Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The not-entirely-lonely Thanksgiving

I was quite thrilled at the prospect of spending Thanksgiving alone exploring industrial ruins. Other explorers I know have gone out on holidays, and it seemed entirely appropriate given that I didn't exactly get invited to spend Thanksgiving with my family. (My parents haven't visited Chicago for Thanksgiving in a few years, and they weren't going to be in their hometown; they drove to Houston for my dad's 50th [!] high school reunion, and spent Thursday in Kansas City, and I didn't see a reason to go.) Also, most of my friends were either occupied or presumably out of town. Last year I spent Thanksgiving alone doing my favorite kind of exploring back then--going on insanely long bike trips, photographing signs and buildings along the way. I did almost 50 miles, my most in one day (oh, it was 60+ degrees and sunny then).

I needed to go to the trade school to catch up on the demolition of its west building, and I figured there'd be no workers there on Thanksgiving, though there were workers at the adjoining businesses until noon or so. But first, I made it into a new place, a small abandoned oil company.

Getting in wasn't hard, but I was instantly covered in mud, and soon, in the lightly falling snow, and the burrs as I hacked my way through this wilderness. Well, it's wilderness compared to the giant factory floors I've been hanging out in recently. There are several immense tanks, and this is the view from the only one I climbed; I wasn't a fan of icy metal steps. I got a few cloudy shots on top.

There's a small building where I took this shot and the second one in this post. Then I climbed up on the structure you see here. Not much to say about this place, but I'm glad I checked it out.

Then off to the school. I walked towards the demolished wing at ground level and could swear I heard someone off that way yell "Yo!" at me twice. I got a little freaked out and took the stairs over instead. A fair amount had been demolished in the four days since I'd seen it. This was my first time photographing snow-covered ruins.

I walked through the main part of the school, which seems safe for now. This rainbow here got snapped in half since the first time I saw it.

One of my goals for the day, besides observing the demolition of the west building (achieved) and getting on the roof of the east building (not), was finding the spot with the radiating colors. It used to have a mirror in the center and many people took self-portraits there. I stumbled into the room accidentally. Did I really miss it on my prior 5 visits here?

I moved on to the east building; I'd seen plastic there last time and it looks like something's going on. Sure enough, asbestos abatement signs and equipment were everywhere. They didn't stop me, but made me a bit uneasy. My parents would probably cry if they knew how I spent my Thanksgiving, wandering through all this danger...

I went back to the demolition area; the snow had long since stopped and it was now sunny. How nice to get shots under two different light conditions. I walked through the rubble this time, since the workers at the adjacent business were gone, and noticed the icicles. Got some of my all-time favorite shots. Oh, I forgot to mention, Thanksgiving was also the two-month "anniversary" of my first real "urban exploration," another reason I was so excited to go out. So "all-time" isn't that long...

Leaving, I walked around the perimeter of the building to see the damage looking east. Oddly, there still seems to be a small functioning building attached to the demolished section. I wandered a bit more around the neighborhood--I'd honestly never noticed the small abandoned factory across the street--and got on a bus heading north.

My friend Kate surprised me with a call and an invitation to hang out that evening. I agreed, but still went ahead with my other meal plans. I needed a diner-ish place besides Golden Nugget open on Thankgiving serving a "traditional" meal, and my impulse to go to the D&L Snack Shop (which has turned into CJ's Cafe since my one prior visit) was a good one. Sure, it's the kind of place filled with depressing old guys, but their Thanksgiving meal was only $6.99, and "all you can eat." But I only had one serving of everything. I went home and cooked up a vegan dinner I was pretty happy with. I arranged it for the Flickr photo and only ate a little.

I had amazing luck with CTA buses all day (until my last one late at night): I must have waited 15 minutes TOTAL, on a holiday, for the first six buses I needed that day. Incredible. So I was early to meet Kate at Simon's in Andersonville, a great bar I've now been at on Christmas and Thanksgiving. We had quite a lot of Scrimshaw beer on tap and glogg (the season for it just started) and caught up on girl talk (you know, mostly but not entirely about boys). Needing to eat and sober up a little, we got a cab to the Golden Nugget on Lawrence and had pancakes. It was quite empty. Their Thanksgiving meal was $11.99 and not all-you-can-eat, bah. We hung out at her place for a while and I got to see her cat Sammy.

