Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Gear's Eve

If it's not raining where you are, this warm weather is fine for a bike ride. Got a new bit of holiday color for the bike. Check it out.

In case you're curious and haven't seen either a folding bike or bike neon before, this is a folding bike by Dahon and neon bulbs by

Happy New Gear!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

the godfather has left the building

R.I.P. James Brown. Thanks for bringing the funk and giving us so many years of great music. [Article includes links to some great video clips.]

Saturday, December 23, 2006

our divided society

Each year, one of my wishes is that American society might begin to wake up and make some progress towards healing the racial divide that continues to plague us. There are some hopeful signs, but we still have a long way to go.

Derrick Jackson
has some insightful words on the subject in today's Boston Globe.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"new and improved"

After a few relatively good years, it seems that the CTA has fallen into another period of painful inadequacy. Mechanical problems, service interruptions and general frustration are the order of the day now, just when it seemed that we'd made so much progress.

With all the challenges being created by the reconstruction of several Ravenswood stations, it's disheartening to hear that allegedly "new and improved" stations are functioning very poorly. I can only hope that we see some actual improvement soon, before ridership takes too much of a nosedive.

colorful morning

Yesterday started out beautifully. The room had a pink glow. I looked out the windows to see this gorgeous sight.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The warmer temps and rain have melted all the snow. It was nice to look at, but too many Grinches did not shovel their sidewalks. slipsliding on too many sidewalks during a 5 block walk to the train is not a great way to start the day (unless you're a little kid who bounces back quickly after falling on ice).

C'mon folks - there are plenty of us who walk to the train, walk to school, need to walk the dog, or just need to get some exercise. Don't be a hazard to your neighbors. Please clear your sidewalks, or pay a budding entrepreneur from your block to do it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

fur parade

You know it's cold in Chicago when the fur coats start appearing. We've seen plenty of them downtown in recent days, sometimes topped by fur hats or headbands. Brrr!!!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

rethinking recycling

The recent news that the pilot recycling program started in a section of Beverly (separate cans and divided trucks) will be expanded to all of the 19th ward and several other wards is a good start. However, Chicago should really go further. Seattle is offering a tougher example. Some municipalities have started their recycling programs with programs like Seattle's, often with great success.

Chicago should aim higher. For now, we have a new, permanent recycling center for hazardous and electronic items. This city web page lists city recycling centers that can be used by any city resident.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


It's a treat to see flowers still blooming in the neighborhood in spite of many frosts over the last several weeks. Here's to the survivors!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

notice something different?

Look ma, no scaffolding! The facade restoration project is about done. Many deteriorated terra cotta blocks have been repaired or replaced. Good to see this building looking so great again. (FYI, it's on Monroe near State, for those of you who aren't sure.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

less than delighted how some of this guy's neighbors are feeling. Not sure I'd want to live next door to "Vegas in Boston" either.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

chirpy color

I often walk past these berry-filled trees on my way to the train. I've been surprised that most of the neighborhood birds don't seem too interested in them. Yesterday they were full of activity - monk parakeets.

I guess somebody does like those berries after all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

names of the dead

A homemade memorial to those who have died in Iraq. It grows every day.

Whether or not you agree with the war, please remember our veterans.

Friday, November 10, 2006

alive day

Some positive thoughts in honor of Veterans Day.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

election quote

a gem
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent,
hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy 2% that get
all the publicity. But then -- we elected them."

-- Lily Tomlin

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

New York's bicycle wars

This New Yorker article puts an interesting spin on the situation. It's a bit more intense than what we face here in Chicago.

a sad waste

How much more of our history and architecture do we have to lose to careless contractors before the city does something to ensure proper training and licensing and supervision of contractors, especially on landmark buildings?

The loss of the Dexter building in the South Loop 2 weeks ago is just a sad waste. Losing the Harvey house less than 2 weeks later just makes it worse.

The images below are of the Dexter building fire, taken at 9 a.m. on the morning after the fire started.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

fall color

A postcard scene from my recent trip to New Hampshire - Chester is a scenic little town that hasn't changed much in the last 20 years and probably won't anytime soon.

playing possum

When I went out yesterday morning to do some gardening, I found an odd visitor in the yard. The possum was scurrying across the yard and scrambled up the fence.

