Archive for August, 2005

Out of the mouths of babes

From the NoLa Metroblog:

“Where in the Jesus H. MacGillicuddy would you rather we live? Florida? More hurricanes. California? Earthquakes, wildfires. Kansas? Tornadoes. New York? Terrorism hot-spot, asshole.”

Yes Chicago, I ::heart:: you. Thank you for keeping my family and me safe. Cold, but safe.

New Orleans Coverage

If you’ve been following the hurricane coverage with a watchful eye like I have, you have probably spent a good chunk of time on our sister site, Metroblogging New Orleans. The boys down there are doing a phenomenal job, so much so that The Trib has taken notice.

While mainstream media has provided quite a bit of information, I’ve found that the blogs offer the best perspective on what is going on, and have been reporting truths and discrediting rumors before the news sites. My boss commented on Monday that MBNO had better coverage than CNN. Chris in New Orleans has written a scathing article tsk-ing the lack of media coverage, and with good cause.

New Orleans is a town that, much like Chicago, has a lot of civic pride. People love their city, and can’t wait to get home. I can’t even imagine being forced to leave Chicago for safer pastures, not knowing when I would be able to return. A heartfelt hope to everyone down in New Orleans that news starts to turn better, and soon.

Chicago Botanical Gardens

gardensEarlier this month I visited the Chicago Botanical Gardens. My whole purpose was to spend a day of relaxation away from the hassles of the city. I love this city, but after a while it overwhelms. It was relaxing in the end, though several factors seemed determined to foil my goals (curses!).

First of all, I was caught by surprise with the $12 parking charge. I would’ve parked on the streets, since I’m used to that here, except by the time I saw any signs informing me of such a steep fee, I was already on a one-way road directly to the parking attendant. I should’ve checked their website more thoroughly (mention of the fee is buried about three links deep on their page), or just guessed they would find some way to gouge me. Free, indeed!
P1020031.jpgOnce I got inside, I realized I should’ve waited until school was back in session. Throngs of people and screaming kids running all over the place made me wonder if I’d picked a fitting location for my “peaceful” retreat from urban life. At one point, I saw some children viciously tearing apart a tree at the waterfall. This poor, decrepit vision of Charlie Brown’s forlorn tannenbaum was propped up by a stake to keep it upright. Clearly, some gardener had been taking great pains to keep this tree alive. These kids decided it was the perfect tree to tear limb from limb so they could throw the branches down the waterfall and see how far they went. After an imploring look from me, their mother finally got off her phone to yell at them. The damage was already done.
Spider IslandOnce I went further in, however, the crowds dissipated, I forgot about my lighter wallet, and it finally became the relaxing environment one would expect a place full of fauna to be. My favorites would have to be the sensory garden and the Japanese garden. Especially in the Japanese garden, you can almost forget you’re in a Chicago suburb and imagine you’re out in the country somewhere (or, as we like to say, the stix). Be sure to visit Spider Island, which is off the beaten path and features a secluded spot by the lake almost fully enclosed by trees, where one could probably take a nap undisturbed for hours.

See more photos here.

Most Gouged!

Chicago Public Radio reported this morning that, before Hurricane Katrina, Chicagoans paid the most nationwide for gas. Another study the week prior from USAToday had us tied for first with San Francisco. Tied for first is OK, but nothing is as awesome as the photo accompaniment to this article.

I would complain, except that this is all just driving me closer and closer to what I really want anyway. Hello! 90 – 110 miles per gallon!

Happy 25th, Guys

Blues Brothers 25th Anniversary DVD

The Blues Brothers 25th Anniversary Edition DVD is available today. I remember watching the movie as a kid (on TV, I think) and it sparked my fascination with the Blues and with Chicago. Did I move to Chicago just so I could drive on Lower Wacker Drive? Maybe, maybe. I had the special movie book with all sorts of made-up ephemera (the brothers’ records from the orphanage and so on) and all the Blues Brothers albums and more recently I had the “Collector’s Edition” DVD. And today I’m going to go out and buy another copy of the movie.

