, including the bestowing of the coveted Dill Pickle Award to Sam Singleton, Atheist Evangelist. The topic of the main debate was "Who's to Blame for the Great Recession, Big Government or Big Business?" with one side represented by someone from Occupy Chicago and the other by a member of the Chicago Tea Party. I feel a bit guilty for getting there so close to the end, but the six rooms of very cheap books on sale across the street at the Newberry managed to hold me in their clutches for much longer than i had anticipated. The sale continues on Sunday from 10 - 6, so check it out if you're in the area. The Newberry Library is located at 60 W. Walton St. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

27 July 2012, Day 52

It had to happen eventually, and frankly i'm surprised that it hasn't happened sooner: a day of dolce far niente. There were no photo ops, no scenic treks to the beach, the loop, or the grocery store, just lots of reading, and coffee, a long soak in the tub, and a longer nap. All without apology. And now i'm going to hunker down in front of the TV and watch the Olympics opening ceremony. I'll try to be more interesting tomorrow.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

26 July 2012, Day 51, Pt. 2

Here are a few pictures of the new Target store at Madison and State, in the old Carson Pirie Scott building. The facade of this beautiful building, with its exquisite cast-iron ornamentation, has been lovingly preserved and remains faithful to the vision of its architect, Louis Sullivan. I've been deeply and madly in love with this building since i first set eyes on it, and am grateful to Target for making it once a gain a vital part of the cityscape. 

Here is an article in the Chicago Tribune on the opening of the store. 

26 July 2012, Day 51, Pt. 1

I encountered quite a mixed bag of sights and experiences on my travels today. 
This first picture caught my eye because at first i couldn't see that something was written on the seat of these two fold-outs, and i thought, "Bed? Hmmm, i wonder if they've labelled all their furniture with red spray paint." Fortunately, i saw the full message before i got within ten feet of the things. Creepy-crawly, but very thoughtful of the people who put them out to make sure no one would take them home and regret it. I hope they've got the problem under control -- those little suckers are awful!

Next stop: Daley Plaza. I've been trying to limit myself to one farmers market a week, but when i've run out of both corn and peaches by Wednesday, there's no way i'm going to hold out until Sunday. This happy group of cloggers was performing in front of the Daley Center, dancing to "Rocky Top." Clogging seems to be a lot like tap-dancing, but with less awesome shoes.

Busker at the corner of Dearborn & Washington. She played nicely and her posture and outfit reminded me a little of the character Annie (Lucia Micarelli) in Tremé.

Onward to the new Target store in the Old Carson Pirie Scott building. I've been very curious/apprehensive about the fate of this beautiful Louis Sullivan building since Carson's closed. The good news is that the facade has been treated with tender loving care. The store's grand opening is 29 July, but their soft opening started yesterday, so i got to go in, check it out, buy a new notebook, and snap a few pictures. Other shots of both the interior and exterior are posted in Part 2 of today's blogpost. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

25 July 2012, Day 50

This simple picture incorporates Chicago history, family heirlooms, and solid evidence that -- as we who live here have long maintained -- Rogers Park is the coolest place in Chicago. According to the Weather Channel, it is currently 100℉ in Chicago, while here in the RP, touched by the gently cooling presence of Lake Michigan and substantially less concrete and steel than the Loop, it is a refreshingly temperate 98℉. The thermometer, a souvenir of the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair, was one of many leatherette tchatchkes that my uncle brought home from his job at a leather works in Philadelphia. As a child, i loved this thermometer, which seemed to me to be an exotic talisman of far-off places and modernist design. I wouldn't have known to call it "modernist," but i recognized it as celebrating a future that still seemed excitingly futuristic three decades after the Century of Progress. In time, i inherited the thermometer and it has travelled with me since, until eventually i (and it) moved to Chicago. Wandering through the local antiques malls, i've discovered that Century of Progress memorabilia is fairly cheap and commonplace here, but to me it is still rich with that aura of other places and other times that it had for me as a child. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

24 July 2012, Day 49

In an attempt to ward off a diabetic coma in the aftermath of having consumed an ill-advised but yummy slice of chess pie, i took a brief stroll through the neighborhood and happened upon this stately pillar and its mate outside of a beautifully rehabbed apartment building on the 6900 block of N. Greenview Ave. I don't know the history of the pillars other than that they were not outside the building prior to the rehab and that they look like they might be a Louis Sullivan design. In truth, i didn't have to walk all that far to find them since they were only about 50 feet from the Common Cup, home of the aforementioned pie, but i did have to ward off a wild pack of lacrosse players who came pouring out of the building as i was about to snap the picture. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

23 July 2012, Day 48, Pt. 2

I haven't posted on the station rehab at Morse Ave. in a little while, so here are a few pictures taken this morning. The first shows the progress made to the south entrance since i last photographed it on Sunday, 15 July.  
Entrance on south side of Morse Ave.

