Friday, September 28, 2007

remembering Phil Frank

Back when his comic strip was "Travels with Farley," I became a big fan of Phil Frank's humor. In 1985, he decided to go local and change it to "Farley," focusing on San Francisco area humor. I was sad to read of his passing in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle.

A fellow Chronicle cartoonist pays tribute to Phil Frank and Farley. Here's a 2005 tribute to Phil Frank. Sounds like Phil got quite a send-off in San Francisco the other day.

I will miss his unique, clever humor. Vaya con dios, Phil!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Belgian Ale house update

Last time I mentioned the meeting for community input on this proposed new business. Lorraine gave me an update from the meeting, which happened last night.

She said that the general response was favorable. No drawings, floor plans, logos or
signage were presented. "Belle Chique" seems to be the name of the joint.

They are planning on a full restaurant menu - not just appetizers and bar food - including waffles & chocolate too.....traditional Belgian food - mussels & Frites, eel and sausages, Hopleaf....

Parking is a concern. They would be open 5 pm til 2 am but the back deck would be 5 pm til 11 pm only. There would not be a sidewalk cafe.

Sounds great to me. Stay tuned for further updates....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Break the Gridlock - PARK(ing) action

This happened last Friday. ZDnet ran a story on San Francisco's efforts. And here's a write-up on another local temporary park.

Residents to call attention to threatened community garden this Friday

Pilsen, Chicago: in conjunction with international Parking Day, Chicago activists, artists, and local residents will transform parking spaces into gardens in the Pilsen neighborhood.

The action is to take place in the 1900 block of S. Halsted street, from 6 P.M. to 8 P.M. on Friday September 21 2007.

The site was chosen to call attention to a garden space which was deeded to the community by former alderman Ambrosio Medrano, which garden stewards charge was innapropriately sold to Pilsen property mogul John Podmajersky Jr . by current Alderman Daniel Solis. Neighbors and participants in the care of the Cesar Chavez Community Garden, located at 19th and Canalport, were shocked earlier this summer
to find workers cutting down trees on the site, reportedly to create a parking lot for a nearby condominium development. Residents of east Pilsen have organized to fight for continued access to the garden, and will be on hand Friday to help raise awareness of the struggle.

Members of Chicago's growing carfreedom movement saw an opportunity to partner with proponents of the fight to save Jardin Cesar Chavez by targeting Pilsen and Podmajersky with this Friday's action. Payton Chung, a 26 year old urban planner, explains, "Podmajersky and Solis want to replace a garden with parking, so we're going to replace parking with a garden!"

According to the website, PARK(ing) Day challenges people to rethink the way streets are used and reinforces the need for urban open space. Pioneered by San Francisco arts collective Rebar in 2005, PARK(ing) Day 2007 is organized by Rebar and San Francisco nonprofit Public Architecture in association with The Trust for Public Land, which is coordinating a parallel national effort.

Public participation in Friday's action is sought, and participants are encouraged to add their own touches to the installation--additional plants, garden furniture, tiki lights, and outdoor decorations such as trellises and fencing are welcome.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Ground Zero and what it means now

The Boston Globe ran an excellent op-ed piece on this subject today.

Shrub continues to do the American people a great disservice, turning Ground Zero into a monument to America’s culture of victimhood. If our diplomats visited Ground Zero with Ahmadinejad, it could be an opportunity to start reversing our country's course of alienating Iran. This alienation only pushes our nations closer to the brink of war. Instead, Shrub, Hillary Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani are perversely united in denying Ahmadinejad a visit to Ground Zero.

While I am no fan of the current regime in Iran, continuing to insult Iran does not serve our nation or any other. Finding a way to step back from the brink would be a much more suitable memorial to those who died on 9/11.

Friday, September 21, 2007

RPGG fundraiser on 9/30

On Sunday, September 30 the RPGG will hold a garden sale to raise funds for the 2008 Community Garden project outside of Charmers on Jarvis. We’d love you to donate plants that you can divide from your garden, pots you’ve grown bored with, yard art that someone else may better appreciate. We’ll even take your arts and crafts items – really, any garden-themed object (including veggies from your garden) you’d like to donate and have us sell. In turn, please come join the fun and see what your neighbors have donated that you might want to buy. We are also asking businesses if they would like to donate gift certificates for products or services that we can auction at the sale. All proceeds will go toward the 2008 community garden project. To donate your items, please email us at rpggseptember at gmal dot com.


