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...