The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

A strange thing happened at City Hall

In Chicago, we have an annual vehicle tax of $75. Many neighborhoods also have restricted parking zones; permits are $25. Both vehicle stickers and parking permits expire on June 30th.

I mention this because I went to renew these things in person this afternoon down at City Hall. Yes, three business days before their expiration, I stood in line. How long? you wonder. This is city government, after all.

Seven minutes.

Chicago really is the city that works.

I even had time to go to the County Assessor's Office to clear up an issue with my property tax. That adventure took—wait for it—no time at all because the receptionist walked me through the process as soon as I entered the office.

City and county services like these make my head spin. Let's review: I walked into the building at 4:15 pm, and walked out at 4:45 with my vehicle sticker, parking permit, and corrected property tax information.

Try that in any other major city in the world. Ha!

And as an added bonus, via Calculated Risk, 75% of Americans blame the Current Occupant (208 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes) for the deteriorating economy. For the record, I'm one of them.

Side note: Chicago is wikitravel's destination of the month.

Meanwhile, back at Wrigley

My cousin and I have a 9-game package at Wrigley Field, game 7 of which was Tuesday night against the Braves. The Cubs won—despite dropping three runs in the first, never a good sign—on a warm but not sticky evening at one of my favorite places in the universe. Here's Fukudome stealing second:

I have to say, though, that not every seat at Wrigley is good. Example: Section 525, any row, seats 1-2, look like this:

Character. It's about character.

Ribfest Chicago

Ah, ribs. Possibly my favorite food. Living in Chicago, there are options. And every year, I get to sample as many of those options as my stomach lets me at the annual Ribfest up at Lincoln and Damen.

The festival is going on this weekend, so yesterday I dragged Parker there. It's a 5 km hike, and it was hot, and despite my assurances that really tasty treats waited for him at the end of the walk, he seemed to think we were heading for Bataan.

When we finally got to the festival, Parker seemed to catch on. He knows what grilling smells like. He knows that crowds of people drop bits of food everywhere. He rallied. And after my third two-bone sampler, and some long rests in the shade, Parker seemed quite a bit happier:

I took my time and took some notes. Cy's, rumored to be the best at the fair, had a spicy Texas-style sauce on slow-cooked ribs that slid off the bone. BBQ Chicago (couldn't find a link or an address—too bad, I was going to try a full slab) had char-grilled bones with some pull and a decent but neutral sauce. Gale St. Inn's sauce was thick and smoky-sweet, with slightly fatty and chewey meat. And the Fireplace Inn, with its tangy sauce and perfectly-cooked bones, deserves a second look.

There were a couple others I tried, but they're not worth mentioning. Life is too short for bad barbecue. And with Parker there, none of it went to waste: where it might take me half a minute to savor a bite of good baby backs, Parker frequently caught scraps before they hit the sidewalk.

One more thing about my guy I'll mention, since astute observers may have noticed it in the photo of Parker above. While I was traveling, apparently he got into a little scrap at the boarding facility:

He's not in any discomfort, though he was for about a day after I got back. I'll have to wait until it heals completely before having the vet take a look at removing the gross flap of skin hanging off his ear. Ew.

One more baseball park, sort of

It had to happen some time. Tonight, though not officially part of my 29-park geas, I attended a, well, that is, I went to, um, you see, I was invited to go to a White Sox game. So, yeah.

If you're not from Chicago, you may have trouble understanding why this felt so odd for me. I grew up on the North Side. I'm a Cubs fan. In 37 years I've never taken the El below Cermak Road. And yet, tonight, I went to the Cell.

The upside: I can now actually go to all 30 parks that Major League Baseball accepts as their own, including the unfortunate one at 35th and State. But let me tell you, it wasn't easy, not least because the home team won.

Proof:

Chicago ascendant

What a day in Chicago. Since this time yesterday:

These are just some of the reasons why this city rocks.

Why KC?

I have a little time before I go off in search of a slab of ribs to explain why I'm in Kansas City.

One of my friends decries people who say "I've always wanted to [insert relatively accessible activity here]..." but who haven't actually done [activity]. For example, on more than one inauspicious first date the guy has said, "You lived in Europe? I've always wanted to go there!" Since she's dating single men who are over 30 and over the poverty line, "always wanted" is obviously not true, becuase they would have gone already.

To honor that, I will say I've not always wanted to see a baseball game in every major-league (and American League ;) park—but I've always mused about it.

Therefore, as a single man over 30 and over the poverty line, I've decided to do it. Since I've already been to five (in order: Wrigley, Dodger Stadium, Shea, Enron Field, and Miller Park), this gives me almost three full seasons to get the last 25 before I turn 40. Here are the rules:

  1. Spend as little as possible on the quest. This means, among other things, bunching games up geographically and looking for the cheapest airfares available.
  2. In any park other than U.S. Cellular Field, if the Cubs are not playing, root for the home team.
  3. In any park where the Cubs are not playing, when a hat must be worn, wear a Cubs hat to American League parks and a Red Sox hat to National League parks, on the theory that the hat would therefore be neutral.
  4. If the Cubs are playing, wear a Cubs hat and root for the Cubs, obviously.

Which brings me back to Kansas City. I'm here because I had a previously-scheduled trip to San Francisco anyway, and this was the least-expensive option.

Photos to follow. Now, I'm going to get some sizzlin' baby backs.

In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of

...baseball!

The Cubs and the other team are both in first place, causing the Tribune to froth about a—wait for it—Subway Series in Chicago this year:

It has been 102 years since both teams were in the playoffs at the same time, with the White Sox winning the only all-Chicago World Series in 1906.
If the Cubs hold off St. Louis for another few days, this could be the first time in 31 seasons the Cubs and White Sox have both been in first place at the end of May. This, however, might not be the greatest harbinger of good times. The "South Side Hit Men" Sox slid to a third-place finish, 12 games behind division winner Kansas City that 1977 season, while the Cubs finished 81-81 and in fourth place.

Funny that mention of Kansas City: I'm going to Kauffman Stadium tonight on my way to California. The Royals, sadly, are tied for last place, having dropped their last nine in a row. I anticipate a riveting evening of baseball.

Cold front's here

I just brought Parker in from his evening walk. The temperature has just dropped, no kidding, 10°C in the past ten minutes. It's such a sudden shift none of the weather sites has caught up, though there was a hint: at 10pm, the temperature in Waukegan (60 km north) was 11°C, but 25°C at Midway (18 km south).

My first clue was the wind going from dead calm to 36 km/h in an instant.

I love squalls.