If you would like to get RPGG email notices, please send your name and email address to rpgardengroup at comcast dot net. E-mail addresses will not be shared with other organizations without your permission.

how NOHPAC meetings are done in the 49th ward

Thanks to Tim Jackson for this funny cartoon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

three for laughs

Nothing earth shattering here, just three “news of the weird”-type items for your amusement.

Genius #1
Genius #2
Genius #3

Hard to pick a winner in this particular race, but it seems like these folks are a few brain cells short of a normal quota. Who gets your vote? ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

cool September bike rides - updated

This Sunday the North Shore Century awaits. There are routes for riders of all abilities, from the 10 mile family route to the 25, 50, 62 and 100 mile routes. You can see different areas of the north shore, and visit the Kenosha velodrome if you're up for 100 miles. Food at the rest stops is great. There is mechanical assistance available along the way if you have problems. Live entertainment and a massage tent await at the finish.

This ride benefits the Evanston Bike Club, which donates a large portion of the proceeds to local bike-related organizations and programs.

* * * * *

Last weekend's Boulevard Lakefront Tour was a success. It featured a 15-mile family route, a 35-mile route, and a 62-mile route (metric century), with lunch and live entertainment at the post-ride festival. The ride started and ended in Hyde Park, highlighting Chicago's system of boulevards and parks. Rest stop locations include Palmer Square and Ping Tom Park. Here are a few highlights of locations featured on the ride: Logan Square/Palmer Square, Washington Park, and the recently revived Drexel Boulevard

This ride benefits the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, our local bike advocacy group. They work to improve bicycling in the Chicago area through education, municipal bike plans, and efforts to make bicycling more feasible as practical transportation.

* * * * *

The Pullman Labor Ride is done. Beautiful day for it. It's a tale of 2 factory towns: Pullman and Marktown (part of East Chicago). If you can ride 30+ miles and have an interest in local history, it's very worthwhile. This ride benefits the Pullman Civic Organization, which was founded in 1960, when the entire historic section of Pullman from 111th Street to 115th Street was threatened with total demolition to create an industrial park. It continues the work of preserving the architectural and historical integrity of the community and helping to make it a good place to live.

For more info on Pullman, click here or here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Satan needs ice skates

[Hell has frozen over]

Last week I was riding my bike through the neighborhood and appreciating something truly amazing.

After so many years of ideas and meetings and fighting for progress, it's great to see all these things happening at once: 1640-42 Fargo being renovated, 1626-30 Fargo being renovated, the former Lerner building being demolished, and the Gale Park Community Center construction coming along nicely. The Howard El station is in mid-renovation (who ever thought that would ever happen?). A new apartment building on the Evanston side of Howard is under construction on the long-vacant land opposite the Gateway entrance. African Harambee adds another good place to eat. The Century project is under construction on Morse. More good businesses (such as the Belgian Ale House) are proposed for Jargowood. I never thought I'd see this day.


more changes at the Chicago Reader

As of 10/5, the Chicago Reader will be changing its format and changing its distribution day to Wednesday. Will this be a good thing or a bad thing? Guess we'll have to wait and see. Click here for more details.

Monday, September 10, 2007

teenage heroes

Once in a while I see a story that restores my faith that there are still some ordinary people out there who will go out of their way and risk their lives to save a stranger. This is one of those stories. My hat is off to Tom Foust and his friends for saving an elderly driver from being killed by an oncoming train. You are true heroes.

Rogers Park World Music Festival 9/15

The 6th Annual Rogers Park World Music Festival is happening in Loyola Park (lakefront between Lunt and Morse) this Saturday 9/15 starting at NOON. This showcase of musical diversity is sponsored by the Wisdom Bridge Arts Project. Free admission.

12pm Sounds from Congo Africa featuring Simon Kashama and New Community Church Choir

1pm Rogers Park Reggae featuring Tony Panther and Roots Vibration

2pm Local Funky Folk featuring andiandi

Come on down and enjoy the music!

(For info on other World Music Festival events, click here.

RPGG Comunity Garden project


Would you like to sponsor a community garden project in 2008 or do you know a neighborhood group that is interested? Is there a space that you and your neighbors think could use improvement? Are there businesses around the space that might join with you to oversee a community garden project? We really want to help RP residents and businesses beautify their surroundings for all residents to enjoy. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU as a lead partner to make a successful and lasting project. A community garden project is win-win for everyone: by helping to improve our green spaces and plantings you get to give back to the community, share a fun project with neighbors and friends and meet people, and feel good. Something about planting tender flowers and watching them grow soothes the soul and puts a smile on everyone’s face. It is said that people who garden live longer and healthier lives (ok, we just made that up but we’re pretty sure that it’s true).

