Thursday, July 31, 2008

time to celebrate

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

coffee, tunes and more

Last night I was riding along 107th St. near the Metra tracks and passed by Favia Cafe. I noticed a sign in the window "now open until 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays." That's welcome news.

Meanwhile, on 99th St., Blue Moon will have entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, all ages, no cover. It's open mic poetry on Fridays and jazz by the Beverly All Stars on Saturdays.

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

changes in Uptown

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.

more bikes in the 'burbs

This is welcome news. Now when is Evergreen Park going to get more bike racks? There are plenty of businesses that could be visited by bike - if only there were a reasonable way to lock up the bike.

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

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

armed robberies

I'm sorry to be the bearer of such disturbing news. Earlier today, I heard from a police officer friend that there were 3 armed robberies in the neighborhood. These happened between 103rd & Oakley and 115th & Oakley in the span of 15 minutes around 10:00 in the morning.

From the description of the robber, m.o., vehicle description and license plate number, the police believe that this is the work of a team that is responsible for a string of armed robberies in recent months, mostly in nearby suburbs.

I've seen occasional reports of one or two isolated daytime robbery incidents in the last several months, but this is the first time I've heard about multiple incidents in close proximity in a short period of time. Be careful out there! They seem to be targeting quiet areas where there aren't a lot of people out on the street. If you've been looking for an excuse to get out and walk during the day with a group of friends, this is a good one.

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.

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 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.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beverly All Stars in a special venue

This Thursday 7/24 you can see the Beverly All Stars at the Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

an uphill dream

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


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

Friday, July 18, 2008

once in a blue moon

...we get a cool place like the Blue Moon Cafe. I stopped by to check it out last weekend. They have a nice variety of drinks, sweets, sandwiches, salads and such to satisfy your appetite.

This Saturday (tomorrow!) the Beverly All Stars will be playing jazz out on the patio from 7:30 to 10:00. Stop by and enjoy!

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 all that work for people of all heights, I don't think this idea will work too well. Your $0.02?

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

digging Pullman

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

stay focused

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

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.

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.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dick Buckley

No, he hasn't died. But soon Chicago radio won't be the same. Today 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.

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.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I was walking in the Loop at lunchtime noticing empty storefronts. The list of what's NOT there anymore is an interesting mix. I've been watching Mac Kelly's locations disappear for a while - one less place to get a good lunch. Which raises the question: why does Panda prosper? Do we really need more palaces of instant indigestion? There are plenty of places with similarly priced food that is actually good. The Gap is gone from Madison and Dearborn - my old fallback when I'd ride my bike to work and forget to pack a shirt in my pannier.

I saw the Hi Guy on Madison - first time I've seen him in a while.

The Wabash streetscape project is getting old already. I'll glad when it's done. Jackhammers on top of the El's roar and cabs honking puts the noise level over the top. I was grateful that the jackhammer guys were on lunch break when I came by later.

And now....back to work...TGIF!

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

random grab

While I was at 99th St. waiting for the train, I noticed a 20-something in one of the most uncoordinated outfits I've ever seen. The combination of colors and textures just did not work. She wore a black sparkly cardigan over a gray sweater top (untucked), tight butterscotch canvas shorts, silver sequin ballet flats, and brick red canvas bag. Did she pick this motley assortment with her eyes closed or without benefit of lights?

Blue Moon is open

On my way to the train at 99th St. this a.m., I noticed a signboard out front of Blue Moon Cafe. The door was open and the Open light was on. Didn't have time to check it out, but I'll have to stop in and give them some business in the next few days.

Chicago pizza for the troops

How cool is this?!

Wednesday, July 9, 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.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Miller Beach garden walk on 7/12-13

"Secret Gardens: Red, White & Blooming," sponsored by the Miller Garden Club, offers tours of gardens in the Miller Beach section of Gary, Ind. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost: $6 in advance, $7 day of event. Call 219-938-5911 for more info or click here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

bike racing in Beverly this Friday 7/11

Check out the criterium race in Beverly this Friday night, the start of the SuperWeek racing series, hosted by our neighborhood guys, the Beverly Bike-Vee Pak racing team. Friday night's race is 62 miles on a 1-mile closed course, starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending around dusk. Click here for a map and details.

Sunday, July 6, 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 5, 2008

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 4, 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 3, 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 2, 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 - the Classical Chinese Garden in Portland.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

vacation flashback

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