I left after midnight. One of the best Thanksgivings ever. My brother called me the next day, but I didn't call my parents back until Sunday. Oops. Oh, and I'd like to use the extra white space next to this photo to say it took me well over an hour to put this post together; my first time trying lots of photos going left and right AND links to Flickr photos. It almost looks okay...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Update (yet another CTA photo)

Very old sign (also a "From City")
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

Wow, five days without posting, and I don't have time for a real one. This photo is now my second most "interesting"/popular on Flickr; I've had an amazing few days of comments/favorites/contacts over there. Well, I'm sure I'll sink into obscurity again soon.

I'm so happy my friend Mike called me Sunday evening to say he was hitting up the Damen Brown Line station, which would be closed for a year of construction as of Monday morning (Montrose reopened). I'm also glad I happened to date him for a while, and Damen is "his" station, otherwise I might never have visited it. I know I didn't properly observe many of the other now-rehabbed stations: Addison, Montrose, Sacramento, etc. Anyway, I changed my plans (which only consisted of a trip to Borders) to go photograph the Damen station for 20 minutes or so: one platform, then going outside, then the other platform. I wasn't out with a tripod so they weren't the best night shots, but I'm so happy I went, even if I missed Mike by a few minutes.

I will post about my amazing Thanksgiving soon, and some punk rock stuff, and the previous weekend's adventures. I haven't even posted about how I got into urban exploring yet, or my Critical Mass stories from summer, or how I was on TV last week...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Rehabbed Sedgwick station
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

Here's the mural you can't see in the other photo of the new Sedgwick station. This will brighten my commute, and I'm not even being sarcastic when I say that.

I just wanted to put in something cheerier for anyone who might happen across the blog today, and I'll be back later to edit this post with a little on what I'm thankful for. Really. I'm off for my 3rd Thanksgiving in a row of solo Chicago exploration, and my 1st of abandoned building exploration. Most of you have the good sense to stay inside today; have a wonderful time whatever you do.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

short and bleak

New Sedgwick station entrance
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

I've really got to rethink what I'm doing here. Also, I've got to promote this somehow. Wait, I'm not allowed any more posts whining about who does or doesn't read this, and I'm trying to cut back on posting about stuff that happens on Flickr or MySpace or wherever. If I try to do a photoblog, I have to figure out what's wrong with my photo sizes. And learn to actually take good photos. If I try to focus more on urban issues/infrastructure/architecture/UE/whatever, I have to sound a lot more informed and opinionated. If I make that my focus, maybe my non-Flickr/UE friends (who aren't reading this anyway) won't read it. If I keep rambling about personal stuff or drinking (better not say anything about today), then those people won't take me seriously. Well, I can't make everyone happy, but if I could make a few people a little bit happy, that'd be great. I've spent two days at a mysterious factory (well, only mysterious in that I didn't know about it before; I do know what factory it was) that's the most depressing place imaginable, and today I did something stupid and got injured and was afraid I was going to pass out. But hey, last night, when I tried to do a Google search on the place by looking up "abandoned factory Chicago," I found out that MY FLICKR PAGE is the #1 & #2 result. Wow. I wish I had more actual information, but I guess I've just tagged so many photos "abandoned factory Chicago" that I'm #1. Sorry, everyone. Oh, and I must be the first to post a photo of this station in the Chicago Transit Authority group pool/CTA Tattler blog, because I've never gotten so many hits on a photo this fast. I wish it was a better photo, but I take an untoward glee in being first. Do I sound a little down? Well, it's only 8:45 pm and I think I'm going to bed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm awesome, or at least my weekend was

Detail of giant head
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

I got a little down in recent posts because of last week's bleakness and things just got worse late Thurs./Fri., but WOW, did things pick up. Even though I didn't get to nearly all the places I wanted to see this weekend or spend that long at them, even though none of the friends I called Sat. called me back (I had plenty to do by myself this weekend anyway), even though a lot of the excitement involves places I like getting torn down. I went nuts with three days straight of exploring and took more risks than usual. It so happens that the UE trip that changed everything for me--forced me to take risks, and not be afraid to be afraid in front of someone else--happened a month ago (wow, only a month?), Oct. 18, at the suburban silos. That was an incredible day (and I haven't even posted all the good shots to Flickr yet, or told the story here).

