Friday, May 30, 2008

Canoeing and Kayaking Near Rogers Park?

The Friends of the Chicago River make this clear. There are places near Rogers Park to launch a canoe, kayak, or crew team. Friends has good maps to help make the trip work at no charge. We purchased our first canoe at Sam's Club for less than $250 with tax about seven years ago. No one seemed to figure it out. It took us little time to find the Oakton Boat Launch at Oakton and McCormick. For those who have witnessed the Herons on a serene weekday, it is fascinating that these options exist within cycling distance,yet are ignored by many Chicagoans.

Maybe it is fear of the unknown. Maybe they make an excuse that they will get hit by a golf ball or think that the earthy smell by the filtration plant off McCormick is pollution. The Northshore Channel 'had' a reputation. However, over time, the fish, turtles, herons and other life have returned. The area is a mecca of tranquility for anyone wanting a relatively peaceful moment in nature. You can take canoe tours off McCormick. However, if you have past experience, the Friends of the River is looking for volunteer Canoe Guides

I can't understand why the crew teams are nearly the only ones who use the Dammrich Rowing Center at 3220 W. Oakton, but this is changing. Dammrich is not the only boat launch or nearby River. Another launch is off Devon in back of the Whealan Swimming Pool at 6200 W. Devon near Super Dawgs. If you want to canoe with a group consider Chicago River Canoe and Kayak at Oakton; they have Moonlight Dinner Paddles.

If you fear dams and the trip back, then speak with an expert. Ralph Frese is one of the foremost canoe experts in the Midwest. Chicagoland Canoe base rents and sells both canoes and kayaks. Ralph will also equip you with a rack and instructions on how to keep the canoe securely strapped at highway speeds. Of course, we now have a kayak store in Rogers Park, but if we don't use it or it does not create options for residents, it will not sell.

I have heard of at least one Chicago high school student, who travelled by kayak to classes at Northside College Prep. Yet, I have not heard of anyone who has enough time to kayak to the loop. Cycling is about an hour and twenty at a reasonable pace from north Rogers Park to the South Loop.

Is there any reason why residents need to make excuses that their local environment doesn't have options other than concrete? I guess it all depends upon what we want to do with our time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vandalism at Armstrong School Greets Students After Memorial Day

The spraypainted mess of black and red flaunted its gaze upon us. Two selfish messages of blight appeared on the southside of Armstrong School. The taggers spray painted the limestone monument and yellow brick wall west of Hamilton and Greenleaf. My daughter and I encountered it upon our arrival at the bus drop off for Disney. Why do tagging vandals fail to understand the consequences of blight?
A photograph does little justice. Only clean up, deterrence, and perhaps remorse by selfish vandals will make adifference. I hope that the Rogers Park Community contacts Armstrong School. Perhaps, the tags can be quickly and carefully cleaned up as soon as possible with community consideration and support. Perhaps, it can be made to appear as if it never happened.

I won’t post a photo, because taggers’ want negative attention. A tagger's mark is a form of callous hatred and insensitivity for a community. If the huge Limestone sign must be replaced, then that is both a burden and a disappointment. Those who glorify graffiti and tagging do Chicago and the public schools a disservice. The Public School System can ill-afford the financial costs taken from educational funds due to those who damage and tag public schools. Schools need to afford to pay engineers and teachers to remain viable educational institutions. However, not in that order.

Blight can be litter, but also forms of insensitivity, bias and hate. Blight is also the spray painted tags from selfish taggers. Why don’t taggers care or realize that they commit acts of disrespect and greed? Why are taggers never taught to care by their parents, among others? How can we appreciate and divert the greed and inconsideration that taggers possess? Do we have to incarcerate taggers until they appreciate that they are no freer to kill than to damage property?

The taggers’ mark brings no prestige, only emotional and visual anguish to most residents. It contorts and converts messages of importance and improvement into a selfish act that defiles. A tag defames structures for the sake of greed and notoriety. A tag is a message of hatred and selfishness directed at an entire community. The cost of removing a single tag is more than just the money it costs for clean up or replacement. Tags must be perpetually and quickly removed or they multiply.

Graffiti or tags bring negative attention. Tagging, in effect, creates attention for selfish cowards. These attention seekers lack an agenda in life other than to pollute. Society may accept well painted murals and public art in our community, many of which now need extreme rehabilitation, but not the graffiti add-ons! Yet, in the end, in spite of these public concessions, we are still faced with these selfish acts of greed, immaturity and inconsideration.

Some taggers insist that they are anarchists. Tagging is not consistent with anarchy; anarchy depends upon having faith and trust that mankind as a whole will know good from evil for more efficient justice. This is why anarchy rarely works, since Anarchy lacks a reasonably effective system of justice. Then, again, democracies depend upon trust, as well.

