Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Wednesday 6 April 2011

Chicago Public Radio is calling Chicago's 43rd Ward for Michele Smith. I don't have the final figures, but so far it looks like she spent over $1.4m—or around $150 per vote.

I hope it's worth it.

Wednesday 6 April 2011 10:55:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Politics#

I counted the Rs. I counted the blanks. I thought of the likelihood that Terence could form any other words out of what I left him. And then, of course, it turned out he had a D:

I feel like Bill Buckner all of a sudden.

Wednesday 6 April 2011 10:47:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 5 April 2011

In my final installment from beautiful Hempstead, N.Y., I present two buildings that sprouted from parking lots. Check out the before-and-after photos at The Daily Parker.

Tuesday 5 April 2011 13:52:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink#

Voters in Chicago's 43rd Ward, including I, will choose a new alderman in today's general election. The two candidates, Tim Egan and Michele Smith, have spent $387k and $1.1m respectively.

Is it really worth $1.4m to become an alderman? The ward has a population somewhere around 50,000, or about 1/12th of a U.S. Congressional district, and aldermen have almost no power in city government. Of course, they do have power over things like snow removal contracts and liquor licenses. So possibly both Smith and Egan have deep and abiding senses of civic duty, willing to sacrifice so much for the good of the city.

Not to be cynical, but perhaps it's more than that:

Aside from $3,000 in "in-kind" contributions—apparently in the form of food for fundraisers, provided by O’Brien’s Restaurant—another $22,500 was donated to the Egan campaign by four other companies that share the same Wells Street address (found here and here), and that city records show are affiliated with the O’Brien family.

... But Smith has a major contributor of her own. That would be the retired Helen Meier, of Wilmette. This election cycle, Meier has given Smith’s campaign $95,000. Going back to Smith’s previous run for alderman in 2007 and her 2008 win for Democratic ward committeeman, Meier has donated roughly $360,000 to Smith.

And this is only one race out of 14. (There are 50 wards in Chicago.) Welcome to the political earthquake caused by Mayor Daley retiring at the end of this month. Pass the popcorn.

Tuesday 5 April 2011 08:58:55 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Politics#

Can they arrest you for criticizing the war?

Can they send your state's national guard to fight, even if your state opposes it?

Can they make you open your house to a few soldiers, and call you a traitor if you don't?

And can the soldiers go through your things while they stay in your house?

And if one found something illegal in your sock drawer, should you go to jail?

And if you got a lawyer, can they prevent her from using legal "tricks" to keep you free?

Can they ruin your reputation on the Evening News, even if you're not convicted of a crime?

But if you were convicted, could they make you stand naked in a cell at Guantanamo Bay for eight years?

And if you're not with them, are you against them?

Is there even any law against it?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you're not alone. And that's what scares me.

(Hat tip to Sullivan for inspiration.)

Monday 4 April 2011 23:51:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Monday 4 April 2011

I've posted a couple more photos from Hofstra at The Daily Parker, as promised. Also as promised, they might not mean anything to people who didn't live there, but to us alumni, they might bring back either memories or today's lunch.

Monday 4 April 2011 17:36:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 3 April 2011

More Hofstra photos are coming soon. Before I get to those, here's an image from my drive home from O'Hare this afternoon. It's the last Cabrini Green high-rise in its death throes:

The site, on Division between Halsted and Larrabee, contained the last two high-rises of a blighted urban complex that covered over 2.5 sq km and had some of the worst crime in the city. The Encyclopedia of Chicago describes the history:

The large new apartments and large swaths of recreation space failed to mend the area's poverty. The difficulty blacks had finding better, affordable housing gave Cabrini-Green a permanent population. CHA failed to budget money to repair buildings and maintain landscaping as they deteriorated. Cabrini-Green's reputation for crime and gangs rivaled Little Hell's. The murders of two white police officers in 1970 and of seven-year-old resident Dantrell Davis in 1992 drew national attention.

Increasing real-estate values in the late twentieth century led housing officials to propose replacement of the complex with mixed-income housing. Residents argued however that such a move would displace them permanently, completing the slum removal effort begun with the building of Cabrini Homes half a century earlier.

Those "increasing real-estate values" mean that you can now spend $500k on a townhouse in the former no-go zone around Wells and North, and the Cabrini-Green site could wind up selling for many tens of millions. And if you're wondering what happened to all the project's residents, you're not alone.

Sunday 3 April 2011 18:02:29 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Politics#

I visited my alma mater for a reunion of Chronicle alumni today. I think I last saw the campus in 1999, though I might have seen it as late as 2003, but it doesn't seem that recent. No matter; except for a couple of buildings that sprouted from the North Campus parking lots, everything looks just enough like it did when I lived on campus that I feel vaguely weirded out right now. Walking into the Chronicle office, which looks pretty much the same (except with bigger computers and younger editors), made me remember so many Wednesday night layout sessions that I felt a residual wave of sleep deprivation wash over me.

Only a few people from my era came to the reunion. I blame, in no small part, the Alumni College for not reaching out to more alumni. The Chronicle invited one of my classmates to speak on a panel months ago, but he didn't receive his invitation from the alumni office until two weeks ago. A few other people I emailed didn't know anything about the event.