And my roommate's band played their first show, and I tried out two new (and one old) 24-hour restaurants, and I only had one drink all weekend and I haven't had any caffeine (except chocolate) since Thursday...I guess I'm into "clean living" and "natural highs" right now. (Well, except for all that diner food.) More on that later. Next up will be the story of how I might be briefly on "Chicago Tonight" soon... [UPDATE: Well, maybe I'll tell it if/when it happens; I don't feel like writing a wacky piece about dating right now.]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More demolition and (suspected) crime

New City (N. Halsted) Y demolition
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

[UPDATE: Apparently this is my 50th post on this blog, although it's hard to count the stuff from 2+ years ago as the same blog. Oh, and I forgot to mention the Jacob Riis school is totally gone, so that's three piles of rubble I saw this week.) The demo photos from Tues. (see below) weren't that great anyway; I had a much better shoot when I went by the Y Wed. afternoon; here's one that shows the colors of the remaining building and leaves too. I saw the gym get totally smashed in the few minutes I stood there; I swear, within 30 seconds of walking up they started destroying the section of wall that said "LOVE." What's that supposed to mean? I went through an hour or two of work last night to get these photos on Flickr, just in case anyone else out there liked this building enough to want some shots before it's gone. Oh, and it didn't seem possible to get any, you know, closer shots of this, but I looked.

Afterwards I went to the MCA for the last of their 40 Free Days (in honor of the museum's 40th anniversary), also the last day to get a $65 membership for $40. I signed up (mine expired last year), and got a commemorative book and another of those totebags that look nice but fall apart when you try to carry anything in them. Since I can come back for "free" anytime, I mostly skipped the art but did look at their always amazing gift shop, to see someone just put out the most glorious book imaginable, Transit Maps of the World.

The MySpace trouble fixed itself after a day. I'm watching too much TV as always, at least during the day, but I had the good sense yesterday morning to mute the Today Show Drew Peterson interview (if only I'd done the same during the segment on "cougars"). I guess this Missing Attractive Young White Woman case went national quite quickly (the last Chicago-area one, Lisa Stebic [still missing], took longer), but it does involve 1) a police officer husband 2) the possibility of TWO murders 3) a name (Stacy Peterson) that rhymes with another famous victim (Laci Petersen, of course). His comments were well-covered in the news I've watched since. Wow, I did not know an effect of PMS is wanting to divorce your much-older, abusive husband (who's already had one wife die suspiciously), but according to him (he's only a suspect and hasn't been charged with anything, I have to point out), it is. Not helping your case, pal... Okay, I've far exceeded my photo-to-rambling ratio for right now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Joys and enragements

Crime! Demolishments! Flickr pervs! Awesome Asian drinks! (But because of my slow method of uploading from my camera, I don't have the new photos; these are old.) A lot of things are going wrong, but I won't get into the dullest (mind-bogglingly insane MySpace trouble, in which I can neither sign in properly, or ever sign out, though I seem to get signed out somehow, and sign back in, and start the mess all over again).

This afternoon/evening I took the sort of old-fashioned rambling bus/L trip I haven't done much of recently. I went up to Montrose/Broadway, where a huge corner building I'd liked (kind of plain, but with some nice terra cotta detail) had suddenly been knocked down after standing vacant for ages. I figured it'd go eventually, but still I was shocked to see it (and the old Aldi, replaced by a new Aldi right next to it) completely gone. Before that, I went by the Y on Halsted just south of North. I'd seen it surrounded by fences a couple weeks ago and utterly forgot to go back. It's half gone, and I got upset--I never got really good photos of the whole colorful building. (This photo is some demolition not mentioned here.)

To cheer me up, I went up Broadway to the amazing Ba Le Bakery--it's been way too long--and had $6.44 of bliss: a tofu-vegetable sandwich, full of crispy/crunchy/chewy texture (and flavor), and one of their amazing drink/desserts from the cooler, made from "yuca, sweet potato, taro, tapioca, coconut milk, sugar." (I save the labels because I'm trying to sample all of them.) (The photo is from a grocery nearby on Argyle Street.) I checked out the areas around the Granville and Sheridan Red Line stops but didn't go to the coffeeshops there (they closed at 8 and it was already around 7, no time to relax). Another diner/family restaurant is gone--one right near Granville. No, not Standee's, but an oddball, fairly new place whose name I forget. I ate there once. The menu was half diner fare (omelettes, sandwiches) and half Chinese. I didn't think it would work, and it didn't; it's been replaces by a "noodles and rice" place.