Here is the detail on how a community garden project works and what we’ll all do:

The RPGG will assist any community or neighborhood group with the creation or restoration of one garden each year on private or public space provided that can be enjoyed by the public. You come up with the idea and some neighbors, friends, or businesses and put together a proposal that includes:

* Name of your neighborhood group with group leader identified and at least 4 other residents/neighbors who will participate in the project. Include name, address, phone, and email (if available).
* Address and site location description (for instance, Loyola Park, Circle Park planters at end of Morse Ave. and the park).
* Digital photos of the site. If your group is unable to take digital photos, please contact RPGG and we will assist you.
* Approximate size of site (i.e., two 27’ diameter planters or 24’x52’ tract at ABC Park).
* A 250-500 word statement about the site and why you believe it will make for a terrific community garden project.

Deadline for proposals is October 1, 2007.
Nominating project information should be sent to Susan Murray, Community Garden Committee Chair, RPGG via email at or via mail to: 1636 W. Greenleaf, #3W, Chicago 60626.

Here is what the RPGG will do to support the project:

Provide cost estimates.
Create the site design.
Select plants (along with your group).
Provide planting volunteers.
Provide project marketing and fundraising assistance.
Advise on ongoing garden maintenance.

So what kind of work will you and your group have to do?

Fundraise and promote involvement with the community in the area.
Prepare and assist in planting the garden.
Provide ongoing care and maintenance of the garden once it is installed.
Provide a project leader who will oversee your group’s activities and involvement with the project and who will liaison with the RPGG team.

When will you have to do all this stuff?

November 2007-March 2008: fundraise.
March 2008: garden design and plant selection.
April 2008: garden site preparation (e.g., weeding, tilling, soil amendments)
Mid-May 2008: garden planting!

We are eager for your proposals. All proposals will be reviewed by the Rogers Park Garden Group membership and the final project will be selected by majority vote at the October 30, 2007 meeting. Please contact Susan Murray at susanmurray at or rpgardengroup at for a 2-page information sheet on the proposal or if you have any questions. We’ll do our best to help give your proposal the best advantage!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

the beat goes on

The Boston Globe recently ran a series about retracing the route of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" 50 years later. Kerouac's widow says his message was misunderstood. I haven't picked up my copy of "On the Road" in a while. Time to revisit the journey...

Slate ran a piece that includes some interesting quotes from folks who were close to Kerouac. And here's a Sun-Times piece to add a bit more.

When I lived in New Hampshire, I visited Lowell many times. It was interesting to experience the transition of the Lowell millyard and nearby millworker housing from gritty, neglected bits of history to national historical site and Kerouac memorial. The blue collar life of a French-Canadian millworker family that Kerouac lived is a common thread in New England culture. I knew a number of people there whose parents or grandparents worked in the textile mills that were the lifeblood of the region until the Depression of the 1930s.

Every March, Lowell celebrates Kerouac's birthday. And they have another big celebration planned for October. Kerouac's scroll manuscript is on display at the Boott Cotton Mill Museum through the end of the October festivities.

If you happen to take a trip out that way, consider a stop in Lowell - for Kerouac, for all the history, and a taste of modern Lowell culture.

Friday, September 07, 2007

1547 Jarvis liquor license proposal - updated

Many folks are interested in the new business proposed for 1547 W. Jarvis: Belgian Ale House, to be run by the owners of Celtic Knot in Evanston. This would require approval for a special use permit and a liquor license. The liquor license is a regular bar license. Some food will be served, but the focus would be on drinks. This would be a 2:00 a.m. weekday/3:00 a.m. weekend license. A community meeting prior to that approval is scheduled for Monday 9/25 at 7 pm at the 49th Ward office (7356 N. Greenview @ Jarvis). If you are interested in this issue, please come to the meeting. For more information, call 773-338-5796.


Note that the meeting has been rescheduled from 9/10 to 9/25 due to a scheduling conflict. Same time, same place as noted above.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

landmark idol

If you have an interest in architectural landmarks and would like to see your favorite landmark win a generous preservation grant, check this out. It's an interesting list of landmarks. Vote early and often! You can vote once per day until October 10th.

honeybee update

If you are as curious as I am about the recent problems with colony collapse disorder affecting honeybees, here's an update on the story.