Thursday, July 31, 2008

time to celebrate

Bell's beer is back in Chicago. Yeah!!!!

RTA public hearings August 4-14

The RTA is seeking public input and has scheduled a series of public hearings to encourage that process. They will cover: progress on new transit legislation, the RTA 2009 budget picture, a strategic plan update on assessing and prioritizing transit project, and funding for transit projects.

Here's the schedule:

Central Monday 8/4 at 9:00 a.m.
Regional Transportation Authority offices, 175 W. Jackson Blvd. Suite #1550, Chicago

South Monday 8/4 at 6:00 p.m.
Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 1259 W. 111th St., Chicago

Southwest Wednesday 8/6 at 6:00 p.m.
Toman Public Library, 2708 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago

North Thursday 8/7 at 6:00 p.m.
Loyola University - Water Tower Campus, 25 E. Pearson Street, Chicago
(Rubloff Auditorium located on the first floor of the Law School)

West Tuesday 8/12 at 6:00 p.m.
Chinese Community Center, 250 W. 22nd Place, Chicago


South Monday 8/11 at 6:00 p.m.
South Suburban Mayors & Managers (Mtg Rm C), 1904 W. 174th St., East Hazel Crest

North Tuesday 8/12 at 6:00 p.m.
Pace Headquarters (Board Room), 550 W. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights

West Wednesday, August 13th - 6:00 p.m.
Village of Westchester Court Room, 10300 Roosevelt Rd., Westchester

DuPAGE COUNTY Wednesday 8/6 at 6:00 p.m.
DuPage Co. Building (Auditorium), 421 N. County Farm Rd., Wheaton

KANE COUNTY Thursday 8/14 at 6:00 p.m.
The Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way, Elgin

LAKE COUNTY Thursday 8/14 at 6:00 p.m.
University Center of Lake County, Grayslake
(Enter at Main Entrance off Washington St. at Lancer Lane, 2nd floor - room #241)

McHENRY COUNTY Wednesday 8/13 at 6:00 p.m.
Woodstock Admin. Bldg., 2nd Floor Conference Rm, 667 Ware Rd., Woodstock

WILL COUNTY Tuesday 8/5 at 6:00 p.m.
Joliet Historical Museum, 204 N. Ottawa St., Joliet

Meetings are open to the general public. All locations are ADA accessible. For questions, call the RTA at 312-913-3153 or click here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Uptown Theater

Yesterday I was about to write about the impending foreclosure sale of the Uptown Theater, but was crunched for time. I think that using the magnificent old theater as a concert venue is its best chance for survival. Later yesterday, I got the news that the Uptown has a new owner. I hope that Jam Productions does justice to the place. Having it back in operation, along with the Aragon, the Riviera and the Green Mill makes Uptown more an entertainment destination, and a transit friendly one at that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

music at Millennium Park on 7/31

Made in Chicago jazz series: Trumpeter Victor Garcia and pianist Darwin Alejandro Noguera lead the Chicago Afro-Latin Ensemble, which also will feature Steve Turre, Paoli Mejias, Howard Levy and Brian Lynch. 6:30 p.m. July 31 - Free

Heritage Jazzfest weekend 8/2-8/3

This festival offers a free weekend of concerts at South Shore Cultural Center (7059 South Shore Drive): Saturday 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday noon - 8 p.m.

Gale Park Community Center update

The discussion continues. If you'd like to show your support for a broader range of programming for the whole community, click here for the petition.

There are plenty of existing youth programs in Rogers Park. It would make sense for new programming to complement what is already in the neighborhood.

more bikes in the 'burbs

This is welcome news. Evanston and Oak Park have been good places to ride for a long time. Berwyn and Riverside are also good bike places, and underappreciated in that respect. It's good to see other suburbs making progress in that direction.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dick Buckley finale tomorrow

I wrote previously about the impending sign-off of my all-time favorite voice on Chicago radio. Dick Buckley's farewell show will air tomorrow (Sunday 7/27) from 2 to 4 p.m. on WBEZ. I will miss hearing his voice every week.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Save Our Community Center rally SATURDAY 7/26

Here's a summary of Toni's full posting on tomorrow's event:

A public protest rally is scheduled for Saturday, July 26th at 2 p.m. starting at Gale Park, 1600 W. Howard Street (Marshfield & Howard) and ending with a 4 block march to Alderman Joe Moore's Ward office at 7356 N. Greenview.

Protesters will demand the Alderman cease and desist in his plan to privatize the Gale Park Community Center, which would limit, if not completely prohibit community access and use of this new, public taxpayer funded, Chicago Park District Community Center.

If the issue of community access and use of this publicly funded facility and programming for all ages matters to you, please come out and show your support.