I browsed the Borders on Diversey and got two buses home (wondering if the Nookies restaurant around 2100 N. Halsted is closed for good, or just today). To see that my bike--which I'd moved to a different parking meter today--was missing its back wheel. Well, I'd been wondering if that wheel was secure or not. I hauled the sorry mess upstairs and locked it to the hall railing. So much for warm weather biking. I do believe that's my first stolen wheel in 13 years with that bike!

So, I was angry when I got in and got worse when I saw SIX different telemarketers called in the few hours I was out (no, I'm not on the "do not call" list; usually it's not a problem, but I've had a few bizarrely persistent callers recently). Still, though, these are minor problems. Oh, and since my previous post, TWO more people (at least) have gone and taken photo sets at THAT hospital, while it still feels my photo set killed my page for a couple days. But I got a THIRD random Flickr guy favoriting a photo of me. This one added me as a contact. Sorry, not adding you back if you don't have any photos of your OWN, pal. But I learned about a lot of things I had no idea people were "into" by looking at your Flickr groups. (Actually, "Opaque Tights for All"--a "safe" group--is kind of tempting to join; I've got tights in every color. I just don't particularly want to post shots of my legs...)

In blog news, look to your right and see I finally added Women & Children First bookstore, which I'd bafflingly forgot to put on my list. And I added Landmarks Illinois. I feel weird now, knowing I use preservation watch lists, as, well, shopping lists of a sort. (For instance, the hospital below.) Oh, and this photo? This is an old shot of a particularly good trip to Stanley's produce market; they're very cheap so it probably cost $2.19 and pocket lint for all that. I posted it to shame myself into buying produce; the squash I cooked the other day was the only produce I've bought for a month or more!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The mental health unit and other delights

It'd surprise some people I've known a while that this week was the first time I ended up in a mental health ward. (And it was my first visit to a hospital in a long, long time.) It'd surprise no one I know now that the mental health unit was in an abandoned hospital. It's a building the exploration crowd has been interested in for a while, and a couple of them happened to find out Tuesday that it's easy to get in. I went there Wed. by myself but wussed out when it appeared I'd have to crawl UNDER a fence for the first time. I went off for coffee and a scone instead, the second choice of every thwarted explorer. So I went back Thurs. and went under, trying not to be fazed by the frequent Metra trains zipping by not far away.

My first abandoned hospital! The non-explorers ask me if it was "creepy." Of course it is, but in this case, there's not much of a hospital smell or scary hospital equipment or whatever creepy things might be in abandoned hospitals (but I only know of from photos). No, the creepiness came from this being the first abandonment I've been in that still had functioning lights. Fluorescent hallway lights here and there, and many offices/storage rooms/exam rooms/whatever still had lights on. First time flipping a switch up and getting a light (in the speech therapy room). And eventually, my first times turning lights OFF because it was so weird and seemed so wasteful. Don't worry, future explorers, you can still see in there.

I did the whole basement level first, not just a boiler room and the kitchen, but Human Resources, rooms filled with files, a room filled with X-rays, all kinds of good stuff I'll have to come back and see. (I was there less than 2 hours, and only got around 125 photos--hardly any by my standards--because so many rooms were empty/identical.) On upper floors I found the mental health unit with "cheery" murals, and a cafeteria, and beautiful stairwells. I went nearly everywhere except the roof but I know I missed things from viewing others' photos on Flickr.

I called my friend Mike at work as I headed out (breaking the rule against no cell phone use in the hospital, after breaking rules about unauthorized access to the utility rooms...oh, and being in the building at all). Of course he was a little worried for me. I was worried as I eyed a baseball bat propped against the wall in the kitchen. Who's using that for what? I had a great time and put a bunch of photos of Flickr. Two days later, no one's commented yet, the others who went before and after me there this week got all the attention, bah. Actually, it's been a very competive week in urban exploration, but that's all I'll say. That put me in a pissy (but not quite depressed) mood tonight, which is why I--oops--drank a little when I'm about to head out to a party (which promises cheap/free beer). But then, I was all jealous about people getting the attention on Flickr, and pow! Tonight my second random Flickr perv favorited a picture of me in an abandoned building! I knew that Hot Abandoned Action would get attention. And I only did that one movie in Gary! (Ah, a dumb joke 2 or 3 people reading this will get.)

