Archive for February, 2007

That little election thing

So, a couple of us voted (32.4% of registered voters cast a ballot*, a new record low — the dead are quiet, it seems).

The main result was no surprise — Dorothy Brown is our new mayor. Ha. Psyche. It’s Opposites Day. Da Mare is still da mare.

If no candidate gets at least 50% of the vote, the race goes to a run-off vote in April and it looks like 11 wards to going to be going back to the polls then.

* as of midnight 2/28/07. A few precients are not 100% reported.

The Bottom Line#2–L&L Tavern

The Bottom Line #2–The L&L Tavern3207 N. ClarkI have to admit that this was one of the first bathrooms I was impressed by when I first moved here from Mississippi almost 7 years ago. Tampons! A one-seater! Wow! Though I do remember a frightening time when the Ladies room was broken and I had to use the Men’s…that was bad news from start to finish. But on my last visit, it was business as usual. I wasn’t a fan of the bar soap–germs can fester on bars of soap that just sit there–so that was the main turn off. Faded art and fake flowers make it a little more ‘homey.”Cleanliness: 3Amenities: 1Atmosphere: 2Overall: 2Pretty awesome for your neighborhood dive bar.

I Voted

I Voted

The polls are open until 7 PM tonight, so c’mon — vote. Check the Board of Election Commissioners for polling information and official results. Aldertrack is a great place to watch today for more up-to-the-minute information. The Reader‘s Clout City blog is collecting voter experiences and stories from around the city.

Erica and I were voters number 20 and 21 at our polling place. At first the ballot-handing-out election official wasn’t giving Erica a ballot, but it seems it wasn’t due to any concerns about the legitimacy of her registration, nor any dispute about whether the 19th Amendment had actually been ratified, but simply some sleep-deprived confusion about… Well, I’m not sure what she was confused about, since Erica and I were the only two voters in the room and I’m not sure why else we’d be coming to the Episcopal Church of the Atonement on a Tuesday morning. Anyway, it was all sorted out after a few iterations of “I’m here to vote, please” and we both got to vote in our uncontested Aldermanic contest.

The Frozen Snot Century

Frozen Snot CenturyWell, I did it. Or, half of it at least. Actually, a third of it as it was planned this year. Saturday, I rode my bike 95 miles to Milwaukee (100 if you count getting lost downtown at the end) with four other similarly crazy guys that I’d never met before (actually, it turned out that I knew one guy from an Americorps gig a while ago). Due to a minor knee injury and general wimpiness, I took a Megabus back on Sunday while most of the other guys biked another 60 miles to the Waukeegan Metra stop and then took the train back into Chicago (no Milwaukeans made the trip to Chicago on Sunday). Snow drifts, drinking, icy roads, more drinking, weird abandoned shacks, and a run-in with the Kenilworth police (drinking-related)–all things considered, it was a hell of a lot of fun.fsc_river.jpgThey weren’t kidding when they said frozen…Here’s the description from the Chicago BikeWinter website:

4th Annual Frozen Snot Century: For the fourth year in a row Wisconsin and Illinois cyclists will unite on the Frozen Snot Century ride, connecting Milwaukee and Chicago. All are welcome on this free, unsupported, ride-at-your-own-pace-and-risk event. This year the Frozen Snot Century bike ride will have a optional stop in Madison which will complete the legendary “Bratwurst Triangle”. Here’s the schedule: Fri. Feb. 23: A dozen Chicagoans will take Metra commuter rail to Harvard, IL, and bike 70 miles to Madison. Meet at 7:30 AM on the platform at Clybourn Station, 1601 W. Armitage; train leaves at 7:38; pay on the train. Any Chicagoans interested in this option should RSVP to greenfieldjohn@hotmail.com. Riders will arrive at the Great Dane Brewing Co., 123 E. Doty in Madison around 5 PM, to meet up with Madisonians. Chicagoans crash on local couches (Housing organized by Madison Bike Winter / BFW). Sat. Feb. 24: Those Chicagoans plus any interested Madisonians ride 80 (?) miles to Milwaukee. Meanwhile, another, larger group of Chicagoans meets at 7 AM at the Hollywood Grill, 1601 W. North in Chicago, departing at 8 AM to ride 95 miles from Chicago to Milwaukee. Everyone meets up around 5 PM at Cafe Hollander, 2608 N. Downer Ave., in Milwaukee. Out-of-towners crash nearby with Milwaukeeans (housing organized by Milwaukee Bike Winter). Sun. Feb. 25: Everbody meets up at Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee, 818 E. Center St., at 8 AM, departing at 9 AM to ride 95 miles to Chicago. Meet up around 5 PM at Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave. for the Critical Mass Art Show – BYOB. Wisconsinites stay with Chicagoans (Housing organized by Chicago Bike Winter). Mon. Feb. 26: Madisonians take Metra commuter rail to Harvard, IL and bike home OR take the Van Galder bus with their bikes. Milwaukeeans ride home.