Not what I was expecting to find at 6:30 a.m.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

put your money where your mouth is

In case you're not already aware of it, Illinois recently passed a law that allows people to vote early without having to vote absentee. You can read about it here.

Click here for early voting locations.

To find out State and Federal candidates for office based on your address, click here. NOTE that this brings up a sample ballot with clickable links on each candidate so you can find out more about them.

You'll have to search the city's election website for details on city/local candidates based on your address.

If you don't vote, you have no right to complain about the election results. Get out there and vote!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006


All this rain is getting me down. Wanted to find something positive in it (aside from the benefit to trees and plants), so I thought I'd try for a cool picture.


Giselle has decided she's a lap cat. Amazing!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

separated at birth?

Scan down to 10/1 entry. You be the judge.


Wouldn't this be a spooky thing for Halloween? Picture one of those inflatable, lighted figures that sit on people's front lawns at Halloween. This one is Mark Foley, hunched over a computer keyboard, IM window open.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving. The figure is a pilgrim holding a turkey on the chopping block, axe raised. The turkey has Mark Foley's face. Wouldn't that be poetic justice? Gobble, gobble.....

Monday, September 11, 2006


Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you got the news of 9/11? I was on the red line, on my way to work.

It was a crisp, clear morning, a perfect fall day. At least it looked like one. My train was pulling into Fullerton when cell phones started ringing all around me. The first plane had hit the World Trade Center, and people who already at their offices were calling friends and family who were in transit to tell them the news. A minute later the train went into the subway. Some people sat in stunned silence. Others were discussing the horrible news with seatmates.

I had no further news until I got to my office about 25 minutes later. A TV was on in the conference room. The second plane had hit the World Trade Center. The news was fragmented and confused. We were sent home later in the morning. At an hour when streets in the Loop would normally be full of pedestrians and cars, the place was eerily silent.

My brother's sister-in-law was a United flight attendant who was in the air that day. No one knew until the next day whether she was dead or alive.

A few days later, when things became clearer, I felt grateful that no one I knew had died in the attacks, but felt sadness for all those people who had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. A number of my friends lost friends and co-workers that day.

I visited a friend in New York two months later. The place had changed. Much of the brash attitude I'd always associated with Manhattan was gone, replaced by a combination of friendliness and vulnerability. I walked past a firehouse in Harlem one morning. The front of the building was plastered with Thank you cards and pictures, and pots of flowers had been placed in front. It didn't feel like the same New York I'd known before.

Somehow I hoped that a sense of unity would come out of this tragedy instead of the cultural fragmentation we've experienced in the last five years. Is American culture capable of unity and healing?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ramirez family wake/funeral

Thanks to Toni for this information.

Ramirez Children Wake and Funerals
Ramirez Family

Visitation and Funeral Services

Visitation: Tuesday, Sept. 12. 4:00 – 8:00 pm
Weinstein Funeral Home, 1300 W. Devon

Funeral: Wednesday, Sept. 13. 10:00 am
St. Jerome’s, 1704 W. Lunt St.

Burial: Maryhill Cemetery
8600 Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL

The Ramirez Family Fund
At any La Salle Bank

Administered by: Howard Area Community Center

Donations may also be left at the
7648 N. Paulina St.
All Checks to be made out to: Ramirez Family Fund

Please visit Toni's blog for more information on Jay Johnson and his pattern of slumlord behavior.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

a preventable tragedy

The death of the Ramirez children in Saturday's fire is a heartbreaking tragedy. I wish the family could have asked for and gotten help to keep their electricity turned on. I wish that those children could be at school today, living normal lives. But wishes won't bring them back.

I wonder if we'll ever know the answers to a few key questions. Exactly how did the fire start? Why were there no smoke detectors? Given Jay Johnson's track record in the neighborhood, and his consistent pattern of problem buildings, code violations, and broken promises, I have to wonder.

Sun-Times article 9/5/06

Tribune article 9/5/06

Donations of food, household goods or money to the Ramirez Family Fund can be made in person at the Howard Area Community Center, 7648 N. Paulina St.