Tagging is blight. Blight is evil. No matter who and how you verbally frame or spin graffiti or tagging, it is 'rarely' done with permission. Those who permit or tolerate it merely encourage blight as a consequence. Tagging is a form of destruction, greed and theft, rather than art. Those who encourage or ignore blight have a direct negative impact on communities. There are financial costs and personal toil to remove blight. The longer a tag remains, the more of a challenge it is to remove.

Blight left on walls sends a message. It communicates to those around us that we forgot how to care. We should make an effort to eliminate blight, not act like it belongs. These lawless forms of disrespect and greed deserve our immediate attention.

Sources for clean up:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Closing of the Rogers Park Mind?

Some know me. Others question why I try to maintain my anonymity. The reasons are practical. I don’t want to be a public figure nor derive notoriety or pleasure from my political position; it changes over time. I am not looking for attention, just communication. I don’t want to be the neighborhood blog bully or the most read blog about Rogers Park. I don't want to take pot shots to a private audience. All that I want to do is occasionally point out my pet peeves, preferences and positive thoughts to create constructive, and objective dialogue in Rogers Park.

A flurry of inconsistent but ongoing insults and pessimism won't improve the community. If someone goes inward and limits comments, then they create a one sided dialogue limited to an inner circle of like minded 'yes men.'

I appreciate compliments, but want to know whether I'm missing something, even from those who disagree. It happens. If I digress or criticize people who want notoriety, then I don’t take pleasure in the anxiety and frustration, but the outcome. I want change, but micro-managing a community doesn't work, nor fixating on national issues.

I try to steer people in a positive and less pessimistic direction, but am not a member of some sort of optimist's club. Perhaps, we need an Optimists Club in Rogers Park. Sometimes, I fail to communicate or miss the mark. We live among a few folks who occasionally ‘appear’ to thrive on attention at the emotional and public expense of others. Perhaps, we all have our moments. Perpetual criticism or kvetching is a concern.

It is okay to thrive on attention and criticize, when some good is accomplished. Yet, it seems unjust to me to nauseate the public. Also, focusing on what is going wrong, rather than what is going well in Rogers Park misses the mark. It is okay to report on the Police Blotter. It is okay to challenge politicians. Good faith attempts at political humor are appreciated.

However, calling someone a “slime ball” or personally attacking them simply for taking a political position that may open an intellectual dialogue are the marks of a blog bully. I am seeing some change and change is good. I have to complement some recent posts by Mr. Mannis as well as his report on the asbestos. I guess that I have never stepped into Moore's office to appreciate the money talks allegations, but regret the reports of those who feel that way.

Unfortunately, our media, whether it be ABC, CNN, NBS, or Fox cater to a broad series of niches and viewers. Networks now look for people who are not as cunning or concise as the Ed Bradleys’, Dick Cavetts’, and William Safires.’ In an effort to annoy and nauseate moderates, some abuse those who take a position by writing or attempting to help. The idea of just ‘hearing someone out’ has become a nuisance in the age of sound bites and insensitivity, not sensibility.

This is not an ode to the politically correct. It is acceptable to incorporate 'clever humor' in any public debate, but humor that comes at the expense of others may bring anger and hostility. Some focus on the issues and others on the individuals. Therefore, there are those who don’t know me, who will attack me for not coming out of the relative privacy of my closet. I have entrusted those who are either part of the media or simply neighbors with the option of knowing.

Some may recognize me by what I write or because I thought that what I wrote was worth their attention. Whether I think that the most prolific appreciate how to express themselves to Rogers Park in the midst of these challenges depends upon the moment. I think that we have a few Rebel’s without a Cause.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Morning Rituals/Wanda, A School Bus Driver Who Cares.

The morning ritual begins every morning at 5:45 a.m. regardless of blogging or surfing. The alarm, complete with a seranade of about ten computer generated clock sounds, blares through our ears. The sound sends the morning message that it is time to levitate. The brain disses the day and the body rises and moves towards the bathroom.

Upon return, daughter's blanket is pulled from her shrouded body which lays petrified on the futon couch tucked neatly in the corner of the room. The dawn's early light blows playfully through the whites of my eyeballs as I move toward the bedroom in search of pants. I return to wake my daughter and feed the puppy.

There is a synchronicity in our household at times. We know when the day starts and the bus leaves. Eventually, daughter gets her clothes on. Usually, the clothes must be reviewed, since she seems to think that she lives in California. The temperature still ranges from 40 to 50 degrees. Capri pants will not work unless I want to cancel the appointments on the next day, risk default judgments, and rest on malpractice claims as my premiums shift skyward. Life is now setting in.

