Tuesday, December 31, 2013

last day of 2013

I did it again, vanished from this blog for months, over six months this time, looks like. Life changed in some big ways just days after that (wonderful), in another big way a couple months later (terrible), and the end of 2013 has been...well...I just can't do a recap of 2013 yet. As always I'll set the goal to do more blogging in 2014, but I won't make promises. Anyone still reading this before I do a relaunch or whatever--thank you!

In between my "adventures" today--yet another New Year's Eve day I've gotten a $7 Metra pass and enjoyed the chance to take Metra lines I can't take with a regular weekend pass--and going out in the neighborhood for New Year's Eve, here's my last time doing some of my banal neighborhood activities in 2013. Am I making fun of my blogging with this post? I don't even know anymore!

Walking home from Metra! Not the Irving Park Metra stop nearest me, but the Grayland stop further away on a different line. I was tempted to stop in the neighborhood bar next to it, Kennedy's, but didn't have enough cash on me. Also didn't feel like walking blocks in the snow after a cold drink (even though I may very well be doing that later on NYE).

Last coffeeshop visit of the year! At my closest Starbucks, Irving Park & Kostner, beautifully remodeled this year. I go here because as of the end of 2013 my neighborhood (all the way from California Ave. on the east to the railroad east of Cicero on the west) doesn't have an independent coffeeshop. I got a mocha (not a holiday one) and sat and read a couple chapters in a new book on writing I'd checked out from the Des Plaines library. My favorite suburban library is now much more accessible because of the Irving Park Metra stop.

Then I got my bicycle from where it was parked between the Irving Park Metra and Irving Park Blue Line, walked it to Walgreens at Pulaski, locked it though I really wanted to see if leaving a beat-up bike unlocked in snowy weather would be okay, and made a few small, semi-necessary purchases to get cash back to go out tonight. This was all too boring to photograph (although sometimes I take photos in Walgreens).

Now to enjoy my last couple hours of 2013 and first New Year's in the "new" neighborhood.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer is here!

After moving to a new neighborhood for the first time in over a decade--a complicated process I, of course, still haven't posted about here (or anywhere, at least not with photos) I'm trying to observe when I first see common occurrences of my old neighborhood (Humboldt Park, on the northwest side bordering Logan Square) in my newer one (Independence Park, in the Irving Park community area, so I usually just say Irving Park).

I'd gone weeks and weeks and hadn't had the daily Humboldt Park occurrences of hearing sirens or seeing wrong-way bicyclists even once. Then I was literally about to write another tweet about that and heard my first siren in the middle of a weekday right then. Many since, but not too bad (except when my parents made their first visit and stay to this neighborhood last week, and I heard as many sirens in two days as in all the preceding weeks, of course). I still haven't observed a wrong-way cyclist for more than a block or two (making it hard to tell if they just were in a hurry and stuck on the wrong side--it happens to me--versus making the conscious choice to bike against traffic as about half the people in my old 'hood seemed to). My first time seeing it at all was two young people on May 13...going the wrong way in the Elston bike lane.

And the photo above? The exceedingly cold and dreary spring and lack of warmth made me nearly forget there's such a thing as opening hydrants in hot weather and I genuinely hadn't thought about seeing it in my neighborhood, but there it was on Central Park Ave. It's less fun on a residential street where the flooding looked like a problem than when I've seen it near the Bloomingdale Trail underpasses in Logan/Humboldt. Or perhaps it just seemed strange because only a few people looked to be playing in it. If you're going to do something illegal like that, get all the neighborhood kids to join in!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Just wanted to confirm I'm still here, although life changes that I thought would give me time and motivation to post regularly haven't done that yet. I moved for the first time in over a decade to a new place and new neighborhood (Independence Park/Irving Park), and I'm still settling in. Even after two months living there. Here's a photo that seems to work for now, taken in the new neighborhood (and this would be a good choice even if it hadn't been the Gapers Block photo of the day. See you here soon!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Candy hearts and plush hearts

This is late for a Valentine's Day post (and I'm only doing one because I wanted a post of actual photos in between posts about what publicity I've been getting for my photos recently), but I didn't get the photos until a nice long photowalk on Sunday from downtown Des Plaines to Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

I'll definitely photograph a Valentine's-themed display if it includes a takeoff on conversation hearts. This was a church on Lee. Another view:

At the end of the walk, longer than I remembered it to be (so I missed warmups before a San Antonio Rampage-Chicago Wolves hockey game), I stopped in Target by the arena and caught the clearance display, with hints of an upcoming holiday in the background:

All right, this is mostly an excuse to post the 2013 update of one of my most popular Flickr images ever, 2008's "What nerds do for Valentine's Day", in which I sorted and cataloged a whole bag of Necco Sweethearts. 2008 I did an 18 ounce bag and alphabetized the hearts and put them on my scanner instead of taking a photo. 2013 I found a 7 ounce bag at the Family Dollar across the street from the apartment I'm moving out of the night before V-Day and put them on an old cookie sheet, arranged by themes and words, not alphabetized. (The two rows of messages escalating from "TWEET ME" to "MARRY ME" is my favorite part.)

Flickr version with notes and comments here. The update was nowhere nearly as successful as I'd hoped, but it was the kind of obsessive thing I had to do. (I may have a lot of 5-year updates of projects I did the year I really took off on Flickr and the blog. Also, in part, because I've never fully finished posting some of the original projects.) Oh, and I got followed by the authentic Necco account on Twitter before I even posted this, oddly. (I'd tweeted my dismay that the store I was trying to buy candy hearts at only had Brach's.)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hello 2013, and good news

Just stopping in while in the midst of a complicated move to a new apartment (my first since 2001!) to share three things:

My main Flickr account hit 2 million all-time views. These things are always fun to watch for, but I missed seeing an exact 2,000,000...in fact I missed noticing at all for a while. Presumably happened last Saturday night/Sunday when I was moving stuff. Thanks to anyone who's been a part of this.

I made it to 2 million views (and five years on Flickr, and some other stats too arcane to tell you about) without reaching a number of milestones for my photography I won't get into now. But then suddenly I hit one--the first actual feature of my work anywhere!

My friend Jason--who's largely responsible for getting me on Flickr in the first place, as I joined the day after my birthday (when I'd talked about it with him at dinner)--put together this attractive piece on my work the past couple years photographing shopping malls. I'm the second in a new weekly feature on photographers. I answered a few questions, talking about some of the things I've observed, but didn't try to make a big statement about the decline of malls or anything.

You can go directly to the feature here or via this post at the CCLaP site, read a little more and choose a PDF version if you'd prefer. Also, KoHoSo on Tumblr put up this nice piece about it and my work.

The CCLaP piece includes dead malls in the Chicago area, Gary, Indianapolis, Madison, Omaha (and a few shots not technically from deadmalls but I guess they fit well). Also, this prompted me to do a lot of work organizing my Flickr photos, sets, and collections, and there's now a retail collection for stores and shopping malls, a set for all my shopping mall photos, and many individual sets for malls, most recently, the very dead Euclid Square Mall in Euclid, Ohio, and Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles, IL.

And since I missed coming by to promote this, I also made it into the Chicago Reader's annual Photo Issue (along with some fine people I know from Flickr/elsewhere). I have two photos in the online version and the houses/mattresses one made it into the print version.

Back soon when things are less hectic. Thank you again to anyone who's supported my work, and big things are on the way...I hope.