Tuckpointing on the West side of Glenwood Ave. at Morse.

Morse L Liquors
The final picture captures an interesting sight: the workers were removing merchandise from the liquor store at one end of the station housing and putting it in a trailer parked at the corner. "Ah," i said to one of the guys as he walked past me with a case of liquor bottles, "lunch time?" Fortunately (since i can't seem to prevent this sort of witty remark from escaping through my lips), he seemed to think i was as funny as i think i am, and we both had a good laugh.

23 July 2012, Day 48, Pt. 1

Today's picture is located about six feet away from yesterday's. I hope, dear reader, that you will pardon my failure to wander far afield for the past couple of days, but the weather is a bit too sweltery for me to garner the enthusiasm required for a field trip. Plus, there is always something worth looking at in Rogers Park. 
The sewing machine horse in the sculpture garden is another of my favorite things. I like to imagine taking him for a run along the lakefront, leaving behind us a trail of fashionable handmade apparel. I'm not certain why he is eating a whale as i thought horses were vegetarian, but possibly that's because most of them have never had the opportunity to taste whale meat.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

22 July 2012, Day 47

This is one of my favorite elements in the sculpture garden adjacent to Andy DelaRosa's B1E Gallery at 6902 N. Glenwood Ave. Whenever i walk past, i pause and look at it for a few moments. Usually i see the paint stirrers that surround the central figure as a kind of sunburst from which she radiates a serene calmness, but today i see them as the sharp edges of the world that can't quite reach her through her protective layer of fog. It's an overcast morning, humid and airless, and i seem to have a little bit of a melatonin hangover. Like the figure in the sculpture, i feel wrapped in a cloud that not even pointy sticks can penetrate.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

21 July 2012, Day 46

Today was a peaceful day of lovely encounters. I'm happy to have bonded with a new friend over coffee at the Growling Rabbit and to have followed that pleasant hour with a convocation of the birds on Loyola Beach. This as-yet-unnamed young cockatoo took a walk up my arm and squawked a sweet nothing in my ear. His person, who had just gotten him yesterday, told me it was the first attempt the bird had made to speak. I felt honored! It was quite a scene when Sharon and Lunch, her Quaker parakeet, pulled up on their bicycle, followed soon thereafter by a family with young children, each of whom took a turn letting the cockatoo stand on their arm. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

20 July 2012, Day 45

My heart was too heavy today to do anything more than the basic mechanical tasks of everyday life: laundry, going to the market for milk and bread, going to Target to buy the fire extinguisher i've been wanting to get for my kitchen. Somehow that last task took on the significance of a quest: a talisman -- like a St.Christopher medal or a rabbit's foot -- that would somehow make me believe myself safer in an unsafe world. 

We woke up today to the horrible news that once again a gunman had opened fire on a crowd of people in a public place. This time it was a movie theater, and maybe because movie theaters are sacred spaces to me, my refuge from any and all troubles, the horror of it struck me especially hard. 

We live in a violent world. There are people in cities around the globe who wake up to similar tragedies and worse on any given day, whether at the hands of suicide bombers or their own government. In my own city of Chicago, there are neighborhoods so victimized by gang violence that the mourning for little children struck down by stray bullets has become an almost commonplace story on the evening news. But for many -- probably most -- Americans, there is still the presumption of safety as we get in our cars, go to the mall, send our kids off to school or away to college, go to the movies. And when a thing like this happens, the cracks in the facade of our safe and peaceful lives are opened. We remember 9/11; we remember Columbine; we remember Virginia Tech; we remember a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. We cry, we pray, and then we begin once more to patch over those cracks, to rationalize that the person who did this was insane rather than symptomatic, to tell ourselves that we need more guns to protect ourselves. And we forget until the next time. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

19 July 2012, Day 44

Scenes from the Daley Plaza Farmers Market

If you haven't noticed yet, i'm addicted to farmers markets (although i'm actually being much more moderate in my habits this year than in the past). I love buying locally grown produce and having my eating habits determined by the season. Peaches are my favorite food (followed closely by cherries), and every year i wait impatiently for the first peaches to arrive at the market and later grow mournful as their season draws to a close. Climate change is beginning to interrupt the pleasurably predictable rhythms of the growing season, with much of this year's peach crop lost because of 80℉ temperatures in March that made the trees blossom too soon and then be killed by the frost that followed. Now the drought is having an impact on the corn. One of the advantages of being at least somewhat of a locavore is that it makes you very aware of the fragile balance of the living world.