The family has also established a fund with Chase Bank in the name of Yadira I. Ramirez.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

scenes from the train

Yesterday I was riding the Rock Island (Metra). Noticed a guy standing nearby - buzz cut gray hair, sunglasses, jeans, black CBGB t-shirt. Back in the day, who would have pictured a black CBGB shirt on a gray-haired guy with a buzz cut? Just an odd reality check....

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hoyne update

I was able to get a little bit of information on the shooting the other night. It happened at 8:10 p.m. at the corner of Hoyne and Birchwood. Five guys were standing around on the corner. A guy in a tan car drove up. He started talking to the guys on the corner. One of them started shooting. Not much detail beyond that. A car parked nearby was hit by bullets. People nearby made 16 calls to 911 in the minutes after the gunfire. A police officer friend (not in this district) interpreted the incident as probably gang related from the facts above. Any more info, folks?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

another shooting on Hoyne?

I heard from a friend on the 7400 block of Hoyne that she was out early last night and came home to find her street blocked for a police investigation. When she asked one of the officers for information, she was told there had been a shooting.

This morning her next door neighbor discovered bullet holes in her car (parked out front). Her neighbor's guests had things stolen from them.

I do not have any real detail yet on the incident, so I don't know whether one person or multiple people were shot or the condition of any victim(s).

If any of you have information, please contact the police to help them in their investigation. Thanks!

Monday, July 17, 2006

blasted by Barry

A suburb of Sydney, Australia, uses music to combat late night park rowdiness.

Hey, I had to give you a laugh for Monday.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

1626-30 W Fargo

Last night we got home and were putting the car in the garage (out back) when we noticed an open back door on the 3rd floor at 1630. The building has been vacant for a few months, after being purchased by someone who intends condos for the property.

The back of this building is completely hidden from the street. We did a premises check. The 3rd floor was the only unlocked back door on the west side of the building. All the radiators were gone from this unit and the others on the same tier. Plumbing fixtures were smashed, and there was other damage. We locked the back door and went out the front. Front doors to all units were unlocked. There are open front windows on the 1st floor on the east side, so I would not be surprised if there are squatters, as we have seen no evidence of workmen at the property.

We'd strongly recommend that 2422 do regular premises checks on this building, as there was abundant evidence of trespassing. This situation looks way too much like 1640-42 right now.

This building REALLY needs to be secured.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

moo gai goo gone

One night recently, I was walking home after having dinner at Jamaica Jerk and noticed a grease trail across the sidewalk at the north end of Howard station. I looked for the source and noticed this.

Geez, that went quick. What a bummer to lose a restaurant that was so good in the beginning. Too bad the quality of the food dropped off so steeply in recent months. Makes me appreciate the way that Yuen's Kitchen has maintained their quality.

Friday, July 14, 2006

angel wings

I was walking from the Metra station this a.m. and saw something a little different. A girl was standing on a street corner on Canal Street in a white outfit with big angel wings on her back, dancing. On the next corner, I saw another one. I was starting to wonder what was up - student performance art group, perhaps? The next one was handing out flyers for the latest Cirque de Soleil show, opening today. Not quite as eccentric, but still different.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

hit and run wheelchair

I wish this was a joke. If any of you have had close encounters with the maniac in the speeding motorized wheelchair who zips down Fargo and Rogers (usually the wrong way against traffic) between Arbour Health Care and Clark St., you know who I'm talking about.   I've nearly been hit by this guy a number of times when I was trying to cross the street, usually at Paulina & Fargo.

Yesterday morning, my boyfriend discovered that his car (fairly new) was the victim of a hit and run while his car was parked on the 1600 block of Fargo.  He filed a police report, but had no idea who the culprit was.  This morning one of my neighbors told me he'd witnessed the collision.

This incident is just the icing on the cake after these two news stories (story #1, story #2).

If any of you have been hit and run victims of this reckless wheelchair maniac, please respond and tell us about your incident.  I've gotten the contact info for the nursing home administrator and am planning to make a report in the hope that they will stop the guy from going out unsupervised, because he obviously doesn't give a damn if he hits anyone or anything.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shine on you crazy diamond

RIP Syd Barrett. May your troubled soul be in peace.

And another take on things by his sister.

