Friday, August 29, 2008

requisite birthday post

bleak is beautiful (1/12): the birthday set
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

It's my birthday today, if you haven't already heard it all the other places I'm on the internet. It's been going better than this photo would imply. A few disappointments, at least one incredibly stupid mistake...but I'm going to wring a least a little more enjoyment out of the day...and perhaps all weekend, we'll see.

More Detroit goodies to come soon...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Detroit afternoon, part one

It's not like I went out thinking, "It's a gorgeous summer day! I should spend it wandering through an abandoned public housing myself." I tell you, THESE THINGS JUST HAPPEN! How these things happen, part two. Later today. No, really.

Thanks to the trip to Iowa I had soon after this trip, I now have a lovely little backup drive (finally!), and thanks to Eric of reallyboring the drive's hooked up and my older photo library is on it, so I finally had space to upload the past few weeks of photos (Milwaukee, Detroit, Iowa, Chicago, suburbs), and thanks to there being space (my photos had taken up 60 of my mini Mac's 80GB), when I rotate a photo the computer actually saves the change, and I can now once again post vertical photos here. (Depending on the camera, they might come up automatically as vertical in the library anyway, but I wasn't able to rotate and save the ones that didn't.) Problem solved!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

City love

Hi! Whatever date comes up on this post, it was actually written and posted on August 22, and though I'm in Iowa right now (that's a new shot of the Des Moines Public Library above), and mostly unrelatedly in a one-week-till-my-birthday funk, I wanted to put up a "real" post, so here's something from the "drafts" folder. Just a little housekeeping, and sharing of a recent and unfortunately pricey and wow, how did I not get into this 10 years ago? obsession: vintage postcards! All bought at this year's Printers Row bookfair in Chicago, the first ever where I bought no books, but I spent as much as I do every year on books on dozens of postcards, all of which will eventually be on my secondary Flickr account, Mod as Hell (i.e. the obscure one where I'm lucky to get 10 views and 1 comment on an image).

To my great surprise, the new Chicago edition of the Huffington Post has me on their blogroll (thanks to Noah at Dump Site for tipping me off). I'm still surprised anyone knows who I am, when I can think of a number of high-profile (and low-profile but great) Chicago blogs that should be on there. I have a hunch how that happened...So I added the new HuffPo (I'll confess to not reading the main one very often). And I've rearranged the blogroll a bit to sort the city life / architecture / bicyling / preservation / urban exploration / public transit / urbanism blogs into Chicago and non-Chicago sections, and add a bunch more non-Chicago ones (I'll admit unless they're written by people I know, I may not have done much more than skimmed them so far). Here's what's new:

Detroit (I've made 5 trips so far this year, though one was two days with a night in Ann Arbor in between, so 6 days there): BikeBlog Detroit (mostly not about bikes, it seems); Sweet Juniper

Pittsburgh (One terrific 2-day trip this year, and wow, the Pittsburgh Flickr people are friendly and comment like crazy on my photos from there!): Pittsburgh Metblogs; Walking Pittsburgh

Buffalo (wanted to fit a visit into another trip this year, haven't been there this year yet, so badly want to see this city!): fix buffalo today; Greater Buffalo Blog

Milwaukee (3 trips so far this year, including 2 in 10 days; 2 trips included seeing what's going on with the demolition/redevelopment of the Pabst brewery): Urban Milwaukee

St. Louis (one 3-day trip this year, hope to get back very soon!): 52nd City blog

And also: Rust Belt Bloggers; Great Lakes Urban Exchange. I recently found GLUE's Flickr group; their description says they're looking for photos from "Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Erie, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Lansing, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Rochester, St. Louis, Toledo." Wow! Quite a few of the cities I've been fixated on this year, and others I hope to get to soon.

