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Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

This week marks the two-year anniversary of me taking this blog semi-seriously. So, there’s obviously no better way to celebrate that than to display some stuff that I didn’t even write! Right?

Mine and my buddy Dave’s approach to humor is interesting. Usually in the form of cryptic inside jokes involving music, writing, and/or food, we get a lot joy out of poking fun at the things we love.

This week I’ve been commissioning him via text message (and free of charge) to impersonate a famous writer describing/critiquing places in my neighborhood. Like I said, the humor is interpersonal and puzzling. But Dave is a good and funny writer, so you just might enjoy:

1.) The World’s most famous asshole rock critic Robert Christgau reviews Irazu, a hip Costa Rican restaurant a half a block from my house: “Costa Rica is the place all your hippie-conservationist-leaning friends went junior year to hammer some nails and pour trippy teas down their heretofore golden spoon-fed throats. Irazu is not run by such a paterfamilia, but it is still a sweaty affair. 30-somethings who think their newfound financial stability makes them lucky to pass the Gap on their way to Banana Republic sip $17 red wine, order onioned things, and stay too long. Try an oatmeal shake, Trevor. B-”

2.) Famously tangental and enigmatic rock critic Lester Bangs reviews Olivia’s Market, an overpriced, yuppie-filled grocery store: “What’s in a market’s HEART? I think we can all reasonably assume that, in general, some markets have a higher calling, even in that more-dogs-than-people stretch of Wicker Park. The arrangement of this fucking place is all dadaist angles and, even in the small quarters, gray mist where-the-Hell-am-I mustard confusion.”

3.) Ernest Hemingway describes our friend Hannah’s house in Oak Park: “The sun set over the train tracks. In its glow were row houses. The houses were built with old money. There used to be a pond there. Sometimes I cast my rod towards the houses. I know I’ll never catch anything but I can hope.”

4.) F. Scott Fitzgerald describes Sterling Goss, a slow, overpriced deli that sells huge and tasty sandwiches, also a half a block from my house: “The menu at Sterling Goss, that beacon of culinary light which sits firmly drilled into the street corner, is nearly unutterable in its magnificence. The servitude, though, is languid; smock-draped and meat-bloodied men take a molasses filled hour glass to create meals of stunning thickness and girth. Your money clip will feel lighter, but a rich man’s meal is the reward.”

5.) Literary lead singer of the Hold Steady Craig Finn writes a lyric about Estelle’s, a cheap bar that gets packed with hipsters hanging around the jukebox: “And on the Second Night me and some old townie friends went to the bar, it was crowded and cheap and maybe even a little desperate. “The jukebox is way in the back” said the tattooed girl behind the bar, and the three girls pumping quarters into it were yelling, slurring words by The Cars.”

So there you have it, some of the funniest stuff I’ve read all week. More to come. Cheers.

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One of the things I like most about Chicago–besides the wind and annoying public transit, of course– is the green spaces. In the areas that I frequent most (Northwest neighborhoods and the vast Lincoln Park territory) there are myriad parks and green boulevards that are most inviting, but also not intrusive enough to make you feel guilty for not stopping to soak in their radiance. Moreover, these parks add a delicate and necessary balance to a city that is filled with concrete and steel, whether you are basking in it, or just walking by.The deep greens and thick brown tree trunks of these spaces always excite me and make me grateful that the early developers of Chicago chose to keep some of the Illinois countryside in tact. The other day, however, I stumbled on an article in the New York Times that discussed exactly the opposite: turning already urbanized areas into green spaces and parks. For the most part, these parks (there are some in Paris and New York) are in abandoned parts of town and the development in greenery is an improvement from rusty old train tracks.

The article also spokeĀ  about other American cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit that are in the early stages of these kind of transformations. In Chicago, the defunct elevated railroad track that was discussed is literally two minutes from my house. The tracks are called The Bloomingdale Trail and stretch about 3 miles east-west across the city’s northwest side. This somewhat-removed and secluded area is already a fabulous hang-out spot (late-night beer chats, usually) and adding greenery to a location like this is, I think, a marvelous idea. There is a non-profit organization called Friends of The Bloomingdale Trail which has modeled itself after the group that developed The High Line park in NYC. Friends has been trying to get this going since 2003 I believe, and with the success of The High Line and the press Bloomingdale Trail recently got in The Times, things could be looking up!

I have no idea the slings and arrows a non-profit like Friends has to suffer to get a project like this off the ground, but I intend to help out in any way I can. Although my undetermined after-college plans may inhibit me from seeing the completion of this decay-turned-garden, I’d like to know that I had a hand in its relative genesis. And who knows, maybe a decade or so down the road, I’ll come back and have a beer and a chat in a rose garden, rather than a bunch of gravel and rust.

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