With clothes on, we check the remains in the white box that is encased in the wall. The fridge will remain enshrined until we finally begin the perpetually delayed kitchen remodeling. Nothing appeals to my daughter except milk. The cerial is never worthy of more than one or two bowls. Boredom with the characters that christen the cardboard boxes seems to set in too early. We are the proud owners of stale flakes and oat rings.

Now, Wanda

After reacting over socks and soreness, we check out the Motorola cable box and are reassured that it is 6:31 a.m. We are dressed, our jackets are on, and we are ready to head south to Greenleaf. Wanda waits patiently in her school bus as we, among others, succeed in moving in the serpentine manner necessary to get from our home to Armstrong School.

The Disney Magnet School's bus pick up is at Armstrong School,among other stops. The deadline is 6:40 a.m. Wanda, our bus driver, has proven herself to be one of the most attentive and reliable people. She works her bus with patient and sympathetic precision. Wanda is rarely off the mark. She is a bus driver extraordinaire on a mission that she makes every day with painstaking dedication. It becomes clear that there is more to her life than hand to mouth.

Today, as I and another parent headed east down Greenleaf, two kids rushed north down Hamilton in disbelief. You could sense the sweat and air swirl around them in their relentless gallop. The anxiety was great. Wanda had pulled out and headed west down Greenleaf. The bus turned left on its path toward Jordan Community. The two distraught students began the trip back home. There, their mother was tending to their youngest sibling. The two kids were less than enthusiastic about notifying Mom. Today, would she have to drive the clogged artery from Rogers Park to 4140 N. Marine Drive?

As her children walked north, an Atlantic Express Bus slowly came to a stop in the distance. It stood one block south, its red lights were glaring, while two childrens spirits began to rise. Wanda had stopped the bus, turned on the gear, and waited for two extremely excited school children. In less than twenty seconds, the bus door closed, the kids sat down, and Wanda proceeded.

I am told by a few of my neighbors that people just don't care. Don't believe it! Start caring! Maybe it will be Contagious!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

He Who Parks in the Handicapped Parking Spot May Get Towed

Well, we don't have any of these on our street, but I just caught the tail end of what seems to be an effort to tow someone in Rogers Park. Yes, among a few extreme events may come a night or two or three of mundane and routine Police actions.

In spite of 20/20, there are some that are attentive enough not to ignore these requests. For all of the times that a car is towed from a questionable spot in Fioretti's Ward ( just across the street from the Fire Academy on Jefferson), comes a reasonable effort. However, I sometimes wonder whether the spots are always necessary or the spot holder reasonably handicapped.
2513 W. North Shore - White Toyota in the Alley blaring music.
Of course, I can't vouch for what happens before or after I turned on the scanner. However, it seems rather uneventful. When will CPD tell The Lamp Post to turn down the volume? The last two weeks have been a little high on the decibel levels.

Evanston's Howard Street Condos, A View from Vacant Gateway Plaza, and Will Weekend Warriors Leave RP Cheetos Bags to Another Blogger Until Next Year?

I have curiousity, but no knowledge. How many of the units are sold? Who is financing? Will it meet the same fate as Gateway Plaza?
For that matter, who owns or operates Gateway? Does the management Company with offices well outside Chicago really care? Why can't they fill many of the units or provide reasonable incentives for 100% occupancy? Has the Alderman chased out potential renters with his rhetoric? Do businesses fear that they will be labelled 'big box' or be subject to some sort of challenge by hack politicians with personal not civic agendas? What can be done to fill this joint? How many years has Gateway lay unreasonably dormant just south of Marshalls?
How was the clean up today? Will those who participated make cleaning up their neighborhood a routine part of the week? Or will this just be another moment for weekend warriors to converge on the Pop Tarts and T-Shirts only to leave the RP Cheetos bags for another Blogger?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Know Your RP Neighborhood: Armstrong School Area

There is so much that we hear, but not much that some of us see. This pristine well kept Arts and Crafts home is worthy of praise. The home that follows is on the same block, but these are by no means isolated.
For those who actually pass by Armstrong School, you might want to find out more about the many neighborhoods within Rogers Park and West Ridge. A few homes are for sale, but not these gems.

Howard Street Terminal - This Evening

Its only a matter of time before the new Howard Terminal opens. This is a more recent photo.

Cigarette Sales for LINK Card Holders at Evanston Marathon Station? Flowers at Dominick's?

I was under the possibly misguided impression that LINK Cards cannot 'lawfully' be used to buy cigarettes. If so, then how does the Evanston Marathon Station on Howard just west of Chicago promote this offer?

I have also seen LINK Card holders purchase flowers at the Gateway Dominick's Grocery in RP. Can someone enlighten me on how LINK Cards can be lawfully used?