This blog makes me sound like I drink WAY more than I actually do. Well, I think the pumpkin ale was a legitimate companion to the first real dish I cooked in ages (soba noodles, butternut squash, onions, pumpkinseed oil, soy sauce; very good except I undercooked the onions). The bit of vodka, not so much. Anyway, I've got to go to a party down the street for the Sadie Hawkins' Day Race & Style Ride. My roommate and especially his girlfriend were organizers; I showed up to the start of the race just to take photos (biking over there was the first biking I've done in weeks) and they were nice enough to put a PBR wristband on me hours ago; time to go make use of it. [UPDATE: Didn't drink that much. Got distracted on the way there by a house fire across the street, got to hear things being smashed. The party had stationary bike races, awards, DJs and dancing and I had as good a time as I could without actually talking to anyone except my roommate, who was also distributing beer. I took the bus there and back and hoped none of the cool bike kids saw me do that.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Today's freakout level: violet

Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

That makes no sense, but I'm on my 4th beer of the night. (Accompanied by Blue Diamond Bold Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds, so so good.) A couple weird Flickr things happened that I HAVE to mention. I made a promise to myself not to drunk-blog, but whatever. (Also not to drunk-Flickrmail, sorry about a couple days ago, NV.) My first 2 beers were hours ago at Reading Under the Influence, a great literary event I've gone to nearly every month since Dec. 2006. Tonight Alex (who I met that time, his first visit, he's read at it since, I haven't because I don't friggin' write anything substantial, just blog posts and snarky Flickr captions) and Lorraine (they're married) were there and I hadn't seen them since a nice house party they had with way too much beer (everyone brought some) weeks ago, so I spent much of the night talking to them.

I was tipsy enough to buy pizza at Philly's Best and a celebrity magazine at Walgreens. I love that I didn't recognize who's on the cover--Lauren (and "How far she goes on a first date," so important to know)--from some show I've never seen. Six pages of ads for hormonal birth control, only four of scary weight-loss methods. Teri Hatcher's daughter is named Emerson? Another guy's name crosses over to a girl's name now. (I know a [male] Emerson). Flipping through, I'm reminded of the 637 or so reasons I don't think I should buy these magazines, and I'll leave you with one: one of the outfits the "Fashion Police" are bashing is an outfit I genuinely like and would actually wear (it happens to be on Paris Hilton, amazingly).

Enough of that--I'm freaking out because after a slow couple days on Flickr, a stranger favorited 3 photos. And they happen to be the 3 pictures of myself I've posted to (oh, embarrassing) the "geek girls are sexy (but like our clothes on)" group (see, there's also a "geek girls are sexy" group, and many variations of sexy nerd/geek/glasses groups). I checked him out and yup, he hardly has any photos of his own posted, and has some scantily clad women in his favorites, and nearly all his contacts are women, and he belongs to a lot of filtered groups (man, I'm not even going to name them). I don't know, it's not like he wrote anything pervy to me personally, I guess I should be...flattered? It's less creepy that he found me in a "sexy" group than just randomly...right? This is what I get for daring to think I occasionally look slightly cute...isn't it?

Oh, it gets weirder. I got a new Flickr contact, which is always cool. Puzzled over the person's name for a bit, then's my downstairs neighbor! (Who works in a camera store, not exactly shocking she'd turn up there.) Anyway, nice photos, it's all cool, not like I ever wrote anything about things that happened with neighbors on this blog (cough) and if I did, sorry.

Relax, relax, my parents haven't found me on the internets yet...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Off to the factory

Do Not Enter
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

I've been in the sort of supertensestressed-outness that can only be soothed by a trip to an abandoned factory (on a too-cold and windy day) to see what I find and sit there by myself. Well, I used to have other methods of "soothing," but I got over those a few years back, you know, like celebrities have their Secret Struggles and Overcome Their Demons and Educate The Public and all that.

I went to this place last week, half-joking that I did it because the cable was out that day (it was, because of a stupid remote-control problem, and the upside of the TV writers' strike now is that they just reran the Halloween Daily/Colbert I missed last week...oh, and I hope the writers get what they're after, too). I'll go to something "legitimate" first, a talk at the Archicenter [UPDATE: of course I missed it.]. The place seems pretty safe, but if not, remember to "avenge my death" and whatnot. [UPDATE: didn't get into one part I got into last week, but I believe I've now seen everything else except the roof. And it wasn't that cold.] [UPDATE: new sources of stress? That great little coffeeshop Half & Half in Wicker Park is GONE--I had no idea. And the lite radio station has already switched to all-Christmas music. Seriously.]

