Friday, May 31, 2013

31 May 2013, Day 360 -- The Wall

This Father's Day weekend, we'll celebrate the twentieth annual Artist of the Wall festival along the lakefront in Rogers Park. In preparation, the entire length of the wall has been whitewashed, with the sad exception of one small section, painted last year by a young man named Terrence, who died a victim of gun violence since painting his section of the wall last June. 
For more information on the festival click HERE.

POSTSCRIPT: The Artist of the Wall festival is something that i look forward to every year, and some of the earliest posts on the Photo du Jour show last year's preparations and the festival itself. My original plan was to try to maintain this blog for one year, posting at least one picture a day; at this point i am just five days short of reaching that goal. I've decided to continue the blog through the upcoming Festival of the Wall before putting it on hiatus while i decide how or if i should continue it in some other fashion. To be honest, i've surprised myself by keeping it going this long, and am amazed at how rarely i've had to resort to posting pictures of my dog, my cat, or my tschotskes; but there are days when i realize that i've taken pictures that are almost exactly the same as ones that i've posted in the past: it's surprising how small my area of operations tends to be. So rather than get stale or repetitive, i'll be taking a break in the middle of June.

31 May 2013, Day 360 - The Sky

The skies were so dramatic over the lake this afternoon that i couldn't choose just one picture.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

30 May 2013, Day 359

Dramatic skies this evening at Broadway and Lawrence, taken from a southbound Red Line train.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

29 May 2013, Day 358

Heading for the Crosstown Classic
The Red Line was filled with a combination of Cubs and White Sox gear (along with at least one Blackhawks jersey) as the two local teams met at Wrigley Field this afternoon. 
The Cubs beat the Sox 9-3. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

26 May 2013, Day 355 - Special Bonus: Mission Accomplished

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that i was frustrated in my attempt to get a photograph of a squirrel in a tree a couple of weeks ago and ended up posting a completely unremarkable picture of some branches and leaves instead. Not one to let well enough alone, this has been bothering me ever since. Today, o joy, i succeeded. So here at long last is a squirrel posing in the branches of a tree. 
And now, in the interest of full disclosure, i must confess that under normal circumstances i detest squirrels. They tear up gardens, eat tomatoes just as they reach the point of being ripe enough to pick, and in general are an overpopulated nuisance, little better than rats, though with a superior wardrobe. But when they are peeking out from among the leaves high in a tree, then they're kind of cute.

26 May 2013, Day 355

This isn't a pretty picture, but i was fascinated by the way the back door is hanging from the clothesline. This house at 1444 W. Farwell suffered a devastating fire in late January and has been sitting boarded up ever since. Apparently, no one was killed in the fire, but it's still a terrible loss of a beautiful house. I feel bad for the neighbors as well: it can't be very pleasant to walk out your door and see this every day. 

Coincidentally, when i googled the address this morning to find out just how long ago the fire happened, the first picture i came across (on the Chevanston Rogers Park blog) was taken on the day of the fire and was almost exactly the same composition as this one. The biggest difference is that the scrap-metal scavengers have removed all the storm window frames from the yard; but the door has been dangling precariously for these past four months. CLICK HERE to link to the Chevanston account of the fire and see more pictures, taken on the day of the fire.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

25 May 2013, Day 354

This ghost sign should qualify as a political/historical artifact. It reads: "HOWLETT Governor vote Democratic." It's been on this wall on Morse Ave. between Glenwood and Greenview since the 1976 Illinois gubernatorial election. Michael Howlett served three terms as state auditor and one as secretary of state, but lost this race to Republican James Thompson.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

23 May 2013, Day 352

 Sic transit gloria mundi

The big fish at the corner of Glenwood and Farwell
finally succumbed to age and powerful winds today.

In better days: Last July the big fish swayed gently in the breeze
as it served as a greenhouse for a row of young tomato plants.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

22 May 2013, Day 351

It's always a treat to discover something that's been there all along ... like this great view of the Madison/Wabash L station, visible from the second floor of the Target store on State St. The white diagonal slash is the reflection of an overhead fluorescent light.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

21 May 2013, Day 350

I couldn't decide between the pretty picture, the local-interest one, or the one that celebrates one of my favorite rituals of the season, so i'm posting a variety of photos today.

This new sign in the Loyola station reflects the closing
of the south branch of the Red Line for extended repairs. 
First downtown farmers market of the season at Federal Plaza.
The selection is still pretty limited since it's so early in the growing season,
but i got some lovely rhubarb and asparagus.
Another of the pleasures of the season is the return of the buskers.

