Monday, December 31, 2007

Dinner, dinner, a show, dinner

Here I am back in Chicago, just covering a few random Chicagoland things I did in December, mostly with my exploring companion DK--"proper" posts about specific explorations (including the story of how I'm now in an unofficial girl gang of explorers, who've outwitted police in two different cities) soon, of course. Here's the candle I used for the first dinner I've gotten to make for anyone in a long while (it wasn't a candlelit dinner, though), 12/13/07.

And here's the food: "real" baked macaroni and cheese, from Mark Bittman's new cookbook, sweet potato (baked) "fries," broccoli and cauliflower with lemon and butter, sauteed seitan (wheat-meat) with mushroom gravy, (vegan) chocolate cake with chocolate chips added. With fruit punch. In other words, vegetarian comfort food. It went over well, except DK had never had seitan before and found it "spongy." I want to try more from the cookbook; how exciting that the library a half-block away just got it, and the librarian (who's hipper than I realized) recommended Vegan With a Vengeance (already own it!) when I checked out.

Friday Dec. 14 I was wandering around and noticed this vacant building (actually, two attached buildings) at the corner of Lawrence and Clark looked awfully close to demolition. No workers were around that afternoon and to my surprise I was able to walk right in, but only at ground level. There was a way into the apartment parts but I didn't want to try. I could tell this was a building that used to be fairly nice but has been altered into ugliness--much like my favorite example of this phenomenon, the weird gray "castle" at the northwest intersection of Grand and Milwaukee. The only nice parts were the light green pediments--three on the building.

I came back the next day, earlier, prepared to spend a little time. I walked in and again noted the horribly warped floor, afraid I'd suddenly plummet to the basement. I was about to go three rooms in when a man--obviously not a worker or security, but a vagrant/possible scrapper--walked in from outside. Neither of us said anything; I just looked at the floor and quickly walked out.

I walked east to Broadway for what would be my third meal of the month at Golden House. I tend to neglect this place; it's one of the diners that closes "early" (6:30, which is odd; most usually close around 3-4 or 8-9; why close right in the middle of dinnertime?). I'd had a franks-and-beans dish, and pancakes with "pipin' hot pineapple" (had to try it) and whipped cream, and this time I ordered lasagna. It'd been 30 days since I'd had coffee/caffeine. The waitress asked "coffee?" and I said "no" but she brought it anyway. How cruel--I was only a few hours away from technically making it a month. So I pushed it to the side of the table, and she eventually took it away.

She brought the coffee, but forgot my lentil soup until my lasagna showed up and I reminded her. She walked away and before I could remember that I wasn't in a sitcom or a movie, I put my head down and actually (lightly) banged my forehead on the table in frustration. The hipster guys at the adjacent booth noticed. What a dork. Anyway, dinner was pretty good. I think they're the best "Golden" in Chicago.

The evening of Friday the 14th, DK took me to see Duran Duran at the historic Chicago Theatre. I'd only been there twice before (Ukrainian dancers with my parents years ago, and Conan O'Brien's show in April 2006--that merits its own story). This was my first-ever chance to take photos inside (of course I wasn't supposed to during the concert). We had seats up so high they were chairs, not "real" seats, but I didn't care, we stood for most of Duran Duran anyway (and no dilemma of sharing armrests with strangers).

This was a special show for a radio station, the opening act (the singer from Train) was mediocre (the Sun-Times review called it "housewife rock") but Duran Duran were pretty good--mostly the hits, and nearly all the hits I could think of (except "Hungry Like the Wolf"). "Rio" was especially great. I told DK how I'd bought a 7" record of "Notorious" back when I was a kid, back when K-Mart sold vinyl. I admit, getting their Greatest Hits CD and reviewing it before the show helped quite a bit. I thanked DK for this already, but here I'll say thanks again. Back to Sat. the 15th--I also checked out a candy factory I'd heard was being demolished, and got some demolition-porn-type shots outside. I had a nice surprise there the next day, but I'll save that for later.