Friday, July 07, 2006

candidates for alderman

I was talking to a friend about who has thrown their hats into the ring for the next aldermanic election. I'm guessing that Joe Moore is running again. I know that Don Gordon, Chris Adams, and Jim Ginderske have declared. I've heard that Craig Gernhardt is in, but don't know if he's officially declared yet. Anyone else?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

more change in the works

I noticed signs today about another proposed change. I heard quite a while ago that the gray stucco house at 7441 Rogers

was purchased by the same developer who built the condos last year at 7443 Rogers.

Rumor has it that more of the same may be built going west on the block, replacing the existing houses with condos.

You have a chance to offer your $0.02 at a public meeting:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

celebrity sausage of the day seen on the menu board at Hot Doug's (gourmet hot dog place at Roscoe & California):

The Joe Moore - Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Sauce Moutarde and Goat Cheese (Try it with a side of Ed Burke Fries)

(Wish I had my camera with me to get a picture of the menu board, which was quite fun in itself.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

a neighborhood eyesore

1640-42 W. Fargo has been quiet lately, but it's not looking so great. No word on when work might begin on the condo conversion. Meanwhile, the lawn looks like a hayfield, nearly knee high and trash-filled more often than not, and weeds are growing up in the sidewalk.

I'm not expecting it to look like this,

but is it too much to ask for George Samutin to send someone out maybe once a month to mow the hayfield, pick up the trash, and keep the place looking even marginally respectable, instead of looking like a dump?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Jarvis Square

With the addition of more places to eat, we now have a fine complement of businesses at Jarvis Square (Jarvis/Greenview). Kudos to Dan Sullivan for his fine work in helping it all to happen.

Just opening: Gruppo di Amici - Italian, in the former Jarvis Liquors space 1508 Jarvis.

They have a liquor license and wine list, vegetarian options as well as meat dishes. Nicely done space. Good reports so far. (closed Mondays)

Charmers Café on the corner at 1500 Jarvis

and The Dagel and Beli, just around the corner on Greenview

opened a few weeks ago and are off to a good start. I've seen plenty of families checking them out.

Luzzat across the street (1505 Jarvis) is serving good, reasonably priced Indian-Pakistani food and ice cream.

Pop on down to the pub (Poitin Stil) for a drink.

Come on down to Jarvis Square...

Saturday, June 17, 2006


A little while ago, I suddenly heard a rush of water outside - sudden, intense rain, with evening sun behind it. Wish I could have gotten out there with the camera a few minutes earlier to capture the full effect.

Monday, June 12, 2006

shots fired on Jarvis

Last night (Sunday) there were at least 3 separate incidents of gunshots fired on the 1600 block of Jarvis. I was not home for the first incident (sometime between 5-6 p.m.), but heard about that one from a friend who lives on Fargo closer to Ashland. The 2nd happened shortly after 7 p.m. The 3rd happened around 8:15 p.m. Police response to 911 calls was speedy.

In each incident, several shots (probably one clip per incident) were fired in a period of a few minutes. I don't know if the shooter was firing randomly, or if there was some specific target. At least one of the incidents happened near the intersection of Jarvis and Paulina.

If any of you have any further info on these incidents, please report it to the police as well as posting it here.

I hope that there will be follow-up on these incidents at the next CAPS meeting.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

goonings are back

You may remember the gooning incidents that happened last year in Rogers Park, when innocent people were attacked and beaten on the street. Community and police response resulted in arrests and safer streets. Now it's happening again. There will be a community walk this Friday, June 2. The community can fight back and win again. For more info, click here.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

walking the walk

This is not just about walking. The ability of pedestrians to get around safely and easily can affect the health of a community, whether it is the Loop or a local business district.

Pedestrian quality of life in the Loop is getting worse. Traffic aides give away increasing portions of stoplight cycles to motor vehicle traffic, at the expense of pedestrians. The recently added right turn arrow at Washington and State reduces pedestrian walk time by half at a critical intersection. Walk signals at some intersections are now so short that an average adult walking at a moderate pace (3 – 3.5 mph) can barely cross in the allotted time.

