Archive for May, 2005

Secret Garden

The challenge in Chicago when one is blessed with the freakish alignment of a) a day off b) warm weather and c) clear, sunny skies is not letting your head spin out of control with options. What to do? Where to go? You could easily short out and go nowhere for the indecision.

So in an effort to overcome the mind-boggling array of could-do’s, my beaux and I took some time to flip through Sam Weller’s "Secret Chicago", an excellent starting point for slightly off the beaten path suggestions to aid in your exploration of the city. He suggested a tucked-away Japanese Garden that had been planted for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition by the Japanese government.

In my 6 years as a Chicagoan, no one has mentioned the existence of this hideout just to the rear of the Museum of Science and Industry, so I can only assume that it’s a little-known respite. Slightly tricky to locate, you head to Jackson Park, park next to the lagoons, and proceed to the footbridge leading to the island. Follow the paved path to the gated garden. I can’t think of a nicer spot to enjoy a picnic in the city on a beautiful early summer day. Shh!

Thax breaks up with Wilco.

I mean when Wilco becomes another Dead Phish and tours stadiums for a million years-maybe if I played my cards right, I could have kept faking it for years and maybe even gotten paid for it, but I would not be happy. (full text)

What an interesting and more than slightly tragic view of a band arguably past its prime. And yes, he did write it.

Where’s Waldo 3: the Denouement

Well, no Metblog readers showed up to the Moses Gun show at Phyllis’ Musical Inn Friday night. At least, if they did show up, they were too shy to approach me. Actually, I think I made up for that by approaching everyone else near the end of the night, including a rather beautiful Asian girl who made sure to introduce her boyfriend to me. (Damn.) He didn’t read Metblogs either. You can’t win them all.

Which is fine, because it didn’t ruin anything for me. I showed up, introduced myself to myself, and used the unspent money to buy myself a drink.

Did you know that Phyllis’ Musical Inn has a beer garden with a tennis basketball court? I didn’t either, until about 1 a.m., when apparently, for some odd reason, you’re no longer allowed to play basketball. I mean, who knew?

Anyway, we’re going to try this again real soon, with other Metbloggers joining in on the fun. It’ll probably be a bit more organized, may even involve a scavenger hunt or something, and will definitely have more participants. That means you. Yes, you! What, you don’t want free prizes?

Chicago – More rustic than you think

One of my favorite things about living in Chicago is the fact that you don’t have to go far to experience the natural beauty of the Midwest.

volo.jpgOne of my favorite places to go when I was younger is the Volo Bog up in Lake County. I know, “bog”, it sounds so gross. But the bog is actually an amazing natural occurance left from a glacier. There is a floating boardwalk that takes you into the bog, as well as a trail around the perimeter. The further you move into the bog, the less you feel like you are just 40 miles north of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. It is absolutely amazing and completely calming. There is an enormous variety of plants and wildlife, many which you have probably never seen, and a few that are endangered. So make sure to bring your camera.

skokie.jpgI have never been to the Skokie River Nature Preserve, and am kicking myself in the pants for it. It’s so close! How is it that I have never made the trek? I am so embarrassed for myself. The Skokie River area extends into the Chicago Botanic Gardens, so you can check it out along with the 26 other gardens and make a day of it. Unlike Volo, the Skokie River area is a testament to wildlife preservation in an urban setting. Not just a river, the 4.2 miles of trails cover everything from prairie to wetland. Members of the Lake Forest Open Lands Association are allowed to bring their dogs as well, with a minimum $100 donation. I gotta start saving my pennies, because I know Truffle would love spending a Sunday up there.

Mag Mile Dancer


Ever see this guy on Michigan Ave? If you head out that way today, I’m sure you will. “Graduate student discos for dollars” is what his sign says. The bills don’t pay for themselves, man.

Walking South on Michigan Avenue. Decoration Day, 1927.

Dude with Beard: “So, did you hear they’re gonna put a big bean on that spot we just passed?”

Dude with flag: “Really? That’s dumb.”

