Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Prices are normally $2 single ride; $4 for an all-day pass; $15 for 10 rides or $40 for a monthly pass. Visit their website for hours of operation and to see a map of the locations of docks/routes.
Yesterday, today and the future
Memorial Day flags at Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet, IN
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
by Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Thursday, May 24, 2007
In the meantime, I wanted to share a link to a blog called "Our Man In...". He's lived in Hanoi and Nicaragua; now he's become Our Man in Grenada. Good writing and lots and lots of fabulous photos.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
From the US website:
At its simplest and most powerful, the Earthship concept enables people to re-integrate with nature through their homes. Conventional house building only encourages further dis-integration at all levels.
Earthships are solar independent buildings that heat and cool themselves, are self powered, harvest their own water and deal with their own waste. With free energy from the sun and free materials from waste, the Earthship is based on earth rammed tyre walls giving thermal mass to store heat. They are ‘heavyweight’ high quality buildings, designed with a comfortable low cost future in mind. They run free and yet can be realized at similar costs to the conventional utility dependant ‘lightweights’ that are currently proliferating. We need to reverse this balance – rapidly.
I spent a lot of time on the websites and it is a pretty fascinating look at what could be the future of housing. (Some of the houses are even luxury-level.) Want to try before you buy? If you're visiting Taos, NM, you can even stay in Biotecture for around the same cost of staying in a hotel.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Info from their website:
FreeGeek Chicago is a not-for-profit community organization that recycles used computers and parts to provide functional computers, education, internet access and job skills training to the underserved communities of Chicago in exchange for community service.
The Inspiration Corporation is another Chicago group that provides change through job training and more:
At Inspiration Corporation, we inspire change and enrich our community by providing people who are affected by homelessness and poverty with essential social services that create choices and enable our participants to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. Established in 1989, Inspiration Corporation is a nonprofit, community-based organization playing a leading role in Chicago's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Each year, Inspiration Corporation assists more than 2,000 individuals who are chronically homeless, unemployed or underemployed, and struggling with mental illness, substance use disorders and social isolation. What began as a small red wagon filled with sandwiches and coffee has developed into an award-winning organization offering a comprehensive array of programs.
A hallmark of Inspiration Corporation's work is respect for the people we serve. We invite volunteers and supporters to join us in maintaining a community in which individuals can find the resources they need to rebuild their lives with dignity.
You can directly support Inspiration Corp. via their restaurants: Inspiration Café and Café Too.
Growing Home is one of our favorite vendors for locally grown, organic produce -Not only because of their farm-fresh products, but also because of their mission: To provide job training and create employment opportunities for homeless and low-income people in Chicago, in the context of an organic argriculture business.Fox & Obel is located at 401 E. Illinois St., near Navy Pier.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Ambria closes June 30th; the Lincoln Park restaurant will offer "Best of Ambria" menus through June 29th. On the 30th, there will be a farewell tribute dinner and a charity cocktail reception ($50 a person), with proceeds going to the Fernard Guiterrez Memorial Fund.
The Chicago Tribune also recently had an article on Ambria, citing that "Lettuce will replace Ambria with another high-end concept--likely a vehicle for San Francisco star chef Laurent Gras, who's scheduled to participate in a joint venture with Lettuce restaurants at some point--but that the new restaurant won't necessarily reside in the old Ambria space."
After missing the chance to eat at Berghoff (before it became "17 West at the Berghoff") and Trader Vic's before they both closed, I've decided not to miss this chance to dine at a Chicago landmark restaurant, and have made my reservations.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Of note to those of you who like to travel but who do not like to smoke, I noticed this on a reservation I had to process today - "Please Note: All Marriott hotels in the USA and Canada, including guest rooms, restaurants, and public spaces, are now 100% smoke free."
This covers all of their brands, including Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites, and Fairfield Inn - but note that so far it only applies to their U.S. and Canadian properties. Their website notes that smokers will have a designated outdoor area.