On a lighter note, i have finally decided to follow the AP guidelines and drop the apostrophe from farmers market. This has been bothering me a lot lately since i tend to use the words "farmers market" a lot more than the average person because of the aforementioned addiction. Until today, my tendency has been to write it "farmers' market," but the AP states that this is incorrect since the farmers do not own the market. Alrighty then, that's good enough for me!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

18 July 2012, Day 43, Pt. 2

And here is the glorious rainstorm i got caught in on my way home from the movies. I really tried to get a shot of the spectacular lightning, but didn't succeed, so all you get are raindrops. It was a long trek to Portage Park tonight, and on the way home i decided that, rather than taking the bus directly to the Red Line at Sheridan, it might be faster and drier to hop off the bus and onto the Brown Line and then catch the Red Line at Belmont. It wasn't. But it still turned out to be a good decision since it saved me from having to squeeze onto a train that was already packed with rain- and beer-drenched Cubs fans. 

18 July 2012, Day 43

After years of laziness and inertia, i finally managed to get to the Portage Theatre tonight for a showing of Sam Fuller's House of Bamboo (1955). What a great experience to sit in that gorgeous auditorium, built in 1920, and see the movie the way it was meant to be seen! Now that i've figured out where Portage Park is, i hope to be able to see many more films at the Portage. Unfortunately, that may not be possible as the theater is in grave danger of being not only closed, but "renovated" into a church that would destroy the wonderful details of the theater interior. The local alderman, John Arena, has been trying to work with the church to help them find a more suitable location in the community so this historical theater can remain intact; unfortunately, so far his efforts have not been successful. I'm going to copy and paste a letter from Alderman Arena urging people to come to the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing this Friday, 20 July, to support the Portage Theater. I've also included links to the Portage website and Save the Portage Theater Facebook page. I hope you'll take the time to get involved.

Come Support the Portage Theater at the ZBA Again

The Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals will hold its hearing Friday, July 20, on the future of the Portage Theater and the Six Corners Business District. Currently, a church has applied for a special use permit to use the building for worship services. We continue to work with the church to find an equitable solution that preserves the Portage Theater as a cultural treasure and historic landmark.

If the zoning board of appeals were to grant the request, it would be nearly impossible to open a new restaurant, bar, or performing arts space near the building. If you can, come support the Portage by appearing at this hearing. We don't need you to speak, but we do need you to show board members that the community supports the continued operation of the Portage as a theater.

The Portage is on board's afternoon agenda, which starts at 2 pm. The hearing will be at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle, in City Council Chambers on the 2nd floor.

Hope to see you there.

***UPDATE 07/19***
Great news! According to the Portage Theater's Facebook page, the Chicago Tabernacle has officially withdrawn its application for a zoning change and is not going to buy the Portage Theater. So there's no need to run down to the Zoning Board tomorrow -- the Portage is safe for now!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

17 July 2012, Day 42

For me, squirrels walk a very fine line between cute and loathsome. On most days, their fuzzy little tails and plaintively beady little eyes are not enough to overcome the traumatic memory of the day i discovered a big hole gnawed through my window screen and an industrious squirrel sitting in the middle of my kitchen table trying to rip apart a bakery bag and steal my chocolate croissant. 

This little guy embodies the full range of squirrelness: looking directly at me, filled with cautious curiosity, wondering if i'm going to toss him some food or shoot him. Is he, like the rest of us, just looking for a little relief from the oppressive heat in the shade of a transformer box? Or did i catch him in the act of some suicidal trickster mission to blow out the transformer and let the humans suffer in the un-airconditioned darkness? 