For additional information contact: Save Our Community Center (SOCC) at 773-465-2433

Critical Mass as travel destination

This idea has been floating around our local Critical Mass e-mail list lately, and it's a cool one. If you're visiting another city and want to try it there, check out this worldwide Critical Mass list and see if that city has a Mass. Bring or rent a bike and go for a ride!

If you live near here and want to explore the city in a different way, get on your bike and join in tonight's Critical Mass ride. It meets at 5:30 at Daley Plaza and leaves the plaza for points unknown around 6:00. It's a party on bikes, an urban adventure and a helluva fun ride.

I heard that a crew from the Travel Channel will be filming tonight's Critical Mass. How cool is that?

funky Friday

TGIF - time for Stretchin' Out with Bootsy, then shining that Flash Light...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chicago Criterium race

A new event is coming to Chicago this Sunday, July 27: criterium racing in Grant Park. The action starts at 8:00 a.m. at Columbus and Balbo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

have you been involved in a bicycle-related crash in Chicago?

If you've been involved in a bike-related crash (as a cyclist, pedestrian or driver) and you'd like to share information about the crash with Chicago Dept. of Transportation for the purpose of developing a bike safety video, please click here.

And here's the main page for CDOT's bike program if you want other bike info.

how many ways can Rogers Park say no to Joe?

Folks in the neighborhood keep saying NO to Joe Moore's backroom deal to bring the Boys and Girls Club into the new Gale Park Community Center. Here's last night's accounting: from Toni, Christine Wellman, Craig, Don Gordon and more...

How long did the Advisory Committee and other members of the community work to get this field house built so it could offer programs to the community, not just for youth? Joe, no means NO. The Boys and Girls Club might make a fine addition to the neighborhood if it complements programming for the whole community. The deal just doesn't look so good otherwise. NO means NO.

Grant Park movies

Last night was the second in this year's series of Grant Park movies. Click here for the rest of the lineup. You can go on your bike! Use the free bike valet service at the northwest corner of Monroe and Lake Shore Drive, across from the movie screen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bughouse Square debates 7/26

Relive the old days of soapbox speechmaking at Bughouse Square (Washington Square Park, 901 N. Clark) across the street from the Newberry Library on 7/26 from 12-4 p.m. Celebrate Chicago's history of free speech. Bring your loudest heckling voice. An open mic session and music will follow. Prizes are awarded to the best speakers and hecklers. The library's book sale will be happening inside the library from 7/24-7/28.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

an uphill dream

Can Kenya develop a world class African cycling team? Their August quest in France may show us.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Got this from a friend. The mowercycle really cracks me up.

funky Friday

Some local funkiness: Bumpus with Rachael Yamagata and without.

time for some campaignin'

Here's a funny political video from JibJab. This one is amusing regardless of your political persuasion. TGIF!

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

stay on your feet

Unless the CTA adds a lot of places to hold on that work for people of all heights, I don't think this idea will work too well. Your $0.02?


Will these arrests help make a dent in the problems along Howard Street?

Touhy Park kid fun and music 7/17

Come on down to Touhy Park this Thursday night. At 5:30 there will be "Toddlers, Tunes and Turtles", with music and reptiles for kiddies. At 7:30 there will be a concert by the White Saddle Band - classic rock music for the whole family! Visit with your neighbors and meet new friends. Sponsored by the Touhy Park Advisory Committee.

bike racing in Evanston on 7/20

Last year's first-time event will be back. The criterium race will be happening in downtown Evanston all day on Sunday 7/20, starting with amateur races at 9 a.m., working up to pros in late afternoon. Click here for details, including map.

digging Pullman

Click here for an interesting story about an archaelogical dig in Pullman

the real inspiration for the song

Remember "Lake Shore Drive," one of our blasts from the 1970s past? Read here for a little insight on what really inspired the song. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chinatown summer fair 7/20

Check out this Asian cultural festival - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. along Wentworth from Cermak to 24th St. There's a Lion Dance procession at 12:30 p.m., then entertainment on the main stage starting at 1:00, as well as Chinese street vendors, arts and crafts exhibits, and a children's area.

Monday, July 14, 2008

stay focused

Perfect for Bastille Day and middle of the Tour de France: how NOT to win a bike race.

bike geek funny

If you ride much, you may find this amusing. If you are also familiar with Boston, you'll find it much more amusing.

added bike parking at some CTA stations

If you'd like to ride your bike to one of these CTA stations and park it there, soon you'll be in luck.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

your ride & how it changes your trip - part 2

A reader of part 1 commented that riding in the suburbs can be a very different experience from riding in the city. All suburbs are not created equal.

Older inner-ring suburbs and older city neighborhoods that were developed before World War 2 were designed for walking, bike riding, and public transit use and are generally more bike and ped friendly. Evanston and Oak Park are good examples: fairly compact and walkable, with smaller business districts in addition to downtowns. Public transit is good. Living without a car or with minimal use of a car is feasible.

