Saturday, April 28, 2007

Off-Topic: Paparazzi Post

My older brother, John, lives in Brooklyn and helps run a tv lighting company called Liberty Lighting. In other words, he's a gaffer. And, he's really, really good at it.

So good that Barbara Walters always hires him to light her for her interviews and feature shows. You can see her at left in this photo without his lighting.

Occasionally, he sends us photos from his celebrity shoots, and I e-mail them out to my friends like the proud sister I am. Thought I'd run one here, too.

[Okay, that's really Murray from Sesame Street.]

Friday, April 27, 2007

For Sale: Lincoln Park's Last Little Worker's Cottage

No corner in Lincoln Park better exemplifies the changing built landscape of this neighborhood than Howe and Armitage.

That's where you'll find this little blue gem from 1886. It's dwarfed by the three-, four-, and five-lot palaces that have risen all around it. Now, it's a complete anomaly.

Sadly, it's probably also awaiting its slaughter.

It's been for sale at least since 2005 when I took these photos. (Although little about it has changed.) The asking price is $575K for 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a sizable yard and a finished basement.

The listing sheet reads, "Renovate. . . or tear down and build your own in the Lincoln School District." There will be no internal showings. You have to buy it "as is." There are renters living there now, but they are on a month-to-month lease, according to the listing.

One of the things that has probably saved it from the bulldozers so far is its small lot size. It's only 17 x 80 versus the standard 25 x 125. That makes it more difficult for developers to extract a profit from it.

I'm often in the middle on preservation issues. In general, I'm sympathetic to the notion that we should preserve aspects of our built history. I don't think we should rush to tear everything down. I'd prefer, in many instances, that we try to renovate buildings and find creative re-uses for them. I don't immediately assume newer is better. I think a diversity of structures is healthiest for a neighborhood.

However, I also think private citizens should have a solid amount of freedom with their properties. Because I'm in the market for a new-to-me home, I can see that newer can frequently be better or more affordable than older. I'm a big fan of modern design and architecture, and I recognize that envisioning and building "the new" is a necessary and important part of our culture.

Should this building be saved?
I don't really think it's the very last cottage in Lincoln Park. But, I don't know for sure. Is anybody counting?

I do think this little cottage is meaningful to our neighborhood. It adds to the visual diversity of our streetscapes. It maintains a dignified scale and offers authentic charm. It reminds us of our shared history.

It's almost 150 years old. It was built just 16 years after our neighborhood was incorporated into the city of Chicago. According to a guide the Chicago Commission on Landmarks publishes called Your House Has a History (download it here), it is a classic worker's cottage.
It would be a meaningful loss to see it go.

Unfortunately, we lack a cohesive enough community to stand up and say, "Hey, all you rich people buying lots and building mega-homes nearby, could you please throw this one in as a gift to your community? It's important to us. Alderman Daley, what about the loss of this home in our community? Is that okay with you?"

Maybe the rich people could donate it as a tax-write off to the Chicago History Museum who could use it as a study annex, sort of like the the Art Institute's Roger Brown Study Collection on Halsted. Or, maybe it could be a children's center or a garden and a small park. Perhaps a retail shop might like it and extend the Armitage shopping district a bit further east. Any of those choices might protect it for the community to enjoy for years to come.

But, honestly, there are plenty of historians who can speak more knowledgably about this building's importance, or lack thereof, rather than me.

My main point is that just thinking about this building's fate reveals a lot. The election already showed how little our community discusses our future. Demolishing this house might reveal how little we honor our past.

Here's a link to where you'll need to register and type in 625 W. Armitage.Here's Zillow, but you need to register and type in the address: 625 W. Armitage.

Here's my favorite Lincoln Park realtor.

2013 Update on this home from folks at Kale Realty

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Are the Cicadas the Y2K story of the Year?

I'm already tired of hearing about the cicadas.

I can't help but wonder if it's going to be a big nothing like Y2K was. You know, with global warming and all that. It's entirely possible the cicadas won't know to come out this year.

The Trib adores the story. This morning's front page features an article by an oh-gosh bride who had envisioned a ceremony outside. But, oh yuck. "Can you imagine yelling your vows (over the sound of the bugs), waiting for something to land in your hair?" she states. "It's just so gross!"

Then there's the Trib's sentence that tries to justify the article: "Cicadas don't bite or carry diseases, but they're probably not the most welcome wedding guests."

Yup, at best it will be pretty remarkable and at worst mildly annoying.

Hold tight. One way or another this, too, shall pass. They're predicting by early July.

(Go here to hear what the cicadas may sound like. I must say, it's a bit startling to think it will be the soundtrack of this summer. Glad I heard it now. Sounds and photo courtesy of Professor Janet Stein Carter at the University of Cincinnati - Claremont College.)

Back Online: More on Vi

You guys rock. Thanks for all the comments blazing on my previous post while I took some more down time.