Monday, July 16, 2012

16 July 2012, Day 41

Until this evening, i didn't even know that ear protectors for children existed, but i think they are an excellent idea -- especially when going to see Charles Bradley, affectionately known as "The Screaming Eagle of Soul." He was, by the way, fantastic; if you've never heard him, here's a link to "The World (Is Going Up in Flames)", a song that really blew me away.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

15 July 2012, Day 40

Back to the Morse Avenue L stop for a few more pictures today. The first is a different perspective on the "dinosaur" seen peeking through the trees in yesterday's picture. The magic-hour lighting is kind of surprising since the camera was aimed almost directly into the brilliant early morning sun; i would have expected something a little more like the lens flares in Cool Hand Luke. But i really like the result, unintended though it was. One of these days, i'm going to take a photography course and/or get a more sophisticated camera.

The next picture is of the station exit on the south side of Morse. To the best of my recollection, it has been boarded up since i moved here twelve years ago. If, dear reader, you know more about when it closed, please leave a comment. 

I'm especially excited about this picture because getting it represented a little more of a challenge than most of my pictures: I even endured a very mild reprimand from one of the construction workers for sticking my head and camera through an opening between panels of the fabric-and-metal barrier screens. He caught me before i could take a picture, but it then occurred to me that i could hold the camera above the barrier, and voila! Here is the result. I've been dying to get a picture of this part of the construction site since the beginning of the project and can't believe it took me this long to figure out this simple solution.

One final note, when i say "mild reprimand" i mean it. In the fine old tradition of Bluebeard's eighth wife, i just had to see what was inside the forbidden room; the guy was right to tell me to that i couldn't go past the barrier, and he wasn't loud or rude about it. The crew from Kiewit Corp. working on this project have to be among the nicest construction workers in the world. They've been making great progress under some very difficult weather conditions, yet they always seem to make the extra effort to be courteous and friendly to the people in the neighborhood. This is a big project, causing a lot of disruption to business-as-usual in the area, but the professionalism and cheerfulness of the workers on the job make it a little easier to take. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

14 July 2012, Day 39

The Creature that Ate Rogers Park

I was sitting on the porch, placidly enjoying a tomato and cheese omelet and a cup of coffee, when i looked up to see this mighty dinosaur rearing its head beyond the ailanthus trees. I usually like to wait until later in the day to choose my photo du jour, but i'm going to hide my camera for the rest of today so i won't even be tempted to choose another picture instead of this one. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

13 July 2012, Day 38

A day of very welcome rain. It wasn't enough to end the drought, but it felt wonderful to resurrect my trusty umbrella, put on my Teva sandals, and go out splashing through puddles. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

12 July 2012, Day 37

I'm having the sort of day that belongs in a cheery German children's tale like this one:

The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb
One day Mamma said, "Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don't suck your thumb while I'm away.
The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys who suck their thumbs;
And ere they dream what he's about,
He takes his great sharp scissors out,
And cuts their thumbs clean off—and then,
You know, they never grow again."

Mamma had scarcely turned her back,
The thumb was in, Alack! Alack!

The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissor-man.
Oh! children, see! the tailor's come
And caught out little Suck-a-Thumb.
Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out "Oh! Oh! Oh!"
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast,
That both his thumbs are off at last.

Mamma comes home: there Conrad stands,
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands;
"Ah!" said Mamma, "I knew he'd come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb."

Heinrich Hoffman

For more of the same, complete with gloriously lurid illustrations, visit Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

11 July 2012, Day 36

Today, i'm going to go easy on the commentary and just leave you with a random collection of images observed on Glenwood Ave. and Clark St. in Rogers Park this afternoon. 

These first two pictures were taken outside the B1E Gallery and its neighboring sculpture garden on Glenwood between Farwell and Morse.

The remaining pictures were taken on Clark Street. I've arranged them in order from south to north.
Old-school "do not enter" sign at Lunt & Clark.
I like the name of this storefront church at 7058 N. Clark St: Garden of Life Ministries Intl., aka Church of Fire
The next two pictures tell a sad story. They were taken at the empty space that once was home to the Adelphi/North Shore Theater. The theater, which was built in 1917, was the go-to spot for Bollywood films in the 1990s; unfortunately, it was sold in 2002 and demolished in 2006 by a developer who subsequently went broke, leaving this dismal sight behind. The theater was still operating when i first moved to Rogers Park, and i always planned on going to a movie there some night. But i procrastinated and procrastinated, until one day i walked past and the theater was no longer open. 

If you've got a million or two burning a hole in your pocket, the property will go up for auction in early August.  

A forlorn sight at Clark & Estes

The larger view of the lot at Clark & Estes

East side of Clark between Estes & Touhy

Produce truck, parked on the west side of Clark near Chase

Fire station at 7340 N. Clark