Monday, November 05, 2007

Comfort food would be good right now

hot chewy sweet gooey
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

That's the famous (well, it was on a list in Time Out Chicago) banana-Nutella panini (with whipped cream and extra banana) from Ventrella's coffeeshop in Ravenswood--I finally tried it on Saturday. Right now, despite a busy and productive weekend, I'm in a funk over any number of reasons, including but not limited to a nightmare with IPhoto. [UPDATE: deleted details, never mind, I've fixed it for now, but the way I upload/organize photos is still asinine.]

The blah weather doesn't help, although there's one perverse benefit of a cloudy day--on a sunny day, I can see just how cluttered and dirty my apartment is (in sparkling detail!), and that depresses me, and so I leave the place as much to escape that as to go out and do things in the sun.

So, one of those low self-esteem phrases I'd frequently use, though probably only in my own head, is "wish I could fall through the floor and disappear." After something that happened this weekend, I'm gonna retire that one. (More later.)

Weekend ended with a rare visit to the Darkroom bar in UK Village, for a dance-party-ish thing that a zine/MySpace friend, Eric Lab Rat, was doing for his WLUW radio show. The live performances were pretty good (including four women who do a go-go dance routine to classic girl group songs--the act was a little silly, but man is it great to hear that kind of music at a hipster club! "He's good-bad, but he's not evil"), the DJ'ed music was full of great stuff I wish I could identify, and the Shiner Bock (which I'm thinking is a rare beer in Chicago) was on special for $2.50, so I had two. I didn't dance but I thought about the possibility of maybe considering it at some point. I went north to the 24-hour Walgreens and couldn't resist going to Arturo's across the street, for a quesadilla platter and Mexican hot chocolate, at 12:30 a.m.

So, I'm wearing, for the first time, a Powell's (Portland, OR) bookstore t-shirt I bought 2+ years ago, and I'm off to a zine fest thing [UPDATE: went by it but didn't talk to anyone]. I haven't put out a zine in 2+ years, but at least I've got my little blog and Flickr page going on, I'm not completely inept and uncreative these days.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The most fun you can have with a 1 Day Fun Pass

So I set out Halloween Wednesday with my Chicago exploration companion DK to see how much fun we could possibly have with a CTA 1 Day "Fun Pass." Actually, I only got the $5 pass because I was a bit short on cash to get a weekly one, and DK didn't even have a pass but a regular transit card, so this is a remarkably poor framing device for this story, but I wanted something better than "we hung out all day."

Anyway, I was running late on the bus, as nearly always happens when I meet up with DK, who has never actually taken a CTA bus (!!!!). From North/Clybourn, we headed on the Red Line up to Wrigley Field--he wanted photos of both ballparks on a day when they weren't surrounded by inconvenient crowds of fans. There's work going on inside Wrigley, and something with hoses in front when we showed up. We circled the park, got a few shots. Lunch at the Horizon Cafe at Broadway & Grace. I had the 4-cheese grilled cheese: cheddar, a couple others, parmesan-crusted bread. I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, but I do try to get to the Horizon now and then. I showed him a bit of Lakeview, including my first apartment in Chicago, a studio in a very bland apartment building on Grace.

Back to the Red Line at Sheridan, more crowded than we expected that time of day. We got a seat in what would be the conductor's area, the "private booth" as I called it. You get a nice view out the window, and a nice view of the colored lights on the next car, and we also got a nice view (aroma too) of a bag of leftover fast-food trash at our feet.

You can sort of see Chinatown reflected here. We intended to get out at 35th, but rode all the way to 95th (he's only been there once) because the view, or something, was just so compelling, we didn't want to move. Got out at 95th, looked at the massive bus terminal, got the same seats on a different car. At Sox/35th, we noted the old Comiskey homeplate, all that remains of the former stadium. I honestly never noticed this here before, since I'm not given to wandering through ballpark parking lots.

I've still never been in Wrigley, but I have been in U.S. Cellular, back when it was "new Comiskey," on a school field trip, long before I lived in Chicago. We walked on 35th to Bridgeport, noting the new housing construction, or promise of it, popping up everywhere. This sign is next to a sort-of-abandoned-looking lamp warehouse/store.

Mid-afternoon, kids were already out trick-or-treating. Three houses in a row on 35th had the same sign posted. Regrettably, I didn't get a shot of the middle house, with a woman sitting in front of the sign, talking on the phone.

