Archive for the ‘City Life’ Category

Ack!? What?!

Forbes says we’re the most stressful city in the country?! What!? Oh no — heart attack!!1!

(Thanks, Erica)

"Be Patient."

Christopher talked about the Cubs meltdown last night. He’s not the only one shocked by the Cubs ill fated history. The New York Times wrote a playoff analysis titled “Breaking Down the Cub’s Breakdown” by Tyler Kepner. As a matter of honesty, I hate the Yankees, and I have a habit of forgetting about the Mets. However, it was as solid analysis with this quote from Alfonso Soriano for the fans, “Be patient.”

*sigh* Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Fine. I’ll be patient. It’s a good thing that The New York Times gave me a nice interactive feature to play with while being patient. The feature goes over every post season appearance by the Cubs. I like it because it has vintage baseball photos and archival sports articles. Check it out and dream of next season.

(photo from swanksalot)

Chicago 2016 Channel

We know Chicago has been working hard to lure the 2016 Olympics here. Now, as part of Chicago’s efforts, there’s a website called Chicago 2016 Channel. Here Chicago folks like you and me can submit our videos to answer the question “Why Chicago?” Starting today, if your video answers that question well enough you can win their “why Chicago competition”. The winner gets honored at a 2016 event on October 3rd and will get to meet Olympic swimming wunderkind Michael Phelps.

Not much of a film maker? Then just go over and watch a few. Amazing Chicago sketch group, Schedenfreude has contributed some including one of my favorites:


Ted Butterman’s Cubs Dixieland Band

I was at the Cubs game yesterday doing video work for a project, and I grabbed a few moments of Ted Butterman’s Cubs Dixieland Band, who nearly brought a tear to my eye.

My late Uncle Jim Snyder, who lived and worked in Chicago for all of his adult life, was widely regarded as the best Dixieland trombonist in the world. He began playing as a teenager, joined the now legendary Salty Dogs at Purdue University in the 1950’s, toured the world for decades, and recorded dozens of albums. He was a very sweet man who passed away shortly before I moved to Chicago.

At his funeral, his fellow musicians testified that his love for his art was so powerful that simply playing with him made them all better musicians. At that time I was still struggling with a long-delayed desire to finally move from my hometown to Chicago pursue writing and comedy, and witnessing the effect that my uncle’s love for his music had on his life and those of others was very inspiring to me.

But I digress. Here’s a bit of Ted Butterman’s Cubs Dixieland Band:


As an added bonus, I’m going to include this 1991 clip of Uncle Jimmy performing at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, Illinois, with the Chicago Salty Dogs. As the videographer admits, the picture quality isn’t great, but I defy you to listen to this tune and not find your toes tapping a happy little rhythm:



ATM working
I think there’s really just a person inside making beeping noises and handing out $20s.

C-View at the Affinia Chicago

C-View, on the Affinia's 29th floor terrace$13 bevvies at C-View, on the Affinia's 29th floor terraceView from C-View, on the Affinia's 29th floor terrace

The Affinia Chicago is an upscale hotel on 166 East Superior Street. Next time your evening activities take you to the Miracle Mile, wrap up your night by taking the hotel’s elevator to the 29th floor to find C-View. You’ll be glad you did.

My boyfriend recently treated me to a night of theater (a nice substitute for our usual comedy shenanigans) followed by some very urban grown-up drinks at this al fresco lounge, which provides a stunning perspective on the lakefront skyline and Michigan Avenue.

C-View offers non-native fauna-enhanced outdoor lounge seating, which is to say, there are several tall palmy plants fringing the walls behind some of the seating arrangements. Plop down on one of the comfy couches or almost cabana-like chairs or sidle up to the terrace’s centerpiece, a long, tall wooden table with matching tall barstools. It sort of feels like you’re drinking and munching appetizers in a sexy tv show set in LA, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Of course, the specialty cocktails are pricey (my ginger beer/lime/vodka concoction was $13) and many of the hors d’oeuvres are teeny-tiny supermodel portions (a beef dish was about a spoon-sized dollop of chopped beef with a crispy rice cracker), but the view and the air are wonderful.

And when you remember that for the majority of the year, Chicago is freezing and dark, it’s important to grab all the al fresco you can before summer is over.

Photos by Elizabeth McQuern.

What $20 Gets You at Edgewater Produce

$20 at Edgewater Produce Gets You This

I wrote about the amazing low prices at Edgewater Produce Edgewater Produce (5509 N. Clark St., near Bryn Mawr), earlier on Chicago Metblogs.

I thought I’d offer a visual representation of what $20 can get you there:

Chocolate covered pretzels – $2.17
Chocolate covered peanuts – $3.35
Sesame sticks – $1.36
5 MacIntosh apples – $1.25
Big box of assorted cookies – $2.00
Fresh blueberries – $1.98
20 small flour tortillas – $1.69
Big hunk of jalapeno cheese – $3.89
10 Senor Freeze popsicles – $.99
Fresh bunch of spinach – $1.98
Broccoli crown – $.36

As a comparison, if you were going to spend $20 on Guinness at your average Chicago pub, you’d probably get two beers.

Photo by me, original can be seen here.

