Friday, August 31, 2012

31 August 2012, Day 87

No matter what is happening down on the ground, she keeps her terra cotta cool, watching over the corner of Howard and Paulina. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

29 August 2012, Day 85

Two weeks ago, i posted a picture of the former entrance to the Red Line at the closed Washington St. entrance. This is the other end -- the exit from the tunnel that used to connect the Red and Blue Lines. Something about that fence surrounding an empty space strikes me as very funny and also leads me to ponder what i'd like to see there. For some reason (probably that nice unruly grass on State Street), i think it would make an excellent mini-pasture or petting zoo. The tortuous wait for the Blue Line to arrive would be so much more bearable if i could pass the time petting a baby goat. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

28 August 2012, Day 84

Greetings from the Cathedral of Crumbling Infrastructure

Just in case you thought i was going soft in choosing to post the "pretty" rather than the "ugly" picture yesterday, today i thought i'd opt for something that i find really beautiful in its ugliness. This is the viaduct where the Red Line crosses Sheridan Rd. just before the turn at Devon. It's one of the most dangerously deteriorated sections of the L on the north side, with a sort of latticework of crisscrossing steel beams added a few years ago to ward off disaster until more permanent and extensive repairs can be done. It's languished in this cobbled-together state for too long, and i sincerely hope that it gets repaired soon, but in the meantime i find the interplay of angles and arches really lovely.

Monday, August 27, 2012

27 August 2012, Day 83

Taking the High Road (literally and figuratively)

I suppose this picture comes dangerously close to postcard pretty, but it's a view that i feel fortunate to enjoy several times a week. I usually stop to admire it, to see how it changes depending on the weather and time of day, and this is far from being the first time that i've photographed it. 
I took a few other pictures today, but they were all a little too ironic, a little too "ha-ha-look-what-an-ugly-building-i-work-in." In truth, they bordered on the passive-aggressive. But when i leave that ugly building, this is what i see, and this is what i'd rather send your way today. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

26 August 2012, Day 82

Foolish human, I scoff at your intellectual pursuits, your work ethic, and your deadlines! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

25 August 2012, Day 81

The View from Farwell Pier

Looking south beyond the crowd cooling off in the lake on a hot August Saturday, beyond the midrises of Edgewater and the trees of Montrose Harbor, the Chicago skyline shimmers far in the distance like a mirage metropolis. 

Pivoting to look to the northeast, the unassuming lighthouse at the end of the pier is the only evidence of a human presence; the prairie grasses and azure strip of lake along the horizon seem timeless and untouched. I come here often and stand on this spot to ground myself, balancing on the cusp of yin and yang, rooted in both the the vast natural world and the towering city i love.

Friday, August 24, 2012

24 August 2012, Day 80

Alas, summer is drawing to a close, and taking my leisure time along with it. I'm determined to keep this blog going (at the very least until Day 100), but will have much less time to devote to it in the next few months. I am officially on a very short leash between my not-very-photogenic desk and even-less-photogenic place of employment until further notice, but be assured that i will continue to keep my trusty camera with me in hopes of encountering serendipitous scenes along my narrowly circumscribed path. Since rather than focusing on far-off and exotic scenes, my mission here has been to show the magical, the beautiful, or the just-plain-peculiar in my everyday encounters, perhaps there will be little change in the coming months. I hope that will be the case. 
In the meantime, here are a few lovely splashes of color that i encountered this morning on my quest for something a little more interesting than Joe's O's for breakfast. The quest was, by the way, successful, ending with a bacon-cheddar scone from the Growling Rabbit. And now, unfortunately, i must get back to work. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

23 August 2012, Day 79

Where's Waldo?

Sometimes it's best to admit that you aren't going to get the perfect picture and shouldn't even try. Following the sound of a bird making a lot of noise this afternoon, i came across what i think was a young cardinal calling to its mother for food. I wanted to get a good close-up of one bird or the other, but realized that my presence was disturbing them and disrupting the feeding process. So i got this quick shot of mom and then went on my way. I've been noticing a lot more cardinals in the neighborhood lately, so maybe one of these days i'll get a better picture.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

22 August 2012, Day 78, Pt. 2

Madonna and Child in Repose

I saw this mother and child on the L this afternoon and they looked so beautiful that i had to take their picture.

22 August 2012, Day 78, Pt. 1

Work in Progress

This is the beginning of the large-scale transformation of the ugly concrete retaining wall on the east side of Glenwood Avenue between Farwell and Morse. Yesterday it was whitewashed, by this morning a large segment had been roughly sketched in, and by this evening it had begun to be painted in with lot of lovely vibrant blues and purples. The artists were nice enough to stop and chat with me for a few minutes, and i look forward to seeing their work take shape over the course of the next few weeks. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

21 August 2012, Day 77

Strange how you can walk down a street time and again until one day noticing something that had been there all along. On my way from the movies to Trader Joe's on Diversey this afternoon, i came across this stenciled graffiti, which is apparently one of the series done a few years ago by CRO (Ray Noland), commemorating the fall of our most colorful former governor and current convicted felon, Rod Blagojevich. By recreating this pose from the movie Jailhouse Rock, this image references both Blago's admiration for Elvis Presley and his present legal difficulties. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

20 August 2012, Day 76

"Our revels now are ended"