Large areas of the Loop are blanketed by scaffolding that renders a 1/3 -1/2 of the sidewalk area on many blocks unusable for months or years at a time, leaving a walkable area only 2 or 3 people wide. Flowers and greenery in our giant sidewalk planters are a very welcome addition, but the planters are much too wide, occupying up 1/2 of some very wide sidewalks. Loop streets keep getting repaved, but sidewalks on some blocks have been hazardous and cratered for years.

In the last month, installation of JC Decaux's large ad boards started, presumably part of the street furniture contract. They are perpendicular (not parallel) to the curb on Loop sidewalks, blocking half the sidewalk width in many places. Walking conditions would be much better if the boards were rotated 90 degrees (parallel to the curb) or placed next to existing obstructions so the ad boards do not create additional obstructions.

If the city is to be greener and healthier, there should be a significant effort to improve walking conditions for pedestrians downtown. For many downtown workers who live in dangerous neighborhoods or get home late at night, the Loop is their best
opportunity to walk and get regular aerobic exercise, more so in winter, when icy neighborhood sidewalks make walking near home a hazardous proposition.

Making Loop sidewalks more pedestrian friendly encourages workers and visitors to walk more, improving the odds that they will spend more in downtown shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, instead of in the suburbs or outlying neighborhoods. It allows pedestrians to make the most of nearby attractions without creating additional traffic congestion.

It's time to consider a Loop pedestrian action plan. An effectively used plan could be a key element in the future health of our city.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

farmers markets

The farmers market season has started. Yeah! It will only get better in the next few weeks, when berries start coming in.

Find your local market:
downtown (weekly)
your neighborhood (weekly)
other markets

and see what's in season.

Monday, May 22, 2006

lost world?

I was just reading an interesting item in last week's New York Press about a documentary in the making about Jack Kerouac and On the Road. Jim Knipfel makes a point that had me thinking: have we lost the kind of freedom that Kerouac describes in On the Road? Your $0.02, please.

a man and his bike

A tip of the hat to Jon Hilkevitch for his fine piece on a man and his bike in today's Chicago Tribune Getting Around column.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


...the hosta-bilities

the wheel thing

I spent most of the day out riding my bike - my first really good spring riding day. At several points along the way, I inhaled the intoxicating scent of lilacs. Sometimes the simple pleasures are the best.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

warm fuzzy

Giselle enjoying the warmth of laundry fresh from the dryer...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

taking the next step

A few good articles (1, 2, 3) about how zoning changes can affect our future.

peace and quiet

An article in today's Sun-Times spells out some details of a new nighttime anti-noise ordinance that may give police more leverage to keep the peace. On the surface, it looks mostly good. However, unless there is some clause exempting businesses that existed long before nearby residential development (in areas such as Fulton Market), some of those businesses could be big losers under this law. It could end up costing a lot in terms of job loss in gentrifying areas. I'll be curious to see more details on this.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

spring training

No, not baseball. Just a visual pun...

Friday, May 12, 2006

CTA construction

It's official. Construction on the Howard El station will be starting sometime soon. I noted earlier that I'd been seeing surveyors at work in and around the station. Today a CTA employee was handing out flyers to everyone going through the fare gates announcing the start of construction. There is signage to the same effect in the station. Construction trailers have appeared in the parking lot to the east of the station.

Things will undoubtedly get ugly for a while. I hope that it will turn out well - by 2009. This station should have been fully accessible years ago. Better late than never.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

mini vacation

I wish the weather could be this beautiful today. Visiting the Art Institute gardens at lunchtime is like a mini vacation.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

spring on State

Yes, I'm enjoying spring.

Monday, May 08, 2006


A view of Uptown Square from the El...

Friday, May 05, 2006

graceland squared

I was taking pictures in Graceland last weekend, enjoying all the spring greenery, and Paul Simon's Graceland came on the radio. How cool is that!

Sullivan revealed

After a few years behind scaffolding, the beautiful Louis Sullivan facade of Carson Pirie Scott is finally revealed on State Street. Lovely to see it again!

light bounce

I love the magical way that light bounces between buildings, creating ephemeral patterns of light and shadow. Even better when there are multiple light sources creating multiple shadows of the same object or person. It's best downtown, but I see some cool stuff in backyards, too.

bee madness - more

Does anyone else understand the current fascination with spelling bees as a subject for movies and musicals? Please enlighten me. I don't get it.