Help a Chicago artist pay for his medical bills

As reported on this morning, talented Chicago artist Matthew Woodson is accepting commissions to help pay for his medical bills (you can check out some of his art here). What’s he recovering from? A FREAKIN’ POISONOUS SPIDER BITE! Here’s the rundown from his blog:

On Monday of last week I was bitten by a yet unknown poisonous spider on my right knee. By Tuesday I was running a high fever and unable to walk. On Friday evening I collapsed and was rushed to the ER. After a series of x-rays and a whole lot of examination, I was informed that I had a rather large abscess and cellulitis due to the spider’s bite. I was sent home early Saturday morning after having my knee surgically “drained”, and in more pain than I have ever been in. After a doctor’s appointment this Monday, another abscess was drained and I was informed that I would need to see a doctor weekly until the wound had healed, which could possibly take up to 8 months. Within these 8 months there will remain the very real threat of the infection spreading into the bone of my knee, as well as the possibility of blood poisoning.

All of this happened to Matthew between changes in insurance companies which means he’ll have to pay for all of that expensive medical care the way 47 million other Americans do which is out of pocket. I recently had to have simple outpatient surgery on a bulging disk in my neck. I have insurance and a steady job, yet still had to pay an enormous amount of money for the surgery and physical therapy. I cannot imagine how expensive this spider bite recovery is going to be. Unfortunately, I do not have the money to hire Matthew. You might though. Here’s what he laid out for those of you looking to hire him:

Any possible commission you could have for me; gifts, wedding invitations, cards, wall art, tattoos, anything. I am interested in the job. I will also definitely consider larger personal commissions, considering the work involved. I would prefer to only be working in black and white, but don’t be afraid to ask about color. I haven’t exactly figured out how pricing will go yet, but obviously pricing will be negotiable and varying, but for small to medium sized drawings I was thinking between $100 – $500 through paypal.

Don’t have $100-$500 but like Mr. Woodson’s work. Then head on over here and pick up a $20-$40 print of his work and help a Chicago artist out.

Stressed? Learn some Zen Mediation today

my other vehicle
The class begins today at the Zen Buddhist Temple(1710 W. Cornelia Ave). It goes from 7pm to 8:30 (though don’t get too hung up on time, it can go long sometimes). The cost is $160 and the course lasts 8 weeks. If you’re interested you can give them a call 773-528-8685.

A couple of months ago I decided I need to learn to meditate. At the time, I was a first year teacher teaching 33 8th graders all subjects on the west side of Chicago. I also heard that meditation might help with a whole bunch of health related things such as ADHD, stress, and high blood pressure.

Teaching is a stressful job in and of itself. Add to that the fact that I was teaching way too many students every single subject (which is way too much planning for one teacher) and the other stresses of being a Chicago public school teacher (such as not getting paid for a month due to an accounting error), then it makes sense that I had high blood pressure and a pretty negative mental state.

I’ve always had an interest in Zen Buddhism partly because of my fascination with samurai and the Beat Generation. So I signed up for a five week zen meditation course at the Zen Buddhist Temple. I loved it for two reasons: one, it is a great and thorough introduction to the practice of mediation, and, two, it was a wonderful and insightful introduction into the ways and beliefs of Zen Buddhist. And meditating felt great, especially after a crazy day in the classroom. However, meditation is not easy for me. My thoughts move fast, and my body does not like to hold still. That means that I would get frustrated when the yoga instructor in the organic cotton sweat pants makes meditation seem like the easiest thing to do and find time for. Sure it’s easy if your job consists of helping adults stretch for an hour. Try spending 6 hours absorbing a deluge of misdirected anger while trying to get an unenthusiastic group of youth to focus on passing state standardized tests in math and reading so your school does not get shut down, then close your eyes and see what your brain has to say. (Quick post script to that: my students were 80% passing in reading and math which is pretty amazing and worth me taking this time to brag about it)

I am not telling you my frustrations to let you know I should have chosen to be a yoga teacher instead of an 8th grade teacher. I am telling you my frustrations because I want you (the person who is interested in Buddhism and/or meditation) to not be intimidated, and go learn. I still suck at meditation, but it is a practice. Like any practice, it’s awkward and difficult at first. Take time to enjoy that awkwardness and difficulty because as adults we don’t experience that enough. I also don’t make a very good Buddhist, but I’m a pretty lousy follower of any religion including atheism.

If you don’t have the money or can’t commit five Tuesdays, then stop by the temple for one of their two Sunday meditations. There is a service at 9:30am and 4:00pm. The services involve sitting meditation, chanting, and a dharma talk. If you are not sure what to do then just follow what the other people do. I never do the chanting since I do not know the Korean words they are saying. The dharma talks are talks lead by the head of the temple about some aspect of Buddhism, and are more enjoyable then my lackluster description just made them. In fact, the dharma talks are my favorite part of the services. Afterwards, you can have tea and go to an “ask a Buddhist” session to quench your curiosities about Buddhism.

Meditation is not a panacea, but it definitely helped me. Hopefully, it can do the same for you.

(“my other vehicle is the Mahayana” photo by ktheory)

New No Parking Signs

New No Parking Signs

The city seems to have new Street Cleaning-No Parking signs and I think it’s a great change. The old ones were color coded for which day of the week they were, but I could never remember which color was which day and always had to go trudge up to the sign to make sure anyway. The big letter is visible half-way down the block. I imagine they’ll be phasing them in as the old ones need replacing (which, since they’re just a heavy cardstock, is probably pretty quickly) — both of these signs were in the same stretch of street this morning.

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