Monday, May 20, 2013

20 May 2013, Day 349

Lilac bush on Farwell just west of Sheridan Rd.
My first spring in Chicago, i was overwhelmed by the number of lilac bushes blooming in all their fragrant glory. I'd never seen so many! I'm not sure if it's a Rogers Park thing or a Chicago thing (or, for that matter, a midwestern thing), but i definitely approve. I spent my formative years in an extremely urban setting, the kind of place where a dandelion forcing it's way up through a crack in the concrete sidewalk was cause for romantic rhapsodies about the beauties of nature. I only knew that lilacs existed from reading The Mystery of Lilac Inn (Nancy Drew #4). Now, every spring i revel in them, pausing to breathe deeply each time i pass one. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

18 May 2013, Day 347

It was a beautiful day today, so i ventured over to Lincoln Square, one of my favorite neighborhoods. After a matinee at the Davis, i stopped at Gene's Sausage & Deli (pictured above) and bought more meat products than i usually consume in two months. Gene's is in the location that was previously home to the late lamented Delicatessen Meyer. There is no way that anyone could truly replace Delicatessen Meyer in its heyday (before the business was sold to some fool who managed to run a popular and successful business completely into the ground within two years), but rather than try, the owners of Gene's tore the old shop down and completely rebuilt it in 2009. While this always makes me a little sad, the new building is a beauty (as is that cow above the front door!); and the new owners kept Meyer's great old neon sign and mounted it at the top of a sweeping stairway to the new second floor. I like Gene's a lot; it's a friendly, family-run business, which is always nice; plus, they make a mind-boggling variety of sausages, arrayed behind the deli counter in row upon row. And in the summer there's a rooftop beer garden.  Still, i have to confess that i miss those old German and Romanian ladies who used to work behind the counter at Meyer, switching languages mid-sentence and bossing around the customers like your old German Oma. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

17 May 2013, Day 346

One of the many details on the mural that stretches from Morse to Farwell on Glenwood, west of the L tracks. This week, as i've chronicled the demolition of the wall one block south of this one, i've developed a greater appreciation for the mass, the solidity of these old walls.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

16 May 2013, Day 345

The wonderful Music Box Theatre has begun renovations on the small screening room. The ticket seller assured me that it will retain its charm and character (hooray!) but with great improvements to the viewing experience. CLICK HERE for more details on the renovations.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

15 May 2013, Day 344

As promised, i managed to cover some new territory this morning after a week of doing little more than walking around the block. In the process, i may have discovered my new favorite spot in Rogers Park: Sol Café at 1615 W. Howard St., just east of the Red Line terminal. I'm not a fussy person: i like a lot of cafés: i'm reasonably content just as long as the coffee is good and there are no visible health code violations. But on very rare occasions i've been lucky enough to come across the kind of place that is so far above the rest that i'd like to make it my home away from home. That happened today. I fell instantly in love with Sol Café! The coffee was delicious, the pastries were from Bennison's, the barista was friendly and welcoming, and as these pictures show, the decor is gorgeous. Many of the customers appeared to be regulars, but unlike a lot of places with a regular clientele, i didn't feel like a tourist or an invading army. The place has the coolest, most inviting vibe ever. At one point the three women sitting at the counter in the front window all started singing along to "Hit Me, Baby, One More Time." It was beautiful! (And i say this as someone who has never been a Brittany Spears fan). It was just such a joyful, exuberant, caffeinated moment, that it put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. 

You should visit Sol Café. I can't guarantee that there will be a chorus of singing ladies, but i think i can safely guarantee that you'll get an excellent cup of coffee in a fine setting, surrounded by the kind of people that it is nice to be surrounded by. 