Then I went to the Greyhound station to buy my ticket one week in advance for my Iowa trip (which I didn't take until 8 days later, that's another story)--I know it sounds ridiculous that I always go buy my tickets in person. The employee was incredibly friendly and helpful; I even learned that Jefferson runs buses out of the station as well, and it'd be cheaper to take them to Des Moines. Except it'd be a 6 a.m.-6 p.m. trip, so I declined this time around. I took the Blue Line over to my favorite underground station, Jackson/Van Buren. I seriously can't get enough photos of the shiny new tiles. Mostly because the photos I take don't turn out, so I need to keep getting more. Saturday evening is a terrific time to get photos there; not many people around but not scary either. Here's some people paying attention to the "concert" going on.

DK and I took a random driving trip the next Tuesday; I can't even remember what-all we were trying to see, but we saw a lot of Ogden and Cicero and Berwyn and went clear out to Brookfield (I've been through via Metra) where there was a nice little hobby shop (if I needed more things to collect, I'd collect the replicas of classic Greyhound buses they sold) and a family restaurant with a couple different names and a cow on the roof (who knows?). Dinner was just okay, but since I've eaten at nearly all these places in Chicago, I need to work on the suburbs.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Excuses excuses

Iowa City church demolition
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

Still in Iowa. Here's something I got to see on my Greyhound trip here a year ago. We had just 10 minutes or so at the station, which was conveniently a half-block from this tornado-ruined church. Of course, on my Aug. and Dec. 2007 trips, it was an empty lot.

Sorry about the previous post; I don't like sounding whiny on Christmas when I have so many...well, some would call them "blessings" in my life. Also, I'd say my Christmas was much better than that guy who got mauled to death by the tiger in the zoo.

I'm feeling hurt about some things, and being around my parents just brings up all my inadequacies (well, no comments about my weight this time) but I'm still finding a lot to enjoy here. Just not the internet connection.

Before I left, I uploaded some photos as a Blogger "draft," to fill in the text later. Including the Duran Duran show at the Chicago Theatre...well, due to my setup here I'm not comfortable writing a file offline, and I'm too scared to write anything long online (I got knocked off my connection TEN TIMES on Christmas Eve). But I'm listening to Duran Duran's Greatest Hits right now, and hoping the ancient wine with Cyrillic lettering on the label I raided from my parents' liquor shelf (I'm not sure I ever did that before!) isn't toxic. I promise to have a cheerier post from Iowa that isn't just personal rambling.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Iowa Christmas

ornament / Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

More later. I'm using the worst internet set-up I've had in years, and trapped in those days when I can't call anyone for a few days (I guess Sunday was the last chance...I wish I knew who left me a voice mail on my cell phone Sun. on their first call, I'm unable to check it), and although I'm having a decent time at my parents', I still feel...well, I wish I'd contacted everyone before I left but I spent the weekend tense and confused about when I'd actually get here. Well, never mind, I guess I'm supposed to wish Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everyone, so here you go!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Three months of this

Checking the card catalog
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

September 22, 2007 I had my first trip inside an abandoned building (the Brach's factory). I didn't make it to anything particularly impressive today--the foundry I wanted to revisit had been torn down, and I was briefly in a trashed room of a building I haven't mentioned here yet. But I enjoy commemorating pointless "anniversaries," so here's a shot I like from my most recent "real" excursion, an abandoned Catholic school I saw Thursday with my exploring companion DK. (Actually, we hadn't taken a trip to an abandonment together since Halloween, and this was the first one that was new to both of us.) It brought up many melancholy thoughts (about abandoned buildings, not about the companion), but since it's holiday-time and all (and it looks like I'm going to be on the bus early tomorrow, yikes) I won't share them.