After all the fun of the weekend, Morse Avenue looked a little bedraggled today. Even this fabric-and-wire street sculpture, never meant to last forever, is suddenly tattered and sad, like a bridesmaid who had a little too much champagne at the wedding and now has to do the walk of shame back home the next morning, her make-up smeared and silly bridesmaid's dress all in disarray. But it was a lovely party while it lasted!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

19 August 2012, Day 75

Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest, Day 2

I took a lot of nice pictures of the craft booths and crowds today, but ultimately decided to leave you with this one final image of one of the weekend's more mystifying moments. Last night, Environmental Encroachment brought their own wonderful brand of craziness to the party; tonight Furious Frank (which, by the way, is a great band) seemed to bring out the craziness in the crowd... or maybe it was just the culmination of a long weekend of sunshine, music, and champagne slushies that did it. There were hula hoops, caped crusaders, and even a woman pole dancing with that poor innocent little maple tree in the background. In short, a splendid time was had by all here in Rogers Park this weekend. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

18 August 2012, Day 74, Pt. 2

More scenes from the Glenwood Ave. Arts Fest. The first group are from the artists at B1E Gallery, the last are from the wild and wonderful show put on by Environmental Encroachment Magic Circus Band, a brassy, sassy, and carnivalesque troupe of players that was about as much fun as you can have this far north of New Orleans.

18 August 2012, Day 74, Pt. 1

Scenes from the Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival

The first two pictures are of Mandin West African Drum Ensemble, the last is of a wonderful photographer and world traveler named Antonio, and the rest should be self-explanatory illustrations of how we party in the RP. I apologize for not taking a picture of a champagne slushy, but since i don't drink, i didn't get close enough to photograph one; however, i thought you might at least like hearing that they exist.

Friday, August 17, 2012

17 August 2012, Day 73

Poor back-alley Cinderella! Lost among the dumpsters, with no carriage, coachman, or fairy godmother, what prince could find your shoe?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

16 August 2012, Day 72

The Prince Edward Manor apartment building is so quirky and photogenic that it's become my go-to spot when i'm feeling too lazy, weather-bound, or uninspired to wander into unknown territory for my photo du jour. I last posted one of its architectural details back on 28 June, so it seems about time to post another. This jester is a kind of emotional barometer for me. Sometimes i look at him and think, "Look how he can laugh no matter how miserable the weather, the economy, or the news. I should try to laugh more." Other times, i look at him and think, "Is that stone-headed jackass laughing at me?"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

15 August 2012, Day 71

The Washington Ave. station on the CTA Red Line was closed in 2006 as part of the Block 37 construction project. In the years since then, this station entrance in the heart of Chicago's Loop has transformed into a beautiful anachronism, seeming to harken back to our agrarian past while hinting at a distant future when Chicago -- like Tikal and Machu Picchu before it -- is reclaimed by the forces of the natural world.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

14 August 2012, Day 70

Now that i've recovered from my wonderful vacation and long ride home, it's time to get back in the groove of daily life. Step one was refilling my empty refrigerator with lots of fresh fruit and veggies, and i used that as an excuse to pay a visit to one of my favorite neighborhoods this morning. Lincoln Square is always a great place to visit, what with the mural and Maibaum, Merz Aphothecary, and Gene's Sausage & Deli, but Tuesday is special because that's farmers market day. I was feeling quite virtuous for stocking up on tomatoes and peaches, green beans and cukes, so it seemed only fair that i reward myself with a nice hunk of Pflaumenkuchen (German plum cake) from CafĂ© Selmarie. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

13 August 2012, Day 69

End of the Road

My journey back to Chicago from Philadelphia aboard the Amtrak Cardinal took a long 27 hours. I met some very nice and interesting people and spent the daylight hours on Sunday looking out the window at some beautiful scenery -- especially in West Virginia. Unfortunately i took very few pictures. I didn't have a window seat, and during my one attempt at photographing the view from the cafe car, the results were rather underwhelming. I am always a little hesitant about taking pictures of people, but especially so in this case since one of my first rules for long-distance train travel is to avoid awkward situations with the people you will be forced to share BO, bad food, and snores with for the next full day. Plus, sometimes the pleasure of passively watching the world rush by far outweighs my desire to capture it with a camera. 

I had some excellent conversations, particularly with my seat mate, a young man from Ghana who is studying Political Science, and a woman who had recently returned to the US with her family after living in England for the past 10 years. Her observations about the polarization of American politics and the lack of any tolerance or respect for differing viewpoints, was especially interesting because to her it hasn't been insidious and slow, but a more clearly defined case of before-and-after. She was especially stunned by the level to which climate change is treated as a political choice rather than scientifically supported reality and is rejected by so many people in this country. This does not, by the way, help to strengthen our image abroad as anything other than the world's big, dim-witted cousin. 

So anyway, here you have it: a picture of the train car that was my home from early on Sunday until mid-morning on Monday; and a final shot of the grand staircase in Chicago's Union Station. I like the wavy unevenness of the stairs after decades of use (although this is something i like much better from an observational perspective than from actually trying to walk up or down them). And, as i'm sure my most eagle-eyed readers will have noted, this staircase -- like the WWII Memorial in 30th Street Station seen in yesterday's post -- was the location of a memorable scene from a movie made in the 1980s ... but i'll leave it to you to figure out what the two movies were.