It's strange how I used to only want to visit the "cool" cities (New York, Austin, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco), or perhaps I'd consider Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC. Now my recent obsessions are Baltimore, Buffalo and Cleveland (and other places in Ohio), all of which I've barely seen, and getting back to Kansas City, Louisville, Minneapolis, and Omaha, none of which I've visited for years. I swear, I don't just plan my trips around how many abandoned buildings I'll find...Meanwhile, architecture/urban exploration contacts on Flickr continue to ruin me, giving me a strange desire to visit, for example, St. Joseph, Missouri; Cairo, Illinois; Wheeling, West Virginia; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Denver; Los Angeles...I wish I knew how to get a job out of all this.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Chicagoversary

As someone who watches/listens to a LOT of news, I've spent the summer debating which new media favorite word is more annoying--"staycation" or "veepstakes." I'm guessing "Chicagoversary" is worse than either. That's what August 11 is for me, the anniversary of the day I moved to Chicago (from Iowa City, where I lived nearly a year), some years ago.

Monday I put the Lil Wally's photo, in a previous post here, up as my anniversary shot on Flickr (and it made Explore, which is cool). I eventually made it out of the house to try to do something new in Chicago. (Which overlaps with my idea to do something new on each of the 30 days leading up to my birthday, 8/29.) I ate at Top Notch Beefburgers on 95th. That wasn't new for me, but actually having a sit-down meal, and something besides a burger (a tuna melt) was. I had a vanilla shake as well. Even though I was about to go to my "real" new thing for the day--The Original Rainbow Cone, around 92nd & Western. I had a large rainbow cone, which is a pastel concoction of a bunch of flavors in the same cone. I knew having a shake and then ice cream for dessert was a dubious idea and I'm a tad embarrassed to admit I did it anyway, not for ZOMG FAT AND CALORIES! reasons, but because I thought I'd feel queasy from that combo later. Ooops.

I was pleased that the Gapers Block Book Club, which discusses books with Chicago authors and/or content, was meeting on this day. Except I hadn't finished the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Which was written three blocks from where I've lived in Chicago for years now! (The exact location of the house is hard to pin down, and I couldn't find a good link for this either.) I might have read it as a kid, and I certainly knew most of the plot. It was so crowded by the time I showed up, I sat in a cushy chair and observed, not participated.

I'll definitely read the next one, Native Son. And I haven't read it before. Now is as good a time as any to point out how scandalously ill-read I am in the classics, and the modern classics, even though I've read over 1000 books in my adulthood. Don't get me started on what movies I haven't seen, that's mind-boggling. (Perhaps I am dateable for the sheer thrill of dates being able to show me movies they can't BELIEVE I haven't seen.)

Anyway, I at least wanted to stick around to maybe meet some of my Goodreads friends, but didn't recognize any. During the introduction, this guy introduced himself as "Jack" and despite Chicago having, you know, millions of people, I thought it could be Jack Cantey from Flickr, and wondered if I should say something. Then I ran into him in the store afterwards, and got "Are you Katherine from Flickr?"

Hmm, I didn't realize I was so old-fashioned, you know, waiting for a guy to recognize ME from Flickr. Anyway, nice little discussion about abandoned buildings, and the advantages of using a small point-and-shoot instead of SLRs, not that there's anything wrong with, say, bringing four cameras to shoot an abandoned building...He gets really great photos with a Nikon Coolpix. I loved using the hand-me-down Coolpix my dad gave me in December. Then I was bicycling around St. Louis in June with it in my pocket. A short story: "This is probably a bad idea." *CRASH* "Lens error." (The end.)

Flickr stats: by meeting Jack, I've now met exactly 25% of the people I have as Flickr contacts. As of Sunday, over 25% of my photos have been favorited (JoeM500 favorited my 666th photo). As of Sunday--and if you think it took me a while to get out of the house because I wanted to see this happen, you are sadly correct--my Flickr page had 25,000 views. (Which means I don't have another number to really look forward till until 50,000.)

Sorry to be so immodest with all this; it's the meeting contacts one I'm by far the most interested in now. These photos are from a Southwest Side excursion in early June, mostly Back of the Yards. I wondered if the "Erectors" one would get any silly comments on Flickr, but no, clearly my contacts there are too polite and demure for such remarks.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Katherine's factory of mystery and wonder

Oh, Katherine, must everything be so gloomy here? Must you dwell on the hazards of city life, and injustice, and all those crippling bouts of depression you do nothing about? How about some zany adventures once in a while, you're obviously having a lot of about an excursion to a big ruined factory?