Since we'd eaten already, the Ramova Grill or the Bridgeport Restaurant (which I seriously doubt still has the "soda fountain" advertised on its old neon sign) will have to wait for another trip (I've been to both). But we went to my favorite-so-far dollar store in Chicago, the insane Dollar Function, just north of 35th on Halsted. I bought two sequined masks I've had no occasion to wear. I needed to use the restroom at the Daley branch library. As we waited to cross, we saw a girl of maybe 10 in a "sexy devil" costume, with a skirt much shorter than I'd wear in public. I read quite a bit on the sexy-costume issue in the feminist blogospere last week (I'll sum it up: 1) the middle-aged scolds whining about how women dress too sexy on Halloween are engaging in "slut-shaming" 2) but why are women expected to be supersexy on Halloween and [straight] men aren't? 3) sexy costumes for girls are out there [seriously, French maid costumes?!] and that's really creepy). But that's a rant for another time...

We kept walking on 35th; I thought there'd be some interesting industrial stuff to check out, and maybe a quiet spot to sit near the river, but there didn't seem to be, so we went clear to Ashland, noting the Zhou Brothers building, Iron Studios, empty Spiegel buildings, and Pepsi bottling plant along the way. Now, I hadn't orchestrated the day to end up at sunset at a certain abandoned silo complex, but it wasn't terribly far from 35th & Ashland, so we kept walking in the chill. We noted an abandoned factory a Flickr friend had recently explored, but it was too close to sunset, no time to check it out. Oh, and I was wearing a vintage dress and coat, forgot to mention that. Not really a costume, but something a little wackier than I'd normally wear around town.

This is what the sky looked like as we walked through a quasi-private industrial drive to get to the silos. I could have used this day to prove that DK and I could have fun together without breaking any laws, but then we were at a hole in a fence with a "no trespassing" sign...Well, we went a whole FIVE HOURS together without breaking any laws. Someone'd obviously been there since our visit a week ago, as there was an easier way into the building now. Damn, and I was actually looking forward to a painful, undignified crawl in in my purple polyester dress. I counted the steps to the top this time--138, and only one is broken. Walking onto a roof, we ran into three young taggers--my first-ever run-in with strangers in an abandoned building! We all nonchalantly said hi to each other. They acted as if it's the most normal thing in the world to run into a guy with a big camera and a woman in a vintage floral coat and pantyhose in an abandoned structure 10 stories up. The view there is spectacular. You get both Chicago's amazing skyline, and a superb view of industry: the canal, warehouses, factories. We sat safely far away from the edge and watched it get dark. Here's a poor imitation of what we saw.

Then, just like last week, off to Huck Finn for dinner. This is not the first time I've eaten at two of these restaurants in one day. I had hot tea, which I never order at these places (honey and lemon, mmm) and a tomato stuffed with turkey salad, served with a hard-boiled egg and far too much coleslaw. Once again, they were out of giant donuts. Poor DK, he'll see one someday...We took the Orange Line from Leavitt to downtown and parted. Eight hours, two ballparks, two "family restaurants," four miles+ walking, one abandoned structure. That is a lot of fun on one pass.

The pass didn't run out after that but the fun sure did. At North and Wells, I got a delicious cider drink at Starbucks and stuff at Walgreens and waited for the #72 bus. And waited. After 15-20 minutes I thought the wait was definitely unusual. After 40, I was furious. Yes, the bus took 40+ minutes to show up (Halloween isn't a CTA holiday, is it?), only ONE bus showed up then (I'd expected at least 2 or 3 bunched up), and it took a good 45 minutes instead of 25-30 to actually get home because of the crowding. (That's my poor attempt at surreptitious CTA photography.) Yeah, not like anyone had anyplace to be at 9:00 on Halloween night. By the time I got home at 10:22, DK had already posted the day's photos to Flickr. He is certainly not eager to try a CTA bus now.

Friday, November 02, 2007

My apartment looks marginally better than this

Pleasantly junk-filled room
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

Okay, haven't posted in two whole days, want something a little cheerier-sounding than my last post, so here's a random Flickr shot. I'm in a hurry right now, been cleaning/organizing my place, off to the last Dollar Store literary show for a while. Hey, I've been exploring for six weeks and haven't yet put up an "empty chair in abandoned building" shot here, have I?