Mary Schmich had a funny piece in today's Trib on the subject.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

sidewalk blockers

Have you noticed the new sidewalk blockers downtown?

These are advertising boards, about the same size and shape as the end panel on one of the new bus shelters (done by the same company). Why can't they rotate these so that they sit parallel to the curb or put them next to the big sidewalk planters (where half the sidewalk is already blocked)?

that's better

I noticed on Wednesday that they fixed the sign. Thank you!

concrete thoughts

Good to see the new scaffolding here on Howard Street so no one gets beaned by the crumbling viaduct. Thank you!

To paraphrase an old song, concrete's not fallin' on my head...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


A thought provoking article from yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times, in the wake of Monday's May Day immigration rights rallies.

surveying the situation

I've seen surveyors working at Howard station every day this week. Could this mean that construction is starting soon?

Saturday, April 29, 2006


A controversy started recently over an unorthodox lesson plan in a Lexington, MA, school. A teacher read a new fairy tale called "King & King" in her 2nd grade class. It is a story about two princes who fall in love and get married, presented as part of a lesson on different kinds of weddings. Some parents objected because they said they were not notified before it was read in class. Other objected just on the basis of the gay marriage issue.

I have not read the book, so I cannot judge its presentation of the subject. I understand that parents would want to know what material was being presented. I can't go along with the idea of protesting the depiction of a gay couple as normal to a second grade class.

Kids learn prejudices starting when they are young, at home and among their peers. We all know how cruel kids can be to each other. The high suicide rate among gay teens is largely due to lack of acceptance and persecution.

I have known a few gay/questioning teens and young adults - good, kind people with much to contribute to society. We have talked about their struggles and concerns. We discuss the experiences of their friends who have come out in junior high and high school and been persecuted and ostracized. The picture I get from them is not pretty. They and many of their GLBT friends stay in the closet except to their closest and most trusted friends and family. Fear of persecution can kill one emotionally, even if one is not physically attacked. No one wants to be the next Matthew Shepard.

Sometimes the cruelest twist is being shut out by their immediate family. A few older gay friends were completely cut out of their families' lives when they came out as younger men. Some have had no contact with their families for 30 years or more after their families said "You are no longer one of us."

A longtime friend who grew up in a Southern military family struggled for years to get his family to accept him as gay. They eventually did. He is now a lawyer who is fighting for gay civil rights in Florida and trying to get the ban on gay adoption overturned.

I will not condone persecution of people just because they are biologically different. My hope is that more people will open their minds and judge others by their individual merits, not sexual orientation or race or ethnicity.

Tolerance has to start somewhere. If people don't teach their children to hate, we all have a better chance.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gale Academy plant sale

See Rogers Park Review item on the school's plant sale.

last night's public meeting on 1640-42 Fargo

Last night's public meeting concerning the proposed zoning change/condo project at 1640-42 Fargo was well attended. I'd estimate that there were 60+ people from the community.

The proposed new building for the Rogers side of the property is to be 3 units with a 3-car garage in the ground floor. The design is a reasonably attractive masonry building - red face brick with limestone window headers and sills and limestone accents on the corners. The driveway to access parking between this building and the existing Fargo building (6 spaces for the existing building) would run between the new building and the repo shop (Equitable Services). The driveway for the new 3-car garage would be next to the new driveway.

The current configuration has the entire width of the Rogers side paved in concrete. The new configuration would have a strip of green space and trees along the curb, and green space between the west side of the new building and the existing apartment building on the corner. This makes up for part of the green space lost by replacing the existing grassy yard with parking, and puts all the green space in public view along the street. Narrowing the driveway area would create one or two additional on-street parking spaces on Rogers.

All units would be 2 bedrooms, with slightly more square footage (approx. 1100) in new building, with expected sale prices around $250K. The footprint of the existing building would remain the same, and unit size would be approx. 900-1000 sq. ft., with expected sale prices around $225K. The developer, George Samutin, said that he was trying to offer units that are more affordable than many 2 bedroom units in recent condo offerings. He has done a few recent projects on Pratt between Clark and the lake.