I'm supposed to be in Iowa

Christmas in Ames 2006
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

Just a short semi-depressed one. I think you now know this is what to expect when you see a Flickr photo instead of a photoblog entry. I'm anxious to get out here and get a few hours of sunlight, if you can call it that, to take photos. I'm supposed to be on the Greyhound to Iowa right now. For once, I didn't miss it--no, the problem is that because of snowy conditions, coming first to Des Moines and then to Chicago, my parents thought I should wait. They don't want to go through snow to pick me up tonight (45 minutes from where they live). I might not even go till Monday. I've got more time for reading, shopping, and blogging, then, but this is still discouraging. Thurs. was my day to hang out/say goodbye to people; I'm afraid it's going to be a lonely weekend. I also felt weird learning that my roommate (who I hadn't actually seen in 2 weeks, though I know he's been here at least once or twice in that time) was away from his MySpace update (it said "on vacation" and "warm"). Then he walked through the door today. Just when I'd gotten used to leaving laundry around, blasting Christmas music, etc. Oh well. Just goes to show you can't take those MySpace updates too literally...not that I've ever done such a thing before, mind you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Yes, more Washburne

Update: Chi-Town Daily News just used one of my WTS shots (from this past Sun.) as their photo of the day, right here...

So I spent Sat. the 8th showing Carol around a few favorite exploration sites, and Sun. we were both going to join in a group meet at Washburne. Eight of us managed to get there right around 8 a.m. (I didn't have much of a night out Sat., but some people did!). The sight of Washburne without the walkways connecting the main building and the east building under demolition was new to everyone but Carol and I, who'd seen it late on Saturday.

The walkways were down, just twisted beams left. Much of the east building's contents had been pushed out into a heap on the ground. I wasn't sure how we'd get in, but we realized it was still possible to go down (slowly, over icy debris) into the basement and take stairs up into the building. There was never much to see on the lower floors, but still I wanted to see all that was left. 100 (plus) years of more.

I crawled over whatever I had to to get photos out the windows of the debris below. This is the kind of stupid risky shot NV always seems to catch me doing, but I didn't see him for a while. I only ran into a few people a few times in that building; I think most of them gave up on it, even those who'd never seen it before, and headed to the main Washburne building. One of our group had never been in there.

But I liked the pile of debris. Obviously. And these shots turned out much better than anything I got inside the building. NV was one of the only people who spent time in Washburne east getting good shots, like this one that really shows off the eerie pastels (the square photos are especially cool). I was heartbroken once I discovered that well, that pile is virtually everything that was in the building; there weren't still filing cabinets and stacks of books to go through. Guess I should have done more on Thanksgiving...

I ran into NV eventually, soon after I found the way up to the roof, through a little room with not much but a rusted bedframe (odd). This was my first (and possibly only) time on this building's roof, so I got shots in every direction. We left the buildng and walked around outside, intending to go into the main building--but a police car was outside the fence. This is uncommon, but not unheard of there. We hid out for a while, tried to find a way around (nope) and eventually just risked going in the main building the normal way.

Carol called. Apparently everyone else had left, off to a factory I don't think they ever got into. She'd gone to spend some time in her car warming up. I was cold and soggy but willing to stay, so I waited for her to join us. She got this amusing shot of us waving her in (wow, we're both smiling?). NV took off before long; I'd spent more time talking to him that morning than in the previous 5 or so times I'd seen him put together.

I showed Carol more Washburne highlights, some of which she'd seen in the dark the day before. We opted not to climb into the tower--didn't want to risk it with the ice. I hadn't noticed this counselor's sign before; what I couldn't get a good shot of is its placement right above what used to be the walkway and is now a big gaping hole. DK called to pick me up and drive around; I had a little more time with Carol and made sure to show her the small theater.

We'd seen or heard many scrappers that day, the first I'd encountered on Washburne visits. Some picked through the debris piles, but one was actually walking the stairs in what's left of the west building. Can there possibly be anything left over there? Maybe it wasn't a scrapper; I know some other Flickr people showed up later in the day for photos. The scrappers NV and I or Carol and I talked to were friendly, I guess as friendly as you can be in that situation.

I said goodbye to Carol and DK (who I hadn't seen since the previous Sunday's hospital excursion) and I spent a long time driving around. We stopped over by the silos to get a shot looking west; I'd never gotten it from that side. There's a whole riverwalk with benches (actually, it's the canal, not the river) which I'm sure would be nice on a day that wasn't freezing and icy.