Sun-Times: Blues Brothers Special Section
Chicago Tribune: capsule review
AP Story: Twenty-five years later, impact of Blues Brothers still felt around the world
USA Today: Happy 25th for ‘Blues Brothers’

The DVD at Amazon and Deep Discount DVD.

Steven at the Paper Bullets

I was lucky enough to catch our very own Steven photographing the Paper Bullets last Friday.


Lot of alcohol was involved. View even more pics here.

Paper Bullets


I was lucky enough to see a friend’s band at the Underground Lounge the other night. Our very own Tom was in the audience as well, snapping away. No muffins were involved. View more pics here.

These are the people in my neighborhood: Anthony

Anthony at Fat Moe's

For months I’ve been noticing a new, bright yellow awning on Broadway, over a papered-up shop. Too bad, I thought, that they had enough money to get that awning and then ran out of money/time/interest to actually open the place.

And late Friday night as we were walking to a party, Fat Moe’s Maxwell Street Polish was open! Super-bright lights inside reflected off all the stainless steel equipment. (It’s the cleanest Chicago street-food eatery I’ve ever seen.)

Anthony, the proprietor (pictured about in a blown-out cameraphone shot), stopped mopping the floor to take our order and chat. He said that opening a place like Moe’s (there is no Moe) has been his dream and he seemed super happy to be there, even though he was going to be there until 5 am (they’re open that late on the weekends). His brother Joe runs four Italian places but was jealous of his simple menu, he said.

He recommended the beef, but he did so after we’d already ordered a Polish, which proved to be the biggest Polish sausage either Erica or I had ever seen. Yum town.

Fat Moe’s Maxwell Street Polish
Broadway between Bryn Mawr and Hollywood

More. Sudoku.

A Sudoku puzzle isn’t math, it’s logic, so the 1-9 could be any nine arbitrary symbols. Which means, Chicago Sudoku!

CCJTDC, Audy Home, Whatever

Chicago Tribune Editorial, dated 8/21/05

It’s been just over a week since this editorial was published; and a quick google search suggests that the horrible state of the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center (CCTJDC, or Audy Home) is already fading from memory.

To summarize, just in case you don’t wanna hit the link, the Audy Home is out of control and staffed by patronage workers. The editorial brings up a few points that probably need to be clarified.

First of all, in the Juvenile Court Act, the legislation that governs all aspects of juvenile crime, there is a provision that states that a county’s juvenile probation department is in charge of their detention center, except any county with over 3 million people. There is only one county in Illinois (and, I believe, 3 in the nation) that has over 3 million people. At first, I figured it was to save money. Nowadays, I have no idea why the hell we do it differently. Legally, it is allowed to be run differently.

The article also neglects to mention that now there are TWO sets of metal detectors you need to go through in order to visit a client. The first is upon entering the door, the second is when you try to get into the facility.

Additionally, the article forgets to mention the fact that the walls have posters and pictures that overtly Christian messages. Granted, I get freaked out when people bring up religion in the work place (I think it’s only okay to do that if you work in a church, temple, synagogue or other house of worship) but this is a government facility. Kids don’t need bible verse and pictures of Jesus all over the place; kids in detention need services and programs.

It’s really horrible how the editorial paints the picture of the staff–that they’re all lazy patronage workers. Not all of them are. A number of them, most of the ones I work with, work hard at trying to provide a safe place for some dangerous kids. After all, this facility is not just to keep the community safe, but to help rehabilitate kids.

The problem is, the editorial doesn’t bother to mention a few things about the kids. It’s not right to bring up the Audy Home and not talk about the clients, or their situation. 99% of the kids in the Audy Home have a diagnosable mental illness–Depression, PTSD and BiPolar being the most common. I’d say 98% of the kids come from poor neighborhoods. Around 90% of the clients are African American. I can’t tell anyone what the most common charges a kid is locked up for–as it can be anything from Dependancy/Neglect court, Violations of Probation, awaiting automatic transfer to the adult system or actual charges–I just don’t know those numbers.

That’s a brief picture of who’s locked up and where they’re locked up. If you wanna do something about it, you can actually go to the facility and visit a kid, or be a mentor. Those programs will help one or two kids while the City, County and State figure out how they want to help the most vulnerable kids in our neck of the woods.

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