Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
- The VA medical system here in Chicago, both Lakeside and Westside. Great customer service, caring doctors and better patient follow up than I get at my high priced ,well known hospital.
- Newberry Library. Not just for their adult education seminars, but also for their killer book sales - the big one in July and the mystery book sale in March.
- 157 bus driver who promises a "stress free ride" on a home made sign - and she is so right. She waits until you sit down before lurching ahead. She greets everyone enthusiastically and answers questions, even stupid ones, politely and accurately. If she doesn't know the answer she admits it instead of making stuff up. She is sure you are safely off the bus and on your way before she takes off.
- Jesse White's transformation of the Secretary of State's offices. It took me just 7 minutes to get my license renewed, even with a line. Our recent vehicle registration renewal questions were met with sincere, pleasant and well informed answers. Don't ever leave, Jesse, but if you do - go to another agency that needs fixing and do it again.
- The Chicago Latino Film Festival. Travel the world and brush up on your Spanish from the comfort of a theater seat - 26 years strong. http://www.latinoculturalcenter.org/
Great people with a passion for the arts.
- The one man /one truck waste removal operation who collects our garbage daily. He must be the hardest working man in captivity (well, at least in the 42nd ward). He makes a tedious and seemingly unpleasant job appear as smooth and seamless as a well performed ballet.
- The Grant Park Music Festival - still free, still superbly produced and what a setting - in Millennium Park. Treat yourself to attendance at a morning or afternoon rehearsal. You get to see and hear the real personality of the conductors ( Carlos Kalmar with a pony tail) and it is such fun to see the usually formal string section in flip flops and shorts. Bring a lunch and enjoy the music - stay for the docent commentary during the union mandated breaks in the action.
- The bar at the Saloon Steakhouse. A real neighborhood gathering place with happy bartenders and great bar food. Some of the best sliders in town. While you're there, ask about their next wine or beer tasting dinner. Bargains to say the least with Wiley the beverage manager at the helm.
- The Division Street Farmers' Market. My favorite "peach guy" who gives me his seconds for pies and such. He and his wife dressed in tux shirt and bridal veil for their 25th wedding anniversary that fell on a market Saturday. Joe's favorite Polish bakery goods, especially when the owner is there - she is so charming- reminds me of my grandmother. The "flower lady" who saves the Star Gazer lilies for me if I sleep late. If they would just ban dogs- it would be heavenly. Treat yourself to the Farmers' Market Special Breakfast at Butch McGuire's which is smack dab in the middle of the market. Looking forward to tomatoes that taste like tomatoes.
I guess I can go back to ranting for a couple of weeks now and then round it out with another list of raves. There's so much to love in this city!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I have been feeling guilty about using my Blago "old people ride free" pass lately. With the state and the CTA having gotten themselves in near bankrupt positions and my luck that we've been fiscally smart, I actually thought about burning it and starting to feed dollars and coins in the fare boxes. Then I thought about my recent experiences on the CTA and decided that you need me, and others like me, to ride your trains and buses. Here are a few observations:
- I do not ride during rush hours. I get up too late for the morning one and am in a hurry to get home for cocktail hour for the evening one.
- I regularly apologize to tourists for the conditions at some of the stations - the smell of the elevator at Clark and Lake, the filth and water at Chicago and Milwaukee, the rude sexist remarks of employees at Rosemont. I actually make excuses like "they're working on it" or "this is not the normal smell" or "they must be new employees".
- I have become the tour director for the 157 bus whose drivers consistently tell people they do not stop at Water Tower. They DO STOP at Water Tower, just at the back entrance - no big deal. They also say they don't stop at the MCA when the canned message clearly says "Chicago and Mies van der Rohe, Museum of Contemporary Art". Who are the tourists to believe - an authorized CTA employee or a nosy passenger who wants them to have a good experience in Chicago?
- Your website - which used to be great- is now directing me to addresses in Round Lake and other parts of the country when all I want to do is plan a trip from Lake Shore Drive to the north side. It is actually hilarious.
- I consistently pick up the crap that people leave on the bus and deposit it in the few and far between containers on the street. Sort of "do unto others...."
- I have done my fair share of mingling with People with Social Disabilities by riding the 22 and/or 36 buses north from the loop. I could write a book.
- I have dodged the juiced up pan-handlers at State and Chicago. They never should have put a park there and the businesses nearby should do a better job of policing.
- I live in fear of the Irving Park and Jeff Park stops on the Blue Line. You are THISCLOSE to falling, or being pushed, off the platform to the tracks.