We didn't eat at Kevin's Hamburger Heaven; we ate at a place that USED to be Kevin's, but now goes by a different name, but I won't tell you now because I've got a story about this place, my all-time-best diner story. DK was willing to risk eating there for the first time. More driving, checking in on some demolition, then I got to show off my Lego advent calendar. My set of Washburne shots from many visits is here; and this is Carol's. (She may have taken as many shots on her first visits as I did. I think the place inspires that kind of attention.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm now a bad influence

So now I've done it. In only 2 1/2 months, I went from my first "urban exploration" of an abandoned building (a group excursion), to exploring with a partner, to exploring familiar and then unfamiliar places on my own, to showing a person new to this around. Yes, I'm "growing up so fast," as someone joked. The occasion: a recent Flickr friend from Milwaukee, Carol, took a weekend trip to Chicago for various reasons, including her first "urbex." And I was the guide.

I picked a few easy-to-get-into places. Or so I thought. First we tried the factory seen in this Flickr set of mine. I've been several times by myself and once with DK and KTown. Things seemed a bit iffier each time, though...Our first challenge was getting in over snow-covered trestles. Okay, snow is slippery. And it tends to disguise which pieces of wood aren't quite solid. Happily we got in without incident, and looked at the smaller building. Then Carol noticed a guard dog outside. How did it miss us coming in? Then I noticed we couldn't get to other building without going by the dog. Um, no. I believe this place is off-limits for a while. We got out--the dog barking most of the time, of course.

But the abandoned silos are reliable, right? Indeed, they were. No one around, an open fence, a little icy getting in. And a statue that wasn't there before. We went up the 138 steps to the middle level where you can really good skyline shots (or the one at the top of this post). Carol knows a lot more about graffiti than I and kept noticing the tag of a well-known Chicagoan she knows. We crossed over to the actual silos, which I find enjoyably terrifying. I don't know which are scarier; the well-lit ones you can see the bottom of, or the dark ones you can't.

I'd love to climb into one, if I had proper safety gear, and knew for sure the ladder was sturdy. I noticed graffiti at the top of one. "Wow, wouldn't it be crazy if someone wrote graffiti at the bottom of one?" I mused, then noticed someone had. All they wrote was "Fuck." Okay, whatever. If you'd written "Fuck, I dropped my keys!" that would be hilarious.

We went the additional 100+ steps and walked around the top level, which offers more great views, mostly through bits of ruined windows. After exhausting the main structure, we headed to the basement; I'd only been once, and by myself. There's a basement and sub-basement; there's a surprising amount of graffiti in the sub-basement.

That shot is missing the "what." We walked out and around the canal side of the structure, and into one of the ruined garages. Here's my Flickr set from my various silo visits. Saturday, Dec. 8 wasn't the prettiest day, but it was my first chance to see the silos with snow, so I appreciated getting a different view. And all that climbing warmed us up...And here's Carol's Flickr set of the silos.

We drove over to Washburne (this day would have been unbearable without a car). I knew the east building was getting demolished (predicted in my Thanksgiving post) but I was heartbroken to see the walkways connecting it and the main building had come down. Just that day, as it turned out. A mountain of school debris had been pushed out of the building. I got a few shots, because I wanted to be the first to post the end of the walkways on Flickr, of course, and took a brief tour of the main building. It was getting dark so we didn't stay long, and besides, there'd be a group excursion there the next day. More on that, and the decline of Washburne east, later.

I just wanted to say I had a fine time being a "tour guide" for the first time. The factory was a bit more adventure than I would have liked, but the silos and Washburne were a success. I hope to show Carol around on more visits, and to lure many more people into this crazy hobby...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I made it a month

Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

Without coffee or any other major caffeine-containing beverage! As of Saturday evening, it was 30 days. I had an attachment to the idea of a month, but not 5 weeks or 6 weeks or 2 months, so I'll probably have coffee after tomorrow's adventures. And then I'll probably cut back right before I go to my parents'. I have a number of coherent posts I'm planning, I just need to "check in" now and then. This is a spring 2007 photo. It's not meant to imply my life is "empty" right now although I'm in a holiday-time-down-on-myself funk and life is throwing some challenges at me right now. At least there's been one sunny day since my last post...too bad we're now in the midst of a snowstorm.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The simple joys of abandoned train tracks