Yes! An abandoned factory. Those are fun places to explore, and available to do so because of deindustrialization...and massive job loss...and the decline of neighborhoods, cities, regions...leaving behind toxic sites...which might get cleaned up eventually...and turned into vacant lots, or strip malls and big-box stores filled with sweatshop-manufactured goods...but for now are great places for people to dump even more toxic stuff...and cover in gang graffiti...and do drugs...and tear apart for scrap to sell...and live in if they have to...and possibly manufacture more drugs...Fun places like that. Here you go!

About this place: I found it this spring and easily wandered onto the property a few times, but then I became quite certain some legitimate work goes on there on weekdays and maybe Saturdays, so I had to wait a long while till I could get there on a Sunday. I was by myself, late in the afternoon, so I didn't have as long a visit as I'd have liked. I saw one other person on the property (homeless, I'm guessing), but nothing happened. I climbed the set of steps to sit on a tank of something at the end of my visit, and my cell rang, and it was a Flickr contact visiting Chicagoland from Michigan, and we talked a while about cool neighborhoods and streets and signs to photograph. I thought it was a pretty funny place for a first conversation with someone. I got out of the area just before dark. I still don't know the name of this place or what they did. There's an office building with a floor of science labs I hope to see again; perhaps I'll turn up some clues there.

Note: I haven't fixed my photo-rotating problem; the photos taken with this camera (the one I use in lower light situations) upload correctly into iPhoto to begin with.

Friday, August 08, 2008

my lucky day

it's lucky 8-8-08! here's a story. Happy Friday!
Originally uploaded by katherine of chicago

I wanted to post here on 8-08-08 since it’s supposed to be a lucky day. And, you know, aside from that man who presumably wanted to rape me,* (okay, actually not, cleared up in the comments, but I still like the post I wrote, so continue) and that crowd of people watching to see if that other man was going to commit suicide, it’s been a SUPERFUN DAY!!!!!

Um, my vitriol levels are a tad high today, so rather than rehash those stories (and other frustrations) I will ask you to click on the Flickr photo if you haven’t read its caption yet. People may have missed the point, it’s not that it was an annoying day—it’s that it was a deeply upsetting day filling me with loathing of humanity. I guess.

Anyway, it’s also the start of the Olympics! And there’s plenty of places you could read about all the unfortunate things the Chinese government does re: Tibet, the environment, censorship, prison…I haven’t paid enough attention to the dirty details of what got demolished and who got displaced so the Olympics could happen there, but I should. Chicago’s schemes actually don’t seem that bad in comparison.

But they’re still troubling, and the reason I got out of the house so early was to take photos at a certain historic hospital that’s inconveniently in the way of the would-be Olympic Village. I didn’t get in (this was one of the day’s many frustrations) but still had an instructive walk around the site. Then, after the indignities mentioned in the first paragraph, I went to Chinatown for a bubble tea (actually, I got a cappuccino coffee agar), and it took me a few moments to realize why camera crews were around…oh, right, Chinatown, Olympics in China. I did little else except enjoy the Chinese zodiac plaques in the plaza. I don’t really believe in astrology, but I’ve always got to stop and read the one for my year, and perhaps for whatever friend or crush object I’m wondering about. The day picked up from then. A little.

*So, imagining the responses that telling that story might elicit on widely read feminist/political blogs that seem to attract lots of antagonistic/crazy/hateful comments, (thankfully this blog does not)—gee, is it unfair of me to consider the guy a would-be rapist because he wanted me to get in his car, and said horrible things to me when I did not? Perhaps it was just a misguided attempt at being “friendly”? (Um, sarcasm.)

For all the nutty stuff I do like go into abandoned buildings by myself, I have to say no one I’ve ever run into on my own there has been a fraction as scary as men I’ve encountered when I’m just trying to get around the city. But I continue going all over the city (Chicago, and many others) by myself, without a car, and continue going to abandoned places by myself when that’s my only choice. And then there’s my new summertime hobby of meeting explorer/photographer guys off the Internet and letting them drive me around, and drinking before going to/while hanging out with them at abandoned buildings, and nothing’s happened, and their intentions seem honorable (Katherine debates the inclusion of the following word… debates… debates… debates…), unfortunately.