- In conclusion, I would like a meeting with the person who designed the buses. I am betting it will be a tall (feet always touch the floor, and arms always reach the pull cord), young (won't fall down even though the straps are dangerous), athletic (flexible enough to move 5 feet forward with nothing to hold on to while the bus is moving) and skinny (size 4 butt fits into seats) male (just because they are clueless) who makes enough money designing buses to never have to ride one.
I hereby submit my application as CTA monitor-at-large. I will not only continue to use my free pass, but I can help you improve service by giving your team feedback from the public. That is, if you answer my call or respond to my E-Mail. I don't want to be paid, but I think I've earned my free rides.
A not so guilty- feeling senior rider.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Can you remember the last time you actually used a paper phone book? Serving as an impromptu booster seat or doorstop doesn't count. If I need to look up a person or business, I'll go to yellow pages.com or some such web site. If I need a contractor for a household job, I'll ask friends for references or call Lou Manfredini at WGN.
If you can't live without your phone book, you may want to stop reading this now. That's how I feel about a real newspaper. I like the feel of it in my hands and can't quite get satisfaction from on-line news. So I sympathize with you.
On the other hand, consider this. In my building alone - 29 floors with 6 units per floor, we are regularly treated to a pile of at least 12 phone books arriving silently in each of our stair landings next to the trash chute. They sit there for weeks, many times without the shrink wrap being removed by even a single resident. Eventually the maintenance men remove them - hopefully, to the recycle bins in the basement and not down the trash chutes.
I'm sure our building is not alone. According to real estate board statistics, there are no fewer than 626,000 housing units in the city of Chicago. I'm no math genius, but if my building alone is not using 348 of these 3 1/2 inch, 2000 page, 5 lb. monsters. Think how many others are sitting idle in highrises and two flats all over the city.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
But now I…can’t go a full week without one
But now I….try to avoid second hand smoke and warn my grand kids about ice cream truck drivers who may be perverts
But now I….shun people who live by and judge others by the brands they choose
But now I….am happy to not have a car
But now I….pat myself on the back if I get to and from Walgreen’s without tripping and falling
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Looking up at the Tribune building makes me dizzy, but the architectural details must have made the men who built it even dizzier trying to get it right. I wonder who tends to the flag on the tippy top, someone brave, no doubt.
Walking west on Pearson I looked up at the Quigley Seminary building and juxtaposed with the old Gothic touches is a glass skyscraper in the background where the crucifix is - apparently mixing types of architecture has God's blessing.
Walking up Michigan Avenue I look up at the sign that declares Allerton Hotel - the Tip Top Tap. It hasn't been the Allerton or the Tip Top Tap for many years, but who cares, it brings back fond memories. And the Allerton was where the Breakfast Club was recorded for radio many years ago - when my grandmother used to march me around the breakfast table, back in New Jersey.
If you get to North Bridge, where Nordstrom's is or the Bloomingdale's Home Store which used to be the Masonic Temple ( where my husband's two Masters degrees from De Paul were presented) - please look up - you'll be delighted.
I'm putting my photos of UP on Flickr and Face book - but I urge you to create your own mental "up album". I know you're all still in a hurry - do yourself a favor and take a few moments to look up in your home environment. There are clouds and bridges , trees and mountains and lots more - even if you don't live in a big city with great architecture. Enjoy!
Friday, April 2, 2010
Old lady gets on the bus...the driver can't wait 'til she sits down - lurches off to the next stop - old lady gets butt slammed into her seat.
Old lady tries to retrieve her luggage from the airport carousel...the obese guy in the bad t-shirt shoulders her out of the way to get his.
Old lady enters the revolving door...the people behind her push so hard she almost falls from the force of the spin.
Old lady is waiting for the WALK sign at the corner of Pearson and Michigan...the jaywalking crowd rushes the crosswalk leaving her in its wake.
Old lady steps into the crosswalk ... her hip is brushed by the hungry cabbie turning illegally in pursuit of a fare.
Old lady walks through Lincoln Park to avoid traffic...crazy biker almost runs her down on the "walking" path - and yells "on your left" and beeps his Clarabelle horn - 10 extra points if you remember Clarabelle.
Old lady points out optimal seats on sight- seeing trolley to her sisters...family of screaming kids rush to fill those seats.
Old lady drives down Sabino Canyon Road to her aunt's house at 5 miles above the speed limit...gets 5 middle fingers and 10 horn honks from fellow travelers.
It just gets better and better. Now you know why I need the Tranquil Spaces in Public Places.
Thanks, American people, for blog material. Have a wonderful day, but hurry up, some old lady may be blocking your way!