I thought I'd post a few shots from back when the sun still shone in Chicago. Does anyone remember that? I'm sure it's been at least a week since it was sunny, and I'm getting impatient to go take photos on a day when everything's not gray/white. But first: Happy (first-ever) Jane Addams Day, actually Illinois' first-ever day commemorating a woman. I still haven't read much about her; in part because I'm so depressed thinking that the entire neighborhoods she used to assist, and all but one building of her settlement house, were wiped out by the creation of UIC. I think I'll finally read my Arcadia book about her. (I've got so many Arcadia books, it's about time I added them to the links list.)

First, I need to finish the recent photo/essay book about Harold Washington. I'm also thrilled the bestselling Sin in the Second City is FINALLY available at the library; it was too popular to get for ages.

Kind of a blah day with the weather, and a sleepy volunteer shift at CAF, and my dismay that the two newly-closed-for-repairs Brown Line stations are now covered in graffiti (yeah, it's not like anyone COLLECTS those old station signs, right?), and not eating enough for breakfast and taking too long to get lunch. Oh, I didn't mean the previous post to imply that anyone EXPECTED me to give up coffee/caffeine (the person in question wanted to clarify). I'm still doing okay, still having too many Cocoa Trios at Borders (and the hot chocolate at A Taste of Heaven is absolutely mind-boggling).

But I'm happy I bought bottles of glogg two places today. A good, fresh bottle at the Foster/Clark liquor store, and a scary dusty cheap bottle at my local liquor store. This store tends to have a lot of "vintage" items, and I don't mean fine old wine. I mean Goya products from several label designs ago. The clerk looked closely at the bottle. I thought she was going to say "We can't sell this, it's old and dangerous!" but no, she was just looking for an indication of how much tax it required.

Oh, right, the photos. So far: a mysterious West Side former factory building that seems to be partially in use. Right across from it, a delightful find, an old Sears Roebuck building I didn't know about, a ways from their former corporate headquarters (Homan Square). The windows are all blocked up so you couldn't exactly get photos with natural light. If you were to find a way in. I confined my trespassing to the tracks and trestle area, and discovered the frightening find in photo #3.

Then an old train sign (No Clearance for Man, so perhaps I was safe) on abandoned tracks next to this factory that's actually in use. And a Tony Peraica campaign sign meeting an undignified end. Now, I didn't care for some of his beliefs, that's for sure, but that was a nasty campaign, with Todd Stroger playing up Peraica's social conservatism as a way to deflect from the Stroger family problems (um, nepotism, for one). But I don't feel fully qualified to discourse on the disaster of Cook County politics, so, moving on...

Sometimes it takes so little to make me happy: train tracks (this is in another place, and now that I recall, they weren't abandoned, so I only walked by them), arrows, and big industrial buildings. It's the one in the last photo, still in use. These last two happen to be right across from the ruined foundry I already discussed. I love wandering the West Side on a sunny day. I discovered a number of other abandonments that day and checked out some I already knew. Didn't get in anywhere, and I lost my CTA pass (with 4 good days left on it!) and had to use nearly everything in my wallet to buy a new one, but otherwise, it was swell.
There's a certain well-known stretch of abandoned tracks I haven't walked in an insanely long time, and haven't ever explored alone. It's far less risky than trespassing in abandoned buildings, but I'm also a little nervous because it's so visible, going through several "good" neighborhoods. Perhaps soon. I've never done it in winter, but I'd be happy to, if the sun EVER SHINES AGAIN.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Three weeks without coffee and so forth

Depressed teen/abandoned factory
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

[This one’s personal, and political. There’s a new exploration-related post right before this one, with all non-Flickr photos, but they’re rather bland. In case you want to read about something else.] Personal: I’ve now gone three weeks without coffee, regular tea, or caffeinated pop. I stopped it on a whim, because someone I know (who’s never had coffee, and no, he’s not a Mormon, everyone asks) kind of suggested it, or rather, he pointed out how it’s easier to not start on caffeine in the first place so you won’t become dependent on it. This isn’t the first time I’ve temporarily given it up, so it isn’t just “changing yourself for a man,” as my friend Kate suggested when we were at Reading Under the Influence Wed. night, heh. I’m doing okay, even though I’ve been to many new (and old) family restaurant/snack shop-type places recently and I’d ALWAYS order coffee at them…it doesn’t feel right. The “herbal coffee” I got at Whole Foods the other day, (Vanilla Nut) Teeccino is shockingly drinkable, I’m having some right now. I’ll be back on the poison after trying a month without it.