Monday, May 14, 2007
James Earl Jones II performs at the Stage Door Cabaret at Looptopia
The weather started so promising on Friday. Slightly breezy, sunny... unfortunately by 5pm, the temperature had dropped to the mid-50s and the "slight breeze" had turned into "steady gusts", but thousands came out after work to check out what Looptopia was all about.
It was too bad about the weather, really; I think the bit of a nip in the air may have kept some people away, and it ended up making the indoor events really jam-packed. I had forgotten to take my jacket with me that morning, but I had an extra thicker shirt that I used in lieu of a decent windbreaker.
I started out my evening by trying to get over to the Hard Rock Hotel for the "Miss Looptopia" contest (a.k.a. drag show) but the place was packed, the list of other activities available was long, and the night was short. So onward to Harold Washington College to participate in the "Exquisite Ceramique", where people could make their own designs on ceramic tiles. This was a very popular activity with kids in particular.
I asked one of the students who were helping coordinate the work what would be done with the tiles, and she wasn't sure; but she did say they would be fired and made into a mural somewhere. "I just don't know where it will be or when it will go up," she said.
Of course I made one. It was really difficult to decide what to make, too, and I didn't want to hold up the line any, either. First I connected the lines that the previous tile had left on me, and that made me think of a hand in front of a giggling mouth, so I ended up making a face tile.
Several artists were installed in the corner windows at Macy's (State & Lake, State & Washington) for "MCA Live Art" - Anna Joelsdottir, Stan Shellabarger, Denenge Akpem and Jeff Zimmerman. I would be lying if I said I understood performance art on a regular basis; but it can occassionally be entertaining to watch.
Macy's was just terrible about organization, too. The store seemed surprised at the number of folks who showed up to participate in Club Looptopia; and the Information staff was short on info. For example, the Information desk didn't know that Macy's had not provided the promised space for several visual artists and those artists ended up in the windows over at Sears. (Macy's had canceled the use of their space too close to the event time, too - the printed maps handed out in the area still showed Macy's at the venue.) So they should have known that, and there should have been signage available pointing people in the right direction. Also, folks who were looking for events like the wine tasting at Macy's could not find it, nor were they clearly directed to where it was happening.
On the way over to Chase Tower/Plaza, I saw several of the Redmoon Theater installations. I don't know if any of them had titles so when talking to other folks, we'd refer to them by color and elements and location --
Redmoon (Madison & Dearborn, "red male")
Redmoon (State & Madison, "red female")
Redmoon (State & Washington, "green female")
A wide variety of events took place over at Chase Tower- the Plaza hosted a variety of dance and music events; while the Auditorium had poetry readings, film screenings, musicians, and "Opera Idol".
Uptown Poetry hosted by the Green Mill, which reminded me that it's been far, far too long since I've been over to an Uptown Poetry Slam.
I was also surprised - and a little bit impressed - to find recycling bins prominently set up next to trash barrels. That was a really nice thing to see.
While at Chase, I also caught a really fun act called "The Weird Sisters & Strange Brothers". They were superb - wonderful vocals. Looking forward to seeing them and picking up their CDs!
After the Weird Sisters, I got in line for the auditorium, and caught
The clock was ticking, alas, so it was off to Sullivan Dock under the former Carson Pirie Scott building to check out the MFChicago dance party, which was completely packed and the crowd spilling out into the street across from the Palmer Hilton. Police officers were handy, of course, to make sure things didn't get TOO wild and crazy. It made me really, really miss my days in Raleigh when we'd go out every Friday and Saturday to Legends (Raleigh) and the Power Station (Durham) and occassionally the Longbranch (Raleigh) and daaaaaaaaaance the nights away. Ah, to be young and have stamina again...
I could not see the DJ from where I stood, but it was Paul Johnson with big mini and 3pHaze.