Woman with Hat: “No it’s not.”

Dude with Beard: “They’ve got 78 years to think about it, Martha. They oughta be able to come up with something better than that.”

Woman with Hat: “Well, I think it sounds cool.”

Dude with Rifle: “How ’bout a Bennigan’s?”

Dude with Flag: “Oooh, that’d be good.”

Woman with Hat: “Oh god.”

Where’s Waldo Pt. Deux

Still haven’t figured out where I’ll be tonight at 9pm? (That’s Friday night, by the way.) Well, here are a few more clues.

P1130607.jpgTo get to this mystery bar, you have to do the math.

This band is a prophet and a weapon.

In case you need more, here’s a picture of the lead singer. His name is Vell. Look for him to be doing solo acts soon. To see his entire face, his band, and his amazing afro self-destruct, just show up at the mystery place tonight. It’s that easy.

Still don’t know? Let’s look at the background a little closer. Brighten up the image, sharpen the contrast… here we go:
P1130740.jpgSee that? That’s the front window/wall of our mystery establishment. The entire front is that thick glass block like you see in some bathroom windows. There aren’t many places in Chicago with that kind of front that I know of.

Also, the rumor mill reports that some other metbloggers may be there, so you may get to meet more than me as well as have a free beer. All you have to do is show up and mention metblogs to me. Free band, free beer, and us… what’s holding you back?

chinatown history, part 1


Bring on the fresh produce

June marks the typical beginning of the Farmer’s Market season, so brush off your sunhat and get out your burlap shopping bag. The City of Chicago site has information on all of the neighborhood markets and, loving fresh goodies as much as I do, here are my reviews of markets I’ve made it to in the past.

Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market
Thursdays from 7am – 3pm
This is the mother of all farmer’s markets. Not only is it huge, but the majority of goods are fairly priced. Aside from the normal fruits and vegetables, they usually have a great selection of flowers. My favorite? The sunflower bouquets.

Lincoln Square Farmer’s Market
Tuesdays from 7am – 2pm
I make it to this market usually weekly once the summer rolls around. It isn’t huge, but all of the produce is of great quality and varied. Get there early, because the best things run out by midmorning. My favorite? The booth that sells yummy mushrooms. The vendor will crack you up.

Roscoe Village Farmer’s Market

Sundays from 7am – 2pm
Very small, but the most convenient for me since it is right down the street. Also, Bulldog Bakery is usually there selling treatsies to nibble on while you shop. My favorite? The flower vendor with premade bouquets – they last FOREVER.

The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago Farmer’s Market
Sunday from 9am – 1pm
More eclectic than most markets, it also features work by artisans. Plus, you just know it is good being hosted by a culinary school. My favorite? The multicolored baby heirloom tomatoes.

City of Chicago pulls head out of ass

Guess what? Having the security detail at Millennium Park shoo away photographers… Not a good idea. And the city has finally realized how incredibly stupid of an undertaking it was. As of Tuesday, Millennium Park is a photography free for all again if you have a crew of less than 10 people. Seems fair and logical.

Here is an excerpt from an article in The Trib in which the city tries to rationalize their totally ridiculous behavior…

Permits were initially priced at $350 a day for professional still photographers, $1,200 a day for professional videographers and $50 an hour for wedding photographers.
Doria said Millennium Park followed practices used in the Chicago Park District and heavily trafficked parks in other cities, notably New York’s Central and Prospect Parks. Doria, a former Chicago Park District official, acknowledged that enforcement of such permits in the vast park systems is relatively lax. She stressed that permits were a way to maintain public accessibility to the popular park sites.

“We weren’t trying to make money,” she said. “But we needed to know how many people were going to be at elements of the park.”

clicker.jpg$350 a day for photographers?!?!?! Just so you could keep track of how many people were going to be at the park? Yeah, that’s not trying to make money.

If the city was really being as benevolently responsible as they would like us to believe, they would have hired a dude with one of those clicky couter things like they have at the pool and clubs. That would be the way to count the number of photographers at the park. Idiots!

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