See below for pictures and a long boring recap, but the most important thing I got from this whole deal was a good sense of yet another ‘scene’ here in Chicago. That’s ‘scene’ in a completely positive sense, by the way (not like, say, “the indie rock scene”). ‘Scene’ as in a bunch of people who get together over a common interest, and (in my experience at least) are completely welcoming and excited to share it with someone new. These guys and gals love bikes, know an unbelievable amount about them, and most importantly, they were a blast to hang out with for the weekend. There are a ton of rides going on all the time in the city (like the critical mass rides every last Friday of the month), and I’d definitely recommend checking one out. There are even still a few left that are part of BikeWinter.Anyways, it’s nice to see and experience something new with people who are really passionate about it. Just one more reason why Chicago is the coolest city in the world. (more…)

lsd at night

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Dessert at Hopleaf

I’ve raved before about the food at Hopleaf (5148 N Clark) and it only took a glimpse of a Hopleaf frite in a french fry sidebar to Tme Out‘s burger cover story* to send us out the door and over there for dinner.

The mussels were as good as ever and the frites are definitely among the best in the city. We tried a new(? to us, anyway) dish – the crispy polenta. Accompanied with stuffed mushrooms, wilted spinach, and goat cheese on tomatoes, it was quite the taste treat.

Somehow, in all the times I’ve eaten at Hopleaf I’ve never had dessert. But our waiter enticed us with both of the desserts available and we went for the complete set. The apple fritters were great little hot, crispy, and sweet bundles. But the chocolate-caramel-macadamia nut tart made me say “wow” outloud five times. On the first bite. It was an incredible mix of rich chocolate and flaky macadamia. Damn, it was good.

* Was anyone else disappointed when they figured out that the cover burger wasn’t a real burger, but was a fantasy burger composed of elements from all the different restaurants?

Zia’s Cafe

One of the fun things about going out for New Mexican food is the Who’s on First routine you get to do when you suggest it to your friends:

“Hey, there’s a New Mexican place on Armitage I think we should try.”

“It seems kind of out of our way just for a new Mexican place.”

“Well, I’m really in the mood for some New Mexican food.”

“Yeah, but aren’t there Mexican places all over the city?”

Repeat until you remember to mention “Sante Fe” or “green chiles”.

I’ve been craving New Mexican cuisine fairly constantly since I got back from my honeymoon this summer in Sante Fe. And the bar was set pretty high then, since we were basically eating our way through the Sante Fe Reporter‘s Best Of 2006 and Restaurant Guide lists. So, I found myself, eventually, in Zia’s Cafe (340 W Armitage), one of the few New Mexican restaurants in Chicago.

Erica got the chicken enchillada with green chiles and I got the chicken stuffed sopapilla with green chiles, so our meals were mostly identical except for the wrapping around our chicken. I was really happy with the right side of my plate, but somewhat disappointed with the left. Which is to say, the stuffed sopapilla was really good — the green chiles were alright and the chicken was great, tender and spicey. But the other side of the plate was filled with bog-standard Chicago mushy refried-beans and “Spanish” rice — not the flavorful whole beans I’d come to expect from my (admittedly skewed) time in Sante Fe. The sopapillas that came with the meal, though, totally won me over. They were hot and light and delicious with the intense honey that was right on the table.

Snowflakes on my screen

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I came in from the flurries this afternoon and decided that my computer screen needed to match the outside world. So, I downloaded a bunch of free Snowflake screen savers. Like LotsaSnow and Snowfall for the Mac and Snow Screen Saver for Windows.

navy pier from the W

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The Bottom Line #1–Konak

The Bottom Line #1–Konak Pizza and Grill5150 N. Clark StreetWhat’s not to love about Konak? They serve food way later any other Andersonville restaurant, are the creators of the much admired “Chicken Chop,” and are the most theatre-friendly bar in the neighborhood. So how does the bathroom compare?First, there is a little stroll to get to the bathrooms past the dartboard, so make sure you look both ways before you cross the board. On especially chilly nights, it can be kind of an arctic tundra back there, too. There are separate men/women rooms, and each is a one-seater, so that is a plus. The bathroom is fairly lowly lit, and pretty barebones–there is a mirror and a towel dispenser and that is about it. Both nights I was there last week found there to be no soap, which I found to be rather bothersome. However, I didn’t find the toilet to be scary, so I could sit in peace (not always the case in a low lit bathroom.)Cleanliness: 4Amenities:0Atmosphere:1Overall Rating: 2Not the best, but not the most frightening either.

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