Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So Not Ready For My Closeup. Time for Rehab.

No silly, not me.  My beach.  My once magical, classy, quiet Oak Street Beach. My haven, my reading room, my own personal meeting place.  Walk onto the beach with me.  I walk west on Walton, get my hug from Carlos the Drake Hotel doorman, cut through the lobby of the Drake and exit past the Cape Cod Room to East Lake Shore Drive.
  I wait outside of Channel for the light to change.  I am on the most expensive block of real estate in Chicago.  I am looking down at this mucked up excuse of a sinking manhole cover.  Just fix it. Do it right the first time.  I would avoid the street by going under the street  through the pedway - guess again.  Pedway closed.  Good thing, because it was crumbling,  smelly and quite frankly, a little scary.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is the gateway to our magnificent lakefront.  Real impressive to the many tourists who visit our beach.  We recognize them by the hotel towels and the foreign accents. 

The light changes and I cross north onto the sidewalk.  Time to fix/change these signs. Not only are they crooked, they are also misleading.  The pedway is closed and people turn on red any old time they want to.  I pass the welcome sight of the Chicago Police Department team assigned to the beach that day.  I thank them for being there.  Those bullet proof vests must be hot on such a glorious beach day. 

I walk down the ramp to the beach tunnel, hoping some hot-rod biker or skateboarder doesn't forget which side of the ramp is his or her side and wipe me out. The graffiti is under much better control this year, and the far wall at the end of the tunnel now has a colorful mural that the taggers have still not defaced.  One of the images is of  our friend, Bruce, the massage guy.  A very good likeness.  He has become the mayor of Oak Street and he cares for the beach by picking up garbage every morning when he arrives.  Thank you, Bruce.  Sticking out of the wall across from Bruce's likeness are some exposed wires. I sure hope they're not alive. the bottom of the cement wall is crumbling.

Up the steps onto the boardwalk which leads almost to the water's edge and I am on the beach.  The boardwalk is a big improvement, especially when the sand is burning hot. Thank you Park District.
Thanks also for the awareness campaign and having beach goers sign a pledge not to feed the seagulls.  It is making a difference.

Now to the real reason this place needs a rehab.  The lakeside restaurant.  It used to be the Oak Street Beachstro.  Caring owners, well maintained, good somewhat pricey food.  I always hated the palm trees, but others seemed to enjoy their shade and the novelty.  This year a new owner took over.  Mediocre to bad food, pricier than pricey prices, tacky music ( not really music, just bass thumping).

Most of the palm trees have been dead since the first beach day and this one is leaning precariously over the walkway.  Hope no one is under it when it falls.  The people on East Lake Shore Drive had complained about the old Beachstro's large tent which was used for clambakes, weddings and the Air and Water Show.  I wonder what they think of the hodge podge of smaller tents along with the dumpster, beer truck and vodka distributors truck.- -dont' even mention the cheesy music.  If we wanted North Avenue vibes, we'd go to North Avenue. I hope when the license comes up for renewal next year the powers that be will either go back to the old owners or just do away with the restaurant all together.

Walk with me as I leave the beach to go home.  I forgot the scariest thing about the tunnel.  Tens of thousands of vehicles whiz overhead on Lake Shore Drive.  In the ceiling is a crack through which I can see daylight.  I wonder if the street performer standing under it is as wary as I am.

Every time I hear of plans to spend zillions on re-making Navy Pier to attract more tourists I get livid.  I know it is two different pools of dollars, but lets fix what we've got.  And that goes for the crumbling infrastructure of the downtown El stations and subways.  Navy Pier is already the number one tourist attraction.  If visitors have to take their lives in their hands to get there - what's the point?

You can start with my beach.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hair Raising Stories - the Long and Short of It

A young woman flipping her long curly red hair over the back of her chair onto our laps last night at Millennium Park got me to thinking about some good and bad moments with hair.

  • I was born with almost none and it won't grow any longer than my collar - so maybe I'm just jealous of those long tressed dollies who flip their excess in my face on the El or last night's concert culprit.
  • I used to think it was a curse having 5 girls' hair to wash, detangle, brush and pull into pony tails, braids, or what not - now I realize it was a blessing.
  • I was glad my oldest kept her  hair long for a long time - made up for my failure to grow mine.
  • I cried when I entrusted a friend with the task of getting my youngest's hair cut and she totally transformed her - and not in a good way.
  • Did anyone  else sleep with their hair rolled up in "rags" back in the 50s - oh those banana curls.
  • Two of my aunts had their hair styled like Veronica Lake.  Woo Hoo!
  • We spent a lot of time in grammar school trying to find out what the nuns had under their wimples.
  • My aunts let me shave my legs when we were at the Jersey Shore because my mother threatened me with dense, black hairy legs if I started shaving.
  • Which is worse?   Getting chewing gum in your hair or having to cut your hopelessly tangled hair out of a hot curling brush?
  • My first week at college a dorm-mate talked me into letting her dye my blond hair black. Not only did I look ridiculous but in the process of trying to undo it my hair turned green.  Just in time for Freshman Week.  What an impression I must have made.
  • Our son shaved off his hair in preparation for being a Rock Star.
  • He had years before climbed into his little sister's crib and given her a butch a few days before Christmas.
  • I haven't changed my hair style since 8th  grade. I have  friends who change theirs every week.
  • My husband gets compliments on his hair from strangers.
  • Do they sell bobby pins any more?
  • My writing coach, an author, is the only woman of a certain age who can get away with long greyish hair.  All others need to get a haircut.
  • Here is a great example of 70s hairstyles or was it 80s?

    See, young lady at the Grant Park Music Festival,  what a litany you started?  Stop  flipping your hair at others.  My kids will find you and beat you up.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Everything But the Kitchen Sink - Is That Next?

    I have always loved shopping at Walgreens.  Now that they've remodeled - I can almost wax poetic about the many ways I love them.

    Here goes (without the poetry) and not in the order of importance:
    • They got rid of those god-awful self service kiosks and have a full line of real people to ring up purchases.  Good for me and good for employment of others.
    • Their security is good.  A big brawny guy followed me around as I took pictures - so I refrained from taking his.
    • They now have a place to sit and privately ask a pharmacist questions that you may not want the whole world to hear. I also love their wide network.  I can travel most places in the U.S. and don't have to obsess about my prescriptions.
    • I am more than impressed with the fresh food offerings and the way they're positioned - when impulse buying choices include fresh fruit, vegetables and sushi we all win.  I bought an avocado there and it was perfect.
    • I have been looking all over for the kind of thin sliced bread that I use for appetizers - guess where I finally found it?
    • The Photo Center is slick and efficient and somewhat private so that when a non-techie like me screws up not a lot of people will witness it.
    • They have truly created a one stop shopping center for us at fair prices and most of us are in walking distance to a Walgreens.
    • Unfortunately they have turned me into an addict.  If you have not tasted their ice cream - run out and get some now.  I did an ingredients check and compared it to a high priced famous label brand and found that there are actually more chemicals, fat and other bad stuff in the famous brand.  I am truly addicted - waffle cone and caramel overload are my favorites - but there are plenty of others to tempt you.  Run.. don't your local Walgreens and see if you don't agree with me.

    Look out Best Buy and Target - here comes Walgreens.