Just a few more comments on Vi's re-election and what you've posted:

- I wrote that people re-elected Vi due to her leadership and experience. I really don't know that. I was just giving her the benefit of the doubt. A more accurate statement would have been that voters decided to keep her rather than fire her. The reasons are probably as numerous as the voters.

- I do hope Vi Daley will step up her engagement communication with the community and find some innovative ways to do that. I recommend she set up a blog like my virtual friend The Blogging Mayor of Round Lake aka Bill Gentes. (His blog, by the way, turns 2 today! Happy blogirthday, Bill!)

He uses his blog to keep his constituents up to date about road closings, police promotions, non-profits, election results, local merchants, and lots of other news big and small. His blog is a great example of leadership, community engagement, and how to share civic knowledge. He's even been invited to lecture on building community through blogging.

Just something for the folks over at Vi's to begin thinking about. And, don't forget a comments section!

-I think one of the things that surprised me the most about the 43rd ward aldermanic race was how much the word "puppet" got thrown around. Say what you will about any of the candidates, but I find the puppet idea just so implausible. Ridiculously beholden to someone on certain issues? Influenced unduly by others? That I buy.

-Thank you very much to Rachel Goodstein and others for their kind comments about the blog.

-Finally, regarding our house search. It is true that most of the single family homes in our price range and with the features we are seeking are not located in Lincoln Park. But, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not throwing myself a pity party.

I am deeply grateful for and more than satisfied by our budget. I by no means want to suggest otherwise. I am sorry, though, to possibly be leaving Lincoln Park. We've been very happy here. I'm hopeful we won't end up going very far.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's Vi's Victory

Well, Vi's victory last night was clearly decisive. No doubt about it. While her fellow incumbents fell to their spirited opponents or clung to their seats by a thread, Vi was way out ahead of Michele Smith. Clearly, voters felt her leadership and track record were worthy of her keeping her job.

She raked in 4,347 votes to Smith's 3,798 with 98.31% of the vote in. (These numbers from the Trib here.)

Congratulations to Vi and Michele for an important campaign that percolated a needed discussion throughout our community. I do hope we'll continue to see Smith, Zelchenko, Goodstein, and Egan engaged and present in this community.

The other interesting fact was that the number of voters who turned out was down just about 900 or so from the February election. 9143 voters turned out in February (unofficially). With 98% of the votes in, 8145 turned out for the run-off.

Meanwhile, here at our ranch, our contract fell through yesterday on the house we were hoping to buy in what is now Scott Waguespack's ward. Sigh.

I'm also signing off for a while. I need to re-group.

Happiness and peace to you and yours.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What's Taking So Long?

The 43rd ward election results seem to have ground to a stop. What gives? Here's the Trib's site. I'm going to bed. I'll see in the a.m. who is our alderman.

Night, night. Sleep tight.

Update: A-ha. Here's what's going on courtesy of the Trib.

Vi out to Early Lead, but Race Not Called Yet

The Chicago Tribune is posting race results here. So far, Vi Daley leads Michele Smith 3242 to 2854 with 71.19% of the precincts reporting. Meanwhile, Ted Matlak and Joe Moore are trailing their challengers by inches. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Who has the edge? Vi or Michele?

The campaigning is fast and furious. E-mails from Tim Egan. Post-it notes on my front yard gate from Vi Daley. Neighbors from Old Town mailing on behalf of Michele Smith.

Are you planning on voting tomorrow?

I am one of those people who shows up at just about every election no matter what. I believed all that stuff in elementary school about how other countries wished they had a right to vote like we do so we should take advantage of it. I like thinking about all the women who fought so hard for my right to vote less than a century ago. Who am I not to turn out after they worked so hard and endured so much?

I'm wondering if the day will favor Vi and the status quo or will Michele supporters be more motivated to show up at the polls?

What will be will be. Can't wait to see.

UPDATE: Here is a timeline of women's suffrage in the U.S., which should be spelled sufferage, shouldn't it? It took 144 years for women to get the right to vote. Now, are you telling me, ladies, that you're too busy to get out tomorrow and vote for one of two female candidates just 77 years later? I sure as heck hope not.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Where the hell have I been?

Well, here's a hint. Mr. The Place Where We Live and I have been out having a BLAST of the "wish you were here" variety.

We also signed a contract on a home in a ward other than the fighting 43rd. It's a consuming process with inspections and all that, so I've missed a few of the main (in) fights and televisiony things going on between Michele Smith & Vi Daley.

What have you heard lately? Who won the tv debate?

Is Michele buying too many drinks and breaking all kinds of rules? Is Vi just too entrenched with her cronies to ever ask her community what it thinks? Have you early voted?

Can either candidate use the word "lies" any more often without needing to buy a vowel?

Stay tuned. We're baaaack.

UPDATE: I should probably clarify that this isn't really a picture of us. I would never marry a guy who would wear a necklace like that.