People who break Food Stamp Program rules may be disqualified from the program, fined, put in prison, or all three. This includes sellers, as well. Whether the Feds really investigate is another story. Let your fingers do the walking.

Toll Free Number for Reporting Abuse
If you wish to report any misuse, fraud, waste, or abuse of food stamp benefits, you can use this toll-free number: 1-800-424-9121. If you are in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, the number is 202-690-1622.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal employment provider and employer.

For those who need food stamps, or may need them in the future, we need to discourage fraud.  Abuses may be exaggerated, but all it takes is a paper trail.  I'd rather be an example of how LINK and SNAP work, then a statistic without that support due to Republican budget cuts based upon unproven propaganda.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Photos from Indian Boundary Park - Lunt and Campbell

For those who have forgotten, don't get out much, have kids in need of the mega jungle gym, tennis courts, or want to see caged wildlife. Indian Boundary Park still exists. These photos were taken in April.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

An Ode to the Reese's Peanut Butter Butt

She is young. Perhaps, a student of her family's manners or insensitivities. She is about fourteen, perhaps younger. She wears her locks tightly woven upon her head in cornrow order. She seems to tower at about five foot eight, but this ingenue lets go her litter. Her butt protrudes as if to tell the world that she is the only thing that matters. In her path lies the brown and orange Reese's wrappers that litter the public's easement on a daily basis. The wrappers get stuck on others. Sometimes, each simply blows into the gangways and gardens. Police or Streets and Sanitation are shiftless; litterpigs are clueless, heartless, and lawless.

After her mouth and the chocalate cup converges, the bottom half is occasionally left in tact. The peanut butter is exposed in its dark brown waxy pleted seat. The reminant is brazenly and cavalierly dropped. It makes its way to the concrete where it sits waiting for the rubber sole that will contaminate its next victim. Yet knowingly offensive, this child continues to eat her peanut butter cups, while roaming Ridge Boulevard. She wears the dark duds of an unrepentent existence.

Her bad habit was noticed. She was told. Yet, I find myself picking up her callous chocolate and peanut butter mucous extractions. An effort to alert her went without much concern. The wrappers remain. A decision was made to continue for her uncaring edification and physical expansion.

She is just one who heaves and heaps their candy wrappers, cigarette butts, juice bottles, packaging, and McDonalds, while they ride or roam to their intended destiny. The thoughtless think little about those who must follow in their path.

Fines upon children twelve and older for littering in Blackpool

Friday, May 09, 2008

CAPs 2424 Walk this Evening

For more information contact Bernard Garbo or the 24th District Neighborhood CAPs Office at 311.
Right: 2054 and 2056 W. Birchwood (scene of drug related shooting)
Left: Hoyne just south of Birchwood (scene of orange grafitti 'Chi Town')

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rogers Park Historical Society Home Tour and Other Diversions

Last Sunday marked the 22nd Annual Home Tour. Many homes in West Ridge and Rogers Park share both architectural and Community History. Our home was part of the Tour over a decade ago, but many have opened up their home or otherwiseparticipated in this annual event. The House Tour raises money for the Rogers Park West Ridge Historical Society. This is the first year that the Society will mark this occasion without the presence of Mary Jo Doyle. However, it was worth seeing familiar faces willing to carry on the tradition.

It definitely brings the community together and others into Rogers Park simply to visit. The fifteen to twenty dollar per person charge (depending upon whether you are a member) helps to defray costs for the program and for the organization in its efforts to raise awareness toward the positive history of area residents. Of course, volunteers get to go on the Tour for free one day early.

There are quite a few organizations worth seeking out, whether it's AYSO, CAPs, the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society or the Rogers Park Garden Club. There is also a master furniture maker with classes just east of the Rogers Park Metra Station as well as Kayak courses in our Community. The Black Golf Course on Pratt just west of Ridge is the cheapest 9 holes on the Northside, where you have an interest.

If you think that your block was a mistaken lease or investment, then there are many others in Rogers Park. Sometimes, situations are safer and more sound alternatives, but simply unknown. However, there are distractions in any community, particularly in a densely populated city that can be fixated upon until that overwhelming feeling of dread sets in.

It is important to point out challenges, but 'would rather comment' upon what goes on, rather than the sound creeping out of the scanner. After about a week of the Uniden scanner, I am convinced that the bleeps are limited and experiencing it is easier. In fact, although I thought I saw what appeared like a prayer circle on Ridge and Falwell, I was encouraged by co-moderators in our Beat within this community to call it in. In hindsight, I was a bit disappointed with the idea and will think twice about it. I may turn on the Uniden, but I don't think that it is worth hovering over it.