I stopped these two guys to take a picture of their flashing mouthpieces, which basically looked like translucent hockey mouthguards with flashing lights inside. The two girls - I'm not sure if they were with the guys or not - jumped into the picture. Then the girl on the right gave me a lesson in hip-hop speak about how I was supposed to talk about the mouthpieces and get the picture, yo yo, you know what I'm sayin'? Snap.
It was nearly midnight, so I hustled over to Daley Plaza to catch the Redmoon Theater Spectacle, which I figured would included a lot of pyrotechnics. It did, a bit; I didn't catch the whole thing, however. I saw the mouse come out, get in his/her wheel, and then run it and make fireworks explode off it.
Did I mention I don't always understand performance art? But the crowd loved the bang and the flash.
My final stop of the evening was Couch Place, the alley that runs behind the Ford Oriental Theater, for the Broadway in Chicago Stage Door Cabaret show. I didn't realize they planned for people to enter from the east end of the alley; I thought I lucked out because the stage was set up close to Dearborn. The crowd was already several deep, and I didn't want to take the time to walk around the block - the show was starting! - so I looked next door at the parking garage and realized I wasn't the only one with that idea - three floors worth of heads peered down at the stage.
I went up to 5th, and found an empty spot of wall nearly directly above the performers - not the exact view I would have chosen, but one which immediately gave me all kinds of ideas for my photography. I was completely digging on this venue, how the light played off the crowd and the walls. While sure, the color shots were interesting, I think the B&W pictures turned out much more fascinating - more expression and emotion, even when you can't see the performer's face.
All the singers were fantastic, but James Earl Jones II (below) in particular caught my ear - what a voice. I definitely want to run over and see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee now. *fans self* And Rufus Bonds, Jr. of The Color Purple was pretty awesome too.
* * *
Overall, I think a lot of stuff went smoothly and there was a lot of enthusiasm generated once people saw the event in action. It's received a lot of positive reviews overall, but as this is a first-time event, like anything, it can only grow from here.
What I'd love to see them do differently next year:
- More pedestrian-friendly:
- More street vendors: With streets designated pedestrian-only, they could have leased space rights to a variety of food vendors as well as bringing in more street entertainment and more visual art performances. There are not a lot of food vendors or restaurants available in the main Looptopia area, especially after 10pm.
- Speaking of vendors - how come no T-shirts or other Looptopia memorabilia?: This is a big - nay, huge - missed marketing opportunity, because t-shirts are, of course, walking billboards for an event (not to mention a reminder for the event on following years) and event sponsors. Next year, they should hold a pre-event contest of Design The Official Looptopia T-Shirt!
- Encourage more businesses in the Looptopia area to stay open til at least midnight: Several stretches of street between venues felt empty.
- Don't have the police kicking people out of places early: Friends, other bloggers, and newspaper reviews have noted that the police made people move along who were finishing out the night on the steps of the Cultural Center, and that Millennium Park actually closed for a while in the wee hours of the morning. If it's truly supposed to be a "dusk til dawn" event, make sure the city knows it, the police know it.
- More publicity - and the publicity should be more clear about what exactly Looptopia *is* - A lot of folks were vaguely aware the event was going on, but nobody seemed to have any idea what was going on as a part of the event. Having the event website down for 2-3 days before it happened, as well as the day/night of the event, didn't help either.
- More volunteers helping with directions and giving out maps: Lots of folks looking a little lost and bewildered, and hard to find where they were giving out maps.
- Dance events should run 7pm-3am (or at least 7pm-1:30am): Simple club scene logic - once you get people dancing, they don't want to be cut off in full dance mode. It's clear that people eagerly embraced the idea of omg nightlife! in the heart of the Loop; lots of folks were disappointed to be cleared out of venues at 11pm and midnight. The empty Carson Pirie space would've been an awesome all-night dance party location if it had been utilized in conjunction with the Sullivan Dock.
Looking forward to the event again next year, though!