I didn't take enough time to shoot everything I'd hoped to, and some of the things I wanted to photograph have disappeared or moved (like the WRHU offices, which now live in their own special annex of the TV building instead of the basement of Memorial Hall as I remember them). As I offloaded the photos I realized I'd taken shots of the most evocative parts of campus to me, even though they'll look completely banal to anyone else. For example, I have two shots of a particular stairwell—the one leading from the Student Center Atrium down to what used to be the Small Clubs Offices—because seeing it brought back such an overload of memories.

Anyway, here are two less-banal shots. First, the library, which has a new extension, but otherwise looks the same as it did when it opened in the 1950s:

This, also, hasn't changed since 1960, if I have my information right:

Saturday 2 April 2011 23:35:36 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography#
Friday 1 April 2011

There is no reason for this post beyond the obvious:

Friday 1 April 2011 09:38:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Daily#

Someone has put something in the water today. News organizations seem to have made some surprising discoveries today:

Oh, wait—that last one is real. It's still a foolish story.

I'll post more throughout the day as I discover them.

Friday 1 April 2011 09:10:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Thursday 31 March 2011

Via Gulliver, Air New Zealand has a new safety video, which isn't quite up to the bar set by their previous one:

Thursday 31 March 2011 10:49:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#
Wednesday 30 March 2011

Youtube contributor hatinhand has compiled 71 movie spoilers:

Wednesday 30 March 2011 09:47:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 29 March 2011

The Chicago Tribune reported today that coyotes living on the North Side sing along to ambulance sirens:

In a posting on his website, Ald. Patrick O'Connor, 40th, says many residents near the hospital have reported seeing coyotes. Additionally, residents have reported hearing what sounds like a chorus of coyotes howling in response to ambulance sirens.

Coyotes vanished from the Chicago area by the end of the 19th century, but they've made a comeback in recent years.

Alderman O'Connor says the coyotes live in nearby Budlong Woods, which is great for them but not so good for outdoor cats:

Small animals can easily become coyote prey even in fenced yards so keep an eye on your pets while they are outside the home Though coyotes generally hunt between sunset and sunrise, they can be observed at all hours of the day and night. The City does not trap or disable coyotes and encourages extreme caution upon encountering one.

I live close enough to the Lincoln Park Zoo that I can sometimes hear the wolves howling. They're not technically urban wildlife if they're in the zoo, but Parker doesn't know that, and their howling freaks him out.

Photo: Wikipedia

Tuesday 29 March 2011 15:22:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago#

Reader DM commented on yesterday's lament about Inbev acquiring Goose Island Brewery:

This is definitely not a good thing, but I don't think it's nearly as bad as people are making it out to be. The brewpubs are reported not to be in the deal (I'm not sure how that is), but that is what I've read.

They are also bringing in Brett Porter to run things, who is a pretty good brewmaster from Dechutes Brewery out in Oregon. I've have a few of their brews and they are pretty good.

It makes absolutely no sense for AB to change the beers or water them down. In doing so they will lose the customers they currently have. Let's face it, the people that drink Goose Island will notice a difference if they begin to drop the quality and turn it into a Bud Light Wheat. And there is no way they will pick up the Bud Light drinkers of the world in doing so.

I think what is more likely is that we might see some of the less profitable beers dropped from production and they will start to push the more profitable beers like 312 and Honker's Ale. Hopefully they'll continue some of their more complex beers like Bourbon County Stout, Sofie, Matilda, Green Line and the IPA.

I'm in no way advocating this change. Having a great indie craft brewery sell out to one of the big beer corporations is never a good thing. I just don't think it will be nearly as bad as most think. At the very least we need to wait and see what happens. I guess if they do change things for the worse there is always Half Acre, Metro, Haymarket, and Revolution brewery for Chicago craft beer drinkers.

Still, I think we may have seen the last of the cask-conditioned ales. And will I still have MBA (Master of Beer Appreciation) privileges at the brewpubs? Will I want them?

Tuesday 29 March 2011 10:35:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#
On this page....
Looks like $1.4m bought the ward
Stupidest Scrabble move in history
Still more Hofstra photos
Election day in Chicago
An American thought experiment
More Hofstra photos
Cabrini Debris
Today's Daily Parker
Round-up of suspicious stories
Air safety exercises
Warning: Spolier alert!
Urban wildlife
Reaction to "Silly Goose"
The Daily Parker +3617d 00h 12m
Whiskey Fest 21d 09h 31m
My next birthday 330d 22h 55m
Parker's 10th birthday 250d 13h 01m
Aviation (380) Baseball (114) Best Bars (10) Biking (46) Chicago (1039) Cubs (199) Duke (134) Geography (386) Higher Ground (5) Jokes (284) Kitchen Sink (743) London (86) Parker (207) Daily (204) Photography (171) Politics (312) US (1185) World (297) Raleigh (21) Readings (8) Religion (69) San Francisco (96) Software (235) Blogs (93) Business (263) Cloud (96) Cool links (157) Security (113) Travel (302) Weather (782) Astronomy (108) Windows Azure (65) Work (112) Writing (15)
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
All content Copyright ©2015 David Braverman.
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The Daily Parker by David Braverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License, excluding photographs, which may not be republished unless otherwise noted.
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