Political: My favorite political blog Feministing is raising some funds now (to become more of a "community" site, which means I could try to promote this blog there); I should contribute. If they could reduce their recent dependency on ads, it’d be great. Kind of jarring to see a big Sears ad with the line “Get the ‘I’m So Happy I Could Cry But I’m a Guy’ reaction” in the midst of all the gender-stereotype-breaking. Anyway, I’m borrowing a couple links from them. No mainstream news about the death of Senator Henry Hyde (his funeral was today) will mention Rosie Jimenez so it’s up to blogs to do so. And if only the major media (especially NBC/MSNBC, who seem especially fixated on the story) would throw in a mention of, say Latasha Norman at least once for every 20 mentions of Stacy Peterson, please? The horrific mass shooting at the mall outside Omaha led to the obvious network TV pieces about “are YOU safe at the mall?” and the easy title, “massacre at the mall,” but I was particularly amused/horrified by some woman (possibly a therapist) The Today Show had on as an expert. So she’s trying to make the point that the U.S. has been all hopped up about outside terrorist threats for years when the real danger is right here (a point I mostly agree with). So what’s the real danger? “Our kids are killing us!...These teenagers are terrorists!” Is that not a tad overblown? Violent crime by juveniles (actually, this guy was 19, so this is like articles on teen pregnancy that don’t point out the largest number of pregnant teens are 18-19) is not exactly the majority of crime. Anyway, I’ve obviously been watching too much TV news this week (and listening to too much NPR, though they barely touched the mass shooting, not even to make a point about failures of foster care/group homes/the mental health system, all the things the shooter had much experience with).

I promise the next post will be cheerier. Sort of.

The first snowstorm

Here's a little from last Saturday. I've got a lot to look forward to this weekend, but today's one of those gray days where I'm waiting to hear from people, and restless, and just need to get out and get a few photos even if it's gray. But first...I got a good early start Saturday and had my first trip into this ruined foundry. There's another building near it, but I chose the ones that are completely open--because they were obviously burned/destroyed some time ago. Easy to get in (and surprisingly, easy to get into a huge adjacent construction site, though I didn't have time for that), and a cop car drove by on the street when I was visible and nothing happened. I love the extent of ruin here. One of the few places where I was much more afraid of the structural damage than of running into people. But nothing happened.

It's near another place I'd wondered about for a while, but after slipping under a fence and starting to walk around the buildings, I heard dogs barking. Locked inside a building, but still, that's scary, and I didn't want to draw attention to myself so I beat it. I had my second meal of the week at the excellent new-ish diner, The Depot. Apple pancakes and hot chocolate--I seriously want to order that meal again just so I can take a photo of it. Wonderful, and only $6 total.

I took a couple buses to a factory demolition. It wasn't all being demolished; the fact that the other buildings were occupied that day restricted me to just getting shots through the fence. Luckily, I'd heard a rumor of a spot nearby, and easily got into two buildings of some abandoned auto repair place.

Not much to see there, but I went upstairs to the offices, and climbed on an upper level of a garage because if I see stairs that look even remotely safe, I'll climb them. It's always nice to get a chance to be alone in a huge empty abandoned space, but the only real excitement here is that this is my first abandonment on the north side. Okay, technically the northwest side, but still cool. (I've done a factory that's about 300 north, but that's really the West Side.)