Suburbs and newer city neighborhoods, developed after World War 2, when our culture became very car-centric, followed a very different pattern. Modern zoning practices separated huge subdivisions from shopping and downtown areas. Public transit was not part of the equation in the post-war development of places like Schaumburg or city neighborhoods near Midway and O'Hare that were still small farms or airfields until the 1950s or 60s. Cul de sacs and meandering patterns of side streets are the norm in many of these places - streets that only feed onto a busy main street and do not connect to each other. These busy main streets are designed for moving fast and often lack sidewalks. They were designed exclusively for car use, with no consideration for other modes of transportation. Retrofitting these road plans for bicycle and pedestrian use is not always easy, and NIMBYism by local residents sometimes delays or prevents it. Or residents may choose to take a step backwards.

Here's a posting on another local blog that gives a vivid illustration of a place where transportation does not work well - for anyone.

Which is your favorite Chicago suburb for bike riding and/or walking? Which is your LEAST favorite? How about your favorite and least favorite Chicago neighborhoods? Curious minds want to know.

Dick Buckley

No, he hasn't died. But soon Chicago radio won't be the same. The other day I heard the sad news that Dick Buckley's 30-year career at WBEZ (91.5) will end with a special two-hour show July 27. Word has it that he will play some of his favorite music and talk about his remarkable run in jazz radio, which began here in 1955. He will be missed. He's been a one-man education in jazz.

If you'd like to read an old interview with him, click here.

Since the 2006 elimination of most WBEZ music shows, Buckley's continuing show has been a gift. Considering the serious health problems he's faced and his age (over 80), I've been grateful for every day that he's remained on the air.

if you're not in Chicago and you've never experienced his show, you have a few more chances to check it out online before it's gone - Sunday afternoons from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central time.

benefit for an old friend Tues. 7/15

Rogers Park Community Council is holding a benefit to honor longtime neighborhood activist Mary Jane Haggerty this Tuesday, July 15th, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood (at Lunt).

Mary Jane has given so much of her life to fighting for quality of life in the neighborhood: battling slumlords, fighting for affordable housing and tenants' rights. She played a major role in cleaning up many run-down, drug-infested buildings in Rogers Park and bringing the scam artist Kakvand to justice. She has made a difference in so many lives through her tireless commitment to the community. Click here for a recent News-Star newspaper profile on her.

Mary Jane now faces a more difficult fight: Stage 4 breast cancer. Come out to honor Mary Jane and her work, and to offer her support. She's done so much for us. It's only right that we return the favor.

A $20 donation at the door includes appetizers, beer, wine, and live music. Donations greater than $20 will be gratefully accepted. Proceeds from this benefit will be used to help Mary Jane with medical and other bills while she fights to regain her health and strength.

If you can't come to the benefit, please consider sending a check payable to Rogers Park Community Council and write Mary Jane Haggerty Benefit in the memo line. Please send your donation to:
     RPCC, 1530 W. Morse Ave., Chicago, IL 60626-3307.

Please send healing thoughts and prayers to Mary Jane, and contribute what you can give her some financial help.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Joe Vader


celebrate Clark Street festival Sunday 7/13

Check out live music free from 1-11 pm on Clark between Morse (6950N) & Estes (7100N) - click here for band list and schedule.

more on the Valley Line Trail

John Greenfield did a nice writeup on the trail his Vote With Your Feet blog.

Friday, July 11, 2008

27 inch tires making a comeback

I love my 1978 road bike, so this is very welcome news.

funky Friday

Take a musical trip to New Orleans with this three-fer from Marcia Ball:

On the Mountain
Party Town
Watermelon Time

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

unofficial mascot

A bit of satire from our favorite local cop blog. The comments add a lot, as is often true with this particular blog.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jazz at Indian Boundary Park on 7/11

Check out this cool free jazz concert at Indian Boundary Park, 6 p.m. Friday 7/11.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

one less to protect us

My condolences to the family and friends of Officer Richard Francis, who was killed last week while on duty near Belmont & Western. I have to wonder if the Chicago Police Dept. manpower shortage contributed to his death. If he had been working with a partner, he might still be alive.

I am concerned about the safety of officers working alone at night, and about the safety of all of us who depend on them in emergency situations. The number of retiring officers is still a lot higher than the number of new recruits to replace them.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Valley Line bike trail is open!