Ten Thousand Ripples at Sol Café

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

14 May 2013, Day 343

I've had a pile of work and a looming deadline defining my life for the past several days, so there hasn't been much chance to explore new territory in search of things to photograph. Lucky for me, the ugly weather this spring seems to agree with the flowering plants, and it's been an especially colorful season. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

13 May 2013, Day 342

Not the Picture I Expected

I intended to take a picture of a squirrel posed charmingly in the lower branches of a tree. The little fellow was so cooperative, just sitting there looking at me as i clicked away. Because the viewfinder in my camera is impossible to see on a sunny day, i just trusted that at least one of the pictures would turn out--they always do. But not today. When i got home and started looking through the pictures, the squirrel was nowhere to be found. I finally realized that in my zeal to get a close-up of the critter, i zoomed in too far, past the tree with the squirrel, in fact. Alas!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

11 May 2013, Day 340

Duct tape covering a bullet hole in the front window of the Common Cup

The Other Side of Life in Rogers Park

If you are a regular follower of this blog, or if you know me in the non-digital world, you know that i love my neighborhood. From the minute i moved to Rogers Park, i knew that i was home. This neighborhood has so much that is beautiful, eclectic, vibrant, and all-around wonderful. But, unfortunately, there is another, much grimmer aspect to Rogers Park -- gang violence. The media never talks about it: they focus their accounts of gang warfare and random outbursts of gunfire on the south and west sides of Chicago, and ignore what is happening here and in other north side neighborhoods. Admittedly, the problem is much worse in those other areas, but it is bad enough here that i sometimes dread the arrival of spring since it invariably is marked by an upsurge in crime and gang violence. Today, at a little past noon, there was a drive-by shooting at the corner of Greenview and busy Morse Avenue, two blocks from where i live. A bullet went through the window of the Common Cup, a normally peaceful and laid-back café. Fortunately, no one in the café was injured, but it shattered the illusion of safety, the feeling that you can let your guard down long enough to enjoy a latte and a slice of pie. 

I hate this, hate that there are young men who hold their own lives in such low regard that they will risk losing those lives to a bullet or a prison cell over something as trivial as a patch of sidewalk. There has to be some way of reaching these kids, of channeling all that energy and passion into life instead of death.  When something like this happens to temporarily shake me out of my complacency, i think of all those people living in even worse neighborhoods, places where this kind of thing is a daily occurrence, places where children cannot play in the fresh air and are trained not to even sit by the front window lest they fall prey to a stray bullet. We deserve better, all of us.

Friday, May 10, 2013

10 May 2013, Day 339

I originally took this picture for my other blog, How to Build a Substation, but liked it so much that i thought it deserved to be the photo du jour. I really dislike this trend in covering the exterior of the L with advertising, but since i'm looking on from the outside rather than sitting on the train trying to see through a window obscured by product promotion, i'll make an exception in this case.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

7 May 2013, Day 336

This picture is a little out of focus because i was hurrying to snap it without missing my train, which was already pulling into the station. But i love these guys with their doo-wop harmonies and sweet as sugar smiles so i'm posting it anyway. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

6 May 2013, Day 335

It's such a beautiful day that i couldn't limit myself to just one picture on this short stretch of Pratt Blvd. between Sheridan and Lakewood.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

5 May 2013, Day 334

"Wounded Angel" by Emily Young 

I used to spend a lot of time on Loyola's campus, working in Cudahy Library when i needed a change of scenery from my own desk, but i haven't been there in a surprisingly long time. I took a stroll through campus today and was amazed at how much construction had been done in the past couple of years. I also hadn't seen this beautiful sculpture outside the Madonna della Strada Chapel before. It commemorates the death of six Jesuit priests during the war in El Salvador in 1989. It's a very powerful and emotional artwork, and its air of transcendent mourning reminds me a bit of my beloved angel in 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. I think i'll make a habit of visiting it more often.

Friday, May 3, 2013

3 May 2013, Day 332

One of my favorite trees. I've been told that the way the blossoms cover the trunk and branches is a sign that the tree is not healthy, but it has looked this way every spring for at least the past five years, like a beautiful alien life form.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

2 May 2013, Day 331

Special effects night: After a particularly difficult day, i fell asleep early this evening only to wake at 10:00 and remember that i hadn't taken a single picture all day. I was, i confess, sorely tempted to skip a day, but since i had to take the pup for a quick walk anyway, i thought i might take a picture of the new leaves just unfolding on the trees. I got a couple of perfectly nice pictures of the streetlight shining through the leaves, but then as i was trying to get one last picture, my worthy four-legged assistant gave a sharp tug on her leash. This ethereal composition is the result.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

1 May 2013, Day 330

Graceland Cemetery is the only open space of any size that is visible from the Red Line on the north side, and over the years it has become one of the landmarks i look forward to seeing on my commute. I love watching the seasons change here; today everything was so green that it almost seemed to glow. Rather than a resting place for the dead, in the spring Graceland seems like the center of a reborn world.