NOTE: At 9 units, this project is smaller than the minimum development size requiring CPAN set-aside (10 units). Samutin will create an additional affordable unit in one of his buildings on Pratt.

Many people attending the meeting objected to the proposal because the neighborhood has lost so many rental units in recent years, and most of the new condos are not affordable (even under the CPAN program) to a large number of current renters.

When I moved to this block in 1997, most of the buildings were rental, some nicer than others. Last year the large courtyard building down the block (1617-1627, over 40 units) was vacated. The tenants were mostly Section 8, and many were families with small children. It has been converted to condos, and the first new owners are moving in. The building at 1626-30 (12 units) is emptying out in preparation for a condo conversion. 1610-20, 1633-41, and 1634-36 are still rental, as well as the buildings at the Paulina end of the block. Who knows what their status will be 5 years from now?

I can see both sides here. I hate to see people who can't afford to buy get booted from one place to the next as their apartment buildings go condo. On the other hand, the building at 1640-42 Fargo has not been fully occupied in a few years, and has not had the best tenants because the units are in poor condition. It's been vacant since 7/1/05. I'd rather see it occupied than standing vacant. In the spectrum of possible options for this property, this proposal is one of the better possibilities. It would add a reasonably attractive building in place of a dilapidated garage, and create additional parking where parking is scarce. While it might not be everyone's ideal solution, it's better than many of the new buildings I'm seeing in Chicago.

public meetings on the proposed CTA Circle Line

Info from the CTA

Public Comment Next Step in Federal New Start Process

Chicago Transit Authority will hold public meetings next month to receive input on the proposed Circle Line project. The meetings are part of the Alternatives Analysis study-the first step in pursuing federal funding for major transit projects. The Alternatives Analysis study is designed to examine all the transit options available and determine a locally preferred alternative.

Meeting dates and venues are:

Tuesday, May 2, 2006
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
West Wing Auditorium
1852 W. 19th Street
Chicago, IL 60608

Wednesday, May 3, 2006
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Lincoln Park High School
2001 N. Orchard St., Room 103
Chicago, IL 60614

Thursday, May 4, 2006
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
Molecular Biology Research Building
900 S. Ashland Ave., Room 1017
Chicago, IL 60607

All venues are accessible to people with disabilities.

The proposed Circle Line would link all of CTA's rail lines and all of Metra's lines in a study area bounded by 39th Street on the south, Fullerton Parkway on the north, Western Avenue on the west and Lake Michigan on the east, creating improved transit connections throughout the six-county region and helping to further ease traffic congestion and improve travel times.

DMJM+Harris, A Joint Venture, which specializes in transit/rail, highway and bridge, marine, aviation and energy infrastructures is conducting the Alternatives Analysis study. The Federal Transit Administration's New Starts program requires transit project proposals to proceed through a process of planning, design and construction. The FTA process consists of five formal steps: Alternatives Analysis, Environmental Impact Statement, Preliminary Engineering, Final Design and Construction.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

for a cold and rainy day

something to get us through...

and a little more...

Friday, April 21, 2006

update on 1640-42 W Fargo

Back to neighborhood stuff...just in from the Alderman's office

Press Release

April 21, 2006

Alderman Joe Moore and the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee invite you to a meeting to discuss a proposal to re-develop the lot at 1640-42 W Fargo. The meeting will be held Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 7:00 P.M. at the Gateway Center Apartments, 7450 North Rogers Avenue.

George Samutin and his attorney, John Pikarski, will be presenting a proposal to change the zoning designation on the above lot from RT4 to B2-3 and split it in two in order to build a 4-unit building on the rear portion of the lot, which would front on Rogers Avenue. The lot is 6201 square feet and currently contains a 6-flat with a 4-car garage. The garage would be replaced by the 4-unit building. The two buildings would have a total of 10 parking spots. RT4 allows one dwelling per 1000 square feet of lot area, B2-3 allows one dwelling unit per 400 square feet of lot area.

The proposal is under review by the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee. "I look forward to hearing from the community, and will only support the project if it enjoys substantial community support," said Moore.