I previously reported on the construction of this recent rail-trail conversion. The grand opening happened on 6/21. Click here to read comments. Hopefully Skokie and Lincolnwood will pick up their end and continue the trail.

music at Millennium Park on 7/10

Music without borders series: Sudanese Music and Dance Festival 2008 will feature more than 50 artists, with soloists Abdel Gadir Salim and others joining the Nile Music Orchestra of Sudan. 6:30 p.m. Free

vacation flashback #3

Friday, July 04, 2008

holding on

My hat is off to Edith Macefield, the old lady in Seattle who stood up to developers and stayed in her little house until she died recently. It's not always about money. Sometimes home is priceless. I appreciate her principles. May she rest in peace.

big brother is watching what you're watching

This Youtube case has rather chilling implications for personal privacy, or the loss thereof.

a nice freebie

Saw a cool freebie mentioned in this week's Reader: For those who bank with Bank of America (or maybe know someone who does): Any valid BoA check, ATM, or credit card gets you free admission to the Art Institute, Chicago History Museum, and Museum of Contemporary Art this Saturday and Sunday, as well as the FIRST WEEKEND of every month through next April.

energy independence day

At a family holiday gathering, one of my uncles was arguing against subsidies for mass transit, saying "why shouldn't riders pay the full price?" In answer to that, one could counter "why shouldn't drivers pay full price for the cost of roads and parking?" That's the unspoken truth. Except for toll roads and paid parking, driving is much more heavily subsidized than mass transit. Most roads are nominally free to drive on, and in less congested areas there is a lot of "free" parking. We just don't directly see the costs associated with building and maintaining this parking.

I say that riding a bike is a great way of declaring one's independence and freedom from traffic, high gas prices, and the stress of driving. And municipal spending on bike facilities gives a lot more bang for the buck than anything car-related. The reduced stress and increased exercise can be good for your mental and physical health. And it's safer than it used to be. For some useful resources on riding with kids, staying safe in traffic and other related topics, click here.

Celebrate your independence by riding a bike today!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Amtrak getting back to normal

Service on three western Amtrak routes has been affected by Midwest flooding in recent weeks. It made my trip back from Oregon more interesting - not in a good way. Flooding in Wisconsin affected some rail bridges and access to some Amtrak stations, so my train was stopped in Minneapolis-St. Paul and we got put on buses for the remainder of the trip back to Chicago. The good news is that two of three Amtrak routes having this issue are back in full operation. If you're planning a trip on the California Zephyr (crossing still-flooded Iowa), check with Amtrak.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

4th of July sky show, courtesy of Mother Nature

If you'd like to see a natural sky show in addition to the fireworks, click here for details.

your ride and how it changes your trip - part 1

In Chicago, I try to drive as little as possible. The car can be more of a trap than a source of freedom in densely populated areas. Endless hours are wasted in traffic jams, creating a greater sense of urgency about reaching a destination and enough frustration to motivate risky behavior. I've seen otherwise reasonable drivers become raging maniacs on our clogged streets. The current price of gas increases the rage. The pleasure of our journeys has been mostly replaced by grimly creeping in traffic towards the destination. However, my experiences on a bike are a different story.

The bike is a means of transportation that is affordable to all income levels. It promotes interaction with the environmental and is not threatening. In contrast, a car is a bubble around its occupants, more likely to create social isolation, with potential to injure or kill others.

Traveling in neighborhoods where I am a minority, I've been the target of hostility when I am driving. BTW, it's a 20-year-old Honda Civic, not some fancy car. I've been yelled at, spit at, cut off in traffic, and been on the receiving end of nasty racial slurs, all while driving reasonably, without hostility. If I ride my bike in those same areas, at the same times of day, the response is more friendly - a smile, a wave, a little kid riding alongside smiling and just being a kid. If I'm waiting for a bus, the response is usually neutral or friendly. I am not isolated by the car. We are on equal footing.

A car junkie's perception is often focused on how much time is spent sitting in traffic and how much hassle it is to find parking. There may be beautiful gardens, interesting shops, interesting architecture and other small-scale pleasures along the way. A pedestrian or cyclist could easily see them and be able to stop and check them out. Either might have conversations with others while waiting at lights. A driver might miss them entirely, preoccupied with getting through the next light before it turns red, or angry at being cut off by another driver or simply traveling too fast to notice them.

Riding a bike in Chicago has given me a much deeper appreciation for the cultural richness and green spaces of the city than I could ever have in a car. Being able to stop and smell the roses can be a reality, not just some old cliche. And I'm not paying $$$ to any oil company for the privilege.

bee school

It sounds like beekeeping is becoming more popular. I know of a few individuals here in Chicago who keep bees. One guy in Pullman has done it for years. If you've ever done the Pullman house tour, you may have met him. Here's a new local beekeeper blog. And a page on getting started with bees. It's not just for folks in the country.

vacation flashback #2

Here's a shot from my recent trip to Oregon - from the rim of Crater Lake.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Walgreen's sinkhole

Be careful over there!

vacation flashback

Here's a shot from my recent trip to Oregon - the Classical Chinese Garden in Portland.