So I'd gotten my photos for the day done by 1:00--not bad. And it's good I was done, because as I excited the garage, the snow was coming down. I walked a few blocks to a nearby Target and was snow-soaked and ruddy when I got there. I quickly bought a new cell phone. That's my THIRD ONE this year. I'd gone on a long drive with DK the day before, to show him some of the Northwest Side. We didn't go to American Science and Surplus, saw Superdawg but I decided not to push him to go there because he doesn't care for Chicago hot dogs. didn't eat at the Edgebrook Coffee Shop but did go to Cut Rate Toys, went to Oak Park where we ate at a favorite diner, the Cozy Corner, and I showed him the great bookstore The Book Table. Sometime in all that my water bottle spilled in my bag, and I'd ruined my second phone this year.

So, another $40 down the drain. I got a new one at Target--they keep changing the basic model, so this is my 3rd different phone in 7 months--and waited for the Diversey bus. FOR A WHOLE HOUR. I'm not sure I've ever had a bus wait top an hour before. It was snowing, but not that bad. That was my view for an hour. I had a nice warm visit to Powell's bookstore on Lincoln (20% discount day), a 30 minute wait for the Lincoln bus, later a 20 minute for the Damen bus. Ugh. Someday the CTA will learn about the concept of "precipitation" and plan accordingly...

I got a few shots at the Irving Park Brown Line station, its next-to-last day before closing for rehab. Got the phone turned on at the Lawrence & Damen phone store. Sadly, I hadn't actually SAVED my numbers anywhere, so I'm starting from scratch again. At least I treated myself to a nice hot dinner first at Ravenswood Grill, one of my favorites. (Yes, two restaurants in one day, rather indulgent.) I seriously couldn't believe how good the mashed potatoes and gravy were. I'd planned to see my roommate's band play that night, but the thought of taking four more buses that night was excruciating. Just walking two blocks on the icy sidewalk from the Kimball bus was frightening enough. I turned in early, for a day of exploring another abandoned hospital the next day...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving consumption

If you hadn't already noticed, I had a great Thanksgiving. I found out later that people I knew went to that school that Friday, just after the workers left. But I took a break from exploration for a more "normal" pursuit: shopping. I admit I've done a poor job over the years observing "Buy Nothing Day" the day after Thanksgiving, I mean, that's the day the best bargains are! Even worse, I never buy gifts on "Black Friday," just stuff I want. I also admit that once in my life I got up to be at a store before it opened--Target, and probably 6 a.m. Target hasn't done "doorbusters" (Friday morning only) sales in years but other stores are pushing it back to as early as 4 a.m. (and some places are open on Thanksgiving).

Anyway...I hit a couple electronics stores, then decided I could endure one mall downtown, the one whose name I get wrong, but it's got Nordstrom in it, and more importantly, the Sanrio and Lego stores (all I visited). Took a few photos, but this is the kind of place where I probably would get stopped by security for doing so (hours and hours in abandoned buildings, no problem). I headed south on Michigan and finally ate at the restaurant at the Essex Inn--I hadn't realized for a while it had a "family restaurant"-type place. Like all the ones downtown, it's overpriced, and I was one of the only customers, but hey, I've got a list of these places and I've got to cross 'em off.

Walking to Target, spotted some random art and found messages. First, "Overcoming Uncertainty":

No one on Flickr commented on or identified this. Advertising campaign? Columbia student's art? This kind of pretentious cuteness makes me hate art, and love. For a few minutes anyway.

Heh. There was also one about Anthony Abbate. Google them if you don't know what this is about. Now, I'm not saying two wrongs make a right, but...I'll leave that sentence unfinished...

I actually bought nothing at Target. I went back north and braved the Borders cafe crowds to get a fancy cider drink (no coffee...still no coffee...) and got to Daley Plaza about a minute before the tree lighting ceremony. I'd seen it once or twice before, but I forgot about the fireworks. This was the best shot I could get.

I went back to the Nordstrom mall and bought my holiday gift to myself--a Lego advent calendar. I loved advent calendars as a kid and I've had a few as an adult (mostly chocolate ones). And finally, one for architecture/infrastructure-obsessed nerds! Today I got a construction worker! Of course, if I want to do anything with all these little Lego bits, I'll have to buy lots more Lego! And I don't want to be sucked into yet more consumption!