For further information, please call the 49th Ward Service Office at (773) 338-5796.

more on the WBEZ fiasco

Chicagoist ran an interview a few days ago that says more about WBEZ's plans. You be the judge as to whether it actually clarifies anything.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

losing the music

The news about WBEZ's proposed format change next year is disappointing to say the least. The idea of losing my favorite Sunday jazz shows is heartbreaking. Dick Buckley and Marian McPartland should be heard here. So many listeners have learned an enormous amount about jazz from these two living treasures.

Friday and Saturday night music programs (Afropop, Encanto Latino, Blues Before Sunrise, Comin' Home, and Passport) have also been a listening treat and a musical education.

In spite of Chicago's rich musical heritage, most non-mainstream genres get little or no airtime on broadcast radio. Access to these genres should not be limited to those who can afford satellite radio or high speed internet service.

If you're not happy about this either, write to the station manager:

Mr. Torey Malatia
Chicago Public Radio
Navy Pier
848 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-3509

If WBEZ makes this ill-advised change in spite of all of us who want to keep hearing the music, I can only hope that WDCB will pick up some of the programs we will otherwise lose and pick up enough subscribers to boost their transmitter power and be heard in a wider listening area than they are now. Both WBEZ and WDCB have streaming audio available via their web sites.

WDCB has some of the most diverse music programming in the Chicago area (jazz, blues, folk and other genres) and deserves our support regardless of what happens with WBEZ. Check them out. If you like what you hear, tell them so.

Our listening lives will be richer if we keep music programming on both stations. Chicago does not need another all-talk radio station.

Berghoff is back

The Berghoff Cafe has reopened. I haven't checked it out yet. For more details, go to the article that just popped up on the Trib's web site.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

more spring thoughts

Ah, nice bike ride, daffodils, Cubs win, warm can a day get better than that?

Friday, April 07, 2006

slow motion morning

Nice way to start a Friday - getting things done at the usual pace, but feeling like I'm moving in slow motion, being able to absorb all the sights and sounds. Sometimes when we're in a hurry we have the blinders on and only see little details along the way. This morning is a wide-angle view.

Misty morning, quieter than usual, refreshing.

A woman in burgundy and green African dress rolls two huge suitcases along State Street, walking into the mist.

Stop to enjoy the's worth an extra minute.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


It's such a treat to reach the point in the season where I see sunlight when I get out of work. Too bad it's not Friday.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

the return of the public market

Reading about these public markets in the San Francisco area makes me wish we had a year-round option like this around here. It makes me more eager for the return of our outdoor farmers' markets in just over a month.

the joys of public transit

This morning was a special sensory commute. I got on the El at Howard St., a little later than normal, figuring the train would be half empty as it was at the same hour yesterday. Wrong. Everyone else was running late too.

I had a seat to myself for 10 minutes, then soap lady got on. She was decently dressed, but smelled like she'd lathered up with Irish Spring and hadn't washed it off. Phew! Sometimes I notice soapy-smelling people on the train, but she was more potent than most. She got off at Belmont.

Her replacement was a guy in a long, bulky leather jacket, pockets bulging with stuff. Always special to have saddlebags pressing into one's leg. At least he wasn't an extra-wide-leg-spreader or bathed in nicotine. Thought I'd caught a break. No such luck. Got a different kind of fragrance, a more gaseous kind. Hoped it would only be one. Nope. Every minute or two, another SBD (silent but deadly).

Time for a zen breathing exercise - breathing very slowly, trying to tune out outside sounds and smells, while facing away as much as possible in limited space. If the train were less crowded, I would have gotten up to stand somewhere else and play another round of scent roulette.

Fart guy got off one stop before me. The air cleared immediately when he stepped away and the doors opened.

If I am truly lucky, I'll score a single seat on the way home, with no fart guy, soap lady, nicotine bather or loud cell phone yapper. That would be public transit nirvana.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I haven't gotten used to seeing the Berghoff closed. It still feels weird to walk by after work and see it dark. I miss the place.

getting around

Noticed something a little different while walking in the Loop at lunchtime. Picture a white-haired man in a tan trenchcoat carrying a briefcase and rolling down a LaSalle Street sidewalk on a scooter (yes, the foot-powered kind). He gets points for creative transportation.


What's wrong with this picture?

Did anyone at the sign company proofread before actually making the sign? When will it be fixed?


stay tuned for more...